Irreducible complexity and overdesign

Recently I was given a large bag of fallen apples, always much appreciated as I like apples but don’t have any apple trees.  Of course, they don’t keep long so I had to cut them up and cook them before their bruises got too large!  Not a particularly exciting task but I sustained myself with thoughts of apple pies and apple crumbles and apple porridge…  Then I suddenly realised that, busily chopping out bad bits from apples, I had managed to chop a perfectly healthy bit out of my thumb.  Ouch!  But it was quite a small bit really, and the bleeding soon stopped.  It was fine – as long as I didn’t use the thumb.  But therein lay the problem.  Even though it was my left thumb (and I’m right-handed), it was remarkably difficult to do anything without using it.  Or perhaps I should put that the other way round: without using it, it was remarkably difficult to do anything!  I felt considerable sympathy for Adoni-Bezek, and certainly for the seventy kings whose thumbs and great toes he had cut off before the Israelites did the same to him!

But isn’t the human hand truly wonderful?  With some 27 bones, 35 muscles, a very large number of nerves, ligaments and tendons, it is – according to one study – capable of at least 58 distinct types of movement.  So precise and fine are its movements that a quarter of the motor cortex in the brain, which controls all the body’s muscles, is devoted to controlling the muscles of the hands.  Evolutionists claim that human hands evolved to make and hold tools, but that hardly accounts for their amazing skill.  Think of a pianist, or a surgeon, or communicating with sign language, or using a pen or a paintbrush.  Such delicate tasks are made possible by the hand’s unique, fully opposable thumbs which can make contact with the ends of each finger, combined with its fine motor control.

The hand is in fact a perfect example of ‘overdesign’; it is designed to perform at a level of sophistication far higher than is necessary for survival.  Something which requires an intelligent designer!

The hand is also an example of ‘irreducible complexity’, something which is impossible in evolution since it requires planning ahead and the bringing together of different parts at the same time.  The tripod grip, used to hold a pen for example, requires fully opposable thumbs, fingers of the right length, and the flexibility of the palm to be present at the same time.  And what would be the use of a hand which is capable of such fine movements without the appropriate development of the motor cortex to control the muscles – or the brain capable of controlling such movements without the muscles to control?  No evolutionary advantage there!

Isaac Newton once said that the thumb alone would be enough to convince him of the existence of a Creator, and I have no desire to disagree with Newton!  Not only that, but the amazing design of the human hand – of my hand – with its wonderful creative potential surely reminds me every day that I am made in the image of my Creator-God.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, skilfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.   Psalm 139:14