Human Beings Were Not Designed


Until the evolution of human consciousness and tool-making ability, the complex things created by the Processes of Continuing Creation were clearly not created “by design.”  No all-powerful Designer planned and executed the organization of the human body.  How do we know this?

  • First, bottom-up processes of evolution work just fine to create complexity.
  • Second, because the products of evolutionary creation are flawed.

Take the human body, for example. The three problems bullet-pointed below are from a longer list of things that are wrong (“sub-optimal”) in the human body, cited in the article “If Humans Were Built to Last,” by S. Jay Olshansky, Bruce A. Carnes and Robert N. Butler, Scientific American, 2003, updated from March 2001

“A number of the debilitating and even some of the fatal disorders of aging stem in part from bipedal locomotion and an upright posture — ironically, the same features that have enabled the human species to flourish.

  • “Every step we take places extraordinary pressure on our feet, ankles, knees and back— structures that support the weight of the whole body above them.
  • “Over the course of just a single day, disks in the lower back are subjected to pressures equivalent to several tons per square inch.
  • “Humans, like most mammals, use the same tube for eating that we use for breathing. This makes it relatively easy for humans to choke, and even die, on their own food.”

A Human designed by a loving God “would have additional ribs to hold organs in place better, thicker, stronger bones and thicker spinal discs, knees that bend backward, leg veins with more check valves, larger hamstrings and tendons, larger outer ears and more plentiful ear hairs, a urethra that runs along the outside of the prostate not through it, and a stronger sphincter valve on the bladder.” (Ibid. paraphrased)

To these “engineering defects,” we might add that we are vulnerable to diseases, including osteoarthritis, dementia, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease, just to name a few.  Some diseases are caused by the wear and tear of age, some by bacteria or viruses, and some by disabilities and pre-dispositions inherited at birth.  (For deeper, more spiritual discussion of Suffering, see two of our Essays, Suffering and Evil – Causes and Responses, and Dealing with Death on the Path of Creation.)

Our big brains require painful birth, smaller jaws, and early birth with long childhoods. Yet birds cram a lot more functionality into their tinier brains. Why wasn’t our species designed to do that?  If God wanted us to be less perfect than Himself, why couldn’t he choose human imperfections that are less comic and less painful?

Therefore, we can conclude that Humans were not directly designed by an anthropomorphic “God.” However, if “God,” (along with “Mother Nature” and “Gaia”) are simply names for the Processes of Continuing Creation (one of which is the Process of Evolution), then we can say that those Processes did create human beings, along with the 8.7 million other species now alive on Earth.