- Hardcover: 624 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne (June 23, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061472786
- ISBN-13: 978-0061472787
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 630 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #663,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design Hardcover – June 23, 2009
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“Signature in the Cell is a defining work in the discussion of life’s origins . . . the powerful case Meyer presents cannot be ignored in any honest debate. . . [T]his book is an engaging, eye-opening, and often eye-popping read” (American Spectator)
“A decisive case based upon breathtaking and cutting-edge science.” (Dr. Philip S. Skell, member, National Academy of Sciences, and Evan Pugh Professor Emeritus at Pennsylvania State University)
“A fascinating exploration . . . Whether you believe intelligent design is true or false, Signature in the Cell is a must-read book.” (Dr. Scott Turner, professor, environmental and forest biology, State University of New York, and author of The Tinkerer’s Accomplice)
“A careful presentation of this fiendishly difficult problem.” (Dr. Thomas Nagel, professor, New York University, in the Times Literary Supplement)
From the Back Cover
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.
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If you have studied quantum mechanics, you will have run into the inescapable conclusion that nothing really exists an a determinate state unless it is observed by a conscious observer. Furthermore, you probably have run into Bell's theorem which concludes that locality is something of a myth and that there is no logical connection between the reality we live in every day and quantum reality upon which our material world is based. The theory of quantum mechanics frankly states that consciousness is (and probably was) a primordial property of the universe.
The theory of intelligent design is based upon SCIENCE, and not on theology. It stands upon infinitely firmer ground than the Multiverse which is modern cosmology's latest mathematical/theological attempt to explain the anthropomorphic nature of our world of matter. Read this book if you really want to begin the journey to a rational understanding of how Spirit might actually have a place to live after all!
P.S. I've read the one star reviews. It is obvious that none of these reviewers has actually read the book. Out of 429 reviews, only 58 gave it two stars or less, and their comments seemed to have nothing to do with the book's actual content.
The arguments in favor of the need to postulate some form of intelligence as the progenitor of life on Earth seem to me quite convincing. Even with an awesomely vast universe, with much in the way of probabilistic resources, I believe that Dr. Meyer makes a very strong case for the view that some form of creative intelligence giving rise to life is certainly the best, if not the only reasonable, explanation for life as we encounter it here on Earth.
I believe that this book deserves to be in every university library, and that it belongs in many science and philosophy classrooms as required reading material. Dr. Meyer has certainly made belief in the existence of a creative Intelligence as the source of life in this universe and the progenitor of “laws of biology” not only more credible, but almost persuasively convincing. “Signature in the Cell” is an excellent book.
He wrote in the Prologue of this 2009 book, “the Dover trial and its associated media coverage made me aware that I needed to make my argument in a more prominent way. Many evolutionary biologists had acknowledged that they could not explain the origin of the first life… In 2005, when I was repeatedly placed in the position of defending the theory of intelligent design in the media, the argument that I most wanted to make in its favor had little public standing. I have written this book to remedy that deficiency… [This book] does not just make an argument; it also tells a story, a mystery story and the story of my engagement with it.” (Pg. 6, 8) Later, he adds, “This book examines the many successive attempts that have been made to resolve this enigma---the DNA engine---and will itself propose a solution.” (Pg . 32)
He observes, “The interdependence of proteins and nucleic acids raises many obvious ‘chicken and egg’ dilemmas… The cell needs proteins to process and express the information in DNA in order to build proteins. But the construction of DNA molecules… also requires proteins. So which came first, the chicken (nucleic acids) or the egg (proteins)? If proteins must have arisen first, then how did they do so, since al extant cells construct proteins from the assembly instructions in DNA. How did either arise without the other?... scientists investigating the origin of life must now explain the origin of at least three key features of life. First, they must explain the origin of the system for storing and encoding digital information in the cell… Second, they must explain the origin of the large amount of specified complexity or functionally specified information in DNA. Third, they must explain the origin of … the functional interdependence of parts---of the cell’s information processing system.” (Pg. 134-135)
He acknowledges, “Anyone can claim that a fantastically improbable event might have occurred by chance. Chance, in that sense, if always a possible explanation. But it doesn’t follow that chance necessarily constitutes the best explanation. And… I wanted to find the BEST explanation for the origins of biological information. When I realized that I did not need to absolutely DISPROVE the chance hypothesis in order to make an objective determination about its merits, clarity came. By assessing the probability of an event in light of the available probabilistic resources, I could determine whether it was more reasonable to affirm or to reject the chance hypothesis for that event… I concluded that chance was not a terribly promising candidate for ‘best explanation’ of the DNA enigma.” (Pg. 222-223)
He notes, “When I first learned about Prigogine and Nicolis’s theory and the analogies by which they justified it, it did seem plausible. But as I considered the merits of their proposal, I discovered that it had an obvious defect, one that the prominent information theorist Hubert Yockey described to me in an interview in 1986. Yockey pointed out that Prigogine and Nicolis invoked external self-organizational forces to explain the origin of ORDER in living systems. But, as Yockey noted, what needs explaining in biological systems is not order (in the sense of a symmetrical or repeating pattern), but information, the kind of SPECIFIED digital information found in software, written languages, and DNA.” (Pg. 255)
He recounts, “in the spring of 2000, I had just written an article about DNA and the origin of life… When the letters to the editor came in, I initially blanched when I saw one from a fierce critic names Kenneth R. Miller… Miller claimed that my critique of attempts to explain the origin of biological information had failed to address the ‘RNA first’ hypothesis… Miller was half right… But I knew that two decades of research on this topic had not solved the problem of the origin of biological information… I had decided not to address this issue in my original article. But now Miller’s letter gave me a chance to do so.” (Pg. 296-297)
He points out, “Every major origin-of-life scenario… failed to explain the origin of specified information. Thus, ironically origin-of-life research itself confirms that undirected chemical processes do no produce large amounts of specified information starting from purely physical or chemical antecedents. For this reason, it seemed entirely sensible to think that the conservation laws that computer scientists had devised to describe the flow of information in computational domains applied equally to the larger domain of nature itself. If so, it seemed plausible to think that the informational repositories of life… were pointing to a source of information beyond the realm of physics and chemistry.” (Pg. 332-333)
He states, “Though advocates of intelligent design have been labeled by some of their opponents as creationists… the case for intelligent design depends, ironically, upon a form of scientific reasoning---namely, uniformitarian reasoning---that creationists have often bitterly opposed. Indeed, the case for intelligent design depends on the uniformitarian method of scientific reasoning that Darwin himself used in formulating his argument … I concluded that a rigorous scientific argument for intelligent design could be formulated.” (Pg. 347-348)
He suggests, “I have found that the scientists and philosophers who reject [intelligent design] typically do so on philosophical grounds.” (Pg. 375) He admits, “Of course, critics of intelligent design may still judge that the number of published books and articles supporting the theory does not yet make it sufficiently mainstream to warrant teaching students about it. Perhaps. But that is a judgment about educational policy distinct from deciding the scientific status, or… the merits of the theory of intelligent design itself… If there were a hard-and-fast numerical standard … no new theory could ever achieve scientific status… Logically, the issue of peer review is a red herring---a distracting procedural side issue.” (Pg. 412-413)
He asks, “Does a reference to an unobservable entity provide a good reason for defining a theory as unscientific?... The answer to that question depends… upon how science is defined. If scientists (and all other relevant parties) decide to define science as an enterprise in which scientists can posit only observable entities in their theories, then clearly the theory of intelligent design would not qualify as a scientific theory Advocates of intelligent design infer, rather than directly observe, the designing intelligence for the digital information in DNA. But … this definition of science would render many other scientific theories, including many evolutionary theories of biological origins, unscientific by definition as well.” (Pg. 423-424)
He admits, “As a Christian, I’ve never made any secret about my belief in God or even why I think theism makes more sense of the totality of human experience than any other worldview… the theory does not make claims about a deity, nor can it. It makes a more modest claim… about the kind of cause---namely, an intelligent cause---that was responsible for the origin of biological form and information.” (Pg. 440) Later, he adds, “there is no question that many advocates of … intelligent design do have religious interests and beliefs and that some are motivated by their beliefs. I personally think that the evidence of design in biology… strengthens the case for theism and, thus, my personal belief in God. Subjectively, as a Christian theist, I find this implication of intelligent design ‘intellectually satisfying.’” (Pg. 447)
He concludes, “In some [cosmological] models, it’s even more probable that a whole universe like ours spontaneously fluctuated into existence than it is that our universe with its extraordinarily improbable initial conditions evolved into an orderly and lawlike way over billions of years. This means that the many-worlds-in-one hypothesis generates an absurdity. It implies that … our memories and perceptions are … quite possibly chance fabrications of quantum fields… the proposal … renders all scientific reasoning and explanation unreliable… It would be hard to invent a more self-refuting hypothesis than that?” (Pg. 508)
This book is a substantial addition to the literature about Intelligent Design, and will be of great interest to those [whether ‘pro’ or ‘con’] studying the theory.