To make this point, I showed pictures of otherwise healthy humans who had been born with webbed feet and tails. I asked the challenging question: “Why does the human genome contain instructions for the production of features we don’t use?” The scientific explanation is that we inherited these instructions from our tailed ancestors but the instructions for producing them have been shut off in our genomes, which is why Shallow Hal is the only person most people know who has a tail. Sometimes the “ignore these genes” message gets lost in fetal development, however, and babies are born with perfectly formed, even functional tails.

I have no idea how Intelligent Design theorists explain humans with tails. And apparently Stephen Meyer doesn’t either, as he complete ignored this point. In his book, Signature in the Cell, he offers a “prediction” that all such examples of bad design, will turn out to be “degenerate forms of originally elegant or beneficial designs” (p. 491). Fitting this notion into any Christian framework would entail—pun intended—endorsing the notion that God created humans to have tails and something went wrong along the way and we lost them. This is essentially the view of young earth creationism—that ID insists is not their evolutionary ancestor—that attribute every imperfection in nature to Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. And yet the dioramas of Adam and Eve in the Creation Museum do not picture them with tails, for some reason…

The absence of a clear and well-articulated theory is disastrous for ID, and excludes it from scientific consideration, because it makes it impossible to put any observations in context as evidence either for or against the theory. I made this rather complex point with a photo of the lake in front of my vacation home. A photo is an “observation,” of course. But a photo is not automatically “evidence.” A theoretical claim that can be tested with a photo must be present before a photo becomes evidence. My photo could be used as evidence, for example, to determine if 1) the water was higher than last week or 2) the winter ice was gone 3) the boat race was on some other lake or 4) if aliens were waterskiing that day. But, until you advance some relevant theoretical claim a photo is just a photo—it is not “evidence.”