THE GREAT DESIGNER (C. 1958)

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Excerpted from The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, edited by John Clover Monsma. New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons, 1958

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THE GREAT DESIGNER

By Claude M. Hathaway, Consulting Engineer and Inventor

B.Sc.EE, M.Sc, University of Colorado. Formerly project engineer in Consulting Engineering Laboratory, General Electric Company, Schenectady, N.Y. Designer of “electronic brain” for National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, Langley Field. Presently Chairman of Research and Devel­opment, Hathaway Instrument Division of Hamilton Watch Co. Member Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, AIEE, IRE. Specialist in electrical and physical measurements and measuring in­struments.

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Before I proceed to comment on my rational grounds for belief in God let me say that my belief in God is based for the most part, at the present stage of my life, on what may be described as experience. We should not discount too much beliefs based on experience, nor should we classify them as irrational, for to do so would discredit the Scientific Method. Such beliefs may better be called “super-rational.”

Although my knowledge of God in earlier years was based more upon reasons which I shall presently describe, it now rests largely upon the experience of knowing Him inwardly, an experience or experiences which transcend or render unimportant the rational arguments. While evidences of this kind may be unconvincing to those who have not experienced them, they are perfectly reasonable to those who have. I have found that God, the personal Christian God, is the only concept which perfectly fits the peculiar contours of the human soul. In the words of Augustine: “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our souls are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”

But now for a brief statement of the rational bases of my belief in a supernatural God. I would first mention the simple, undeniable fact, no doubt more often brought to the fore in this volume, that design requires a designer. This most funda­mental rational reason for my belief in God is one which has been greatly bolstered by my engineering experience. After years of work in the development and design of complicated mechanisms and electronic circuitry I have acquired a tre­mendous appreciation for design wherever I find it. With such a background, it is unthinkable that the inconceivably marvelous design in the world around us could be anything else than the product of a personal and infinitely intelligent Designer. Certainly, this is an old argument, but it is an argument that modern science has made more powerful than ever before.

An engineer learns to appraise order, and to appreciate the difficulties associated with design which brings together the forces, materials, and laws of Nature in such a way as to accomplish a desired objective. He learns to appreciate design by being faced with the problems of design.

It was my job several years ago to design an electronic computer which would rapidly solve some complicated equations encountered in two-dimensional stress theory. This problem was solved by an assembly of hundreds of vacuum tubes, electromechanical devices, and complicated circuitry, and the completed “brain,” in a cabinet about the size of three large pianos, is still in use by the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, at Langley Field. After working on this computer for a year or two, and after facing and solving the many design problems which it presented, it is completely irrational to me to think that such a device could come into being in any other way than through the agency of an intelligent designer.

Now, the world around us is a vast assembly of design or order, independent but interrelated, vastly more complex in every small detail than my “electronic brain.” If my computer required a designer, how much more so did that complex physio-chemical-biological machine which is my human body —which in turn is but an extremely minute part of the well-nigh infinite cosmos?

Intel 80486DX2 microprocessor

Design, order, arrangement, call it what you will, can result from only two causes: chance or design. The more complex the order, the more remote the possibility of chance. Placed as we are in the midst of design little short of infinite, I cannot help but believe in God.

The second point I wish to make is that the Designer of the universe must be supernatural. I believe that God is supernatural because my philosophy permits the supernat­ural, and because as a physicist I recognize the need for a supernatural First Cause. My philosophy permits the super­natural because by definition the supernatural cannot be demonstrated by the natural senses, and hence it would be begging the question to deny it because science cannot demonstrate it. Furthermore, modern physics shows me that Nature is unable to order herself.

Sir Isaac Newton recognized that the universe was moving from order to disorder; that it was approaching a uniform temperature; and from this he saw the necessity of an initial ordering or design. This concept was brought into clearer focus by the study of heat, which revealed the distinction between available energy and unavailable energy, or entropy. It was found that in any transformation involving heat a definite amount of energy was transferred from the available to the unavailable state, but that transfer in the opposite direction never occurs in Nature. This is the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Boltzmann became interested in this phenomenon, and he brought his keen insight and great mathematical abilities to bear upon it, showing that the loss of available energy expressed by the Second Law is merely a special case of a more general principle which states that in every physical transformation there is a loss of order. In the case of heat, the transfer of energy from “the available to the unavailable state is actually a loss in molecular order, a disintegration of design. In simple terms, Boltzmann’s Extended Second Law of Thermodynamics means that Nature cannot design herself, because every physical transformation must be accompanied by a loss in design. In localized instances, order may progress from the simple to the complex, but only at the expense of a greater loss of order elsewhere.

The universe is a tremendous “mass” (physics) of order. Therefore a Great First Cause is required who is not subject to the Second Law; who is, therefore, supernatural.

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