Sunday, 14 April 2013

How The Intelligent Designer Works

Lancet fluke (Dicrocoelium dendriticum)
If you're a Creationists you'll know already that the Intelligent Designer created the entire Universe and everything in it just for us, and especially for you.

If you're a Christian you'll know it did it exactly as the Christian Bible says the Christian god did. You'll also know that you must never say that the Intelligent Designer is the Christian god because that would make it harder to get fundamentalist Christianity taught in American public schools, and schools in other secular countries, as though it is a real science, and not a religion, which would be illegal. You'll already understand though that the Intelligent Designer is completely indistinguishable from the 'one true' god in the Christian Bible, so it must be all the omnis, including omni-benevolent, and never does anything which isn't done because it loves you... and everyone else, obviously.

If you're a Muslim you'll know the Intelligent Designer is call Allah and created everything exactly the way Muhammad said it did in the Qur'an especially for humans and in particular for you personally, because it wants you to love and worship it.

So this is a heart-warming story of how the one true Intelligent Designer designed a little creature which those mad atheistic scientists call Dicrocoelium dendriticum or the lancet fluke because it is shaped a bit like a medical lancet which used to be used for cutting into veins to let some unwanted blood out.

Dicrocoelium dendriticum is a member of a group of flatworms called trematodes. Scientists call flatworms Platyhelminths, which means - you've guessed it - flat worms. Why do they bother making up all these big words, eh?

The Intelligent Designer designed this particular flatworm, like a lot of other flatworms, which of course it also designed, to live inside the bodies of other animals as parasites. Parasites don't need to bother with looking for food, avoiding predators and things like that because the animals they live in do that for them. Isn't that a brilliant idea, if you're a flatworm?

The Intelligent Designer designed this particular parasite to live in the biliary ducts of animals like sheep and cows and sometimes even humans. The biliary ducts are the tubes which take bile from the liver to the intestines where it is used to help with digestion of fats.

But that idea gave the Intelligent Designer a problem because, when the flatworms want to breed, they lay eggs which end up in the gut of their host and eventually outside the hosts body altogether, along with other waste. But they need to be back inside the host, which is where they were designed to live. How to get them there?

This is where the Intelligent Designer came up with a typically brilliant idea. It got snails to eat the faeces of the animals, together with the parasite's eggs, which hatch out inside the snail. But then it realised that the host animals like sheep and cows don't eat snails, so it had another brilliant idea. It came up with a design to get them back out of the snails again. It made it so the snails don't like the baby flatworms inside their bodies so they surround them with a hard case and get rid of them as cysts containing several baby flatworms in the slime they use to make their slime trails.

But then the Intelligent Designer realised its plan had hit another snag, apart from the baby parasites being still outside their hosts: cows and sheep don't normally eat snail slime, just like they don't normally eat snails and if they waited till the slime had dried up the baby flatworms would dry up to and die.

Here is where brilliant idea number three comes in. The Intelligent Designer noticed that ants eat snail slime because they want the moisture in it, so he made it so they also eat the cysts the snails excrete with the baby flatworms in them.

But there was another problem! Cows and sheep don't eat ants either! So it was still stuck for a way to get the baby flatworms into the sheep and cows. It now had them inside ants instead, having tried with getting them into snails and having to think up a way to get them out again.

Now came the most brilliant trick of all. It had to think of a way to get the ants eaten by cows and sheep and what do cows and sheep eat a lot of? Grass of course. But there was never going to be a way to get grass to eat baby worms.

Here is where the Intelligent Designer pulled out all the stops and really got creative. It noticed that every cyst contained lots of baby flatworms so it made one of them go to the ant's nerve centre and take control of it so it behaves in a very odd way for an ant. Normally, when it gets dark and cold, ants go back into the ant nest for the night and come back out when the sun rises. Ants who have been taken over by baby lancet flukes don't go back to the nest. Instead, they climb up a blade of grass, grip the stem tightly with their jaws so they won't be knocked off, and wait for a passing cow or sheep to eat the blade of grass, and them with it.

Voilá! The baby flatworms are back where they started - inside the cows and sheep, and occasional humans who might accidentally eat a contaminated ant and who can then become very ill. The cows and sheep can also become very ill and the quantity of meat and milk they provide for humans is reduced, and we have to be careful to cook the meat from them in case we get these parasites into our bodies.

So, how did that benefit us, which is what the Intelligent Designer wanted to do? The answer is, no body knows. Lancet flukes don't seem to do anything at all for us and can even be a problem. One theory is that the Intelligent Designer sometimes stops making everything for us and sometimes makes the world look like it was all designed for parasitic worms, or viruses, or bacteria, or grass, or tsetse flies, or any one of a million other creatures. Obviously when it designed the lancet fluke the Intelligent Designer was having a day when it hated things like snails and especially ants and wasn't thinking of cows and sheep or even us at all.

Another thing no body knows is why an Intelligent Designer would design things like these parasitic worms with such a complicated life cycle when it could have just designed them to lay eggs which hatch out where they live and not need three different hosts and several different stages before the adults get back to where their parent came from. It must be hard for people who believe in an Intelligent Designer to explain why it often acts like a really stupid one, which is probably why they normally ignore things like that.

Some mad scientists even think the Universe looks just like it wasn't designed for anything in particular and that all the different creatures have just fitted in. They even say it wasn't designed at all just because it doesn't look like it was!

But Creationists could easily prove the Intelligent Designer designed everything just for us - if only they could think of why it designed parasites like the lancet fluke, and million of other things that either don't do anything for us or even cause us a lot of harm in apparently random ways. And if only they could prove it was designed at all and could explain why it looks just the way it would if it wasn't designed and there was no intelligence or plan.

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  1. Fascinating.
    K P Spong.

  2. A lot of these arguments against 'Intelligent Design' saying that these things aren't 'intelligent' for reasons mentioned above and in other posts forget to take into account (coming from a Christian and Biblical perspective) that we are living in a fallen and sinful world, and that this isn't the same world that existed and was meant to exist pre-sin. I'm not saying anything Biblical can be proven, but hypothetically, it's pointless to talk about these issues regarding 'bad design' when this world we are living in now (going from the Biblical account) is marred by sin. If this is the Christian argument, that we are living in a world marred by sin, of course there are going to be things in creation that seem silly, useless or bad coming from a God who supposedly designed these things. I think both Christians and Atheists forget this point. 'Hypothetically', when God first created the world, it was perfect, all systems in balance with no 'bad stuff'. It's hard to imagine a world like that now because we've never experienced it. But yeah, just a thought. If you're trying to show Christians that their so called 'Intelligent Designer' is unintelligent, then maybe this angle is not the best way, because the world we are living in now is not the intended world God had prepared for us, and things (systems and creatures) living in it now didn't exist in the same state that they do today. If these things did exist prior to 'the fall', then I suppose the argument would be valid, and we obviously can't prove or ever know that, but we do get a picture in Genesis that the earth was cursed and things changed after that. What I've said probably brings up many other things that you'd like to refute, but what do you think regarding this point?

    1. I'm afraid your superstition is not a scientific argument. Of course is disagrees with science; this is how we know your superstition is wrong.

    2. I understand that, but what I'm trying to say, is that if you're making an argument against the issue of 'intelligent design' which comes from Christians/Creationists, you have to take into account what else they are saying (that we are living in a fallen world). I think BOTH Christians and Atheists should not argue the issue of 'intelligent design' because the Christians SHOULD understand that we are living in a fallen world and the creation we see is not what it was intended to be (if they are going by what the bible says). All I'm saying is that we can't judge God on what we see now as his creation. I'm not trying to prove God exists, I'm just saying 'hypothetically' if God DID create the world, and the biblical account is true, then we shouldn't judge him on what we see now, going by what it says. I just think both sides are forgetting this point when arguing about it, so I think it's a pointless topic and makes both sides look a little silly. We're arguing about a misconception.

    3. We're not judging 'God'. We're judging the claims made by those who try to fill gaps in their knowledge with imaginary gods and insist we do the same.

    4. Yes, I understand that this is essentially what you are trying to argue with your whole blog, but I was really just trying to outline a misconception that both sides tend to forget, and that the issue shouldn't be argued on because it makes both sides look bad. This issue would be similar to a creationist saying how silly it is that evolutionists think we came from 'chimpanzees' - which is a widespread misconception that they have, and is obviously not what evolutionists think at all. I know you're judging the claims made by Christians etc., because you so adamantly profess that God doesn't exist in your blog, but I do get the impression that you are 'judging' and mocking him (the 'Intelligent Designer') in this post - for example "But then the Intelligent Designer realised its plan had hit another snag". It does come across as very condescending in this post. But anyways...
      Just curious though, not sure if you've addressed it somewhere, but what is the main purpose of this blog in particular? I just want to know why someone who so adamantly rejects the notion of a 'God' would take the time and effort to refute claims by Christians/other religious parties (which are obviously so unfounded and silly to you) when you could just shrug it off and leave them to their own beliefs. I understand that this blog aims to look at 'Religion and politics from the point of view of a centre-left atheist humanist, spilling over into science, history and other related topics' and is just a forum for discussion regarding these issues. But it still seems like a lot of effort. What do you get out of it? I'm not trying to argue or be demeaning in anyway, I'm just genuinely interested, I like discovering why people think what they think. So what do you get out if it and why does this topic interest you? If you've talked about it somewhere, send me the link if you want.

    5. > but I do get the impression that you are 'judging' and mocking him (the 'Intelligent Designer') in this post <

      Then I'm afraid the misconception is yours. I am very clearly satirising the idea of an intelligent designer and the beliefs of those who try to fill gaps in their knowledge with gods.

      I doubt that many others were under the impression that I was mocking a being that I very clearly don't believe in.

      >and leave them to their own beliefs.<

      Because leaving them to their own beliefs is leaving them free to abuse children with lies for money and free to keep political control over us and to establish a fundamentalist Taliban-style Christian theocracy. I'm surprised you either didn't know that was wrong or are unconcerned about it. See Why Creationists Lie To Us.

      Lying to children and so denying them the pleasure of really understanding the world they live in is wrong, as is imposing a religion on people by force and taking human culture back to the primitive tribal laws of the Bronze Age simply to serve the power and greed ambitions of a small unelected clique. Only someone who knows they are pushing a lie for reasons they are too embarrassed to admit publicly would feel threatened by facts and reason.


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