Argument From Design

Argument from design notes, Edexcel specification

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  • Created by: Sam Steer
  • Created on: 21-05-12 10:20

Argument #1: Paley

Paley's Watch.

  • Paley was struck by the complexity of a watch and made a direct comparison from this to the complexity of the natural world (not 'alike', a direct comparison, this is not an analogy*).
  • He assumed then, that like the watch, the natural world MUST have a deigner.

*Arugment form anlogy says the artefacts we create exhibit the same purpose and order that nature does.

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Objection #1

Objection to Paleys theory:

  • Paley is relying on the principle that the properties he takes as evidence for design cannot be produced by natural means, but this is exactly what nature does....produce natural things.
  • Unlike watches, natural things don't show signs of being manufactured.
  • Darwinism *(can help show how nature can show degin like properties (natural selection, evolution).

*Evolution is god's "fine tuning" - the fine tuning argument.

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Support for Paley

Support for Paley:

  • Biochemist Michael Behe said that Paley is arguing on the premis that it is the irreducible complexity of nature that suggests it has a deginer.
  • As an example Behe says that it takes over 40 parts all working in harmony in order for a ceratin type of bacterium to move it's tail.
  • He says evolution does not provide a sufficient explanation for this, without one of these parts the tail would not function as a tail, it's all or nothing, evolution is gradual.
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Objection #2

Objections to Behe's argument:

This idea makes two assumptions

  • 1. That each part in the system has always been that part in the system.
  • 2. It ignores that intially minor improvements can become essential: Lungs for example didn't evolve all at once, they intitally exsisted to prevent fish from sinking.
  • Yet again, natural selection can explain away this arguement.
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Argument #2: Swinburne

Swinburnes argument: 

  • Science does not provide a sufficient answer as to why the universe has it's laws.
  • Science assumes the laws of nature in order to provide any explanation at all. It can't say where they come from or why they are the way they are.
  • We use another sort of explanation all the time: "personal explanation"
  • 'God exsists and intended life to evolve'.... This provides us with a personal explanation for why the universe is such that life can evolve.
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Objections to the design argument.

Objections in general:

Natural selection and evolution can display design like qualities. It can explain why we and all natural things have come to function as we do.

Chance could be a good explanation for why the universe exsists, there doesn't necessarily have to be a reason why. Improbability does not mean impossibility.

Even if there is a designer, it is a huge step to assume that it is the omnipotent good God that we naturally associate with the term.

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Objection #1

Objection to Swinburne:

  • Hume said that even if you could show that the universe has a designer it is a huge step to assume that the deisgner is God as we know him; the omnipotent christan god we are all aquanited with.
  • The argument does not show that there is only one cause.
  • It does not show that this cause is perfect, omniscient, omnipotent or cares about people.
  • It does not say anything else about god.
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Swinburnes response

Support from Swinburne:

  • He now encourages us to think about what the best explanation for design is.
  • He argues that the best explanation is that which is the simplest.
  • He says that God as we know him is the simplest explanation for life and the universe.
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Figen Demiri


Really clear and structured perfectly. A lot of help. Thanks.

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