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Intelligent Design Research Lab Highlighted in New Scientist

An article in the latest issue of New Scientist highlights the exciting work of scientists at the Biologic Institute, a new research lab conducting biological research and experiments from an intelligent design perspective. While writer Celeste Biever can’t suppress her visceral pro-Darwin bias from the story (which carries the dismissive title “Intelligent design: The God Lab”), Biever’s article is going to make it very difficult for Darwinists to continue to assert that scientists who support intelligent design aren’t conducting scientific research.

As Biever’s article grudgingly makes clear, “researchers [at the Biologic Institute lab] work at benches lined with fume hoods, incubators and microscopes—a typical scene in this up-and-coming biotech hub.” The article also reports on some of the research projects underway, and even describes Darwinian biologist Ken Miller as conceding that the topics being explored “are of interest to science”:

According to [Biologic Institute senior researcher Dr. Douglas] Axe, the projects currently under way at Biologic include “examining the origin of metabolic pathways in bacteria, the evolution of gene order in bacteria, and the evolution of protein folds.”

Certainly the topics Axe mentions are of interest to science, says Kenneth Miller, a cell biologist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, who testified as an expert witness for the pro-evolution side at the Dover trial. Miller adds that they might be of particular interest to people intent on undermining evolution if, like Axe’s earlier work on protein folding, they can be used to highlight structures and functions whose origins and evolution are not well understood.

In addition to protein and cell biology, Biologic is pursuing a programme in computational biology which draws on the expertise of another of its researchers, Brendan Dixon, a former software developer at Microsoft. According to Axe, “On the computational side, we are nearing completion of a system for exploring the evolution of artificial genes that are considerably more life-like than has been the case previously.”

Biever’s breathless, conspiratorial prose can’t hide the fact that researchers at the new Institute are serious scientists with impressive research records. For example, the article notes that the Institute’s senior scientist, protein researcher Douglas Axe, has published peer-reviewed research articles in the Journal of Molecular Biology and previously worked “as a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Protein Engineering, a research centre in Cambridge, UK, funded by the Medical Research Council, under the supervision of protein specialist Alan Fersht of the University of Cambridge.” In addition, Dr. Axe has worked “as a visiting scientist at the structural biology unit of the Babraham Institute, also in Cambridge.”

Biologic Institute biologist Ann Gauger has a similarly sterling track record. Dr. Gauger has published peer-reviewed research “on cell adhesion in fruit flies” in Nature, one of the world’s premiere science journals, as well as publishing “papers as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.”

It is worth noting that Biever acknowledges that Discovery Institute has been providing funding for scientific research, including start-up support for the Biologic Institute. While Biever tries to insinuate that this commitment to funding scientific research is somehow a “new” development tied to recent policy debates, the facts cited in her article undermine that claim. Indeed, Biever herself notes that Discovery Institute was providing research funding for Dr. Axe by the late 1990s, which ultimately resulted in the publication of his peer-reviewed research articles in the Journal of Molecular Biology. Yes, that’s right — Discovery Institute has been supporting scientific research and writing all along, just like it has said. But don’t hold your breath for corrections or apologies from the Darwin spinmeisters who have insisted otherwise for the past decade.

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.