Review of Signature in the Cell

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Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent DesignSignature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent summary for the case for Intelligent Design (ID). Meyer answers critics who label ID as unscientific, citing Stephen Jay Gould, who described evolutionary biology, geology, paleontology, etc. as “historical sciences.” Meyer explains how the theory of ID fits these parameters.

Clearly, the biological information contained in DNA is code-like, so much so that people like Dawkins and Crick have to remind scientists that it only “appears” that way. In his first premise, Meyer recounts a thorough history of the search for life’s origin and how each theory has yielded no results on how the genetic code evolved. For his second premise, he demonstrates that the only known cause for the generation of information (specified complexity) is an intelligent agent. We look at cave paintings and chipped flint and scientists determine that some sort of intelligence produced this work. SETI searches the galaxies for patterns of information that designate intelligence. Every one of us creates information daily.

The conclusion of Meyer’s argument is an inference that, as the only known cause of information, intelligence was the cause of the rise of DNA. This inference, incidentally, is the same logic used by Darwin himself (the observation of micro-evolution and the inference that chance and natural selection, stretched back over time, determined the origin of species).

One point I found interesting was the discussion of the predictions of evolution and ID concerning “junk DNA.” ID predicts non-protein coding sequences should perform biological functions. It shouldn’t be useless or junk. The model of natural selection predicts a genome “riddled with useless information, mistakes, and broken genes.” Scientists have labeled this area between genes as junk (“gene deserts”) and proof against design, but research coming out of the ENCODE Project (http://www.genome.gov/10005107#al-1) are showing these parts of the genome are in fact highly functional. As Philip Kitcher said, “Intelligent Design has deep roots in the history of cosmology, and in the earth and life sciences.” Kitcher’s argument against ID is this supposed inability to explain “junk DNA,” yet clearly, ID can be a guiding principle and theory.

This is a book for those that truly want to understand the theory of intelligent design. There is a hard break that scientists use (methodological naturalism) which excludes anything supernatural from being considered as scientific. This book explains, step by step (sometimes a bit too slowly, perhaps), why ID is a viable theory that only invokes intelligence as a causal agent. There are, of course, theistic implications, but there are anti-religious implications from evolutionary theory as well. Meyer’s approach, however, is completely evidence based. Meyer quotes Antony Flew, a long time atheist who now accepts ID, asserting, we must “follow the evidence wherever it leads,” regardless of the implications.

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