Stephen C. Meyer Philosopher of Science

Signature in the Cell

One hundred fifty years ago, Charles Darwin revolutionized biology, but did he refute intelligent design (ID)? In Signature in the Cell, Stephen Meyer argues that he did not. Much confusion surrounds the theory of intelligent design. Frequently misrepresented by the media, politicians, and local school boards, intelligent design can be defended on purely scientific grounds in accordance with the same rigorous methods that apply to every proposed origin-of-life theory.

Signature in the Cell is the first book to make a comprehensive case for intelligent design based upon DNA. Meyer embarks on an odyssey of discovery as he investigates current evolutionary theories and the evidence that ultimately led him to affirm intelligent design. Clearly defining what ID is and is not, Meyer shows that the argument for intelligent design is not based on ignorance or “giving up on science,” but instead upon our growing scientific knowledge of the information stored in the cell.

A leading proponent of intelligent design in the scientific community, Meyer presents a compelling case that will generate heated debate, command attention, and find new adherents from leading scientists around the world.



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.

Dr. Thomas Nagel, University Professor; Professor of Law; Professor of Philosophy, New York University

In this engaging narrative, Meyer demonstrates what I as a chemist have long suspected: undirected chemical processes cannot produce the exquisite complexity of the living cell. Meyer also shows something else: there is compelling positive evidence for intelligent design in the digital code stored in the cell’s DNA. A decisive case based upon breathtaking and cutting-edge science.

Dr. Philip S. Skell, National Academy of Sciences and Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University, emeritus

This timely and important book is a landmark in the intelligent design debate and one which draws together all relevant research and information. It is elegantly written in a style that is accessible and laced with interesting historical and personal anecdotes. ‘Signature in the Cell’ will pay rich dividends to everyone who turns its pages.

Dr. Norman C. Nevin, OBE, BSc, MD, FFPH, FRCPath, FRCP (Edin), FRCP Emeritus Professor in Medical Genetics, Queen’s University, Belfast

Meyer demolishes the materialist superstition at the core of evolutionary biology by exposing its Achilles’ heel: its utter blindness to the origins of information. With the recognition that cells function as fast as supercomputers and as fruitfully as so many factories, the case for a mindless cosmos collapses. His refutation of Richard Dawkins will have all the dogs barking and angels singing.

George Gilder, author of Wealth and Poverty and Telecosm

Signature in the Cell delivers a superb overview of the surprising and exciting developments that led to our modern understanding of DNA, and its role in cells.   Meyer tells the story in a most engaging way.  He retained my interest through many areas that would normally have turned me off.  He is careful to credit new ideas and discoveries to their originators, even when he disagrees with the uses to which they have been put.  The central idea of the book is that the best explanation of the information coded in DNA is that it resulted from intelligent design.  Meyer has marshaled a formidable array of evidence from fields as diverse as biochemistry, philosophy and information theory.  He deals fairly and thoroughly with even the most controversial aspects and has made a compelling case for his conclusion.  The book is a delightful read which will bring enlightenment and enjoyment to every open minded reader. 

Dr. John C. Walton, School of Chemistry, University of St. Andrews

Signature in the Cell is at once a philosophical history of how information has come to be central to cutting-edge research in biology today and one man’s intellectual journey to the conclusion that intelligent design provides the best explanation for that fact. In his own modest and accessible way, Meyer has provided no less than a blueprint for twenty-first-century biological science—one that decisively shifts the discipline’s center of gravity from nineteenth-century Darwinian preoccupations with fossils and field studies to the computerized, lab-based molecular genetics that underwrites the increasingly technological turn in the life sciences. After this book, readers will wonder whether anything more than sentimentality lies behind the continued association of Darwin’s name with ‘modern biology.’

Dr. Steve Fuller, Professor of Sociology of Science, University of Warwick, and author of Dissent from Descent

The origin of life remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of modern science. Looking beyond the biochemistry of the problem and focusing instead on the origin and information content of the ‘code of life,’ Meyer has written an eminently readable and engaging account of the quest to solve this mystery. Sharing both his personal history and a retelling of the key scientific discoveries of the last half century from this new and intriguing perspective, he has challenged us to consider an alternative to the standard story of abiogenesis and discover new meaning from our existence. I recommend this book to laypeople and accomplished professionals alike.

Edward Peltzer, Ph.D., Ocean Chemistry, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

This is a ‘must read’ for all serious students of the origin-of-life debate. Not only is it a comprehensive defense of the theory of intelligent design, it is a lucid and rigorous exposition of the various dimensions of the scientific method. Students of chemistry and biology at all levels — high school, undergraduate, or postgraduate — will find much to challenge their thinking in this book.

Alastair Noble, Ph.D. chemistry, former BBC Education Officer and Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools for Science, Scotland

How does an intelligent person become a proponent of intelligent design? Anyone who stereotypes IDers as antiscientific ideologues or fundamentalists should read Dr. Meyer’s compelling intellectual memoir. Meyer as a student became fascinated with the ‘DNA enigma’ — how the information to produce life originated — and at considerable risk to his career hasn’t given up trying to solve the mystery. Meyer shows how step-by-step he concluded that intelligent design is the most likely explanation of how the DNA code came to be, but he’s open to new evidence — and in so doing he challenges defenders of undirected evolution to have the courage to explore new alternatives as well.

Dr. Marvin Olasky, provost, The King’s College, New York City, and editor-in-chief, World

The most substantial of the many outstanding enigmas in our understanding of biology is to explain the source of the genetic information strung out along the Double Helix and how it gives rise to the near infinite diversity of form and attribute of the living world. Dr Meyer’s evaluation of the many contending theories in the light of the most recent scientific advances is comprehensive and dispassionate.  While his interpretation of the arguments in favour of Intelligent Design may not persuade all, this is a fascinating and intellectually stimulating book

Dr. James Le Fanu, author of Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves

The astonishing complexities of DNA have raised questions which the ruling scientific orthodoxy cannot begin to answer. As one of the scientists arguing for ‘intelligent design’ as the crucial missing link in our understanding of how life came to be, Steve Meyer guides us lucidly through that labyrinth of questions opened by discoveries in molecular biology on the frontier of scientific knowledge.

Christopher BookerThe Sunday Telegraph

A fantastic book that clearly answers expressed objections to ID as science . . . Only those philosophically opposed to design would be able to dismiss the clear scientific evidence that design is the only reasonable cause of life’s complex specified information. This book is a “must-read” for anyone within the debate.

Dr. Donald E. Johnson, author of Probability’s Nature and Nature’s Probability

Signature in the Cell is the quintessential work on DNA and its implications for intelligent design.

Greg Koukl, host of Stand To Reason

For too long the modern West (and increasingly the whole world) has languished under the delusion that everything has come from nothing, in other words that a purely material explanation for life and the universe is a reasonable concept. It isn’t and Steve Meyer’s exposure will be a healthy corrective in the contemporary discussion of origins.

Ranald Macaulay, (M.A., Cambridge University), principal of the Cambridge Centre for Apologetics

In Signature in the Cell, Stephen C. Meyer gives us a fascinating exploration of the case for intelligent design theory, woven skillfully around a compelling account of Meyer’s own journey. Along the way, Meyer effectively dispels the most pernicious caricatures: that intelligent design is simply warmed-over creationism, the province of deluded fools and morons, or a dangerous political conspiracy. Whether you believe intelligent design is true or false, Signature in the Cell is a must-read book.

Dr. Scott Turner, Environmental and Forest Biology, State University of New York, and author of The Tinkerer’s Accomplice: How Design Emerges from Life Itself

Signature in the Cell is a defining work in the discussion of life’s origins and the question of whether life is a product of unthinking matter or of an intelligent mind. For those who disagree with ID, the powerful case Meyer presents cannot be ignored in any honest debate. For those who may be sympathetic to ID, on the fence, or merely curious, this book is an engaging, eye-opening, and often eye-popping read.

The American Spectator

Meyer opens up a world of understanding that is largely closed to the public, by producing a work of synthesis and argument that is as powerful as Darwin’s, and one that is based on current science. Meyer has produced a game changer, a book that can win minds and energize a lasting consensus.

Samuel M. Randolph, author of Hidden Handedness

Stephen Meyer shows with brilliant clarity that biological systems contain information whose origin cannot be explained by purely physical forces. He explains the crucial difference between the order within a complex system and the information needed to specify the functions of a complex system. Many engineers have always known that hierarchical systems do not evolve from the bottom-up by chance. Now Meyer has explained why hierarchical biological systems cannot evolve from the bottom-up by chance mutations.

Dr. Stuart Burgess, Professor of Design & Nature, Dept of Mechanical Engineering, Bristol University