Pharyngula

Purpose, purpose, purpose

I once gave a lecture in which I summarized Intelligent Design arguments as simply repeating the word complexity a lot. I was wrong; I left out a word. They also use the word “purpose” a lot.

The latest example of the same tired old nonsense comes from Michael Behe, who really is just repeating the same thing he’s said many times before — in fact, he’s said it so many times that at this point it’s clear his brain is not engaged, and this is a reflex action by his typing fingers.

My contention is that ‘the purposeful arrangement of parts’ to achieve a specific purpose is the criterion that enables us to recognise design.

Wow. Circular argument is circular. What is design? The purposeful arrangement of parts. How do you know it’s purposeful? Because it has a purpose. How do you know it has a purpose? Because it looks designed. Repeat.

Let’s simplify his statement: “My contention is that things are purposeful because they achieve a specific purpose and that is the criterion that enables us to recognise purpose.” Yeah, that helps.

He has a counterargument to evolution:

The Darwinian alternative is to propose a phenomenon never observed anywhere, namely that complex machinery can assemble itself without any planning or direction.

Yet we do observe that all over the place, in the operation of the cell. Unless, of course, he’s now going to claim that thermodynamically-driven cellular processes are actually led along by tiny little invisible agents of the Lord.