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The argument from design: God Michael Lacewing

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1 The argument from design: God Michael Lacewing

2 The argument from design The argument from design argues from the order and regularity that we see in the universe to the existence of a God that designed the universe. Paley, Hume and Swinburne all agree that even if we could infer the existence of a designer of the universe, it is an extra step to argue that the designer is God.

3 Hume’s argument from analogy In the organization of parts for a purpose (the fitting of means to ends), nature resembles the products of human design. Similar effects have similar causes. The cause of the products of human design is an intelligent mind that intended the design. Therefore, the cause of nature is an intelligent mind that intended the design. So the designer should be like human beings!

4 Objections to God The scale and quality of the design reflect the power and ability of the designer. The universe isn’t infinite or perfect. So we can’t infer that the designer is infinite or perfect. Designers are not always creators. So we can’t infer that the designer of the universe also created the universe. The design may have resulted from many small improvements made by many people. So we cannot infer that ‘the designer’ is just one person. We find mind always connected to body. So we can’t infer the designer is only a mind. Designers can die even as their creations continue. So we can’t infer that the designer still exists.

5 Replies Paley: the designer has the power and knowledge necessary to create this universe –Such power and knowledge is ‘beyond comparison and there is no reason… to assign limits to it’ –‘Infinite’ power is a superlative, expressing our conception of such power in the strongest terms we have. Paley: the design of nature gives rise to more benefits than are strictly necessary. So the designer is good –But see the problem of evil.

6 Replies Ockham’s razor supports the claim that there is just one designer who also created the universe –The uniformity of the laws of nature also suggest just one mind at work. The designer can’t have a body –If God’s effects are the laws of nature, and these hold throughout the universe, then God can act everywhere in space simultaneously.

7 Two types of order Spatial order: the organisation of parts to serve a purpose (discussed by Paley and Hume) –E.g. the eye. Temporal order: the orderliness in the way one thing follows another –These temporal regularities are the laws of nature.

8 Replies Designers of spatial order can die while the effects of their design continue. But temporal order requires the existence of the person at that time –So God must exist whenever the laws of nature hold.


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