Dennis Venema

Through the clouds and into the melee

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Yesterday I posted my surprise at this article by Dennis Venema criticizing Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell.” I finished the review and made some notes for when I read Meyer’s book. I got the impression that, however civil Venema would like to think himself, he really had a low opinion of Meyer. One comment states that his assessment of Meyer’s grasp of molecular/cellular biology was introductory college level. I did a quick check on Wikipedia and Meyer has a degree in physics and earth science from Whitworth College and a Ph.D. in history and philosophy of science. Hmm, ok, maybe there is some truth to that assessment as he is not a bench scientist, but entry level?

So, clearly there is a divide between “evolutionary creationists” and proponents of intelligent design. I have done some searching and found some blogs on BioLogos from Venema, as well as others discussing Meyer’s work. There are forums, blogs, comments…the mental picture of my situation, coming upon all of dialogue and argument, was when Harry Potter, riding with Hagrid, pops out from the clouds into the mayhem of death eaters chasing his other selves. Clearly I have a lot to read and consider, and a lot to learn.

Here is an interview with Venema. He sounds like an interesting person, and I think it is fortuitous that I printed his review of Signature a month ago and chose now to read it. Venema has written a lot on BioLogos and it will be good to read both him and Meyer’s Signature and decide for myself what it is I believe.

In general, I am undecided. Well, I am convinced the universe, the world and life as we know it could not come about randomly. I do lean toward an intelligent design approach. I am for discovery and for weighing the facts.

Part II: Here is a review by Darrel Falk in which the same critique is given in a more balance approach. He highlights the admirable qualities as well as the failures in argument, and ultimately seems to fault Meyer on an “unsuccessful attempt to move from philosophy into genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology.” I thought that phrase very pointed and witty. He, in essence, praised it in its philosophical and religious context, but Meyer claims he wants to be judged on its scientific merit. And so he is judged.

Part III: Ok, here is an article concerning Meyer’s treatment by BioLogos. And a response to Venema. Clearly there is melee…

Humility is required

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Today was a full day of small-scale purification at work, which afforded me ample snippets of time in order to read. I perused Saturday’s Wall Street Journal and also was able to read one of the articles I had printed from the American Science Affiliation. The article was by Dennis Venema and was a review of a book I have just purchased and want to read, Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer. The author is a proponent of Intelligent Design, and I believe coined the phrase, I think.

The title of this short post became clear to me as I read Venema’s article. First, it was a critical review of the book and pointed out the flaws in Meyer’s arguments. I was not really expecting that. It was not done out of disrespect, but out of scientific necessity. I had assumed that Signature was going to be a source of authority for me and that it would be flawless. Also, this article strained my scientific knowledge base. It made me feel ignorant. Which I am. But with the amount of reading and application I have been doing, I…well, I obviously started to think highly of myself…and I did feel my pride deflated. I realized, again, that my self-education is going to require work (not just reading) and serious thought and a certain level of mastery of subjects.

So, as was presented in “A Thomas Jefferson Education,” George Wythe had his students write an essay every day. I don’t think I can do that, since I am not really at this full-time, but I think I will use this blog to essay about what I am learning, and of course, these sorts of meditations.