Atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel praised Signature in the Cell in the Times Literary Supplement, stating,
Stephen C. Meyer’s Signature in the Cell: DNA and the evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperCollins) is a detailed account of the problem of how life came into existence from lifeless matter – something that had to happen before the process of biological evolution could begin. The controversy over Intelligent Design has so far focused mainly on whether the evolution of life since its beginnings can be explained entirely by natural selection and other non-purposive causes. Meyer takes up the prior question of how the immensely complex and exquisitely functional chemical structure of DNA, which cannot be explained by natural selection because it makes natural selection possible, could have originated without an intentional cause. He examines the history and present state of research on non-purposive chemical explanations of the origin of life, and argues that the available evidence offers no prospect of a credible naturalistic alternative to the hypothesis of an intentional cause. Meyer is a Christian, but atheists, and theists who believe God never intervenes in the natural world, will be instructed by his careful presentation of this fiendishly difficult problem.
(HT: Uncommon Descent)
Stephen C. Meyer’s new book Signature in the Cell looks fascinating. Faith Interface gives a synopsis and links to a new, related video, Journey Inside The Cell. Several links to debates Meyer has participated in can be found here.
In the 21st century, the information age has finally come to biology. We now know that biology at its root is comprised of information rich systems, such as the complex digital code encoded in DNA. Groundbreaking discoveries of the past decade are revealing the information bearing properties of biological systems.
Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, a Cambridge trained philosopher of science is examining and explaining the amazing depth of digital technology found in each and every living cell such as nested coding, digital processing, distributive retrieval and storage systems, and genomic operating systems.
Meyer is developing a more fundamental argument for intelligent design that is based not on a single feature like the bacterial flagellum, but rather on a pervasive feature of all living systems. Alongside matter and energy, Dr. Meyer shows that there is a third fundamental entity in the universe needed for life: information.
A new video, Journey Inside The Cell, launched today dramatically illustrates the evidence for intelligent design within DNA, as described in Stephen C. Meyer’s book, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne 2009).
The original animation by Light Productions reveals in intricate detail how the digital information in DNA directs protein synthesis inside the cell, revealing a world of molecular machines and nano-processors communicating digital information . . .
“Strict naturalism, as an ideal scientific philosophy, seeks to include all aspects of reality within a comprehensive and unified perspective that excludes anything that is either conscious, or psychological, or mental in nature. Thus, not only does it ultimately exclude any teleological explanatory role for purposes with the result that no explanation can ultimately include mention of them (in this sense, strict naturalism countenances only purposeless explanations), but it also excludes or is incompatible with the view that agents make undetermined, free choices. Strict naturalism is incompatible with libertarian freedom because undetermined free choices are choices that are ultimately explained by the purposes of the agents who make them. Hence, because strict naturalism excludes ultimate teleological explanations in terms of purposes, it excludes libertarian free will.”
(From Naturalism, Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro, Eerdmans, 2008)
My comment: No purpose and no freedom. I have to say it’s difficult to see the attraction of strict naturalism. As Richard Dawkins rightly says, on this view, we simply dance to our DNA. That strikes me as pretty bleak.