What follows is not an attempt at refuting the Intelligent Design (ID) idea. You can safely read on, without needing to visit your Confessional Officer (or some such authority) afterwards.
The question I’m posing is rather: Would a well-educated, experienced and reasonably gifted (= intelligent?) contemporary engineer design the Human Animal like it now happens to be, look, and work? In other words -- are there some obvious flaws in the biological design of the Human Animal, flaws that a modern engineer would probably not dare to make, for fear of getting fired?
Ordering a better design
It’s of course a silly question -- we can’t redo our biological design by commissioning a better one from an engineering firm, no matter how reputable or advanced -- we simply don’t have the technology (yet?). But let us imagine for a moment that we do possess the technology. In that case, what parts or functions of the human body would we wish to be designed differently?
I’m no biologist and no heck of an engineer, so my list of complaints, concerning my own and my fellow human’s Intelligent Design, is short. Some of you will certainly want to amend it. But this here is my personal
list, short as it may be:
Menstruation: The sex business is indeed ingenious. For the most part it’s fun and it frequently gives us the desired result. But there is still a serious flaw in the design. Why, for the love of X, do females need to undergo a minor surgical procedure every month? Because this is more or less what the menstruation amounts to. If a Toyota engineer would design a new superbly efficient car battery that exuded acid every month, requiring the car owner to purchase special bandages and covers, he would be fired. OK, yes, so we need new eggs to be ready for fertilisation every month. Fine. But why this remarkably idiotic design for getting rid of the old eggs -- for needing to bleed and ache for some simple surplus removal?
Testicles: Why on earth do they have to hang out, always being in the way and often getting hurt? Yes, yes, I know that sperm cells need to be cooler than the ordinary 37 oC of the body interior. But -- so help me X -- why not make their thermal tolerance a bit better -- after all, it's just a matter of 1-2 oC? An automotive engineer would never design a radio that you must suspend outside the car for it to work properly. Hanging testicles might conceivably be a sexual turn-on for females. But I seriously doubt the erotic magnetism of hairy and often smelly hanging testicles. Any GM engineer could design a kinkier turn-on than that, I'm reasonably sure.
Xenophobia: The Human Animal is a social animal, this we all know. But the Animal in question is apparently only designed for small-circle socializing -- suburbs, birthday parties, weddings, and the like. Because as soon as a guy from the neighbouring township shows up, he's attacked, defiled and turned away, particularly if he looks a bit different (black, blond, brown/blue-eyed, etc.).
The social design of the Human Animal only allows for small societies. The Designer seems to have been a wimpy defeatist, not really believing in any large-scale success of Its design. And now the design proves to be quite inadequate for the huge global scene that the Human Animal has happened to enter upon. For quite a while this short-sightedness has been something of a nuisance, causing people to die on various muddy battlefields, by the millions.
Lack of beauty: In your walks in the woods or in the zoo you have probably observed the symmetrical, stream-lined beauty of a roe deer, a mink or a green mamba. Or of the Alsatian dog at your friend's house. Now look at yourself in the mirror: ridiculously undersized arms, completely disproportionate legs, both protruding from an ungraceful, furless, lumbering body -- an aesthetic box on the ear.
Did you ever compare the graceful ears of horses and hinds to your own hideous otic protrusions? Or contemplated what a horrendous composition the nose, the mouth and all other disproportionate features of a human face make, compared to that of a tiger, or even a rat? Pinin Farina and his Italian automotive design team is certain to do much, much better -- you have probably already admired the graceful design of the Alfa Romeos and Ferraris in many a parking lot.
Well, this is my present short list of design complaints, presented to you by one Human Animal, designed in the Image of X.
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AMENDMENTS to the List of Design Complaints:
spiregrain says: The ulnar nerve runs along the outside of the elbow, resulting in a painful tingle when it is struck, the Funny Bone. Horrid design. They should set up a help-desk for this stuff.
TenMinJoe says: Appendix serves no purpose and sometimes explodes and painfully kills people. This is like your Toyota engineer putting a nailbomb in the glove box and telling you it probably won't go off.
sloebertje says: The fact that the retina is inside out /= there are blood vessels in front of it/, and the existence of the appendix, seem obvious flaws to me.
shyHyena says: I want a heads-up-display module, myself. Oh, and an auto-exercise script.
StrawberryFrog says: Two words - wisdom teeth. Also I'd suggest that lots of humans have knee and back problems because the of the kludges involved in getting an arboreal ape standing up on two feet.
mkb says: Our bodies are not sufficiently extensible. If there was not a monopoly on the supply of human bodies the market would move beyond five fingers per hand very quickly.
Lucy-S says:1) Knees. They really aren't well-designed, and knee problems are dead common. Some adolescent girls have their knee caps spontaneously pop out of place. That'd be like making a shock absorber that just sometimes breaks in half for no reason -- recall time!
2) Also, cartilage is a poorly-designed substance. It's nice and smooth and slippery, yes, but it doesn't heal worth a darn.
3) And our systems are just not very discriminating when it comes to chemicals; we absorb carbon monoxide instead of oxygen, and we use radium or lead instead of calcium to build bones. Would you keep around an assembly line worker who couldn't tell the difference between lead and calcium and radium? Hell no. We're far too easily poisoned.
4) The prostate gland and its positioning.
The list of Amendments to the list of Design Complaints is NOW (January 17, 2006, at 21:00 Server Time) CLOSED.
Additional complaints can be directed directly to the Designer, Mr X.
Personal observations by noder