[Excerpts from Jerry Bergman’s review of Nathan Lents book Human Errors: A panorama of our glitches, from pointless bones to broken genes, where the author asserts that since we are “evolved” instead of “designed,” the human body is a mass of genetic errors.]
It is the responsibility of an author to do basic research before writing a book. I have read few books with as many gross errors as this one, mostly in chapters 1, 3, and 4. Although entertaining and well-written, most of the examples in these three chapters are incorrect or not up to date. One example of many is the so-called placement of the retina photoreceptors called backward because they face away from the source of light instead of toward it (pp. 2–8). A major reason for this design, as has long beenknown to ophthalmologists,1 is that both the rods and cones must physically interact with the retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, which are located at the back of the eye. The RPE provides nutrients and oxygen to the retina cells, one of the most bioactive cell systems in the body.
Examples Lents discusses include the upside-down maxillary nasal sinuses which he claims are poor design because they often must drain against gravity. They are located behind each upper cheek above the teeth, one on each side of the nose (pp. 12–13). Given their many functions, which include lubricating, warming and moistening the air we breathe, the nasal sinuses must be designed to completely surround the nasal cavity. All the paranasal sinuses produce resonance to allow each human voice to be so unique that voice analysis can often accurately identify persons that make phone threats.
The maxillary nasal sinuses use cilia to move the sinuses’ contents upward, and the main problem is when they become inflamed, which causes problems for all of the paranasal sinuses. The maxillary nasal sinusesare only upside down when humans are sitting up or walking. When lying down, they have the advantage of gravity helping to drain them, but the other paranasal sinuses have the disadvantage the maxillary sinuses have when the person is standing upright.
The injury-prone knee (pp. 32–33), which Lents also cites as an example of poor design, is not injury prone as a result of poor design. Almost all knee problems are due to body abuse, overuse, injury, or disease, and not poor design. The knee is the largest, most complex joint in the human body, but it is also one of the most used (and abused) body joints. It is also considered a marvel of engineering and design by engineers. Furthermore, no evidence exists of knee evolution in the abundant fossil record. Mammals either have the irreducibly complex human type of knee, 5 or the simpler non-human type.
[Also] covered are claims of foot and hand problems caused by too many bones (p. 29). Lents claims human feet comprise 26 bones because we evolved from ape-like ancestors that required flexible feet to grasp branches. Thus, humans have an excess number of foot and hand bones because we no longer are arboreal (p. 29). However, the current design allows the human foot and hand to be more flexible, to our advantage in many obvious ways, than would be the case if the hands and feet had fewer bones as advocated by Lents.
The stated goal of Lents is to document the poor design claims in the human body, but he fails miserably. Only three chapters directly attempt to achieve this goal, chapters 1 and 3 and parts of 4. Chapter 3 has been carefully rebuked by extensive new research, including the ENCODE project. The claims by Darwinists given in Chapters 1 and 4 have likewise been refuted by empirical research, by both evolutionists and creationists.