Way back in 2009 we wrote Buffoon Award Winner — The Intelligent Designer, detailing some of the ghastly design flaws to be found in the human body. Today, at last, the Discovery Institute is addressing the issue.
They just posted this at their creationist blog: Your “Botched Body”: Bad Design or Bad Logic? It was written by Steve Laufmann, about whom we know nothing — except that he’s an occasional contributor to the Discoveroids’ blog. The first time he appeared at their blog (Evolution’s Grand Challenge) they provided this Editor’s Note:
We are delighted to welcome Steve Laufmann as a new contributor. Mr. Laufmann is a consultant in the growing field of Enterprise Architecture, dealing with the design of very large, very complex, composite information systems that are orchestrated to perform specified tasks in demanding environments.
Here are some excerpts from his new post, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Over the past weekend, the Wall Street Journal published an essay, “The Botch of the Human Body,” by biologist Nathan Lents. The article previews the argument of a forthcoming book Dr. Lents has written about the absence of design in the human body. Although his thesis seems to be a bit broader, and to involve a fair bit of bald-faced assertion and imaginative story-telling, much of his argument falls into the “bad design” category.
Understandably, the Discoveroids consider this to be an outrage! We humans are the ultimate creation of their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — who created the universe, life, and our own wonderful selves. Laufmann says:
Evolution News [the Discoveroids’ creationist blog] readers will be interested to compare Dr. Lents’s view of the deeply flawed human body with Dr. Howard Glicksman’s compelling series, “The Designed Body.” [Link to a bunch of Discoveroid articles.]
After that he tells us:
For me, coming from an engineer’s perspective, whenever a complex system of systems works at all, it seems counterproductive to attempt a “bad design” argument. Almost invariably, when such arguments are trotted out, it has less to do with actual bad design and more to do with one of the following causes:
What follows is a list of several Discoveroid excuses for the buffoonish design of humans:
Not understanding the design. This includes key design criteria, like the design objectives for the system, its functional requirements, all relevant design constraints, all relevant non-functional requirements (like redundancy, robustness, adaptability…), and any other system properties that the designer might have desired. Without a proper understanding of the design, it’s awfully hard to claim the design doesn’t pass muster.
Yeah — merely because you’re too ignorant to understand the Designer’s handiwork, that doesn’t mean it isn’t glorious. Laufmann’s list of excuses continues:
Not accounting for design tradeoffs. Some bad design examples are simply the natural consequences of good design decisions made elsewhere. All complex systems involve conflicting design requirements, so design tradeoffs must be weighed and carefully selected. As a result, decisions that are optimal for the whole may appear suboptimal with respect to a given subsystem or component. A good design to solve one engineering problem might easily exacerbate another engineering problem.
We don’t know why the designer of the whole universe should ever need to make any tradeoffs, but let’s read on:
Failure to acknowledge degradation over time. It should come as no surprise that all living systems, including the human body, degrade over time. Assembly errors can occur in development. Features essential for fetal development sometimes get in the way once the body matures. Diseases can degrade function. Knees that worked well in your twenties may complain when you reach your seventies. And there’s the potential for inheritable defects. Do any of these mean the body is not designed?
What do you think, dear reader — do any of those ghastly problems mean you weren’t designed? Here’s another excuse
Logical fallacy. No rocket science is required to realize that “bad design” ≠ “no design.” Even if it could be proved that a body system or component was poorly or even terribly designed, this in itself would be insufficient to draw any conclusions about the participation or quality of any designer(s). And it’s hardly proof that random or gradual causes were able to generate a working, complex system.
Right. Even if the designer were an incompetent clown, that doesn’t mean he’s not the designer. Here’s the Discoveroids’ last excuse:
Aesthetic considerations. In some cases a design may violate some sort of subjective aesthetic considerations, which some folks have trouble distinguishing from bad design. You can argue about the designer’s vision or taste, but this is not sufficient warrant to argue that the system wasn’t designed.
That list of excuses certainly gives the intelligent designer a lot of wiggle room. This is our last excerpt:
In the end, then, the bad design argument almost always results in a bizarre blend of ignorance and arrogance that is apparent even to non-scientists. And this at least suggests what I’ve long suspected — the explanatory sufficiency of neo-Darwinism is exhausted, with little substance left to offer in the face of the coherent complexities being discovered in living systems. As their position weakens, proponents seem to grasp at any available straw to make their case.
So there you are. You may point to evidence that the “design” of humans is sloppy, works poorly, doesn’t hold up well, and doesn’t look very good, but you’re the one who is grasping at straws.
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