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The Problem with Arguments from “Unintelligent Design”

A fellow called Keith Gilmour sends along his newly updated website listing examples of “unintelligent design” — now up to 130 items intended to disprove intelligent design, basically things in nature that any normal person would find painful, inexplicable, uncomfortable, unappetizing, dangerous, or worse. Styling himself as the Centre for Unintelligent Design, he leads off the new list with this:

“Beetle overkill (350,000 species? — Pourquoi?).”
“Cataracts (in the eye).”
“Cataracts (of the Nile — reducing navigability).”
“Ineffective goosebumps on humans.”
“Newborn marsupials having to journey from womb to pouch.”
“Precariously-balanced penguin eggs. Why no pouch, Dr. N.?”
“Hole-in-the-heart babies.”
“Wings on flightless beetles.”

But why stop at 130? I could add many more of my own. The problem with this way of thinking is that you don’t need 130 examples. You only need one — that is, if your theological position holds that to be intelligently designed, life and its natural surroundings need to pose no challenges and entail no pain. Then your website could simply say:

“Wisdom teeth.”

And you could save yourself a lot of time. To satisfy the theology of a Keith Gilmour the world would have to be such that I’m not sure I can see what point there would be in designing or living in it:

A world without evil. What would that be like? It would be the perfect hamster cage or turtle terrarium, where all our needs are provided, there are no predators, no contagious disease, no confusion, no loneliness, no sin, no particular purpose, no growth, just spinning aimlessly on our exercise wheel or swimming idly in our calm, algaed paddling pool.

So it’s either the turtle terrarium or Darwin wins? What an absurd false dilemma.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.



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