Saturday, April 6, 2013

Designer Chronicle

In the past few weeks I have rediscovered a thick coffee table volume entitled Chronicle of the American Automobile—Over 100 years of Auto History by James M. Flammer. I occasionally encounter this book and revel in pictures of automobiles in the post-World War II era. My interest in automobile designs was piqued by the renewed availability of cars to the public at the end of the war. Too young to drive, I settled for drawing the new arrivals and memorizing grille and body features in what proved to be a surfeit of designer imagination during that era.

Lest readers wonder where this post is headed, I confess to my fascination with the chronicle of automobile industry design and its analogies to design concepts in every aspect of our lives. In the early 1990s Philip Johnson and others proposed the concept of intelligent design to the public as an adjunct to more traditional concepts of creationism. These proposals were an effort to counter the increasing popularity of belief in evolution. As a reaction to Johnson and other blossoming organizations such as Discovery Institute, the term intelligent design began to acquire a somewhat negative reputation. Some posed suspicions that it was really a cover for theistic creationism which had acquired antagonism from many mainstream scientists who had gone to great lengths to establish science as a totally secular enterprise.

You may ask why our coffee table volume has anything to do with the concept of intelligent design. We will attempt to pose analogies on two levels. As a pre-teen I was fascinated with exterior automotive designs which tended to change rapidly in that era. The designs were meant to be the work of talented designers--creative, esthetically pleasing, and perhaps even excessive. Choices of colors offered could enhance eye-catching appeal. The Chronicle volume author did not shy from commending genius design strokes (“masterful, aircraft-inspired…curvaceous roof and fender lines”) or criticizing clumsy designs (“slab-sided or flush-fendered”). All considered, the hundreds of automotive designs are the work of intelligent minds. We may call the book’s 608 pages a chronicle of automotive “intelligent design.” Features of intelligent design are everywhere present in daily life and readily identifiable from the mundane automobile to ubiquitous everyday wonders.

On another level the buyer is concerned about the mechanical capabilities of their automotive purchases. In particular, what about horsepower, braking, driving comfort, fuel use, and entertainment? Automobile design is a blend of appearance and function. Chronicle of the American Automobile is a book on intelligent design. The Creator has enabled man to design automobiles, homes, schools, and businesses and carry out each of our daily activities using the principles of intelligent design. All human productions are fueled by intelligent design. Who could pose disbelief, therefore, in intelligent design in any of life’s contexts?

Personal coffee table books sometimes tend to be tucked away for months or years. Many such volumes are produced for our edification and instruction.  We suggest that many of our books may enhance awareness of ubiquitous intelligent design in our surroundings, man-made or in the world of nature. Intelligent design is a God-provided characteristic of a universe filled with order.