Does our world seem so perfect to you that it had to be created? Was then there some all-powerful designer that created beauty intertwining with complexity, or are we simply ignoring all of the evidence that shows that the universe is certainly not adapted for us? Getting caught up in our sensory interpretations of elegance blinds us from the cold reality of a hostile existence (not intelligently designed or designed for us). When proponents of so-called “intelligent design” make this complexity and beauty argument, they are hopelessly shortsighted in their view of an anthropocentric universe. What we will look at below are facts about the universe, our planet, and about humans that make “intelligent design” or a universe crafted with humans in mind seem nonsensical.
The Universe Wants Us Dead
Starting on the largest scale possible, the universe is a dangerous place. One would think that if the entire universe was created for us, conditions would be more agreeable for humans. But when we have looked to the heavens, what we have found is uninviting. As we proceed, we will encounter this theme again and again: we are simply lucky to be here, considering all of the possible permutations of nature. This does not mean that we are special in the way that classical religion and spirituality seems to hold so dear, but special in the way that we are fortunate enough to take advantage of the cosmic royal flush that has been dealt to us (and most certainly other civilizations throughout the unimaginably large universe).
First of all, most planet orbits are unstable, eventually bringing the planet to their doom with some manner of cosmic collision. Our pale blue dot happens to be apart of the lucky few that are in stable orbits around their respective star. Speaking of stars, our Sun provides the energy that allows there to be so much life on Earth, but even this is cosmic luck. Less than 3% of a cosmic gas cloud actually makes a star, and this is horribly inefficient. Even a human engineer can build something with relatively greater efficiency; you would think that an all-powerful being would have implemented a perfect process for star formation, not wasting 97% of the available matter.
When we turn to the other planets in our solar system, attempting to judge the viability of future colonization, what we find is certainly not made for humans. All of the other planets in our solar system would kill life as we know it instantly. It would be irrevocably irradiated, horrendously heated, disappointingly dissolved, or fruitlessly frozen in all cases. Look at the absolute enormity of the universe and compare that with the habitable places that we know of, and you find about a 0% chance of living elsewhere.
Moving on, the orbit of our galaxy will, in a few million years, inevitably bring us near a supernova at some point, which will vaporize all organic matter on Earth. Not only this, but our Milky Way galaxy is on a collision course with the Andromeda galaxy, which will probably not turn out well for us if we have not mastered interstellar travel by then.
Another sign of the insignificance of human presence in the universe is our understanding of the current model for the growth of the universe. Nanoseconds after the big bang, the universe expanded outward at faster than the speed of light, and we find ourselves still apart of this rapid expansion. However, because the universe is constantly expanding, the average temperature of the universe is decreasing. This “heat death” of the universe is thought to occur when the expansion of the universe will cause the temperature of the universe to asymptotically approach absolute zero (spoiler alert: that will kill everything).
Does this seem like a universe made for us? It certainly does not sound like Eden to me.
Earth Has Life, Not the Other Way Around
If we are still looking for signs of “intelligent design”, it may seem like the rest of the universe has slim pickings. But what about the Earth itself, isn’t that evidence enough of the special attention that humans have received? Well then let’s take a look at this supposed attention. Natural disasters surely do not play nice with humanity. Earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, lightning strikes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and mudslides level cities and villages, destroy livelihoods, ruin lives, and kill loved ones, so I do not see any preferential treatment for humans there. Do not forget that in the last 10 years tsunamis alone have killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Aside from the indiscriminate wrath of mother nature, how pleasant is the Earth really? Sure we live on its surface, but is it the perfect place for life, created for us by a benevolent father figure? I do not see how that could be the case. 2/3 of the Earth’s surface is uninhabitable , and only another half of that is habitable because of lack of natural resources and climate, which leaves us only with 1/6 of Earth as available to us. That creator sure is stingy with his allotment of paradise to his most prized creation! And how has life before humans fared? Life has had to contend with numerous mass extinctions, pandemic disease, un-adaptable climate shifts, and killer asteroid impacts. Where is the love for humanity there? We cannot allow out shortsighted view of Earth history to speak of our favorable conditions. Our time on Earth is insignificant on the geologic timescale, and many of these humanity-erasers are not considered because our minds think in terms of 80-90 years (human lifetimes), while the Earth’s operates in billions of years.
To further the view of a hostile Earth, consider that 99% of all life on Earth to ever live is now extinct, and the Earth was around for 3.5 billion years before multi-cellular life could eventually lead to us. That is not model perfection or efficiency to be sure. So far in our discussion I have, and hopefully you have, seen no sign of a benevolent anything, let alone a bearded white guy sitting on a cloud and reading your thoughts.
Our Bodies Are Against Us
OK, so we have not found any sign of human intention in the universe at large or on the Earth. The last possible refuge for “intelligent design” would then be to find some sort of perfection in humanity itself. But what we will find is that this is far from correct. Consider why most humans do not die of old age:
Leading causes of death in the United States (CDC)
1. Diseases of heart (heart disease)
2. Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
3. Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke)
4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases
5. Accidents (unintentional injuries)
6. Alzheimer’s disease
7. Diabetes mellitus (diabetes)
8. Influenza and pneumonia
9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (kidney disease)
11. Intentional self-harm (suicide)
12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
13. Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease (hypertension)
14. Parkinson’s disease
15. Assault (homicide)
A perfect machine, allegedly “intelligently designed,” would not have this many life-shortening problems would it? Would a benevolent designer allow for our children to get aggressive childhood leukemia? I challenge you to find a plan in that.
Moving on with more examples of stupid design, we are comatose for practically 1/3 of our lives. We sleep much of our lives away, and though it plays an absolutely vital role in our physiology and neurology, if we are looking for perfect design and efficiency, sleep then seems like an extraneous waste of time. As we get older, we lose our senses, abilities, and talents that are supposedly god-given. Would a benevolent designer take away that which we have built our lives around? Physiologically speaking, we exhale most of the oxygen we breathe, and as warm-blooded animals we have to eat constantly (crocodiles eat a meal a month and are amazingly efficient). Not to mention that we are blind to most of the electromagnetic spectrum, and we cannot sense harmful unseens like magnetic fields and ionizing radiation.
More problems abound: We cannot smell or taste high levels of toxic gases like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and methane, all naturally occurring and present to us every day, and surprisingly deadly in the right concentrations. Why would an intelligent design leave out detection of things that can kill us? Going further, there are 150,000 birth defects a year in the USA. Babies are born with hearts outside their bodies, a lack of or too many limbs, and every other thing that you can think of that would either kill the child or ruin their life. Would a “perfect” blueprint for such a “intelligent” design be so commonly flawed? Humans eat, drink, and breath through same hole, guaranteeing that a percentage of us will choke to death each year. Dolphins have separate holes, and are also mammals, so a design that is more applicable to us shouldn’t be too hard for the master of the universe. Finally, concerning human genitalia, no engineer would ever do what all humans have to deal with. What kind of designer would put the sewage district so close to prime recreational area?
If Not Designed, Then What?
So, we have not found any indications of perfection in humans, Earth, or the universe. But that obviously does not diminish human life. Just because we were not designed, and nothing was designed for us, does not mean that humans are not special or lucky. We are lucky to be here, lucky to have cognition, lucky to be able to consider the universe and our place in it. What this does mean, is that we must leave behind our illusions of grandeur and our anthropocentric view of existence. We are all apart of nature, not separate from the rest of life, no more deserving of this planet than the clam, whale, tiger, spider, fungi, or rose, and all molded by the invisible and indifferent hand of evolution and cosmic variance.
You are free to make your own purpose in life, and to enjoy your short time in the sun for all of those who were not lucky enough to have ever been born. This view of life is invigorating and awe-inspiring and incredible. You have just one life to explore the mysteries of a universe that does not care how you live your life, it can be anyway you want, so go live it.