Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

This amazing Rube Goldberg device happened just by accident in a mindless universe, you know


Michael Behe has written about Rube Goldberg devices in Darwin’s Black Box (1996):

In chapter four of his controversial book, Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe presents the argument that Rube Goldberg machines exist in living things and that such machines are “irreducibly complex.” Behe presents the argument that the existence of such machines cannot be explained by mindless naturalistic mechanisms and are thus examples of deliberate design. After all, anyone who has watched cartoons as a child knows what a Rube Goldberg machine is and that this machine will not work if any one part is removed. So, how can something evolve in a stepwise way where each step is functionally beneficial if there is no function until all the parts are in place?

Sean Pitman, “Rube Goldberg Machines & Evolution” at Detecting Design (2002)

Here’s a real-life example:

Behe had used a cartoon figure, worth recalling fondly:

As an example, consider the following scenario where Behe describes a popular cartoon about the loud-mouthed rooster Foghorn Leghorn.

“ … Foghorn would be walking along, notice a dollar bill or some other bait on the ground, and pick it up. The dollar was tied by a string to a stick that was propped against a ball. When the dollar bill was moved, the attached string pulled down the stick, and the ball would start to roll away as Foghorn stared slack-jawed at the developing action. The ball then would fall of a cliff onto the raised end of a seesaw, smacking it down and sending a rock with an attached piece of sandpaper hurtling into the air. On its upward journey the sandpaper would strike a match sticking out of the cliff, which lit the fuse to a cannon. The cannon would fire; on its downward track the cannonball would hit the rim of a funnel (the only allowance for error in the whole scenario), roll around the edge a few times, and fall through. As it came out of the funnel, the cannonball would hit against a lever that started a circular saw. The saw would cut through a rope, which was holding up a telephone pole. Slowly the telephone pole would begin to fall, and too late Foghorn Leghorn would realize that the fascinating show was at his expense. As he turns to run, the very tip of the telephone pole smacks him on the head and drives him like a peg into the ground.” – Behe, Michael J. Darwin’s Black Box, The Free Press, 1996. Sean Pitman, “Rube Goldberg Machines & Evolution” at Detecting Design (2002)

Can’t find the one Behe is referring to at YouTube but this one is fun:


Leave a Reply