For those whose prejudice against ID prevents them from reading Meyer's entire book, I would suggest studying only chapters 15-20 + the Epilogue and the notes. That is about 150 pages.
These chapters are more general in content and easier than the difficult science chapters preceding.
"Although other flaws are less serious in and ofhttp://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2010/PSCF12-10Venema.pdf
themselves, they are still indicative of the level of
argumentation in the book, as well as of the quality
of its peer review. For example, it was in chapter
three that I first arrived at what I now call a “Behe
moment” when reading antievolutionary literature.
In Michael Behe’s book Edge of Evolution, he makes
a few obvious “rookie errors” when discussing how
probabilities work in population genetics.34 This,
for me, was the clear signal that the book was written
by an amateur in the field and not adequately peer
reviewed. In Signature, this moment arrived when
Meyer calls Pnemonococci a bacterium and a virus
in the same paragraph.35 This impression was confirmed
anew when Meyer describes, over the course
of several pages, his epiphany that DNA bases do
not have bonds between them and thus cannot selforganize
into specified sequences. This “epiphany”
is something that biology majors learn (or at least,
should learn) in their introductory courses. This
theme continued apace in the figure describing translation.
36 Signature shows tRNAs aligning to the
mRNA in a 5' to 5' orientation, tRNAs with codon
instead of anticodon sequences, and several inappropriate
nucleotide pairings: all very basic mistakes.
In short, Signature clearly was not written or peer
reviewed by individuals with a working knowledge
of molecular biology.
Now, these issues in and of themselves would not
be a serious problem for Signature, if not for the fact
that the strength of Meyer’s argument rests entirely
on his assertion that he has made a thorough search
through all proposed mechanisms for generating
biological information through natural means and
found them lacking. Meyer is asking his audience to
trust him that his analysis is thorough and sound.
However, that Meyer’s understanding of molecular
biology appears to be at or below a first-year college
level should give even the most pro-ID reader pause
here. It means that Meyer, well intentioned though
he may be, is simply not equipped to grapple with
these issues beyond an introductory textbook level.
Nor has Meyer sought the advice of those who are
able to do so. And as we have seen, Meyer has made
neither a thorough search for the origin of biological
information by natural mechanisms, nor a fair
assessment of current origin-of-life research.
While popular-level books written by nonspecialists
can be very helpful to a lay audience if they are
carefully reviewed by experts and adhere to consensus
science, Signature is not such a book. Like Edge of
Evolution before it, Signature in the Cell represents
a layman’s attempt to overturn an entire field of
research based on a surface-level understanding (and,
at times, significant misunderstanding or ignorance)
of the relevant science, published in a form that by-
passes review by qualified peers, and that is mar-
keted directly to a nonspecialist audience. This is
not good science, nor science in any meaningful
sense. If ID is going to advance as an intellectual
framework, it simply must do better. I, for one,
would be fascinated by a scientifically plausible
design argument. It would demonstrate that some-
thing is fundamentally wrong with the interpreta-
tion of very wide swaths of data across numerous
disciplines. That would not be a scientific problem,
but rather a monumental scientific opportunity that
would reshape research for decades to come. Such
times are the occasions of scientific legend—careers
to be made, Nobel prizes to be won. Alas, Signature is
not that argument. I do recommend it for those who
follow the ID literature, for it represents the current
state-of- the-art in ID thought for an important area
of biology. However, for those of us waiting for the
science behind ID, it looks as if the wait goes on.
In other words, Will, this book is like all the other ID writing out there i.e. unscientific.