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Reason and Revelation Volume 28 #5

Feeling Design

Those in the medical field of prosthetics (artificial limbs) are faced with a daunting task—to mimic human body parts. Experts in this field of study are quick to admit that the natural, biological human body is far superior to anything that humans can design. Yet, even though prostheses are clumsy, awkward, and inefficient when compared to human limbs, progress is slowly being made toward more human-like limbs.

One step toward better prosthetics is the ability to feel, also known as tactile sensation. “[S]cientists from Northwestern University, in Chicago, have shown that transplanting the nerves from an amputated hand to the chest allows patients to feel hand sensation there” (Singer, 2007). This new technology has the potential to enable amputees to feel sensations such as cold and hot, distinguish between surface texture such as smooth (like marble) or rough (like sandpaper), and various other sensations that biological hands can feel.

Todd Kuiken, the lead doctor in the research that was presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Kuiken, et al., 2007), said that improving and refining the technology will take time. Emily Singer, writing for Technology Review, commented on the process of creating usable, “feeling” prostheses, saying, “The task is likely to be difficult” (2007). Kuiken further noted: “Our hands are incredible instruments that can feel things with exquisitely light touch and incredible resolution; to emulate that through a device is incredibly challenging.... All we’re giving our patients is a rough approximation, but something is better than nothing” (as quoted in Singer, 2007).

Notice the necessary inference implied in this research. Humans are brilliant, creative beings. They are using existing nerves to design prostheses that have “a rough approximation” of the sense of touch that a biological hand has. Millions of dollars are being spent, thousands of hours used, and massive amounts of various other resources are being employed to make this muted sensation available. Yet, evolutionary scientists expect thinking people to believe that the original, biological limbs that have an “exquisite” sense of touch and “incredible resolution” arose due to blind processes and random chance over multiplied billions of years of haphazard accidents overseen by no intelligence? Such a conclusion is irrational. Design demands a designer. If the “rough” prostheses have a designer, the human limbs after which they are modeled must, of logical necessity, have one as well.

REFERENCES

Kuiken, Todd, et al. (2007), “Redirection of Cutaneous Sensation from the Hand to the Chest Skin of Human Amputees with Targeted Reinnervation,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, [On-line], URL: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/104/50/20061.

Singer, Emily (2007), “Prosthetic Limbs that Can Feel,” Technology Review, [On-line], URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/Biotech/19759/?nlid=689.



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