Sep. 27th, 2005

flewellyn: (Default)
It's been in the news a lot these days, this "intelligent design" debate, the notion that somehow, evolution fails to properly explain the diversity and complexity of life on Earth, and that some intelligent designer must have put it together. Of course, the proponents don't explicitly say which "designer" they mean, but it's all too obvious: the creationists are back in town, and just as annoying as ever.

But putting aside the obnoxious religious proselytizing and the chicanery of the ID crowd, what does the "theory" of intelligent design actually explain that evolution does not? More to the point, I thought, what kinds of things are easily explained through evolution, but utterly inexplicably if one presupposes a designer of any intelligence whatsoever?

So, to try and give these questions a good workout, I'm working on compiling a list of "design" flaws in the human body, which are explainable via evolution, but (if ID were true) would represent seriously bad engineering judgement on the part of the putative designer. I'm up to, umm, nine or ten so far...

  1. The anterior cruciate ligament is badly placed, and far too easily damaged. It's okay for quadrupeds, but we're bipeds.

  2. Our spinal columns are not properly designed for upright gait; the tendency of people to have lower back pain is one symptom of this. Again, our spines would be fine for quadrupeds.

  3. We are unable to synthesize ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), unlike most mammals. It makes sense that we may have lost the ability sometime in the past when we evolved the ability to procure a widly varied diet, but it qualifies as a design flaw.

  4. The placement of the carpal tunnels makes them far too easy to damage through repetitive strain.

  5. Appendix, anyone? The thing serves no useful purpose in humans; it only sits there and sometimes gets infected. It makes sense, evolutionarily, why we have it (our apelike ancestors needed it to digest cellulose), but a designer of any intelligence would have omitted it.

  6. The eye, that structure so beloved of the "irreducible complexity" crowd, is itself badly done. The optic nerve attaches at the back of the retina, right among the receptors, creating a blind spot. Why not have it coming off to the side?

  7. Blood types. Explainable as variation among populations, in evolution; in ID, just needless complexity.

  8. Lactose intolerance. Well, actually, lactose tolerance, which is the minority worldwide. It doesn't make any sense why a designer would only design some populations to be able to ingest dairy, while not others.

  9. and finally...

  10. David Spade. Just...why?!

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?


flewellyn: (Default)

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