Humans, Intelligent Design, and a Drunken God

NOTE: One could consider this atheistic (or possibly deistic, depending on the person) “witnessing.”

Evolution is an affront for many theists because it rudely interrupts their fantasy of humans having a special place in the universe and in God’s Plan™. Even the most liberal of Christians have problems grappling with this issue because understanding evolutionary history leads one to the idea that humans weren’t inevitable. We could have easily never evolved, or died out long ago (which we actually almost did – there’s evidence that all of humanity had a population bottleneck at one point and may have been reduced to approximately 10,000 individuals). Even the liberal Christians will say that they believe in evolution but God guided the process towards us, or designed us specifically in the end in his image. We’re the big goal! Isn’t that great and comforting?

I could open a separate thread focusing on genetics and chromosomal fusion or the idea of encountering aliens or all sorts of other points to dispel such ideas. But I think it’d be amusing to gather all the screwed up designs of the human body instead. I’m sure you’ve seen some of these before but I’d like to gather them all in one thread because it’s actually quite compelling. If anyone wishes to add more I’d love to see it (particularly specialists; say, someone who knows a lot about the kidneys or some such).

The human body is a relic of natural selection, not an intelligent architect:

The first design flaws I’ll bring up haunt the minds of many theists and even our elected representatives. We deal with them everyday. This may sound silly at first but honestly think about it…

What the hell is going on between our legs?

Looking at the male genitalia induces laughter because it’s so ridiculous. Organs critical to the survival of the species are just hanging out in the open without a care in the world. The testicles are hyper sensitive to both damage and pain and their only protection is a thin sac of skin. Is this good design? There are reasons why they hang outside the body regarding temperature and sperm production. Why didn’t God change the design so we can make sperm in our bodies? He did it with cetaceans (dolphins/whales) and seals. Is it good design to have our testicles flopping around while we run away from a lion?

Ditto the penis. It’s not so vulnerable because it’s flaccid most of the time but the principle is the same. Most mammals keep their penis tucked inside their body for protection.

And then there’s the prostate. Many men know the results of an important tube going through an organ that has the tendency to swell. Was God drunk when he placed the prostate?

The female genitalia doesn’t escape scrutiny either, although it’s much better than the male’s setup. For one, why did God create the hymen? And what’s up with the clitoris? It makes sense when one understands the concept of homologous structures and how we develop in the womb. In the light of intelligent design, the clitoris is just bizarre. Why did God put it way up there, away from the vagina? That is to say, the clitoris is the seat of female sexual pleasure. The purpose should be to encourage sex. So why have a clitoris that is away from the action? Wouldn’t it be better to delete the clitoris entirely and relocate the nerve bundle to the vagina? This would make sense because it would be an improvement over the current situation where women have difficulty climaxing during sex and it would reduce a vulnerability – it’s just not a good idea to have a hyper sensitive button exposed to the outside world like that.

The female breasts should be a complete mystery to those who think God designed us. Why should females be burdened with carrying around huge lumps of fat and flesh by their chests? Ask the average person on the street and he’d probably say something along the lines of milk production, but even he knows that is false because we’ve all seen dogs or pigs feeding entire litters and…they don’t have huge breasts. Simply put, female breasts are abnormal by mammal standards. Even a flat girl is a buxom babe compared to a female ape. Breasts are the obvious result of runaway sexual selection designed to make guys excited. I don’t believe most intelligent design advocates are comfortable with this conclusion, first for moral reasons, and secondly because it’s not really good design, is it? It definitely works of course…but God didn’t have to design us is this way. We would be fine if women were completely flat and the male fascination with breasts was removed from our human nature.

Speaking of reproduction, the mechanisms carrying it out aren’t too hot either. Something on the order of 20-30% of all fertilized eggs are discarded by the body without the woman even knowing. Numerous perils and pitfalls await a developing embryo, many of which lead to spontaneous abortion and emotional trauma for the mother. So many genetic anomalies and just plain mistakes during the process of growing a person can result in either outright death or birth defects and a life of pain and suffering. Is this evidence for an intelligent designer in any way? Does God fail at genetics?

Even with our advanced medical technology both babies and women still die during the birthing process. The combination of our big heads and tenuous birth canals leads to disaster in some cases. Of course, we know the pain is God’s punishment on all women for Eve’s wickedness and that modern pain blocking medication is going against God’s will. :smiley:

What’s up with our backs, knees, and feet? It’s almost as if they were reverse engineered to adapt to our upright stance instead of someone coming up with them to suit our lifestyle from the beginning. I once saw a imaginative picture in Scientific American which showed what we would look like if we wished to get rid of our chronic problems in these areas and it looked quite amusing (can anyone find it online?). Why is God less imaginative than some random artist/researcher writing for SA? Why does he want us to suffer chronic pain?

Before the advent of modern hygiene your teeth would regularly rot and fall out due to excess plaque and tartar. Even today we must visit a dentist to have him scrape off what we miss. Is having your teeth fall out in your 20s good design?

The vast majority of all life on this planet can manufacture its own vitamin C, a chemical of great importance. We can’t. If we don’t get enough vitamin C from our food we become sick, bleed from all of our mucous membranes, and then die a painful death. A biologist would say that we inherited a mutation in the vitamin C synthesis process from our ape ancestors. Someone who believes God designed us can only wonder why God wants us to have to hunt for vitamin C every day while most of the rest of the animal kingdom make its own.

Why do we have the passages to our stomach and lungs intersect at our throat? This means a simple mistake will block our airway and kill us. A good designer would have these be separate holes in our body. We should be able to breath and eat at the same time. This isn’t too unusual of a request from God – cetaceans (whales/dolphins) have this setup to a certain extent, although it could be better in that case. So do fish and insects and, to a lesser extent, frogs. Snakes have a tube that allows them to breathe even while their entire throat is stuffed with their prey. Why does God seem concerned about snakes choking but not us?

Our eyes are wonderful instruments but they also have a critical flaw. They are wired ass backwards – the end result being that a portion of our light gathering capability is blocked by the optical nerve. Our brains have to hallucinate to make our vision seem normal. I’m sure we’ve all done the finger test at some point. Octopods have their eyes wired up in an intuitively correct way and hence have no blind spot. Maybe God made octopods in his image.

Why did God bless many animals with regenerative abilities but leave us out to dry? If you hack the arm off a starfish or the tail off a lizard they’ll simply grow another. Many animals grow new teeth all the time; if our teeth fall out, they’re gone forever. If we lose the sensitive hairs inside our inner ear they never come back and we gradually go deaf. Why, God, why?

Our digestive tracts are problematic. As a simple example, why are some people lactose intolerant and not others? Scientists know why – it’s a simple mutation which can be tracked in populations. But why would God design us this way? Wouldn’t it make more sense to make it so everyone can consume dairy products? Does he like those of European descent more than Asians and Africans and Native Americans? After all, he made it so we can eat ice cream. :smiley:

Ditto allergies of any origin. Why does God want to deny his delicious creations from so many people?

The idea of a God designing humanity in the sense of an architect designing a building simply isn’t parsimonious with the facts we have assembled over the previous 200 years unless we radically change the popular notion of God.

The answer to all these is simple. God created man perfect. Then we sinned, and our bodies started to degenerate.

(I’m being sarcastic, BTW. This is the stock answer from fundies; I’m just getting it out of the way.)

Who cares if your personal nut sack gets bit by lions or your teeth fall out? You still should have had time to pass your genetic code onto the next generation. That’s all you have to do to satisfy evolution. (What do you have to do to satisfy God? I like your theory - I’ll offer to buy him the next round)

The OP forgot about the most important God Created Feature humans have.
The Orgasm. Explain that! :wink:

Uncommon Sense, whether you’re a theist or an evolutionary biologist the reasoning behind the orgasm seems rather obvious. Don’t question it anyway because he might take it back!

Don’t Call Me Shirley, yeah I know that’s the stock response, which is of course BS for multiple other reasons…but it would still be problematic for other religions, or a non-denominational theist.

Then again, maybe Adam had his penis inside his body? :smiley:

I rather like my male genitalia, thankyouverymuch.

What you’ve proved is, not that there couldn’t have been any intelligent designer, but that there couldn’t have been an intelligent designer whose intention was to design human beings according to your idea of perfection. What if God prefers human beings to be imperfect? For one thing, the potential for comedy is much greater that way. For all I know, God’s purpose in creating Life, The Universe, & Everything might have been that he wanted some really funny movies to watch. :slight_smile:

Or, more seriously, what if our imperfections are to force us to cooperate with one another, show compassion to each other. or keep us humble?

This is kind of like the Problem of Evil. Sure, God could’ve made us perfect, just like he could’ve made the world without any evil or suffering. I don’t know why He didn’t choose to do either.

Great. We were created by a fan of America’s Funniest Videos.

On the contrary, if there is any evidence that we were designed by an intelligent and loving god, it’s the human titty. The divine rack. The holy mammalian protruberances.

Oh, and disparage not women with cute little ones. I’ll smite thee.

Is this it? (.pdf warning)

You mean God is really Cthulhu?!?!?

We’re screwed! :eek:

Most of the things in the list do not contribute to comedy as easily as they do to misery. Everyone likes seeing someone (else) get kicked in the beans, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t find chronic back pain, enlarged prostates, or lactose intolerance particularly funny. Maybe god likes watching us suffer…

And what about the bits we still have that we don’t need anymore? The appendix? The coccyx?

Well if there is indeed an omnipotent, omniscient god, all it would have to do was create the universe. Any results from whatever seemingly random interaction of energy and matter would have been planned from the very beginning. Life and human evolution could indeed have been planned right from the beginning. Your existence could have been known eons before you ever existed. As far as poor results from evolution, who is to say that humans as they are now are supposed to be perfect. Any evolutionist knows that you need a huge variety of selection to make a robust evolutionary scheme. So the seemingly poor choices now could be ideal choices later on. Simply because god does not cherry pick the ultimate human does not mean that it was not meant to be.

PS. bewbs

Yes, but similarly, good choices now could turn out to be big problems later on - and this happens a lot in evolution; many systems - such as the configuration of the retina, routing of the birth canal through the pelvis, the way sinuses drain (or in fact don’t drain) - are clearly workarounds.

According to one wag, whales have testicles inside because of sharks :stuck_out_tongue:

Zetetic: Yes, that’s what I was referring to. Good catch.

Said half in jest I’m sure, but think this through. Why would God make bigger boobs? Because men like boobs. But presumably he also installed our desire for boobs. Why? That doesn’t really make much sense, does it? Why not a world with neither pendulous boobs or a desire for them?

From an evolutionary perspective, it doesn’t have to make sense in the world of sexual selection. It’s arbitrary. So is a peacock tail. Actually, that’s not true – it’s a little bit more complicated than that. But in a sense it is arbitrary, since it could’ve been any organ besides the tail, or boobs. Men could have the same boob-desire except at a different area of the body. It’s just that, for whatever reason, our ancestors like big breasted women and peacock hen ancestors liked big tails.

That is kinda funny, although I’m guessing it has more to do with the frigid ocean temperatures. Can you tell if a whale is suffering from shrinkage? :eek:

We’re in half agreement then.

Humans exhibit traits fully expected from the process of evolution as we understand them. Hence, appeals to a divine architect crafting us are misplaced.

It would take a different thread to knock out the idea of an intelligent designer in general. We’d also have to knock out the idea “God’s Will” and the like. It’s easier for me to simply link to a site (a good one which I found recently actually called “Why Doesn’t God Heal Amputees?”) or previous threads because it’s been done to death.

My only purpose here is to show exactly what you say – we’re not perfect in any sense. Those who say we were intelligently designed in any way outside the realm of pure evolution have no leg to stand on.

Then he has failed spectacularly, which he should’ve known before ‘making’ us if he followed the standard God model. It would’ve been easier if he simply “forced” us to do all those things, just as you say. Make it our nature. Or it would’ve been easier for him to simply not even bother – what’s in it for him? There’s no reason.

Clarification: When I said “Or it would’ve been easier for him to simply not even bother – what’s in it for him? There’s no reason.” I was referring to the act of even creating humanity in the first place. Or, in the language of a liberal Christian, deciding to tweak the process of evolution on a planet named earth leading to the creation of hominids and, eventually, us.

You lost me right there.

If you wish to claim that our current forms are flaws, that any designer who would implement such designs is a pretty crappy designer, then you must necessarily admit the evolution as a designer produces pretty crappy designs.

I don’t deny that many designs we see in nature are less than optimal. But neither an intelligent designer nor evolution is likely to produce optimal designs for a machine that performs the wide variety of functions that organisms do. Any designer faced with such a challenge is going to have to compromise, and compromise always results in less-than-optimal results. But, optimal or not, we are certainly functional.

The bottom line is that you cannot demonstrate the existence or absence of an intelligent designer by examining organisms. If you could, the argument would have been resolved long ago. What we do see are designs – elegant ones, and very far from “flawed” – that have a great deal of evidence supporting a history; that current forms were built upon and modified from previous forms. And we can explain that history as a result of purely naturalistic, evolutionary processes, thereby obviating the need for an external entity. However, this does not, in any way, prove or disprove the existence of such an entity.

peacock = male
peahen = female
peafowl = common name for the bird when not discussing any particular sex

I know what you are saying but going at it from an engineering point of view the human body works just barely well enough. “Good enough” is good enough for management and evolution, which both use the criterion, “Does it last long enough to replace itself without lasting so long it blocks the market/food supply for its replacement?” but many engineers consider themselves artists and would be reluctant to put their names on something that begins to fall apart before it hits its peak earning years.

Two words for ya: planned obsolescence :stuck_out_tongue:

The problem here is that we don’t really know which version is the “real” version. Going by today’s standards, we live a paltry 80-100 years, and half that in a more-or-less broken down state. But, according to the Bible, folks lived much longer, and were having kids while several hundred years old. Thus, from the point of view of an IDist (who, let’s face it, is really a Christian creationist of some flavor, regardless whatever other claims they might make), humans started off quite dandy and it was our own fault our bodies fall apart so soon now. So, again, we can’t really use our current state to say “the design sucks”. Humanity has a lot of mileage on it, so to speak, and they just aren’t being made like they used to. Which, really, isn’t that different from the way many things are designed by humans today: very few products are “built to last” these days since there’s big money to be had in forcing consumers to buy a replacement.

But, even from an evolutionary point of view, the fact that there are over 6 billion of us stomping around the planet indicates that we aren’t really so crappily-designed as folks such as the OP think. Many of our physical and psychological problems likely stem more from the way we treat our bodies than any inherent flaws. Personally, I have not found myself hindered by dangly genitals or retinal blind spots or what have you. Any back pain I have is probably more a result of poor posture on my part than a natural consequence of walking upright.

Not to mention the fact that we are very complex machines, and the more complexity you have, the more things you have that can go wrong, and the more ways in which they can do so. This would be true no matter who/what did the designing, I would think.

Obviously, none of this should be taken to mean that I think there was an intelligent designer or anything of that sort. I just think that any arguments put forth along the lines of “we’re not perfect, therefore an Intelligent Designer doesn’t/can’t exist” are logically flawed. I don’t think “we suck, therefore we evolved” makes for a very enticing slogan.