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The Problem of Design

By Wertbag ~ 

Apologists love to say we see signs of design in nature and design requires a designer, however this is usually done by cherry-picking a couple of examples and ignoring the many terrible or strange designs that we find. One of the most commonly raised examples is the laryngeal nerve which connects from the brain to the voice box but takes a long detour around the heart before coming back up the chest. In human's this means its 3-4 times longer than it needs to be, but the extreme example is the giraffe where the nerve is 5 meters long! The left-hand nerve is 3-4 meters longer than the right, as only the one side loops down in this way. This is precisely the kind of thing we would expect from a natural evolutionary standpoint, but not from an intelligent designer.

Perhaps the apologist will point to Earth being designed for life, while we see the majority of the water in the world is undrinkable, vast swathes are frozen wastes or blazing deserts, all sat atop moving tectonic plates which result in volcanoes, tsunamis and earthquakes in their thousands every year.

Maybe humans are God's greatest creation, after all we are in His image. And yet we have no natural defenses, no natural weapons, no natural armor, aren't particularly strong or fast, can't swim well, climb well or even fend for ourselves for the first decade of our lives. In a natural environment we are way down the food chain, a prey species for any big cat, bear, crocodile, giant bird or predator on the planet. We have many bones found of our ancient ancestors which show signs of death by predator. We have the big brains, but it took tens of thousands of years before those figured out technology to save us from everything else on the planet.

Instead, we can look towards the universe, where the apologist will say it shows signs of being fine-tuned to allow our planet and life to arise. Yet we have no idea if the constants that make up the forces of the universe could be anything other than they are. We have one example of a universe, and the natural forces are therefore set the one and only way we know they can be. So, maybe the universe isn't fine-tuned, but it's still amazing and awe inspiring, which is true, however it is also true that that vast majority of the universe is hostile to life. Anywhere in the void or on the majority of planets, the environments are so harsh that life could not arise. While we have now found thousands of planets that could potentially have liquid water, we have no way to reach them and no way to know how abundant life is on such planets.

We survive on Earth in spite of the asteroid impacts, the radiation from our sun and other sources of cosmic radiation. As the dinosaurs found out, the universe is a very hostile place, and that famous event was only one of half a dozen extinction level events in Earth's history. Life struggles on in spite of these devastating setbacks, none of which suggests it was designed for us to thrive.

Originally posted in the Reasons for Disbelief thread on Ex-Christian.Net