Of all of the ignorant statements that are often used in defense of religion, one of the most annoying to me is the idea that a human beings are well-designed. The argument assumes that an intelligent creator did a great job with the human body. The truth is, of course, that human beings aren’t particularly well-designed. We can’t live for more than a few minutes on over 80% of the planet. And, if it wasn’t for our ability to develop technology, we’d most likely be extinct (or at least far fewer in number). Clearly, there’s room for improvement.
A small sampling of shortcomings of the human body includes:
- The female reproductive system: For a system that’s really only needed for conception, the whole thing is extremely poorly designed. From causing unnecessary pain to limiting to receptiveness to parasitic infections, an intelligent designer could have done better.
- Early human development: In early stages after conception, human embryos are almost indistinguishable from those of other distant animals (such as reptiles). The human gestation period is rather long, and the time between birth and self-sufficiency of offspring is years. Compared to other animals, there’s room for improvement.
- The human nervous system: Nerve conduction is slow and is prone to a variety of problems. A simple electrical system would help resolve the vast majority of problems people have (especially in older age).
- The appendix: It’s certainly not useful in humans, other than for helping medical professionals make money on removing it.
- Coccyx (tailbone): While it may have had a purpose in our distant past, it’s not useful with upright posture.
- Male nipples: Neither attractive nor functional, God could have saved some time and effort by leaving these off.
There are many more examples, even when you discount all of the strange genetic abnormalities and disorders from which people suffer. And, human beings were not “designed” to live for very long – the burdens of old age always win over technology.
The arguments against often range from the ridiculous (“Maybe God created us this way for a purpose”) to surrender (“We can’t possibly understand God’s intentions, except when it comes to gay people and stem cells.”) Perhaps humans were created to evolve? But why start with such a poor design and wait tens of millions of years for a better product? Wouldn’t an all-knowing being already have a pretty good idea of how we’d end up?
I propose that more plausible explanations are that the “Designer” is not all that intelligent or that he has no particular fondness of human beings. Or, best of all, that there’s no such thing.
Update (03/14/2008): Here’s a link to another article that outlines some more Useless Body Parts. I’m tempted to add another one to the list (at least for modern day Americans): “The Human Brain”.