Mr Mcmillan Design Argument Essay

The Design Argument is one of the oldest and (to many people) most persuasive arguments for the existence of God. It is also one of the most hotly criticised. The Design Argument itself is described below. The exam will test you on the following aspects of the Argument:

Introducing the Design Argument

If there isn’t a God, you hear people say, how did the world get to be the way it is? it can’t be like this by chance!
This view also appears in the Bible:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands - Psalm 19: 1
For people in the ancient world, there was no alternative to these myths or Biblical explanations until the emergence of science. Scientific theories propose natural, rather than supernatural, explanations for why the world is the way it is. But for some people, the scientific explanations by themselves are not enough. It seems to them that the world and life on earth and human life in particular is too complex, too unique, too special to have come about as a result of blind natural forces. For them, it makes better sense to argue that the world is designed, and that God is the designer.

However, the Design Argument continues to have a powerful hold over the imagination.
This proof always deserves to be mentioned with respect. It is the oldest, the clearest, and the most accordant with the common reason of mankind - Immanuel Kant
Mr McMillan offers excellent videos on his Religious Studies site
​This argument for the existence of God is sometimes called the TELEOLOGICAL argument (TELEOS is Greek for “purpose” or “goal”). It can be set out like this:

P1 (premise 1) Order and purpose only exist where an intelligent agent has been at work
P2 (premise 2) The world shows signs of order and purpose
C1 (conclusion 1) Therefore, the world must have been designed by an intelligent agent.
P3 (premise 3) God is the only intelligent agent capable of designing worlds
C2 (conclusion 2) Therefore, God exists

In this argument,“the world” can be “the universe” or occasionally “life” or “human life”!

​If you're confused about "order and purpose" in the world, consider these examples:
The ozone gas layer is a mighty proof of the creator’s forethought - ARTHUR BROWN
  • Remember, the Design Argument looks at the STRUCTURE of the world and proposes that there must be a DESIGNER who gave it this structure.
  • It's not asking about the ORIGIN of the world - that's the Cosmological Argument.
  • Make sure you focus on DESIGN, STRUCTURE, ORDER and PURPOSE... not beginnings, origins or creation
This is an easy confusion to fall into since religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam believe in a God who is both a Designer AND a Creator. Not all religions merge these two roles. Aristotle and Plato believed in a God who was responsible for the creation of the universe, but another, different God (called "the Demiurge") who was responsible for designing it. In a lot of pagan myths, the gods design the universe but there doesn't seem to be anyone responsible for creating it: it's just always been there, but it wasn't inhabitable until the gods came along and tidied it up.
If you want to criticise a philosophical argument, you can question whether it is SOUND or whether it is VALID.

A sound argument has premises which are true.
  • Is it true that order and purpose only come about due to the intervention of intelligent agents?
  • Is it true that there is evidence of order and purpose in the world?
  • Is it true that only the God of the Bible has the power to impose order and purpose on the universe?
For many religious believers, the design in the world seems to be self-evidently true. However, non-believers often fail to see this design, perceiving only natural forces at work. This suggests that the perception of design is an INTUITION - a type of knowledge of the world that applies to physical facts but doesn't come from physical facts. This leads into another area of philosophy you will meet again with A.J. Ayer.

A common criticism of the Design Argument is that, as well as apparent design, there is also a great amount of bad design in the universe - a lot of waste, cruelty, ugliness and inefficiency. This is known as the DYSTELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT or the argument against​ design.
A valid argument has conclusions which proceed logically from the premises.
  • If there is evidence of order and purpose in the world, does it follow that an intelligent agent must have put it there?
  • ​If only God has the power to impose order and purpose on the world, does it follow that God must exist?
Thomas Aquinas famously concluded the Design Argument with the phrase "et hoc dicemus deum" - "and we call this thing God". Some people think Aquinas is making a big leap here. Does it automatically follow that the designer of the universe is the God of the Bible?
Crash Course Philosophy sum up the Design Argument - they refer to it as "Intelligent Design" here
  1. Find other examples of features of the natural world that are cited by supporters of the Design Argument as examples of God’s design at work. What do you think of them?
  2. Do you agree with Aquinas claiming “et hoc dicemus deum”? In what ways does the Bible support Aquinas’ link? In what ways does Aquinas’ “Supreme Intelligence” not sound like the God of the Bible and the Christian religion?
  3. The astronomer Fred Hoyle famously said that the likelihood of the conditions for life coming about by chance were similar to a hurricane sweeping through a scrap yard and assembling a Boeing 747 jet.  What do you think of this analogy? In what way is a jet plane a poor comparison for the world we live in?
This is the Design Argument in a nutshell and it’s probably the oldest and most intuitive justification for religious belief.

The ancient pagan religions thought there were separate gods responsible for the mountains, the seas, the forests; it seems to be very natural for humans to suppose that the world must be the way it is for a reason, that someone or something must be responsible for it being like this.

For the ancient Babylonians, the world was made by the god Marduk from the body of a dead dragon called Tiamat. The Vikings supposed it was made by their god Odin from the body of the frost giant Ymir
Marduk versus Tiamat (an early version of the design argument... or possibly World of Warcraft)
There are strange instances in nature where animals behave in a way that suggests great intelligence, even though they aren't intelligent themselves.
People claim to see design in the biology of life, the structure of matter, the behaviour of animals, the arrangement of planets and the sheer beauty of nature itself.

Essay on The Argument from Design, by William Paley

1089 Words5 Pages

During the 1800th century, William Paley, an English philosopher of religion and ethics, wrote the essay The Argument from Design. In The Argument from Design, Paley tries to prove the existence of a supreme being through the development of a special kind of argument known as the teleological argument. The teleological argument is argument by analogy, an argument based on the similarities between two different subjects. This essay purposefully attempts to break down Paley’s argument and does so in the following manner: firstly, Paley’s basis for the teleological argument is introduced; secondly, Paley’s argument is derived and analyzed; thirdly, the connection between Paley’s argument and the existence of a supreme being is made; and…show more content…

Having introduced Paley's main a posteriori experience, the following paragraphs will describe and justify Paley's reasoning for using such argument to describe the existence of a superior being. Firstly, Paley concentrates in the process leading to the creation of the watch. The process for creating a watch is very systematic and involves knowledge of mechanical engineering, a trade known to few men. Yet, it is not necessary to know the inner workings of the watch to use it on a daily basis: it is only necessary to understand the relationship between the position of the watch's hands to the sunrise and sunset of day. Paley concludes that even though he could not create a watch, some supreme being could create such watch. In other words, anything that shows evidence of creation has a creator and such creator exists or has existed at one point in time. To further refine the previous conclusion, Paley acknowledges the imprecision of the watch, for the watch is not always correct in predicting time. The watch might get ahead or behind, but the overall purpose for which the watch was created remains intact: it might predict the wrong time, note however, that it still predicts time. The conclusion in the previous paragraph is not contradicted by any of the watch's faults simply because the being’s purpose for creating the watch still exists. Therefore, Paley's supreme being not only creates but also does so with a specific purpose.

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