Stephen Meyer’s book, Signature in the Cell does not attempt to unravel the age-old mystery of the origin of life. Instead, Meyer explicitly moves from the known to the unknown and draws from historical and scientific theories that seek to explain the origin of life, including Charles Darwin’s natural selection and James Watson and Francis Crick’s “revolutionary discovery” of the Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) mystery.
Based on his exploration of the science, Meyer concludes that the formation of life can be explained by the process of intricate design found in DNA information, a process that shows evidence of some form of organized activity which he argues, points towards intelligent design.
“From ancient times, observers of living organisms had noted that living things display organized structures that give the appearance of having been deliberately arranged or designed for a purpose, for example, the elegant form and protective covering of the coiled nautilus, the interdependent parts of the eye…,”writes Meyer.
According to Meyer, “information merely refers to a sequence of characters that produces some specific effect.”
The theory of intelligent design makes its argument based on “the presence of a single kind of effect, specified information, and an assessment of the ability of that competing cause to produce that effect,” he writes.
Meyer concedes that the question of the origin of life cannot be so easily explained by the mere inference of organized structure in DNA information. “And what does the presence of information in even the simplest living cell imply about life and its origins? Who or what ‘wrote’ the book of life?” he writes.
Referring to Watson and Crick’s discovery of the DNA mystery, Meyer points out that:
“When Watson and Crick discovered the structure and information bearing properties of DNA, they did indeed solve one mystery, namely the secret of how the cell stores and transmits hereditary information. But they uncovered another that remains with us to this day: This is the DNA enigma, the mystery of the origin of the information needed to build the first living organism.”
Meyer rebuts critics of intelligent design by basing his argument on the premise that “materialistic theories have proven universally inadequate for explaining the origin of information, intelligent design now stands as the only entity with the causal power known to produce this feature of living systems.”
Further, Meyer appeals to common sense and states that “reasoning leads us to believe that the information originated from a designing intelligence which modern biology refutes.”
He points out that “despite the Darwinian explanation the theory of design continues to persist.” Meyer supports his argument by quoting public opinion polls that “suggest that nearly 90 percent of the American public does not accept the full-fledged neo-Darwinian account of evolution with its denial of any role for a purposeful creator.”
According to Meyer, “Darwin’s theory of natural selection does not explain the origin of life and neither does it wholly refute the concept of a designer.”
Meyer also supports his theory by drawing from Charles Thaxton’s book, The Mystery of Life’s Origin, in which Thaxton attempts to explain the origin of DNA. “The information in DNA might have originated from an ‘intelligent cause,’” wrote Thaxton.