11/25/2005: Someone at Vox Day’s blog referred me to FredOnEverything.net. His writings are fascinating. In this one, he provides a pretty reasonable assessment on evolution. Keep in mind that he is not a creationist.
I tend to look at things like an engineer, because that’s what I studied in my undergraduate life. I’m familiar with the design of aircraft–aerodynamics, structural analysis, and thermodynamics–and also with control systems. Anyone who has suffered through a control systems class can appreciate the mathematical complexity of even the simplest control systems. (Hint: you’d better be up on your differential equations for a class like that. You’ll be using Laplace Transforms, undetermined coefficients, variation of parameters and even the Runge-Kutta method for solving the necessary equations. And we’re just talking the easy ones.)
So, pardon me when I compare the flight characteristics of birds with that of airplanes.
(1) Birds don’t need a runway to take off or land. In the engineering world, we call that Vertical/Short TakeOff and Land (V/STOL) technology. It is very difficult to design a plane for that capacity. It is also difficult to fly such planes. Just ask a Harrier pilot.
(2) Birds can sweep their wings forward and aft. This technology is very complicated from an engineering standpoint, as we have only designed a few airplanes with swept-wing technology, most notably the F-111, F-14, and B-1. These planes were expensive to develop, and are very maintenance-intensive. (The F-111 has been retired from service.)
(3) Birds have an aerodyanamic efficiency that rivals airplanes. They even spend less money maintaining their airworthiness than our best companies do.
(4) Birds can vary the curvature of their wings. We call that variable camber in the engineering world. This allows aircraft to adjust the wing for takeoff/landing conditions verus straight, level flight. Designing the controls accordingly is not easy and–without computers–is an exercise in iteration hell. But birds don’t know that. 😉
(5) Birds have excellent navigational systems. They don’t require computers–or air traffic controllers–to tell them where to go.
(6) Birds don’t need pilots to fly them. Even our drones need controllers on the ground, as our airplanes don’t have minds of their own.
(7) If you’ve ever been crapped on by a bird, you’d notice that they also have accurate bombing systems.
If man-made airplanes are a product of design (and some mechanics will debate this), then a reasonable person can look at natural airplanes–birds–and conclude that some higher intelligence was working on this.
Now…let’s talk a little bit about control systems.
As anyone who got through the first ten minutes of a biology course konws, every organism has homeostatic controls. Homeostatic controls allow the organism to maintain homeostasis; i.e., the conditions which allow the organism to live. For humans, that involves a multitude of things such as blood pH, body temperature, and blood sugar. These are very precise, too: small, sustained variations in blood pH or body temperature can be fatal. A diabetic who misses an insulin dose can die if blood sugar levels are too high.
Homeostatic controls are examples of feedback control systems. Such systems use feedback as a means of regulating the behavior of the system. This is why you sweat when you are too hot, or shiver when you are too cold.
Feedback control systems are also used in your automobile (your cooling system) and your home (thermostat). In industrial plants, such systems help maintain environmental parameters. On an airplane, navigation systems and autopilots are feedback control systems.
Mechanical feedback control systems are extremely complex. Even something simple–like a thermostat in your home–requires significant precision to design.
Now consider that every organism has these types of systems. But instead of programmable logic devices, we are talking biochemical processes that involve complex proteins, ions, chemical receptors, and enzymes. Each of these systems works with outstanding biochemical precision. And each is fundamentally different. (The body temperature of a human differs from that of a cat or a dog.)
If mechanical control systems (thermostats, autopilots) are products of design, then a reasonable person can look at biological systems that have similar form (feedback controls) and conclude that there was probably a higher level of intelligence involved.
I cannot scientifically prove that any more than an evolutionist can prove that
s*** happens macroevolution. But to call one “faith” while calling the other “science” strikes me as dishonest. Both are matters of faith, as neither can be proven by the scientific method.