Darwinism Human evolution Intelligent Design

Only at Salon: The human neck is an evolution mistake

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We are informed that sleep apnea is a consequence of “too many adaptations stuffed into our neck.”

Critics of evolution often argue that life, rather than gradually changing over the years through natural selection, was actually created by a so-called “intelligent designer.” Their position is that the biological machinery which makes up living bodies is so complex, and so perfectly calibrated to support our numerous needs, that it had to have been planned out by a deliberate and thoughtful force of some kind.

Yet if God actually did design human bodies according to a plan, they forgot to make sure that we can breathe while we sleep — a remarkably crucial detail to overlook. While not everyone suffers from the aforementioned anatomical glitch, known to doctors as obstructive sleep apnea, it affects 22 million Americans — and has become an even more hazardous condition amid the spread of a deadly virus that attacks the lungs.

Matthew Rozsa, “The human neck is a mistake of evolution” at Salon (October 12, 2021)

It is, on the whole, a mistake to get human evolution news from a glitzmag. Engineer Walter Myers III offers some alternative thoughts:

The headline itself admits that sleep apnea afflicts 1 out of 15 Americans, so that means 14 out of 15 Americans (93 percent) breathe freely at night with no issues. Thus, the problem doesn’t appear to be with the design itself, but with potential problems that can occur after the fact, such as an obstruction in the throat muscles or improper signals sent to the throat muscles that control breathing.

Rosza does examine the possible causes of sleep apnea, which weaken his argument, as in each case the cause is because something has gone wrong, not that the original design is somehow flawed. He discusses sleep apnea caused by obesity, which is likely due to the actions of that person or to a metabolic abnormality, neither of which indicates a fault in the design itself. Any design can be adversely impacted if not properly maintained, or if it becomes defective through injury or disease. He cites aging as a cause, but we all know aging is a natural process that will eventually lead to the death of any organism. No organisms are designed to live forever. Even the best designed human artifacts eventually fail (and again, intelligent design makes no judgments about why a designer might intend mortality in organisms). Finally, he discusses genetic or anatomical issues that, again, cause the structures to not operate as they should according to the original design.

Walter Myers III, “Is the Human Neck a “Mistake of Evolution”?” at Evolution News and Science Today (October 20, 2021)

Now that Dr. Myers mentions it, humans were not designed to live forever in a world where everything else is transient. Something always gives.

But someone should tell Nathan Lents, author Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes, about this one.

You may also wish to read: Nathan Lents is still wrong about human sinuses but still writing about them.

43 Replies to “Only at Salon: The human neck is an evolution mistake

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    It is revealing that Intelligent Design proponents are careful to avoid being specific about the capabilities of their putative Designer. If it is envisaged as being less capable than the Christian God then the various flaws in the human “design” are explicable on the grounds of incompetence. The drawback with such a concept is that such a being cannot be appealed to as some sort of infallible, supreme moral authority. It would simply be a highly-advanced alien intelligence, not inconceivable but not the God needed by Christians. That is the cost of non-theistic ID.

    And while ID proponents can point to some features of the human body which appear to be wonderfully “engineered” it only makes the shortcomings of the design even more puzzling.

    For example, we find sensible double redundancy in the form of two lungs or two kidneys but it raises the obvious question of why not two livers or two pancreases or two spleens?

    And in a design so prone to a functional disorder like cancer, why isn’t there at least a sensor system which can warn of the onset of tumors at a very early stage when they can be dealt with more easily. As it stands, the symptoms often don’t become apparent until the disorder has really taken hold and even metastasized.

    If there is a God then these are questions that could and should be asked of Him. If not, why not?

  2. 2
    Belfast says:

    “Had I been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better ordering of the universe.” (Attributed to Alphonso the Wise.)
    Now we have Seversky the Wise pointing out design flaws in the human body. By necessary implication if Seversky the Wise had designed the body there would have been two stomachs, two penises, etc. as these fit the notion of “sensible” redundancy as two kidneys do – readily available if either loses function; in males anyway. The Wise One graciously concedes the sense there.
    Seversky the Wise gives a useful safety tip; if he had designed the body, he would have put in place a distant early warning system, to combat cancer for example; and is puzzled that since a mortal like himself could think of such a handy and effective feature, God couldn’t.
    It must be a riot of laughter at the Atheist’s Afternoon Kaffeeklatsch as ideas spill out about mistakes in design cover up the red-faced embarrassment at the Junk DNA fiasco, and the ‘mistake’ in the design of the eye.

  3. 3
    martin_r says:

    Seversky wrote:

    For example, we find sensible double redundancy in the form of two lungs or two kidneys but it raises the obvious question of why not two livers or two pancreases or two spleens?

    Seversky, i have asked your like 1000 times … WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION ?
    HOW ARE YOU QUALIFIED TO TALK ABOUT DESIGN, ANY DESIGN and to put this kind of questions ?

    YOU DARWINISTS ARE CLUELESS … after 150 of years, you can’t re-create the simplest parts of the simplest cell, let alone a lung or a spleen … or human blood … Darwinists, you clueless funny clowns… you are attacking Creator’s masterpiece everyday, but you can’t re-create a single thing of what he made ….

    Don’t forget to answer the question – WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION ????

  4. 4
    martin_r says:

    Seversky,

    For example, we find sensible double redundancy in the form of two lungs or two kidneys but it raises the obvious question of why not two livers or two pancreases or two spleens?

    let me add the following:

    how do you know, that having 2 lungs or 2 kidneys is an example of redundancy ? Who told you? Darwinian biologists? Darwinian biologists who are changing their minds (reviewing current concept, rethinking common view) with every new paper published ?

    Yes, you can live with only 1 lung / kidney, but how do you know that some processes in your body don’t suffer by this ?

    Are 2 hands also an example of redundancy ? Because you can live with 1 hand … or 1 leg… or 1 eye… or 1 ear … You have 1 head (i assume), is it an example of bad design ? Considering your logic, would you expect to have 2 heads? So it is ID-redundant ?

    Your thinking is so childish …

  5. 5
    martin_r says:

    the author of the article, this Matthew Rosza, above wrote:

    Yet if God actually did design human bodies according to a plan, they forgot to make sure that we can breathe while we sleep — a remarkably crucial detail to overlook.

    what is this clown trying to say? Is he saying that we don’t breath while we sleep ?

    It would be better, if Darwinian clowns FINALLY explain WHY SPECIES SLEEP … WHAT EVOLUTIONARY ADVANTAGE IS IT TO GET KILLED WHILE WE SLEEP (HOURS!!!! OF SLEEP )

  6. 6
    Sandy says:

    Seversky the Wise pointing out design flaws in the human body.

    🙂 Consider Seversky as a 3 years old child. He/she acts like one . After you imagine him as a child then his messages don’t sound so bad…for a 3 years old.

    It would be better, if Darwinian clowns FINALLY explain WHY SPECIES SLEEP … WHAT EVOLUTIONARY ADVANTAGE IS IT TO GET KILLED WHILE WE SLEEP (HOURS!!!! OF SLEEP )

    @Martin_r :
    Who would destroy his house trying to build the house of a stranger?
    Hate against a human being is a sin that destroy the house of your soul. The only hate allowed by God is against devil.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Belfast at 2:,,, “Now we have Seversky the Wise pointing out design flaws in the human body.,,,”

    Belfast, that post was almost Shakespearean,,,

    🙂

    Of semi related note is this just released video from John 10:10.

    The last part of the video is pretty cool.

    SKELETON KEYS
    Sir Isaac Newton once wrote that “in the absence of any other proof, my thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.” Newton’s observation takes on even greater relevance when applied to the 206 bones that make up the human skeleton. In this engaging video, you’ll marvel at the integrated components that form the basis of the highly flexible scaffolding that supports and protects our bodies. It is a framework that clearly illustrates the creative power of God.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmQsEXDKjhM

  8. 8
    jerry says:

    it only makes the shortcomings of the design even more puzzling.

    How do you know the design has shortcomings?

    Maybe the perfect design requires trade offs? Certainly a functioning ecology does. If one element of an eco system dominated, then eventually it would destroy the eco system and itself.

    Maybe a functioning world requires trade offs? Is so, these trade offs would give the appearance of sub optimal design while actually being perfect design. It would be a world of perfect imperfects.

    Also is the designer of this system meant to be obscure? Would a too obvious design prevent the purpose of the design from being implemented? So also would the too obvious presence of the designer actually frustrate the objective?

    But we have enough clues and enough doubt that the designer and design is highly likely but not certain. Is doubt a necessity? Would there be a meaningful world if there were no doubt?

  9. 9
    AnimatedDust says:

    I can envision a time when Seversky will have to answer these questions.

    It will go something like this: Brace yourself like a man. I shall question you, and you shall answer me.

    Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth?…

    I would not want to be him then.

  10. 10
    martin_r says:

    Sandy @6

    Hate against a human being is a sin that destroy the house of your soul. The only hate allowed by God is against devil.

    you are right. I apologize.

  11. 11
    OldArmy94 says:

    I’m confused. I thought that Almighty Darwinism, the power that was capable of independently evolving radar echolocation, compound eyes–MULTIPLE TIMES–had such an easy thing as the human neck in the bag. Yet, you’re telling me that Darwin Almighty screwed the pooch on such a simple detail?

    Somebody help me understand.

  12. 12
    ET says:

    seversky:

    It is revealing that Intelligent Design proponents are careful to avoid being specific about the capabilities of their putative Designer.

    Clueless. We know the capabilities by what the designers left behind.

    And AGAIN, extant life is NOT the intelligently designed life, duh. No one said the design was perfect. No one said the design had to remain perfect for eternity.

    For example, we find sensible double redundancy in the form of two lungs or two kidneys but it raises the obvious question of why not two livers or two pancreases or two spleens?

    Not required.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    OldArmy at 11: “Somebody help me understand.”

    OldArmy you are making the HUGE mistake of thinking for yourself.

    You see, to be a REALLY good Darwinist you must become a mindless meat robot who mindlessly repeats, and never questions, whatever cock and bull ‘just-so story’ you have been told by your Darwinian betters.

    “You are robots made out of meat. Which is what I am going to try to convince you of today”
    – Jerry Coyne –
    – Michael Egnor Shows You’re Not A Meat Robot (Science Uprising EP2)
    https://youtu.be/rQo6SWjwQIk?list=PLR8eQzfCOiS1OmYcqv_yQSpje4p7rAE7-&t=20

  14. 14
    martin_r says:

    OldArmy94 @11

    I’m confused. I thought that Almighty Darwinism…

    the same with ‘junk’ DNA … Almighty Darwinism, and for all those allegedly millions of years, was unable to get rid of 98% of allegedly useless genome …

  15. 15
    JVL says:

    ET: And AGAIN, extant life is NOT the intelligently designed life, duh. No one said the design was perfect. No one said the design had to remain perfect for eternity.

    I’ve been thinking about this . . . that does imply that human beings were not necessarily the point doesn’t it? I mean if we’re the result of millions and millions of years of the original design having ‘degraded’ there would be no way for the designer to know what was going to happen in the future? Heck the dinosaurs were around longer than they’ve been gone; we very well might still have a dinosaur world now if it wasn’t for that damned comet . . .

  16. 16
    JVL says:

    Martin_r: Seversky, i have asked your like 1000 times … WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION ?

    I was just wondering . . .

    Why do you care so much?

    And why do you keep asking knowing Seversky won’t respond?

  17. 17
    ET says:

    JVL:

    I’ve been thinking about this . . . that does imply that human beings were not necessarily the point doesn’t it?

    Nope. Keep grasping. It’s as if you are unable to think.

    I mean if we’re the result of millions and millions of years of the original design having ‘degraded’ there would be no way for the designer to know what was going to happen in the future?

    We wouldn’t be here in that scenario. Maybe you should stop erecting strawmen.

    Heck the dinosaurs were around longer than they’ve been gone; we very well might still have a dinosaur world now if it wasn’t for that damned comet . . .

    The fossil evidence says the dinosaurs were dead before the asteroid hit.

  18. 18
    ET says:

    JVL:

    Why do you care so much?

    And why do you keep asking knowing Seversky won’t respond?

    Because seversky seems to argue from authority. Yet he doesn’t have any except for being an authority of dishonesty.

  19. 19
    JVL says:

    ET: The fossil evidence says the dinosaurs were dead before the asteroid hit.

    Maybe, but if the original ‘designed’ life form was introduced before the dinosaurs then how could the designer know that the dinosaurs would die out one way or another? In fact, since the dinosaurs were very successful (in that they were around a very long time) maybe they were the goal?

    I don’t see how a single, very, very, very old designed creature or creatures could be programmed to ‘evolve’ to a particular goal given unforeseen degradation, natural disasters, diseases, etc. Besides, what would be the point of hundreds of millions of years of having species come into existence only to die out?

    Can you explain how your scenario could have been brought about given all the uncertainty?

  20. 20
    ET says:

    JVL:

    Maybe, but if the original ‘designed’ life form was introduced before the dinosaurs then how could the designer know that the dinosaurs would die out one way or another?

    Nice strawman.

    In a universe designed for scientific discovery I doubt that dinosaurs were the goal. They weren’t very good at scientific discovery.

  21. 21
    JVL says:

    ET: Nice strawman.

    Well, why don’t you try and explain how a designed life form was introduced, designed to evolve but the coding was allowed to degrade and get modified and yet it’s ultimate goal was maintained undegraded after millions and millions of years?

    In a universe designed for scientific discovery I doubt that dinosaurs were the goal. They weren’t very good at scientific discovery.

    Again, in a front-loaded scenario how would the pre-determined goal last millions and millions of years of copying and errors?

  22. 22
    ET says:

    Wow. Humans don’t know how to design life. And your strawman just proves that you are clueless and unable to think.

    In a front-loaded scenario there would be programming to take care of all you are concerned with.

  23. 23
    JVL says:

    ET: In a front-loaded scenario there would be programming to take care of all you are concerned with.

    How can you guarantee that that particular part of the programming would not get degraded if the other parts could get degraded?

  24. 24
    ET says:

    JVL:

    How can you guarantee that that particular part of the programming would not get degraded if the other parts could get degraded?

    Intervention. But that is moot as there isn’t any known mechanism capable of producing a human from a non-human.

  25. 25
    JVL says:

    ET: Intervention.

    So, it’s not completely a front-loaded scenario. Does that mean that every single duplication event is overseen to make sure the core goal protection part of the programming is protected or are corrective measures taken every so often to put things back on the right path?

    But if it’s not completely front-loaded then . . . I’m still wondering what was the point of millions and millions of years of long dead species was? Surely way before the dinosaurs arrived the earth was fairly suitable for humans? it had oxygen, the climate was okay. Unless the interventions only happen at far flung intervals . . . I guess. What do you think?

  26. 26
    ET says:

    YOU brought up front-loading. And gene duplication in a blind and mindless scenario is nothing more than magic. Clearly you are just ignorant of science and biology. And your ignorance has you in desperation mode.

    Good luck with that.

  27. 27
    JVL says:

    ET: YOU brought up front-loading.

    I thought that was the scenario you were proposing. What are you proposing then?

    And gene duplication in a blind and mindless scenario is nothing more than magic. Clearly you are just ignorant of science and biology. And your ignorance has you in desperation mode.

    In Dr Shubin’s book he explains how that can affect the development of new body configurations. But you know that since you read it. But that has nothing to do with your programmed to evolve idea.

    I’m not desperate at all. I’m trying to figure out why you are actually saying.

  28. 28
    ET says:

    I didn’t propose anything. I was responding to seversky’s nonsense. I had posted:

    And AGAIN, extant life is NOT the intelligently designed life, duh. No one said the design was perfect. No one said the design had to remain perfect for eternity.

    And you ran to another field and started posting about front loading.

    Affecting something is not the same as determining it. And gene duplications have everything to do with my programmed to evolve idea. Gene duplication followed by integration and then functional change is out of the reach of blind and mindless processes.

  29. 29
    jerry says:

    All the authors on evolution and it seems Shubin is no different commit the logical fallacy of begging the question. They assume a naturalistic mechanism exists/existed and then find narratives/speculations to fit this unknown mechanism.

    What their efforts should be about is verifying the assumed mechanism can do what they speculate. That would win a Nobel prize.

  30. 30
    JVL says:

    ET: I didn’t propose anything. I was responding to seversky’s nonsense. I had posted:

    And why is that? Are you too afraid to offer your model?

    And AGAIN, extant life is NOT the intelligently designed life, duh. No one said the design was perfect. No one said the design had to remain perfect for eternity.

    So, what was the designed life? You keep dancing around actually giving an answer. Why is that?

    And you ran to another field and started posting about front loading.

    Fine. Clear it all up then. What do you think is the correct model?

    Affecting something is not the same as determining it. And gene duplications have everything to do with my programmed to evolve idea. Gene duplication followed by integration and then functional change is out of the reach of blind and mindless processes.

    Fine. Just spell it out. Be specific. How is it that over millions and millions of years the central goal of your programmed evolutionary process was able to stay true. You keep avoiding answering that question. About something you proposed.

  31. 31
    JVL says:

    Jerry: All the authors on evolution and it seems Shubin is no different commit the logical fallacy of begging the question. They assume a naturalistic mechanism exists/existed and then find narratives/speculations to fit this unknown mechanism.

    Okay. Can you point to a particular result cited by Dr Shubin in his book that you think is incorrect or falsely interpreted?

  32. 32
    jerry says:

    Can you point to a particular result cited by Dr Shubin in his book that you think is incorrect or falsely interpreted?

    I assume all unless they apply to micro evolution.

    Can you point one that doesn’t. That would win the Nobel prize.

  33. 33
    ET says:

    JVL:

    And why is that? Are you too afraid to offer your model?

    This is why you get suspended. I was responding to a comment. Then you jumped in like an infant.

    So, what was the designed life? You keep dancing around actually giving an answer. Why is that?

    I have told you many times. No one knows and that is what science is for. But it can’t with a bunch of infant losers at the reigns. People like you are the main problem.

    Fine. Clear it all up then. What do you think is the correct model?

    No idea. I can only eliminate models based on the current understanding of biology.

    How is it that over millions and millions of years the central goal of your programmed evolutionary process was able to stay true. You keep avoiding answering that question. About something you proposed.

    Except I never proposed that. Obviously you have issues.

  34. 34
    JVL says:

    Jerry: I assume all unless they apply to micro evolution.

    Undoubtably you won’t actually read to book to find out. Oh well.

  35. 35
    JVL says:

    ET: Except I never proposed that. Obviously you have issues.

    You have proposed a scenario where life forms are ‘programmed’ to evolve.

    You have commented that the initial ‘design’ did not need to be perfect nor could it be expected to not degrade.

    You have said that some of the degradation could be correct by ‘intervention’.

    I’m just asking questions about your statements and trying to understand their implications and get you to clarify them. Since you don’t want to clarify them it seems I’ll just drop the whole thing.

  36. 36
    jerry says:

    Undoubtably you won’t actually read to book to find out. Oh well

    The reviewers said the book revealed nothing new. So why spend the time and money?

    Did you read it? It seems you haven’t since you haven’t discussed any specifics.

  37. 37
    ET says:

    JVL:

    You have proposed a scenario where life forms are ‘programmed’ to evolve.

    Yup. But I didn’t say anything about millions of years.

    You have commented that the initial ‘design’ did not need to be perfect nor could it be expected to not degrade.

    Right. As a RESPONSE to seversky.

    You have said that some of the degradation could be correct by ‘intervention’.

    That is how we do it now. It’s called maintenance.

    All you are doing is proving that you are a clueless infant.

  38. 38
    Seversky says:

    OldArmy94/11

    I’m confused. I thought that Almighty Darwinism, the power that was capable of independently evolving radar echolocation, compound eyes–MULTIPLE TIMES–had such an easy thing as the human neck in the bag. Yet, you’re telling me that Darwin Almighty screwed the pooch on such a simple detail?

    Somebody help me understand.

    Evolution is not a God nor is it a designer nor is it some sort of purposeful intelligence. It is a collection of natural processes which sometimes throw up changes in animals which give them a slight advantage over their competitors, enough to give them a better chance of survival. It doesn’t produce perfect solutions. That’s for designers.

    The problems with the human neck are not a problem for evolution. The problems are not so bad that humanity might go extinct because people can’t breathe properly in their sleep. If that had been the case we would not be here to discuss it.

    The problem is for the proponents of ID. If we can see the issues with the design of the neck, why couldn’t the original designer? After all, when human designers design a plane or a car, they do it the best way they know how. Even so, unanticipated problems can show up and then the designers and engineers find ways to fix them.

    So why didn’t this Intelligent Designer, who must have been far more knowledgeable and capable than current human designers, just fix the problems with the neck and all the other issues with the human body?

    The problems we see are much more consistent with our being the outcome of a natural process like evolution than they are with being the product of some super-intelligent alien intelligence.

  39. 39
    JVL says:

    ET: Yup. But I didn’t say anything about millions of years.

    In the end, you don’t end up really committing to much of anything do you?

    That is how we do it now. It’s called maintenance.

    How can maintenance be done on the programming in cells?

    All you are doing is proving that you are a clueless infant.

    If you explained your views a bit more clearly then I wouldn’t have to ask so many questions.

  40. 40
    JVL says:

    Jerry: The reviewers said the book revealed nothing new. So why spend the time and money?

    I’m sure that’s true for those working in the field who keep up with the research. But I found it informative and interesting as it helped give an overview of lots of different work done by lots of different researchers over a broad period of time.

    Did you read it? It seems you haven’t since you haven’t discussed any specifics.

    I did read it. It takes a lot of time and effort to lay out whole chapters of discussions and arguments on a site like this so I thought I would just mention it, give a summary in the form of a review and let the other participants decide for themselves if they wanted to find out more.

    You seem more interested in winning an argument with me than reading the book and finding out what it says regarding your own viewpoint.

    Oh well.

  41. 41
    Seekers says:

    JVL,

    In your opinion then, is shubin’s work overlooked? Does it hold key information the rest of the scientific community are unaware of?

  42. 42
    JVL says:

    Seekers: In your opinion then, is shubin’s work overlooked? Does it hold key information the rest of the scientific community are unaware of?

    Oh gosh no. Not in the scientific community. Dr Shubin wrote a book for the general reader elucidating some of the work done in the last 150 years which throws light on how, exactly, the evolutionary process creates new biological structures and body plans. He was merely trying to synthesise and summarise a lot of research that might be difficult for the general public to grasp.

  43. 43
    Seekers says:

    JVL,

    So would I be correct in saying that you believe ID (or possibly the people of UD) are unaware of or haven’t had the chance to go through shubin’s work.

    Where would you recommend someone start, is the book up to date with the latest research? or has there been amendments to statements made or data received that has maybe changed some of the conclusions drawn by Dr shubin? In your opinion of course.

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