Biologists often get angry about the publication of studies defending "intelligent design," the notion that biochemical systems could not have been produced by evolution because they are "irreducibly complex," and as such, must have been "designed" by an unknown entity. But a careful reading of some recent studies suggests that researchers haven't been shying away from using the word "design" in a way that can only be described as teleological.

In the Feb. 3, 2005, issue of Nature, for example, Stephan Hetz and Timothy Bradley, of the University of California, Irvine, state that insects' respiratory systems have been "designed to function most efficiently at high levels of O2 consumption."1 And in the April 2, 2004, issue of Science, Neil Shubin of the University of Chicago and his colleagues discuss the role of several "appendage designs" in tetrapods.2

Hetz and Bradley are quick to point out...

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