December 17, 2016

The Not-So-Intelligent Designer

by Abby Hafer

This lively and witty volume by anatomist Abby Hafer examines the question of Intelligent Design by asking, “just how intelligently designed are we?” She begins with the observation that male genitals are vulnerable to all sorts of maladies and discomforts that any industrial designer would immediately remedy, and that any magazine reviewer would ridicule. She immediately sends a letter on the topic to her Unitarian minister, who used the argument in a sermon on Faith and Testicles.

In fact, it would be easy to design people better. Kangaroos have a much easier time with childbirth. Rabbits can eat wood; people have the organ that lets rabbits digest sawdust, but in people it functions only to give us appendicitis. Our ancestors negligently lost a crucial mechanism for producing our own vitamin C: most mammals make plenty of the stuff but monkeys, awash in tasty fruits, didn’t notice that they were broken until they moved to Norway and got scurvy.