Logic Me This

Logic Me This: Teleological Fallacy

‘Logic Me This’ is a regular series on Teen Skepchick where we examine various logical fallacies in an attempt to help you think more like a Skeptic.

This is the last of the weekly LMTs, we’ll be dropping it down to an occasional feature from now on. Don’t worry though! We’ll have something else super-exciting to take its place.

Anyway, for this edition of ‘Logic Me This’, I’ll be discussing the Teleological Fallacy. I was reminded of this fallacy by Greta Christina when she wrote her own lyrics to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way. Check it out!

The guts of this fallacy is suggesting that because there is an end use for something, then it was designed for this purpose. It is at the heart of any creationist argument, and even a person who believes in theistic evolution is committing this fallacy, as evolution has no end point. Natural selection only works to select what is most useful at that particular stage of development.

This problem with this fallacy is pretty neatly summed-up by the puddle analogy, attributed to the wonderful Douglas Adams.

Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!” This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.
-Douglas Adams

For another good discussion, check out this Yahoo Answer or this YouTube.

Image Credit: Google Images

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Lauren is a Maths and Physics student from somewhere in the southern hemisphere. She has an affinity for reality, and you can find her on twitter @lolrj, or Google+.

1 Comment

  1. March 5, 2013 at 10:16 am —

    Let’s say that your end cause is a house..
    So you design and build a house that suits you.
    It has been designed for your own purpose.

    What’s the Teleological Fallacy for this example ?

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