The Intelligent Designer — Still a Buffoon

Buffoon Award

Way back in the early days of this humble blog we posted Buffoon Award Winner — The Intelligent Designer. The design failures we mentioned were so obvious and unarguable, it never occurred to us that the Discovery Institute would ever attempt a rebuttal.

But that’s what we see today at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog: Is the Human Form Riddled with Bad Design? It was written by Jonathan Witt, a Discoveroid “senior fellow.” They say he has a Ph.D., with honors [huh?], in English and Literary Theory from the University of Kansas. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

He begins by quoting some hell-bound evolutionist who dares to criticize the designer’s handiwork:

“You have no idea how awful the human body is,” Matan Shelomi begins in a recent Medical Daily article. He goes on to argue that the human body is badly designed in many ways, and that this shows we’re the product of blind Darwinian trial-and-error evolution. “To say that humans were ‘intelligently designed’ by a ‘creator’ is to insult God,” Shelomi writes, “because our bodies show no intelligent design at all.”

Gasp — that’s blasphemy! Witt is furious. He says:

Wow, our bodies show no intelligent design at all? Even most atheist biologists grant that living things, including human beings, appear intelligently designed. Professional atheist Richard Dawkins, for instance, went so far as to define biology as the study of things in nature that have the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s quite a distortion of Dawkins’ statement. After that extreme example of quote-mining, Witt tells us:

But Shelomi sets aside the engineering marvels of the human genome along with countless other marvels of the human body that far outstrip our most advanced human technologies, and instead focuses on a handful of features he insists are badly designed. The glass for him, in other words, isn’t 99 percent full; it’s one percent empty.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Of course our bodies perform the functions required to keep us alive. Were it otherwise, then like 99% of the species of which we have knowledge, we wouldn’t be here — see Wikipedia’s article on Extinction. But if we were the product of an intelligent designer, rather than evolution, why should we have any defects? Witt offers various excuses for the design of our eyes. He quotes Shelomi again:

But our eyes go bad, and sometimes all too soon. “Then you have all of the eye problems like myopia, glaucoma, cataracts — why do our eyes fail so often?” Shelomi asks. “Who designed these faulty things? The answer can’t be a God, because a God so incompetent in designing vision sensors isn’t worth worshipping.”

This is Witt’s response:

Notice he is now doing theology: A God worth worshipping would have designed our eyes and the rest of our bodies so that they are free of defects and disease. This element of his argument, in other words, is a version of the problem-of-pain argument: A good and all-powerful creator wouldn’t allow pain and suffering in the world.

It’s a fair question — an important question. But if Shelomi is going to invoke a theological argument, he should engage the theological explanations, and for that matter, the sociological and historical record showing pretty clearly that, as Lord Acton famously put it, “Power tends to corrupt.”

It looks like Witt is dragging in the Problem of evil. Theologians have been struggling with that for millennia. We’ve never seen it used in a biological context before, so let’s give Witt credit for creativity. Then he says:

[T]hreaded throughout Shelomi’s essay is the assumption that any intelligent designer worth his salt would surely have given humans all sorts of additional powers or capacities found elsewhere in the animal kingdom (for example, the ultraviolet vision he notes that bees possess).

We raised the same questions. Other animals have better sensory equipment, the ability to replace teeth throughout their lives, the ability to regenerate lost limbs, immunity to cancer, etc. We have none of those features. This is Witt’s response:

But let’s pause and ask the question the mad scientists in all those science fiction movies never stop to ask: Is it really a good idea to loose a super-powered subspecies of human onto planet earth?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s his excuse? Yes. He expands on it in his final paragraph:

It’s easy to think of reasons why it would actually be pretty stupid to do so. Man already is arguably too effective a predator. Just ask the megafaunal species of the Quaternary extinction event — the wooly mammoths and giant sloths and such. Oh wait. You can’t. They’re all dead.

So there you are, dear reader. The intelligent designer, in his infinite wisdom, deliberately designed us with defects. The next time you have to replace your eye glasses with a more powerful version, or visit the dentist, or have trouble with your back, be sure to give thanks to the designer, whose transcendental genius is revealed in your defects.

Although we appreciate Witt’s efforts, we’ll stick with our conclusion from years ago — the Designer is a slob, an incompetent, and virtually an imbecile, who has fairly earned our Buffoon Award.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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20 responses to “The Intelligent Designer — Still a Buffoon

  1. Witt is deploying Microsoft’s celebrated ‘Vista’ defense, viz.

    “Bugs? What bugs? Those are features!

  2. Yes, I “thank” this designer every minute of every day for the “superb” design he did on my spine. It is fused at T-8/T-9 level and from L-3 to S-1. Oh, not just from the posterior as most spine fusions are, but they exposed my spine after opening my gut to fuse L-3 to S-1 also. The surgeon had wanted to install rods, screws, clamps, etc.. He didn’t build that bridge as my vertebrae are too soft and they would never have healed around the screws properly. Yes sir, the “intelligent designer” sure must have had a really big off day when he got around to designing this old broken down old former working class guy.
    @Megalonyx, love your Windows Vista comment. Just one more reason I stick with my old iMac and refuse to get OSX 9 or higher.

  3. michaelfugate

    It is fascinating that Witt is neither a biologist nor a theologian and not even an engineer! Which surely makes him qualified to discuss intelligent design – which is bad science and bad theology.

  4. I think Witt succinctly summed up his argument with “Power tends to corrupt.”, i.e., his deity is indeed corrupt.

  5. michaelfugate

    and I forgot to add – uses bad engineering metaphors.

  6. Several people have pointed out this difficulty of the analogy of design:

    Why does an omnipotent creator have to resort to design? Design is the resort to difficulties, while nothing is difficult for the omnipotent.

  7. and the words “let us make him in our image” swirled around in his mind as he reached for his glasses

  8. TomS, none of the definitions of design of which I’m aware mention anything about “difficulty”. Design is simply to plan or intend for a purpose. You see a problem where none exists.

  9. michaelfugate

    I am thinking that Witt’s argument is an argument against God, no? An all powerful being would have destroyed the universe by now, so it must not exist.

  10. I don’t think I would expose my ignorance of English literature to the world. But my PhD is in biology, from a pretty good school well known for engineering, and I can guarantee that a mediocre freshman engineering major there could do a better job than the mythical great designer (blessed be his/her/its name).

  11. “Notice he is now doing theology”
    Ooooh, I like this! Of course Shelomi is. That’s because IDiocy is theology pretending to be science. Witt implicitly admits it. How nice!

    “Is it really a good idea to loose a super-powered subspecies of human onto planet earth?”
    And of course Witt turns to a strawman. This is not what Shelomi demands. He only asks for eyes that work properly during our entire lifetime – ie without “problems like myopia, glaucoma, cataracts”.

    KevinC points out: “Design is simply to plan or intend for a purpose.”
    Then you will undoubtedly be so kind to tell us what the purpose is for human eyes suffering from “problems like myopia, glaucoma, cataracts”. Witt doesn’t get any further than “Man already is arguably too effective a predator.” I notice that “myopia, glaucoma, cataracts” have failed to sufficiently reduce that effectiveness (as Witt himself admits) and hence now in two ways are design flaws.
    Can you do better?
    If you prefer to neglect my question I take it as a no.

  12. michaelfugate

    “Power tends to corrupt.”

    If God is the most powerful, then it is the most corrupt. I think this is what Witt implies.

  13. @mnbo
    We do not need to know for what purpose something is designed to recognize that it is designed.
    For example, we know that paleolithic cave art is designed, although we don’t know for what purpose(s).

  14. TomS, I did not claim that we need to know for what purpose something is designed to recognize that it is designed. KevinS claimed that “Design is simply to plan or intend for a purpose” and that this explains things – for instance better than Evolution Theory. That only is the case if he knows what the purpose is.
    You don’t need to know the purpose.
    I don’t need to know the purpose.
    KevinS needs because he thinks teleology is a reliable method.
    Just like you and I need to know the cause of something if we think that causality is a reliable explanatory principle.

  15. @mnbo
    To follow up on my example, do we say that the fact that paleolithic cave art is designed is an explanation for puzzling features of the art? For example, the choice of subjects – why animals rather than plants, or which kinds of animals? If I recall correctly, there are few rodents or bats (the most speciose families of mammals) or reptiles. “The images are designed” does not account for that. If we knew the purpose of the design, that might account for that.
    Am I falling for a red herring in saying that we know that something is designed even if we don’t know the purpose? The question is whether design is an explanation. And the mere statement of design, without something about why (the purpose of design), how, what, where, etc. – merely “it is designed” is not an explanation.
    I take it that that is what you are correctly pointing out to me.

  16. Creationists like to argue that the mere appearance of intelligent design is proof of intelligent design.

    There are so many things wrong with that idea that it’s pointless to list them.

  17. There are so many things wrong, yet there is one more that I like to point out.
    Even if we accept that there is intelligent design, that does not account for a thing’s existence. There are plenty of plans which have not been carried out.
    See the Wikipedia article, “Unfinished building”. Or “Impossible object”, for that matter.

  18. The following, taken from Witt’s article, was the point of the whole piece which (big surprise) didn’t make it past TSC’s filter:

    “But Shelomi sets aside the engineering marvels of the human genome along with countless other marvels of the human body that far outstrip our most advanced human technologies, and instead focuses on a handful of features he insists are badly designed. The glass for him, in other words, isn’t 99 percent full; it’s one percent empty.”

    @mnb0, let’s step into our time machine and go all the way back to yesterday. I was responding to TomS’ statement that design implies difficulty. I disagreed. Nothing more. You’re welcome to focus on dysfunction. ID prefers to focus on designed features of the eye like single-photon sensitivity at the biochemical level.

  19. “The following, taken from Witt’s article, was the point of the whole piece which (big surprise) didn’t make it past TSC’s filter:”

    It’s right there, between the first and second BWAHAHAHAHAs.

  20. Thank you, Mark. My oversight and apologies to the Curmudgeon.

    That being said, the point remains. Darwinists harp on sub-optimal qualities of biological systems while dismissing those features that make such systems functional. Besides, even though countless animals outperform us in many ways, mankind is still far and above all other 8 million species on this planet in terms of mastering our environment and destiny. Why is that? Hint: It’s not due to our physical superiority.