Eric Cassell is an expert in navigation systems, including GPS, and has had a long-time interest in animal navigation. He has more than four decades of experience in systems engineering related to aircraft navigation and safety. He has served as an engineering consultant for NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); has developed computer algorithms for safety systems; and has published numerous technical papers. His academic training includes bachelor’s degrees in biology (George Mason University) and electrical engineering (Villanova University), and a master’s in science and religion from Biola University, which included the history and philosophy of science.
This new book fills an important gap in the literature about problems for neo-Darwinism and empirical evidence for intelligent design theory. While there are many works on highly complex systems in genetics, molecular machines, and anatomy, this work focuses on the utterly mysterious origin of complex programmed animal behavior and instincts. From the navigation of migrating birds and butterflies to the dance of honey bees and the miraculous abilities of other insect societies there are abundant phenomena for which Darwinism has failed to provide any plausible and adequate explanation, while the obvious design explanation has been excluded a priori by mainstream academia. This book is another welcome and highly recommended step towards an overdue paradigm change in modern biology.
GÜNTER BECHLY, PHD, PALEOENTOMOLOGIST, SENIOR FELLOW WITH THE CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND CULTURE, FORMER CURATOR IN THE DEPARTMENT OF PALEONTOLOGY FOR THE STATE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY IN STUTTGART, GERMANY
Comments from Discovery Institute
Today Discovery Institute Press launches Animal Algorithms: Evolution and the Mysterious Origin of Ingenious Instincts, by Eric Cassell. The book is all about the buzzing, migrating, web-spinning, and colony-building world of ingenious animals blessed with gobsmackingly impressive skills — in many cases, from birth.
How do blind mound-building termites know passive heating and cooling strategies that dazzle skilled human architects? What taught the honeybee its dance, or its hive mates how to read the complex message of the dance? How do monarch butterflies known to fly thousands of miles to a single mountainside in Mexico, to a place they’ve never been before?
The secret, according to author Eric Cassell: behavioral algorithms embedded in their tiny brains.
But how did these embedded programs arise in the history of life? There’s the problem for evolutionists. “Specified complexity, irreducible complexity, and the Cambrian explosion are inexplicable from a Darwinian viewpoint,” comments Baylor University computer engineer and intelligent design theorist Robert J. Marks. “In this book, Cassell masterfully adds animal algorithms to the list.”
Several other specialists have praised the book, including an entomologist, a paleoentomologist, and a neurobiologist.
The entomologist, Malcolm Chisolm, describes it as an enjoyable read that is also very well-researched. Melissa Cain Travis, author of Science and the Mind of the Maker, calls it “a fascinating exploration,” and says, “Readers will come away with a clear understanding of why the algorithmic dances of organisms such as bees, ants, and butterflies pose an enormous challenge to the materialist evolutionary paradigm.”
Cassell has degrees in biology and electrical engineering. Much of his professional work has focused on flight navigation systems, including GPS. He has done extensive consulting work for the FAA and NASA.
“I happened to read some articles about bird migration and was surprised about how they could navigate so accurately,” Cassel said in explaining what drew him into the study of animal navigation. “Having worked on aircraft navigation systems, I was intrigued to know what method the birds use.”
There was also a bee experiment from his undergraduate days. “We followed bees as they foraged in a field of flowers,” he says. “One conclusion from the experiment indicated that the bees, rather than searching for food in a random manner, were following a specific efficient strategy. That urged the question as to how an animal with such a small brain is able to do that.”
Animal Algorithms promises to delight many of Discovery Institute Press’s loyal fans as well as attract new readers — the sort who might have little interest in molecular biology and fossils but who are fascinated by the macro world of animal behavior. Cassell points to another group the book is well suited for: biologists and engineers eager to learn more about applying systems engineering principles to complex programmed animal behaviors.