Sub-Optimal Design?

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 01/13/2014

Bill Pratt responds to atheists who claim that the sub-optimal design of biological organisms argues against the existence of the Christian God:

I am an electrical engineer who has been designing integrated circuits (IC) for 20 years, either personally or through managing other engineers. I am extremely familiar with IC design. Over the years, I have often heard young engineers, who did not design a particular IC, criticize the design of that IC by saying it is sub-optimal, that they could do a better job. I have then seen these same engineers eat crow when they finally talk to the original designer and discover the constraints that original engineer was under when he designed the IC and the purposes for which he designed the IC.

It is impossible to judge a design as optimal or sub-optimal without knowing the purposes of the designer and without knowing the constraints the designer faced during the design. Young engineers just assume that they know both when they look at somebody else’s design. After being embarrassed a few times, they usually drop this approach and gain some humility.

I see the atheist who uses the argument from poor design in the same light. Biological organisms are incredibly complex and they operate in an environment that is massively complex. Our current knowledge of biological organisms and of all the earth’s diverse ecosystems is in its infancy....

Here is the problem for the atheist. Like the young IC designer, they are in a very poor position to judge whether biological organisms are optimally designed or not. Each year, scientists discover new purposes, or functions, for biological organisms, and each year scientists discover more constraints within which biological organisms must function.

Read more from Pratt about why this move by atheists is really just “atheism of the gaps.”