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.