If we were created ‘in God’s image,’ the divine must be messed up

If we were created ‘in God’s image,’ the divine must be messed up May 1, 2020

I haven’t fully read this book yet — Human Errors: A Panormama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes (2018), by Nathan H. Lents — but I wanted to alert you now rather than later that it’s out there waiting to greatly entertain and inform skeptics and realists.

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It’s no wonder this newborn looks unhappy. With baby humans’ huge heads, birth is also hard on moms. (Vivid Pixels, Adobe Stock)

In Human Errors, Lents “demonstrated that the human body can’t possibly be considered the product of an intelligent designer. Rather, its flaws tell the story of evolution,” reviewer Harriet Hall asserts in a Skeptical Inquirer magazine review of the nonfiction book (“Evolution’s Flaws Are in Us”).

Hall notes that a truly intelligent designer “would not have put our retinas in backward, left us with a stump of a tail … [and] filled our genomes with carcasses of past infections.”

A professor of molecular biology at the City University of New York and writer of The Human Evolution Blog, Lents in his book voluminously itemizes the many, many ways the human body and its genetics are often, shall we say, totally screwed up.

“We humans like to think of ourselves as highly evolved creatures, but if we are supposedly evolution’s greatest creation, why do we have such bad knees?” the book description blurb explains on Lents’ book’s Amazon page. “Why do we catch head colds so often — 200 times more often than a dog does? How come our wrists have so many useless bones? Why is the vast majority of our genetic code useless? And are we really supposed to swallow and breathe through the same narrow tube? Surely there’s been some kind of mistake.”

In the introduction to Human Errors, Lents glories that “the deeper into our bodies we look, the more beauty we find.” But it’s kind of a fake-out.

“Somehow, all of these processes come together to create the wondrous complexity of human life, while allowing us to remain oblivious to the underlying mechanisms,” he laments.

These “underlying mechanisms,” he points out, are in fact deeply flawed with startling frequency.

He said he could have written a book about the “simply wonderous — miraculous even” capabilities of Homo sapiens. But that book has already been written probably hundreds of times. So, instead, he was written the story of “our many flaws, from head to toe.”

“As it turns out, our flaws are extremely interesting and informative,” he writes. “By exploring human shortcomings, we can peer into our past.”

Very apparently, Human Errors has been well received in the book world.

“Anyone who has aged without perfect grace can attest to the laundry list of imperfections so thoroughly and engagingly considered by Nathan Lents in Human Errors. This is the best book I’ve read on how poorly designed our bodies are. I learned something new on every page,” Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and New York Times best-selling author of Why People Believe Weird Things and The Believing Brain, wrote in a review blurb on Amazon. 

Ian Tattersall, author of Masters of the Planet and The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack: and Other Cautionary Tales from Human Evolution, was equally effusive.

“Anybody with a slipped disk knows humans are not very intelligently designed, but most of us are unaware of the extent of our imperfections,” Tattersall wrote. “Nathan Lents fills in the gaps in Human Errors, an insightful and entertaining romp through the myriad ways in which the human body falls short of an engineering ideal—and the often surprising reasons why.”

The august Financial Times calls the book an “entertaining and enlightening guide to human imperfections.”

The reviewers agree with Lents’ expansive hypothesis of flawed humanity.

“Humans don’t reproduce well. Ovulation is hidden; sperm cells can’t turn left; our enormous skulls cause difficulties with childbirth,” Hall wrote in her Skeptical Inquirer review. “Surely an intelligent designer would have developed a more efficient process than this.”

But we are what we are, and evolve we did.

Although “God” is not invoked, per se, the book and reviews taken together are an overwhelming argument against such perfect omnipotence — if man is supposedly a reflection of the glory of the divine proclaimed by the Christian Bible.

Can’t wait to read this.

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“Erudite yet readable … very illuminating”

— Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion,” in praise of “Holy Smoke”

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