Synopsis Of The First Chapter Of Signature In The Cell by Stephen Meyer
ISBN: 9780061894206; ISBN10: 0061894206; Imprint: HarperCollins
In August of 2004, philosopher Stephen Meyer published an article in the Proceedings Of The Biological Society Of Washington. The article raised media interest and outrage because it was the first to “advance the theory of intelligent design” in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The editor Richard Sternberg lost his position as a result of the ensuing debacle.
Just a few months later, renowned British philosopher Antony Flew shocked the world by reversing his life-long atheistic commitment and announcing his support for an idea reminiscent of that proposed by the modern intelligent design movement. That same month the ACLU declared it would be filing charges against the Dover, Pennsylvania school board for approving the teaching of Intelligent Design in its science classes.
Much of the controversy in all the above cases stems from a misunderstanding over what the intelligent design movement does and does not purport to explain. As many in the movement have re-iterated throughout the years, intelligent design is not in any way synonymous with biblical creationism. In the words of Stephen Meyer “intelligent design is an inference from scientific evidence, not a deduction from religious authority” (p. 8).
In his recent book Signature In The Cell, Meyer presents a fresh outlook on one of the most compeling facets of the Intelligent Design case- that of biological information in DNA. When Watson and Crick published their famous paper in 1958, they not only solved the mystery of the structure of DNA but also unearthed the computer program-like nature of the information that it carried. While experience tells us that such information has its origins in the activity of conscious beings, evolutionary biologists have dismissed such a connection in biology. As an alternative, they have as we all know placed their belief in the blind activity of natural selection.
It would seem ironic therefore that these same scientists would then employ design-evoking metaphors such as ‘code’ and ‘language’ to describe DNA. They of course qualify this by stating that the apparent design of DNA is merely illusionary. Still as Meyer hammers home, the mystery of the origins of DNA and life itself remains one that modern day biology is finding difficult to unravel.
Meyer provides a lucid and personal account of his own experiences as a scientist and philosopher revealing to the reader the watershed events that led to his move towards the intelligent design alternative. Foremost in his initial exposé are the meetings he conducted with Charles Thaxton who, in his co-authorship of the book The Mystery Of Life’s Origin, rejuvenated the idea of intelligent causation in biology.