Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones available by searching creation.com.

Design on the line


by Robert Doolan

A Scottish professor of information technology is campaigning against poorly designed products. High on his hit-list is the digital clock on many microwave ovens.

Professor Harold Thimbleby, of the University of Stirling in Scotland, says he and a professor of computer science from New Zealand once spent a weekend in a friend’s empty house. The power had been switched off, so they had to restart all the electrical appliances.

One of these appliances was a microwave oven with a digital clock. They did not have the instruction manual, and the clock resisted all their attempts to coax it to work. Finally, after 45 frustrating minutes, it suddenly worked when they illogically set it to 1.00 instead of 10.45 pm.

‘Later’, says Thimbleby, ‘after discussion with other people and from our own experiments, my colleague and I concluded that our difficulty was not unusual. The only advantage our professions gave us was that we did not blame ourselves.’

Thimbleby says that inferior design is why your video player won’t start recording in your absence unless you have accurately pushed or flicked perhaps 10 buttons in a specific sequence, why staff in your office can’t use all the features of your elaborate office telephone system, and why many photocopiers and fax machines display the word ‘error’ without giving you a clue what to do about it.

Some people realize that the producers of modern technological devices could design them more efficiently, as Professor Thimbleby points out. Unfortunately, most people accept sub-standard designs in products solely because that is often all that is made available to them.

The theory of evolution is like that. Most people accept that evolution has occurred, because that is all they are taught, even though the theory has some dreadful design faults. It doesn’t explain, for example, why it should be accepted when so much of the evidence it requires is missing. Evidence that mutations can lead to progressively improving life-forms is missing. Fossils of animals or plants that show them evolving from one type into another are missing. And evidence that small, observed variations can produce large, unobserved transformations is also missing.

Christians have long used the argument for design of the universe as evidence for the supreme Designer. But an argument for design can just as effectively be used to evaluate the theory of evolution itself. It is quickly seen that the evolution theory has been poorly designed, because the proof it requires rests on evidence which is largely absent. Its defenders are simply covering up its problems when they blame consumers for not understanding it.

In the 1960s, American lawyer Ralph Nader began an amazingly successful crusade to clean up bad product design—particularly in the automobile industry. One of Nader’s early concerns was that parking brakes on cars often did not prevent the cars from rolling back on a slope. Vehicle industry spokesmen claimed that drivers needed to be educated to read the vehicle’s manual and to learn to apply the brakes properly. Nader insisted that if the parking brake did not hold the car on a slope, then the brakes design was at fault, not the user.

Today, manufacturers are still happy to blame consumers for problems which are really design faults. And some evolutionists are too eager to blame people for not understanding the theory, instead of blaming the theory’s inherent ‘design’ defects.

Some products of course are well designed. Thimbleby gives the example of a sophisticated computer with hundreds of selection choices being able to be made instantly by using a single button on the computers ‘mouse’.

The universe too has overwhelming evidence of first-rate design—life, the atmosphere, the water cycle, sun, moon, seasons, trees, flowers, cosmic laws, animals … Each has bewildering complexity and order, and all provide a powerful testimony day after day to their Designer.

The chief proponents of evolution are extremely forceful in claiming that their theory is the only credible one available. And the ‘consumers’ always get the blame for not understanding it if they point out defects in its ‘design’. But unlike Thimbleby’s microwave clock, and the theory of evolution, the evidence for magnificent design in this world of ours—by God the Creator—is everywhere you look.