Evolution News, August 2010 [Excerpts]: Over at BioLogos, biologist Kathryn Applegate has offered what has to be one of the more creative alternatives to the intelligent design of the bacterial flagellum: Magic.
I'm not kidding. Applegate readily concedes biochemist Michael Behe's point that the flagellum "looks and functions just like the outboard motor, a machine designed by intelligent human engineers. So conspicuous is the resemblance that it seems perfectly logical to infer a Designer for the flagellum." But, wait, she says: "The bacterial flagellum may look like an outboard motor, but there is at least one profound difference: the flagellum assembles spontaneously, without the help of any conscious agent." Acknowledging that "the self-assembly of such a complex machine almost defies the imagination," Dr. Applegate assures her readers that this is not really a problem because "Natural forces work 'like magic." Presto, change o, something appears!
Now Dr. Applegate admits that in our common experience things don't just magically self-assemble without any guiding intelligence. "We've all put together toys, furniture, or appliances; even the simplest designs require conscious coordination of materials, tools, and assembly instructions (and even then there's no guarantee that we get it right!)."
However, Dr. Applegate assures us that with nature things are different. "It is tempting to think the spontaneous formation of so complex a machine is 'guided,' whether by a Mind or some 'life force' but we know that the bacterial flagellum, like countless other machines in the cell, assembles and functions automatically according to known natural laws. No intelligence required."
[TBC: On the contrary, Intelligence required but not wanted.]