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The “Exquisite Design” of Human Biology

David Klinghoffer

Human Biology

There is a certain characteristic shallowness to the storytelling exercise that is evolutionary biology. Evolutionists spin a narrative about life’s history, about events that no one can or ever will witness. They’re trying to explain how complex, functional living systems come into existence, and the imaginative tale-telling gets them out of having to grapple with what it takes, practically, for any complex living being to fight the battle of staying alive in the first place.

Evolutionists don’t worry much about how living things work, the irreducible complexity of it, or how other complex systems work, either. For insights on function you have to go to physicians – and engineers. That’s a point underlying much of the writing done by two of our contributors, Steve Laufmann and Dr. Howard Glicksman. In a new ID the Future podcast with interviewer Todd Butterfield, Laufmann reflects on the evidence of design in the human body, presented in Dr. Glicksman’s series, “The Designed Body.”

Listen to the podcast here, or download it here.

Laufmann’s specialty is the architecture of “very large, very complex, composite information systems that are orchestrated to perform specified tasks in demanding environments.” He looks at biology from an engineer’s perspective, which is not far removed from a physician’s view.

He focuses on human biology because it’s the most familiar to us, commenting that “It’s more than elegant design; the word I like is ‘exquisite.’ This is absolutely off-the-charts exquisite engineering.”

But the observation holds for all of life, the design of every creature that lives or ever lived. All of biology displays a range of characteristics consistent exclusively with engineered systems. Laufmann has been driving home this theme for us since his first contribution, when he set out evolution’s “grand challenge.” I recommend going back and reviewing his contributions which, taken as a whole, are profound. See especially his two posts focusing on Glicksman’s contributions.

Laufmann summarizes, listing 40 parameters that need to be satisfied for human life to go on at any moment:

The series by Dr. Glicksman discusses 40 interrelated chemical and physiological parameters that the human body must carefully balance to sustain life. The body deploys amazing, interconnected solutions to manage them.

The parameters are: (1) oxygen, (2) carbon dioxide, (3) hydrogen ion, (4) water, (5) sodium, (6) potassium, (7) glucose, (8) calcium, (9) iron, (10) ammonia, (11) albumin, (12) transport proteins, (13) insulin, (14) glucagon, (15) thyroid hormone, (16) cortisol, (17) testosterone, (18) estrogen, (19) aldosterone, (20) parathormone, (21) digestive enzymes, (22) bile, (23) red blood cells, (24) white blood cells, (25) platelets, (26) clotting factors, (27) anti-clotting factors, (28) complement, (29) antibodies, (30) temperature, (31) heart rate, (32) respiratory rate, (33) blood pressure, (34) lung volume, (35) airway velocity, (36) cardiac output, (37) liver function, (38) kidney function, (39) hypothalamic function, (40) nerve impulse velocity.

The conversation with Laufmann makes me think of something Dennis Prager (if I’m not mistaken) has said. He points out that atheists have an enormous problem. It’s true that theists must explain the existence of evil in the world, a problem that has resisted many tidy attempts at a solution. But atheists have a far, far greater challenge because they have to explain everything else – life, beauty, love, the cosmos, the full panoply of wonders around us.

Evolutionists are in much the same quandary. As evidence against design, they can point to things in life that cause pain, cease to work properly, or don’t seem to serve a purpose at all (that we can currently identify). But then, pity them, they are saddled with explaining everything else.

Image: Statue of a victorious athlete, J. Paul Getty Museum, attributed to Lysippos [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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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biologyDennis PragerEngineeringHoward Glicksmanhuman bodyintelligent designIrreducible ComplexitymedicineSteve LaufmannTodd Butterfield