Stephen Meyer’s new book ‘Return of the God Hypothesis’ documents the history of the fall of the God hypothesis in science, and explains why it’s back.
When the emperor Napoleon asked the great French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace why the Creator was never mentioned in his manuscript “A Treatise of Celestial Mechanics,” Laplace is alleged to have replied, “I had no need of that hypothesis.”
Philosopher of science Stephen Meyer’s new book, “Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries That Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe,” documents the history of the fall of the God hypothesis in science during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. But the hypothesis is back, Meyer explains, detailing three scientific discoveries of the last 100 years that are fueling its “return.”
The three are: 1) the discovery that the secret of life is the information contained in living things, 2) the discovery that the laws and constants of physics in our universe are extremely “fine-tuned” for life and 3) the discovery that the universe had a beginning.
While no one today claims it is needed to explain celestial mechanics, the “God hypothesis” was never truly replaced by plausible explanations for the origin and evolution of life. It was simply banished from science by arbitrary fiat, fueled by the successes of science in other areas.
Charles Darwin’s extremely implausible explanation for the origin of species, which becomes more implausible with every new biological and biochemical discovery, remains popular in the scientific world today only because — no matter how implausible and how inconsistent with the evidence — it must be true because it is the only alternative anyone can imagine to the “unscientific” theory of intelligent design.
Meyer, who is director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, argues that the presence of vast amounts of “digital information” in the DNA of living things point to a designing mind — as it does everywhere information is found. Not only that, he says the sudden appearance of new information, especially about 500 million years ago at the Cambrian explosion (the main topic of his previous bestseller, “Darwin’s Doubt“), is even harder to explain without design.