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>Dysteleology

>Evolutionists often argue against a designer by pointing to poor design in plants, animals, and humans. In his recent book By Design, Jonathan Sarfati makes the following points (my paraphrase):

  1. This is not a scientific argument, it is a theological one. It is not saying anything about design but about the designer.
  2. The examples offered are usually not bad design but a problem with our ignorance. We don’t understand the design. If we understood the full function of the organ then the good design would be obvious.
  3. Features need to be considered together and not in isolation. It is not one aspect that is being optimised but several.

These are profound points.

As an analogy consider a car, an object that is designed.

  1. Pointing out why you think a car functions suboptimally does not prove the car is not designed, it says that you think the designer did a poor job.
  2. Not understanding how spoilers work does not mean their presence is poor design, rather it reveals good design when you becomes aware of flow dynamics.
  3. Designing for speed and crash safety are competing themes. The fastest car may be unsafe in a crash. The strongest car may be slow. A car may be optimal for speed, safety, space, and fuel efficiency; though not maximised for any single one of these features.
  1. 2008 September 27 at 22:06

    My favorite dyseleology argument is the blind spot in the eye. Due to the way that they eye is designed, there is a tiny little blind spot in either eye, so that if you shut one eye, and center a period in your vision, it disappears. They propose this as a design flaw.
    But what’s great about it is that you have to shut one eye for the blind spot to be noticeable. But the system is a two-eyed system. Additinoally the spot is too small to affect depth perception. Essentially, there is no blind-spot unless you lose an eye, which is a broken system anyway. You can’t really call something a design flaw that only appears when the system is damaged.

  2. 2008 September 28 at 04:30

    Yes, Sarfati discusses this in his book. The blind spot is in our peripheral vision whereas most of our vision is central (colour and accuracy). And it is not a problem even if you lose one eye, your brain fills in the space. You remain unaware of the blind spot.
    And it’s even a more complex. The blind spot exists because the nerves run along the retina. There needs to be a place where the nerve goes thru to the brain. The claim by the dysteleologists is this is poor design because the eye should be wired the other way.
    This is an example of item 2, ignorance. The eye is wired this way to provide a heat sink for all the photons that are absorbed. If the eye was wired the other way the heat would dissipate too slowly affecting the speed at which cones could “see” another photon.
    For more see here.

  3. Roxolan
    2009 August 30 at 13:53

    I think you’ve missed the point. It’s not just about pointing out instances of “bad design” but showing that the theory of evolution perfectly explains *why* that body part has flaws – something that the YEC model cannot do.
    For example, our spine is shaped in such a way that we tend to get all sorts of back problems. Why would God do this? Who knows? But the theory of evolution explains that our spine evolved to suit the needs of animals who walked on all fours. Evolution did its best to adapt it for an upright animal, but unfortunately some things cannot be changed without rebuilding from the ground up (which evolution cannot do).

  4. 2009 August 31 at 11:08

    Roxolan, I have not missed the point! My point was the point of my post. You raise a related issue about documented flaws.
    I don’t deny there are flaws in some things, and YEC has an explanation for this. If you think they do not then you need to read more.
    I don’t think the spine is poorly designed. I think it is excellently designed. Many of the problems are muscular, not spinal shape.
    You are using an old argument, the human spine is conceded by many to represent excellent shape for its function in a biped. And human spines are not shaped like the spines of quadrupeds and apes, and nor should they be. See here.

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