Re: Does God make design tradeoffs?

Bill Hamilton (
Fri, 03 Apr 1998 14:25:37 -0500

I wrote:

>>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

Jonathan Hartley wrote:

>Isn't it difficult to argue this issue in the context of a fallen and
>creation, which basically exists in accordance with the foreknowledge of God,
>and thus is in His will? I mean, when I read Genesis and Revelation, I
>that we are talking about the alteration of the entire universe from a
>one without death, decay, evil, darkness, imperfection, to one that is
>with temporary systems at the mercy of physical laws and effects, and
finally back
>to a perfect state which seems totally outside the realm of present laws.
>And, when I read Revelation, I read of a new heaven and a new earth that is
>constructed anew, apparently from the most "primordial" alteration of natural
>laws now in effect.

Certainly this is one interpretation of what Genesis and Revelation say
about the state and history of the universe. However, I'm not convinced
that any change in natural law is required. In Romans Paul teaches that
nature is under bondage -- which could mean that while the same preexisting
natural laws are in effect, the enemy has oppressed nature. As you point
out, none of this is outside the will of God. It was all anticipated by
Him from the beginning, and the resolution taught in Revelation is sure.

Thus, I tend to reject any appeals to reason from naturalists
>who tell me that God must be a lousy engineer and that they could design a
>better organism themselves.

So do I. As a Christian engineer, I cannot claim to know what God had in
mind with some of the design decisions He made. The atheist is in a more
serous dilemma: he doesn't even admit that such concepts are meaningful.
Obviously he could be correct (I don't believe he is, but neither of us can
prove objectively that the other is wrong), but he is hardly in a position
to think about what it means if he is incorrect. As an engineer who has
had some involvement in the design of robot arms and tooling and the
control systems for them, those kinds of claims make me chuckle.
>The point is, what we have now is NOT the real thing. It's MEANT to be
>temporary. And thus, faith comes into play.
It is temporary -- and meant to be temporary -- and faith is definitely
required. However, the temporariness may be due to Satan's being allowed
for a time to try to usurp God's sovereignty -- thereby subjecting nature
(in part) to a different source of commands rather than any fundamental
change in the laws of nature.

Dennis Feucht wrote

>Nevertheless, the fact that we cannot even begin to go about designing some
>of the familiar functional entities of our world causes me to regard the
>Grand Designer with the awe that perhaps only a design engineer can. Life
>looks so easy to the biologists, but as an engineer, even a television is a
>major feat of design - and have it work right, that is. >

I'm reluctant to disparage biologists, but overall I agree with you. I
suspect we engineers are prone to a certain arrogance that comes from the
view that engineers actually design and implement things, while scientists
simply study them. That's an erroneous impression of course. I know a
number of scientists who have designed and built their own instrumentation
because no one else had the foggiest idea what was needed.

I too feel a sense of awe when I realize that God designed not only all
entities in nature, but their interactions, all outside of time, in such a
way that they would interact in accordance with His will for the life of
the universe. I wrote the original post about design tradeoffs because I
thought it was interesting that there is a sense in which God does observe
design tradeoffs. Furthermore, there is a sense in which a miracle which
violated a real physical law (not the descriptive approximations we
discover) would be inconsistent with the unchanging character of God.

Dennis also wrote

>things look deceivingly simple _because_ they are well-designed.


Bill Hamilton
Staff Research Engineer
Chassis and Vehicle Systems
GM R&D Center
Warren, MI