Intelligent Design: The Dung Beetle’s Tale

Intelligent Design?

Intelligent Design?

CONSIDER the dung beetle — a humble creature that feeds exclusively on feces. According to Wikipedia there are thousands of dung beetle species, inhabiting all continents except Antarctica. Wikipedia further informs us:

Many dung beetles, known as rollers, are noted for rolling dung into spherical balls, which are used as a food source or brooding chambers. Other dung beetles, known as tunnelers, bury the dung wherever they find it. A third group, the dwellers, neither roll nor burrow: they simply live in manure.


Dung beetles play a remarkable role in agriculture. By burying and consuming dung, they improve nutrient cycling and soil structure. They also protect livestock, such as cattle, by removing the dung which, if left, could provide habitat for pests such as flies. Therefore, many countries have introduced the creature for the benefit of animal husbandry. In developing countries, the beetle is especially important as an adjunct for improving standards of hygiene.

As fascinating as these insects are, what is their connection with Intelligent Design? It’s not what you’re thinking. We have something else in mind.

Imagine a mother dung beetle and her brood, during a time when their food is scarce. Imagine further that they possess the ability to think and speak. The little ones are crying. The mother urges the youngsters to be patient, because food will be provided. “Dung will come,” she tells them.

Moments later, an immense shadow envelops the beetle family. They look up and see the gigantic form of an elephant above them. And then — a vast quantity of dung descends from above.

The little beetles rejoice. Their mother says: “See, what did I tell you? There will always be dung.”

It is easy for us to understand that the dung beetle, were it capable of thought, would believe that the world and all its creatures were created to provide them with food. To them it’s so obvious! The world is filled with exactly the right kind of animals to provide them with precisely what they require — in abundance. What else could dung beetles think, except that everything has been designed with their needs in mind?

We could try telling them that they’re wrong, the world wasn’t designed for them, and the only reason it may seem so is that they’ve evolved to exploit an available resource. But we probably wouldn’t convince them. From their viewpoint, this grand, dung-producing world was fine-tuned for their benefit.

Although we can understand why our dung beetles would think as they do, it’s rather embarrassing that humans would mimic their mode of thought. Yet isn’t that exactly what creationists do?

Intelligent Design is dung beetle thinking.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Intelligent Design: The Dung Beetle’s Tale

  1. An interesting twist on Douglas Adams’ sentient puddle: “…imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in – an interesting hole I find myself in – fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!'”

    Of course, both ID and dung beetles are sustained by sh…er, crap.

  2. James, I’ve never read Douglas Adams, but you’re right. Same idea.

  3. carlsonjok

    A third group, the dwellers, neither roll nor burrow: they simply live in manure.

    I thought this was going to be another post about the Discovery Institute.

  4. carlsonjok, you may draw your own conclusions.

  5. Pliny-the-in-Between

    In faiths that believe such things, I wonder what one has to do to be reincarnated as a dung beetle? Hopefully, it’s not a niche reserved for amystics.

  6. b. j. edwards

    The creationist retort will be….

    “The dung beetle must be intelligently designed. Do you think a bug can make a perfect sphere?!”

  7. longshadow

    To a dog, street after street lined with ubiquitous fire hydrants is proof the Intelligent Designer was a Dog.

    To the Dung Beetle, the never ending supply of dung is proof the Intelligent Designer is an insect.

    To the fishes, the abundance of seawater is proof the Intelligent Designer swims.

    To the UnDyscovery Institute the never ending supply of bad arguments, mined quotes, and logical fallacies used in the press releases ought to be a clue that their erstwhile Intelligent Designer is moron….

  8. Longie, you forgot to mention intestinal bacteria. They believe that the universe was designed for the existence of colons.

  9. retiredsciguy

    Great analogy, Curmy. You’ve really got your s**t together!

  10. retiredsciguy says: “You’ve really got your s**t together!”

    That’s the benefit of studying creation science.

  11. As Forrest Dump famously noted, “Dung happens.”

    And that’s all I have to say about that.

  12. Great Claw says: “Dung happens.”

    Which proves that the universe was created for dung beetles.