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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 23.3 > Five Questions About Human Errors for Proponents of Intelligent Design

Five Questions About Human Errors for Proponents of Intelligent Design

Adapted from Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, From Pointless Bones to Broken Genes

When Charles Darwin first proposed natural selection as the mechanism of evolutionary change, he provided many different lines of reasoning. One of them was that he and other biologists had observed striking examples of suboptimal design in nature. If a creator-God was perfect and designed the world and everything in it according to His perfect plan, how could poor structure/function be explained? If we view the natural world as the product of evolutionary forces, however, imperfection is not so surprising. Rather, examples of poor design reveal interesting things about an organism’s evolutionary past, and that’s the thrust of my new book Human Errors.1

Because courts in the United States rightly determined that creationism is a religious doctrine, not a scientific one, its proponents changed their approach, practically overnight, restyling their position as the theory of “intelligent design,” or ID. By focusing on the seemingly scientific principle of “irreducible complexity” and only implying a vague, unnamed “designer,” supporters of ID claim it as a valid scientific theory, not a religious doctrine necessarily. Notwithstanding the fact that vanishingly few scientists support this theory and that neither were the courts fooled by the semantic shift, ID has become the dominant expression of creationism in the United States and is supported by around 40 percent of the population.2 Support for ID is strongly stratified by age, with only around 25 percent of those under age 30 in support, and is finally beginning to decline after years of holding steady.3

Even if ID offered intellectual gains over creationism through the principle of irreducible complexity, and a focus on observations rather than biblical scripture, it did little to explain how poor design could be so rampant in creatures that were specifically designed by an intelligent force. Therefore, glitches in nature, particularly in the human body, call out for an explanation. Evolution usually provides elegant and deeply informative explanations. What are the explanations provided by ID? My book documents scores of these “human errors,” but I would love to know what intelligent design supporters say about these five in particular.

1. Why are we designed with nonfunctional pseudogenes?

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SCIENCE AND MORAL VALUES Jordan Peterson Phenomenon; Thought Crimes: Jordan Peterson and the meaning of the Meaning of Life; Special Section on Science & Morality. Getting Real About Right and Wrong; No, Being Religious Will Not Save You from Suicide; Lessons from Behavioral Science in a Warzone: How Reason, Skepticism, and Compassion Can Win Hearts and Minds; Moral Philosophy and its Discontents: Can science determine moral values? An Exchange with Massimo Pigliucci, Michael Shermer, and Kevin McCaffree; Facilitated Communication Redux: Persistence of a Discredited Technique; The Mystery of Elite Religious Scientists: A Cognitively Impenetrable Illusion; Five Questions About Human Errors for Proponents of Intelligent Design; The SkepDoc: Beware Stem Cell Clinics that Offer Untested Treatments; Junior Skeptic: Astral Projection