The Design Argument

  • Created by: kelsey
  • Created on: 27-01-14 09:56

The Design Argument

  • Often called the teleological argument 
  • Concerned with the search for meaning or purpose in the world.
  • First form of the argument is an analogical argument. Depends on drawing an anaology between the world or its parts and its objects of human design. 
  • The second form of the argument is the inductive argument. Observation that the universe demonstrates regular motion both in its parts and in the whole.
  • The design argument goes back to plato. 
  • Stated that the human body, with all its particles and elements, must owe its origin to 'the royal mind soul and mind in the nature of zeus'
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Seeking Explanations

  • Since has been made into a theistic argument.
  • Aspects of the universe are so perfectly adapted, displays evidence of being deliberately designed, only explained with reference to an intelligent, personal designer. 
  • Far greater than the works of humanity, it must be an infinately greater designer, god who is suggested as the most likely explanation. 
  • Could be explained as the result of one big huge coincidence, but design argument tries to show that the delicate balance of the universe is such that the probability of it coming out by chance is far too remote.
  • One huge coincidence . Seeks to demonstrate that the delicate balance of the universe is such that the probability of it coming about by chance is far too remote to be even partial, let alone a complete, explanation. 
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Aquinas' Fifth way

  • Rejected the possibility of an infinate regress of movers and causes to explain the existence of contingent, mutual beings, first mover and first cause, to which he gave the name god. 
  • In the fifth way he observes the following premises:
  • There is beneficial order in the universe.
  • This order could not happen by chance.
  • Many objects do not have the intelligence to work towards an end or purpose.
  • Must be directed by something that does have intelligence
  • Therefore god exists as the explanation of beneficial order.
  • Influenced by the observation that the beneficial order in the universe cannot be adequately explained because the universe itself is not self explanitory and does not exhibit intelligence in its own right.
  • Considered unsound - premises on which it is based are not necessary premises, and the conclusion is therefore not logially necessary. 
  • Design argument - highly emperical. Premises from observation of nature and the world that is based on our experience. therefore a posteriori argument. 
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William Paley

For paley, the world is like a machine, made up of intricate parts, and for the benefit of the whole.

  • Watch serves as an anology for the world. it demonstrates purpose, design and telos.
  • the anology could only serve to demonstrate that there was a designer, and not anything about the nature of the designer. 
  • even if the watch goes wrong or shows evidence of bad design (the problem of evil) we could still induce that the watch has been designed. 
  • god is far greater than a human designer in all its existing power. 
  • paley goes on to show how intricate animals and humans are, god must have been their maker.
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Critisisms Of analogical argment

  • Easy to reach the conclusion that it is designed. The same cannot be said about nature and its apparent order.
  • Paley makes an assumption about the universe. Because he has studied the universe and its operation and, along with many others, chosen to call it order. to say that the universe is odered is to say nothing more than the universe is patterened on the universe.

Richard Dawkins:

  • Unlikely that life in the universe came out by a single chance, there is no reason it could not have come around by a series of chances, and small randomly generated steps. 
  • We are purpose driven, we look at the world through 'purpose-coloured spectacles'. 
  • Natural selection can be interpreted as the way in which an intelligent designer plans and gives purpose to his creation. 
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David hulme

  • Critisised the analogical form of the argument..
  • Analogy on which paley's form of the argument depends on is unsound, because it argues from that which we know to that of which we are ignorant.
  • Not clear weather the analogy is intended to refer to parts of the universe or the universe as a whole.
  • Hulme also observed that we cannot assume that like effects infer like causes. Humle identified the problem of induction in this respect.
  • Comparison with human agent would surely imply that god is non-moral, limited and falliable.
  • Hulme's general objection was regarding in what ways the world is like the products of human design, only a tenuous connection between nature and human works.
  • The universe is not like a machine, nor does it function like one. Hence the analogy is not as strong as it first may have seemed.
  • Universe is religious and cannot be assumed that god is the only explanation for its features.
  • No special explanation is demanded for the universe.
  • Biggest problems of the analogical argument is that it seeks to explain the totality of the universe despite our lack of experience of it. The universe is unique and cannot reasonably be compared to anything. Attemps to draw conclusions based on very limited knowledge and experience or genuine points of comparison.
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The problem of evil and suffering

  • Questions the idea that the universe is partially harmonious and beautiful place. 
  • Most we can claim is that the designer of the universe is benevolent but must be seriously limited in power to allow such suffering.
  • 'If the maker of the world can do what he will, he wills misery and there is no escaping that conclusion.'
  • Sometimes called the dysteleological argument, a form of the argument for poor design. examples of poor design include:
  • Pointless existence of the appendix in humans
  • Unnecessary wings in flightless birds such as ostriches,
  • Portions of dna that do not appear to serve any purpose, 
  • Congenital and genetic disorders.
  • Malformation of the human spinal column
  • Photosynthetic plants
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The argument from probability

  • Richard swinburne approached the arument from the angle of probability, evidence of bad design and order.
  • Increases probability of existence of god.
  • Given a size of the universe, how does it behave in such a cohertly and ordered way?
  • Swinburne acknowleges most regularities of the universe can be explained by science.
  • God is the best explanation for the design that is evident in the universe.
  • Contains everything necessary for survival, and natural laws function within the universe making it a place where humans can develop.
  • A probability that god exists that is considered grater than the probability that he does not exist.
  • Swinburne presumes that the universe exists for the sake of humanity, which is compatible with a theistic view of the world.
  • When people view the universe they cannot accept that it came about by chance, and are more inclined to accept that it came about by chance, and are more inclined to accept the probability of god, on psycological grounds as much as any other.
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The aesthetic argument

  •  The Aesthetic form observes that the universe possesses a natural beauty that goes beyond that which is necessary to live. 
  • Shows the handicraft of god
  • Beauty is part of order: the beautiful patterns of the stars, for example, or changing of the seasons.
  • Reflects our attraction which is aesthetically pleasing.
  • Chaos is ugly and we seek to impose order upon it if it does not occur naturally. But beauty can also be found in things that are not part of the natural world but which humankind appreciates, although they have no part to play i the survival of the species.
  • Problem of evil and suffering of course psoes a serious challenge to this form of the argument as well.
  • What is beautiful is only a matter of human perspective.
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The anthropic Principle

  • Tennant extended the argument to include observations and ideas that come from evolutionary theories in the form of the anthopic principle, proposes that the reason and purpose for the universe is the support of human life.
  • Contrary to what might be suggested, the design arument need not reject the principles of evolution in order to postulate a designing god. However, theistic supporters of evolution argue that the scientific principles alone are not sufficient to explain how evolution led to the perfectly balanced natural order that prevails.
  • Scientific explanations of the universe are compatible with the design argument because evolution or a cosmic explosion can be seen to be the means which the designer has emplyed to bring the universe to this point
  • The order of the universe is beyond chance, in other words the odds on it coming by chance are so high that it would be virtually impossible.
  • Richard swinburne observes that we do not simply perceive order rather than disorder but that we should be amazed by the fact that there is order rather than disorder. Just because we are there to observe it does not make it less improbable.
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The design argument and modern science

  • Darwin's theory of evolution appeared to destroy completely the concept of goal-orientated design and the beauty of the world as the work of god.
  • Many christians are not committed to a literal understanding of the biblical literature and are fully able to accept natural selection.
  • Many scientists would argue that it is not helpful to infer a supernatural explanation for the universe because it precludes continuing to explore possibility of another explanation.
  • An explanation is sometimes called the 'god of gaps' approach, which in turn is challenged by the view that because so much natural phenomena previously explained by god is now explained by science or reason alone, theistic or divine explanations for any natural phenomenon become plausible.
  • Intelligent design has proposed that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
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