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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2006
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Claim CI131:

In every case where a machine's origin can be determined, it is the result of intelligent agency. (A machine is a device for transmitting or modifying force or energy.) Out of billions of observations, there are no exceptions. It should be considered a law of nature that machines, including those in living organisms, have an intelligent cause.


Scot, Dave. 2006. Machines are the result of intelligent agency.


  1. The claim is an argument by analogy: Life is like man-made objects in containing machines, therefore it is like man-made objects in having an intelligent cause. It suffers the weaknesses of all arguments by analogy. In particular, it ignores dissimilarities between life and design, and the similarity has questionable relevance to intelligence.

    If the argument were valid, it could equally be argued that, in every case where a machine's origin can be determined, the machine is made by humans, and therefore all life is man-made.

  2. Many machines occur in nature without the involvement of intelligence or, indeed, of any kind of life. The following list is far from exhaustive.

  3. Other machines are created by life but not by intelligence. Genetic algorithms design or help to design many kinds of machines, from antennae to jet engines (Marczyk 2004). One may attempt to argue that items designed by a genetic algorithm inherit the intelligent agency of the algorithm's designer, but this misses the point that no human mental activity directs the immediate operation of the algorithm. In some cases, for example in some electronic circuits, the algorithmically-designed results show no resemblance to their human-designed versions, and indeed, cannot be explained via human design methods (Koza et al. 2003).

    Unintelligent animals also create a wide variety of machines, such as the orb weaver's spider webs, the ant lion's pit traps, and air-conditioned termite nests. Again, one may appeal that the designer of the designer might be intelligent, but that raises the possibility that maybe intelligence starts with the designer of the designer of the designer, or even further back.


Camp, Robert. 2005. Very like a . . . machine?


  1. Koza, John R., Martin A. Keane and Matthew J. Streeter, 2003. Evolving inventions. Scientific American 288(2) (Feb.): 52-59.
  2. Marczyk, Adam. 2004. Genetic algorithms and evolutionary computation.

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created 2006-2-8