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Cannonball Jones

This has long been one of my favourite arguments against the ID/creationism crowd. If god is such a damn genius then why the hell did he make such a god-awful mess of our bodies? Everything from the basic structure to the plumbing is messed up beyond belief to the point that if I'd been in charge of the whole project I'd have resigned before it got past the design stage.

Even when you eventually get past the endless design flaws there's also the way we're left to interact with the environment. This planet is two-thirds water, if you're going to make us live here can't we get a working pair of gills? No? Jeez, some god you are...

Will have to pick up the book to add to my argumentative repertoire, thanks for pointing it out!


Here here!

Also I remember hearing that we're only a few tweaks away from being able to make our own Vitamin C-- something which many other animals can do but alas, we cannot.

"Evolution is a kluge. It's the klugiest kluge that ever kluged."

I need to use this somewhere, now...


On a similar vein, I've always thought that conjoined twins were a great example of proof that there's no God. Seriously, like anyone would do that on purpose? It's a first-class biological fuck-up if I ever saw one.

David Harmon

Not to mention the variety of developmental defects we're prone to....

TempestBrewer: In fact, "that "few tweaks away" suggests that an ancestral form could synthesize vitamin C, but our ancestors lost the capacity because we were getting enough of it from the fruit in our diet.

Plac Ebo

Another excellent article - I envy your communication skills. I've had discussions where I ask how an all-knowing, all-powerful and loving God could create a world that looks and functions like this one we inhabit. "Our" God got to begin with a blank slate. It's not as if "he" was brought in to clean up some other God's mess while having restraints put on his powers.


Thanks for the tip on the book. I've put it on reserve at the library.


The only problem I had with this article was that I've had a professor named Kluge (which, being German, is pronounced kloo-guh) and I was briefly, enormously confused. But it beautifully sums up my own responses to creationists who like to point to the beautiful perfect awesome design that clearly exists.

John B Hodges

FYI this same case was made by Stephen Jay Gould (spelling?) in his essay "The Panda's Thumb". The evidence for evolution is not in the perfection of adaptation, it is in the imperfections. He gave the example of the Panda's thumb, which is not a thumb, it is an extension of the wrist bone. The panda uses it to strip leaves off of bamboo, it works OK, but it's a rotten thumb, inflexible and easily broken. Why doesn't the Panda have and use a regular thumb? Because it's bear ancestors lost their thumbs a long time ago, having no use for them. There are other examples- the legbones of whales, the wings of ostriches, vestigial organs generally.


Hi Greta:
Great blog but you missed the main point. THEY know we are a kluge but that is because some easily manipulated male listened to some hottie who was talking with a snake. Because of this we are now flawed and imperfect and must suffer thru life.
Which isn't too bad of a story for a bunch of goat herders to invent to explain the kluge.
But THEY really believe this so the book you read will make NO impression on THEM.
But I like you description enough to read it. It sounds like it will be a real hoot

C.S. Lewiston

The phrase "intelligent design" just sounds to me like an advertising slogan for General Motors!

You know, this summer will be the 40th anniversary of man's first trip to the moon. Could we have ever accomplished that if the current (anti-) intellectual landscape, in which 45% of Americans apparently believe that the universe was built in 6 days, had prevailed in 1969?

Great article and great thinking points too.


Actually, CS, the modern conservative Christian mentality might have helped, rather than hindred, there.

Like many hard-right lunatics, religious righters love weaponry, and they do nto mind spending any amount of money to develop it.

The Space Race was in large part maintained for its possible use in the future as a source of advanced weaponry against the Soviets, so I don't think it was that difficult to convince any religious right lunatics that may have existed back then that the Space Race was necessary; a mere mention of the Red Menace, and they'd be opening their wallets quicker than you can say "gay agenda".


You only need two words to argue against ID, external testicles.

the chaplain

Excellent post. I'll have to add this book to my already long list. Thanks for your discussion of the gist of the argument. Kluge is a cool word that I'll have to add to my vocabulary.

Crystal D.

This gets me to thinking about the episode of "My Name is Earl" where Joy tries to prove, or disprove, evolution by putting her fish in a tank with food out of reach on a rock. She figures that if the fish doesn't grow legs and crawl up and get the food, that it will die, and this will prove evolution is fully of it... I never laughed so hard, probably just because I could picture fundagelicals trying this out at home.


Just wanted to throw out another good book that shows how much of a kluge we are. I'm sure others have heard of it: "Your Inner Fish," by Neil Shubin

Last Hussar

Teeth (2 non reparing sets only)
Wisdom Teeth
Eyes (its' like the arial lead going through the TV screen)
Prostate Gland (looking at 40 and worring)
Testicles (why not design that enzyme to work at 37'C?)


David Harmon "In fact, "that "few tweaks away" suggests that an ancestral form could synthesize vitamin C, but our ancestors lost the capacity because we were getting enough of it from the fruit in our diet."
Think of it more as some of our ancestors lost the ability to synthesize vitamin C, but since they got enough from their diet it wasn't disadvantageous enough to make them "unfit" (and that "fit" is in relationship to the present environment and the loss of that ability freed up energy that would've gone to building/maintaining the structures to make vit C...potentially making them more "fit" versus their competitors who wasted energy making/maintain something for which there was no environmental pressure.
Similar (but opposite of this loss) would be the gain of multicolour vision, with the same outcome, as it makes it easier to find ripe fruit...which in turn helped select out smell, which wasn't all that useful for a lineage that wasn't always on all fours nose-to-the-ground).
Natural selection is a weird system of getting the "best" through ruthlessly efficient inefficiency (if that makes any sense at all).


"You only need two words to argue against ID, external testicles."
I totally agree!

I'm nearly done with this book, and I totally love it. There are so many implicit arguments AGAINST ID mentioned in this book that it would be easier to argue that we are a product of "Stupid Design" rather than intelligent design.

Pierce R. Butler

Note also the discrepancy between the size of an infant's head and a woman's vagina: this large-brain idea comes with such a dangerous price tag it's amazing our species survived.

One consequent adaptation: If human fetuses developed as long in the uterus as do other primates, we wouldn't be born until after 12 months of gestation. Mention that to any woman who's given birth, and watch her wince or turn pale.


I wrote a post several years ago on my blog along the same lines: looking for human design flaws.

It was not as elegant or eloquent as yours, but hey. It's nice to see someone else thought of it too!

(I would say "great minds think alike", but I know my mind.)


But look at all the positives we do have! We do function pretty well I think. See the full side of the cup!

Like your article though!

Daishik Chauhan

Excellent post (as usual) and I'm sorry I've only just come across it. In England we call it a cludge (pronounced like 'fudge') by the way.

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