Are Lifeforms Designed Poorly?

05 Sep

According to the theory of evolution, each step in the chain must be a small improvement on what came before. Nothing in life is built from scratch; from the molecule to man everything was built up through improvement on what already existed. Consequently, many evolutionists cannot appreciate good design. That is they **must not** appreciate good design in life. If they admit to good design, it must have had a Designer or a Creator. Therefore they point to things in nature that exhibit what they claim is poor design and could not originate from an intelligent Creator, so the poor design must be evidence of the accuracy of the evolutionary model.

One example that evolutionists point to is the panda’s thumb. Steven J. Gould, for example, said, first addressing Darwin’s orchids and then moving to the panda’s thumb:

“If God had designed a beautiful machine to reflect his wisdom and power, surely he would not have used a collection of parts generally fashioned for other purposes. Orchids were not made by an ideal engineer; they are jury-rigged from a limited set of available components. Thus, they must have evolved from ordinary flowers…”[1]

“The panda’s thumb provides an elegant zoological counterpart to Darwin’s orchids. An engineer’s best solution is debarred by history. The panda’s true thumb is committed to another role, too specialized for a different function to become an opposable, manipulating digit. So the panda must use parts on hand and settle for an enlarged wrist bone and a somewhat clumsy, but workable solution. The sesamoid thumb wins no prize in an engineer’s derby.” [2]

Panda's Thumb (Image from Google Images)

Panda’s Thumb
(Image from Google Images)

By saying “the panda’s true thumb is committed to another role,” Dr. Gould regresses into a circular argument. He presumes evolution by claiming it evolved from the sesamoid bone. That is, the panda’s thumb evolved from the sesamoid bone, because the theory of evolution is true, and therefore it is a poor design! If built from scratch, the designer would have used one of the five digits the panda uses as fingers to grasp the bamboo.

Dr. Gould makes another error by assuming an engineer never uses parts (ideas) used for other reasons. Following this logic the pry bar and the screwdriver evolved from the chisel. In fact, we still use the screwdriver to pry open objects like paint cans and even chisel away unwanted material.

Another claim heard at times that poor design points to evolution rather than a Creator is the male prostate gland. The argument goes something like:

“In human males, the urethra passes right through the prostate gland, a gland very prone to infection and subsequent enlargement. This bl

ocks the urethra and is a very common medical problem in males. Putting a collapsible tube through an organ that is very likely to expand and block flow in this tube is not good design. Any moron with half a brain (or less) could design male “plumbing” better.”[3]

Rather than evidence for evolution’s poor design argument the design points to a very knowledgeable Engineer. If the two were separate an entirely new duct system would have had to be designed. As is, it is a marvel of efficiency. Not only does one duct system save space, but the prostate gland adds support for the bladder which might otherwise kink the urinary tract. Extra ligaments and other attachments would be necessary to substitute for the extra job the prostate gland performs at present.

As for the enlargement problem that is supposedly common in males, only about 50% of males have enlarged glands as they get into their 70s and 80s, and only about 25% of them have urinary problems. The fact is, many aged men actually find their gland decreasing in size.[4] An enlarged gland probably has more to do with one’s diet rather than poor design. A study was made[5] showing that Japanese men living abroad suffer the same kind of problems with the gland as other non-Japanese men do. However, their counterparts, living in Japan, do not. Why? The conclusion is that native Japanese eat a lot of fish. Fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and aid in keeping the gland from enlarging and causing urinary problems. So, once more, the evidence does not point to poor design but to a wise and powerful Creator.

[1] Gould, S.J., The Panda’s Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History, W.W. Norton & Co., New York, p. 20, 1980.

[2] Ibid. p. 24

[3] See Talk Origins; “Evidence for Jury-Rigged Design in Nature” found HERE

[4] Isaacs J.T., Etiology of benign prostatic hyperplasia,  Eur. Urology 25: 6–9, 1994.

[5] Araki, H., et al., High-risk group for benign prostatic hypertrophy, Prostate 4:253–64, 1983.


Posted by on September 5, 2013 in naturalism, theory of evolution


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2 responses to “Are Lifeforms Designed Poorly?

  1. Eddie

    September 6, 2013 at 08:08

    Yes, all arguments fail. None seem to be good enough to support a worldview without God.

  2. Vlad

    September 5, 2013 at 14:49

    Argument of a bad design always smiles me. It’s like pointing at a buggy tablet to disprove the existence of the engineers and programmers. The most it can do is to disprove God’s competence, which is remains to be seen. And the prostate example… It’s like saying that smart designer would never design part of the machinery inside of the machine which can brake; like the engine shouldn’t be inside of the car because car may crash, rather it should stay in the garage, separately from the car.

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