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Fleshing Out a Theory of Biological Design

Photo credit: © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons.

On a new episode of ID the Future, author and engineer Steve Laufmann delves into the theory of biological design he develops in Your Designed Body, his new book co-authored with physician Howard Glicksman. Laufmann explains how his engineering background has helped him further develop design theory and, with help from Glicksman, apply it to the human body. In exploring the causal capacities of intelligent design, Laufmann spotlights four elements: (1) intentional actions, which in turn require mind, agency, and foresight; (2) adaptive capabilities, which involve, among other things, control systems that employ sensors, logic, and effectors; (3) design properties (e.g., modularity); and (4) degradation prevention.

The last of these features is implemented by engineers to get a system to last longer. In the case of living organisms, it works at the individual level, as with our immune system and other bodily repair systems; but as Laufmann notes, it also works across generations to slow genetic degradation. Laufmann and host Michael Egnor explore these and other insights at the intersection of biology and engineering. Download the podcast or listen to it here.