The Scutoid Is Evidence of Intelligent Design

It never fails. As soon as something new is disvovered, the Discovery Institute is certain to claim that it’s evidence for their “theory” of intelligent design. It doesn’t matter that they didn’t discover it and didn’t predict it. In their world, everything fits in with their “theory.”

The discovery in this case is reported by PhysOrg. Their headline is Study reveals new geometric shape used by nature to pack cells efficiently. They say, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

As an embryo develops, tissues bend into complex three-dimensional shapes that lead to organs. Epithelial cells are the building blocks of this process forming, for example, the outer layer of skin. They also line the blood vessels and organs of all animals. These cells pack together tightly. To accommodate the curving that occurs during embryonic development, it has been assumed that epithelial cells adopt either columnar or bottle-like shapes. However, a group of scientists dug deeper into this phenomenon and discovered a new geometric shape in the process.

They uncovered that, during tissue bending, epithelial cells adopt a previously undescribed shape that enables the cells to minimize energy use and maximize packing stability. The team’s results will be published in Nature Communications in a paper called “Scutoids are a geometrical solution to three-dimensional packing of epithelia”.


The group has named the new shape the “scutoid,” for its resemblance to the scutellum — the posterior part of an insect thorax or midsection.

Here’s a link to that paper: Scutoids are a geometrical solution to three-dimensional packing of epithelia. You can read it online without a subscription. Amazingly, Wikipedia already has an article on it, simply titled Scutoid.

Okay, that’s plenty for you to read if you’re interested, but what we really want to tell you about is that the Discoveroids are already all over this thing. They just posted Previously Unknown “Scutoid” Shape, Critical to Biology, Calls Architecture and Design to Mind, written by Klinghoffer. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

A previously unknown shape, the scutoid, turns out to be crucial to the origin of life beyond the unicellular. It also seems to call forth analogies to architecture and design that may leave Darwinists feeling uneasy.

Are you feeling uneasy, dear reader? If so, it may get worse as we go on. Klinghoffer then gives a big quote from The New Yorker, of all places. We’ll skip that. Then he quotes USA Today. We haven’t verified his quote, but he claims they tell us: “The researchers named the shape after a similar design in the thorax of some beetles.” Leaping upon that, Klinghoffer exclaims — with his bold font:

What!? A similar “design”? The “design in the thorax”? BGR [whatever they are] echoes: “It was named after a beetle’s back which appears to share the same design.”

Isn’t this great? Then he quotes Popular Mechanics, again with his bold font:

“Much of our bodies are covered in epithelial cells, which are cells designed to stick very closely together in order to form some type of barrier or wall.”

Wowie — everyone says design! Klinghoffer continues:

These sources should be more careful with their word choice. Someone could get the wrong idea.

Someone already did!

The rest of his article is a picture of a building in Seattle with an architectural design that looks somewhat like a scutoid. Trust your Curmudgeon, it’s not worth clicking over there to see it.

So there you are. Klinghoffer has given us a fine example of the First Law of The Ten Laws of Creationism, which we quote here for convenience: 1. The Law of Evidence: Everything is Designed; therefore everything is evidence of ID. No evidence supports evolution.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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18 responses to “The Scutoid Is Evidence of Intelligent Design

  1. Many intelligent human designers failed to discover this shape. But evolution found it.

    In my book, that should count as evidence against ID.

  2. This strikes me as a bit silly since we have long taught this amazing shape in histology of the simple squamous epithelium of vessels. We just never called them scutoids.

  3. Has anyone ever addressed Paley’s question: Why resort to contrivance when power is omnipotent?

  4. …Calls architecture and design to mind.”
    Not my first thoughts. Sounds like chance to me. Many ways cells and/or molecules can configure themselves, but what will endure is what works and is advantageous.

  5. The folks at DI either can’t tell a figure of speech (“designed”) from a factual statement or hope their suckers, er, audience can’t.

  6. Dave Luckett

    So this is the most efficient shape for minimizing energy use and maximizing packing density. And the theory of evolution states plainly that evolution cannot seek efficient solutions.

    Oh, wait…

  7. Is this a consequence of the Principle of Least Action?
    Does the Principle apply to Intelligent Design or Creation?
    How about the thermodynamics of the design/creation? Are the agents acting in accord to the laws of thermodynamics? If they are, how are they different from agents subject to the laws of nature; if not, what does the efficiency matter?

  8. “Previously Unknown “Scutoid” Shape, Critical to Biology, Calls Architecture and Design to Mind”

    “To Mind”? Creationists don’t actually seem to have a mind, anymore than an old reel to reel tape recorder playing a loop of tape that says “gawd did it” until it finally wears out. ID is solidly on the tail end of the bathtub curve.

  9. For “Bathtub curve” see the Wikipedia article.

    As an alternative to evolution, design fails:
    There is no need for an alternative.
    As an stopgap for a weakness (e.g. “Why is there anything and not nothing”) in any science:
    Design by itself doesn’t explain anything.
    Design is about constraints. (Appropriate only for natural processes, not the supernatural, and meaningless for the omnipotent. )

  10. It’s difficult to know why the designer had to invent a scutoid. Efficient packing can be achieved with cubes, or any box-shaped rectangular cuboids.

  11. If I understand their description, the scutoid is flat; cubes or cuboids would not work for the vasculature or alveolar linings. But I may not understand 🙂

  12. Douglas E, a scutoid isn’t necessarily flat. A cuboid can be just as flat. Think of a pencil box.

  13. … a previously undescribed shape that enables the cells to minimize energy use …

    By the same argument, the “miracle” of the mud puddle conforming to the exact outline of the edges of the mud puddle hole would also be evidence of “design.” In both instances, they are the minimum energy configurations that fit the constraints imposed by reality.

    Hence, no intelligent design necessary at all… unless you want to attribute everything to the Great and Awesome Invisible Intelligent Mud Puddler in the sky.

  14. Michael Fugate

    According to the DI, doesn’t everything call design to mind?

  15. Yes, but the primary advantage of a scutoid vs a cuboid is that it can have more that four junctions with neighboring cells; this is a significant advantage for intercellular cohesion and communication. And in histology, when a cuboid becomes so flat, it is described as squamous.

  16. @The Curmudgeon
    God did not “had to” do anything at all.
    To attribute design to God is to make God conform to nature, and to our understanding of nature.
    “Necessity is the mother of invention”, and there is no necessity for God, and thus no “invention”.
    Gods, even if they wanted to make efficient packing, would not be constrained to operate in Euclidean 3 dimenional space.
    The whole thing about attributing design to God just doesn’t make any sense at all.

  17. @Douglas E is another evilutionist who misses the point of IDiocy:

    “but the primary advantage of a scutoid vs a cuboid”
    Imperfect design is also evidence for the Grand Old Designer (blessed be MOFO!), just like perfect design.

  18. @FrankB
    And lack of evdence for design is not evidence for lack of design. After all, we poor finite humans, cursed by the Fall of Adam, cannot begin to grasp the subtlety of the supernatural.

    But … design is not enough to produce something. We know that Leonardo, that master designer, designed flying machines, but didn’t produce any. Rube Goldberg designed machines. Al Capp designed shmoos. M.C. Escher, etc.

    And … design is not evidence for the action of the supernatural, rather it is evidence for contrivance, the acknowledgement of the constraints of the natural.