Discoveroids: Intelligent Design Is the Future

This one at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog is so chaotic and convoluted that it’s impossible to discuss it coherently. It’s titled Nanotechnology Engineers Struggle to Match Cell Performance, and it has no author’s by-line. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Cells make mechanical work look easy, but imitating what they do is very, very hard for intelligent designers of the human kind. Nanotechnologists are taking baby steps toward imitating what cells do all the time. [Description of what some cells do] … These moving parts are tightly regulated, directional and efficient. Now try building a molecular motor that can do these things.

They refer to and quote from this article in Science: Gearing up molecular rotary motors, which you can’t read without a subscription. Then they say:

While we applaud every bit of progress in this very challenging arena, the real lesson is what they are learning about design requirements.

[…]

When we ask just how ingenious the design is, we finally hear an admission that cells do things far, far better than we can.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] After a lot of quote-mining and babbling, the Discoveroids tell us:

In short, the best answers will come through biomimetics: imitating how cells do it. Cells have set a very high bar. The future of science, both for theoretical understanding and application, is focused on intelligent design.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh yeah — intelligent design is the future of science. And now we come to the end:

Without coming out and saying the banned phrase, these papers show it. Now if they can get their molecular machines to assemble from other molecular machines following coded instructions, and to reproduce themselves, they’ll really be onto something.

The message from the Discoveroids seems to be this: We can’t (yet) duplicate what the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — does in building biological cells, therefore … Oogity Boogity! That, dear reader, is creation science at its finest.

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14 responses to “Discoveroids: Intelligent Design Is the Future

  1. A classic case of ‘god of the gaps’. These people can’t understand that they’ve run this thought into the ground. They should look at how much they have had to back-pedal regarding the unique status of the earth as ever more exo-planets are discovered. Holding the view that something is only possible because ‘god-did-it’ is not a viable philosophy.

  2. Michael Fugate

    The future of engineering (hopefully) is intelligent design, the future of science because it is a human endeavor most likely is too – designing experiments, models, analyses, etc. But I don’t think this is what the DI has in mind.

  3. For neither the first nor doubtless the last time, I am utterly bewildered by what the DiscoTute is trying to say.

    On the one hand, they endlessly blather on about the supposed analogy between living organisms and complex artefacts produced by humans by design, which is something humans can do because they are intelligent agents capable of processing Information (which deserves a capital letter); ergo, living organisms are artefacts created by an even more Intelligent Agent (but please don’t call it God, for legal reasons),

    But I don’t really get that analogy, for several reasons. First off (as many here have often noted), human artefacts are not simply designed, they are manufactured, and there is nothing in the DI’s faulty analogy to account for how such a supposed Intelligent Designer goes about realising designs in the physical world.

    And secondly, they tell us nothing meaningful about the ‘Information’, which they claim is the perogative of intelligent agents: not what it is, where it comes from, or anything else. And my questions for the DI on this point would be: why didn’t Leonardo da Vinci, the designer of impracticable flying machines, not instead design the Wright brothers biplane instead? Were Wilbur and Orville that much smarter than Leonardo? Or was it just that they had better ‘Information’–but where, then, did that ‘Information’ come from if not from the slow, steady accumulation and–dare I say it–of knowledge gained by trial and error experience of the physical world? For that matter, why did the Wright brothers design and build a simple biplane instead of a Boeing 747?

    And now–in this latest screed from the ‘Toot, they’re turning their own analogy on its head: living organisms are so complex that humans cannot match the intricacy of their ‘design’ and ‘engineering.’ And never mind all the properties of living organisms which are not features of human artefacts!

    Sorry, Disco’tute, I don’t follow your argument….

  4. Once again they resort to the argument that life is so much different from intelligent design that it must be intelligent design.

  5. @ TomS: Bingo! And thank you for saying, in less than two dozen words, what I couldn’t express in 6 waffling paragraphs!

  6. Michael Fugate

    What’s comic is the DI can’t even get the theology correct either. Aquinas argued that there was a God and because there was a God the universe exhibits design. The DI after their patron saint Paley argues that because the universe exhibits design there is a God. Not the same argument at all.

    The big problem is that neither Aquinas nor Paley could articulate what exactly this God did or does. We know the DI has no clue about anything – so they are no help in resolving this issue.

  7. And as I never get tired of pointing out:

    “intelligent designers of the human kind”
    belong to our natural reality, while the Grand Old Designer (blessed be Him/Her/It) is supposed to reside in a supernatural reality. Analogies don’t work if you fail to address the crucial differences.

  8. Michael Fugate

    If Aquinas were correct, then order is a property of the universe. This would entail that life should be able to arise almost any place – given it’s here. The DI’s campaign against extraterrestrial life and human exceptionalism are again theologically and scientifically incorrect.

  9. If there is something special about the surface of the Earth that makes life possible,
    If the Earth is an exceptional planet, unique among the 100 million planets in the Milky Way, that has the design for life,
    Then why was it not designed with an exception to the Conservation of Complex Specified Information to make life possible?

  10. Michael Fugate

    This whole fiasco of creationism/ID seems predicated on the need to feel special by some very insecure people – hence the whole human exceptionalism/ privileged planet wishful thinking.

  11. I agree.
    When “Origin of Species” came out, Darwin was careful not to mention human evoluutioon (except in one sentence: Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history). Yet immediately it was the scandal. The subject of cartoons. Bishop Wilberforce’s 1860 speech.
    The most common objection to evolution is “If monkeys become man, how come there are still monkeys”.
    And IMHO, the emotion against this is because it is so obviously true.

  12. In short, the best answers will come through biomimetics: imitating how cells do it. Cells have set a very high bar. The future of science, both for theoretical understanding and application, is focused on intelligent design.

    You betcha, as Sarah Palin (who I’m sure is a creationist) would say–intelligent design by humans. That goes without saying: humans will (intelligently, I hope) design scientific experiments and devise new technologies. But that doesn’t mean some superhuman Designer said, “Let there be light!” and there was light.

    Without coming out and saying the banned phrase, these papers show it. Now if they can get their molecular machines to assemble from other molecular machines following coded instructions, and to reproduce themselves, they’ll really be onto something.

    And if “they” become able to duplicate the fertilized ovum of a human being, creationists will march on their labs with torches and pitchforks (or, more likely, guns).

  13. Clearly the lesson here is that evolution over billions of years can produce better “machines” than humans can (yet) design – at least at the smallest scales. “Biomimetics” sounds to me like an effort to copy the more useful products of evolution. As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the effort that implies that anyone thinks the object being copied was designed.

    Perhaps the future of biomimetics could be defined as applying the principles of evolution to the design of molecular machines.

  14. One is reminded of “Orgel’s Second Law”. May I paraphrase it as “Evolution is capable of more than design”.