Design arguments

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What are design arguments?

Also called telological arguments which is derived from the Greek word teleos meaning end. The design argument aims to draw the 'end' (conclusion) of how the world was designed and who designed it (it focuses on the creator) however, the arguments are all posteriori and inductive as they only focus on observed facts and probabilities. Therefore , they cannot prove the existence of God but mererly establish a strong probability.

It is split into two parts:

Design qua regularity: Focuses on the aspect of order and regularity in the universe. For example the regularity of the solar system which conforms to the law of gravity as the planets are alligned giving us seasons which we can predict and predictability suggests a designer.

Design qua purpose: Which is based on the idea of the parts of the universe fitting like a machine which signifies complexity and where there is complexity there must be a creator.

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Thomas Aquinas (13th century philosopher)

-In his book 'Summa Theologica' Aquinas used a form of the teleological argument in hs fifth of his 'Five Ways' and was arguing for the idea of design qua regularity.

-Aquinas said 'natural bodies achieve their end not furtoinously but designedly' and used the analogy of an archer (an intelligent being interpreted as God in this analogy):

The archer points his arrow towards a target in order for it to reach its goal . The same way complex life forms in the World are designed in such a way to reach their purpose . For example ducks have webbed feet for the purpose of swimming and the idea of Beneficial order arises as the design (in this case the webbed feet) achieve a beneficial result (swimming).

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William Paley (18th/19th century)

-Focused on the idea of design qua purpose (the parts of the universe appear to fit together for some purpose and the universe compared to man-made machine in which a designer fits all parts together for specific function and not in random manner)

-In his book 'Natural Theology' Paley uses an analogical argument of a watch : if we came across a watch we would draw conclusion that all the parts fitted together for a purpose and not chance . An individual may then infer a designer because of the way things fit for a purpose.

-This conclusion can also be drawn from the complex mechanisms of the body such as the human eye which can infer design. Although this is a beneficial explanation it does not prove the existance of God as it's an inductive argument but mererly point towards a designer which could be interpreted as God.

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-Anthrophic argument everything in the world to do with manking must link one way or another to science . The argument claims the cosmos is constructed for development of intelligent life and the slightest fluctuation in the conditions created would create a universe without intelligent life.

-Two forms of the argument :

Spatial order: refers to regularity and arrangement f things in the universe and can also refer to the design qua regularity theory as when Paley discussed the complexity of different life forms this was what he was talking about. However, Swinburne was aware of the natural selection theory and recognised this argument would fail due to the Darwinian evolution theory and the theory of Natural selection provides alernative explanations for the complexity of life.

Because of this Swinburne focused on the Temporal order which refers to there being natural laws of nature throughout the universe . The existence of these laws suggest it was created and the argument makes it easier to conform to the existence of God as it focuses on basic theism and the characteristics of God:omnipotence,omniscience,omnipresence,benevolence and freedom which is shown through three steps: without creator the universe would be chaotic,the universe is not chaotic,there must be a creator.

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David Hume ( Against)

'Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion' criticises the idea of the design in the universe giving evidence for existence of God.

-Humans don't have enough knowledge+experience of creation of universe to establish that there is only one designer and if the human experience of the design was correct the design argument would conclude that the universe has a designer who doesnt need to be the God of classical Theism but could have been the work of several other God's or an apprentice God. He said even if the analogy of the machine based design argument is used it's better for a machine to be created by many others and not just one person.

-Criticism of the unsound analogy by stating our World is not like a machine as it contains vegetables and animals therefore, it's more organic than mechanical and would be better compared to a carrot.

-Epicurean Hypothesis:during creation the particles were in random motion and this state was chaotic but slowly the natural forces evolved into an ordered system and because the universe is eternal in the unlimited time a constantly ordered state would develop anyhow. This order isn't a result of a designer but random particles theories coming together declining the existence of God completetly. 

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Richard Dawkins (Focus on Darwin)

Darwins idea of natural selection challenged the design argument as his book focused on the idea all species including humans developed in an alternative way. Darwin included alternative explanations without reference of creation through God and offered a mechanical explanation for development of life.

Variations in plant/animal which gave the plant/animal an advantage in the struggle of survival resulted in survival of the fittest member of that species. Wolf example 'the swiftest and slimmest wolves would have the best chance of surviving an so be preserved or selected' . Darwin explained that animals adapt to their surroundings and the variety of life in the world is a result of this rathe than intelligent design.

Richard Dawkins however, argued that natural selection gave the apearance of design and that this led to the mistaken belief that there was a designer. He rejected the idea of any design in the world and argued that the variations in the world were caused by random mistakes in the DNA molecules of any life form.

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