The Design Argument

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  • Created by: Estheexd
  • Created on: 20-04-15 18:47

Key Ideas

  • Explaining order and design
  • Aquinas Fifth Way
  • William Paleys analogical argument
  • Arguments from probability and providence
  • The aesthetic principle
  • The anthropic principle
  • intelligent design
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The Design Argument

It is an teleological argument which comes from the greek word meaning end or purpose. It is concerened with finding meaning within the world

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The two forms of argument

The first form of the argument is the analogical argument. it depends on drawing an analogy from the world or its parts and objects of its human design. 

The second Form is inductive and it is based on the observation that universe demonstrates regular motion both in its parts and its whole

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Where does the Design Argument go back to?

The design argument goes back to plato who 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

The design argument has since undergone many formulations that has made it into a theistic argument, one that aims to prove the existence of God of classical theism.

it suggests that the certain aspects of the universe are so pefectly adapted to pefrom their function that they display eveidence of being delibiratly designed. and that such design can only be explained with reference to an intelligent designer. 

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Number of issues that are raised

The design argument considers a number of issues that are raised by the question 'why is the universe as it is?' The issues are as followed:

  • Order: regularities in the behaviour of objects and laws in the universe
  • Benefit: the universe is an orderly structure and provides all that is nessary for life.
  • purpose: objects within the universe appear to be working towards an end or purpose.
  • Suitability for human life: the order of the universe provides the ideal enviroment for human life
  • Appearance: the appearance of the universe which could be said to exhibit beauty, suggest that it is intended for something more than basic survival.

further, another approach could be identify things about the world that could not be different without tremendous implications for human life:

  • if the sun were just slightly away or half as powerful
  • if the axis of the earth were slightly different
  • if the moon were larger or closer or further away
  • if carbon didnt exist
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Aquina's 5th way

In the fifth way, he observes that non-rational beings nevertheless act in away that leads to the best result: he might have given as an example the annual migration of vast pods of grey whales from their subarctic feeding grounds off the alaskan coast to their mexican breeding grounds, the journey takes 3 months. Aquinas maintained that since such behavioural patterns rarely change that there must be a purpose to them and if non rational beings can work towards a goal then there must be something directing them.

This form of argument is based on the following premises

  • There is beneficial order in the universe i.e there are things in the universe that work towards an end or purpose.
  • This beneficial order could not happen by chance
  • Many objects do not have the intelligence to work towards an end or purpose i.e. objects themsevles can't work towards an end or purpose
  • Therefore they must be directed by something that does have intelligence
  • Therefore God exists as an explanation of beneficial order
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Aquina's 5th way (1)

Aquinas Argument is influenced by the obseration that beneficial order in the universe cannot be explained because the universe itself is not self explantory and doesnt have intellignece of its own.

Howeve the argument can be unsound because who establishes that there is beneficial order in the universe and how do we argue from that to the conclusion that God has designed it

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William Paley

William Paleys analogy of the watch has become the clasisic form of the analogical argument:

'In crossing a heath, suppose i come a cross a stone and was asex how the stone came to be te there, i might assume that it has always been there, but if i came across a watch and was ask how the watch came to be , i should hardly think of the answer i had given before, for anything i knew the watch might always been there, Yet why should this answer serve the watch as well as the stone? For this reason, when we inspect the watch  we realsised that its several parts

for paley the world was like a machine that was made up of intricate parts all of which works towards an end for the benefit of the whole and the samll adaptations in nature were for paley the proof of a providential designing inlligence. just as the discovery of the watch couldnt be explained by saying it had always been there the order of the universe also demands an explanation. The watch serves as an analogy for the world it demonstrates purpose, design and telos.

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The argument from proability

Richard swinburne approached the argument from the angle of probability suggesting that evidence of design and order in the universe increases the probability of the existence of God.

Swineburne argues that God is the best explanation for the design that is evident in the universe

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The Aesthetic Argument

Another form of the argument is the aesthetic argument which observes that the universe poesses a natural beauty that goes beyond that which is nessary to live.This aspect of the universe shows the handicrafted of God. Some beauty is part of ordwe, the beautiful patterns of the stars or the changing colours of the seasons for example. F.R Tennant observes: "Nature is not just beautiful, in places it is satured with beauty - on the telescopic and microscopic scale."

Tennant made some key observation about the universe:

  • the universe is intelligent and not chaotic
  • the universe is absouletly suitable to sustain life
  • the created universe exhibits standards and values of aesthic value
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The Anthropic Principle

The Anthropic Principle proposes the reason and purpose of the universe for the universe is the support of human life.

There are so many possible ways in which the conditions of the universe would not have led to life but it did, which cn lead to idea of the intelligent designer

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