Does God make design tradeoffs?

Bill Hamilton (
Thu, 02 Apr 1998 13:11:03 -0500

Had you asked me a while ago whether God makes design tradeoffs, I would
have said emphatically, "No>" After all, God is omnipotent and omniscient.
However, in a post earlier this week in which I was meditating on some
evolutionist claims about bad design in nature, I wrote

>As an engineer, these sorts of claims always bother me. In order to
>determine whether something is good or bad design, you have to know what
>the designer had in mind. Perhaps (for example) the nerves overlaying the
>rods and cones provide some protection from high intensity light. Bringing
>all the optic nerves out at one point might also have some advantages in
>making the eye mobile (I don't know whether octopi can move their eyes).
>But all this is sheer speculation without knowing what the designer was
>trying to accomplish. Human designers make tradeoffs.

Now, here's the statement I want to pick up on:

You wouldn't think
>God would have to make tradeoffs, but think again. Once he had made even
>one decision about the characteristics of entities in nature, then honoring
>that decision constrains other designs.

God of course is not constrained -- He can reorder things in nature as He
desires. But the nature He designs is constrained by the decisions He
makes and their interactions. God can if He chooses set aside constraints,
but that action would be a class of miracle. I say a class of miracle
because we also label as miracles occurrences in which no physical law is
violated, but the timing and location of an occurrence are highly
Bill Hamilton
Staff Research Engineer
Chassis and Vehicle Systems
GM R&D Center
Warren, MI