Joined: Nov. 2005
But is it just a public relations exercise?
|Intelligent design: The God Lab|
16 December 2006
Celeste Biever Redmond
PAY a visit to the Biologic Institute and you are liable to get a chilly reception. "We only see people with appointments," states the man who finally responds to my persistent knocks. Then he slams the door on me.
I am standing on the ground floor of an office building in Redmond, Washington, the Seattle suburb best known as home town to Microsoft. What I'm trying to find out is whether the 1-year-old institute is the new face of another industry that has sprung up in the area - the one that has set out to try to prove evolution is wrong.
This is my second attempt to engage in person with scientists at Biologic. At the institute's other facility in nearby Fremont, researchers work at benches lined with fume hoods, incubators and microscopes - a typical scene in this up-and-coming biotech hub. Most of them there proved just as reluctant to speak with a New Scientist reporter.
The reticence cloaks an unorthodox agenda. "We are the first ones doing what we might call lab science in intelligent design," says George Weber, the only one of Biologic's four directors who would speak openly with me. "The objective is to challenge the scientific community on naturalism." Weber is not a scientist but a retired professor of business and administration at the Presbyterian Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington. He heads the Spokane chapter of Reasonstobelieve.org, a Christian organisation that seeks to challenge Darwinism.
The anti-evolution movement's latest response to Darwin is intelligent design (ID). Its fundamental premise is that certain features of living organisms are too complex to have evolved without the direct intervention of an intelligent designer. In ID literature that designer remains cautiously anonymous, but for many proponents he corresponds closely with the God of the Christian Bible. Over the past few years the movement's media-savvy public face has been the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which has championed intelligent design, claiming it to be a legitimate scientific theory, and supported its key architects. It was Discovery that provided the funding to get the Biologic Institute up and running.
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