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Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design

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Overview

A Compelling Case for Intelligent Design Based on Revolutionary Discoveries in Science

In Signature in the Cell, Stephen Meyer has written the first comprehensive DNA-based argument for intelligent design. As he tells the story of successive attempts to unravel a mystery that Charles Darwin did not address—how did life begin?—Meyer develops the case for this often-misunderstood theory using the same scientific method that Darwin himself pioneered. Offering a fresh perspective ...

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Signature in the Cell

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Overview

A Compelling Case for Intelligent Design Based on Revolutionary Discoveries in Science

In Signature in the Cell, Stephen Meyer has written the first comprehensive DNA-based argument for intelligent design. As he tells the story of successive attempts to unravel a mystery that Charles Darwin did not address—how did life begin?—Meyer develops the case for this often-misunderstood theory using the same scientific method that Darwin himself pioneered. Offering a fresh perspective on one of the enduring mysteries of modern biology, Meyer convincingly reveals that the argument for intelligent design is not based on ignorance or "giving up on science," but instead on compelling, and mounting, scientific evidence.

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  • Signature in the Cell
    Signature in the Cell  

Editorial Reviews

Doctor - Philip S. Skell
"A decisive case based upon breathtaking and cutting-edge science."
Doctor - Scott Turner
"A fascinating exploration . . . Whether you believe intelligent design is true or false, Signature in the Cell is a must-read book."
Doctor - Thomas Nagel
"A careful presentation of this fiendishly difficult problem."
Dr. Philip S. Skell
“A decisive case based upon breathtaking and cutting-edge science.”
Dr. Scott Turner
“A fascinating exploration . . . Whether you believe intelligent design is true or false, Signature in the Cell is a must-read book.”
Dr. Thomas Nagel
“A careful presentation of this fiendishly difficult problem.”
American Spectator
“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”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061472794
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/22/2010
  • Pages: 611
  • Sales rank: 91,346
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen C. Meyer received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the philosophy of science after working as an oil industry geophysicist. He now directs the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington. He authored Signature in the Cell, a (London) Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Ch. 1 DNA, Darwin, and the Appearance of Design 11

Ch. 2 The Evolution of a Mystery and Why It Matters 33

Ch. 3 The Double Helix 58

Ch. 4 Signature in the Cell 85

Ch. 5 The Molecular Labyrinth 112

Ch. 6 The Origin of Science and the Possibility of Design 136

Ch. 7 Of Clues to Causes 150

Ch. 8 Chance Elimination and Pattern Recognition 173

Ch. 9 Ends and Odds 194

Ch. 10 Beyond the Reach of Chance 215

Ch. 11 Self-Organization and Biochemical Predestination 229

Ch. 12 Thinking Outside the Bonds 253

Ch. 13 Chance and Necessity, or the Cat in the Hat Comes Back 271

Ch. 14 The RNA World 296

Ch. 15 The Best Explanation 324

Ch. 16 Another Road to Rome 349

Ch. 17 But Does It Explain? 373

Ch. 18 But Is It Science? 396

Ch. 19 Sauce for the Goose 416

Ch. 20 Why It Matters 439

Epilogue: A Living Science 453

Appendix A Some Predictions of Intelligent Design 481

Appendix B Multiverse Cosmology and the Origin of Life 499

Notes 509

Bibliography 563

Index 597

Acknowledgments 613

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(26)

4 Star

(1)

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(4)

2 Star

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(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 26, 2009

    A Magnificent and Sustained Argument

    One could not ask for more in a philosophy of science treatise that what we find in The Signature in the Cell. The book is no less than magisterial, an adjective that curmudgeons such as myself seldom use. At every level-philosophical, scientific, historical and literary-it is a superb treatise.

    Reading every word of its 508 pages of text (not counting end notes)--as I did--repays the reader greatly. Meyer thoroughly examines a most significant topic--how life came about--and does so in an engaging, warm, and philosophically rigorous fashion. (Few books ever do such a thing.) In fact, I have never read a book that goes so deep while remaining so welcoming to the reader. It does do by using a minimal narrative structure--there is no obtrusive autobiography here--to guide us through the issues and arguments pertaining to the nature and origin life at the genetic level. The reader is lead step-by-step into the question of the origin of biological information, and so receives a hearty education in the history of science in general and the scientific question to understand life itself.

    Meyer doggedly pursues all the possible explanations for the informational nature in DNA and RNA. He carefully explores the philosophy of scientific explanations with respect to unrepeatable events in the past (such as the origin of life on earth). It is a search for clues in the present to explain the past. One needs a causally adequate explanation for past events relies on known features to produce the state of affairs in question.

    Having found all the materialistic explanations desperately wanting, he concludes that intelligence is the best explanation for the highly concentrated, amazingly complex, and carefully specified information in the DNA and RNA of the cell. Neither chance nor natural law nor a combination of both are remotely plausible explanations. Yet everyday we perceive that intelligence produces information (such as the words of this review). Nothing else can. Meyer argues convincingly that materialism cannot survive when biology enters "the information age," as it did in 1953 when the double helix structure of the DNA was discovered by two atheists, Crick and Watson.

    Critics who dismiss this book as merely religiously motivated should themselves be dismissed. Meyer appeals to no uniquely religious assumptions in his philosophy of science and uses principles broadly employed in the historical sciences. Moreover, while his conclusion--life is best explained by a designing intelligence of some kind--is friendly toward theism, he grants that it does not give us a full Christian account of existence.

    This short review cannot praise adequately all the philosophical, scientific, and (yes) literary values of this magnificent work. Its publication may prove to be a decisive moment for the Intelligent Design movement.

    9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    A thorough assessment of the various approaches to the question of the origin of life and a well reasoned case for the "best explanation."

    Stephen Meyer's "Signature in the Cell" presents a detailed overview of the theories that have been proposed to account for the origin of life, and a clear explanation of the scientific research supporting them. Meyer shows convincingly that all attempts to base these theories on merely chemical and physical causes have failed. Meyer clarifies the issue of probabilities, eliminating chance as a possible explanation for the emergence of the complex information necessary for even the simplest cellular life. His inference of intelligent input, as from a "designer," is intellectually stimulating and persuasive.

    7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Purposely Misleading Book

    The book is too long for its stated purpose. For its unstated purpose, it is about right. The stated purpose is to review the history of DNA science, and Meyer's own life, as a framework to explain the inadequacy of naturalistic explanations of the genetic code. The unstated purpose is to throw a lot of basic history and science at the reader so that when the science becomes merely 'sciencey' most will not notice the transition. The result is that three small books (DNA for Dummies, My Life, and ID, the Theory That Couldn't) have been woven together and sold as one. On p. 143, Meyer tells us that "The idea of design helped liberate Western science from such fact-free reasoning." "Such" reasoning belonged to the Greeks that argued from first principles, and purely from logic, to the actual state of the world. Signature in the Cell almost immediately falls back into that error when Meyer argues purely from logic, analogy, and common sense instead of experiment and calculation. This abandonment of experiment is what most clearly justifies calling the book non-scientific, and even anti-scientific. A good example is Meyer's treatment of Michael Polanyi's arguments on pp 237-243. Meyer is convinced when Polanyi 'argues', 'insists', and 'concludes' all without doing a single experiment. It is the logical structure that is convincing. This is a retreat from science. Polanyi's argument is central to many claims of ID, so lets talk about it a bit deeper. Polanyi makes the claim that to function as a code, the order of the bases can't be forced by potential energy. ATC and G must be free to come in any order. This is argued by analogy to human communication systems. However, we already know there are exceptions to such rules. In English, Q must be followed by U. And yet, we somehow stumble forward using English to communicate. Similarly, there may be slight influences in base to base sequence. Polanyi was writing when almost nothing had been sequenced, today we have thousands of complete genomes to test the idea. But testing the idea is irrelevant if Meyer is already convinced by the logic. Since Meyer is focused on the genetic code, Polanyi's argument is a major intellectual roadblock. Sequence independence of symbols is far less important than the translation from one symbol system to another, in understanding what a code is and how it functions. DNA is a code for protein (and RNA). Sequence independence means random sequences can acquire meaning slowly and stochastically, not that the entire code was graven on tablets of stone before the world's creation, and then delivered from heaven by a choir of angels. This process of "acquiring meaning" in the case of the genetic code means narrowing down the association of each triplet of bases from any random amino acid to a specific amino acid. There is a lot of evidence that this process is at least in part driven by the laws of physics and chemistry, contra Polanyi's pronouncements of 40 years ago. But you are not going to learn that from Signature in the Cell. Meyer also indulges in a 'big number' argument a

    6 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    With such thorough works like this, I'm amazed that the Neo-Darwinian/ID debate lingers on

    It is evident that Dr. Meyer has set out to follow the evidence wherever it leads and has worked hard to share that journey with the readers of this book. His hard work has convinced me that the ID paradigm best explains the "apparent" design observed in the simplest of cells. His analysis of the DNA molecule leaves little doubt that chance, necessity, or a combination to the two fall short, indeed do not even begin, to explain the origin of the information found in DNA. I found the literature reviews located throughout the book to be thorough, insightful, and well written. More than an enjoyable read, Signature in the Cell is a refreshing study I looked forward to picking up nearly every day.

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Improbability

    I'm only halfway through the book, but what I've read so far does not give me confidence in the author. He attempts to show that a functional protein of as many as 150 amino acids per molecule is too improbable to have formed purely by chance from a mixture of the twenty common amino acids. But what's the point? Everyone knows that if you just mix the twenty amino acids, what you'll get is gunk.
    It doesn't help that the picture of the formation of a protein from amino acids has a couple of silly mistakes. This is irrelevant to his argument, but it does indicate that the picture was never proofread by anyone who knows anything about proteins.

    5 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    More drivel from the Discovery Institute

    Once again, the antiscience crowd from the Discovery Institute is trying to pass of their fundamentalist ideology as scientific. This poorly written book will waste your time as it attempts to pretend that it's got something new to add to intelligent design, despite being nothing but yet another rehash that resorts to misrepresentations and hand waving in order to cover up the fact that Meyer doesn't actually have any evidence or research to back up his claims (the "historical science" nonsense about evolution being untestable is particularly stupid- just ask Neil Shubin).

    Bottom line, save your money and your time and read something else.

    5 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    Not an easy read but well worth it!

    This book deals with DNA, RNA, information transfer, proteins, amino acids, and much more. It explains very succinctly how DNA and RNA work...one of the best explanations I've read. However, because it deals with such a complex subject, you cannot just charge through it. It must be read slowly and carefully to fully understand what the author is conveying. I'm 3/4 of the way through it so I can't provide you with the "punch line" but I hightly recommend it. So far, it has been eye-opening and very instructive. It is actually hard to put down!

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 21, 2011

    horrible

    intelligent design is neo-creationism

    3 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2010

    Must Read for Fans & Critics of ID

    Do not be daunted by the size of this book or by the criticisms from those who have not even read it. If you want to know the accurate definition of intelligent design, why ID is a scientific endeavor, and why this all matters, you must read this book. While a good portion of the book is aimed at those who are well versed in various scientific disciplines, there is still something in the book for those are just generally interested in science and Intelligent Design specifically. I found Chapters 1,2, 20, the Epilogue and Appendix A especially useful in addressing some of the issues raised by critics of ID.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 5, 2010

    A must read

    This book clearly proves that Stephen C. Meyer is a highly intelligent and thourough researcher. I have found it very hard to put this book down to do other things. I purchased this book just a few days ago and am already up to the 17th chapter. I highly recommend this book for everyone. It is an eye opener and for those who have had their doubts and questions concerning the theory of evolution and Darwinsim to explain the origin of life, your questions and concerns will be answered in this book.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2010

    Good Read

    I've only read the ebook sample so far, but it's very easy to follow and very fascinating.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2013

    Grossly mischaracterizes evolution

    Useless garbage

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2012

    Well Written, Highly Accessible ID Argument

    Dr. Meyer takes the reader on a cell biology adventure that includes some useful history and philosophy in addition to copious amounts of cellular biology. His credentials, an earned PhD. in the Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University, serve him well to make the ID argument. Meticulous footnotes back up his premise, observations, conclusions and implications (this, perhaps, the most fascinating part of the book). Much quarreling, passing for arguments and debate, has been generated by critics who have personally acknowledged not reading this book. However, I found myself compelled to wade through the details to find a rich argument for the intelligent design theory. This book has become a go-to resource in my personal library.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Creationist crap for christian cretins

    Why does this nonsense appear in the Astronomy section?

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2010

    ID is NOT science

    Just because the author makes something up, doesn't make it true. If you want to know about DNA, read a textbook or any book written by a credible scientist who is knowledgeable on the subject. The author's arguments have no solid evidence to back them. This book is pure pseudo-science.

    2 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2013

    this book tells it like it is and blows the chance/evolution hyp

    this book tells it like it is and blows the chance/evolution hypothesis out of the water; I do not have the faith to be a Darwinist.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    Engrossing & thought provoking

    I never would have thought that I'd be thoroughly engrossed in a book about molecular biology. The historical pices have been fun to read and the science lesson has been fascinating. Highly recommended!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A worldview changing book--explains and validates a new scientific paradigm!

    Leaning heavily on the complex computer language-like aspects of the DNA code, Meyer, in chapters 4 through 6 describes the DNA code and its transcription, transportation, and translation machinery in clear terms that the casual reader can grasp, without the misleading oversimplification one finds in neo-Darwinian discussions. What we see in Signature is that our integrated genomic system is unmistakably a computer-aided manufacturing system. It involves the close coordination of a myriad of intricate machines. Driving the construction and operation of those machines is a computer programming code with enormous information carrying capacity. Meyer's argument for intelligent design is presented in an interesting and easy to read narrative. It leaves precious few questions unanswered, showing the real strength and comprehensive explanatory power of intelligent design theory. Fully researched and documented. The fun of popular science with the instructional value of a textbook. A must read for anyone interested in the big questions of life's origin and evolution. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2014

    Excellent read

    Well constructed argument for ID along with the interesting history of DNA's discovery

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  • Posted April 9, 2014

    The overview, and the book in general, is nothing but lies.

    The overview, and the book in general, is nothing but lies.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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