The Discovery Institute is returning to an old theme — see Discoveroids: Science Copies Nature, Therefore …, one we discussed in Common Creationist Claims Confuted under the heading: “Copying Nature Requires Intelligence.”
The new Discoveroid post is by Casey Luskin — our favorite creationist. It’s titled Biomimicry Could Solve Green Energy Problems and Lead to Environmentally Friendly Tech. Casey says, with bold font added by us:
Once again, biological systems are being modeled to improve human technology. This time butterfly wings are enlightening engineers trying to improve light collectors so we can better harvest solar energy.
Casey then links to and quotes extensively from this article at PhysOrg: Butterflies heat up the field of solar research, which says:
The humble butterfly could hold the key to unlocking new techniques to make solar energy cheaper and more efficient, pioneering new research has shown. A team of experts from the University of Exeter has examined new techniques for generating photovoltaic (PV) energy – or ways in which to convert light into power. They showed that by mimicking the v-shaped posture adopted by Cabbage White butterflies to heat up their flight muscles before take-off, the amount of power produced by solar panels can increase by almost 50 per cent.
Then he links to and quotes from a paper on the subject from Nature, White butterflies as solar photovoltaic concentrators, and he says:
Don’t miss the last sentence which marvels at how nature has already “solved” the problems we face. This is the customary evolutionary gloss that is virtually always added to any paper on biomimicry.
What was that “evolutionary gloss” in the Nature article? It said:
Mimicking these reflective structures with similar power to weight properties will be extremely useful in the design of new reflective materials for use in applications where weight is a limiting issue, such as flight. Third, and perhaps most obviously, this suggests that butterflies have evolved to concentrate light effectively for their needs and supports the idea that any given problem may first have been solved by nature.
Casey grabs onto that and asks his drooling fans:
But does the success of biomimicry suggest mindless nature solved problems that our minds couldn’t, or does it suggest that an advanced mind solved the problem in nature before our minds even conceived of the problem?
We’ve seen worse questions, but that one certainly ranks near the bottom. First, our minds could solve the problem, but in this case it’s easier to use a solution that is already available. As for the second part of Casey’s false dichotomy, that “an advanced mind solved the problem,” that’s a bit of a stretch. He must also believe that the same “advanced mind” spawned a biosphere in which at least 90% of the species that ever lived have gone extinct. That’s not a great track record for an advanced mind.
Skipping a load of blather, we come to the end:
What biomimicry really shows is that nature operates in a rational manner — sometimes even more rational than our own best ideas. And if our own ideas are the result of mental activity, what does that say about nature?
Well, dear reader, what does it say about nature? As we wrote in Common Creationist Claims Confuted:
Genetic algorithms are excellent evidence of nature’s ability to produce spectacular design results without thought. The everyday use of genetic algorithms to solve difficult problems clearly demonstrates, again and again, that the unthinking processes (mutation and natural selection) identified by Darwin are quite sufficient for the task.
Anyway, Casey thinks nature has a better mind than he does. Maybe he’s right.
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