The Poorly Named Biologic Institute

Remember all those times you heard people claim that intelligent design folks don’t do any research of their own? Well, that’s all about to change (apparently)! Meet the Biologic Institute, a group of research scientists that claims to be going out there and doing the dirty work in favor of ID. Odd, since most scientists study the universe to find out about the universe, not to prop up a tired pseudoscientific religious perspective. Oh well, let’s check their mission statement!

Biologic Institute brings together scientists with diverse expertise, unified by the realization that a revolution in biology—with far reaching implications—is well under way. Like many revolutionary ideas, this one is powerful in its simplicity:

The more we learn about the organization of life,
the more clearly it reveals design.

Wait. This whole enterprise is based on Paley’s Watch? An argument that was shot down by David Hume centuries ago? I thought this was a “revolution in biology,” not a tired retread of creationist talking points.

When you realize that living cells store, transmit, and process information, the similarities with human technology are unavoidable. But when you get a glimpse of the remarkable sophistication of the cellular processes—and the almost unbelievably small scale of the molecular systems performing them—you begin to realize that humans are novices when it comes to complex design.

Novices as compared to what? There is no other being capable of conscious design known to exist. Living cells may have capabilities that seem similar to some human technology, but they have one fundamental, inescapable difference: they can reproduce. This makes them subject to natural selection.

Besides, as Hume said, design can’t be inferred in living things, because we know of nothing that can design living things (besides natural selection, if “design is used in a somewhat loose sense.)

If you’re like us, you also begin to think about the exciting possibility of bringing these two worlds together: the world of human designs and the world of living designs. Biology is already informing technology, and we think the reverse will prove true as well.

Engineering has informed biology for quite some time. I remember reading about an analysis performed on an animal’s skull to determine how forces were distributed within it. (I can’t find it online, does this sound familiar to anyone?) Similar analyses are done on animal’s skeletons.

None of this has anything to do with intelligent design.

Our team of researchers is exploring this from every angle—the experimental, computational, and theoretical—and at every scale, from the molecular to the galactic. It promises to be an exciting journey, and because we believe in doing science for the public good, we welcome you to join us.

So they say. But a quick perusal of their People page belies that notion. While they have an astronomer, an engineer, and several cellular biologists, molecular biologists and biochemists, they don’t have a single macrobiologist. Not one ecologist, ethologist, zoologist, botanist, mycologist, or even (shock!) an evolutionary biologist. How can they claim to be studying the origin of biological complexity if they don’t conduct study at the whole-organism level?

So, having properly processed the mission statement, we’re left with a tired creationist argument, a feeble design analogy, and a short list of scientists (including Expelled alumni Richard Sternberg and Guillermo Gonzales.)

All this in spite of the fact that ID is demonstrably not science.

Oh well, fellas. Keep reaching for that rainbow!

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