Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

“If you want to learn how cerebral blood flow works, study engineering. Study design.”


[From a colleague:] A few years ago, my brain research took some interesting turns. I was developing a theory of blood flow to the brain, specifically a theory of how the delicate blood vessels in the brain are protected from the strong pulsatility of the heartbeat. I realized that the system in the cranium that affords this protection seems to be designed. That is, it is a tuned mechanism quite analogous to vibration dampers widely used in engineering. I was haunted by the realization that the research that I was doing was essentially reverse engineering. Most of what I needed to know about pulsatile blood flow to the brain was in engineering textbooks! I was surprised as to how little some of the major paradigms in biology, especially Darwinism, contributed to my work. In fact, ignoring design obscured the most important aspects of my research. The assumption of design was heuristic.

Around that time, I came across Phillip Johnston’s Darwin on Trial in a bookstore, and went on to read Jonathan Well’s Icons of Evolution, Mike Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box, and Bill Dembski’s Uncommon Dissent. For perspective, I read Dawkins, Dennett, and Gould as well. When I finished reading, I was astonished. And angry! Although my scientific talents are modest, I have developed a fairly acute sense for scientific nonsense. Darwinism is nonsense. It’s more a philosophical bias than coherent science. It may explain some patterns and changes in gene frequency in populations, but the evidence does not even remotely support the Darwinists’ claim that chance and necessity fully account for the appearance of complex design in living things. That claim is nonsense. I believe that the best scientific explanation for the appearance of design in living things is that they are designed. This assumption forms the basis for my own research, and it’s a very powerful tool. My advice to young researchers in my field is: if you want to learn how cerebral blood flow works, study engineering. Study design.


I was developing a theory of blood flow to the brain, specifically a theory of how the delicate blood vessels in the brain are protected from the strong pulsatility of the heartbeat.

Think about how finely balanced it all must be during development as well.

Pulsatility. Is that really a word? -ds

BRAVO!! More such stories please, I suspect they'd fill the ocean. A friend of mine did graduate work about 30 years ago, reverse engineering the system used to allow us to hear; there is apparently an array [he told me this 20 years ago, so I may not have all the details just right] of tuning forks, but each seems to have it's own, hardwired lookup-table-like "interrupt vector" to the brain; it seems that the frequencies of the forks are far too high for any nerve to vibrate that fast to allow the brain to distinguish these high frequencies. Therefore, to overcome this deficiency, "evolution" apparently created lookup-vectors, and the brain recognizes these, and somehow "understands" (synthesizes?) what the frequencies are supposed to be. The friend, who is also an engineer, saw the blaring paradox. I've found abstracts to this system online discussing it as "design"; today, I'm sure, this language would be sent back for "ID-cleansing" (is that a term yet?) by the journal. es58
Agreed, Dave, chance and necessity do not have much going for them as (primary) shapers of biological realities. apollo230
These comments are good to hear from a practicing biologist. A few years ago I was organising design reviews for a large software project at an aerospace firm in LA. To kick off our design efforts the chief design architect did a presentation of his overall design for the software and design goals all other designers should demonstrate. Critically, the designers had to demonstrate their interfaces with the "system" met timelines: their tasks would deliver their data products in the agreed upon formats within agreed upon times. The designers work approved for the next development stage only when the review team approved the designers work. To achieve this the designer often had to rework parts of their design. The reviews were almost always sessions with engaging and searching conversations about structure, technique and simplicity over complexity among other topics. In reading neo-Dawrinists such as Richard Dawkins I am sometimes appalled by my thinking at the end of some of his expositions as to how a RM+NS coupled process can achieve feats of engineering excellence. How, I ask myself, have I let my thinking be lulled into such a non-critictical slumber evidenced by giving some credence to his hand-waving explanations? If Richard Dawkins were presenting a design review he would never get past the first milestone with his engineering drivel. The genome of a conceived person for example, has to contain a biological program for sequenced development of the person. Timing and control mechanisms in the developing fetus seems to me to be critically important. One place for promising design research, it seems to me, is an understanding the architecture(s) for these timing and control mechanisms. RussellBelding
Richard Dawkins says the overwhelming appearance of design in biology is illusory and it's due purely to chance and necessity. It may not be possible to prove anything either way but I suspect the underwhelming appearance of chance and necessity is the illusion. DaveScot
As a Hydraulics/Hydorology engineer I have often thought of commenting along these lines here at Uncommondecent.com, although specifically I hadn't thought of cranial flow. Interestingly enough although blood is non-newtonian by nature an and thereby would display inherently different characteristics in laminar, turbulent and capillaric action flow as compared to say water, one could model the entire system with engineering principles. Using a pulse pump, discharging into a mainline (arteries) with laminar flow, and then into veins (turbulent) and finally capillaries (capillary action) with the pressure/shear force resistance increasing as a result of the diminising pipe diameter. An amazing fear of engineering! I can forsee the book - the Divine Engineer. And then the pseudo-engineering response from Dick (The engineer who wasn't there). lucID
Hello, Dr. Dembski! What has always baffled me is how a Darwinist fails to see the apparently crushing evidence for design in nature. We are practically slapped in the face by it everyday. On the other hand, easy belief in such evidence may be hampered by a critical fact: the absence of actual encounter with the designer of biological structures. How many people have actually seen the designer of nature itself? How many of us have actually seen, felt or touched what is likely a disembodied creature of staggering intellect and transcendence? If one's inventory of experience is with human designers only, then a design inference will be triggered by man-made objects only. If one has not caught Nature's carpenter red-handed in the act of making an organic structure, that structure will not trigger a design inference. People will only genuinely ascribe design to something if they have been conditioned by prior encounter with the class of designers involved. Therefore, Darwinists may have a good excuse for not reflexively embracing an intelligent source for nature's apparent design. Can one really blame an individual for allowing their beliefs to be conditioned by their prior experience? Therefore, we may want to cut Darwinists a little slack, for we "IDealists" are prone to this same reflex. But then again, why be so close-minded? Reality consists of the known and the unknown, and those who dare place presupposed limits on the latter are committing a big mistake. If something looks designed (to quote the tee-shirt), then maybe it is! Best regards, Doctor! apollo230 apollo230

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