Book Review: Signature In The Cell

Signature In The Cell:  DNA And The Evidence For Intelligent Design, by Stephen C. Meyer

I have wanted to read this book for a long time and upon reading it, I gain an appreciation for how the author’s peer-reviewed writing and voluminous research about various theories and proposals for the origin of life and chemical evolution make him an ideal writer of a technical but accessible book such as this one.  Although I am no stranger to the controversy over Intelligent Design [1].  Based rigorously on the author’s peer reviewed books and essays and those of others, I found that the author and I shared a great many interests, including debates on the meaning of science, the way that historical sciences mirror forensics and other fields where one hunts for clues and uses abductive reasoning, a type of reasoning I find very appealing personally.  The author talks about his own story and how it intersects with a thoughtful and serious look at the world of science and how intelligent design makes testable predictions that have already proven to be worthwhile in science and will continue in the future to have practical benefits based on its insights of the purposeful nature of the genetic code and of the design of cellular machinery.

This lengthy tome of over 500 pages of reading material and voluminous endnotes besides is organized in a very intriguing fashion.  The prologue introduces the author as a contentious figure in intelligent design, and then the story moves to several chapters that examine the appearance of design as far back as Darwin, the mystery of cells and the way that they were once viewed as simple, the double helix and how it was conceived and discovered, and the complex way that DNA and its information forms a veritable signature in the cell of a fantastically intelligent designer.  After this the author looks at cellular machinery and their complexity, the origin of science and the possibility of design, the look at clues and causes, issues of chance elimination and pattern recognition, of teleology as well as odds.  The author demonstrates that the origin of proteins and DNA is well beyond the reach of chance and that beliefs in self-organization and biochemical predestination fail to account for information content as well.  The author takes a tour at various views of chemical evolution that try to combine chance and necessity that all fail to account for the specified complexity of the basic components of living cells and the way that putative saviors like the RNA world fall prey to the same basic limitations of fantastic improbability and limited capacity as other theories of their ilk.  At this point the author has made it plain that intelligent design is the only game in town when it comes to a best explanation of how to account for meaningful information and layered efficient coding and programming in the cell and proceeds to look at the explanatory power, the bad logic of attempted defeater arguments, the failure of demarcation arguments, and why it matters.  The book then closes with a thoughtful discussion of the implications of intelligent design and some ways that productive research has already been done and predictions that have already come true as well as a technical discussion of the poverty of inflationary models that seek to overcome probability constraints.

This book has likely found an appreciative audience among technically-minded people who are interested in the machinery of the cell and in its elegant and efficient and information-rich solution.  Unsurprisingly, the author’s detailed and thorough and uncompromising approach will likely not please those who do not like the demolishing of many approaches who depend on smuggling active information from intelligent agents in order to account for their plausibility, like the self-organization models and various simulations of simplified life that were once in vogue.  For those of us that do appreciate that the presence of manifest design of impressive complexity and minute scale implies a designer and engineer of subtle and impressive scale, and who rejoice in the way that intelligent design has already proved a profitable theory in terms of its prediction of the information value of falsely labeled “junk DNA” as well as possibilities for how to deal with cancer at the cellular level and even the way that bacterial virulence relates to damage to cellular information, this book has a lot to offer.  This is a book that deserves a place of honor among the classic peer-reviewed books of the Intelligent Design movement, not least for the way it shows that materialism has little to offer accept as an opiate for atheists to give them some vain hope against hope that a way apart from accounting for the implications of design and purpose in every stage and aspect of life.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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9 Responses to Book Review: Signature In The Cell

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