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Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe

Multiple Authors, Michael J. Behe, William A. Dembski and Stephen C. Meyer

Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe provides a collection of invaluable, in-depth papers by leading design theorists Michael Behe, William Dembski, and Stephen Meyer from a conference sponsored by the Wethersfield Institute in 1999.

William Dembksi, Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute, opens the book by explaining how design can be detected in the natural world. An explanatory filter can be used to determine if a given event is best explained by chance, law (necessity), or intelligent design. Dembski explains that a variety of disciplines, such as forensic science, psychology, or the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project already employ this sort of reasoning. It is then suggested that this scheme might be applied to detect design in the natural sciences.

Stephen Meyer, Director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, takes up Dembski’s challenge by finding that the laws of the universe are highly specified to allow for advanced life. According to Meyer, this implies design at the cosmic level. Meyer also finds design in biology, finding that the sequence specificity inherent in DNA and the specified complexity found in microbiological machines indicate that they were designed. Finally, Meyer critiques various naturalistic models for the origin of life and concludes that design is the best explanation. This is not an argument from ignorance because of our experience with design satisfying the vera causa principle — the recognition that historical sciences should postulate only causes which are sufficient to produce the effect in question. Meyer thus argues that we cannot make a uniformitarian argument to a supernatural deity to explain the specified complexity in life, because we have no observational experience with such, but we can invoke the general category of intelligence, for our uniform experience tells us that intelligence alone is the cause of complex, specified information.

Finally Michael Behe, biochemist and Senior Discovery Fellow, explains that the many irreducibly complex systems in the cell meet Dembski’s criteria for design. Behe recounts how critics postulate evolutionary explanations for the origin of such systems and describe Behe’s case for design as an argument from ignorance. Behe responds by observing that these Darwinian explanations are highly speculative and unlikely, and that Darwinists have placed their theory in an unfalsifiable position. Behe says design theorists should have no shame in inferring design when Darwinists cannot produce realistic scenarios for the origin of irreducible complexity.

Michael J. Behe

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Michael J. Behe is Professor of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978. Behe's current research involves delineation of design and natural selection in protein structures. In his career he has authored over 40 technical papers and three books, Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA that Challenges Evolution, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, and The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, which argue that living system at the molecular level are best explained as being the result of deliberate intelligent design.

William A. Dembski

Board of Directors, Discovery Institute
A mathematician and philosopher, Bill Dembski is the author/editor of more than 20 books as well as the writer of peer-reviewed articles spanning mathematics, engineering, philosophy, and theology. A past philosophy professor, he retired in 2014 from active research and teaching in intelligent design (ID) to focus on the connections between freedom, technology, and education — specifically, how education helps to advance human freedom with the aid of technology. Bill Dembski is presently an entrepreneur who builds educational software and websites. He lives in Iowa.

Stephen C. Meyer

Director, Center for Science and Culture
Dr. Stephen C. Meyer received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the philosophy of science. A former geophysicist and college professor, he now directs the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle. He is author of the New York Times-bestseller Darwin’s Doubt (2013) as well as the book Signature in the Cell (2009) and The Return of the God Hypothesis (forthcoming in 2020). In 2004, Meyer ignited a firestorm of media and scientific controversy when a biology journal at the Smithsonian Institution published his peer-reviewed scientific article advancing intelligent design. Meyer has been featured on national television and radio programs, including The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CBS's Sunday Morning, NBC's Nightly News, ABC's World News, Good Morning America, Nightline, FOX News Live, and the Tavis Smiley show on PBS. He has also been featured in two New York Times front-page stories and has garnered attention in other top-national media.