Hello!  In my biological anthropology classes at university, the argument of unintelligent design has cropped up a couple of times. In a lecture on primates, the example that came up was that our spine is designed to be horizontal so when primates moved to being bipedal due to erectness it led to many spinal problems. Another example came up in my anatomy class which was that our retina is inside out which forces a number of complex adaptations and gives us a blind spot. I have done a little bit of research on this argument and found many more cases which could be seen as ‘unintelligent design’.   I was wondering what your rebuttal to this argument would be? Thanks!


As a Christian and as a human being with just plain old common sense, I believe in Intelligent Design.  What I mean by this is that, both from the Bible and from a common-sense interpretation of reality, I believe that the universe we live in is wonderfully and amazingly designed so that we can be here.   I believe that the cosmos was designed beautifully in a way so that galaxies, stars and planets form naturally, and that, by the same natural processes, planets with the conditions for life form naturally.  If I had a few hours and many pages, I could go on and on with examples and evidence to support this view.  (plenty of this is in my book Is There a God, available at  I believe that life itself was designed and created by God, but I also believe that God created the physical conditions conducive to change of species through a natural process of evolution.   I do not believe that evolution has been a purely random process, but rather I believe that God has had his hand in the course of that evolution.   However, I definitely believe that evolution has happened, and that this is a natural process of change in species.   The evidence for this is very strong.  Common descent is virtually established by genetic evidence.

Evolution does do some pretty strange things because it is random in its effects.  The system by which evolution happens is the result of design.  Only a wonderfully and intelligently designed universe could have life in it and could have the natural laws which support organic evolution, but the process itself has random components.  Sometime evolution “solves” a problem in a way which is not ideal because evolution itself is not intelligent.  Evolution is, in a sense, blind.  Therefore as a believer in God who also is convinced that God created and uses the process of evolution, it is not surprising to me that there are some odd things out there as a result of the random or semi-random process of evolution.   Examples would include the supposedly “backward” retina and the “‘problems” with the anatomy of upright primates such as human beings.   We could throw the semi-useful appendix in there if we like.  If we take a non-defensive stance toward evolution as a natural process, then the existence of such “mistakes” (which are in fact not mistakes at all, but are the natural result of the process) is not a problem for the believer.  These anomalies are the result of the natural process created by God and they do not create a logical problem to the believer.

The dilemma which exists only comes up when Christians take a defensive posture toward the theory of evolution.  If we foolishly deny that evolution is a natural process and that it has occurred, then we will paint ourselves into a corner with regard to such things as the retina or the spine of human beings.   The problem is not with the science and it is not with the Bible.  The problem comes  from imposing an anti-evolution bias because of an unnecessary interpretation of the scripture to conclude, for some reason, that God could not use evolution to create the different forms of life.

To summarize, nature has a number of supposed “unintelligent” designs because the natural process by which species adapt to change has random components.  The system by which the change happens is designed, but the changes themselves are not designed, which explains the supposedly “unintelligent” elements of living things.   Something which was not designed, cannot be unintelligently designed.  The system was designed but the result has undesigned elements to it.

Does this answer your question?

John Oakes

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