Posts Tagged ‘probability’

Unintelligent Design

November 14, 2010

Since the American courts have consistently ruled against indoctrinating students in public schools with religious ideas, those seeking to introduce God into school have in the last few years tried a different tactic from Creationism, claiming that the universe (culminating in personhood) is so improbable to be so perfect that it must be the product of some “Intelligence” (not otherwise named, although it’s pretty clear whom they are talking about).

The courts have regularly ruled that Intelligent Design is nothing more than Creationism with different words, so those seeking to interject religion into public school curricula will have to try again.

Indeed, it is improbable that the universe would have given rise to life as we know it and especially humanity. If conditions weren’t just right for the arrival of homo sapiens, we wouldn’t be here to wonder about it. Let me examine a few of the more obvious examples, then, to demonstrate that the courts have been right in this ruling.
(1) Not all humans are perfect. While some people, say, with less-severe cases of Down’s Syndrome, can have happy, meaningful lives, others will lead lives confined to the cradle. Some handicapable people can compete in the Special Olympics, but most others will have nothing much to look forward to.
(2) The blind spot shouldn’t exist. In optics, the light has to be focused on the optic nerve for us to see, but we can’t see in that spot, hence the term blind spot. Surely an infinite God could design the human eye without this flaw.
Mostly, though, in this essay I’d like to talk about the difference between short-term pain and long-term pain. Short-term pain (STP) serves a very useful purpose in alerting us that something is wrong. If you burn your hand, STP alerts you not to touch the burned area, or to have any other contact with it. The burn eventually heals, the pain stops, and you return to life as usual, using the hand as you did before (although you might end up being more careful around hot surfaces and substances). No problemo!
However, what if you burned your hand so extensively as to have permanent nerve damage? Then, even when the skin grafts have taken and your healing is complete, your hand continues to throb as much as it ever did. This long-term pain (LTP) serves no biological purpose, it seems to be a mistake in our biological processes. In my own case, it will soon be my six year anniversary of being continuously in pain from migraines; even when I’m not actively hurting, I have migraine side effects like continuous photophobia. Perhaps in the future they’ll be able to either to amputate LTP or at least block it with better medicines or procedures than we have now.

My point is that we shouldn’t have LTP at all, for burns, migraines, or anything else. Some people shouldn’t be born with mental or physical challenges. Troublesome anatomical features like the blind spot shouldn’t burden us. If this is the pinnacle of perfection that creationists site, I want no part of their agenda!