The Letter Nature Wouldn't Print

Staff & Stephen C. Meyer
Discovery Institute
May 23, 2005
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Nature magazine has refused to print a letter from Dr. Stephen Meyer, Director of Discovery's Center for Science & Culture, after his interview for an article the magazine printed about the growing number of university students taking interest in researching the theory of intelligent design. For more on the article and the responses click here to see our blog post on Evolution News & Views.

May 6, 2005

Geoff Brumfiel's article on the theory of intelligent design (ID) [Nature, "Who has designs on your students' minds," April 28th, 2005] repeatedly mischaracterizes the contemporary design hypothesis as an argument from ignorance, as if the ID argument were based solely on the fact that "some biological systems are too complex. . .to be explained by natural selection alone.",1 Yet, as I explained in our interview, design theorists argue for intelligent design not only because natural selection and other materialistic mechanisms seem incapable of explaining, for example, the origin of digital information and complex machines in cells, but also because we know from experience that systems possessing such features do invariably arise from intelligent causes. 2, 3 As the pioneering information theorist Henry Quastler observed, "information habitually arises from conscious activity." 4 Thus, what we know about the present cause and effect structure of the world suggests intelligent design as an obvious explanation for the information necessary to build living systems.

Similarly, whenever we encounter irreducibly complex systems and we know how such systems arose, invariably intelligence played a role. For this reason, the presence of irreducibly complex systems in cells also constitutes a powerful positive indicator of intelligent design.

Contrary to Brumfiels' report, the inference to design in biology is not based upon ignorance or religion, but instead upon standard uniformitarian methods of reasoning and biological evidence. Cells contain miniature machines, complex circuits and sophisticated information processing systems‹exquisite nanotechnology that in any other realm of experience would immediately, and properly, trigger recognition of prior intelligent activity.

Yours sincerely,
Stephen C. Meyer, Ph.D.
Director and Senior Fellow
Center for Science & Culture
Discovery Institute

1. Brumfiel, G. Nature 434, 1062-1065 (2005).
2. Meyer, S.C., Proc of the Biol. Society of Washington 117(2), 213-239 (2004).
3. Meyer, S.C., "DNA and the Origin of Life: Information, Specification and Explanation." In: Darwinism, Design and Public Education, J.A. Campbell and S.C. Meyer eds., pp.223-285,(Michigan State Univ. Press, East Lansing, 2003).
4. Quastler, H. The Emergence of Biological Organization (Yale Univ.
Press, New Haven, 1964).