Wrestling with Intelligent Design (but not too hard)

Posted: July 19, 2011 in Because I love Judaism I can never be a pure rationalist
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Having just had hernia surgery, I was laying in bed on some nice narcotics recently and wondering why some people seem so against teaching Evolution and so in favor of teaching Intelligent Design. What is it about the hernia that made me think about this? That’s easy. You see 27% of all guys get what’s called an Inguinal Hernia in the course of their lives. That’s a pretty high percentage. I think it’s worth asking the question, “why?”

The answer lies in the weakness that we have in something called the Inguinal Canal. No one designed it to be weak. It just is. And…. why is it? Because it spends some time during fetal development getting stretched out. And, why that? Well… easy….. because a male fetus has its testes in the middle of its body and they need a nice stretched out canal in which to descent to their ultimate location. Now, to me, that just seems like “Stupid Design”, if it’s design at all. After all, God is smart. S/he knows where they are going to end up; why not just put them there in the first place?

The answer lies not in calling God a crappy designer but in understanding that we evolved from a predecessor that was perfectly fine with internal testes. Unfortunately, we aren’t. In our case, sperm need to be cooler than 98.6 degrees or they die. That puts a damper on reproduction. So, over time, they descended to a nice shady spot (with the added advantage of providing the world with a need for athletic cups and jock straps).

As I was laying there, I was thinking about this and, in my medicated state I asked God, “Why’d you do something so silly?” Now, I don’t propose that I got an answer from the big guy himself. But, basically, what I thought he said was: “You got a nice deal on some narcotics. SHUT UP with the stupid whining”.

I’ve thought about asking God other similar questions and, typically, I get similar answers. For example, I once asked God about eyeballs. I said: “So, you gave me a nice lens and a nice retina but why did you put all of those stupid veins right in between them!?!?. They block the light! Why did you not just put them behind the retina where they belong?” Again, I don’t believe that God really answered me. But I distinctly thought I heard an answer like this: “Just because YOU had trouble with calculus class doesn’t mean that I DID! I’m God and I CAN give you a nice brain that can do really fast integrals. I’m just showing off my math skills! Now…. SHUT UP with the stupid whining!!!”

There is a pattern here – at least if you like doing calculus on drugs. It’s NOT “SHUT UP with the stupid whining”. It’s that our design is patently NOT intelligent. It’s really rather shitty. And there are 100’s of equally stupid aspects of our design.

Now… most people; like Dawkins, and Coyne, and Gould, (and Darwin); who argue against Intelligent Design; are atheists. I am not among them. I may have a God-concept that my religious friends say is pretty lame and that my atheist friends say is worthless. But, I do have a belief in something greater than us – even if it doesn’t answer all our prayers. So my aversion to ID is different from theirs. I’m simply not willing to agree that there is a great intelligence in the universe that is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, can design the most powerful computer in the world (our biocomputer) and who couldn’t do better than a D+ in mechanical engineering. For God’s sake, if s/he can do all those visual integrals, s/he can probably do the Euler equations and simultaneous linear equations, to at least get a B!  To me, Intelligent Design is a stupid, unscientific theory because we are not Intelligently Designed and I’m not prepared to blame God for it.

What I am prepared to do is to consider the possibility that God’s most amazing and wonderful feat is to have initiated a perpetually functioning system of natural selection and random variation that is so powerful as to have been set in motion, been left to run without intervention, and to have produced both something whose complexity is absolutely unfathomable and whose environment is so full of glorious diversity that for another million generations we can look out the window in wonder. That is not Intelligent Design. It’s not creationism… It’s just the amazing beauty of randomness in a universe of unlimited wonder.

  1. Lily says:

    it’s theistic evolution and I’ll let you have that. I’m an agnostic and non-theistic evolution fits my bill.

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