The foundations of scientific materialism are in the process of crumbling. In Signature in the Cell, philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer shows how the digital code in DNA points powerfully to a designing intelligence behind the origin of life.
Unlike previous arguments for intelligent design, Signature in the Cell presents a radical and comprehensive new case, revealing the evidence not merely of individual features of biological complexity but rather of a fundamental constituent of the universe: information. That evidence has been mounting exponentially in recent years, known to scientists in specialized fields but largely hidden from public view. A Cambridge University-trained theorist and researcher, director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, Dr. Meyer is the first to bring the relevant data together into a powerful demonstration of the intelligence that stands outside nature and directs the path life has taken.
The universe is comprised of matter, energy, and the information that gives order to matter and energy, thereby bringing life into being. In the cell, information is carried by DNA, which functions like a software program. The signature in the cell is that of the master programmer of life.
In his theory of evolution, Charles Darwin never sought to unravel the mystery of where biological information comes from. For him, the origins of life remained shrouded in impenetrable obscurity. While the digital code in DNA first came to light in the 1950s, it wasn’t until later that scientists began to sense the implications behind the exquisitely complex technical system for processing and storing information in the cell. The cell does what any advanced computer operating system can do but with almost inconceivably greater suppleness and efficiency.
Drawing on data from many scientific fields, Stephen Meyer formulates a rigorous argument employing the same method of inferential reasoning that Darwin used. In a thrilling narrative with elements of a detective story as well as a personal quest for truth, Meyer illuminates the mystery that surrounds the origins of DNA. He demonstrates that previous scientific efforts to explain the origins of biological information have all failed, and argues convincingly for intelligent design as the best explanation of life’s beginning. In final chapters, he defends ID theory against a range of objections and shows how intelligent design offers fruitful approaches for future scientific research.
Appearing in this year of Darwin anniversaries—Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his Origin of Species—Signature in the Cell could only have been written now that the data of biology’s dawning information age has started to come in. Meyer shares with readers the excitement of the most recent discoveries, as the digital technology at work in the cell has been progressively revealed. The operating system embedded in the genome includes nested coding, digital processing, distributive retrieval and storage systems. It is very extraordinary—the terminology is all recognizable from computer science.
The appearance of Meyer’s book is timely in two other ways. First, bestselling atheist writers like biologist Richard Dawkins have insisted that because Darwin buried the traditional argument for design in nature, religious belief has been shown to be irrational in our modern scientific age. Meyer reveals that, on the contrary, it is precisely our modern scientific age that is in the process of burying materialist theories of life’s development.
Second, since a federal judge in Dover, Pennsylvania, ruled in 2005 that intelligent design may not rightfully claim the designation of “science,” Judge John E. Jones has become the hero of Darwinian activists and their supporters in academia and the media. The Dover decision has been hailed as the death knell of intelligent design. Hardly so! Speaking from the more relevant perspective of the philosophy of science, Meyer responds that federal judges were never given the job of defining what is scientific and what is not.
As a philosopher and a scientist himself, having worked in the field of geophysics for Atlantic Richfield, Meyer is able to step back from the fray of competing views about Darwinian theory and offer a searching, compelling investigation of life’s beginning.
One hundred fifty years ago, Charles Darwin revolutionized biology, but did he refute intelligent design (ID)? In Signature in the Cell, Stephen Meyer argues that he did not.
Much confusion surrounds the theory of intelligent design. Frequently misrepresented by the media, politicians, and local school boards, intelligent design can be defended on purely scientific grounds in accordance with the same rigorous methods that apply to every proposed origin-of-life theory.
Signature in the Cell is the first book to make a comprehensive case for intelligent design based upon DNA. Meyer embarks on an odyssey of discovery as he investigates current evolutionary theories and the evidence that ultimately led him to affirm intelligent design. Clearly defining what ID is and is not, Meyer shows that the argument for intelligent design is not based on ignorance or “giving up on science,” but instead upon our growing scientific knowledge of the information stored in the cell.
A leading proponent of intelligent design in the scientific community, Meyer presents a compelling case that will generate heated debate, command attention, and find new adherents from leading scientists around the world.
Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design
Author: Stephen C. Meyer
STEPHEN C. MEYER
Stephen C. Meyer is director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (CSC) and a founder both of the intelligent design movement and of the CSC, intelligent design’s primary intellectual and scientific headquarters. Dr. Meyer is a Cambridge University-trained philosopher of science, the author of peer-reviewed publications in technical, scientific, philosophical and other books and journals. His signal contribution to ID theory is given most fully in Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, published by HarperOne in June 2009.
While other scientists and writers on the general subject of ID have debunked Darwinian theory by focusing on discrete aspects of life’s history and complexity — the Cambrian explosion, gaps in the fossil record, irreducibly complex features like the bacterial flagellum or the mechanism of blood clotting, and the like — Meyer’s research goes to the very source of the mystery of life: its origin, and more specifically the origin of biological information as represented in DNA. Signature in the Cell presents a radical and comprehensive new case, revealing the evidence not merely of individual features of biological complexity but of a fundamental constituent of the universe, namely information.
Meyer has argued that the intelligent design field is still in its infancy and that vital evidence of a designer’s “signature” on life only emerged as recently as just 10-15 years ago. His work in biological information represents the cutting edge of the argument for design.
Graduating from Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington, in 1981 with a degree in physics and earth science, he later became a geophysicist with Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) in Dallas, Texas. From 1981 to 1985, he worked for ARCO in digital signal processing and seismic survey interpretation. As a Rotary International Scholar, he received his training in the history and philosophy of science at Cambridge University, earning a PhD in 1991. His thesis offered a methodological interpretation of origin-of-life research.
He returned to Whitworth College in 1990 to teach philosophy. He left Whitworth in 2002, giving up a tenured position, to found and direct the CSC at Discovery Institute.
Prior to the publication of Signature in the Cell, the piece of writing for which Meyer was best known was an August 2004 review essay in the Smithsonian Institution-affiliated peer-reviewed biology journal Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. The article laid out the evidential case for intelligent design, that certain features of living organisms–such as the miniature machines and complex circuits within cells–are better explained by an unspecified designing intelligence than by an undirected natural process like random mutation and natural selection.
Because the article was the first peer-review publication in a technical journal arguing for ID, the journal’s editor, evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg, was punished by his Smithsonian supervisors for allowing Meyer’s pro-ID case into print. This led to an investigation of top Smithsonian personnel by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, widely covered in the media, including the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. The federal investigation concluded that Sternberg had been wrongly disciplined and intimidated. The case led to widespread public indignation at the pressures placed on Darwin-doubting scientists not only at the Smithsonian but at universities around the U.S. and elsewhere.
Meyer’s many other publications include a contribution to, and the editing of, the peer-reviewed volume Darwinism, Design and Public Education (Michigan State University Press, 2004) and the innovative textbook Explore Evolution (Hill House Publishers, 2007).
Meyer has been widely featured in media appearance on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox News, PBS, and the BBC. In 2008, he appeared with Ben Stein in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. He’s also featured prominently in two other science documentaries, Icons of Evolution and Unlocking The Mystery of Life.