Design Argument

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  • Created by: Jenna
  • Created on: 16-04-15 12:11


  • a posteriori – it is based on our experience of the world around us.
  • Inductive – the premises support but do not entail the conclusion – probabilistic.
  • Synthetic – the argument is not true/false by the definition of its premises – it has to be tested.
  • Teleological argument- the argument is concerned with the purpose and order  present in nature
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Formulated the fifth way

  • Aquinas focuses on goal-directed activity in nature.
  • Bow and arrow analogy--- As an archer fires an arrow at a target, so too does nature strive for some goal (even if they posses no intelligence) e.g. gravity and the regular movement of stars. This cannot be accidental.
  • There must be an intelligence directing this activity, and this we call God.
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F. R. Tennant

‘Nature is meaningless and valueless without God behind it and Man in front.’

Aesthetic principle- humans can see beauty in nature e.g. sunsets and waterfalls. Proposes God made it this way

Anthropic principle- The conditions of the universe allow for life to develop, but this need not have been the case. God is probably responsible for this careful balance

Michael Behe- This is an argument designed to counter the objection from evolution. It argues that there are things in the world (such as bacterial flagellum) that are irreducibly complex; in other words, they couldn’t have just arisen by chance: they must have been designed for the purpose they fulfil. He uses the analogy of the mousetrap

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Arthur Brown

Explained the purpose for the ozone layer is so we dont get burnt by the UV rays, God designed it with this specific purpose as he is omnipotent, he said this is 'mighty proof of the creators forethought'

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Richard Swinburne provided evidence for God through his book: The Existence of God – and the probabilistic argument. The chances of intelligent human life developing must have been very slim. God is the likely cause of this outcome

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William Paley

Watchmaker Analogy

Paley believed that just as watches, which exhibit complexity, design and purpose in order to tell the time for us, have watchmakers, the world, which has complexity and the purpose of sustaining life has a worldmaker – designer God. 

If we came accross a rock on the ground we wouldn't think twice about how it got there, however if we came accross a watch we would think that its parts had not come together by chance because it is too ordered and complicated. Therefore someone must have designed it or it would not work.because the World is also ordered and complex, someone must have designed that too... God

Design quo purpose (eye) and Design quo regularity (rotation of the planet)

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The watch analogy is unsound, as you cant compare a watch to the World as we know the design of houses and watches through experience, the world is far too complex to understand, our human brains cant understand it

From the evidence of the universe we cant prove an omnipotent, omniscient God.

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Darwin & Dawkins

Darwin undermines the design argument with his evolution theory

Darwin argued that complex organisms result from natural selection, not design.

Recently, Dawkins has supported Darwin's evolution theory. Dawkins argues there's too much scientific evidence so much disporve God and the idea he created the universe.

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J. S. Mill

The presence of suffering in the World proves the creator is not all loving or powerful. Therefore the design argument is flawed as why would a creator create his ideal world with flaws such as evil?

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  • Compatible with big bang theory- God kick started it
  • Use of analogy makes it easy to follow
  • The design argument gives a purpose to the universe, rather than having blind nature moving in a random direction. This in turn gives the universe meaning
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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. The presence of suffering suggests that the creator cannot be perfect (J.S. Mill).

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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