The Not-So-Intelligent Designer: Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not

By Abby Hafer

A witty and accessible dissection of the failure of Intelligent Design creationism, showing its inability to explain many basic features of human anatomy.

ISBN: 9780718894207


Why do men’s testicles hang outside the body? Why does our appendix sometimes explode and kill us? And who does the Designer like better, anyway – us, or squid? These and other questions are addressed in The Not-So-Intelligent Designer. Dr Abby Hafer argues that the human body has many faulty design features that would never have been the choice of an intelligent creator. She also points out other animals that got better body parts, which makes the Designer look a bit strange; discusses the history and politics of Intelligent Design and creationism; reveals animals that shouldn’t exist according to Intelligent Design; and disposes of the idea of irreducible complexity. Her points are illustrated with pictures (by Alexander Winkler), wit, and erudition.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 244
Illustrations b&w

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Abby Hafer has a doctorate in zoology from Oxford University. She is a Senior Lecturer who teaches human anatomy and physiology at Curry College. She gives frequent public lectures on why evolution is true and Intelligent Design/Creationism is not.



1. Introduction, or, Why Testicles Matter
2. Bad Design – Men’s Testicles
3. What Is Intelligent Design, and What Does It Have to Do With Men’s Testicles?
4. Testicles, Part II
5. Why Evolution Explains the Human Body Better than Intelligent Design Does
6. Intelligent Design According to Its Believers: Is Intelligent Design the Same as Creationism, and Is Intelligent Design Religion?
7. The Infamous Wedge Strategy
8. Why Denying Evolution Can Get You into Trouble and Cause Mass Hunger, Too
9. What Science Is
10. Why Accepting Science and Evolution Can Lead to Better Values for All Humankind
11. Bad Design – the Birth Canal
12. The Handy-Dandy Intelligent Design Refuter, Part 1
13. Intelligent Design Requires a Leap of Faith
14. Animals That Shouldn’t Exist According to Intelligent Design
15. Bad Design – the Human Throat
16. The Handy-Dandy Intelligent Design Refuter, Part 2
17. Irreducible Complexity, the Design Inference, and Geological Formations
18. Irreducible Complexity and Blood Clotting
19. Bad Design – the Human Blood Clotting System: It Led to the Communist Russian Revolution
20. Irreducible Complexity, Flagella, and Cilia
21. Irreducible Complexity and the Human Eye
22. Bad Design – the Human Eye
23. Why Denying Science is Bad for You, and Bad for Your Neighbors, Too
24. Why Reward in Heaven Makes No Difference to Human Behavior, but Good Institutions Do
25. Bad Design – Our Biochemical Pathways: If Cats Don’t Die of Scurvy, Then Why Do We?
26. Why Does Intelligent Design Act So Much Like the Tobacco Lobby?
27. Bad Design – Our Teeth, or, Why Is This Animal Smiling?
28. The Discovery Institute Hasn’t Discovered Anything (Sort of Like the Tobacco Institute)
29. The Publishing Scandal that Rocked the Discovery Institute
30. Bad Design – Sharks Get More Reproductive Options, Too
31. Exploding the Cambrian Explosion
32. Why William Dembski’s “Information Theory” Isn’t Very Informative
33. Bad Design – the Human Genome
34. Bad Design – the Human Appendix
35. Evolution: The Greatest Indisputably True Story Ever Told

Appendix 1: The Phylogeny of Mammalian Testicles
Appendix 2: The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Statement on Intelligent Design
Appendix 3: The Life Cycle of the Immortal Jellyfish
Appendix 4: Credits and Notes for Illustrations and Photographs



Endorsements and Reviews

For an adequate account of the world, we must take a sober look at life as it really is. Hafer shows that things are a whole lot messier and makeshift than what some intelligent design theories would incline us to believe. This book has the potential not only to alter the political terrain in wars over evolution and creationism but also to prompt believers like me to rethink how we should talk about God as Creator.
Thomas Jay Oord, author of Divine Grace and Emerging Creation

I’ve been dreaming of a politically edgy treatment of intelligent design and here it is at last. Abby Hafer is acutely intelligent and wonderfully witty. Read this book and laugh your way to clarity and wisdom.
Wesley J. Wildman, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts

A delightful exploration of the quirks of our bodies which make biology so much fun, evolution so fascinating, life so explicable, and intelligent-design creationism so preposterous.
Steven Pinker, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Three cheers for Abby Hafer! She did it and no one thought it could be done! She wrote a devastating critique of intelligent design that is clear, funny, scientifically accurate, and charming. Her book is a marvel of how popular science should be written. Oh! Were there more scientific writers like Abby …
Michael Martin, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts

The Not-So-Intelligent Designer is a much-needed work in an America where anti-intellectualism is rampant and, shockingly, even candidates for high office frequently reject evolution. Abby Hafer has that rare ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in understandable terms for non-scientists, and this book is sure to enlighten many.
David Niose, author of Fighting Back the Right

Hafer’s book is a valuable contribution to debunking the claims of intelligent design and the notion of one or more gods intervening in the physics and biology of the real world. She writes in an engaging style that entertains as well as informs. I enthusiastically recommend it.
Ellery Schempp, plaintiff, Abington School District v. Schempp; PhD, Chemical Physics, Brown University

Intelligent design creationism is a dangerously successful political ideology – they’ve passed laws, co-opted high school teachers, and nearly half the population identifies as creationist. The Not-So-Intelligent Designer is a guidebook on how intelligent design fails, from unintelligently designed testes to intelligent design’s unconstitutional religious agenda.
Zack Kopplin, organizer of the campaign to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act, Baton Rouge, LA

Hafer’s ingenious strategy for dealing with creationists/intelligent design proponents has them by the balls!
John W. Loftus, author of Why I Became An Atheist

The Not-So-Intelligent Designer is a scholarly book that is accessible and intelligible to the general reader. It is especially a must read for adherents of religious traditions who embrace modern science. Hafer does a masterful job of defining science, i.e. a way of knowing characterized by the formulation of a hypothesis, the gathering of evidence, drawing of conclusions, and repeating the experiment. She shows in a compelling way that the conclusions of advocates of intelligent design are beyond the purview of science. In fact, she provides a convincing demonstration of how the battles over intelligent design are over the nature of science itself.
Leslie A. Muray, Curry College, Milton, MA