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.