Re: Design and "Flaws" (Was NTSE #11)

Gene Dunbar Godbold (
Sat, 22 Mar 1997 23:56:43 -0500 (EST)

According to Pim van Meurs:

First: I want to mention that I have no problem with God creating
through the process of evolution. I think, in fact, that God does use
evolution to make his creatures. Whether this was the only means He used,
I have no idea. Some form of special creation (de novo) might have been
used also.

> We observe certain features in nature which make perfect sense in an
> evolutionary sense but wonder why an intelligent designer would design it
> that way. It is not mere aesthetics but questions like why have a whale
> with legs for instance or snakes with 'vestigial' legs.

Okay, this is good. I think some questions of "why" can only be answered
from a perspective none of us yet have. I think you mean, in this case,
what is the natural, developmental history of the whale's (or the snake's)
vestigial limbs. This can, perhaps, be answered by fossil evidence and
DNA sequence analysis. Developmental biology also has a role to play.
Our wonderment over why an intelligent designer might utilize such a route
is a question of the first type, however. Theology might be more helpful,
but then again, it might not.

> "I think it is harder to prove the universal negative proposition that
> there *isn't* an intelligent designer, especially by an argument that
> amounts to no more than: "Well, if *I* were God, I'd have done it
> differently..."

> Personally I see no reason to try to disprove a supernatural entity whose
> existance is guided by faith not science but I wonder at the poor design
> and how people who do think that god designed it this way believe why he
> did it this way. Especially since from an evolution's perspective the
> 'design' makes perfect sense.

The propositions of the scientific method cannot be derived from science.
You need faith in something from which to begin investigations, even if it
is faith in the ability of the scientific method to lead to truth. The
argument that "it seems to work most of the time" doesn't tell you that it
should be trusted the *next* time you do it, or why.

I suggested in my previous posts that the charge of "bad design" cannot be
laid at the foot of an organism before we know the necessities of the
developmental biology of that organism. Some of what appears useless or
frivolous may be quite useful and necessary when the relevant facts are
known. For most creatures, we do not yet have the necessary knowledge to
level such charges of bad design. In most or all cases, the charge of
"bad design" seems to be a non-scientifically grounded rhetorical tool.

> > Why would a designer design a whale with hind legs ? Why would a designer
> > design Or whale embryos growing teeth which then 'disappear' ? There are
> > plenty of examples.

I am open to the idea that the whale is responding to a genetic program
that was formed under conditions in which teeth were once useful for it,
but that, in its present environment, is not so useful. But then, this is
just a guess. It doesn't seem like a bad design to stop growing teeth
which are not needed anymore.

> Not at all, I am pointing out examples of poor design. Why have a whale
> develop teeth which then whither away. Again from an evolutionary point of
> view this makes perfect sense, from a design point of view I wonder what
> the designer was thinking.

Maybe the designer is thinking: "My whales don't need teeth anymore, I
think I'll create whales without them now." Just a thought. I don't
really know. Perhaps you can ask Him one day.

> > I am confused that a supernatural, all powerful being could not design
> > more properly ?

Again, you must have some sort of a standard by which you are judging
something to be designed more or less properly. God's plan for the whale
could, for instance, have it live on land and then in the water. Nothing
might be more proper for it. And we don't know much about the ultimate
purpose for whales. Christians only believe we know the ultimate purpose
for mankind, and that only because God revealed it to us through His
prophets. As a popular Christian apologist (C.S. Lewis) once wrote
(paraphrasing): God only tells you your own story, and not that of
anybody else.


Gene D. Godbold, Ph.D. Lab: 804 924-5167
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