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Phillip Johnson on Dogmatic Signs

This month's edition of Touchstone Magazine has a great column by the godfather of intelligent design, Phillip Johnson, offering his review of Stephen Meyer's Signature in the Cell and his take on why the book has been met with such an uproar in the blogosphere:

In another way, however, it is peculiar that there is such a furious and often ill-informed objection to a learned volume that isn't even about the theory of biological evolution. The book advances well-reasoned arguments based on solid evidence about a prior problem -- the origin of the cell's information content -- concerning which most scientists would concede that they know very little.

The one thing that many of these scientists think they do know for certain is that, however the cell may have originated, the process could only have involved natural (i.e., unintelligent) causes. But this conclusion is not something these scientists know from the evidence. On the contrary, it is something they know--or rather, think they know -- regardless of the evidence. For a long time, it has been the rule in evolutionary science that, if the evidence does not support a fully naturalistic theory about both the origin of life and its subsequent development, then there must be something wrong with the evidence rather than with the theory or its underlying philosophy.

Johnson goes on to cite the powerful response to critics of SITC, Signature of Controversy:

The profoundly biased scientific and intellectual context into which Signature in the Cell was introduced is as important and fascinating a subject as Meyers' book itself. To understand that context, I recommend reading a slim volume titled Signature of Controversy, which collects responses to the critics of Meyers' magnum opus. Signature of Controversy can be downloaded for free from the website of the Discovery Institute if you subscribe to one of their free email newsletters (go to www.discoveryinstitutepress.com), or it can be ordered in conventional book form from Amazon.com. Each response in the book directs the interested reader to the Internet to find the original article or review that the response addresses.

What I hope readers of these two books will appreciate is that conflicting scientific claims can only be properly adjudicated by impartially investigating the evidence, and not by excluding an important claim because of an a priori philosophical bias, such as by incorporating the opposing claim into the definition of "science." When scientists stoop to such dogmatism to protect a cherished theory, they make the protected claim unfalsifiable, and hence unscientific.

Read the entire article here.