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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2004
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Claim CI120:

A purpose for an object indicates that the object is designed.


Paley, William, 1802. Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity. London: J. Faulder, p. 2.


  1. When somebody designs something, he or she usually has a purpose for it, but the purpose is that of the designer, not the object designed. For example, people have a purpose for windows and airbags in automobiles, but the automobile itself has no such purpose. When the purpose argument is applied to life, though, the designer is intentionally left entirely unknowable, and thus the purpose of the designer is not part of the picture. We know only the object's purpose for part of the object, which is not relevant unless you want to claim that the object designed itself.

  2. To the extent that traits of living things have a purpose, that purpose, ultimately, is the reproductive success of the organism's genes. Such purpose is entirely consistent with evolution.

  3. It is not uncommon for undesigned objects to have a purpose. The North Star, for example, has a purpose in navigation, but it got that purpose entirely through the chance of its being in a certain spot.

    Even with designed things, it is common for purposes to come and go. The same object can have different purposes at different times or even multiple purposes at the same time. It will gain and lose its purposes as conditions change.

  4. Some life forms have no apparent purpose. There have been species in isolated caves discovered quite by chance (Decu et al. 1994). Very likely, there have been species similarly isolated that were never discovered.

    Some parts of life forms also appear to have no purpose: junk DNA, for example.

    Life also exists at cross-purposes. A bobcat's purpose for a rabbit is likely to be quite different from the rabbit's purpose.


  1. Decu, V., M. Gruia, S. L. Keffer and S. M. Sarbu, 1994. Stygobiotic waterscorpion, Nepa anophthalma, n. sp. (Heteroptera: Nepidae), from a sulfurous cave in Romania. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 87: 755-761.

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created 2003-6-23, modified 2003-10-6