Does Imperfection Discredit Design?
If God Created Humans Perfect, Why Do so Many
Mistakes Occur in Producing New Life?
Atheists argue we were not created, but evolved by
natural selection of errors called mutations
by Jerry Bergman, PhD
One argument atheists use to support their belief that humans were not created, but instead, evolved, is the imperfect world of humans we now inhabit They point to sickness, useless organs, and claims of poor design. Both the useless organs and claims of poor design have been refuted by the peer reviewed scientific literature. Evolutionists even claim evolution works by perfecting organs by the process of natural selection of genetic errors called mutations. Consequently, they claim the world looks like it evolved, and not created by an intelligent God. Under the title “Errors at the start of life” one article summary wrote,
Only one in three fertilizations leads to a successful pregnancy. Many embryos fail to progress beyond early development. Cell biologists at the …. errors often occur when the genetic material from each parent combines immediately after fertilization. This is due to a remarkably inefficient process [of fertilization].
Another study stated,
one third to one half of zygotes do not mature into blastocysts, and of those that form blastocysts, at least 40% will not implant… Sporadic miscarriage affects one in four women.
The claim that sporadic miscarriage is a result of poor design (or as expressed in the paper by Cavazza T, et al 2021, “is due to a remarkably inefficient process” of fertilization) emanates partly from a lack of understanding of reality. The fact is, we are all surrounded by poisons, corrosive radiation, toxins, dangerous chemicals and lethal gamma radiation. As I will explain, our body was designed to protect us from these insults. One of the most important concepts I learned in my medical school toxicology class was “the dose is the poison.” Nothing in low enough amounts, even radiation, is toxic, and everything in high enough amounts is toxic, even water, which is necessary for life.
Water intoxication dilutes the body’s electrolytes, especially sodium, which helps to maintain the balance of fluids inside and outside of cells. Excessive water consumption results in a drop of sodium density, causing fluids to travel from the outside to the inside of cells. As a result they swell. This can cause confusion, disorientation, nausea, vomiting, seizures, brain damage, comas, and even death if abnormal amounts of water are consumed in a very short amount of time.
Likewise a similar problem occurs with oxygen. Oxygen is highly toxic in fairly low amounts. Origin of life researchers know this. It leads them to postulate that a reducing atmosphere instead of an oxidizing atmosphere must have existed on the early earth for life to form.
One example of an reducing atmosphere is hydrogen and other gases which dominate where oxygen is close to absent. An atmosphere with significant levels of oxygen is called an oxidizing atmosphere. In an oxidizing environment, the manufacture of most organic compounds is impossible. Conversely, without oxygen life as we know it is impossible. Thus, life requires a special mechanism to bring oxygen into the body while, at the same time, protecting body tissue from its toxic effects. For example, the skin and linings of the branchial tube must be protected by epithelium and oily coatings.
Furthermore, the body must constantly deal with ensuring that the required levels of materials, like water and oxygen, are available but toxic amounts are avoided. The body produces large numbers of antioxidants to reduce the potential for cell damage by free radicals of oxygen. Natural antioxidants include catalase, glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase (SOD). These antioxidant enzymes neutralize millions of free radicals. Diet is another way of reducing oxygen damage. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and vitamin-E, for instance, are both effective antioxidants found in many foods.
Natural Selection helps to ensure only the strongest, and healthiest survive
Sperm calls require a long journey to get to the egg. It would be close to 40 miles if scaled to the size of a salmon, and many sperm are damaged or destroyed on their journey. About 40 to 150 million sperm began the journey and only the strongest, most fit will make it to the egg to try and fertilize it. This is a real case of survival of the fittest. It is one reason why healthy women below the age of 35 rarely give birth to a deformed child. Upon ejaculation, the sperm are enclosed in seminal plasma or semen, a mix of fluids from the seminal vesicles, prostate, and bulbourethral glands. The fluid protects the sperm during their long journey as well as providing nutrients.
Once in the woman, the semen thickens to help it remain in the vagina instead of oozing out. When it reaches the cervix, the “gate” to the egg, it has to struggle to get through and largely only the strongest make it through. If the cervix was not tightly closed, infections would be far more frequent. The sperm cells then follow chemical signals (a process called chemotaxis) given off by supportive cells called cumulus cells from the egg. As they travel on their long journey, sperm cells undergo biochemical and functional changes to help prepare them for fertilization.
The sperm eventually confronts a barrier of cells surrounding the egg. Getting through them requires hyperactivation. When a sperm cell gets through this barrier, another barrier called the ‘zona pellucida’ requires the acrosome on top of the sperm cell to release enzymes that break down the zona pellucida, allowing the winning sperm to penetrate the egg. Once the sperm cell’s head is inside the egg, the sperm tail detaches. Instantly, the zona pellucida becomes impermeable to other sperm trying to break in.
When inside the egg, both the egg and the sperm prepare for genetic fusion. The chromatin first condenses into chromosomes. The 23 chromosomes from the egg and the 23 from the sperm cell line up to fuse sister pairs together to form 23 pairs of chromosomes. They then generate the first cell of a new life called the zygote. This brief overview only covers the highlights of the ’40 mile’ journey sperm must travel through a very hostile environment. The complexities are enormous; scores of things could go wrong. This is why conception and childbirth is called a miracle.
Renew and Repair
The body is constantly renewing and repairing itself due the normal wear and tear of life. The skin has to constantly renew itself for this reason (see 10 May 2021). Skin renewal begins with keratinocytes that divide at the lowest epidermis level. These new cells gradually push to the top layer where they are weathered by normal living activities, such as clothing rubbing against the skin. The top layer is dead, the stratum corneum, and eventually breaks away from the epidermis and falls off, making room for the newer cells growing below.
The average adult requires about a month for new skin cells to move from the bottom layer to the top layer. Consequently, in a month a completely new epidermis is produced. As a result, the healthy adult sheds an estimated 200 million skin cells every hour.  Blood cells are recycled after about 120 days due to wear and damage in the circulatory system. Almost the entire human body is replaced about every seven years. Some parts renew weekly; other parts require decades. Bone is replaced by osteoclasts breaking down old bone and osteoblasts producing new bone, depending on the bone, replacing the entire bone every few years. While some parts of human bone turn over quickly (osteoclasts live about two weeks), other parts of bone take decades. In fact, most bone cells have a half-life of 25 years.
The Human Reproductive System
We do not sleep in granite stone beds, which could last a lifetime, but sleep on and in cotton sheets which may last a few years. The same issue is true with our reproductive system. The human reproductive system could be precision manufactured out of stainless steel and designed so a single sperm will always fertilize an egg like is done in the laboratory. But we are humans with flexible bodies that sleep in soft cloth beds. Given what it means to be human, the existing reproductive system is over 99 percent effective when two healthy humans who copulate during the women’s fertile period and the egg is fertilized.
The poor design claim cites research that found in a majority of human embryos, something goes wrong and the zygote ends up with an incorrect number of chromosomes. Specifically, an estimated 50 to 70 percent of human embryos are aneuploid, meaning they do not have the correct number of chromosomes, which is 22 pairs plus the sex chromosomes, making 46. As a result of the quality control system, most aneuploid embryos do not form zygotes and those that do, do not develop to term.
The few that do include trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome but most do not survive long) and trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome, only 10 percent live beyond the first year) making aneuploidy in embryos a leading cause of miscarriages and infertility. Although Down syndrome is by far the most common example, most trisomy 21 conceived are spontaneously aborted, most during the first trimester. Furthermore, “The majority of aneuploidy is thought to arise during the mitotic divisions of the embryo. Mitotic errors have been linked to abnormal division events during early embryo development. However, the cellular origins of mitotic aneuploidy remain unclear.”
The problem could be caused by sporadic mutations, the deterioration of the human genome in general, or other unknown causes. An important factor is the age of the parents. The older the mother, the higher the risk of having a Down syndrome child. In fact, children born to older parents, especially over age 35, are at much greater risk for all genetic abnormalities. The age of both the mother and father was important, although a cofounding factor for older mothers is usually the father is also older. What is needed is study of older mother and much younger fathers, to determine the importance of the father, if any. 
Likely, this study will not occur because of the problem of obtaining a sufficient sample size. The ideal time for a women to bear a child is from age 18 to about 35. Furthermore, women are only fertile during a few days during their menstrual cycles, and the mother’s age when pregnant indicate the age of her eggs. She had between 1 to 2 million eggs when she was born, but more than 10,000 die each month. And after puberty the number of eggs that die each month decreases. If the embryo is not developing properly due to mutations, the mothers age, a quality control system causes a spontaneous abortion. This is one reason why close to 99 percent of all babies are very fairly healthy and most problems that occur are due to problems that can easily repaired, such as cleft lip, cleft palate.
The poor design claim causing reproduction to be error prone is incorrect. Problems are not due to poor design but the fact that the body constantly has to deal with assaults by toxins, mutations and injury. The quality control system covered in this paper insures that over 97 percent of all human births born to healthy parent normal parents under age 35 are fully normal and, of the 3 percent, many imperfections can be treated. Examples include club foot, webbed toes, and even some heart defects are minor or very treatable.
Even these numbers could be improved if mothers did not drink or smoke, stop using recreational or most over-the-counter drugs when pregnant. Another important factor is taking precautions, such as adding to their diet 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to reduce neural-tube defect risks, as spina bifida; consume a healthy, balanced diet; avoid fish that contain mercury and undercooked meat or change the cat’s litter box (sources of toxoplasmosis, that can cause birth defects), lose weight, and make sure your blood sugar levels are normal.
 Cavazza T, et al 2021. Parental genome unification is highly error-prone in mammalian embryos. Cell. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2021.04.013.
 See Jerry Bergman Useless Organs: The Rise and Fall of the Once Major Argument for Evolution. 2019. Tulsa, OK: Bartlett Publishing. and The “Poor Design” Argument Against Intelligent Design Falsified. 2019. Tulsa, OK: Bartlett Publishing.
 2021. Errors at the start of life. The process of combining maternal and paternal genetic information is surprisingly error-prone. https://www.mpg.de/16871713/errors-at-the-start-of-life. May 7.
 Hardy. Kathy and Philip John Hardy. 2015. 1st trimester miscarriage: four decades of study. Translational Pediatrics. 4(2): 189–200. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2224-4336.2015.03.05.
 Joo, Min and Eun Kim. 2013. Hyponatremia caused by excessive intake of water as a form of child abuse. Annals of Pediatric Endocrinology & Metabolism 2013;18(2): 95-98.
 Okeke-Okiche, Dorathy.rightly. 2019. What No One Tells You About Being a First-Time Mom: The secret to embracing the miracle of childbirth. New York: DailyIFY. Nilsson, Lennart and Lars Hamberger.2003. A Child is Born. New York: Delacorte Press
 Mariko Yokouchi, et al., Epidermal cell turnover across tight junctions based on Kelvin’s tetrakaidecahedron cell shape. eLife, 2016; 5 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.19593m
 Cavazza T, et al 2021. Parental genome unification is highly error-prone in mammalian embryos. Cell https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2021.04.013.
 Cavazza T, et al 2021
 Kathy Hardy. Kathy and Philip John Hardy. 2015. 1st trimester miscarriage: four decades of study. Translational Pediatrics. 4(2): 189–200. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2224-4336.2015.03.05
 Cavazza T, et al 2021
 Fisch, Harry et al., 2003 THE INFLUENCE OF PATERNAL AGE ON DOWN SYNDROME
THE JOURNAL OF UROLOGY 169:2275-2278 June
 Martin, Joyce. 2017. Births: Final Data for 2015 National Vital Statistics Reports vol 66 No 1 https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr66/nvsr66_01.pdf. Laurie Tarkan. 2018. Top Pregnancy Fears You Can Feel Better About https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-life/top-pregnancy-fears-you-can-feel-better-about/
Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.