Intelligent Design In Nature.

A lot of people suppose that there is evidence of design in nature, and that the design must have come from god.  God must have designed all of these things for our benefit, since we, according to the traditional view in western and middle-eastern religions, are the purpose of the universe.  But this hypothesis can be tested.  First of all, how good is the design in nature, and where does it come from?  Does it appear to be for our benefit?

Let us compare god’s design to man’s designs for a point of comparison.  The incandescent light bulb has come under fire lately because it is very inefficient.  It only converts about 1% of the energy it uses into light.  Modern light bulbs are far more efficient, this light bulb produces the light of a 60 watt bulb with only 7.5 watts of electricity: 

The above bulb uses 13% of it’s energy for light. 

God allegedly created the sun, moon and stars to “give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness” (Genesis 1:16-18), but the sun (which also lights the moon) produces over a billion times as much energy as the earth receives, making even the original thomas edison lightbulb look insanely energy efficient.  It would probably take the total efforts of a million generations of humans to design and build something less energy efficient and more wasteful than the sun.  This is ignoring the even more preposterous notion that the stars were made to light the earth, which is exponentially more absurd, since we get far less light from distant stars, of which there are thousands of trillions in the observable universe.


(A snapshot of a small region of the sky taken with our most powerful telescope – the picture contains around 3 thousand galaxies, each of which contain billions of stars)

Furthermore the earth is said to be designed for humans, but virtually all of it’s surface is desert, arctic or ocean.

The other planets were presumably built for our benefit, but of the 8 planets, 336 moons and countless dwarf planet candidates, only one body supports any form of life.  So just counting planets and moons and ignoring the dwarf planets entirely (of which there are estimated to be as many as two thousand) and ignoring that the entire earth is not useful for human life, the solar system’s bodies support human life 0.3% of the time, and that’s rounding up.

So the solar system does not exhibit a tremendous amount of human-centered design.  In fact the only thing that appears to really be designed in the solar system is life.  Living things contain the sort of complex, inter-working machinery we associate with man-made things like computers and other artificial inventions.  It is therefore often the conclusion of many bright people that life must have been similarly engineered.  Setting aside that we have marvelous explanations for how this design not only came about, but how life is being continually re-designed (which I won’t go into, having already made many blogs about it), setting that aside even if I granted that life was designed by an extra-terrestrial intelligence – was it designed for our benefit?  Yes, many aspects of our physiology do benefit us greatly, the eye, the immune system etc.  But dangerous animals that kill humans have those things too.  And the same brilliant cellular machinery that keeps us alive also keeps the bubonic plague alive – the last case of the bubonic plague in the U.S. was… last year in Oregon.  The same persistence to live is found in all species, even those that are at odds with our own survival.  There appears to be no benefit to humans.

Another important thing to point out is that our anatomy is inferior in pretty much every way to some other species.  Bacteria can withstand over 100 times a lethal dose of radiation for humans, shrug off the vacuum of space like it was nothing, and withstand temperatures ranging from negative 456 degrees farenheit (the temperature of space) to around a thousand degrees (the temperature of boiling water), or a spectrum of about 1500 degrees.  We start to die in temperatures within a range of less than 100 degrees. 

[Edit: I assumed the temperature of water would be roughly that of the flame on the stove (around 1k degrees), the actual temp is 212 degrees since any water that goes higher than that vaporizes and leaves the pot, so the temperature range bacteria can survive in is around 6-700 degrees, not 1500.  My bad.  Still much more resilient than us though.]

And things like the eye which are exquisitely useful to us fall short of the eyes of other species.  The eye of the llama for instance can see everything in a 330 degree angle:


(I kid you not, this picture is not photoshopped)

Whereas humans only have a range of about 185 degrees, or around half that of llamas.  Other species of reptiles have both eyes and heat pits which give them both normal and heat vision.  Other species can see in the dark via echo location, an ability a few humans are actually capable of, though not to the same extent.  Whales have hearing and voices so powerful they can communicate over hundreds of miles, other animals can communicate over mountain ranges.  Etc, etc.

There appears to be no favoritism for humans.

People might cite the existence of fruits and vegetables that taste good as proof that they were put here for our benefit, but these were cultivated to taste and look good and have palatable textures by humans over thousands of years.  Modern wheat, apples, oranges, bananas etc are human inventions, as is sugar, using spices to improve the flavor of food, cooking etc.  Go eat a leaf off a tree and tell me it was put there for us, lol.

Now this does not mean that the universe was not created or that there is no god.  But to me these and many other things do rule out the possibility of a god that created the universe with us in mind.  I think that if there is a god, the universe was created for life, not for humanity.  The universe is much bigger than us in every possible sense.  That may depress some people, but only those who have humility deficits or insecurities.

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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36 Responses to Intelligent Design In Nature.

  1. Even presuming that the universe could be created for life is a bit of a stretch in my mind. As big as the universe is, even if there were a million planets that can not only support life but also have developed it, that’s still a tremendous amount of space that is not hospitable to life. Still, you’re right, this does not discount the possibility of a god, but it certainly discounts ALL of the claims that I have ever heard from ALL religious apologists.

  2. yarnspnr says:

    Have an idea about how the earth and universe was formed.  Now bend every possible concept concerning that formation until it fits your idea.This is the formula used by every religion that ever existed on our planet.  Most of them are now called creation myths.  When will Genesis finally be called a creation myth? It was almost there back in the 70’s.  Now ID has resurrected the entire idiocy of a god made Earth.

  3. Zissu25 says:

    Well… humans have been around for 200 000 years. The earth is about 4,5 billion years old. The universe is 13.75 billion years old. There are 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone and about 300 sextillion stars in our universe. Accodring to physicists, there may be an infinite number of other universes beside our own. So the whole idea that all this was created just to the benefit of humans is pretty… hum… let’s say farfetched… 🙂

  4. tgwiy says:

    “…around a thousand degrees (the temperature of boiling water),”The boiling point of water is 100C/212F. Not 1000. Other than that, I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said here.

  5. agnophilo says:

    @entropistanon – True dat.@yarnspnr – True, though ID tends to focus exclusively on life and mainly attack evolution.  It’s part of the “wedge” strategy to use the topic of evolution to drive a wedge between religion and science for the purpose of destroying secular science and replacing it with pro-christian science.  In the words of the discover institute’s infamous “wedge document”.@Zissu25 – Yup.@tgwiy – I wasn’t referring to the boiling point of water, but the temperature of water boiling on a stovetop which I assumed would be around the temperature of the flame (around 1k degrees).  I didn’t factor into it that the fact that any water hotter than the boiling point would vaporize and go away, keeping the temperature relatively low.  So yeah, will ammend the blog.  Thanks for pointing it out.

  6. CoderHead says:

    I really like this write-up and especially the portion on inefficiency. I shared this on my FB.

  7. agnophilo says:

    @CoderHead – I assume you gave credit and linked to my blog?

  8. CoderHead says:

    @agnophilo – I used the direct link to this entry. I’m no credit-thief! My mommy taught me better than that.

  9. agnophilo says:

    @CoderHead – Thanks, I appreciate it.  Had to check though.

  10. ItIsAllGravy says:

    This was a cool read.  Good post.  

  11. llamalima says:

    I agree with you! Llamas > Humans.Interesting post. I don’t think God had to pay any electric bills, so I don’t think he cares…

  12. agnophilo says:

    @ItIsAllGravy – Thanks.@llamalima – : )  You would say that.And lol about the electric bills.

  13. I love that picture of the sky. It is beautiful

  14. agnophilo says:

    @Kristenmomof3 – Google “hubble ultra deep field”, it’s the most powerful lense of the most powerful telescope (in orbit around the earth).  The pictures from it are breathtaking.  Here is a picture of a galaxy collision.  Here’s a very pretty galaxy called the “sombrero galaxy”.  This is the type of galaxy we inhabit (a giant spiral). This is the current state of an exploding star, it’s death was actually observed by chinese and arab astronomers a thousand years ago.  It is called the crab nebula and it’s been expanding at 1500 kilometers per second for a thousand years and it is so massive it takes light 11 years to get from one end of it to the other.  Here’s another ultra deep field snapshot, thousands of galaxies.  It’s estimated based on these sorts of images that there are no less than ten billion galaxies and no more than 300 billion in the observable universe.  The universe is absolutely humbling.  There could be trillions of intelligent species/civilizations, each one just as complex and unique and beautiful as our own.  Whether that came from god, nature or something else we haven’t even thought of yet, it’s beyond beautiful.  Our minds can’t even grasp at it it’s so amazing.

  15. By simple reason we know that everything in the universe is designed just the same as we know that a light bulb is designed.It has nothing to do with religion.Simple reason dictates design because everything we see has purpose.  The light bulb was designed. We know that because it has purpose.Where there is purpose, there is design.  It’s as simple as that.

  16. mommachatter says:

    Magnificent photo links.  You make some good points in your post, however (and you knew there would be a ‘however’) I still have to believe in ID.  I don’t think anything that beautiful could be an accident.  I have often thought that we have the intelligence to make those telescopes (and microscopes) to permit us to see a part of the glory of God.  But to each his own my friends.

  17. agnophilo says:

    @LoBornlytesThoughtPalace – And what is our purpose exactly?

  18. agnophilo says:

    @mommachatter – You’ve never heard of a happy accident?  If something horribly demented can happen by accident, why not something beautiful?  And life is not an “accident”, it is a process which works for specific reasons.  The process can even be called intelligent, but not in the sense that we are intelligent.  Natural selection is a process of trial and error, and with trial and error you can design virtually anything, given enough chances.

  19. @agnophilo – God created us with intellect and free will, in His image. That means we are free to choose our purpose.Nevertheless, we are designed to know, love and serve Him.Because human beings are free to choose a purpose that we may not be designed for, we are the only thing in the universe that can be out of sync.Being out of sync is what causes suffering and all the gratuitous tragedy that has befallen us throughout our existence.

  20. agnophilo says:

    @LoBornlytesThoughtPalace – You are saying that we know god created us because our purpose is to love and serve god.  That is circular reasoning.I don’t believe in god, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.  I think we decide our own purpose, better or worse.  And of course we don’t have to just have one, we can do many things with our life.  Be a good friend to someone, be a good spouse, make art, raise our children well, and various other more specialized things.

  21. This is why you are one of my favorites.Rec’d!

  22. @agnophilo – OMG! There you go again, hallucinating an alternate universe whose design and purpose is to redefine the meaning of something you don’t have the capacity to understand.If you can’t understand plain English, there is nothing further I can do.What I explained is SO incredibly simple!  Only YOU could take a straight line and turn it into a circle.

  23. agnophilo says:

    @LoBornlytesThoughtPalace – I only responded to you because you seemed reasonable for two seconds.  Thanks for going insane again so I don’t have to pay attention to you.

  24. @agnophilo – Since you called my thinking circular in your first comment that means you never thought I was reasonable.Dude, it’s clear from your comments that you have no idea what universe you are in from one second to the next.

  25. agnophilo says:

    @LoBornlytesThoughtPalace – Reasonable means able to be reasoned with, not always right.  The notion that it’s somehow wicked to disagree with you is insane.You are insane.

  26. @agnophilo – Reason is accomplished with logic.  You called my logic circular.  That means I am being unreasonable.To you, anyone to sits and takes your crap is reasonable.That’s called masochism, not reason.Words mean things. Your hallucinations do not.

  27. TheBillion says:

    @LoBornlytesThoughtPalace – you are making a complete fool out of yourself in this thread. your challenges don’t even make sense. agnophilo is right to brush you off. 

  28. The Universe was not made around us. We were made in the universe. The Bible does not say God made the universe with a human end in mind. It says God made the universe, then Earth, then sky/sea, and so on, and finally made humans. Many of our discoveries were made as a consequence of researching something else. It is not an impossibility that God made us last, to fit the universe, and not the other way around.

  29. agnophilo says:

    @TheBillion – Yup.@TheBlueNinjaTiger – The bible explicitly says god created woman to please man and gave man dominion over every living thing etc.  I’m sure if I did some homework I could find plenty of verses which, when taken literally, state that and similar views.  If you do not take those passages literally however, then this blog doesn’t conflict with your views.  I was just pointing out that the universe, earth etc, even if they were designed, do not appear to be designed for us.

  30. @agnophilo – Giving man dominion over every living  thing does not equate to God creating the universe to serve us. Say I start a business with my own profit in mind. Someday, I retire, and pass the business off to my son rather than sell it. I didn’t make the business to serve my son, but I did end up giving him control of it. I think we actually agree, but I think you are misinterpreting the verses, making an argument against something the Bible doesn’t say. Of course I may be wrong, I have not studied the whole Bible, though I am working on that.

  31. agnophilo says:

    @TheBlueNinjaTiger – Your logic is flawless in principle, but it would not apply to an infallible or omniscient being for whom changing his mind or not knowing the future would be incompatible.  But then he does do many things incompatible with his own nature, but that’s another discussion.

  32. I suppose you are referring to Old Testament law instructing the Israelis to stone people who commit the sins identified in Leviticus despite God claiming to be infinitely loving?

  33. agnophilo says:

    @TheBlueNinjaTiger – No, not what I was thinking about.  But that is one of many contradictions.  And the old testament tells you to do a lot more than just stone people.  You sound as if that is the only “bad” passage you are aware of from the old testament.

  34. @agnophilo – no, that is just the one most commonly addressed by people I have talked to. I know there are many more apparent contradictions, but your post seemed to concern ones dealing with God’s nature. Some examples are contradictions of other things, like the 7 days Genesis story, when taken exactly literally, conflicting with hard evidence showing the Earth to be far older. What were you specifically thinking about?

  35. agnophilo says:

    @TheBlueNinjaTiger – Jesus and god the father are practically yin and yang. Jesus spent half of his time telling peope why they shouldn’t follow the old testament, which are supposedly his own laws.But even ignoring that there are countless contradictions (moral and otherwise) in scripture.Here is a good smattering of them if you’re curious.  It’s satirical, but cites chapter and verse for everything.

Speak yer mind.

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