Several months ago, I read the book Signature in the Cell, DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (SITC) by Stephen C. Meyer with highlighter in hand. However, I am just now getting around to writing a review on the book. I believe SITC to be a very important piece of the puzzle in establishing the case for design in the biological realm. I must warn the potential reader, the book is thick and very detailed in places. It is worth the read, though.
It is beyond question that the cell contains massive amounts of encoded information. Even the simplest possible, earliest lifeforms were biological storage devices of amazing amounts of information. The real question is, "What is the original source of this information?" In SITC, Meyer makes the case that the vast majority of this information cannot have arisen from natural, unintelligent sources and that there must be an intelligence that is the source of this information. However, this is more than just your typical, "Wow, look at how complex this is and so it must be designed" claim. He attacks this from many fronts, including the emerging field of bioinformatics. He makes a strong case that since there is no other possible natural source of this kind of information then, like Sherlock Holmes was fond of stating, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” This Truth is that the source of the information appears to have come from an intelligent, possibly supernatural, source.
In SITC, Meyer tells the story of his journey to a pro-Intelligent Design (ID) position. He provides a lot of background information on the players in the field and the course of research. Even if one is hostile to the ID position, this book is an interesting read because of the review of the field. He starts with the discovery of the double helix and the recognition that DNA contains encoded information. He even touches on the origins of science and the scientific method, including how to define what it means to test various theories in different scientific diciplines such as physics, history, cosmology, etc. Different tests are applicable in different realms of research and discovery. There is extensive discussion about the nature of science and how to define it consistently (and fairly) across disciplines.
He also discusses information theory in detail, including what probabilistic resources are and how to evaluate the likelihood of various events. He shows how we can make rational decisions about the reasonableness of probabilistic events and when we can conclude that it is irrational to continue to believe in improbable events.
When we see complex, specified, functional information in any other field, we rightly conclude that the source is intelligent. Meyer makes the logical extention to the world of information in the cell. SITC also evaluates the possibility of self-organization, biological predestination, or evolution to be the source of the functional, specified information in the cell. DNA has more than just information capacity (Shannon information); it also contains information content that is used to build proteins and run the cell. The origin of life also requires more than just the DNA. It requires the origination of "the system for storing and encoding digital information in the cell" and the origin of the functional interdependence (functional complexity) of all the parts of the cell.
Life consists of not just matter and energy, it also requires information. What is the best explanation for the cell's information, especially for the first life on Earth? Is it chance, necessity, chance & necessity, or something else? I agree with Meyers that the most reasonable explanation for the observed design is that the source is intelligence!
For further study I also recommend The Cell's Design, by Fazale Rana.