Introducing the Design Argument
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands - Psalm 19: 1
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
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
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?
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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.