Presentation on theme: "THE DESIGN ARGUMENT PHIL/RS 335. A MORE RECENT ADDITION The Design Argument is a relatively recent contribution to the philosophical/theological attempt."— Presentation transcript:
A MORE RECENT ADDITION The Design Argument is a relatively recent contribution to the philosophical/theological attempt to prove God exists. Though there are some suggestions of it in Aquinas (5 th way), the argument was first formalized in the 17 th century. David Hume and William Paley are the thinkers most commonly associated with the argument in its classical form.
WILLIAM PALEY (1743-1805) AND THE WATCH Paley's argument for God's existence shares something in common with the cosmological arguments weve examined. Like the cosmological argument, Paley asks us to consider the conditions necessary to explain some features revealed by experience. In this case, Paley asks us to consider the different implications of coming across a stone on our path as opposed to coming across an artifact like a watch. Whereas it seems uncontroversial to ascribe the stone to random chance, the artifact seems to require the assumption of a maker.
IS IT THAT OBVIOUS? After drawing our attention to this apparent difference, Paley attempts to anticipate and respond to a series of possible objections. 1. We may be ignorant of the particulars of artifact creation, but it doesnt follow that we cannot know that there is one. 2. The artifact may not work perfectly, but perfection isnt required to show that there is a design. 3. We may not understand how some parts of the artifact function, and indeed some may have no discernible function, but our ignorance is no disproof of design. The fact of design is evident from the watch as a whole. 4. We may be inclined to think that the artifact is just a random event, but no sensible person would think that. 5. Perhaps the order is internal, not external, but in either case there must be an orderer. 6. Perhaps the order is only apparent, and inclination of thought with no necessary connection to reality, but once again, who would think that? 7. Perhaps this is something about which we should not even speculate, but surely our original intuition provides us with appropriate basis for speculation.
ONE LAST THING Obviously, Paley's intuition-pumping is only the first step. To serve as a proof of the existence of God, Paley needs to draw an analogy between the watch and the universe. To accomplish this, Paley considers the complexity of the eye (113c1, see also, Denton's discussion of the DNA molecule in the inset on p. 111). This analogy bears the weight of the argument, but note that it offers one significant advantage over the other proofs that weve considered. As Paley notes (114c1) the analogy seems to underwrite an understanding of a personal divine (unlike the non-personal divine of the ontological and cosmological proofs).
WHAT ABOUT THAT ANALOGY? Paley's argument for the existence of God on the basis of apparent design is what is known as an argument by analogy. All such arguments share the following form: 1.A & S are analogous in that A & S are both f, g, and h. 2.A is also j. ________________________ Conclusion: S is probably J.
EVALUATING ARGUMENTS FROM ANALOGY Terminology Subject: The term to which the analogy is drawn. Analogue: The term from which the analogy is drawn. Common Features: Features shared by A & S. Inferred Feature: Feature of A inferred to be true of S. Strength of an argument from analogy is dependent on: The relationship between common and inferred features. Presence/absence of relevant dissimilarities. Thus, an argument from analogy is strong if and only if the common features are relevant to the inferred feature and there are no relevant dissimilarities.
IS IT THAT OBVIOUS? (AGAIN) After drawing our attention to this apparent difference, Paley attempts to anticipate and respond to a series of possible objections. 1. We may be ignorant of the particulars of artifact creation, but it doesnt follow that we cannot know that there is one. 2. The artifact may not work perfectly, but perfection isnt required to show that there is a design. 3. We may not understand how some parts of the artifact function, and indeed some may have no discernible function, but our ignorance is no disproof of design. The fact of design is evident from the watch as a whole. 4. We may be inclined to think that the artifact is just a random event, but no sensible person would think that. 5. Perhaps the order is internal, not external, but in either case there must be an orderer. 6. Perhaps the order is only apparent, and inclination of thought with no necessary connection to reality, but once again, who would think that? 7. Perhaps this is something about which we should not even speculate, but surely our original intuition provides us with appropriate basis for speculation.
ANALYSIS OF THE OBVIOUSNESS So how does Paley's argument do? Let us consider how successful Paley is at countering the criticisms he considers. There is a significant disanalogy between an artisan and a universe maker. We're not talking just minor glitches, but substantial natural and human evil. This is an example of the fallacy of ignorance. It could just as easily be applied to Paley's point as to the critic's. There's also another disanalogy between the evidentness of an artifact's purpose and the mysteriousness of the universe's. Not only is this an ad hominem fallacy, but it ignores the extent to which we are meaning-making creatures. Think of the constellations. Confusion of descriptive laws with prescriptive laws. Only the latter imply a law-giver (fallacy of equivocation). Again, we often impose order on the world. Purposiveness is not purpose. Yet another argument from ignorance that can once again be just as readily applied to Paley's argument.
DAVID HUME: CRITIC OF DESIGN About 20 years before Paley wrote his piece on the watchmaker, David Hume had offered important criticisms of the argument from design. In his "Dialogues on Natural Religion," Hume presents a discussion between an advocate of the design argument (Cleanthes) and a skeptic (Philo). We pick up the discussion as Cleanthes sets out his argument (116c1) in terms that should be familiar.
CLEANTHES'S ARGUMENT RESTATED 1.Our experience of the world reveals an apparently well organized whole distinguishable into smaller well organized wholes. 2.This organization is analogous to the means/end relationships apparent in the machines produced by human intelligence. 3.From similar effects we infer similar causes. _____________________________ Conclusion: The organization of the universe must be the product of an intelligent, personal God.
PHILO'S CRITIQUE PT. 1 In response to the argument, Philo offers two different objections. The first objection attacks the strength of the analogy Cleanthes offers. Philo begins by insisting that there are more dissimilarities than similarities between the universe and a complex artifact. He then notes that we have little ground for drawing the analogy because we have limited experience with the Universe. The analogy commits the fallacy of composition. We have no reason to expect the Universe to exhibit the same qualities as its parts. The analogy is also guilty of anthropocentrism. The human point of view is unlikely to adequately account for the universe as a whole.
PHILO'S CRITIQUE PT. 2 The second objection Philo poses to Cleanthes takes the form of a reductio ad absurdum. If we grant the appropriateness of the analogy it turns out that it has implications that most theists are going to reject. For example, if the analogy holds it would seem that there would be no reason to believe God has infinite attributes. Given the imperfection of the universe we could not conclude that God is perfect. The creator of the universe may not be the designer of the universe; and, therefore, There could be more than one God; This may be only one of many possible creations (God could be infantile or elderly).
PHILO'S (HUME'S) CONCLUSION On the basis of his analysis of Cleanthes's argument, Philo insists that we can only conclude two things. The universe may have have had a beginning. We seem to observe order in it, though we cannot say anything about the nature of that order. What Hume is pointing to here is the fact that there is a significant difference between order and design. The notion of design implies intention while order does not (fractals).
THE LATEST VERSION Weve seen a revival of the design argument recently in the form of "Intelligent Design." http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/nhmag.ht ml http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/nhmag.ht ml http://www.phy.syr.edu/courses/mirror/biomorph/ The basic argument for ID can be summarized as: 1. Machines are produced by intelligent design. 2. The universe is like a machine. ____________________ Conclusion: Probably the universe was designed by intelligent design.
THE DEVIL'S IN THE DETAILS Contemporary versions of the design argument rely on recent findings from physics and cosmology. Significant amongst them is the recognition that our universe is "fine-tuned" for the possibility of life. As summarized by Collins, in his article "God, Design, and Fine-Tuning," scientists have come to recognize that were the basic structures of the universe to vary much from what we observe, it is very unlikely that intelligent life could develop.
COLLINS'S AIM In the article, Collins attempts to offer a sophisticated version of the design argument premised on the fine- tuned universe. To do so, he identifies two alternative, non-theistic hypotheses which seek to explain this fine-tuning (which, somewhat argumentatively, he labels "atheistic"). The Single-Universe Hypothesis insists there is a single, finely-tuned universe the existence of which is a brute, unexplainable fact. The Many-Universe Hypothesis insists that there are a large number or perhaps infinite number of universes, out of which number, purely by chance, there is our finely-tuned one. Arguing that neither of these alternatives is acceptable, Collins suggests that the most likely explanation of fine-tuning is a theistic creation.
AN IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE In order to call into question the two alternatives, and ultimately to buttress the one he prefers, Collins employs an epistemological principle that plays an important role in the evaluation of competing hypotheses. The Prime Principle of Confirmation states that, "…whenever we are considering two competing hypotheses, an observation counts as evidence in favor of the hypothesis under which the observation has the highest probability (or is the least improbable)" (123c2).
PUTTING THE PPC TO WORK: NONTHEISTIC SINGLE UNIVERSE HYPOTHESIS As Collins presents it, the argument against the non-theistic single universe hypothesis (and in favor of a theistic explanation of the universe, and thus of God's existence) is: 1.The existence of fine-tuning is not improbable under theism. 2.It is improbable under the single universe hypothesis. 3.The PPC ________________________ Conclusion: Theism is more strongly supported than the non- theistic single universe hypothesis as an explanation of fine- tuning.
OBJECTIONS Collins then considers a number of possible objections to the second premise, offering reasons why they should be rejected. 1.Perhaps Fine-Tuning is not a contingent, but a necessary fact. However, Collins insists, this would merely shift the requirement for explanation down a level. 2.While the physical values observed are necessary for life like us, other values could support other forms of life. However, Collins points out that some of the values would seem necessary for any form of life, and all possible life supporting values are still a fraction of all possible values. 3.The argument puts the cart before the horse. The universe doesnt fit us perfectly, we fit the universe perfectly (Anthropic Principle). Collins replies by shifting the terms to reference our existence. 4.The design argument doesnt explain complexity, it merely adds another layer of complexity which then needs it turn to be explained. Collins responds by insisting that his argument isnt an argument for God's existence, strictly speaking, but rather an argument for the relative strength of a theistic explanation. 5.Arguments based on relative likelihood are inappropriate because the only universe is the one we have (probability = 1). Collins responds by insisting that the likelihood in question refers to what he calls "epistemic probability," the reasonableness of a proposition as a basis for a conclusion.
WHAT ABOUT THE MANY UNIVERSE HYPOTHESIS? Collins then turns to the other alternative: that there are a potential infinite number of universes some, if not many of which, by mere chance are going to exhibit fine-tuning. Collins focuses on one version of this hypothesis: the inflationary model in which universes are like inflated bubbles in "pre-space," produced by some yet to be determined mechanism. Obviously, for these bubbles to vary in basic physical conditions, there must be a mechanism of variation working as well (perhaps to be accounted for by superstring theory).
THEISTIC RESPONSES The many-universes model is itself extremely complex and intricately interconnected and thus seems apparently "well-designed." The beauty and elegance of the basic physical conditions seems to imply a designer. Upshot: (134c1).