Among the top tier of the criticisms of Intelligent Design (ID) and Creationism is the supposed lack of evidence for design in nature. It is asserted by the neo-Darwinists that the purely natural processes of Random Mutations and Natural Selection explains the life we see all around us … and furthermore completely discredits and debunks ID as well as the Biblical accounts of creation.
It is further asserted that human designed machines and evolutionarily designed machines differ in at least this fundamental aspect – human designed machines are constructed”top-down” from what we can call “Systems Engineering”, while natural machines are constructed “bottom-up” from the raw materials of nature such as atoms, molecules and chemicals. The raw materials of Darwinism are forever mixed and mindlessly experimented with across “deep time”, and in recent years an infinity of opportunities for the emergence of life is presented via what is known as the “multiverse” concept of an infinity of universes where anything is possible, and according to some- inevitable. Mind, intelligence and design are explicitly forbidden in this supposedly scientific world view. This purely natural world view is worth repeating here:
Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all phenomena, including mental phenomena and consciousness, are the result of material interactions.
Naturalism is “the philosophical belief that everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted.” Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.
But lets take a look at some fairly recent human constructed machines. Lets take a look at them in the context of how they actually come to be … then lets take a look at machines that somehow came to be by undirected, purposeless and purely bottom- up processes.
First a look at some amazing robotic machines at:
This robot, surprisingly agile and eerily anthropomorphic, is able to simulate the stress that soldiers put on their protective clothing, helping biohazard and other battle-wear makers refine their designs.
Petman, also designed by Boston Dynamics, can walk, crawl and do calisthenics while wearing test suits and being exposed to chemical warfare agents in secure lab settings. The latest version of the robot, which will be phased into use in 2015, can even climb stairs, a huge engineering advance, considering the complexity and weight distribution required for that act.
From Massachusetts-based Boston Dynamics, which works closely with DARPA, an amazingly agile “pack mule” robot will one day be commonplace on military missions in the field.
The robot will carry gear, such as heavy backpacks that can slow down ground forces. The four-legged “mule” easily negotiates rocks and divots in the road and field. It is intended to follow a military unit of soldiers autonomously, catching up with the unit on field forays with supplies, including food and ammunition. Refinements have made the robot surprisingly quiet, an important characteristic on a secret mission. Future versions of the pack mule will be able to interpret verbal and visual commands.
PAL Robotics in Barcelona, Spain, is developing advanced bipedal robots that can recognize people, enter buildings, avoid obstacles and pick up objects in their “hands.” They also have voice recognition systems that can take verbal commands.
The military envisions using these robots to enter buildings in danger zones or to bring emergency medical supplies across battle zones to help wounded soldiers. Consumer versions of the REEM line of robots are also coming. For peace time, they’ll include robots that can serve drinks and snacks at public receptions, trade shows, parties, etc. Some will even be able to carry on limited conversations.
One of the tiniest robots in development — about the size of a fingertip — the Meshworm moves and acts like a small earthworm. It propels itself inch by inch, using artificial muscles that mimic the way an earthworm moves, by stretching one part of itself forward, then pulling the rest of its body along behind it.
The Meshworm can move silently into the tiniest places to report back data, such as temperatures inside a confined space. It can also record audio and maybe even video in future versions. Made entirely of synthetic fibrous material, it’s nearly indestructible. You can step on it or hit it with a hammer and it will keep going because the fibers are not damaged by impact.
And here from NASA: http://robonaut.jsc.nasa.gov/default.asp
What’s interesting about this robot is that it is intended to replace a live astronaut/pilot in a space probe, and will actually interface with the flight control panels – switches and dials – in the cockpit. Take a look at the video … quite an amazing and ambitious engineering project where the human body is mimicked even to the eyes and fingertips .
These robots came to be by what’s called an “systems engineering” process which goes somewhat as follows:
- End users develop a “Needs” document which defines, in somewhat broad terms, a perceived need (e.g. I need a machine that can look at a gauge and then make adjustments by way of a dial … and then grab a cup of coffee.)
- An “acquisitions agency” takes the “Needs” document and fleshes it out to form a detailed “Request For Proposal” which is then distributed among qualified builders of such things.
- The bidders outline and detail the approach, schedule and costs they believe are necessary to build the requested machine.
- The winning bidder constructs a detailed “requirements” document, and on approval proceeds with the construction phase.
- The builder sets out to design the machine and its various subsystems.
- Often times the builder will build a prototype for early test of the intended design.
- The builder and the various sub-contactors build the various parts necessary for the completed system.
- The system is integrated as a whole.
- The system is tested and accepted by the acquisition agency and then by the end users.
As a result of the above process, the machine is able to successfully mimic those human functions as envisioned and defined by the minds of the end users. Much intelligence and design work is required … the smallest little error or failure can bring the entire system down to its (mimicked) knees.
So we’ve had a brief look at some machines conceived and designed to mimic certain aspects of natural life … and we’ve seen that they are designed to achieve purposeful actions and ends.
Now lets take a look at an amazing machine from nature – the human being.
What you see above is the amazing execution of the baseball “double play.” The double play is but one of an unlimited repertoire of things the human being is capable of doing – autonomously as well as in concert with other things in its surroundings. Music – literature – science – invention – cooking – construction – exploration – medicine – design – art – sculpture – faith – emotion — you can fill in the rest.
Those bodies you see in the picture above contain all that is necessary to carry out a multitude of tasks … task with purpose undertaken by machines designed for purpose … bodies and body parts designed for purpose by a purposeful designer.
Can you imagine the rooms full of people and the many laboratories and factory floors involved in the “systems engineering” process described above? Of course you can, and perhaps like me you have been in those rooms and labs.
Is it a stretch to visualize, in some sense, a transcendent designer – a transcendent Systems Engineer conceiving of that combination of things necessary such that the end product is capable of executing that double play? or creating a masterpiece such as Handle’s Messiah? or creating the machines that take man to the moon and back? or to create and read this very article?
Oh, I suspect the process of such a transcendent engineer differs a bit from what I have described above, but the envisioning and creative process of mind resulting in these marvelous living machines accomplishes the desired end product – machines and systems that accomplish their purposeful tasks – whatever they may be.
And perhaps one of the most amazing attributes of this transcendent engineering process is that we seem to have been engineered such that we also – we humans – have been engineered and created in the image of that transcendent systems engineer, and with curiosity can seek to understand that which has been made by the transcendent one.
More interesting articles can be found at:
Don Johnson – January 2015