Scholar deems human body as ‘unintelligent design’
Published: Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 23:03
Tuesday afternoon Dr. Abby Hafer, a zoologist and anatomy and physiology professor from Curry College, presented a lecture countering the idea that Intelligent Design is scientific.
Hafer describes the Intelligent Design debate as purely a political issue, and one that has no place in science. The objective of her talk, she stated, was to show how the human body is quite an unintelligent design, and therefore evolution is the only substantial scientific theory.
To grab the audience's attention, Hafer began with the issue of why males' testicles are outside of their body; because normal body temperature is not conducive to sperm production.
"This is a very bad design," Hafer says with emphasis.
Using the diagram of a frog, she pointed out that other animals have reproductive necessities inside their bodies, a much more intelligent place to have them.
Next, she brought up the simple fact that babies' heads are too large to fit through the narrow biped pelvis bones during birth. Prior to modern medicine, this resulted in many deaths of babies and mothers, and is clearly a poor design. Hafer offered that it would have been smarter to be like kangaroos and develop outside of our mothers.
"Now I'll stop talking dirty to you and talk about choking instead," Hafer said to snickers from the audience.
She transitioned into explaining that whales' respiratory systems are better than ours because they have separate tubes for breathing and eating. This way, there are no chances of choking on food while inhaling the way that humans do.
Another mechanical mishap is how the design of our eyes actually impedes our sight because the "wiring" of nerves is placed in front of the photoreceptors. These photoreceptors are crucial because they recognize light and discern the world around us. If other animals, such as the cuddle fish, can have the wiring in the back, why is ours in the front? It seems like a poor choice, unless "the creator', as Hafer called it, which intelligent design points to, favors squids and octopi over humans.
Scott Conroy 6th-semester molecular and cell biology major, offered a possible explanation. He said, "Cuddle fish would need a more developed eye to see in low light conditions, where being in direct way of the sun, it might be more protective for us to have the receptors behind."
Hafer disagreed, saying that it was just the way sight developed in our evolutionary line.
Evolution, she argues, has a much lower standard than intellectual design because "as long as it doesn't kill us before reproducing too much of the time," the trait stays. This explains our appendices, neonatal gills and remnants of tails.
Afterward there was time for a question-and-answer session where many of the questions focused around teaching creation theories in school, or the debate between intellectual design and evolution. But Hafer argues there is no scientific debate on the issue.
Students enjoyed her straightforward approach, and brother and sister Kevin and Kristina Breuninger, a 2nd-semester undecided major and an 8th- semester biology major, respectively, said they had "heard these points before, but she made them into simple scientific arguments."