Quiz in honor of Darwin's 200 anniversary, and why many Republicans would not take it

I was not sure if this should go in IMHO or GD, but this subject is depressingly still controversial in the USA so here is goes.

Stephen Bratteng, a biology teacher at Westwood High School in Austin Texas made this questions as a quiz for his students and to creationists/Intelligent Design advocates in hearings before the Texas State Board of Education in 2003.

Mr. Bratteng’s 13 questions that evolution can answer, but intelligent design cannot.:

  1. Why does giving vitamin and mineral supplements to undernourished anemic individuals cause so many of them to die of bacterial infections?
  2. Why did Dr. Heimlich have to develop a maneuver to dislodge food particles from people’s wind pipes?
  3. Why does each of your eyes have a blind spot and strong a tendency toward retinal detachment? But a squid whose eyesight is just as sharp does not have these flaws?
  4. Why are depression and obesity at epidemic levels in the United States?
  5. When Europeans came to the Americas, why did 90 percent of the Native Americans die of European diseases but not many Europeans died of American diseases?
  6. Why do pregnant women get morning sickness?
  7. Why do people in industrialized countries have a greater tendency to get Crohn’s disease and asthma?
  8. Why does malaria still kill over a million people each year?
  9. Why are so many of the product Depends sold each year?
  10. Why do people given anti-diarrheal medication take twice as long to recover from dysentery as untreated ones?
  11. Why do people of European descent have a fairly high frequency of an allele that can make them resistant to HIV infection?
  12. Close to home: Why do older men often have urinary problems?
  13. And why do so many people in Austin get cedar fever?

Answers [del]in genesis… gaah!!![/del] :wink: on the third post of this blog:

In honor of Charles Darwin’s 200 anniversary of his birth, lets see if you can answer some of them…

Or discuss the sad state of affairs on the current level of understanding of evolution in the USA, particularly why the Republicans are usually behind the times:

Mmm, maybe I should become an independent. It is taking longer than we thought eh?

If I understand evolutionary theory correctly, you cannot give any ultimate reason for any evolved structure. Evolution doesn’t have a Why. It just so happens that organisms with a given genotype survived, and others didn’t.

So basically all the questions can be answered “because the advantages of that set-up outweighed the disadvantages”. And that is based neither on evolutionary theory, nor intelligent design.


I’m not sure how one can say that intelligent design CANNOT answer those questions. If I were to take the place of an IDer, I would answer the quiz this way:

  1. God did it.
  2. God did it.

Plus, I think it would be impossible to use science to disprove my claim.

Well, you see, God created man perfect, and he would have lived forever. But then man sinned, and this caused him to “fall,” which really screwed up his DNA, causing him to have all these problems.

Plus, there was a hard canopy surrounding the earth, keeping back all the water that would eventually be unleashed in the flood. All this weight caused the pressure of oxygen in the atmosphere to be much higher, which is why people lived for hundreds of years back then.

But that is missing the point, As soon “God did it” was said then the IDer loses any pretension of ID not being an attempt to insert religion in a science class. IIRC the IDers have to go to amazing contortions to avoid showing their true colors in court or in education discussions.

I’m not so certain this follows through. Certainly, the “why” cannot be answered with a motive in evolutionary theory, but it can be answered with a method. A method or act, while usually being the answer to a “how”, is still also a reasonable answer in some cases to a “why”.

Then, in the cases where a method or act is a reasonable answer - and you are certainly correct for at least some of the quiz questions - are there any for which a method or act is an appropriate answer for an intelligent design proponent, but not for an evolutionist?


Do you mean in response to questions in general, or the questions on the test? As far as the test goes, then as far as I can tell, no, though i’m not an expert in any religions nor any of the scientific disciplines involved. I’d also say that for the test questions, a method or act would be appropriate an answer for an ID proponent too, and I suspect that’s the point of the quiz. As far as questions in general, yes.

Because we evolved to choke on hot dog pennies? I give up. Why?

MAJOR misread of that word there.

I have no clue.

To save them from choking, which occurs when food intended for the digestive track ends up in the trachea.

The ‘blind spot’ is the location such that light falls on the place where the retinal nerve touches the back of the eye. (It’s easier to explain with a diagram.)

Obesity is caused by eating too much of the wrong foods and not exercising enough. As for depression, no one knows, though various pseudoscientific explanations have been advanced. Also, needless to say, neither is at “epidemic levels”, since “epidemic” is properly used to describe only communicable diseases.

The eastern hemisphere is much larger and more populous and had been populated for much longer, and hence was a much better breeding ground for deadly diseases.

No clue.

For asthma, it’s because of pollution.

Because no vaccine has been found, and also because pesticides were misused, thus allowing mosquitoes to become immune in many areas.

Because the aging process sometimes causes problems for the muscles in the relevant area.

No clue.

No clue.

Again a result of aging.

No clue.

How’d I do?

The quiz is a gotcha. It’s a variation of “Evolution’s mistakes.” The questions all require answers which demonstrate “flaws” in how people, or animals, are “designed.” One other question could be, “Why do men get hernias so easily?” Someone who is arguing for “Intelligent Design” would hardly say “because the designer chose to weaken the pelvic floor membrane by creating a scrotum for the testes, as opposed re-using the design of other animals who have their gonads entirely internal.”


ITR Champion, to answer the questions fully, I think you need to address why Evolution can lead to the answers given but ID cannot.

I’m not aware of the mechanism, or that this occurs (will take his word). I would have to assume it has something to do with the bacteria being present and taking first cut at the new nutrients while the body’s immune system is weakened.

As for Evolution vs ID, most of these fall in the category that Evolution can allow non-ideal solutions to be more advantageous than the other options at the time, but Design by a perfect Designer should not have inherent flaws.

Because the feeding tube and breathing tube cross/become one in the throat, allowing food to get trapped in the windpipe flap, going down the wrong passage. Again, Evolution just happened, but a Designer should have known better.

As stated, the blood vessels and nerves that connect to the eye come in through the back wall and connect to the inside of the eye, which prevents light detecting cells (i.e. the retina) from working there. Squid eyes have the nerves and blood vessels connect from the back of the eye, which does not cause a blind spot.

Again, Evolution worked with what it had, a Designer could have done better (and demonstrated that with the squid).

Don’t know about depression, for obesity because are high calorie diets driven by our biological instincts are out of synch with our low energy use lifestyles. Evolution has not had time to make our instincts match our current lifestyles.

As for ID, wouldn’t it expect a faster ability to adapt?

Essentially what ITR Champion said, EurAsia was more densely populated for longer with a stronger cultivation of livestock.

Evolution would make the EurAsian humans breeding grounds for the development of more types and stronger diseases.

I assume ID could explain it if you propose the Designer preferred EurAsians over North Americans. But if all humans were designed at one time, then why are some more succeptible than others?

I think it has been proposed that morning sickness developed and spread because it prevented the pregnant women from eating rich diets that might induce dangers to the fetus (mercury poisoning, etc). I don’t really know.

I suppose a Designer could have realized that and thus included it as a “feature”.

Are those diseases pollution related?

Because the Designer thinks the population needs a control, and we’re so creative in weeding out the large ones (lions, tigers, and bears).

I assume the point of the question is that a Designer should have contemplated the possiblity of aging and not made the body succeptible to the condition. Evolution probably allows it because life expectancy is much higher now than when humanity was developing, allowing late developing weaknesses to emerge reproductively the success has already been achieved by the time the weakness kicks in, so it isn’t eliminated.

Uh, because my doctor said something about letting the crap get flushed out of the system. Not sure how Evolution vs. ID fits in.

Saw something on this. Research has shown that HIV affects the immune system in a manner similar to the bubonic plague. Europe was hit by bubonic plague in the 14th Century, which wiped out large segments of the population, but some people had a genetic advantage and survived being exposed. That advantage has been passed down to descendents.

Similar answer to 9.

Is that like hay fever? Because Austin is inundated with cedar trees. Again, I assume the question is why would a Designer include that as a feature?

The guy who wrote the quiz gives the answers in the comments section in the first link:

The ICR’s answer is quite amusing.

  1. Why are depression and obesity at epidemic levels in the United States?

Because God invented Hostess fruit pies.

  1. Close to home: Why do older men often have urinary problems?

Because God invented beer.

You’re missing the point of the quiz.

Why would an intelligent designer use the same tube for both breathing and eating? Also, the word you’re looking for is “tract.”

Why would an intelligent designer have the optic nerve in the human eye connect on the inside wall of the back of the eye, so that no photoreceptors can be located in that area? A much better design can be seen in the octopus eye, in which the optic nerve connects to the outer wall of the back of the eye, so an octopus has no blind spot.

Mr. **hotflungwok **you flunked for giving the answers away… :slight_smile:

Mr. ITR Champion you get a C on effort, but a D for missing many details.

– Ed. -High School Teacher*.
*(Yes, I am, on several subjects; but I will never teach English, I already know my limitations with my second language)

Oh, and don’t think I missed that Mr. tdn.

You will have to stay in class during recess for clowning around! :slight_smile:

**Irishman **gets a “B” (I’m very stingy)

If that’s the case, then the guy who wrote the quiz is missing the point of intelligent design. Nobody has ever claimed that the human body is perfect, so pointing out imperfections is irrelevant. Intelligent design focuses on whether certain features of living things are too complicated to evolve by natural selection, generally because they consist of many parts and could not perform any function if any one of those parts were missing. This, of course, is distinct from arguments at the cosmological and planetary level and those relating to abiogenesis.

IIRC several bible passages refer to the creation as being “good” or “very good”, but I would have to conclude that creator was very lazy. On top of things he even decided to rest when things were not complete. :slight_smile:

But that is another point missed from the quiz, many critters other than man did get very, very good “creations” (almost perfect in comparison); mankind, as I usually say in discussions like this, is an afterthought in this universe for a god like this.