by Glenn Morton 2019
(Note: All my future posts will have the June date so as to keep my posts below on the first page and available to casual visitors)
Neil deGrasse Tyson had a Stupid Design argument and listed 3 items that he feels prove that if we were 'designed', then it was done stupidly. He isn't the only atheist who has stated this silly argument. Now, I want it clear, that I do not believe the young-earth views that man was created ex nihilo 6000 years ago, but believe that humans evolved in ways delimited by God. But my views don't mean I think Tyson's argument are sound. Indeed they display an utter ignorance of biology, presented by Tyson with the greatest of arrogance that he knows what he is talking about. But it isn't just Tyson, it is lots of atheists who arrogantly repeat these arguments and then ridicule the ignorant Christians while they themselves are presenting arguments that display their own ignorance of science. The arguments below are not sound and display a huge hole in their knowledge base. Tyson's first argument is against the appendix. He may be a fine astronomer, but he is a very uninformed source for biological knowledge:
First Stupid Design
"So let’s start a movement called Stupid Design, and we’ll see where that takes us. For example, what’s going on with your appendix? It’s much better at killing you than it is at anything else. That’s definitely a stupid design…"1
As far back as 1954, Digby and Enticknap2 proved that bacteria inserted into the rabbit appendix caused the rabbit to become immune to those bacteria. This knowledge was out there long before Tyson and other atheists decided to target this as an evidence of bad design. But this isn't all.
Twenty years ago, again prior to Tyson's use of this argument, there was a growing consensus that the human appendix, far from being useless is a major part of the immune system, but to tell the rest of the story, it works mostly for poor people living in the third world where diarrheic diseases kill people.
"The emerging consensus is that the appendix serves as part of the immune system. As Moore explains, “In infants and children it has the appearance of a well-developed lymphoid organ and may have important immunological functions”. This hypothesis stems from the fact that the appendix contains a high concentration of lymphoid tissue. In addition, its position near the entrance of the large intestine affords the appendix early access to antigens entering the cecum."3
By 2007 new information came to light showing how essential the appendix is in unsanitary conditions, which are experienced by most of humanity over the millennia.
"The function of the human appendix has long been a matter of debate, with the structure often considered to be a vestige of evolutionary development despite evidence to the contrary based on comparative primate anatomy. The appendix is thought to have some immune function based on its association with substantial lymphatic tissue, although the specific nature of that putative function is unknown. Based (a) on a recently acquired understanding of immune-mediated biofilm formation by commensal bacteria in the mammalian gut, (b) on biofilm distribution in the large bowel, (c) the association of lymphoid tissue with the appendix, (d) the potential for biofilms to protect and support colonization by commensal bacteria, and (e) on the architecture of the human bowel, we propose that the human appendix is well suited as a “safe house” for commensal bacteria, providing support for bacterial growth and potentially facilitating re-inoculation of the colon in the event that the contents of the intestinal tract are purged following exposure to a pathogen."4
In other words, after diarrhea purges and cleanses the intestine, good (commensal) bacteria recolonize the intestines, helping to prevent harmful bacteria from taking over.
" This bacterial safehouse, which is likely important in the event of diarrheal illness, is presumably of minimal importance to humans living with abundant nutritional resources, modern medicine and modern hygiene practices that include clean drinking water. Consistent with this idea, epidemiologic studies demonstrate that diarrheal illness is indeed a major source of selection pressure in developing countries but not in developed countries, whereas appendicitis shows the opposite trend, being associated with modern hygiene and medicine. The cecal appendix may thus be viewed as a part of the immune system that, like those immune compartments that cause allergy, is vital to life in a ‘‘natural’’ environment, but which is poorly suited to post-industrialized societies."5
So, yes, Tyson's and my appendix's are useless because we are living in a very clean western society They are only useful when the clean out procedure for a colonoscopy empties the large intestines. Then the bacteria in the appendix repopulate our intestines. Our fellows who live in third world conditions never get colonoscopies, but need their appendix's quite often after a diarrheic disease attacks them.
Second Stupid Design
Tyson's second example of stupid design is our ability to choke.
"or the fact that you breathe and drink through the same hole in your body, causing some fraction of us to choke to death every year?"1
Tyson fails to understand that this feature is essential for speech AND fine motor control, so necessary for our technological development. Both of these make humans extremely unique.
“But the larynx of the human being has been repositioned half-way down the throat, as is conspicuous in the adult male as the Adam’s apple. So human beings cannot breathe and drink at the same time. Any attempt to pull such a stunt results in choking. That seems like an enormous disadvantage—except that the descent of the larynx leaves an enormous space above it, at the back of the nose and top of the throat. The space acts as a sound chamber, like the ceiling of a concert hall. It gives our voices a resonance that other species do not have—or at least, if they do, then they must have resorted to other extraordinary means to achieve it, such as the throat-pouches of the orang-utan or the ability of tongue and lips, gives us a verbal dexterity that is indeed comparable with and as wonderful as our manual dexterity, and it is again uniquely human.”6
"Human babies are born with the standard ape vocal plan and it is only after they are six months old that the voice box retraces its evolutionary history and descends deep down into the throat. the reason for this is that the ape's vocal plan allows apes--and young babies--to breathe and swallow at the same time because the hole connecting the windpipe and throat at the back of the mouth can be blocked off so that the ape can breathe through its nose while drinking or eating."7We humans have been called "Man the Toolmaker," by anthropologist Kenneth Oakley and that tool-making ability, believe it or not depends upon the location of our larnyx.
"The larynx can thus serve to hold the air in the lungs and to control its release. This was originally important in actions of the arms requiring strength and steadiness. Diamond notes that workmen who have lost their larynxes are often unable to continue manual work, and that difficult actions that require precise movement are usually performed with the breath held and the lips closed. After performing such actions, especially those involving considerable expenditure of effort, the air is suddenly released, producing an audible grunt."8
What about the choking? It is interesting that the atheist, who thinks this world is all there is, answers this question from their own philosophical viewpoint, never thinking that maybe they are wrong. As a Christian, dying isn't the worst thing that can happen to us. But here is the direct answer to his complaint: Every organ we possess has a chance of failure and thus of killing us! Somehow atheists like Tyson seem to think that not having speech is superior to a very small chance of choking. While it is sad when anyone dies, and the hole left behind in the family, Tyson's complaint seems overwrought. According to the National Safety Council:
"Of the 5,051 people who died from choking in 2015, 2,848 were older than 74" 9The biggest problem comes late in life when other health problems like difficulty swallowing arise. This is 1.5 people per 100,000 and if you only include the young and healthy, it is a 1 in a million shot of dying from choking. To put this in comparison, 110 people per million die in auto crashes. You have a 110 fold higher chance of dying from driving than from choking. Further we all need to worry more about our hearts than chocking. Two people out of a thousand die of a heart attack each year. They constitute 1/4th of all deaths each year.
Do atheists think that anything in this world can be evolved or designed which will last forever? Only believing that can one say the above is a stupid design. The benefits of both speech and fine motor control to our lives far outweighs the danger.
Third Stupid Design
"And here’s my last one. Ready? Down there between our legs, it’s like an entertainment complex in the middle of a sewage system. Who designed that?" 1Again, I note that Tyson is a very good astronomer and show host, but his is an abysmal biologist. What Tyson and others who use this argument don't know is that the world is a dangerous place with lots of bad bacteria out there just waiting to infect the child. The child's gut begins with no or few bacteria and by getting bacteria from mom, the baby is getting a tried and true, non-harmful set of bacteria. The Journal of Nutrition said:
"At birth the fetus is sterile, and the first encounter with the microbial world begins during delivery. In adulthood a number of barriers exert a potent selective action on bacteria arriving from the mouth, but in the very first stage of life these barriers are at a very low level and temporarily allow penetration into the gut of bacteria that are not really believed to be gut related.
"Moreover, type of delivery (natural vs. cesarean) and feeding (breast vs. bottle feeding) play dramatic roles in determining the microflora composition. The relation between microflora composition and type of feeding offers an opportunity to develop a nutritional strategy to favor the most efficient microflora in terms of health protection.
"During birth, bacterial colonization of a previously germ-free gut begins. Type of delivery is crucial in selecting the first colonizers. Naturally delivered babies experienced a period of 2–3 d in which, as a consequence of the low selective potential of their stomach and small bowel, bacteria invading and reproducing within the gut belong to aerobic species such as Enterobacteriaceae, streptococci, and staphylococci. These bacteria, arriving from the external environment, belong to species with a pathogenic potential, and therefore, it might seem that they would not be the best choice for the health of neonates. However, the metabolisms of these bacteria are believed to be positive factors in preparing the path to a beneficial enteric flora" 10
Another Stupid Atheist ArgumentA site saying it is listing the 40 best arguments for atheism has this as one of them:
"God cannot be proven by science which is the main way we study and understand our universe or natural world. There is no theory of God"
-There is no conclusive logical argument for the existence of God. His/her existence is continuously debated."11
This is so ridiculous and illogical as to be risable. Science works only with material objects and by definition of almost all religions, God is immaterial. This guy is an atheist, meaning he denies immaterial things exist. But he is saying, in effect that the scientific method should tell us about immaterial objects, like God. Clearly this person doesn't understand how science works. Methodological naturalism is the idea that science can only work on material objects:
" Methodological naturalism does exclude the supernatural as an explanatory principle because it is unknowable by means of scientific inquiry,..."12
Well, that means we can't use science to study God or prove his existence.. Given that the writer who said there is no Theory of God is an atheist, and thus, he must deny that God exists. Time magazine of all places has an interesting answer to his point,
"With respect for metaphysics comes respect for an idea central to many religions: the unknowable. Agnosticism - reserving judgment about divine purpose - remains as defensible as ever, but atheism - the confident denial of divine purpose - becomes trickier. If you admit that we can't peer behind the curtain, how can you be sure there's nothing there? "13
So how this guy believes that a materialistic process, science, is going to describe the immaterial is something everyone must wonder about. Does this atheist think all religious people believe in a physical god, who is subject to the laws of nature, subject to scientific enquiry, when the said god is usually described as having created the laws of nature? Is God a quark so we can have a theory of quarks that explain God? This is truly a stupid argument.References1. Neil deGrasse Tyson, https://openlysecular.org/freethinker/neiltyson/
2 K. H. Digby and J. B. Enticknap, " The Immunising Function of the Rabbit Vermiform Appendix," British journal of experimental pathology, 1954, p. 294-298 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2073633/
3. Rebecca E. Fischer, "The Primate Appendix: A Reassessment," THE ANATOMICAL RECOR D (NEW ANAT.) 261:228–236, 2000, p. 228 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/1097-0185%2820001215%29261%3A6%3C228%3A%3AAID-AR1005%3E3.0.CO%3B2-O
4.R. Randal Bollinger, "Biofilms in the large bowel suggest an apparent function of the human vermiform appendix," Journal of Theoretical Biology, 249:9(2007), p. 826
5. Michel Laurin et al., , Anatomical Record, 294(2011), p. 567
6. Colin Tudge, The Day Before Yesterday, (London: Pimlico, 1995), p. 257
7.John McCrone, The Ape That Spoke, New York: Wm Morrow, 1991), p.160
8. Michael C. Corballis, The Lopsided Ape, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 155
9" Choking Prevention and Rescue Tip," https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/choking-suffocation
10.Lorenzo Morelli, "Postnatal Development of Intestinal Microflora as Influenced by Infant Nutrition," The Journal of Nutrition, Sept 1, 2008, p 1791S
13. Science God and Man" Time Dec. 28, 1992 vol 140 #26. p 44