If life has been designed so intelligently, why does our design give so many indications of being unintelligent?
What do I mean by that? When we look at things that have been designed intelligently, we see a number of characteristics: efficiency, specificity, foresight, etc. Good engineers design things that accomplish their purpose directly, with as few extraneous bells and whistles as possible. After all, extraneous bells and whistles just break, and the fewer things there are to go wrong, the fewer things will go wrong.
Engineers also anticipate problems in the future. Even though a building may never experience an earthquake, good engineers place safeguards in the structure. Just in case. Even if a particular geographic region has never had an earthquake, they can still create earthquake-proof buildings.
When we examine life on earth, do we see that kind of design? I’m afraid we don’t. Let’s look at humans for some examples:
Did you ever wonder why we get hiccups? They don’t seem to serve any purpose, do they?
You’re right. They don’t serve any purpose. They’re leftovers from the days when we had gills. The transition between sea and land included a period where we had both gills and very primitive lungs. In order to protect the lungs while underwater, we had to close our glottis. When we submerged quickly, we had to close it very quickly. Hiccups are remnants of that mechanism. The glottis still unconsciously goes through the motions of protecting the lungs. And we hiccup. And we hiccup. And we hiccup.
Why would an intelligent designer leave a device that no longer served a function? How many buildings today are built with rows and rows of pay phone stalls? Very few. That’s because pay phones are obsolete. Engineers know this, so they don’t include them anymore. Evolution is not smart, so it didn’t know to take hiccups away.
Arch bridges are very old technology. They’re great at supporting horizontal spans of weight. When we look at the animal kingdom, we see the same principle at work — in horizontal animals, like cats and cows. But not in humans.
We still have the arch, but we’re standing upright. And that’s very poor design. We pay for it, too. About one in four Americans suffers from unnecessary back pain.
Ever wonder what these things are about? Well, they aren’t about anything. They don’t serve any useful purpose in humans. Now, if we had lots of fur, it would be a different story. Most mammals and many birds experience this phenomenon, but for them, it causes an increase in volume and creates more space for air, which stays warm and provides insulation. Because they have fur or feathers.
Why would an intelligent designer include pointless design characteristics that make it appear as if we evolved from other animals if we didn’t?
See that little remnant of an eyelid right by the tear duct? It’s called a nictitating membrane. It’s great if you’re a shark, or a chicken, or a lizard. But it serves no purpose in humans. It’s just a leftover from before we were mammals.
Our immune system is great, right? What could I possibly have against our immune system? We fight off diseases. It works.
But why does it only work in reverse?
An intelligent designer foresees problems in the future and plans for them today, even if they’ve never happened before. But our immune system has to encounter a pathogen before it can become immune to it. That’s why we get flu shots. We are given a weakened or dead sample of a pathogen, and our body develops antibodies. If we don’t get the shot, we risk getting sick — for lack of immunity.
True, we do have memory cells, and we do get many from our mothers while we’re infants. But only for pathogens the mother has encountered. Or her mother encountered. And so on. There’s no mechanism for defeating as-yet undiscovered invader threats.
Why would an intelligent designer fail to account for future threats?
Our genitals are a mess. Incredibly inefficient. Incredibly vulnerable. Very poorly placed. To borrow an idea from the late great George Carlin, what kind of intelligent designer puts the trash dump right next to the playground?
Have you ever stopped to wonder why the vagina is right next to the anus? Where a simple mis-directed wipe can cause infection? Have you wondered why the testicles are on the outside of our body where a well-placed kick can leave us vomiting and wishing for death? An intelligent designer could have accounted for these problems.
Why do we need to make trillions of sperm? Why do we waste thousands of eggs? Why don’t our bodies re-absorb nutrients from menstruation instead of just expelling them? These are not indications of intelligent design.
Completely useless. No purpose whatsoever. If we had never had them, we’d never miss them.
Evolutionary Arms Races
Evolution is extremely inefficient. In fact, it’s not designed for efficiency at all. The whole system is designed to use as much energy as we can get our hands on.
An intelligent designer could have accounted for overpopulation. It could have placed safeguards in our instincts to stop us from growing too large for our environment. It could have given us the strong desire to preserve and nurture species that are important to our survival, rather than to destroy them to our own detriment. It could have given us the desire to have children only when we could afford them.
No. We do not give any indications of being intelligently designed. Instead, we appear to be hodge-podges of our evolutionary past, with lots of kinks and quirks and flaws, and several glaring failures as a species. And maybe that’s kind of sad. It would be nice if we were designed better. But we owe it to ourselves to face the truth and play the hand we’ve been dealt as well as we can play it.