No Apologies, Chapter 5

Chapter 5 Intelligent Design, a perspective from an Intelligent Designer

Not sure where to put this in the narrative, but here it is.

Professionally, I am a test engineer. What does that mean? I design and program automated test systems. To one of the automated test systems, I am the Intelligent Designer. I have read the arguments in favor and against intelligent design, but I have not really read a good engineer’s perspective on Intelligent Design and Creationism. I have been an engineer for almost two decades, and have designed dozens of test systems. I drew the schematics, written the software, built the systems, qualified the systems, and maintained the systems. These systems have tested, and continue to test, millions of parts per year. I am god to these test systems. I am the Creator. I know good engineering practices and I have seen poor engineering practices. I am also have a lifelong interest in biology, and was tempted to pursue a career in biology. In the end, engineering is a lot more practical, so I went that route. As another aside, I am also a novice watchmaker as well. Why does this aside matter? The analogy for the watch found in a field as an example of finding design in nature is a common one. I will begin with the watch analogy, then move on to systems that I have personally designed and compare them to evolved organisms.

A justification of “Intelligent Design” is that when looking at organisms, the signs of an creator is obvious, like finding a watch in a field and the fact it was intelligently designed. Well, this falls apart on many counts.

A watch is what as known as a monolithic design. That is, each of the components of a watch are made of a single material and serve a single purpose. For a mechanical watch, most of the moving components are made of brass or nickel. Multicellular organisms are, by definition, composed of many cells. Each cell is, in a way, a single celled organism and is able to live, for a short time, as an independent organism. Stem cells resemble single celled organisms. A stem cell can then develop into a specialized cell. A watch part, say a balance wheel, is made of atoms of an alloy of iron, nickel, and other metals. It is not made of tiny little balance wheels. This is true of all the parts of a watch. The watch dial is not made of tiny little watch dials. The parts are also not interchangeable. They serve one function, and that is it. Why are multicellular organisms this way? Evolution is simple, easy to understand explanation. The first life on earth was a simple blob surrounded with a Phospholipid cell membrane containing some free floating RNA, that can self replicate. With evolution, once a workable solution is found, keeps what works and just adds on or improves on the basic design. In this case, single cells work. Just take that cell and form a colony. Not a true multicellular organism, but it not a great leap from a colony to a multicellular organism, with specialized cells. The slime mold is the link between single celled and multicellular organisms. We retain the heritage of evolving from single celled organisms, colonies, slime mold like organisms, and everything between. But, we need to get back to that watch.

A watch, as an intelligently designed machine, does not retain it’s simple heritage. Take an LCD, digital watch. The only features it retains with traditional mechanical watches is the overall shape and function. It does not contain gears, springs, or even the dial or hands of the watches of 40 years ago. It was designed, from a blank page. Evolution does not do this. Evolution adapts existing structures. A watchmaker does not have to use existing designs. An intelligent designer for living things would not need to slavishly adhere to this. Why would you retain all the features of a fish in a creature that is created in the image of a god? Why would an engineer that can create life from scratch not make us any different from the other great apes? It wouldn’t. If you want a god like creature, don’t make it a great ape. To drive deeper, if you are human, you are also an Eukaryotic, Animal, Chordate, Vertebrate, Mammal, Primate, Haplorhini (apes). Other than sounding fancy, what do all of these terms mean?

Eukaryotic: Having cells which have their DNA in a discreet nucleus.

Animal: Any multicellular organism that can move at some time in their lives and are heterotrophs, which is, to live you need to ingest other organisms to survive.

Chordate/Vertebrate: Have a dorsal nerve cord, and a backbone.

Mammal: Warm blooded, haired, and have mammary glands.

Primate: All have forward looking eyes, large brains compared to other mammals, poor sense of smell, fingernails instead of claws, and very mobile shoulders.

Ape: Tailless primate, more mobile shoulder.

Different types of watches share very few features. They all tell time. They can be based on completely different technology. They can be mechanical, based on balance wheels, tuning fork, quartz crystal, tri synchro regulator, or radio receiver. The cases can be made of steel, aluminum, ceramic, titanium, brass, plastic, and even wood. A watch is a designed artifact. The watchmaker can choose any material, within reason. Evolution has no such luxury. If you are human, you share characteristics and DNA of every Eukaryotic, Animal, Chordate, Vertebrate, Mammal, Primate, Haplorhini (apes). As an engineer, moving from one generation of test stand to another, I had the freedom to re-use parts that work, or just trash the whole design and move on. Same function, all new parts. You never see this in nature, ever. Evolution does not work that way. Everything is built upon something else. This can easily be seen with embryos. We all start out as a single cell, then look a lot like everything we descended from, complete with tail, fur, gill arches, and starting out as nothing more than a tube like creature. Compare this to a watch. To build a watch, you do not start with John Harrison’s marine chronometer (mechanical watches are based on this technology from the 1700’s) and keep whittling away and modifying the parts until you get a modern watch, like an Omega Speedmaster. For car buffs, you don’t build a Ford Model T, then modify it to become a 2015 Mustang. But, that is what evolution has to do. An intelligent design would not require this.

Another issue is the schematics for intelligently designed machines and DNA. Human DNA contains a lot of not coding portions, somewhere between 80 to 97% junk. Ask any engineer how much non coding information is contained in a technical schematics? Very little to none. As a human, fallible, intelligent designer, my schematics contain almost completely useful information. To draw schematics like how DNA works, it would be like creating 100 pages of schematic drawings, but only putting about 3 pages of useful information, randomly scattered in those pages. You have to include every revision, napkin sketch, doodle, dirty joke, and comment ever made on the schematic. God is a poor engineer and would never make it past the first year of engineering school.

If a real, mortal, limited human can design something more efficiently than a god can, it says a lot about that theoretical god.

No Apologies, Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Bigfoot and a Lost God

In highschool, many of us rebel and start to question everything. I was no exception. I don’t know if it is hormones or just a cultural thing or a combination, but how I viewed the world changed. I became sceptical about just about everything. I used to believe in extraterrestrial UFO’s, ghosts, bigfoot, heck, God, even the Loch Ness monster. There were two parts to this transformation:

This a time of adolescence and puberty. Your brain and mind changes significantly during your teen years.1 It is the transformation of changing your viewpoint of the world from a child view to an adult view. As a 41 year old adult, I recognize that much of who I was as a child is still there, but, just as with the general trend of evolution adding new parts to old, my mind is an overlay of an adult mind over my child mind. Heck, even the people who wrote the Bible said it well and recognized this universal truth:

1 Corinthians 13:11, NIV translation

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. “

This, ironically, is how I feel about UFO’s, bigfoot, ghosts, and god(s). As as child, I believed, but as an adult, I put aside childhood things. In this case; belief in an invisible, unknowable, undetectable entity that had nothing to do with start of the universe, the origin and evolution of life on earth, the origin of the earth. With how much we know about the origin of the universe, earth, life, and evolution, the concept of a universal creator god is just plain childish. I will detail why it is a childish and simple concept later.

The second change element was my first biology class in highschool and the book Cosmos. I went to a public high school, and they teach actual science in schools. They was a one sentence acknowledgment of ancient beliefs and the idea that the world was created by a creator god. It then immediately went into abiogenesis, including the Miller experiments and accepted, at this point in 1989, we do not know exactly how life started, but we know it did and approximately when. The biology book then moved onto how organisms work and how evolution works. I remember keeping fruit flies and seeing how variation works and was even able to breed characteristics (like red eyes) and see in just a few weeks how artificial selection, and by proxy, natural selection works. It works. You can try it yourself. It requires no faith or belief. It just works, every time. That is when I decided the whole childish concept of a biblical god was just place keeper until science finds out the real answer.

This loss of belief in a god soon spread to all the pseudoscience for me. Bigfoot? Improbable. Ghosts? Impossible. Extraterrestrial aliens visiting earth in flying saucers? Umm, yeah, next to impossible. These world starting making sense. Why is there ‘evil’? Well, the universe just does not care. What is my transcendental purpose? There is none. Just be the best person you can be and not worry about it. You are an ape, a mammal, a living creature that shares your DNA with all the rest of lif on this planet. It is amazing how much more connected you feel with the world, your fellow humans, and all life on earth. It made me happy, and I did not need any deeper introspection for many years. It is healthy to question your beliefs from time to time. Was I wrong? Could I be wrong? Well, I decided to go and read the Bible, just to set what all the hubbub is about. Wow, that is all I can say. Follow my journey in the next chapter.


No Apologies Chapter 1

Chapter 1, In The Beginning

For about the first 7 or 8 years of my life, if asked what religion I was, all I responded was with “Christian.” My parents did not bring us to church or were very specific about any kind of firm religious belief. As a side note to anyone wanting to indoctrinate their child into a belief system, really try to do it before 7 years old. Any time after that, especially if they were exposed to a lot of science before the, will result in a life long disbeliever. I don’t fault my parents, not at all in fact, since this allowed me to come up with my own answers.

I think around when I was in the fourth grade, my parents started taking us to a local Lutheran church. I did enjoy the community and the rituals involved. I attended passover, and was even an acolyte. When listening to a sermon, it is pretty easy to believe. However, it was Sunday school that was the problem.

Here I was, a little 9 year old, brought up on watching Nova and Cosmos on PBS, taught about dinosaurs and the very basics of how life evolved on this planet and how old the universe was (as estimated in 1983) faced with the Bible for the very first time. It was a strange book. I innocently asked why it was not in alphabetical order, like a dictionary or encyclopedia. Looking back now, reading it in alphabetical order will make it about the same sense, with the disjointed narrative.

The book of the Bible they were studying during the first class was Genesis. Oh boy. Even my 9 year old mind knew everything in there made no sense at all. Everything from the Earth being center of the universe, the waters from the waters, the stars in the sky put there to denote the seasons. Things I knew were wrong. The came Noah’s Ark. I asked the instructor a simple question: “Where are the Dinosaurs?” I did not get an answer, other than some vague explanation that this was a just a parable or something of that nature. This planted the seed. I will expand upon this in another chapter.

Another shift in my thinking was around the same time when I discovered Santa Claus did not exist. We discovered this by accidentally seeing the wrapped “Santa” presents in my parent’s bedroom closet. In my mind, there was little difference between the two. Both knew if you were naughty or nice, both were magical, both lived forever. In fact, there seems to be a lot more evidence that Santa exists than God. At least I know were Santa is supposed to live, and how all the toys are made. The only real difference is that if you believe in Santa as a grownup, you are considered a little crazy. If you believe in God, you are considered normal, even though they are just as real.

I really did believe in parts of the bible. I believed God was a real thing. Moses was real. Jesus was really the son of God. I continued to believe until I was in high school. My family continued going to Lutheran church. I sang the songs, lit the candles, and read some passages of the bible. My belief was never very deep, but it was real. Then high school hit.


No Apologies

I decided to post the book serially as posts.  At this point, I think I will shift my focus a little and provide more reasons why I don’t believe now, as opposed to too much of my journey.


This book is the summary of why I made the choice to not believe in a higher power, the supernatural, magic, or anything that violates the laws of this universe. I am an atheist and a skeptic. However, this book it not here to convince you to reject whatever belief you subscribe to; it is a statement of my world-view and how I arrived there.

I have been an atheist my entire adult life and even as a child, I always had some doubt in any kind of higher power. As I have grown older, my non belief has grown deeper. In particular, the blatant falsehoods of western religions have done nothing but solidify this choice. In particular, Apologetics attempt to defend their faith with a literal interpretation of the Holy Bible. This is the origin of the title of this book, No Apologies.

Professionally I am a test engineer. My entire career is based on the ability to measure real things. If it exists, it can be measured. I have, and continue to work in the field, and have measured: temperature, torque, force, density, salinity, relative humidity, pH, velocity, linear and rotary position, air and water pressure, laser intensity, and a myriad of other measurements. If it is real, you can measure it or determine its absence.

Personally I am husband and father. I have been married over a decade and plan to be with my wife until my body ceases to function. She is also a non believer, but I will not presume to know her complete journey. We have a son together. At this point, he knows the concept of a god, but has pretty thoroughly rejected the concept with some surprisingly solid logic. This will be detailed later.

In discussions with others who believe and not believe, I have unintentionally cemented the beliefs or disbeliefs of others, which I think is great. To be intellectually and emotionally honest, everyone should re-examine their belief system.

This is my journey.

David Nelson, May 21, 2015, United States of America.

No Apologies

Welcome to my site, dismantling Christian apologetic arguments, and offering a pragmatic commentary on the Holy Bible.  If I have time in the future, I will tackle other religious worldviews.

First off, what is Christian apologetics?  From the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry it is defined as:

Apologetics is the branch of Christianity that deals with the defense and establishment of the Christian faith.  Christian Apologetics is something every true believer should be involved in even if it is only a little.

“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence,” (1 Peter 3:15).

There are several branches of apologetics, but this is the most common on the United States, so this is what I am most familiar with.