Is the Discoveroids’ Designer an Engineer?

Today’s new post at the creationist blog of the Discovery Institute brings back a couple of subjects that we haven’t seen for quite some time. It’s titled Engineers in the Systems Biology Revolution, and it has no author’s by-line. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

A new episode of ID the Future [Ooooooooooooh! A Discoveroid podcast!] spotlights systems biology and the role engineers can play in some leading-edge biology.

Did they say engineers? Wowie! That reminds us of the Salem hypothesis, according to which engineering types — and that often includes computer scientists — have a tendency toward the creationist viewpoint. Then they say:

According to guest Steve Laufmann, systems biology is taking the biological world by storm, an approach that treats biological systems as optimally or near-optimally engineered systems and, using that working assumption, seeks to better understand the system.

Laufmann’s name rarely shows up around here. The last time was You Can’t Criticize the Intelligent Designer, where the Discoveroids described him as “a consultant in the growing field of Enterprise Architecture.” Anyway, the new Discoveroid post tells us:

Laufmann says this provides an opening for engineers to contribute, since they have a deep understanding of what it takes to make a complex system work, and what’s required to change one core aspect of an engineered system so that it continues to work with all of the other crucial parts of the system.

Engineers are already contributing to the Discoveroids’ activities. You’ve probably heard of the Discoveroids’ list of scientists who have signed their Scientific Dissent from Darwinism. A big percentage of those “scientists” are engineers, as we discussed in Discoveroids’ “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism”. But that’s old news. Let’s find out what the Discoveroids are trying to tell us today. Their post continues:

Many biologists aren’t trained in this, Laufmann says, and most engineers aren’t trained in the details of biology. Laufmann argues that the way forward [to creationism, presumably] is to get engineers and biologists talking, train biologists in engineering principles, and train engineers in biology.

Ah yes, that’s “the way forward.” Or is it? Anyway, there’s a bit more to the Discoveroid post, but it’s best that we ignore it. This is where we’re leaving them, but you can click over there and gobble up the rest — if that’s what you like.

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

13 responses to “Is the Discoveroids’ Designer an Engineer?

  1. The way forward is engineering and biology for everyone in the world. Not just engineers and biologists. Creationists you got to think bigger.

  2. It is hard to see anything like engineering design in the way that DNA gives rise to
    a living thing.
    It is a famous problem to determine what shape of a protein will arise from
    a stretch of DNA. Now consider part of the design problem: from a functioning protein determine what stretch of DNA will produce it. That is a much more difficult problem. It isn’t at all like a design process.
    But the process of producing a function living thing is so much more difficult.. Just take the simple structure of the eye. How does one “design” DNA to produce proteins which act in the development of a foetus so that there will be a functioning eye? To approach that a design problem? No way!

  3. If the Designer can alter the donkey DNA and make it talk, and then alter the Balaam DNA so that Balaam didn’t think there was anything weird about the donkey taking to him, then the Designer can design the heck out of some demons and angels and eyeball DNA! I don’t see the problem.

  4. What works, works. So it’s not surprising that biologists can learn something from the engineering demands of organisms, or that engineers can learn something from the way in which organisms function. In fact, this has been going on for decades. One small example is the area of biomimetic materials chemistry, which addresses problems like the remarkable strength of seashells.

    As for “a deep understanding of what it takes to make a complex system work, and what’s required to change one core aspect of an engineered system so that it continues to work with all of the other crucial parts of the system”, I can see how this would contribute to our understanding of evolution. Indeed, the alleged impossibility of such changes has since Darwin’s own time been one of the stock arguments against evolution, so one can only wonder at the DI’s lack of understanding of the implications of what they themselves are now saying

  5. I can think of examples of engineers using biological information to develop some product. The space suits used by NASA would be one obvious example. And long before that we’ve had the use of diving suits for under-water work. There may be other examples that I can’t think of at the moment. But I don’t recall anyone ever making the bizarre claim that because engineers developed the space suit, we must conclude that life on earth was intentionally engineered.

  6. @Curmudgeon
    How about the argument that engineers have solved a problem by discovering how a living thing works. How to fly by making wings.

  7. I’m convinced it’s all word play. Here’s how it works. 1) Someone slips and calls circadian rhythms a clock. 2) Badda bing boom, let the wordplay commence.

    If young William Paley had today’s high-tech imaging tools, he wouldn’t need to build his argument for design from a watch on a heath. He would marvel at the clocks within his own body. Indeed, clocks are universal within biology, from bacteria to birds, from yeast to beast, from mammals to man. All the circadian rhythms in life are regulated by molecular clocks. Biology runs on time!

  8. Looking at the ID designers work here on earth…S/He/IT is a psychotic incompetent ahole dimwit, who should be fired!!!!

  9. TomS: Our aircraft don’t have flapping wings, and our rockets certainly don’t. Just look around your house and try to figure out what engineers have copied from living things — the electrical grid? Air conditioning? Fireplace & chimney? Microwave oven? No need to go further, is there?

  10. @The Curmudgeon
    Yes. That was sort of my point, which I didn’t express clearly.
    The “intelligent designer” is a dis-analogy.

  11. chris schilling

    So we could invert their analogy, so as to say, for example: if bird flight were designed, shouldn’t it more resemble the way aeronautical engineering works? The fact that it doesn’t is a good indication that flight, first in arthropods and later in avian dinosaurs, evolved, or was selected for, like other major innovations in biology.

    As you put it, a dis-analogy when ID is invoked.

  12. @chris schilling
    I wish that there were some description of design, some principles of design that everybody would agree on, so we could say that the vertebrate eye (or life, or the laws of nature, or existence (why is there something rather than nothing)) doesn’t look like design.

  13. bewilderbeast

    Can’t resist the ancient engineering students’ joke (twisted):
    “6000 years ago I cooden even spel injinear, and now I are one.”

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