The Applied Science of Intelligent Design-Part III

ARN correspondent, Robert Deyes, has written an interesting post entitled, The Designs That Human Endeavors Can Only Approximate And Rarely Surpass. He writes:

Throughout history man has looked to the natural world as the source of inspiration for some of the most exquisite inventions ever seen. Perhaps most famous of all is the Eiffel tower which, originally conceived by Gustav Eiffel as a temporary edifice, had at its foundations the design of already-existing natural structures notably the curvature of bones (Ref 1). Velcro was likewise inspired by already-existing biological contrivances as was perhaps Charles Paxton’s water lilly-based design of the Crystal Palace in London (Ref 2).

As I’ve written before, considering life from a teleological perspective can make this process more explicit leading to beneficial inventions that help the lives of people. Darwinists would have you to believe that such things as chance and necessity are capable of producing biological technology that is beyond our ability to emulate. From an ID perspective, when an apparent design flaw is discovered, the questions do not stop there. In other words, Darwinisim is a science stopper, because it’s more important to them to have ‘evidence’ to hold out that their theory is true. Taking an ID perspective, a more cautious approach would ensue, and the issue would be examined in greater detail before it is concluded that a ‘design flaw’ has been discovered.

There are two major issues at work here. The first issue is that thinking in terms of design in biology can focus researchers on practical applications and inventions with likely benefit to humanity. The second issue is that the scientific process of understanding the function of biological processes can continue to a deeper level without stopping with an apparent design flaw, which would be attributed to the happenstance nature of evolution. The second issue is important in terms of understanding biological processes, which could lead to new treatments for disease.

The article concludes with:

CEO and president of Promega Corporation, Bill Linton, once remarked that “our most well designed human endeavors can only approximate- and rarely surpass- the elegant precision of nature” (Ref 8). Indeed crediting evolution for the engineering of complex systems that lie beyond the capacity of human minds to fully conceive seems thoroughly misplaced. Moreover there is something deeply telling about the observation that the natural world has machines that we, as intelligent agents, are so ready to copy. Defenders of Intelligent Design theory have of course provided their own take on this singular fact, concluding that the work of an intelligent designer and not the blind walk of evolution lies at the heart of biological complexity.

Indeed, crediting evolution for the engineering of complex systems is thoroughly misplaced, and impedes scientific progress in ways that are truly important. That is, applied science is impeded by a happenstance view of natural history.

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11 Responses

  1. Get ready, as you already know, for the avalanche of endless (“intellectual”/atheistic/Darwinian) wandering that will surely, as always, obscure the main point of your post: intelligent design is evident in all of the Lord’s creation, and therefore, we can benefit from recognizing this truth and applying it. And because this truth is evident, then not only are we “without excuse (for unbelief)”, but we also look and sound rather ridiculous when we deny IT!

  2. Isn’t it ironic that the only species on this planet that proudly states ‘there is no Designer or Creator’ is the only species that actually designs and creates things?

    We witness the natural laws and then proudly state that they exist in nature. We witness biological life functions and proudly state that they exist in nature. Yet, we witness design (hey, I’m typing this on a computer, am I not?) and then proudly state that it does NOT exist in nature – that design is not a constant, is not intrinsic to the universe and life.

    And the reason? It’s simple really, and goes back to what that ol’ clever serpent said to Eve: “Has God really said…….?”. Which of course illustrates another constant: man denies God and his Word. Has God really said that he created all things?

    So man witnesses design in nature and ignorantly (and defiantly) calls it “chance”. When one marvels at the complexity of biological structures, one is marveling at nothing other than self-evident design. Otherwise we would look at things like DNA molecules and thing nothing more of them than a spilled cup of coffee on the rug. But we’re not designed to look at it that way. The Glory in what God has made is self-evident – even if we ignorantly and defiantly call it “chance”.

  3. Good points DB and Mike!

  4. As Mike points out so well, man is still being deceived by what our first ancestors (Adam and Eve) were deceived by: “the serpent” and their own, overwhelming self love (“self-actualization,” man! Far out!!).

    Do we think it strange that most Darwinians love animals far more than people, or so it would seem: Peta etc etc? Adam and Eve were tempted by a serpent, they were drawn to him, (fauna) and the fruit on the tree (flora), and they bought into the lie that they were as God, or equal to God. Just as the atheistic/Darwinian, through overwhelming self love and fascination with naturalism and their (“enlightened”) intellect, buys into worshiping “mother nature” and her creator, evolution. I say evolution, since Darwin was just another RUBE for the enemies of God: “Hey Chuck, let me throw you a quick bone here! wink! wink!”

  5. If one approaches the issue from a strictly scientific perspective, then the fact that we intelligent beings can see patterns in the natural world as an inspiration for our own inventions doesn’t show that either those patterns, or our cognitive processes, is the result of intelligent design. At best it’s merely suggestive.

    Furthermore — again, seeing the issue from what I take to be a scientific perspective — neither ID nor Darwinism is relevant to the question as to what a particular bio-molecule does, so neither is helpful for framing further inquiries into medicine, etc. The task of most molecular biologists, biochemists, etc. is to figure out what particular function is served by some particular protein or gene. Whereas both intelligent design and Darwinism take it for granted that molecular biology is organized in terms of functions.

    The question at stake in the debate between intelligent design and Darwinism is, where do functions in general come from? More specifically, can the sorts of tightly constrained functions that characterize bio-molecules come into existence without the addition of the kind of intentional planning that one finds in the inventions of intelligent beings?

    So the ID/Darwinism debate, as I see it, is about the origins of functions in general, as such, and so has little to do with the inquiry into figuring out the particular functions of particular molecules or systems.

  6. I don’t really think that’s the case at all Carl. Look at what has happened with “junk DNA.” The Darwinists wasted a lot of time that could have been spent figuring out potential functions for this DNA, but were too busy using this to prove their theory. Same thing for “vestigial organs.” How much time was wasted on figuring out important biological functions of organs because of the science-stopping ideas of Darwinism? So using ID as a framework for thinking about biology does not “prove” ID, but it’s my belief that it would result in superior applied scientific results.

  7. How much time was wasted with “junk DNA”?

    How much time lapsed between the initial “a lot of the genome doesn’t code for anything in particular, so it must be junk” and “sorry, we were wrong, some of it is important after all”?

    And what contributions did design theory make to the realization that most of it isn’t ‘junk’? Which design theorists are we to thank for the insight?

    Of course I’m being glib — here’s the point I wish to make: it’s easy for you to say that design theory wouldn’t have led us into the cul-de-sac in the first place, but hindsight is always 20/20 — the real question is, what experiments would a design theorist have performed that a mainstream molecular biologist would not have performed? And given what we know now, what would a design theorist do that a mainstream molecular biologist probably not do?

    Now, I really don’t mind if one admits that one’s reasons for advancing intelligent design over non-teleological macroevolution (NTME) are ultimately theological or epistemological. But I think that it’s getting increasingly clear that there aren’t any good scientific reasons for preferring ID over NTME.

    Ironically, the new ‘faith + evolution’ website makes this quite clear. It takes principle aim against Collin’s BioLogos website, but the grounds for doing so are ultimately theological (perhaps also political?), not scientific — or so it seems to me from a cursory glance at both.

  8. Carl, you can read about some of the history with regard to junk DNA and ID here.

    It is getting increasingly clear that there are good reasons (scientific) for advancing ID over NTME. There aren’t any good applied science reasons for advancing NTME at all.

    The goal of the site may be largely theological, but is that not the goal of BioLogos? There is need for a competing voice with the theistic evolutionists, and DI is providing that with that site.

  9. The goal of the site may be largely theological, but is that not the goal of BioLogos? There is need for a competing voice with the theistic evolutionists, and DI is providing that with that site.

    I can agree with that, but then it still seems to me that the debate is really about what kind of science is consistent with a certain picture of God and our relationship with Him.

    The theistic evolutionist maintains that NTME is consistent with Christianity (understood in a certain way); the IDists maintain that Christianity (understood in a certain way) is inconsistent with NTME, so we should prefer ID over NTME. I don’t have a problem with someone who prefers ID over NTME on those grounds, as long as its recognized that what one is doing is advancing ID over NTME on theological grounds, not scientific ones.

    It is getting increasingly clear that there are good reasons (scientific) for advancing ID over NTME.

    It would be nice, of course, if there are both theological and scientific reasons for preferring ID over NTME. But let’s stick to the scientific ones for a moment: just what do you take those reasons to be?

  10. I can agree with that, but then it still seems to me that the debate is really about what kind of science is consistent with a certain picture of God and our relationship with Him.

    Actually, prominent atheists (e.g., NCSE) has been promoting the picture of theistic evolution (evolution is compatible with Christianity) as a political ploy. I haven’t came across anything on the Faith and Evolution site that tells anyone they must believe in a certain way. They are more presenting the picture of what is taking place.

    But let’s stick to the scientific ones for a moment: just what do you take those reasons to be?

    Sheesh Carl, why do I even run this blog?

  11. Sheesh Carl, why do I even run this blog?

    Because you enjoy arguing with me?

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