outline and assess the key design argument of the existence of god

The design argument is concerned to find the meaning or purpose in this world; they seek to move from facts about the world to God.

Like the cosmological argument, the design argument draws back to arguments put forward by Socrates and Plato who said that ‘the human body, with all its principles and elements must owe its origin…of Zeus’. The design argument considers a number of issues for example; why is the universe the way that it is? As expected, it has undergone many different transformations that have transformed it into a theistic argument (on that seeks to prove the existence of the God of classical theism).It suggests that certain aspects in the universe are adapted to fulfil their purpose, therefore being deliberately designed by an intelligent designer. There are numerous types of arguments and different philosophers give them different names.

Paley’s watchmaker is the most famous version; it is based on analogy between a watch and the world. The watch shows that it was made for a specific purpose (to tell the time). If we came across this watch even if we didn’t know what it was for, we can tell that is shows evidence of a design and therefore a designer, as the existence of the watch implies a watchmaker.The watch serves as an analogy for the world; it demonstrates purpose, design and telos.

For Paley, the world was like a machine made up of several different parts which worked towards an end purpose and small adaptations in nature were for Paley, proof designing evidence of a intelligent designer. David Hume’s (1711-76) rejected Paley’s idea even before it was put forward, in Hume’s Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, he employs three characters; Cleanthes, who believes in Natural Theology and argues a posteriori to God.Demea, who also believes in God but whose arguments are a priori and Philo, who is their critic and puts forward Hume’s own views. (note: that a posteriori means after an experience or proven by an experience and a priori means prior to experience, simply thinking).

In Aquinas’s fifth way, Aquinas observes that non-rational beings act in way that will always lead to the best result, he maintained in thinking that there is always a purpose to everything. If non-rational beings can work towards a goal then there must be something directing them to do so.The form of his argument is based on the following premises: •There is an order in the universe that works to a beneficial end or purpose •This beneficial order could not happen by chance or luck. •Objects themselves cannot work towards an end or purpose and therefore needed to be directed by something that has intelligence •Ultimately God exists as the answer of the beneficial order.

His argument is influenced by the observation that the beneficial order cannot be explained because the universe is not self-explanatory and does not have its individual intelligence in its right.Richard Swinburne (The Existence of God) suggested three groups: 1. The anthropic principle – Arguments from a certain pattern of order in the Universe. 2.

Arguments from Providence – Arguments from God’s guidance or fate/luck/destiny. 3. The Argument from Beauty otherwise called The aesthetic argument. The anthropic principle proposes that the reason and purpose for the universe is the support of human life: ‘As we look out into the Universe and identify the many accidents…the Universe must in some case have know we were coming’ (Freeman Dyson, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle).

It also demonstrates that the design argument need not reject the principles of evolution in order to assume a designing God. However, theistic supporters of evolution argue that scientific principles alone are not enough to explain a perfectly balanced natural order that prevails. The argument from probability suggests that the evidence of design and order in the universe increases the probability of the existence of God. Swinburne’s argument is based on the remarkable degree and order of the universe.

Given the size and its behaviour, to explain regularities would lead to an infinite chain that offers no explanation. He acknowledges that general regularities can be explained by science but he observes features of the universe which, he argues, increase the probability of there being a designer of the universe: •The existence of the universe and that it is ordered. •The existence of consciousness and opportunity’s to do good. •The pattern of history.

•The evidence of miracles and religious experience.Another form of the argument is the aesthetic form, which states that the universe possesses a natural beauty that goes beyond life, for example the stars in the sky shows the handcraft of God. Beauty can also take forms in what human kind appreciates, although they do not play a part in the survival of the species. This view of this world was also to be considered superior to others in that it catered for spiritual dimensions.

He made key observations about the universe: •The universe is intelligent and not a chaotic place. •The evolutionary system underpins direction and progress. The universe is sustainable to sustain life. •The created universe has standards and values of aesthetic value.

•Humanity possesses an awareness of moral worth and works in harmony with nature. To summarise, the design argument has to recognise the facts about the world, including natural selection and natural beauty. If the argument is to succeed, these facts must point to a God who must be omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing) and all good. However the argument lies on probability and individual judgment, therefore not conclusive and will depend on each individual’s reaction.

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