November 20, 2002 | David F. Coppedge

Intelligent Design Put to Good Scientific Use

51; Evolutionists try to portray intelligent design as something outside of science that threatens science.  Actually, the techniques of intelligent design are hard at work within science, and have been for some time.  Examples are not hard to find on a variety of fronts.

  1. Archaeology:  “The ability to tell the difference between crystals that formed naturally and those formed by human activity can be important to archaeologists in the field,” began an article on PhysOrg.  Scientists at Duke University have “developed a process that can tell in a matter of minutes the origin of samples thousands of years old.”  Merely from the way that the calcite crystals are organized, they can detect whether a rock is natural or comes from man-made plaster.  Incidentally, the technique was recently tested “at an ancient site in central Israel at Tel Safit, close to where David is thought to have slain Goliath,” the article said.
        On a related note, Science Daily reported on a team at Monash University in Australia that claims to have found the “world’s oldest ground-edge implement.”  This indicates the ability to distinguish natural structures from those worked by human hands on purpose – by design.
  2. Biomimetics:  The science of imitating natural designs is a form of intelligent design science in practice (11/04/2010, 10/30/2010).   PhysOrg reported on work by Newcastle University students who engineered bacteria to form a sealer for repairing cracks in concrete.  They make the bacteria swim into the cracks, where the microbes “glue” the sides together with their secretions.  This may make it possible “to prolong the life of structures which are environmentally costly to build.”
        Similarly, Science Daily said that a researcher at Delft University in the Netherlands trained bacteria to convert biowaste into plastic.  And then there’s this: New Scientist reported that students in Tokyo got E. coli bacteria to solve Sudoku puzzles.
  3. Code in the nose:  Codes and information are stock-in-trade of intelligent design: conveying messages from one entity to another.  Did you know you have a code in your nose? (06/26/2005, 02/01/2008).  It’s a sophisticated one, too: “Odor Coding in Mammals Is More Complex Than Previously Thought,” reported Science Daily.  “A new study in the Journal of General Physiology (JGP) shows that the contribution of odorant receptors (ORs) to olfactory response in mammals is much more complex than previously thought, with important consequences for odorant encoding and information transfer about odorants to the brain.”  The patterns that researchers at Rockefeller University studied “may contribute heretofore unsuspected information used by the olfactory system in categorizing odorants.
        Another recent story on coding can be found on PNAS, where scientists at Johns Hopkins University found another molecule that is part of the “histone code” in genetics (09/25/2010, bullet 3; 07/26/2006).

Other examples of current scientific practice using intelligent design techniques include SETI (10/16/2010), forensics, paleoanthropology (e.g., determining when self-cognition arose), computer science, information science, cryptography, steganography, operations research, cognitive neuroscience, some theories of psychology, sociology, political science, artificial intelligence, robotics, optimization, historiography, linguistics, philology – and, in biology, arguably biophysics, genetics and systems biology.

Intelligence is real.  Design is real.  Information is real.  Intelligent causes are real.  The question is not whether the researchers in the above fields believe in evolution or I.D.  Many of the above probably believe fervently in evolution.  The point is that they use techniques predicated on the assumption that design is detectable.  Even a hiker can tell that three stones on top of one another were put there on purpose to convey a message.  Some websites like eSkeptic use gymnastic circumlocutions to deny this, calling I.D.’s comparison of SETI with intelligent design a “category error,” or the use of design detection as a “point of departure,” or claiming that the secular researcher knows in advance that the intelligent agent found will be human (in the case of archaeology).
    Come now.  One cannot define science in such a way that rules out intelligent causes and then say that intelligent design is not science.  To do that, one would have to judge much of the history of science as unscientific, because Newton, Kepler, John Ray, Linnaeus and many other scientists performed world-class science to seek understanding of the Designer’s mind.  The skeptics cannot, furthermore, disqualify science based on the motives or beliefs of the scientists, or what their evidence might imply.  There are no demarcation criteria that can rule out intelligent design a priori in science.  Science is supposed to represent an authentic, honest effort to follow the evidence where it leads.  If one rules out intelligent causes at the outset, one can miss the true nature of reality.  And honesty in science already presupposes an intelligent cause for its existence.
    The biomimetics researcher knows he has a good design to mimic.  The biochemist studying the histone code knows that a functional message is embedded in the structure.  The SETI researcher knows a message will imply purpose and intent – and in the particular case of SETI, the seeker has advance knowledge the intelligence will be non-human; it could even be robotic, angelic or demonic–how would anyone tell?  The comparisons between intelligent design and these other active sciences are obvious and real.  No amount of dancing with words can cover for ignoring the obvious, unless one is committed to malevolent intelligent design – which the devils also believe, and cause trouble.

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