Rube Goldberg, the 20th century American inventor, engineer, and cartoonist, is perhaps best known for his whimsical and imaginative contraptions composed of cobbled-together elements that together perform a simple function. In the illustration above, the lifted spoon propels the cracker to the parrot, who in the process of lunging to catch it, tips the cup that dumps its weighted contents into the bucket that is connected to the lighter, which when opened, lights the rocket that cuts the string holding the napkin that then falls to wipe the man’s face.
It’s an imaginative, but silly contraption. This, however, is precisely the sort of thing evolutionists have predicted we would find in nature as we studied life’s systems, organisms, and structures. In fact, evolutionists have made a number of predictions that, if true, should be observable in nature. Dr. Brian Miller, Research Coordinator for the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute and a leading proponent of Intelligent Design
, details three of their main predictions:
Three Main Predictions of Evolutionists
- Life is not designed. As such, scientists have been discouraged from looking for it. In fact, they have essentially been forbidden from using words like purpose or design or goal directed. Francis Crick, one of the co-discoverers of DNA’s double helix structure, famously wrote, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.” In other words, biologists must repeat over and over in their minds, “Life is not designed, life is not designed,” lest the overwhelming appearance of design make them begin to believe it was actually designed.
Echoing Crick’s sentiment, Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin insisted, “materialism is an absolute… we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” In other words, because they have foundationally (or presuppositionally
) committed themselves to materialism (that only material explanations are allowable), they must accept evolution as true (they’ve ruled God out before they’ve begun their scientific search!). This means life must have evolved by random and unguided processes. Anything that looks designed, therefore, cannot be. Design must be denied. The biologist must deny what his eyes see.
- Biological systems will be sub-optimal.
Evolutionists regularly claim that various systems in life are inefficient, ineffective, and clumsy, evidence of the supposed evolutionary baggage accumulated over time. They highlight things like the panda’s thumb, the eye’s backwards photoreceptors, the number of bones in the ankles and wrists, unexpected nerve pathways, “junk” DNA, and on and on.
They insist that these biological systems don’t demonstrate the optimal design we should expect if an intelligent Creator designed them. In other words, they’re claiming, “God wouldn’t do it that way. Therefore, God didn’t do it; evolution did.”
Dr. Nathan Lents, the director of the Cell and Molecular Biology Program at John Jay College, bluntly claims, “To suppose that these living things were separately created is to view the creative agent as whimsical, bungling, a mediocre engineer, and unintelligent designer.” You read that right. He’s calling God (who he rejects) bungling, mediocre, and unintelligent.
- Life’s systems should not look like human engineering. In fact, evolutionists insist that human engineering should be more efficient, more effective, and better organized than nature’s, which evolutionists predict will more resemble one of Rube Goldberg’s clumsy contraptions. This is precisely what prominent evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne has claimed: “[Biological systems] embody an absurd, Rube Goldberg-like complexity that makes no sense as the handiwork of an engineer but makes perfect sense as a product of a long and unguided historical process.”
These Predictions Have Been Tested… and Failed
Life is not designed. Biological systems will be sup-optimal. Life’s systems should not look like human engineering. These are three of evolutionists’ major claims. With the advances in science, these predictions have become testable. And they have been repeatedly failing, because with discovery after discovery, scientists are finding precisely the opposite of what evolutionists have predicted. We don’t see inefficient, cobbled-together, sub-optimal, Rube Goldberg systems in nature; we see exquisite, efficient design that far outshines anything humans have designed. We see powerful evidence of a creative Mind who has imposed a top-down, blueprint-like design on systems and organisms.
In the late 90s Dr. Michael Behe, professor at Lehigh University, pioneered work on many of life’s irreducibly complex systems, systems that, in order function and survive, must have multiple structures and ordered operations in place at once (see Darwin’s Black Box, for instance). He famously used the image of a traditional mousetrap to explain the concept. Every piece must be in place simultaneously for it to work (the base, the spring, the hammer, the holding bar, and the catch). Such a mechanism cannot evolve in a step by step way; it’s either all or nothing. And these sorts of all or nothing systems exist all throughout nature. Here are just a few: cilium, the light-sensing system in animal eyes, the transport system within the cell, the bacterial flagellum, the blood clotting system, ATP synthase, and the cell membrane.
Space prevents exploring each of these. We’ll offer only this about the last two items in the list. ATP synthase is a high-tech, micro-molecular, power generator inside the cells of your body that generates the fuel your cells (and you!) need to function and survive. And your cell has thousands of these elegantly designed molecular machines. Your cell membranes are, likewise, remarkable. They identify needed molecules and open specific doors to let them in. They identify waste products and get them out. They maintain the needed pH levels, the proper salinity, the osmotic pressure. They block toxins and invaders. They provide electrical insulation and energy harnessing. And every piece had to be in place or the cell would die – and so would you.
These all-or-nothing systems are everywhere in life. Either every piece is in place simultaneously or it doesn’t work. And evolution has no mechanism to get every piece in place simultaneously. And cutting-edge science is discovering that nature not only has these irreducibly complex structures and organisms, but that it has irreducibly complex systems on top of irreducibly complex systems. So the problem for evolutionists is getting more intense as science progresses.
Engineers Come to the Rescue
For too long evolutionists have only been considering one piece of life’s larger puzzle at a time. So, they were zeroing in on individual systems or operations and concluding that they were sub-optimal and inefficient, but thanks to a budding relationship between engineers and biologists, many are beginning to see more holistically.
Take, for example, the eye’s photoreceptors. Evolutionists have long claimed that, because they faced away from the retina, they were sub-optimal, that they were evidence of an evolutionarily cobbled-together system and not design. But when engineers investigated the system they saw how the backward facing receptors fit in exquisitely with the whole. The receptors constantly shed cones. If they were facing forward, these cones would block vision. Because they face backwards, however, they can be shed and reabsorbed seamlessly and the blood can cool the receptors so they can work efficiently.
These discoveries have become so common that biologists are increasingly being encouraged to assume design in order to make progress in understanding biological systems. Process that! What was once forbidden in biology – considering design – is now being assumed! It’s now being seen as the way to advance science!
Darwin had made such an approach anathema; design was to be denied at all cost. It was labeled an impediment to science, something that would get in its way. It turns out, however, that Darwin himself was putting a great impediment in front of scientific advance as he put researches off the trail of design and onto the trail of Rube Goldberg and his sub-optimal, cobbled-together, “bottom-up” systems. In other words, Darwin set science on the hunt for systems that showed no evidence of a pervading Mind imposing order on them from above.
Further – and this is majorly significant – Darwin led scientists to believe that the locus for an organism’s change and adaptation came from the environment. You, have, no doubt, heard of natural selection. Darwin proposed that nature, with the help of random genetic mutations, selected the fit organisms. This idea that nature drove an organism’s adaptation was then extrapolated (because of the lack of evidence!) to evolution on a macro scale. To put it simply, Darwin suggested that nature favored certain organisms for survival and this produced small variations/adaptations (think of Darwin’s finches that demonstrated variations in beak size that were optimized for environmental conditions). Given enough time, these small scale changes supposedly produced large scale changes (turning a pig into a whale, for instance, or turning a dinosaur into a bird – this has become almost standard fare in children’s books! The baseless propaganda is aimed at young minds.).
What Science is Showing
Here’s what science is showing: Darwin’s ideas were wrong. Dead wrong. The locus for an organism’s change isn’t the environment; it’s the organism itself. Researches are finding that organisms come pre-programmed with adaptation instructions, with built-in engineered responses. So life comes equipped with a program that allows it to adapt to its environment. This is truly remarkable!
To appreciate this, consider the self-driving cars beginning to populate streets. They are equipped with hundreds of sensors that enable the car to make decisions based on what those sensors detect in the surrounding environment. This is very similar to what scientists are finding in life (but life does it better!). In organism after organism scientists are finding built-in programs that allow the organism to perform if-then functions: If this scenario presents itself in the environment, adapt this way; if that scenario presents itself, adapt that way.
Go back to Darwin’s infamous finches. He claimed that the environment favored certain beak sizes or beak sharpness. So the environment selected the survivors. It turns out Darwin was wrong. The environment wasn’t dictating change. The finches have a built-in program that allows them to alter their beak size/thickness in subsequent generations. So, the finch detects environmental conditions and then adjusts for them in its offspring so that the next generation is well-adapted to the existing environment.
Or, consider blind cave fish. The old story was that a genetic mutation wiped out the fish’s eyes and natural selection favored it for survival. New research, though, is showing that the fish came pre-programmed with an if-then program: If this scenario presents itself, then shut down the genes for eyes so that energy can be applied to the needed senses.
This sort of thing is being discovered over and over again. Adaptation is not being driven by natural selection acting on random mutations, but by built-in adaptation programs. But programs require programmers! The evidence for design (and, thereby, the Designer – God) is overwhelming! And it’s not just that life’s systems are looking like human engineering (and biologists are now employing computing system language to describe what they’re seeing!), but life’s systems are far exceeding every system humans have ever designed!
Evolutionists are wrong; God is no rube. His impressive intelligence and exquisite design are on display for all to see, to study, to appreciate, and to learn from. Want to visit more on this? Want top-notch resources, including books and videos? Come talk to me! I’m happy to share! – Pastor Conner
 I highly recommend his recent presentation, entitled “The Surprising Relevance of Engineering in Biology,” at the 2022 Dallas Conference on Science and Faith (available on YouTube). My one caveat is Miller’s adherence to a progressive creation over great eons of time. He rightly recognizes the sudden appearance of fully formed organisms in the fossil record (with no transition forms!), but he is blind to it as evidence for a global flood.
 This is another great thing about being Christian: we don’t have to close our eyes to evidence before we begin the scientific endeavor. We are free to follow the evidence where it leads.
 There is great hubris in this claim. Who are we (with our three pound brains) to tell God how He should have done something?