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Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent DesignStephen C. Meyer
Hardback, 624 pages, 2009
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.
Stephen C. Meyer
Dr. Stephen C. Meyer is the director and Senior Fellow of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, which has considerable reach into the religious market. Meyer set off a firestorm of media and political attention when the Smithsonian Institution published his pro-Intelligent Design paper in its scientific journal in 2005. Meyer earned his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University for a dissertation on the history of origin of life biology and the methodology of the historical sciences. Previously he worked as a geophysicist with the Atlantic Richfield Company after earning his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Geology. Meyer has been featured on national television and radio programs such as The Jim Lehrer News Hour, CBS Sunday Morning, NBC Nightly News, ABC Nightly News, Good Morning America, Nightline, Paula Zahn Now (CNN), Topic A with Tina Brown (CNN), Weekend Live with Tony Snow (FOX), The Big Story with John Gibson (FOX), Fox TV News with David Asman, The Tavis Smiley Show (PBS) and others. He has also been the subject of two front pages stories in the New York Times and has garnered attention in other top national print.
In this engaging narrative, Meyer demonstrates what I as a chemist have long suspected: undirected chemical processes cannot produce the exquisite complexity of the living cell. Meyer also shows something else: there is compelling positive evidence for intelligent design in the digital code stored in the cell�s DNA. A decisive case based upon breathtaking and cutting-edge science.
In Signature in the Cell, Stephen C. Meyer gives us a fascinating exploration of the case for intelligent design theory, woven skillfully around a compelling account of Meyer�s own journey. Along the way, Meyer effectively dispels the most pernicious caricatures: that intelligent design is simply warmed-over creationism, the province of deluded fools and morons, or a dangerous political conspiracy. Whether you believe intelligent design is true or false, Signature in the Cell is a must-read book.
Meyer demolishes the materialist superstition at the core of evolutionary biology by exposing its Achilles' heel: its utter blindness to the origins of information. With the recognition that cells function as fast as supercomputers and as fruitfully as so many factories, the case for a mindless cosmos collapses. His refutation of Richard Dawkins will have all the dogs barking and angels singing.
This is a "must read" for all serious students of the origin-of-life debate. Not only is it a comprehensive defense of the theory of intelligent design, it is a lucid and rigorous exposition of the various dimensions of the scientific method. Students of chemistry and biology at all levels--high school, undergraduate, or postgraduate--will find much to challenge their thinking in this book.
The origin of life remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of modern science. Looking beyond the biochemistry of the problem and focusing instead on the origin and information content of the "code of life," Meyer has written an eminently readable and engaging account of the quest to solve this mystery. Sharing both his personal history and a retelling of the key scientific discoveries of the last half century from this new and intriguing perspective, he has challenged us to consider an alternative to the standard story of abiogenesis and discover new meaning from our existence. I recommend this book to laypeople and accomplished professionals alike.
How does an intelligent person become a proponent of intelligent design? Anyone who stereotypes IDers as antiscientific ideologues or fundamentalists should read Dr. Meyer's compelling intellectual memoir. Meyer as a student became fascinated with the 'DNA enigma'--how the information to produce life originated--and at considerable risk to his career hasn't given up trying to solve the mystery. Meyer shows how step-by-step he concluded that intelligent design is the most likely explanation of how the DNA code came to be, but he's open to new evidence--and in so doing he challenges defenders of undirected evolution to have the courage to explore new alternatives as well.
Signature in the Cell is at once a philosophical history of how information has come to be central to cutting-edge research in biology today and one man's intellectual journey to the conclusion that intelligent design provides the best explanation for that fact. In his own modest and accessible way, Meyer has provided no less than a blueprint for twenty-first-century biological science--one that decisively shifts the discipline's center of gravity from nineteenth-century Darwinian preoccupations with fossils and field studies to the computerized, lab-based molecular genetics that underwrites the increasingly technological turn in the life sciences. After this book, readers will wonder whether anything more than sentimentality lies behind the continued association of Darwin�s name with 'modern biology.'
The astonishing complexities of DNA have raised questions which the ruling scientific orthodoxy cannot begin to answer. As one of the scientists arguing for 'intelligent design' as the crucial missing link in our understanding of how life came to be, Steve Meyer guides us lucidly through that labyrinth of questions opened by discoveries in molecular biology on the frontier of scientific knowledge.
The most substantial of the many outstanding enigmas in our understanding of biology is to explain the source of the genetic information strung out along the Double Helix and how it gives rise to the near infinite diversity of form and attribute of the living world. Dr Meyer's evaluation of the many contending theories in the light of the most recent scientific advances is comprehensive and dispassionate. While his interpretation of the arguments in favour of Intelligent Design may not persuade all, this is a fascinating and intellectually stimulating book.
Stephen Meyer shows with brilliant clarity that biological systems contain information whose origin cannot be explained by purely physical forces. He explains the crucial difference between the order within a complex system and the information needed to specify the functions of a complex system. Many engineers have always known that hierarchical systems do not evolve from the bottom-up by chance. Now Meyer has explained why hierarchical biological systems cannot evolve from the bottom-up by chance mutations.
This timely and important book is a landmark in the intelligent design debate and one which draws together all relevant research and information. It is elegantly written in a style that is accessible and laced with interesting historical and personal anecdotes. "Signature in the Cell" will pay rich dividends to everyone who turns its pages.
Signature in the Cell delivers a superb overview of the surprising and exciting developments that led to our modern understanding of DNA, and its role in cells. Meyer tells the story in a most engaging way. He retained my interest through many areas that would normally have turned me off. He is careful to credit new ideas and discoveries to their originators, even when he disagrees with the uses to which they have been put. The central idea of the book is that the best explanation of the information coded in DNA is that it resulted from intelligent design. Meyer has marshaled a formidable array of evidence from fields as diverse as biochemistry, philosophy and information theory. He deals fairly and thoroughly with even the most controversial aspects and has made a compelling case for his conclusion. The book is a delightful read which will bring enlightenment and enjoyment to every open minded reader.
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