Biomimetics, or biologically inspired design, is an emerging discipline where scientists study designs from nature and adapt them to solve real-world problems. Some classic examples include DaVinci’s flying machines based on his study of birds or examining gecko feet to enhance the stickiness of tape. Biomimetics motivates us to see living organisms as agents of inspiration for human innovation. Dr. Jeff Zweerink draws attention to several promising designs in his lead article, “Using Nature’s Designs to Build a Better Mousetrap.”
From an evolutionary point of view, biomimetics presents exciting cases of how living organisms have adapted to changing environments. It also provides a system that humans can learn from and apply to innovate for a better world. Scientists have mined biomimetics for potential applications in medicine, agriculture, some forms of nanotechnology, and even the environmental crisis. This truly is the cutting-edge of science.
It’s fairly common in the academic literature to see nature as the entity “responsible” for this innovation. Scientists say we can literally ask the planet, “How would nature solve this problem?” Human solutions are considered unlikely to be superior to those developed by millions of years of evolutionary experimentation. However, it seems conceivable that evolution’s trial-and-error process could have developed solutions that didn’t work and became evolutionary dead-ends. Thus, from a Christian worldview, it’s difficult to reconcile how mindless evolutionary processes could have had forethought into the future developments of this “living technology.”
But evolutionists’ usage of biomimetics shouldn’t discourage Christians from getting involved in the discussion. Christian apologist and Caltech-trained scientist, Katie Galloway, is doing her PhD studies on biomimetics. She points out that it’s important for Christians to be involved in this pioneering work because the Bible also exhorts us to inquire of nature. “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you” (Job 12:7–9). In a sense, the Bible anticipated what science is now discovering. The Creator has provided humanity with a deep well of knowledge of nature. He also placed an innate curiosity within humans to explore His creation. By studying God’s designs, we are inspired to solve engineering challenges. But more than that, as Katie points out, it also brings us closer to realizing what the animals already know: “…that the hand of the Lord has done this.”