When ID Falls Short

There’s a lot I like about Intelligent Design (ID). It’s a real thing. We can examine living organisms and observe how they work, right down to the molecular level, and we can identify the same elements of design as we would in a computer program. The amount of information that can be stored in one gram of DNA is about 215 million gigabytes of data. And the way this is expressed in living organisms is remarkably efficient, not some hodgepodge of evolutionary trial and error as predicted by evolutionists. Therefore, an intelligent designer (i.e., God), I would argue, is clearly responsible for life (rather than nature).

Yet there are some weaknesses found within the Intelligent Design camp, and this article from the Discovery Institute is a prime example.

The article, written by Cornelius Hunter, is a refutation of Professor Nathan Lents’ claim that the human eye is a “poor design”.

Lents, like many evolutionists, tries to convince his readers that human designers could engineer the human eye better than it is now. But that’s a bluff. I’ve heard this same, tired argument for over a decade, but no human designer has come close to God’s design of any organ. Just look at robots. What robot has ever been designed that could outperform Bo Jackson on both the football and baseball field (or anything else Bo is good at)? I know of none. But they’d need a pretty good eye design in order to compete, and scientists aren’t even close.

Further, human designers spend a lot of time and money trying to mimic God’s design in order to make trains more aerodynamic, submarines more streamlined, tape that’s sticky like a gecko, etc. So, if human designers are so good, then why must they imitate God’s design in order to succeed?

Human designers are also late to the game. The leafhopper has perfectly formed, tiny gears, enabling it to jump at a rate of speed of about 100 G-forces. Thus, living organisms have been using gears long before humans invented them.

Other scientists have described just how remarkable the human eye is. Although Lents admits the human eye is indeed a marvel, he claims it’s poor design because of diseases like myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia and glaucoma, etc. Like Richard Dawkins, Lents claims the human eye is wired backwards!

Lents tries to paint a perfect picture for eye evolution, but his explanation is simplistic and doesn’t resolve more complex issues, namely that even what is referred to as a “simple” eye is extremely complex. The truth is, there are no examples of evolutionary dead ends, or trial and error. No, what we find in nature is fully developed eyes, perfectly designed for their environment and purpose the very first time they’re found in the fossil record. Where’s the evolution? It’s missing!

Hunter’s refutation briefly explains the complexity of the human eye. Good. Second, Hunter correctly observed that Lents, rather than refute intelligent design, inadvertently refuted evolution!

Lents claims that all the “glaring defects” and diseases associated with vision is evidence that the human eye is poorly designed, but he thinks it makes evolutionary sense. Very interesting. Throughout his article, Lents praises evolution for how “excellent” the vision is in eagles, condors and other birds, then says our night vision is far worse than “cats, dogs, birds, and many other animals.”

Well, if we really evolved from lower animals which have such powerful eyesight, then how did we get stuck with glaringly defective eyes? Lents admits his eyes are so bad that he wouldn’t have survived as a hunter or gatherer if he had been an early human. So, if evolution is such a bad designer, how does Lents explain it? He claims eye evolution was a random development that stuck, then shrugs, saying better vision wasn’t strongly selected for. Boom!

So, Lents contends that eye evolution is making humans eyesight so poor that, instead of evolving stronger vision, we’re devolving… we should be extinct! He believes evolution is “capable” of designing superior vision since other animals have it, but the fact is, if our eyes are becoming worse, and poor vision makes us less fit, then this speaks against evolution as a powerful designer. Why didn’t evolution select for weaker eyes in animals? And why are human eyes so defective? According to Lents, evolution selected it! It becomes the old ‘Evolution of the Gaps” problem. There’s really no explanation at all. Whatever happens, evolution did it. Got it?

Although Lents gets a lot wrong, he does get one thing right. He actually attributes design to a designer, then identifies the designer. He says, “The superiority of the bird eye shows that whatever designed the human eye, be it nature or a deity, is capable of producing eyes that are much better than the human eye.” Catch that? He recognizes that whatever designed the eye must have been an intelligent being- a deity, or nature.

One issue I take with Hunter is that he doesn’t identify the designer. Does Hunter believe the intelligent designer is evolution, like Lents, or does he believe it’s a deity, such as God? He doesn’t say, so his refutation loses effectiveness in some respect. I might assume Hunter’s intelligent designer is God, but I wouldn’t know it from reading his article, so it could be anything.

Hunter helps himself by explaining that Lents’ argument makes some unwarranted assumptions about a designer. And that’s true. Lents wrongly assumes that a deity (or God) wouldn’t allow vision defects. Next, Hunter points out that Lents’ argument is a metaphysical one in which science cannot answer any of these questions because what a deity would or wouldn’t do isn’t scientific.

And that’s the second issue I take with Hunter. He fails to address Lents’ assumptions or metaphysical questions. What does Hunter think is the answer? Would God, or did God purposely design the human eye with deficiencies, or did he create man without defect?

According to the Bible, when God created the world, he called it “very good”. There was no death, disease or suffering. Adam and Eve would have been created with perfect human vision. It wasn’t until after they sinned that disease came into the world, and that includes poor eyesight. So, to answer Lents’ question, God did not create humans with glaring defects. Those defects were the result of sin, and that explains our vision problem. Evolution, however, cannot answer this without refuting or contradicting itself.


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