Design Argument

  • Created by: KA24
  • Created on: 04-06-19 18:16

Paley's Design Argument

Paley's argument: 

- a posteriori (depends on sense experience) 

- inductive (based on probability) 

- analogical (comparison between 2 different things) 

- natural theology (uses reason, scientific knowledge and observations) 

- based on 3 observations of the world: complexity, purpose + regularity 

- stub toe on stone ≠ question how stone got there 

- come across watch on floor = reasonable to ask how it got there

- illustrations to support agument: eye adapted for vision, fins + gills for swimming, wings + feathers for flying 

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Criticisms of Design Argument

David Hume's Criticisms 

- analogies deliberately chosen to encourage idea of designer 

- apparent order could be due to chance 

- constant changing arrangement of atoms, it was inevitable that order would eventually emerge 

- universe may alternate between periods of chaos + periods of order + by sheer chance, existence currently is in period of order 

- anthropomorphic: language that gives human characteristics to non human entites 

- designer is not necessarily Christian God

- teamwork is often behind design, could be both male + female 

- problem of evil exists therefore flawed design 

- God is meant to be omnipotent + omnibenevolant, why is there evil + suffering? 

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Strengths and Weaknesses of Paley's Design Argumen


- Swinburne argued that the existence of God is teh simplest explanation 

- Paley said evil might be unavoidable for God to bring about good. 

- Evoution itslef requires explanation 


- Existence of evil siggests incompetent, indifferent or malevolent designer, or no designer at all

- Apparent order, purpose + design are just chance (Darwin + Dawkins supported this) 

- The universe could have 'designed itself' by chance 

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It's status as a 'proof'

Does provide proof: 

- Things we accept as true in life are based on inductive arguments. They are accepted as 'true beyond reasonable doubt.' The stronger the evidence, the more probably true a claim is. 

- The laws of nature require explanation, this means that the challenges do not diminsh the probability that Paley's argument is true 

Cannot provide proof of God: 

-  Only deductive arguments can give absolute proof. The Design Argument is inductive, so can never be absolutely certain. 

- Paley's observations to support his argument can be explained naturally 

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The value of Paley's Design Argument for religious

On the positive side: 

- Paley's argument is rationally + empirically based 

- it is consistent with bibilical teaching that there is a guiding hand directing the whole of nature + human lives in a purposeful way 

- Theists cannot prove God's existence but nor can theists prove God's non-existence 

On the negative side: 

- For fideists, rational arguments play no part in faith as they do not lead to commitment 

- Paley's argument does not successfully address the issue of evil 

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The relationship between reason and faith

In Price's view, both 'belief that' and 'belief in' are necessary to faith 

- Without belief that, 'belief in' has no substance 

- Without belief in, 'belief that' has no personal significance 

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