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Also known as the Teleological Argument, Originating from the Latin word for “teleos” meaning ‘distance’, the Design Argument is the basis for the existence of God, or at least the existence of a designer. Many Theologians such as Charles Darwin, Michael Paley and David Hume have all commented on their views concerning this argument, which I shall consider in my assessment.
The Design argument states that the cosmos shows signs of designer in it’s regularity; Seasons, day and night and phases of the moon, and that certain features serve specific purposes (teats for several young).
Such design needs to have been created by a designer, the designer being God. This implies that the universe was created for an eventual, distant purpose, whether known or to be found.
This specific argument has two parts to consider when discussing certain aspects. Design qua regularity and Design qua Purpose. Design Qua Regularity apposes that the universe shows sign of regularity as exampled before, but raises the question of how. Philosophers supporting this argument believe that such signs can conclude a designer at work. Design Qua Purpose suggests that some characteristics of the cosmos point toward a purpose.
Certain elements seem to correspond with others for no apparent reason other than pure design. As if the world were a machine, God, the designer, has engineered and supervised his designs specifically to keep regularity upon it.
A good supportive account used when discussing the Design argument is found in “Natural Theology”, called “The watch and the watchmaker”, William Paley. Paley argues that just like the watch in his story, some things have a clear purpose like the sun, to give light and heat, whereas other things such as the stone and other planets have no clear purpose that we yet know of.
His narrative is convincing in the way he uses the watch and its parts to show specificity of design and purpose. He explains that although we have not seen the watch produced, we know it has a designer who intended it to be used for a reason. We cannot be ignorant and simply suggest that a stone serves no purpose just because we know not of it and have not seen it personally created. Neither can we simply conclude that pure chance allowed the cosmos to occur. Natural instinct, resulting in survival and Newton’s law of motion were also viewed to aid Paley’s beliefs.
Perhaps the most famous argument of design, I feel this story shows a broad understanding of the question in mind and portrays a simple, understandable prospect of the Design argument. Another, more obvious place to find support of the design argument can be seen in the Bible. Genesis shows evidence of Regularity and Purpose as well as design. “Lights… to put light upon the earth… and the evening and the morning… ” Although some people may not believe the teachings of the Bible, there appears to be some sense behind these writings, which corresponds with the theories of Theologians worldwide.
As with any discussion, there happens to be an opposition in the form of David Hume. He criticized the design argument as seen in “Dialogues concerning natural religion”, David Hume, where he finds Paley’s suggestions absurd and irrelevant to the existence of design. Instead, and rather sarcastically, Hume implies that a cabbage makes a better example of purpose, but doesn’t necessarily conclude a dominant figure behind its existence, instead pure mystery or science.
He also embarks on the fact that many Gods may have been involved in the creation of the universe, agreeing with other religious beliefs, he portrays an anti Judaic-Christian concept, questioning monotheism. As we ourselves can see, the world is far from perfect, Hume included, … “faulty… first rude essay of some infant deity who afterwards abandoned it”. Hume’s theories closely link to a more scientific, modern approach to such arguments. Similarities occur when discussing the apparent existence of the world and inhabitants of it.
Hume believes that the world shows evidence of regularity as expected from such a great thing otherwise it could not continue. Scientists have concluded their own theory, steering away from religious stereotypical views, but closely relating their discoveries to issues raised in religious beliefs. The ‘big bang’ theory states that the universe ”began 15,000 million years ago, with the explosion of a dense nucleus matter”, hence the ‘big bang’. This discovery ‘catches out’ the Bible as the universe is actually Older than we once thought.
This could deter people’s opinions towards this theory and criticize more religious views. By measuring the distance between stars, scientists were able to make these discoveries and conclude that the universe is always expanding, showing natural movement and creation. The Biblical account could be counted as myth, although inaccurate, it shows meaning and thought behind its teachings and some truth. “Let there be light” (Genesis) could be interpreted as the big bang, but in simple terms for instance. Another Critic to consider is John Stuart Mill.
He raises the same point as Hume in that the world is far from perfect with pain and suffering, both naturally e. g. hurricanes, droughts, and floods together with man-made suffering such as war. He argues that God being the “all powerful” figure in question has all abilities to aid in the decrease of such events, but intentionally creates such situations as believed by others. Immoral and evil is not the view commonly taken on board when thinking of such a being, but can be considered when deciding the success of the world in the eyes of a designer.
He therefore concludes that there can be no designer or that such a designer has corrupt intentions. Individuals could argue that these occurrences serve a purpose, either as punishments or to eventually lead to good, much the same way a divorce could work. You could be happy or equally depressed as a result, contradicting all possibility of a motive. A more famous Critic to this argument is Charles Darwin. In his travels among the Galapagos Islands, he noted that Giant tortoises belonging to different islands had distinguishing features that differed to their relatives.
He concluded that the tortoises had somehow adapted to their environment to suit their needs. He realised that this fact contradicted the Teleological argument and therefore needed to be considered among such discussions. Having gained such knowledge of the way in which species evolve, he looked at the evolution of man, clearly seeing that our ancestors take form in the shape of monkeys. Darwin made this discovery apparent to the Victorians who of course were disgusted with his tales, mainly due to the fact that they believed that animals had no souls.
This is because the Bible clearly states that God made man in his own image, not as monkeys or apes. But Darwin was right and so scientists continued their discoveries and studies on evolution and survival of the fittest. Darwin’s book “The origin of species” persuaded people that we should look upon fact and science, steering people away from their religious beliefs. The Anthropic principle is another form of the Design argument that focuses on the argument towards design. Knowing that Darwin’s theories contradict the Bible and previous beliefs, it claims that the cosmos breeds development and evolution of intelligent life.
The evolution of man and animals was not coincidence but a product of design and purpose. Supporters of this design are Tennant and Swinburne. Swinburne concludes that the cosmos could just as easily be chaotic as it is governed. The fact that it is not, to him, suggests design and a designer, over ruling chance and coincidence. He decided that the fact that the universe is so complex means that there had to be a designer, the most likely figure being God. Tennant believed the opposite to Swinburne, chaos among the universe could be possible.
He realised that there was order present but didn’t claim it to be an impossibility. The universe to him was also seen as a development ground for intelligent life to grow and flourish in such environments provided. The next form of the anthropic principle is the argument from design. This can be associated with critics such as Paley as it appeals to instances of design among the cosmos. Using both forms it is possible to reach some kind of conclusion about the design and purpose of the universe. We could say that the Bible cannot always be taken literally but we should not overrule the theories included.
In some instances, design could be present but not totally confirmed. It seems as though for every breakthrough there is a downfall when discussing the Teleological argument. Maybe we should be more open-minded and develop new ways of thinking like Darwin. Even so we must take into account the previous comments and theories used time and time before if we are to reach any justified conclusion. I believe that the cosmos does indeed shoes sign or regularity, perhaps pointing toward design but not concluding design.
I can see the reasons behind such claims but cannot back them as I believe that the universe could just as easily have been formed by chance or possibly the ‘big bang’. I would say that the Biblical account is more about a story than fact, as the people who wrote it had no knowledge of the scientific discoveries around now such as natural selection. I am just as confused and un-convinced as before, but hold greater knowledge of the factors effecting the way we discuss and think about the way in which we view the Design Arguemnt.