Design Argument

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  • Created by: Rebekah
  • Created on: 18-04-14 17:48

Evidence of design

> adaptations to specific functions
> pattern
> logic

ORDER: has natural behaviour and laws of which it follows
BENEFIT: we benefit from the orderly structure and it provides us with all objects necessary for life
PURPOSE: we appear to be working towards an end or purpose
SUITABILITY: for human life - the order of the world provides and ideal environment for humanity to exist
APPEARANCE: world has great beauty - has a purpose of something more than human life?

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Chance Vs Design

The features of order and purpose = could be COINCIDENCE

Design argument says: too much of a balance between features ---> probability of chance = small

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Type of argument

Aquinas' Fifth Way: POSTERIORI: The world is empirical - experience - observations - nature

INDUCTIVE: probabilistic

SYNTHETIC: has to be tested

ANALOGICAL: analogy can be drawn between world or its parts and objects

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William Paley

Came across a watch next to a rock
Rock must have been from natural processes - weathering from a cliff
Opened the watch - intricate detailing - must have a creator to make inside and able function

Related watch to world - intricate detailing - has a function - must have a creator - must be God

> Tries to explain something beyond our experience in a simple logical approach
> Serves an analogy for the world through the order of a watch by demonstrating purpose and design

> The watch has evidence of a watchmaker where as the world doesn't even though aspects suggest so
> People may question that if we were designed then why are there so many flaws and problems?
> William refers to the designer as being God and if he was the designer why would a benevolent and omnipotent figure create something that produces suffering? Similar to a watchmaker designing a watch with a hand missing so it couldn't work properly anyway

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Criticisms of the analogical argument put forward

Easy to make assumptions a watch is designed and therefore must have a creator/watchmaker however nature is too complicated with a complex order.
--> world was made through a series of chances - generated by small steps - initiated something bigger
--> he challenges that the world has purpose - he argues we have no purpose

Criticised in his books:
1) An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
2) Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

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Problem of evil and suffering

J.S. Mill: the most we can claim = designer might be benevolent - but must be limited in power to allow suffering - contradicts Christian teachings of God's nature

Charles Darwin: fails to believe a benevolent + omnipotent figure created universe with such evil existence

J.S. Mill + Darwin : conclusion together = absence of order = universe is poorly designed
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ DYSTELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Examples of poor design:
> Pointless existence of appendix = can lead to appendicitis = life threatening
>> Disease: cancer
>>> Genertic disorders
>>>> Malformation of human spinal column = painful conditions

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The argument from probability


evidence of design and order on this world and in the universe increases the probability of the existence of God

7 ideas that increase the possibility (put forward by Swinburne):
1) Existence of the universe
2) Order of the universe
3) Existence of consciousness
4) Humans doing good
5) Pattern of history
6) Evidence of miracles
7) Religious experiences

We also have everything necessary for survival + natural laws = God must have created it for a REASON

Concludes: the probability of God existing is much greater than his non-existence

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The aesthetic argument

Observes the world has natural beauty that goes beyond what is necessary for human survival = demonstrates God's handicraft and creativity

Beauty which forms order and plays a role in survival = seasons + patterns of the stars
Beauty which doesn't play a role in our survival = art such as literature, music and culture = make the world an appealing place to live = make us believe we can't live without them when we can


Somebody arguing the world lacks beauty due to the involvment of evil and suffering does not mean that God is non-existent but shows he is not bound by human conceptions of perfection or design

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The anthropic principle

Extended from the aesthetic argument - still by F.R. Tennant
Brings in evolutionary theories
-- the reason and purpose of the universe is to support human life --

Demonstrates you do not need to discard evolutionary theories in order to claim the existence of a designing God (some may say science is not enough)

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Modern science

Charles Darwin: God = dead hypothesis

Evolution discards and rejects the idea that the beauty of the world is credit towards a designing God

Evolution uses natural selection to explain our development & existence without the complexities and mystery of life and its origins

John Blanchard degrades religion in saying that 'faith is a cop-out, the excuse to avoid the need to think and evaluate evidence'.

Scientific evidence makes the design argument seem less plausible

Irreducible complexity: a key principle of intelligent design: there are biological processes that are so complex they cannot be broken down into smaller functioning systems.
Michael Behe - organisms like the bacterial flagellum display 'irreducible complexity' - too many parts to be explained through natural selection

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Evaluation of the design argument

> Based on what we can observe and it is difficult to deny that there is some order and complexity
> The use of analogy makes it straightforward, logic and easy to follow
> Can be compatible with the big bang and evolution - a part of God's design process? - to be taken by fundamental Christians
> Gives purpose to the universe - suggests things have a meaning

> Just because things in the world have designers it doesn't follow that the world itself has a designer
> We have to judge the designer by what is created - J.S. Mill = the presence of suffering suggests that the creator cannot be perfect
> The design argument may suggest a designer but this isn't necessarily proof for the God of classical theism: all loving, powerful, wise etc.

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Examine the weaknesses of the design argument (AO1

Easy to make assumptions everything must have a designer - link to Paley's analogy
^^ questions God's classical theism - why would he create mass suffering? -- Highlights flaw in design argument and Paley's analogy

David Hume: criticisms of Paley's analogy: he's making his job easier - he is making it easier to infer a designing God.
^^ this inference = limited - we cannot be sure to infer it is God and that he is responsible = design argument is weak = strengths of argument are not strong enough to succeed in explaining design of universe

J.S. Mill: being must be limited in power to allow suffering and metaphysical creations - contradicts God's classical theism - Charles Darwin: fails to believe a being portrayed as Christians teach woud create a universe with such evil existence - link to genetic disorders, disease, appendix = pointless

Charles Darwin rejects further = theory of evolution/natural selection = seems more logical = answers questions raised by worlds complexities = scientific
John Blanchard: degrades religion 'faith is a cop-out, the excuse to avoid the need to think adn evaluate evidence'
Scientific evidence makes the design argument seem less plausible

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Why do some philosophers persist in believing in t

Inductive - experiences - observations - difficul to deny pattern (examples)  = logical and straightforward - also supports God's classical theism and gives us a purpose of being here

Aquinas' fifth way: beneficial order = purpose: world can't be here by just chance - Swinburne noticed this - developed angle of probability = evidence of design and order increases probability of God's existence - there must be a reason/purpose due to natural laws and necessities = probability of God existing is much greater than his non-existence
^^^ may pesist to believe in strengths despite weaknesses as it enables us a purpose in life and supports deity

F.R. Tennant persists to believe = overlook arguments weaknesses &combine opposing approaches = anthropic principle proposes the reason and purpose is to support human life = do not need to discard evolutionary theories in order to claim God's existence
Some philosophers may still say science isn't enough

Chance vs Design issue = coincidence? -No. =Too much of a balance of the universe

Conclusion: agrees with their classical deity and supplies us with a purpose of life and is a simple explanation towards the origins of the world

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