The Sadistic Designer

You may have come across the argument before: How can you say there isn’t a God, when butterfly wings are so perfect, or the Earth is just right for us, or [insert awesome nature fact here]. This argument is typically presented as an “argument from incredulity” (“How else could everything possibly come to be?”) with a healthy dose of appeal to emotion (“But have you seen how perfect the hand of a newborn is?”)…

Here is the counter-argument, in video form, from the always excellent TheThinkingAtheist:

About Claudia

I'm a lifelong atheist and a molecular biologist with a passion for science and a passionate opposition to its enemies.

  • Mario Strada

    Seth strikes again. He is getting better and better. He needs to find a way to make a living at this because he is too damn good.

    • Captain Cassidy

      That was brilliantly done.

  • Feminerd

    Don’t forget funguses that grow in ants’ brains, causing them to hang out on top of grass stems and get eaten by birds!

    • TBJ

      (fun guys) fungi that can resist the birds digestive processes and then be excreted out perhaps in a location where it has not established it self.

  • ahermit

    Cue Monty Python…

    All things scabbed and ulcerous,
    All pox both great and small,
    Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
    The Lord God made them all.


  • TomS

    It conflates the problem of evil and the watchmaker argument. :(

    • islandbrewer

      I’d say that those are kind of overlapping, and legitimately conflatable.

      • TomS

        Well, kind of, in some sense, I suppose, but not in the way they are presented here, seems to me. The watchmaker or ID argument fails because there is an alternative, naturalistic account of the order in the world, one for which there is a great deal more evidence (this would be science, of course, but that point is not made by the video). The logical problem of evil, in all of its forms, is an argument against God’s existence based on the presence of “imperfections” like suffering (since that existence is logically inconsistent with the existence of suffering, according to the argument), and does not say anything about design. I don’t think it implies anything interesting about design. The logical problem of evil, unfortunately, does not actually work as a proof of God’s non-existence, since the presence of evil or suffering is in fact logically consistent with the existence of a God with all of what philosophers call the “great-making” properties (all good, etc.). Perhaps the argument implied in the video is not the logical but the evidential problem of evil (which suggests that there is just too much evil to make it plausible to think that God exists). Even so, unless one wants to say that the presence of design is inconsistent with the presence of suffering, these two (the ID argument and the prob of evil) are analytically separable. In short, there can easily be design in suffering, there can be order in suffering. The mere presence of suffering does not entail the absence of design. At least, that’s the way it seems to me. So, i conclude, the creator of the video has conflated the ID argument with the problem of evil.

        • JohnnieCanuck

          I’d like to see you expand a little on that logically consistent part. How can a god be omnipotent and omnibenificent if evil exists? Freewill doesn’t cut it, because omnipotent. Also, prove we do have freewill, not just the illusion of freewill.

        • Feminerd

          “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
          Then he is not omnipotent.
          Is he able, but not willing?
          Then he is malevolent.
          Is he both able and willing?
          Then whence cometh evil?
          Is he neither able nor willing?
          Then why call him God?”
          -Epicurus – Greek philosopher, BC 341-270

          This predates Jesus, and Christianity still doesn’t have an answer. There is no possible way for any deity to be all-good, all-powerful, and all-knowing.

  • Wingedbeast

    Standard respose, “Fallen World”.

    • Willy Occam

      …or “God works in mysterious ways.”

      • Randay

        So true. But a few questions anyway.

        1 – What powers did god use to create things? What is the definition of these powers?
        2 – What material did god use?
        3 – What does “god’s intelligence” or “mind” mean? How does he make a “plan” and “know” it is “perfect”? Noah’s arc suggests that it wasn’t and he had to start over again from scratch.
        4 – Why is god anthropomorphized? Why is he attributed animal organs and qualities? What is his vision? Does he have eyes? If not, how does he see? Since we say “him”, does he have male genitals?

        As I quoted Stephen J Gould berfore, “There are no shortcuts to moral insight. Nature is not intrinsically anything that can offer comfort or solace in human terms – if only because our species is such an insignificant latecomer in a world not constructed for us. So much the better. The answers to moral dilemmas are not lying out there, waiting to be discovered. They reside, like the kingdom of God, within us – the most difficult and inaccessible spot for any discovery or consensus.”

        • allein

          2 – What material did god use?

          This is what I always want to know when people argue “something can’t come from nothing, therefore God.” Where did the stuff that God used to make the universe come from?

          • Feminerd

            God did it! See, God can do anything including making stuff from nothing, even though something can’t come from nothing, but God can do anything!

            See? It makes perfect sense.

            • allein

              Well, I guess that settles it, then. Thanks!

          • baal

            God used God Stuff. Q.E.D.

    • islandbrewer

      Totally makes sense. If I were god, and some woman ate an apple that I told her not to, I’d make everbody suffer because of it.

      • WingedBeast

        “Oh, but you don’t understand! It was Eve’s choice to eat the fruit. Therefore, the rest of it can be safely ignored in favor of that one point, thus relieving the omnipotent of any responsibility for his own actions!”

        • islandbrewer

          As I am too intellectually lazy to think through your logic, I will accept it unconditionally and become a member of [insert religion here]. Where may I send my tithe?

          • allein

            You can send it to me :)

          • Feminerd

            No send it to me! allein’s doing it all wrong, I swear. I want the money more *ahem* *cough cough* I mean, I am absolutely positively definitely in possession of the True Words of The One and Only True God (TM).

      • Kodie

        That’s kind of how I feel when someone eats my food.

    • Paul D.

      In other words, the natural world reflects Satan’s creative energies rather than God’s. That just turns Christians into Gnostics, who thought the creator was an evil demiurge. :)

      • JohnnieCanuck

        According to the Abrahamic faiths, God is the omnipotent creator of everything, including the angels, fallen or otherwise. God gets complete responsibility and blame for everything Satan does, because by definition Satan cannot force God to do or permit him to do anything.

        The snake could not have spoken, let alone tempted Eve unless God willed it, if you accept the premises of the myth in the first place, that is.

        • TBJ

          That’s been debunked, gawd said don’t eat from the tree of knowledge but he did not say anything about the mushrooms.

        • Randay

          After the apple affair, god made the snake crawl on its belly in the dust. How did the snake move about before that? Did it have wings or legs or did it roll in a ball?

          Those desert story-tellers only knew about desert snakes, not about jungle snakes, fresh water snakes, and sea water snakes which don’t have contact dust and the water ones don’t even crawl, they swim. But you know that the Bible is inerrant.

    • Pattrsn


      • allein

        Seems more likely. If God so loved the world, how did he let it fall so badly? You’d think he’d take better care of his toys.

        • Pattrsn

          The fallen world aka the great cosmic oops

      • Spuddie


  • Stev84

    There is a lot of stupid design in the human body. The blind spot in the eye (fixed with cephalopods), a spine that isn’t well suited for upright walking, the appendix, the recurrent laryngeal nerve (even more stupid in giraffes), babies having to be pushed through the pelvis during birth, the inability to synthesize Vitamin C, wisdom teeth, using the same hole for breathing and eating, several unnecessary or barely used muscles, etc. …

    • TBJ

      Not to mention the gullibility to accept ridiculous claims made by persuasive people even when verified facts are available to discredit those claims.

    • Drew2u

      How can there be an intelligent creator that designed my dog to piss on his own front legs? That doesn’t seem very smart.

  • m6wg4bxw

    The criticisms made in this video apply only to a designer which (a) won’t or can’t harm humans, and (b) whose designs are flawless. Neither are necessarily in conflict with intelligent design, though most forms of it I encounter do include at least one of these.

  • katiehippie

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

  • ron

    excellence video , very trueful. Now your real problem. notice the places below to sign in with. I prefer yahoo but yahoo is never there, and if you try to uses anything opther than The symbol with the blue D you will usually not get posted.

    • TBJ

      The symbol with the blue D is Disqus and it’s about as anonymous as you can get, Yahoo on the other-hand severely data mines any information you post on the web, leaving you vulnerable to targeted ads and possibly hackers who use yahoo’s very unrestricted advertisement policies.

  • Rich Wilson

    I wonder if 2:15 is a nod to Sir David Attenborough

  • Rain

    Great job as usual. I would like to subscribe to the channel but I can only subscribe to channels like Justin Beibers that have over a billion video views.

  • TBJ

    I’m really sorry folks but after hearing the spoken dialogue from 2:44 on, I am so enraged that if some unwary christian crossed my path right now I might do something to them that does not represent the spirit of our community.
    I am so sick to my stomach from hearing that, that I nearly puked. The rage I am feeling now is driving me to say some really horrible things. “To the almost inconceivable vast universe which was created just so we can occupy the tiniest fraction of it.” Are you frakken kidding me! That is the most arrogant, ego-centric, religious-centric, mind frak, statement anyone could have ever possibly imagined. Now they are including the whole of the cosmos in their message. How the frak do they think they can hijack the discoveries of science, the very thing they despise, and use it to further divorce their followers from reality? Why can’t big pharma make a smart pill that wakes up the minds of the morons who accept this tripe as fact. Why the frak does evolution favour gullibility?

    What is the thing, specifically, that you have to do to stop a zombie in its tracks? Well at the moment zombies equal christians to me.

    Ironically though, these bullpucky artists, have EVOLVED their message despite their abhorrence to evolutionary principles.

    • Feminerd

      A non-Christian made the video. Ze was making fun of the idea that God made the universe just for us because it is a ridiculous idea. That statement was sarcasm.

      • Randay

        Many Christian fundamentalists will probably take the words at face value and not understand the irony. This may be too subtle for them.

      • Guest

        Ok, so you are saying the the voice over was part of the sarcasm and not the voice from the original video?

        • Feminerd

          Yes. Well, it is the original video, but it’s all snarky and sarcastic. The voiceover is part of the sarcasm.

          • baal

            I half listened with out watching at first. It wasn’t until I went back and looked at the visuals (juxtaposition) that the bitter sarcasm came through.

      • TBJ

        Oh darn it with needles and frak me flying. I was pretty drunk last night when I saw this video and for some gawd awful reason I thought it was a “video reply” to a pre-existant Youtube video made by ID proponents. Wow look at the little brain on Brett! I done fell for a POE. Well never the less if I had heard those words (sober) out of the mouth of a theist I would probably feel the same way.

  • Olidamarra

    My favorite argument against creationism will forever be traumatic insemination. Whoever designed that is a sick, sick person. Seriously, look it up on wikipedia (if you can stomach nasty things at the moment).

  • Dave G.

    Actually the question ‘why is there something instead of nothing’ is not some off the wall goofiness on the part of religion. It’s a valid challenge. The answer can’t be ‘we don’t know, but we know it wasn’t God.’ Nor can it be ‘we’ve proven the universe could spontaneously come from absolute nothingness…all it needed was gravity and matter.’ It’s a valid question, and one that can’t be dismissed with a non-answer. It doesn’t mean religion has the right answer, but a non-answer does nothing to refute it.

    • Kodie

      Religion is a non-answer.

    • The Other Weirdo

      I don’t understand, why can’t “We don’t know” be an answer to this question?

      • Spuddie

        Because they don’t want to be asking the questions in the first place. Better a snappy answer than difficult question.

    • Machintelligence

      It might just be that nothing is unstable.

    • peknud

      Why does “nothing” always have to be considered the default position or somehow the natural state of being and “something” is considered the anomaly or supernatural state. Doesn’t make sense.

      • Spuddie

        Why does every question have to be answered?

        Why bother with an answer which closes the door and precludes all work towards future study and research when you can leave the question open?
        “The God in the Gaps” argument is essentially dishonest because religious belief isn’t ever adopted in such a fashion. People don’t believe in God because they can’t answer philosophical or cosmological questions? They do so in order to avoid asking the questions in the first place.

      • Randay

        I saw your post after I posted above. I put your statement in a different way. For you, credit where credit is due.

    • Vanadise

      A valid answer is, “We don’t know, but as a species, we have a history of having ‘unexplainable’ questions that we later find the answers for, so there’s no reason to jump to the conclusion that a supernatural deity was responsible for it.”

    • GubbaBumpkin

      Actually the question ‘why is there something instead of nothing’ is not some off the wall goofiness on the part of religion.

      Neither is the question, “If everything needs to come from something, where did God come from?” You can’t just hand-wave it away.

      The answer can’t be ‘we don’t know, but we know it wasn’t God.’

      That’s right. But the answer can be “We don’t know, so there’s no reason to assume it was God.” And rewording your opponent’s argument so that it seems presumptuous is just another way of bearing false witness, i.e. lying.

      • Randay

        The question can be reversed, “Why shouldn’t there be something rather than nothing.” You could argue whether “nothing” is a property of “something” or “something is a property of “nothing”.

    • Spuddie

      So your belief in God is based on personal ignorance of the world around you and a refusal to find out more about it. That is not a very flattering picture of religious faith.

      • busterggi

        Flattering -no, accurate – yes.

    • busterggi

      Why assume that the alternative to something is nothing rather than something-else?

      Besides, if there was a pre-existing eternal god then there never was nothing.

  • Fourfox65

    Great video from Seth as usual. I was privileged to be in the audience at the Colorado Secular Conference on Saturday when he debuted it.

  • RBH

    In his The Edge of Evolution, ID proponent Michael Behe explicitly claims that the malaria parasite was designed:

    Here’s something to ponder long and hard: Malaria was intentionally designed. The molecular machinery with which the parasite invades red blood cells is an exquisitely purposeful arrangement of parts. C-Eve’s children died in her arms partly because an intelligent agent deliberately made malaria, or at least something very similar to it. (p. 237)

    So he, at least, puts responsibility for not-so-lovely stuff on God/the designer.

  • Wilmer Barcoma

    here’s my thing, and I’m not a creationist or an advocate of ID (at least not in the definition put forth by this video), but here’s the thing…what does “perfect” even mean? how do we know when something is made “perfectly”? for me, in order to answer that question, we need to know the purpose of that created thing. is it fullfilling that purpose efficiently? So to call something perfect or imperfect without the knowledge of it’s purpose is, well, ignorant. And since “we” don’t know what our “purpose” is, can we then say one way or another if we are truly “perfect” or “imperfect”?

    • Kodie

      People who think god designed this world for humans will also point to a lot of things that make that conclusion evident for them while ignoring the overwhelming evidence that this would make their deity sadistic, or not for us, or not there at all.

      • Wilmer Barcoma

        neither does this

        • Kodie

          Well, if we don’t know the purpose of a thing created, then we must assume it’s created and it has a purpose, and that if the creator is perfect, we have to assume there’s a perfectly good explanation that it has to be this way.

          Does that answer your question the way you wanted it to be answered?

          • Wilmer Barcoma

            you actually kinda made my point for me

            • Kodie

              That’s because you don’t get the subtlety.

              • Wilmer Barcoma

                “we have to assume there’s a perfectly good explanation that it has to be this way” then any argument that uses our “imperfection” as proof against ID is invalid

                • Kodie

                  That was a test of your reading comprehension and you failed. I told you the answer but you didn’t like it, it wasn’t what you wanted to hear. I just regurgitated a circular argument and that’s what you wanted to hear and you are gullibly believing I was serious.

                • Wilmer Barcoma

                  how does you lying to me about your side of the argument have anything to do with my reading comprehension?

    • baal

      The human body looks a like someone took a quadruped and stood in up on the back legs. If you were going to start with the human shape, you’d have engineered it very differently. In other words, evolution is a much more reasonable explanation for our terrible backs and birthing problems than god (magic). A half way decent engineer could have fixed these things.

      • Wilmer Barcoma

        doesn’t answer my question

        • baal

          I think it does and here’s why. You assert that we can’t tell if we’re ‘perfect’ since we don’t know ‘for what purpose’. So far as that goes, I agree. It’s also why I shy away from using the word ‘best’. You don’t know what’s ‘best’ unless you know for what purpose.

          The problem in this context (human design), it’s not clear that we need to have a purpose. So you’re holding open the god design option. You don’t need to do that. You can compare and consider the god option or you can consider the biology option. Even if we’re perfectly designed for any purpose I (or you) can imagine, we still look like we evolved and that god doesn’t exist.

    • Rich Wilson

      We may not know the purpose of something, but we do know some of the functions it provides. In pure logic sense, sure, we don’t know if there is indeed a ‘purpose’ or, if there is some purpose which includes functions of which we are not aware, how efficiently something performs those functions.

      In a practical sense, one has to throw up their hands and say “God works in fucked up ways” to rationalize what really look, walk, and quack like design flaws.

      Put another way, we’ll never know if God is a kid putting GI Joe’s head on Barbie’s body and giggling. But our DNA shows every evidence that we are related to chimps and snails, so if God is screwing with us, he’s going to lengths to trick us into thinking that we are poorly designed, or hey, maybe not designed at all.

  • NB non-conformist

    There has to be way more non-believers(or at least, doubters) in the world than we are willing to admit. I remember, as someone who was brought up religiously, how the preachers use to try to explain away the negative conditions in the world by saying that this world actually belongs to the devil, not god. My issue with that, even as a child, was this: God is supposed to be omniscient; didn’t he know that the angel he created was going to disobey him and become the devil? He’s obviously, not omniscient. Another point that’s also brought up to try to explain things away, is that the devil had told humans (Adam and Eve) that if they ate of the fruit that they would become like god; so, god had to give all involved time to prove it. My question remains, didn’t he know that was going to happen as an omniscient being? If he knew all that and still created these beings who were in essence, going to challenge his authority like that, then how omnipotent is he?