The Applied Science of Intelligent Design-Part IV

We humans like to think we’re pretty good at design and technology – but we often forget that Mother Nature had a head start of 3.6 million years. Now, the way that geckoes climb walls, or hummingbirds hover, is at the centre of a burgeoning industry: biomimicry, the science of “reverse-engineering” clever ideas from the natural world. 1

The above quote is from an article entitled, Biomimicry: why the world is full of intelligent design. Although this is a popular press item, there is the typical anthropomorphism applied to nature (i.e., mother nature). The 3.6 million years suggestion is a bit odd as well. Regardless, the article is interesting when considered from an ID perspective.

If a system is more advanced than anything we have developed, and requires reverse engineering principles in order to determine how it works, then it is likely the product of an intelligent designer. Whether or not you agree with that statement, one can see where a focus on replicating aspects of biological designs for improving our lives can be of great technological benefit. I’d like to see a lot more research money going to this type of work than to those who wish to construct fairy tales about natural history.

Several interesting applications are outlined in the article.

(1). Biomimicry: why the world is full of intelligent design

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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.

The Applied Science of Intelligent Design-Part II

In Part I, I introduced the concepts that were set forth by Joey Campana on how a design orientation fosters applied science. William Dembski over at UD linked to a site that has a page titled: The 15 Coolest Cases of Biomimicry. I am much more an advocate of applied science over basic science. That’s not to say that basic science can never eventually be useful, because sometimes the findings of basic science eventually end up finding some applicability. But, the fact is that a choice must be made about what’s the most important. Money doesn’t grow on trees. The equation is simple in my mind. Let’s focus more on things that might actually improve people’s lives.

The site documents 15 of the Coolest things that are based on God’s designs [my words, not theirs]. My point of view is that ID researchers would have more of an orientation toward things that might actually be useful now rather than on processes that purportedly take millions of years to have any effect. Some of the things documented at the site include: velcro, passive cooling, gecko tape, whalepower wind turbines, and more.

More Complex than Previously Thought-Part I

I’ve written before about how Ocam’s razor consistently slices the wrong way in biology…meaning that there is a continuous trend of discovering that the machinery of life is more complex than previously thought. 

Scientists have recently discovered,(1) that ribosomes have a “proofreading step,” which is said to recognize errors shortly after making them and has an analog to a computer’s delete button. 

It turns out, the Johns Hopkins researchers say, that the ribosome exerts far tighter quality control than anyone ever suspected over its precious protein products which, as workhorses of the cell, carry out the very business of life.

“What we now know is that in the event of miscoding, the ribosome cuts the bond and aborts the protein-in-progress, end of story,” says Rachel Green, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of molecular biology and genetics in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “There’s no second chance.” Previously, Green says, molecular biologists thought the ribosome tightly managed its actions only prior to the actual incorporation of the next building block by being super-selective about which chemical ingredients it allows to enter the process.

Joey Campana discusses this subject (more complex than previously thought) in detail(2):

“More complex than once thought”

 

 

A revealing reason that Darwinian thought has not been helpful is that it tends to see biology in simplis-tic terms that are, well, too simple. When searching Google for phrases such as “more complex than pre-viously thought,” over a million-and-a-half hits cur-rently result. Some things that were “more complex than thought” from the first few pages include re-search findings in the following areas:

  1. communication among cells
  2. the oldest animal genomes
  3. bird flight orientation
  4. genes
  5. patterns of neuronal migration during cortical development
  6. the relationship between evolution and embry-onic development
  7. p53 ubiquitination and degradation
  8. human memory
  9. the fetal immune system
  10. the mouse genome
  11. visual processing in the brain
  12. regulation of neuronal survival in the retina
  13. COX enzymes
  14. the human genome
  15. the female human body
  16. cerebellar circuitry and learned behaviors
  17. estrogen receptors
  18. neural induction (list truncated)

 ….

Currently, “less complex than once thought” only returns two hits. The data coming out of the labs would suggest that we begin to expect that things are more complex. We would stand a greater chance of being correct.

So, the science of biology would be well served by a paradigm shift focusing on design analogs and assuming design rather than assuming chance. When an information recording and trascription system is involved in biology, scientists should first start with all they know about information recording and transcription systems. Error detection and correction is an integral part of these types of systems designed by humans, and engineers can also benefit from the analysis of the machines of life.

(1). The Ribosome: Perfectionist Protein Maker Trashes Errors
(2). http://www.arn.org/docs/article_the_design_isomorph_and_isomorphic_complexity.pdf

The Applied Science of Intelligent Design-Part I

I recently read a brilliant paper(1) written by Joey Campana, in which he details what he terms the Figure 1-Design IsomorphDesign Isomorph and Isomorphic Complexity. His ideas have practical applicability to both applied technology research and the applied science of biology. As I’ve stated before, Darwinism has little practical utility beyond designed algorithms (i.e., genetic algorithms) utilized for optimal design (this is basically an advanced trial and error system). Then, there is the design isomorph, which has practical implications for biology and technology.

From its beginnings, the empirical study of life has been earmarked by the idea that tiny machines are at work in living tissues. The discovery of protein machines and the illumination of the genetic code during the 20th century revealed a profound similarity between many aspects of technological devices and biological components, and this fulfilled many of the musings of early biological thinkers. The stronger similarities between biology and engineering are so clear that there are pervasive cases of design isomorphs, where precise technological designs are found to preexist in living organisms. This isomorphic congruence has been thought by many to be a mere coincidental outcome of undirected evolutionary processes, making the similarities superfluous to scientific practice, and inconsequential to the question of the cause of life.

The author also details several design isomorphs and explains in detail how considering biological components from a design perspective can be an effective strategy in understanding biology. Likewise, utilizing the tried and true methods of design oriented fields (e.g, engineering) in tandem with considering the analogous nature of machines designed by humans, we can greatly increase our understanding of how biological systems work. Reverse engineering was mentioned as one specific approach (e.g., remove a part to see what happens to get an idea of its function). Also, when one considers biological systems as analogous technology, it may lead to breakthroughs in applied technological science. This has already happened in a number of areas, but I won’t detail those things in this brief introduction.

The author also has started compiling a list of design isomorphs.(2) I am planning to work with some other IDers to develop a database of design isomorphs, which may be useful for inventors as well as biological scientists….to be continued….

(1). The Design Isomorph and Isomorphic Complexity

(2). Catalog of Design Isomorphs in the Wild

Does referencing the Creator inhibit science?

Many materialists (atheists and theistic evolutionists most often) argue that materialistic philosophy is key to scientific advancement. If any ideas of Creationists are allowed to even be referenced, then scientific progress will halt and people will die. There will be mass and widespread calamitous events, and we will return to the Dark Ages.

Mphuthumi Ntabeni at The Southern Cross writes:

Newton, Faraday, Maxwell and Copernicus referred to the Creator in their scientific writings. No one accused them of being unscientific because of that. There’s no rule that compels science to have a materialist outlook, it’s just an incident of history. (1)

I have yet to see any evidence that convinces me that scientific progress will be inhibited in any way by referencing notions of a designer or even God. Nor have I seen any evidence that is not just as easily explained from an ID or even a Creationist perspective as compared to a naturalistic evolution perspective. So far, I see Creationism as having the most explanatory power and ID as focusing on narrow range of observations and scientific phenomena. Both ID and Creation Science are scientific disciplines.

I must also say that I have yet to see how the theory of naturalistic evolution, on a macro scale, has ever contributed to applied science. The concept of abiogenesis has not contributed to applied science. The Big Bang Theory has not contributed to applied science. In short, the notion that Godless science leads to progress has no legs to stand on. Perhaps it will evolve those legs in the next several billions of years, but I won’t be holding my breath.

(1). My case for intelligent design, The Southern Cross, Mphuthumi Ntabeni, Nov. 9, 2008

Design Features

Applied science has to do with science that is bent on real-world applications of the research. For example, researchers can attempt to understand the “design features” of the human brain in order to advance computer technology.

So, consider for a moment, the techniques of reverse engineering. A scientist attempting to develop an artificial limb may consider how a human’s limb functions and its design characteristics. Darwinian evolution has nothing to contribute here, and basically almost nowhere in the realm of applied science (apart from simple natural selection algorithms).

I recently ran across an interesting article comparing computer technology to the human brain. (1) There are those who are doubtful that we will ever be able to match the engineering feat that is the human brain. I am one of those people. At every point along the way there have been different prevailing analogies for the functioning of the human brain. All have proved insufficient, just as the computer analogy also proves insufficient. However, this reductionistic framework is not without implications. It is a viewpoint that leads to further reductionistic and materialistic ways of viewing the world.

A comment attached to the bottom of the article was also amusing:

Get real. Think. If design principles were active in our creation, then there was a Designer who employed those principles. This includes the hardware and the software. You would not be able to consciously think about anything without an embedded BiOS (Bible Input-Output System) that the Designer built in, which gives you the preconditions for intelligibility of the world. Everyone has it. You couldn’t run the thinking application without it. But just as a good computer can be tricked into running malware (malicious software), a created being can be tricked into thinking its brain is a product of evolution. That is necessarily false. The brain could not even run that malware without the BiOS.
When you’re infected with this deep-seated, entrenched virus, or any of the other malware that information terrorists inserted into the global shipment, the only solution is to recognize that fact, then wipe, reinstall, and patch. Fortunately, outstanding technical support is just a call away (Isaiah 55:6-9) – and it’s free, straight from the Designer himself. Operations Manuals are also freely available by request (see BlueLetterBible and Bible Gateway, or that book in your hotel room drawer).

(1). http://creationsafaris.com/crev200809.htm#20080914a