‘Design Science’ from the Discovery Institute

This is a good example of … well, something at the creationist blog of the Discovery Institute: Gecko, Fairyfly, Manta Ray: Animals Push the Limits of the Possible. It has no author’s by-line.

Right up front, we note from their title that the creatures they mention “push the limits of the possible.” That means they’re not doing anything impossible, so whatever it is we’re about to hear about is consistent with natural law. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

If humans cannot yet achieve these feats with our best engineering knowledge, what are we to think of humble animals that make the semi-miraculous look routine?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Humans can’t breathe in water, as fish do. Are we supposed to regard them as “semi-miraculous” and fall to our knees as we contemplate the wonder of it all? Let’s find out what they’re babbling about. They say:

A favorite animal for bio-inspired science, the gecko has earned more claims to fame beyond its ability to walk on walls and ceilings. (That trick, you remember, relies on a property of adhesion at the atomic level called the van der Waals force.) Yes, robot designers would love to imitate that feat. And think of the wannabee spider-kids that would be thrilled to open a holiday present to find a costume that would let them walk up walls like Spider Man. Fabrics with microscopic hairs imitating the gecko footpads might just make that possible someday (to the horror of moms).

Okay, what of it? They tell us:

But adhesion is not the only trick for these lizards popularized in car insurance commercials. Geckos can also walk on water! Believe it or not, geckos are among the few animals (including basilisk lizards and grebes) that can skitter across the surface of water without sinking.

Ooooooooooooh! Where are they going with this? Let’s find out:

Watch the video from The Conversation [link omitted], where Jasmine Nirody from the Rockefeller University in New York describes how her team figured out the unique way geckos solve this problem. … Who taught the gecko atomic theory? [It must be the intelligent designer — blessed be he!] … Show this video [link omitted] to your kids — that is, if you are prepared to have to buy a gecko for the holidays to satisfy their pleadings afterward. Indulge their curiosity about animals with superpowers while you can, because it might inspire them to become design scientists.

“Design scientists”? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! They continue:

How small could you make a flying animal? The fairyfly is so tiny, it matches the cross section of a human hair! It’s hard to believe you can pack enough cells in this insect (not a fly, but a kind of wasp). Wingless varieties average 0.139 mm in length. … How do they get so small? For one thing, their cells are smaller than normal, and everything is downsized to the extreme. Ooooooooooooh! … A diagram shows a fairyfly at comparable size to a paramecium, a one-celled animal. This is astonishing! How can this insect have enough space to pack organs and tissues, let alone wings?

Are you rolling on the floor, drooling in ecstasy? Not yet? Then click over there and read what they say about the filter-feeding of the manta ray. That will surely cause you to toss away your science books and embrace the other-worldly wisdom of the Discoveroids. Now we come to the end:

That’s all for now, but with millions of species of animals out there, all suited for their environment with ingenious mechanisms at the limit of physical possibilities, we don’t expect to run out of similar material soon.

There’s another material they won’t run out of either, but we’ll let you guess what it might be. Anyway, that’s the latest creation science from the Discoveroids. Are you impressed, dear reader?

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

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46 responses to “‘Design Science’ from the Discovery Institute

  1. Yet another examples of how, because the only designs that we know anything about are not able to do such-and-such, there is reason to believe that the such-and-such is the product of Intelligent Design.

  2. Saying you don’t understand how something works is what I guess passes for scientific research at the Discovery Institute. The only real question remaining is how do they think this somehow passes for true science? Truly, it is beyond me. I blame the Intelligent Designer.

  3. “Who taught the gecko atomic theory? Show this video to your kids — that is, if you are prepared to have to buy a gecko for the holidays to satisfy their pleadings afterward.”
    So then your kids will be intrigued and later convinced to buy Geico insurance? The gecko’ tricky feats have all been explained by simply physical interpretations, nothing supernatural about them.

  4. TomS beat me to it–but here’s my summary of the DI’s argument here anyway:

    Because nature includes things we have not been able to intelligently design, that is evidence that nature is intelligently designed.


    The DI are approaching peak Orwellian in their double-think….

  5. @DavidK
    Of course they have a natural explanation.
    That is what design is all about, how to use nature to attain a goal.
    If you are not constrained by nature, then there is no point to design.

    If you will excuse my analogy: if you are not constrained by governments, their laws and regulations and taxes, then there is no point in hiring a lawyer.

  6. Michael Fugate

    Jesus was a gecko? Who knew?

  7. Leapin’ Jesus lizards is nothing! Klankerwanker can turn water into whine!

  8. For one thing the writer is an idiot. Geckos etc DO NOT walk on water!!!.They use hydro-dynamics to RUN across water. If they stopped and just walked, they would sink, just like everything else their size!!

  9. IDiot “science”: opening your mouth, dropping your jaw to the ground, losing some drool while shouting “I don’t understand, praise the Grand Old Designer (blessed be MOFO!”

    Probably this is too difficult for our other creafavourite, the ayatollah from the Appalachian, or he would have something to rant about once again:


    From behind the paywall: “Both specimens studied are from the Middle–Late Jurassic Yanliao Biota (around 165–160 million years ago.”

  10. I may have mentioned Orgel’s rules here before
    First rule: “Whenever a spontaneous process is too slow or too inefficient a protein will evolve to speed it up or make it more efficient.”
    Second rule: “Evolution is cleverer than you are.”
    What I heard him say actually is “Evolution is cleverer than Leslie Orgel”, but unless you are one of those rare anomalies who are cleverer than Leslie Orgel, it comes to much the same thing.

    There is actually a well-established sub-discipline in materials science and in engineering more generally of biomimetics. So I don’t know why SC didn’t include the link to the perfectly reputable article in The Conversation, a highly respectedonline magazine (I’ve published there myself), but since it’s his blog I won’t post it. However, the article does describe geckos as “walking” on water, which is sloppy of them, so we can’t blame DI for that detail.

    And thanks, FrankB, for that link. Every time I come on here, I seem to learn something

  11. I think of the law as: Evolution is cleverer than any designer.
    Of course, one is free to doubt that “law”.
    One can object to the word “cleverer”. Maybe someting like”more productive”. Or whatever. As long as it is the comparative form of an adjective.
    And one can understand if an advoocate of ID would object to any form of Orgel’s Second Law..
    But it is difficult to understand when an advocate of ID makes a point of shwing us an example of the law.
    “See, such-and-such is the sort of thing which a designer has not come up with. The sort of thing that designers have resorted to copying from nature.”

    This is the sort of argument which goes beyond the “Chewbacca Defense”. As if the defnse atterney were arguing “If it does not fit, you must acquit. And behold, it does fit. See, the prosecution itself must admit that it does fit. I rest my case.”

  12. Geckos scampering across water by taking advantage of natural surface tension is supposed to be near-miraculous? Well I’m not ready to throw out my science books just yet.

  13. @Monica Lewis
    I’ve got to admit that I wouldn’t have thought of that. Nor, if we are going to believe the ID advocates, no designer had thought of that.
    And that is just as persuasive as arguments for design can get!

  14. Honey, I shrunk the fairyflies.

    They neglected to mention certain species of owl that can rotate their heads
    to 270 degrees. Perhaps they thought that was straying into satanic territory?

  15. ChrisS, I don’t know why your comment was delayed.

  16. That’s okay. It wasn’t much of a comment, anyway.

  17. I suggest we officially call it the “Argument from Awe and Wonder”. A watertight proof for design.

  18. Not one of the DI examples operates on “supernatural” principles, they all utilize everyday physics and chemistry. So apparently the DI “designer” is totally constrained to the laws of physics and chemistry and the supernatural is merely a superstition currently being heavily promoted by willfully ignorant fools. It must really suck for an omnipotent designer to be entirely shackled by simple rules that mere apes can understand, rather like not existing at all.

  19. “I suggest we officially call it the “Argument from Awe and Wonder”. A watertight proof for design.”

    Excepting that “awe and wonder” is not really unique to creationism, while “willful ignorance” is the most significant part of creationism.

  20. @LG
    Let us assume for the moment that there is a feature of the world of life which is not explained by evolutionary biology.
    What is the alternative explanation?
    I refer the reader to the essay by Herbert Spencer, “The Development Hypothesis” from 1852. In brief, whereas the claim is that there is not sufficient evidence for a natural explanation, there is no description of a supernatural explanation, let alone any evidence. No one in the last 166 years offered a supernatural explanation as an alternative.
    One does not need to be an atheist to realize that.

  21. Hold on a second. How do they justify saying that the fairyfly is not a fly, but a kind of wasp? That’s a fairly meaningless statement unless fairyflies share a common ancestor with other wasps.

    [*Voice from above*] Delayed by software for unknown reasons.

  22. Michael Fugate

    Comedy ensues:
    Dr. Brian Miller is an apologist for Every Nation churches and campus ministries. He has a BS in physics from MIT and a PhD in physics from Duke University.
    So no clue about biology with the usual improbability retrodiction, but we learn who the designer is now – something ID claims it doesn’t know!

  23. ChrisS:

    They neglected to mention certain species of owl that can rotate their heads to 270 degrees.

    Hence the claim that if you walk around an owl three times it will screw its head off.

  24. TomD: “And the walls are indeed crumbling.”
    They are? All I’ve seen anywhere is a succession of PRATTs (points refuted a thousand times), One good thing is that they seem to be getting less frequent as time goes on.

  25. @TomD
    “Many have bet the farm that evolutionary biology can explain everything.”
    Who says that evolutionary biology can explain everything?
    Evolutionary biology cannot explain the lack of argon in life, exoplanets, or the Pythagorean Theorem.
    Of course, neither can Intelligent Design. Nor does it explain the nested hierarchy of biological taxonomy, embryology, or biogeography.
    But, then, Intelligent Design does not explain anything.
    As far as crumbling, see:
    The Imminent Demise of Evolution, The Longest Running Falsehood in Creationism

  26. @ChrisS is uncharacteristically and needlessly modest today: “It wasn’t much of a comment, anyway.”
    It was funny enough to make me laugh and that’s one of the most important criteria on this nice blog.

    @Hans: “Argument from Awe and Wonder”.
    Nothing new. The first time I met is was more than 35 years ago. However then it was not used as an argument against evolution. I even remember the example: the wonder the guy felt when looking at a chicken hatching from its egg.

    @Zetopan observes something unsurprising: “Not one of the DI examples operates on “supernatural” principles,”
    There aren’t any, so what choice do IDiots have but making a salto mortale from our natural reality into their presupposed supernatural reality?

  27. And Intelligent Design has never found an alternative explanation.

  28. @LG compliments our dear SC witthout even realizing it:

    “how Darwinism manages to survive”
    BWAHAHAHAHA! Our dear SC is not a scientist, so the survival of Evolution Theory does not depend on him. It rather deserves on people who wrote the article I linked to above and of course you even didn’t click it.
    I would fear that our dear SC would start walking next to his shoes from sheer arrogance weren’t I be sure that he’s very skeptical about creacrap compliments like this one.
    Of course such a stupid comment like yours would be incomplete without an even more stupid semantic non-argument.

    @TomD: “And the walls are indeed crumbling.”
    BWAHAHAHAHA! They have been crumbling for 50 years now and will keep on crumbling as long at there are creacrapper like you fooling themselves. When the last one has disappeared it will be clear that despite all this crumbling the walls will still stand tall and be higher than ever.

    “You’ve just disqualified Curmie”
    BWAHAHAHAHA! Creacrap logic at its best: MF points out that someone has no clue about biology hence our dear SC hasn’t either. Ah, what would become of creacrap without its beloved fallacies?

  29. @PaulD, obviously the same way that they explain other family resemblances. Presumably close examination of the morphology shows that it’s a wasp. Behe would admit common ancestry, but would say that each constructive mutation is a separate miracle. AiG what of course say that they are just different species of the same kind. I don’t know what the mainstream DI line is on this.

  30. @FrankB you say that it has been 50 years now that the walls [are said to be] crumbling. Here is the widely reported survey going back to 1825, by Glenn Morton, “The Imminent Demise of Evolution, The Longest Running Falsehood in Creationism”
    While I’m at it, there is the Wikipedia article, “Level of support for evolution” and the “Clergy Letter Project”, still alive and growing after 14 years. (I just noticed that its anniversary is on December 16).

    While, on the other hand, no one has yet offered an alternative to evolution.
    Not “crumbling”, for there is nothing of substance to crumble.

  31. Humans can’t breathe in water

    Well, actually, when we’re in the womb…

  32. I want to reconsider what I said about creationism not “crumbling”.
    Actually, since the appearance of modern Young Earth Creatonism, in the mid 20th century, there has been “crumbling”.
    There is the acceptance of what they call “micro-evoluton”. (Thre is a scientific use of the term, to refer to evoluton within a species.) Many of the prminent creatonists have backed off from total denial of evlution. They have made up a term, “kind” (aka “baramin’) which is “someting like” a txonomic family (a larger group, mostly, than species or genus, but not so big when it comes to humans, where the taxonomic family is Hominidae, including chimps, gorillas and orangs). Crumble, crumble. And there is the late 20th century innovaton of “Intelligent Design” which makes a point of not taking a stand on anything positive or substantial. Crumble, crumble. And, there seems to be – it is hard to detect anything given the smoke andmirrors) an abandonment of the purity of ID. A couple of high-profile disappearances. Crumble, crumble.
    Certainly no instances of building going on.

  33. Shaneekwa O'Shaunessey

    We should reject, as a matter of principle, the substitution of intelligent design for the dialogue of chance and necessity [aka oogity boogity awesome fortuity] (Behe 1996); but we must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical system, only a variety of wishful speculation.

    Franklin M. Harold, The Way of the Cell,Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 205

    This holds true today. Yes, Darwinism is a house of cards propped up only by the blind faith of the wishful thinkers. But alas, Planck was right, science advances one funeral at a time.

  34. Michael Fugate

    “A pattern of global evolution that features deep time dominated by microbes, saltatory events such as lateral gene transfer, symbiosis, periodic catastrophes and bursts of innovation is not exactly what Darwin had in mind ….. But even cell evolution is animated by the universal principles of heredity, variation and natural selection. Cell evolution is not the world Darwin knew, but it’s Darwin’s world all the same.”

    (Franklin M. Harold In Search of Cell History: The Evolution of Life’s Building Blocks, 2014)

    Duelling quotes.

  35. Michael Fugate

    Yes FrankB, it is funny that our drive-by ID fan is so muddled. I can’t remember anyone here citing our esteemed host as an expert on evolutionary biology nor has our esteemed host ever claimed to be one. But any apologist with a science degree is automatically an expert on any or all aspects of evolutionary biology in their eyes. OOooooohhhhhh a PhD! – an authority just below my god (the ultimate authority). Comedy ensues as usual.

  36. @Shaneekwa’s right! Some thing we didn’t know in 2001 (we do a little bit now), therefore God. Or something. But definitely not Darwin

    Actually, we’ve been decidedly post-Darwinian for at least 50 years now, but let that pass

  37. And good grief, she really does (albeit indirectly) quote Behe. My cup runneth over

  38. @TomS: “it has been 50 years now …..”
    Thanks, I stand corrected. I was too lazy to look it up.

    @PaulB: even better, Shaneekwa’s right on a second point too!

    “science advances one funeral at a time”
    Exactly. And given the fact that creacrappers keep on repeating the same clunkers over and over and over again, hence making no advance at all no matter how many funerals the obvious conclusion is what we all know here: creacrap is not science.

    Where do all those creacrappers suddenly come from? Or how many avatars does this one creacrapper have?

  39. @S O’S
    Let us assume for the moment that this is still true
    but we must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical system, only a variety of wishful speculation.
    ANd let us recall the 1852 essay of Herbert Spencer, “The Development Hyothesis” https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Development_Hypothesis
    “In a debate upon the development hypothesis, lately narrated to me by a friend, one of the disputants was described as arguing that, as in all our experience we know of no such phenomenon as the transmutation of species, it is unphilosophical to assume that transmutation of species ever takes place. Had I been present, I think that, passing over his assertion, which is open to criticism, I should have replied that, as in all our experience we have never known a species created, it was, by his own showing, unphilosophical to assume that any species ever had been created.”

    That is to say,
    but we must concede that there are presently no detailed Intelligent Design accounts of the design of any biochemical system, only a variety of wishful speculation.

    Actually, it is more correct to say
    … there are no ID accounts of any biocheical systemm, only a variety of woshful problems for evolution
    That is, it is difficult to dignify what thecreationists have to offerl:
    Please, let there be someting wrong with Darwinism.
    Things are the way they are because agency which is apt to do anything could just as well do this as do anything.
    or even
    There is an alternative explanation.

  40. Michael Fugate

    Summary of his new book in one sentence.
    But Behe looked at them and said to them, “With random mutation and natural selection this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    Of course, nature doesn’t look as if all things are possible, just saying.

  41. @MF
    If all things are equally possible, then the probability of any one of them is:
    1 / number of possibilities

    Assuming that there are infinitely many possibiities, then the probability of the actual state of affairs is 0 (zero).

    But we don’t have to assume that there are infinitely many possibilities. If we just assume that the the number of supernatural possibilities is greater than the number of natural possbilities, then the probabilty of supernatural cause resulting in the actual 1 is less than the probabilityy of any natural cause resuting in the actual (no matter how small that natural probabilitiy).

  42. Michael Fugate

    I never claimed that his book made sense….

  43. @Michael Fugate, it sounds as if the new book is very similar to the last one

  44. @KELVINC, no thanks. I don’t know what Darwinism is, unless you mean the state of evolutionary thought before, say, 1950, which has of course been much modified since then, and Behe’s own review (Quart Rev Biol) shows that he’s wrong experimentally. [SC; if I’m replying to something that’s disappeared, use your judgment as to whether this one of mine should stand, or join it in the trash]

  45. Paul Braterman, your comments aren’t trash.

  46. Michael Fugate

    I am thinking that quote from Matthew is a pretty good summary of every creationist book.

    I wonder if ID apologetics have used Jesus’ miracles and parables to support their cause. The parable of the sower is perfect to discuss natural and supernatural mutations – random scattering of seeds puts them in places they won’t grow, but intelligence puts them in fertile ground and rows (how perfect is that?!) or the how about the wedding at Cana?

    Jesus is the reason for diversification of body plans? Not quite the same ring, but I am sure one of our poets can come up with a nice ad jingle.