The good, the bad and the evolutionary
Evolutionists designing (their arguments) badly
It seems that evolutionists still think the ‘bad design’ argument deals a death-blow to all forms of intelligent design. A recent article in New Scientist rehashes this old argument, citing a number of ‘parts and processes where things seem to have gone spectacularly wrong.’1
‘Bad design’ arguments need to take into account what the designed systems are used for. It is pointless comparing moped and jet fighter engines.
All out of puff
Ainsworth and Le Page lambast the mammalian bellow lungs because of its apparent inefficiency when compared to the avian respiratory system. However, it is not accurate that the bellow lung system is inefficient in comparison. For instance, some bats can fly with comparable speed and superior manoeuvrability to birds, yet accomplish this using the bellow lung system. In some small bats, they may in fact have a higher respiratory efficiency than birds of flight that are the same weight.2
However, this is a moot point because the survival-of-the-fittest mentality behind such comparisons is pointless. Why do we (or other mammals/reptiles etc.) need an avian respiratory system? As they themselves admit, the human lungs are rather impressive machines already for their specified tasks. So the problem is not that the human lung is badly designed, it’s that it’s not as good as a highly efficient bird like the griffon vulture. That’s like comparing the engines of a jet fighter and a moped and saying the moped is deficient because it doesn’t go as fast as the jet.
If anything, this is an argument against evolution. If bats and pterosaurs could fly without them, then why would the avian lung system need to be evolved in the first place? Evolutionists would say there were three completely independent evolutionary tracks that developed towards flight. This is an example of what they call convergence—a desperate effort from evolutionists to keep creatures under the evolutionary umbrella.3
Factory furnace folly
They scoff at a genetic code being placed in the powerhouses of the cell, the mitochondria:
‘It’s a crazy design: like keeping a repair manual for a steam engine by the furnace, where it inevitably becomes charred and unreadable.’
Once again, they answer their own objection by admitting that 13 genes in the mitochondrial DNA need to be made in the mitochondrion to work. With the amount of times they refute themselves; it seems they enjoy shooting themselves in the foot. However, the Fall provides another dimension to this ‘quandary’, as mutational degeneration is one of the results of the Curse, which results in mistakes creeping into the genome.
The evolutionary blind spot
The human eye is the oldest and most famous ‘bad design’ culprit, which goes all the way back to Darwin himself. We have dealt with this accusation many times before, and this article offers nothing new (see Vestigial Organs Questions and Answers). An interesting point, however, is that they say that the cephalopod eye isn’t as good as the human eye. How can this be a case of ‘bad design’ if it works better than the supposedly ‘comparatively well designed cephalopod eye’? Though they lambast the human eye for having a blind spot,4 it appears they are completely unaware of the enormous blind spot in their own argument.
Shedding light on photosynthesis
Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) is in integral enzyme for photosynthesis. It catalyses the first major step in fixing CO2, thus allowing photosynthesis to occur. However, evolutionists think it is too slow. Ainsworth and Le Page complain that Rubisco can only catalyse 3 molecules of CO2 a second compared to other enzymes which can catalyse tens of thousands per second.
Evolutionary researchers generally accept that Rubisco is a primary limiting factor in photosynthesis.5 However, they once again shoot themselves in the foot by grudgingly admitting that Rubisco is incredibly specified to maximise the chance of it catalysing CO2 rather than O2. It is hard for any enzyme to discriminate between these molecules. Therefore, the curious arrangement of Rubisco ensures that CO2 is catalysed at what appears to be close to an optimal rate.6
A vestigial argument
Amazingly, the article even repeated the old canard that the human appendix has no known function, despite the fact that New Scientist had published an answer to this previously.7 To ignore creationist responses to this sort of nonsense is one thing but they ignore the responses to this argument previously published in their own journal. How can they possibly justify that?
Bad design has been a bad argument from the start because even if it were ‘bad design’ it still necessarily implies a designer. But in any case, they repeat arguments that have been refuted many times before (they actually do some of the refuting themselves!) without even addressing the refutations. It is nothing more than a cheap polemical broadside that distracts people from the real issues.
If evolutionists are going to make the ‘bad design’ argument something more than a red herring, they have to demonstrate how the system could be better designed and how any problems today can’t be the result of the Fall.8 Not only have they not done that (as in the case of Rubisco), but they can’t come up with any design. I’m sure the Master Designer would be pleased to hear any cases for better design from the species whose disobedience brought the bondage to corruption on this world.
- Ainsworth, C. and Le Page, M., Evolution’s greatest mistakes, New Scientist 195(2616):36–39, 11 August 2007; p. 36. Return to Text.
- Canals, M., Atala, C., Olivares, R., Guajardo, F., Figueroa, D.P., Sabat, P. and Rosenmann, M., Functional and structural optimization of the respiratory system of the bat Tadarida brasiliensis (Chiroptera, Molossidae): does airway geometry matter? Journal of Experimental Biology 208:3987–3995, 2005. Return to Text.
- Jaroncyk, R. and Doyle, S., Gogonasus—a fish with human limbs?, Journal of Creation 21(1):48–52, 2007. Return to Text.
- For a refutation of this, see Gurney, P.W.V., Is our inverted retina really bad design ? Journal of Creation 13(1):37–44, 1999. Return to Text.
- Gutteridge, S. and Pierce, J., A unified theory for the basis of the limitations of the primary reaction of photosynthetic CO2 fixation: Was Dr. Pangloss right? PNAS 103(19):7203–7204, 9 May 2006. Return to Text.
- Tcherkez, G.G.B, Farquhar, G.D. and Andrews, T.J., Despite slow catalysis and confused substrate specificity, all ribulose bisphosphate carboxylases may be nearly perfectly optimized, PNAS 103(19):7246–7251, 9 May 2006. Return to Text.
- The last word, New Scientist 177(2381):65, 8 February 2003. The question (with name) first appeared in the 12 October 2002 edition. Return to Text.
- Jonathan Sarfati (Refuting Evolution 2, CMI, Australia, ch. 7, 2002.) lists two questions that need to be asked when any ‘bad design’ argument is brought up: (1) Do we have all the information/knowledge on the issue? (2) Could this particular biological system have gone downhill since the Fall? Return to Text.