When designed errors are the perfect design

[advanced IDCS topic for students of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology]
Shannon’s legendary paper: Mathematical Theory of Communication unwittingly lends support to the philosophical notion that perfect designs in one dimension must of necessity have imperfection in other dimensions.

We intuitively understand that we communicate much better with someone in a quiet room versus a noisy room. But Shannon’s genius was that he quantified this notion by relating maximum data transmission rate to the signal-to-noise ratio. The result of the paper was the now famous Noisy channel coding theorem.
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What defines “good” design in the composition of music and the tuning of musical instruments?

[advanced IDCS topics for students of music and philosophy of art]

“Bad design” is one of the most formidable arguments against intelligent design. I’ve responded to the “bad design” arguement by saying that what constitutes “good design” depends on the goals of the designer.

If fuel efficiency is the criteria of good design, then a motorcycle is a better design than an SUV. But some will argue the SUV is a better design for snowy and icy conditions when transporting babies, thus an SUV is a better design. The problem is what constitutes “good design”, and who decides the criteria for good?

We also have the paradoxical situation where good drama needs a bit of “bad” designed into it. If a great novel told a story with no problems, will it be a good drama?

“Once upon a time there were no problems…there were never any problems or difficulties….they lived happily ever after”.

And for those familiar with music theory, one can appreciate the importance of incorporating “bad notes” in making beautiful designs.

Here is a table of musical intervals. The list contains intervals that are called “perfect”. The label of perfect implies the other intervals are considered less than perfect, even the extreme opposite of perfect, such as the tritone interval “musica diabolica (the devils’ music)“.

The “musica diabolica” interval is featured in the first two notes of the melody known as “Maria” by Leonard Bernstein. When the word “Ma-ri-a” is sung to Bernstein’s music, the “musica diabolica” interval can be heard in the “Ma-ri” part. But then Berstein transforms the two harsh sounding notes of “Ma-ri” into a 3 beautiful notes of “Ma-ri-a”. We have two imperfect dissonant intervals (“Musica diabloica” combined with a minor-2nd) to make something beautiful. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts in the final effect. Bernstein figured out how to incorporate two imperfect parts into a heavenly design that would not have been otherwise possible using only perfect parts.

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The Shallowness of Bad Design Arguments

[advanced IDCS topic for students of math and computer science]

The existence of bad design, broken design, and cruelty in the world inspires some of the strongest arguments against the Intelligent Design of life and the universe. I consider the “bad design” argument the most formidable of the anti-ID arguments put forward, but in the end it is shallow and flawed. I will attempt to turn the “bad design” argument on its head in this essay.

The “bad design” arguments have at least two major themes:

1. An Intelligent Designer like God wouldn’t make designs that are capable of breaking down

2. God (as the Intelligent Designer of Life) doesn’t exist because of all the cruelty and evil in the world

To address the first point, consider the synthesis of computer languages like: Java, C, C++, Ada, Pascal, Basic, FORTRAN, COBOL, Jovial, PL1, Modula-2, LISP, Prolog, etc.
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Life is a miracle of the Creator God, not the product of mindless evolution

[for intermediate level students of intelligent design and creation science]

A human soul dwells in a human body, and the human body has 100 trillion cells. Each cell is a complex molecular robot, and many of these complex molecular robots can build other cells which are themselves complex molecular robots.

The technology inside each of these complex molecular robots is far beyond human technology especially because the technology works at the molecular level. No human has ever built a robot that will make copies of itself from raw materials, but living creatures do this all the time.
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