The Gods Were Incompetent

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ronald bertram's picture
The Gods Were Incompetent

As magnificent as humans say the Universe is, there are flaws. I thought about this when I recently read a publication on research into "Junk DNA". Only about 2 % of the DNA in our genome codes for proteins.

I would like to start a thread and invite other participants to simply provide one clear example in the realm of science, it doesn't have to be biology, which raises doubt as to why a "creator" would have made these mistakes. I will start.


The appendix (although it might be a Reservoir for useful flora and fauna).
The coccyx bones. Vestiges of out tail.
Nipples on a male (you heard the clique- worthless as teats on a boar hog).
There are others.

It just doesn't make sense that an omniscient creator would be incompetent.


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David Killens's picture
Why locate the amusement park

Why locate the amusement park right next to waste disposal?

Running both breathing and eating down the same conduit. There have been people who have choked to death on their food.

LogicFTW's picture
I been curious on this one,

I been curious on this one, if we did not have a shared food/air passage, would we be capable of talking/singing/etc? Perhaps someone that has done the research chime in?

David Killens's picture
Good point. I guess farting

Good point. I guess farting is not considered an effective method of communication.

NewSkeptic's picture
Imagine if talking the way we

Imagine if talking the way we do wasn't possible and verbal communication was only done by farting. The world would be an entirely different place. For further study on this, Google Mr. Methane, in particular the video from "France Has Talent".

ronald bertram's picture


Yes. As long as the larynx is integrated into the trachea , an organism can produce sound.

The esophagus and trachea could be engineered as separate orifices/tubes but it would require other modifications. On first consideration, it works fine now. Remember, our only purpose is propagation of the species. WE are doing a hell of a good job.

LogicFTW's picture
@Bright Raven

@Bright Raven

Yes. As long as the larynx is integrated into the trachea , an organism can produce sound.

Agreed, but could they actually speak and communicate at a high level? I know folks that lose their tongue struggle to talk normally with the full range.
I also wonder, it may be an evolutionary advantage rather disadvantage sharing those passages means if the nose gets clogged (or the mouth) one can still breath. It is only in the crucial area in the neck that gets clogged would someone suffocate. Anyone that has had a bad runny/stuffy nose can attest to the difficulty of breathing only through their nose at time. Additionally the mouth allows for greater capacity of breathing as needed.

I think a case could be made that a shared pathway is an evolutionary advantage, not a disadvantage overall. Luckily their is 1000+ other much better examples of "flaws" within the supposed "design" of the human body.

Remember, our only purpose is propagation of the species. WE are doing a hell of a good job.

Perhaps a little TOO good of a job ;)

ronald bertram's picture


It would be difficult without the tongue to articulate the sound. And I agree, IMO, the anatomical design in which the trachea and esophagus share a common cavity, the pharynx, has served vertebrates well. Goes back to selective pressure, if form and function had not been adequate to propagate the species, it would have disappeared.

algebe's picture
@David Killens: choked to

@David Killens: choked to death on their food.

As Bill Murray observed in "Groundhog Day", you're supposed to chew the cow before you swallow it.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Giving human being a number

Giving human being a number of digits which is not a power of 2.

algebe's picture
@Nyarlathotep: Giving human

@Nyarlathotep: Giving human being a number of digits which is not a power of 2.

We have 12 finger joints, which we can count off using the thumb as a pointer. If you use one hand for counting units and the other for completed dozens, you can count up to 144 (a gross) on your hands. Base 10 is for dummies.

Twelve is also superior to 10 for packaging. You can split it into 6x2 and 3x4.

Naturally, I don't attribute any of these advantages to a god.

NewSkeptic's picture
Damn, DK got mine. Ok, I'll

Damn, DK got mine. Ok, I'll go with the left recurrent laryngeal nerve in a giraffe, borrowed from

"the poor left recurrent laryngeal nerve was forced to perform a ridiculous detour during embryonic development: emerging from the brain, going southward so as to loop just below the ever-retreating aortic arch, then literally heading upward again, along the trachea to reach the larynx. In the case of modern giraffes, this absurd arrangement now necessitates a nerve that's about 15 feet long (7.5 feet down and then back up), whereas if it had simply been routed directly, its entire length would have been perhaps six inches"

toto974's picture


Thanks for the Link:

Evolution, however, stubbornly and stupidly insisted on threading its way through the ridiculously narrow pelvic ring, altogether neglecting the simple, straigh-forward solution, which would have been for the vagina to open pretty much anywhere else in the lower abdomen. Why? Because evolution isn’t an observing, creating, all-knowing engineer and designer.

I love how it is phrased.

Sheldon's picture
Breathing through the same

Breathing through the same orifice you eat and drink with. How many children choke to death every year?

Edit. My apologies for not noticing David got there first...that'll teach me to read the thread first...

David Killens's picture
Heck, I consider it a

Heck, I consider it a compliment if I get close to your thinking process Sheldon.

NewSkeptic's picture


Thanks for reading DK's post.

ronald bertram's picture
Dew claws. Why in the world

Dewclaws. Why in the world would you make a dog with remnants of its ancestral foot anatomy that has zero function? In fact, dewclaws in all mammals cause problems. Some Veterinarians remove dewclaws on dogs to avoid the problems. This one doesn't pass the laugh test. See the image below.

BTW. I got one in mind but I will hold off to see if anyone uses it. ;)


Attach Image/Video?: 

ronald bertram's picture
You have to give the Vatican

You have to give the Vatican credit. They accept evolution. I cannot imagine going through a class in Comparative Anatomy and not being absolutely convinced that all the life on the planet is the result of evolution. Classic example is the ancestral vertebrate appendage. You can derive every existing appendage in the Vertebrate kingdom using one basic plan.

RVBlake's picture
The Vatican had to accept it.

The Vatican had to accept it...They had no choice. Just as they were unable to vanquish all of the pagan deities in northern Europe, so they adopted some of them into the Catholic pantheon of saints. Ceding a bit of ground to their opponents rather than jeopardize the whole structure.

Calilasseia's picture
If we're busy destroying the

If we're busy destroying the fatuous "design" assertion peddled by the usual suspects, a favourite example of mine centres upon Carabid beetles. Some species of which possess what would be fully functional wings under their elytra, morphologically identical to the wings of Carabids that are known to fly, but which are rendered useless because the elytra are fused shut.

Now a development of this sort makes eminent sense from the standpoint of evolution, but is utterly asinine as a product of "design", unless the "designer" had a view of basic biology inferior to that of a two year old child ..

ronald bertram's picture


Thanks for that example. Good one.

Calilasseia's picture
Oh, and one of the hilarious

Oh, and one of the hilarious aspects of the whole attempt by the usual suspects to try and discredit evolution, centres upon the fact that biologists working before Darwin was even born were operating on the implicit basis of the relatedness of living organisms, courtesy of the taxonomy of Linnaeus, which has this concept built into it from the start.

Indeed, Linnaeus himself provides a useful example of the manner in which biologists operated at the time, relying upon comparative anatomy to classify living organisms. Linnaeus himself expended much effort adding to the rigour of comparative anatomy, precisely because it constituted an essential part of his taxonomic work, and a letter he wrote to fellow taxonomist Johann Georg Gmelin in 1747 is highly illuminating.

The letter in question can be read in full here:

Here's the original Latin passage:

Non placet, quod Hominem inter ant[h]ropomorpha collocaverim, sed homo noscit se ipsum. Removeamus vocabula. Mihi perinde erit, quo nomine utamur. Sed quaero a Te et Toto orbe differentiam genericam inter hominem et Simiam, quae ex principiis Historiae naturalis. Ego certissime nullam novi. Utinam aliquis mihi unicam diceret! Si vocassem hominem simiam vel vice versa omnes in me conjecissem theologos. Debuissem forte ex lege artis.

The English translation reads as follows:

It does not please (you) that I've placed Man among the Anthropomorpha,[22] but man learns to know himself. Let's not quibble over words. It will be the same to me whatever name we apply. But I seek from you and from the whole world a generic difference between man and simian that [follows] from the principles of Natural History. I absolutely know of none. If only someone might tell me a single one! If I would have called man a simian or vice versa, I would have brought together all the theologians against me. Perhaps I ought to have by virtue of the law of the discipline.

Linnaeus wrote this letter way back in February 1747, fully sixty two years before Darwin was born. Linnaeus, despite being a de facto creationist (but only because science had yet to develop a competing explanation), regarded humans and chimpanzees to be sufficiently closely related to each other, on the basis of comparative anatomy alone, to warrant placing them in the same taxonomic Genus. The only reason he didn't, was religious interference in his scientific work.

Now of course, Linnaeus was primarily interested in the taxonomic enterprise, and because his interest was thus directed, he regarded the relatedness of living organisms as a useful brute fact, that could be pressed into service to produce a systematic catalogue of the biosphere, and did not take the matter further. Linnaeus did not bother to ask if there were reasons for the relatedness of living organisms he treated as a useful brute fact, even though he incorporated that relatedness of living organisms wholesale into his taxonomic system, to the point of making that taxonomic system an explicit representation of the 'tree of life'. Being the "Father of Taxonomy" was, it would seem, sufficient achievement for him, and a significant achievement it was, not least because it set the stage for what was to follow.

What is deliciously and ironically amusing about this, of course, is that if Linnaeus had turned his attention to seeking reasons for organismal relatedness, and alighted upon even basic evolutionary postulates decades before Darwin, modern day creationists would be peddling their usual tiresome projectionist lies about "worshipping" an "authority figure" they keep aiming at us, only they would be mentioning Linnaeus instead of Darwin. Which points to the wholesale failure of understanding (much of it wilful, incidentally) that is endemic to modern American corporate creationism and its fatuous apologetic fabrications - a topic deserving its own illuminative monograph, let alone its own thread here.

But, subversively, Linnaeus set the scene for Darwin's later discoveries, whilst being ostensibly a 'creationist', and by setting that scene with his taxonomic work, ensured that even later creationists such as Richard Owen, would end up making discoveries in the field of comparative anatomy that spelled doom for creationist assertions. Once evolutionary biology lifted off properly from the launch pad, so to speak, the reduction of creationism to a brand of fringe lunacy was already underway, and discoveries in palaeontology and genetics have only reinforced creationism's fate in this regard.

The desperation of the more gullible and less educated mythology fanboys, to keep the assertions of their mythology alive, has succeeded solely in giving birth to a corporate industry, run by charlatans and snake oil salesmen, and devoted to the peddling of manifest lies. Indeed, the duplicity exhibited in the requisite quarters, would surely have appalled and disgusted those men in the past, such as Richard Owen, who, mistakenly or otherwise, regarded themselves as pursuers of truth in an era when the data was woefully incomplete. Owen and his contemporaries had, at least, the excuse of data deficiency to fall back upon, and the more astute members of that assemblage were recognising the likely trajectory of the future history of science, even before the data confirmed that trajectory.

Indeed, Linnaeus himself, the offspring of a family of Swedish pastors, and well versed courtesy of that background with the state of art of theology of the era, would also reject the mendacity endemic to modern fringe creationism and its corporate shills. He would doubtless regard the likes of Ham and Hovind as snake oil salesmen, as do many here who paid attention in class. The manner in which a pastor's son launched biology onto a path that would destroy mythological assertions wholesale, whist almost certainly having no such intention in mind whilst doing so, is a particularly delicious irony I savour with gusto.

ronald bertram's picture


Taxonomy seems to be fading slowly away. At least, in the United States. Much like other disciplines in the biological sciences that were once mainstream. Lots of drug money driving research in the States. And they are not interested in evolution, phylogeny or taxonomy. The emphasis is at the molecular level.

Sad to me. I was a big fan of the classical disciplines.

David Killens's picture
@ Calilasseia

@ Calilasseia

We can also derive ironic orgasm when we recall that a pious roman catholic (Galileo) and a good friend of the pope overturned the church's position that the earth was the center of the universe.

Thus the study of the heavens was split into two distinct disciplines. One was astronomy, the other astrology. One is based on observation and facts, the other woo woo. FYI astrology still considers this earth as the center of everything.

boomer47's picture
I think incompetency was but

I think incompetency was but one of the many flaws of any alleged creator. I'm also fond of malice and stupidity. Not to mention every single nasty trait found in people, except magnified. YHWH of the Torah makes Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot look like a bunch of scamps.

I'm not entirely convinced that all supposed vestigial organs are necessarily good examples.

EG: as far as I know, the function of the appendix is not known. Tonsils/adenoid actually have a purpose.

A simple fact which gives so much credence to evolution is that nature/ evolution is a lousy engineer. ' Good enough' is good enough. A thing need only work , no need to be elegant.


"Normally, the appendix sits in the lower right abdomen. The function of the appendix is unknown. One theory is that the appendix acts as a storehouse for good bacteria, “rebooting” the digestive system after diarrheal illnesses. Other experts believe the appendix is just a useless remnant from our evolutionary past"

"The main function of tonsils is to trap germs (bacteria and viruses) which you may breathe in. Proteins called antibodies produced by the immune cells in the tonsils help to kill germs and help to prevent throat and lung infections."

Calilasseia's picture
And when tonsils go bad, as

And when tonsils go bad, as mine did for 7 years, they end up needing surgical removal.

Which is a serious ordeal if you're an adult having them removed. I had mine done at 38, and it took 3 weeks for my ability to eat and drink to return to normal.

However, the good news is that I've had a total of three instances of sore throat in the 20 years since the operation was performed. So the three weeks of post operative fallout were worth it in the long term.

But, if you're facing this in the near future, take the following tips from me, in order to make your post operative life a LOT easier:

[1] Stock up on LOTS of ice cubes in your freezer before the date of the operation. You will be using these a LOT to numb your throat and enable your to eat.

[2] If you can secure the requisite prescription, Diclofenac is a life saver with respect to managing the post-operative throat pain. At least it was in my case. If it's not contraindicated in your case for some reason, avail yourself of this. You will thank me hugely for pointing you at this painkiller.

[3] Avoid ALL spicy foods for a month. I made the mistake of eating a pepperoni pizza slice 4 days post-op, and instantly regretted it. Anything with peppers or chillies will make you feel as if you've ingested molten lava during the recovery period. Likewise, certain other strongly flavoured foods, even if they're not outright irritants as chillies are, should be avoided if you don't want the lava sensation. I found chocolate was a no-no for three weeks in my case.

[4] If you're tempted to head down the ice cream route, avoid ANY ice cream other than bog standard vanilla. Ice cream with fruits in such as strawberry or raspberry, will again make you regret your choice, as will any with mint, chocolate or nuts.

[5] Once you've reached the point where you can eat normally again without the lava sensation, my advice is to celebrate with chocolate ice cream and a honking big chocolate gateau, the more decadent the better. You will have EARNED this after 4 weeks of purgatory post tonsil op.

algebe's picture
I'm fascinated by the

I'm fascinated by the Valsalva maneuver. You can do it by holding your nose and building pressure in your mouth to clear your ears, or by creating pressure against a closed glottis to power the defecation process.

As a side-effect, the Valsalva maneuver causes your blood pressure to rise. So a mechanism in your throat is used to push shit out of the other end, sometimes causing your brain or heart to explode. I think god designed it that way because he wanted to get Elvis into heaven sooner through immaculate constipation.

Grinseed's picture
I was going to suggest

I was going to suggest vestigal tails but I came across this instead.

Spina bifida

A birth defect resulting from the failure of the spine and membranes to form around the spinal chord during the early foetal development.

Four gradations of the condition.
Spina bifida occultus which is recorded as affecting 15% of any population and have very little detrimental physical effects and is usually discovered during incidental examinations for other issues.

Meningocele which has several forms of its own but is the rarest form with little health issues involved.

Myelomeningocele which results in a sac forming outside the body at the point where the spine has failed to form. The sac contains amongst other things parts of the spinal chord and the membranes that protect it - the meninges -, cerebrospinal fluid and nerve roots. The condition contributes to severe physical handicaps, specific infection risks and shortened life span.

Myelocele is a severe form of Myelomeningocele. The same spinal elements are pushed outside the body cavity but there is no protecting membrane or sac. There is an extreme risk of menigitis, nerve damage to the point of paralysis and other serious developments.

I know this is not a matter about vestigal organs but its a more serious matter of the so called divine loving design.

I have read apologists suggesting vestigal organs are signs of god's love in providing past biological necessities for our development as the superior species.
In the case of spina bifida (and all other pestilences), if a god was responsible it would be proof of more than just mere incompetence, it would be evidence of sadistic malevolence on a cosmic scale.

Apologies for the depressing information. I'm going for a walk to remind myself of the better things in nature.

Nyarlathotep's picture
I knew someone with spina

I knew someone with spina bifida; not sure which version. The doctors said they wouldn't make it to 30, and the doctors were right.

CyberLN's picture
As someone who has given

As someone who has given birth, I nominate the narrow pelvis as a terrible “design” feature.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
The whole internal gestation

The whole internal gestation is terribly flawed.
When partner is pregnant a back back should form on the Males back so that the female can transfer the embryo to it after the first trimester.
Then at time the backpack rifts and the young is transferred back to the female for nurture and education allowing the male to continue playing football, hunting, drinking beer.
That is a sensible arrangement. Also males should be denied the vote.


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