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Patterns in Nature

Intelligent Design is about discovering patterns in nature that can’t be explained by natural processes. Natural forces and natural laws are occasionally responsible for some interesting patterns such as snow flakes or rocks shaped by erosion. But there are patterns of complexity we find in nature, whether it is the physical word or the biological word, that defy explanation by random processes or physical laws. Our eyes and our minds instantly recognize it. While the nano design of the biological word is a little hard to capture with a camera, ARN News Editor, Tom Magnuson, shares with us some images from the physical world that cause us to think about design, patterns, and causes. Below you will find the photographer’s explanation of the photo along with the comment or quote that appears on each month’s image.

All Photos by Tom Magnuson

Cover: Strike Two. This is an untouched digital image. Brook trout were surface-feeding at Hanging Lake east of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The water roiled and, in some cases, ripples emanated from the strike centers. This was the most “striking” image I took. The smaller, and very colorful, brook trout on top got the morsel. The larger trout was a fraction of a second slower, and ended up with its mouth around the mid-section of the smaller trout. The slight blurring of the top trout gives the sense of motion. Note: no trout were injured in the taking of this image.

Here are the specifics of the image:

Equipment                         Nikon D70
Focal length                      62mm (zoom lens 18mm-70mm)
F-Number                          F/6.3
Exposure Time                   1/160 sec.
Metering Mode                   Pattern
Exposure Compensation      0 step
Date Taken                      10/01/06 12:10 p.m. MDT
Location                            Hanging Lake, CO Elevation - 7140’
LAT 39o   36’ 64.31”
LON 107o 11’ 31.15”

January: Homeward bound. This scene was near perfect, after bushwhacking over steep terrain near Red Mountain Pass, Colorado. Whenever in the high country, I often look for scenes that have signs of intelligence mixed with unintelligent beauty. The fresh snow cover was enjoyable, along with seeing the evidence that, in the outdoors, that the easiest trek for an intelligent agent from point A to point B is often no way near a straight line.

“Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence (due to the observed specified complexity of the patterns). Our rational intuition tells us that the footprints and cabin in this image are the result of a conscious presence and intelligent forethought.”

February: Balanced Rock and Pikes Peak. These scenes (February and March) are example of unintelligent natural forces carving out shapes that could be mistaken for intelligent agency at a glance. A closer look would show that the Crags (near Pikes Peak), and the balanced rock, with Pikes Peak in the background, are magnificent results of water, sun, and wind.

“The claim (of ID Theory) is simply that there must be something more than ordinary natural causes or material mechanisms, and moreover, that something must be intelligent…uncreated or directly created…and capable of bringing about organisms.”
– William A. Dembski, Debating Design

March: The Crags. “This wall of rock has been sculpted by unintelligence (weathering) and/or intelligent agency. The evidence is equivocal. While we see pyramid shapes and hints of rock cuts, our rational intuition and past experience tell us that this could occur via natural processes.”


April: Thracian Gravesite. While visiting southeast Bulgaria, I was taken to a vast Thracian grave site and spiritual complex near Malko Turnovo. When in the area, people noticed regularly spaced and closely sized mounds within the forest, and figured that this must be the result of intelligent agency. After that forensic tip off, archaeologists have excavated dozens of grave sites and spiritual shrines which were constructed from 2300 to 2500 years ago. Science does use intelligent design theory to its benefit. Why is it not allowed in the biological sciences?

“At first glance we might assume this cluster of rocks to be a natural occurrence. But upon closer examination we find evidence of order and meaning that our past experience tells us is a human grave site (5th century B.C.) created by intelligent agents.”

May: Bird of Paradise. This image was taken on the island of Maui and a beautiful example of the micro-evolutionary process at work. Plants have been given a remarkable ability to diversify and specialize in ways we do not entirely understand even today.

"The essence of Darwinism lies in a single phrase: natural selection is the creative force of evolutionary change. No one denies that selection will play a negative role in eliminating the unfit. Darwinian theories require that it create the fit as well."
– Stephen J. Gould,
The Return of Hopeful Monsters

June: Seagull on Princess Island, Istanbul, Turkey. This seagull image was taken on an island to which princesses of long ago were banished when another princess came to the fore. For, you see, the empire could only have one princess at a time! An intelligent agent (islander) had noticed that seagulls were drawn to reflections of their kind. The mirror was propped up against an old cart wheel so the gull could see the "other" gull. This is an example of an intelligently designed set up for an intelligently designed creature.

"It is a considerable strain on one's credulity to assume that finely balanced systems such as certain sense organs (the eye of vertebrates, or the bird's feather) could be improved by random mutations…however, the [proponents] of random mutations have so far been unable to advance any alternative explanation that was supported by substantial evidence." 
– Ernst Mayr,  
Systematics and the Origin of Species

July: Red Bottlebrush Flower on the Island Of Thassos, Greece. The Red Bottlebrush shrub was taken on the Greek island of Thassos. This beautiful shrub is mostly native to Australia, but the Mediterranean climate suits it just fine. The pollen of the flower forms on the tip of a long colored stalk called a filament. It is these filaments which give the flower spike its color and distinctive 'bottlebrush' shape.  Each flower produces a small woody fruit containing hundreds of tiny seeds. These fruits form in clusters along the stem, and are usually held on the plant for many years. The seeds are usually not released from the fruits for several years, but in some species the fruits open after about a year. Fire also stimulates the opening of the fruits in some bottlebrushes.

"Micromutations do occur, but the theory that these alone can account for evolutionary change is either falsified, or else it is an unfalsifiable, hence metaphysical theory. I suppose that nobody will deny that it is a great misfortune if an entire branch of science becomes addicted to a false theory…but this is what has happened in biology...I believe that one day the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science. When this happens many people will pose the question, ‘How did this ever happen?’"
– Sören Lovtrup,
Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth

August: Bimini, Bahamas Shipwreck. I came upon this shipwreck on the small Bahamian island of Bimini. Over 1000 people live on a stretch of land no more than 20 feet above sea level, which is only 2 1/2 miles long by two to three city blocks wide. The vessel from the country of Belize was run aground by a hurricane nearly 20 years ago. You can clearly see that there was an accident, BUT the vessel was no accident. It was crafted by intelligent agents, owing to it's complexity and specificity. When I first saw it, I did not for a moment think, "Look what sand and shells and wind and wave action created!" William Paley's piece, written in the 19th century, on finding a watch in the heath came to mind. Human's built-in rational intuition works very well, until it clashing with their worldview biases, especially in the realm of the biological sciences.

"When you follow from afar the course of a ship, upon the sea, you do not question that its movement is guided by a skilled intelligence. When you see a sundial or a water-clock, you see that it tells the time by design and not by chance. How then can you imagine that the universe as a whole is devoid of purpose and intelligence, when it embraces everything, including these artifacts themselves and their artificers?”
– Cicero,  45 B.C.

September: Maroon Bells, Colorado – Art imitates Art. This high country scene near Aspen is one of the most photographed sites in Colorado.  While the mountains were sculpted by natural processes, the trees are too complex to have originated from chance, natural selection, and time. The added bonus in this scene was the intelligent artist painting the natural beauty. Many believe, and for good reason, that the odds of his complexity are close to, if not, miraculous.

"The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the big bang are enormous...I think clearly there are religious implications whenever you start to discuss the origins of the universe…but I think most scientists prefer to shy away from the religious side of it."
– Dr. Stephen Hawking, quoted in
Masters of Time - Cosmology at the End of Innocence

October: Twin Lakes Reflections. Twin Lakes, is one of the most picturesque places in Colorado. Not only do you get to view the magnificent mountain peaks, but enjoy the added bonus of their reflection in Twin Lakes.

“Is it not a wonder that anyone can bring himself to believe that a number of solid and separate particles by their chance collisions…could bring into being so marvelous and beautiful a world? If anybody thinks that this is possible, I do not see why he should not think that if an infinite number of examples of the twenty-one letters of the alphabet…were shaken together and poured out on the ground it would be possible for them to fall so as to spell out, say, the whole text of the Annals of Ennius. In fact I doubt whether chance would permit them to spell out a single verse! [If] these people can bring themselves to assert that…these chance collisions of atoms can make a world, why cannot they build a porch, or a temple, or a house or a city…a much easier and less laborious task."
– Cicero, 45 B.C.

November: Sand Dunes. Sand dunes in Colorado? Why not. Erosion of the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado, coupled with a flat, windy valley downwind, created the dunes. A low spot in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, to the east, funnels the wind and sand into that area, which has built up the dunes over time. The highest dune rises over 700 feet above the valley floor. And yet, all the grains of sand in the dunes, or, for that matter, on all the dunes and beaches of the Earth, do not even come close to the astronomical odds of the origin of life. With 1080 particles in the known cosmos, and the odds that a short strand of RNA could spontaneously occur under perfect conditions at 10992, Robert Jastrow's comment that this is the only planet in the cosmos with life is vastly over-optimistic...unless there is an intelligent designer.

“Biochemist Robert Shapiro estimates that the probability of chance formation of a short strand of self-replicating RNA is…1 in 10992…Even when multiplied by the vast number of planets probably present in the universe (1023), this forces us to conclude that the Earth must be the only planet, bearing life."
– Robert Jastrow
What Are the Chances for Life?

December: Silversword. The striking Silversword plant is endemic only to a several thousand acre area on the Haleakala volcano on the island of Maui. It is perfectly suited to that climate, and after blooming once, after 15 to 50 years, it dies. Your rational intuition says, intelligently designed, but others claim it's due to the natural "power" of chance, natural selection, and time.

"It is fair to say that Darwin simply assumed that gradual improvement was possible in general. Darwin's assumption was almost certainly wrong. It does not appear to be the case that gradualism always hold. In some complex systems, any minor change causes catastrophic changes in the behavior of the system. In these cases...selection cannot assemble complex systems. Here is one fundamental limit to selection."
– Stuart Kauffman,
At Home in the Universe

"Patterns in Nature" Wall Calendar
"Patterns in Nature" Wall Calendar

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