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Date Posted:10/11/2005 11:53 AMCopy HTML

$%*'`[fred]%*'`@argument from design "If there are any marks at all of special design in creation, one of the things most evidently designed is that a large proportion of all animals should pass their existence in tormenting and devouring other animals." --John Stuart Mill "I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice." --Charles Darwin The argument from design is one of the "proofs" for the existence of God. In its basic form, this argument infers from the intelligent order and created beauty of the universe that there is an intelligent Designer and Creator of the universe. The argument has been criticized for begging the question: it assumes the universe is designed in order to prove that it is the work of a designer. The argument also suppresses evidence: for all its beauty and grandeur, the universe is also full of, well, to be delicate, let us say that the universe is also full of nasties. I suppose I should be more specific, but I think the reader knows the kind of thing I mean: babies born without brains, good people suffering monstrous tortures such as neurofibromatosis, evil people basking in the sun and enjoying power, reputation, etc. Volcanoes erupting, earthquakes rattling the planet, hurricanes and tornadoes blindly wiping out thousands of lives a day. Is it unfair to call these things the nasties, what is blithely referred to by theists as non-moral evil or physical evil? To say, as many defenders of Design do, that these nasties only seem nasty to us but we are ignorant of God's plan and vision and cannot know how good these nasties really are, is self-refuting. If we can't know what's good and what's not, we can't know whether the design, if any, is good or bad. Paley's argument One of the argument's more famous variations involves an analogy with a watch. William Paley (1743-1805), the Archdeacon of Carlisle, writes in his Natural Theology (1802): In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer that for anything I knew to the contrary it had lain there forever; nor would it, perhaps, be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that for anything I knew the watch might have always been there. The reason, he says, that he couldn't conceive of the watch having been there forever is because it is evident that the parts of the watch were put together for a purpose. It is inevitable that "the watch must have had a maker," whereas the stone apparently has no purpose revealed by the complex arrangement of its parts. Darrow's response One could, of course, attack Paley's argument at this point and say, as Clarence Darrow did, that some stones would be just as puzzling as a watch; for, they are complex and could easily have been designed by someone for some purpose we are unaware of, and, in any case "on close inspection and careful study the stone...is just as marvelous as the watch." Be that as it may, Paley's point was not that watches are inherently more interesting than stones. His point was that a watch could be seen to be analogous with the creation of the universe. The design of the watch implies an intelligent designer. This fact, says Paley, would not be diminished even if we discovered that the watch before us was the offspring (no pun intended) of another watch. "No one," he says, "can rationally believe that the insensible, inanimate watch, from which the watch before us issued, was the proper cause of the mechanism we so much admire in it--could be truly said to have constructed the instrument, disposed its parts, assigned their office, determined their order, action, and mutual dependency, combined their several motions into one result, and that also a result connected with the utilities of other beings." Paley then goes on to claim that "every manifestation of design which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature, with the difference on the side of nature of being greater and more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation." The implication is that the works of nature must have had a designer of supreme intelligence to have contrived to put together such a magnificent mechanism as the universe. According to Darrow, this 'implication' is actually an assumption. To say that a certain scheme or process shows order or system, one must have some norm or pattern by which to determine whether the matter concerned shows any design or order. We have a norm, a pattern, and that is the universe itself, from which we fashion our ideas. We have observed this universe and its operation and we call it order. To say that the universe is patterned on order is to say that the universe is patterned on the universe. It can mean nothing else.* The problem with Paley's analogy is that the belief that the universe shows orderliness and purpose is an assumption. One quality of a good analogical argument is that the characteristics cited as shared characteristics must be truly shared characteristics. If there is doubt that one of the items being compared (the universe) possesses the most significant shared characteristic (of being orderly and purposive), then the analogical argument is not a sound one. Hume's argument Another philosopher, David Hume (1711-1776), took up the design analogy a few years before Paley, in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. One of the characters, Philo, suggests that "If the universe bears a greater likeness to animal bodies and to vegetables than to the works of human art, it is more probable that its cause resembles the cause of the former than that of the latter, and its origin ought rather to be ascribed to generation or vegetation than to reason or design." (Book VII) "The world," says Philo, "plainly resembles more an animal or a vegetable than it does a watch or knitting-loom. Its cause, therefore, it is more probable, resembles the cause of the former. The cause of the former is generation or vegetation. The cause, therefore, of the world we may infer to be something similar or analogous to generation or vegetation." Hume, apparently thought the analogy was a joke, but perhaps Paley is still laughing from that Great Carrot Patch in the Sky. I might find this watch analogy more convincing of Divine Purpose if, while observing it in his imaginary scenario, Paley's watch suddenly and for no reason shot a lightning bolt through his forehead. That would be more in harmony with the universe I have come to know and love. If the watch could give AIDS to anyone who touched it, or contaminate his progeny for endless generations, then I might be convinced that this watch is like the universe and indicative of a Grand Designer. the apparent designed order Finally, there is a common and popular argument that lists facts about nature that, if they were different, would mean that our planet or life on our planet would not exist. We wouldn't be here, it is noted, * if the sun were just slightly farther away or half as powerful * if the axis of the earth were slightly different * if the moon were larger or closer or farther away * if gravity weren't such a weak force * if DNA didn't replicate * if molecules were larger or smaller * if there were sixty planets in our solar system * if carbon didn't exist * if the speed of light were half what it is * if genetic mutation did not happen * if the rotation of the earth were one-tenth of what it is Furthermore, look at all the signs of design: * salmon, eels, birds, butterflies and whales are able to migrate and find the same breeding and feeding grounds year after year * human reason which can conceive God * natural ecological systems One cannot deny the facts. If things were different then things would be different. But they aren't different, so what is the point of this argument? The sun will be unable to support life on this planet some day. It is already unable to support life on several other planets. What does this fact prove about design? Nothing. The axis of the earth has been different and will be different again. Someday this planet will be uninhabitable. What does that prove about design, intelligent or otherwise? Nothing. We can't deny that if millions of factors did not occur, we wouldn't be here. So what? Many of these factors did not exist in the past and will not exist in the future on this planet. There was a time when there was no life on this planet and there will be a time when no life exists here in the future. There was a time when this planet did not exist and there will be a time in the future when it will not exist. What does that prove about design? Nothing. There are countless planets that exist which do not have the conditions necessary for life. What do they prove about design? Nothing. One might argue that the odds are a billion billion to one that all these circumstances just happened to coincide that makes life on earth possible. But since we're here, the odds are 100% that it can happen. Cressy Morrison once argued Suppose you put ten pennies, marked from one to ten, into your pocket and give them a good shuffle. Now try to take them out in sequence from one to ten, putting back the coin each time and shaking them all again. Mathematically we know that your chance of first drawing number one is one in ten; of drawing one and two in succession, one in 100; of drawing one, two and three in succession, one in 1000, and so on; your chance of drawing them all, from number one to number ten in succession, would reach the unbelievable figure of one in ten billion. By the same reasoning, so many exacting conditions are necessary for life on the earth that they could not possibly exist in proper relationship by chance. The earth rotates on its axis 1000 miles an hour at the equator; if it turned at 100 miles an hour, our days and nights would be ten times as long as now, and the hot sun would likely burn up our vegetation each long day while in the long night any surviving sprout might well freeze. Morrison begs the question. The earth with life on it is here. The odds are 1/1 of its existing. In any case, if I had 20 billion years to pull ten numbered pennies out of my pocket, the odds of me drawing out the coins in sequence at least once are very good. But why chip away at this argument from rarity when we can use the sledgehammer? ... rarity by itself shouldn't necessarily be evidence of anything. When one is dealt a bridge hand of thirteen cards, the probability of being dealt that particular hand is less than one in 600 billion. Still, it would be absurd for someone to be dealt a hand, examine it carefully, calculate that the probability of getting it is less than one in 600 billion, and then conclude that he must not have been dealt that very hand because it is so very improbable. --John Allen Paulos, Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences Are there naturalistic and mechanistic explanations for ecological systems and what is called "animal wisdom"? Of course. Does this prove they were not designed? Of course not. Nor does their existence prove design. Do we have to posit a God to explain how human reason came to exist with its ability to conceive of an infinite being? Of course not. Does this mean there is no God? Of course not. But it does mean that this argument from design is little more than an exercise in begging the question. It has to assume design in order to prove it. The Meaning of Life The theist thinks that life only makes sense if God exists. Why then does it seem obvious to atheists that everything makes just as much if not more sense if there is no God? Why does the universe seem perfectly intelligible to the atheist as an undesigned mechanism governed solely by natural, impersonal forces? An atheist looks at the universe and what is known about it and sees that its alleged perfect order and design is pretty imperfect. They look at individual items which are wonderful in function but ridiculous in design and are led to think no omniscient being would design it this way. As Russell put it: who couldn't come up with a better world if given omnipotence, omniscience and billions of years to do it? An omniscient, omnipotent being might well be expected to use a much simpler and more effective design for the universe and most of the things in it. The very complexity and inherent defects of structures indicate, as Clarence Darrow noted, the lack of design and the result of natural forces working with no particular purpose in mind. You can use a complicated clamp to hold a few sheets of paper, but a paper clip is a much more elegant device for such a purpose. The orbits of the planets around our sun are a wonder to behold, but the asteroid belt, meteors, and comets crashing into planets is a strange touch for an omnipotent, all-good Creator. A healthy child has no match for exultation and hopefulness, but conjoined twins and other "freaks" of nature, as well as myriad genetic birth defects, seem unworthy of benevolent design. The atheist sees a woman with a 200 pound tumor and thinks such a grotesque evil can't be allowed by an omnipotent, all-Good God. But the patient and her parents think God helped the surgeons remove it and save her life. They don't blame God for the tumor but credit Him with its removal. They may even maintain that God had some fine and noble purpose in causing such suffering. The atheist finds such rationalization to be little more than ad hoc hypothesizing. The typical theistic response to the previous line of reasoning is to consider it impertinent. God is not bound by human conceptions of perfection or adequate design. What may appear inelegant, inefficient or imperfect to us may be just right according to God. But if one takes this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, then we can safely say nothing about God at all. I maintain that the minimum standard God should be held to is what a reasonably competent group of intelligent humans could come up with. If this God can't do any better than that, then "perfection" has no meaning when applied to this being. If one maintains that the ways of God are essentially inscrutable, then anything goes. God could be anything, even pure evil, in that case. See also atheism, gods, and intelligent design.
MothandRust Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #1
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Re:design or not design

Date Posted:10/11/2005 2:00 PMCopy HTML

Interesting read. I remember watching many slideshows about how perfectly placed the Earth is but always understood that we are one solar system among billions of others in a galaxy that is also amongst billions of others. The chances are that somewhere in this universe all the conditions would be perfectly positioned to make an ideal planet for a period of time. There is probably a planet of living mattresses folloping about where shifting spanners grow on trees marvelling about how perfect their solar system is placed too (re Douglas Adams... again)

It's all about perspective isn't it? The universe is not so very big IF it is finite in size, compared to the enormous infinity of space and nothing that surrounds it. Even if it is finite than we are ridiculously insignificantly placed within it. Would God seem more conceivable if we were at the centre of the universe and everything revolved around us? That would make it a bit obvious. God's style according to the bible is to make something great out of humble or insignificant things. He doesn't go for the obvious choices. David was the young ruddy one; Jesus was a poor carpenter; Joseph was a slave and convict; etc...

The fact that anything is here at all makes God obvious to me... even if you simply called God 'Gravity' and notsomuch an individual entity but rather an obvious physical force. The question is, I suppose, is the force and momentum behind the universe's very existence intelligent. Does he intervene in the chaos he's responsible for... is there a purpose. As I said earlier, he  created EVIL, (Isaiah 45:7) "I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and CREATE EVIL; I, the Lord, do all these things." So, is the designer of all things nasty and 'unnasty' doing all this for a good reason? (Toads and dolphins... Stonefish and puppies - it'd be a boring would if it was all bunnies and kittens)

It's a universe of order and of chaos... although, as stated, we have no point of reference to lable its authority. We know we can't know God. Which is hardly fair because then no matter what we say because once you try to make sense of God's intent, his mind, what he is you couldn't possibly know because he is simply beyond that. He is exempt from criticism cause ya just can't know can ya? Sort of makes debate pointless and frustrating. Grrr at God.



David Hume, the eighteenth century philosopher, stated the logical problem of evil when he inquired about God, "Is He willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is impotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Whence then is evil?". When the skeptic challenges belief in God on the basis of the logical problem of evil, he is suggesting that it is irrational or logically impossible to believe in the existence of both a good and all powerful God and in the reality of evil and suffering. Such a God would not possibly allow evil to exist.



 


 

[LINK SiteName=Mothrust: Movies and Modern Myth Target=_blank]http://aintchristian.blogspot.com.au/[/LINK] Be nice, for everyone that you meet is fighting a harder battle - Anita Roddick
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Re:design or not design

Date Posted:10/11/2005 5:05 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : HolyandSinful
Grrr at God.

...or perhaps Grrr into the air.

Would God seem more conceivable if we were at the centre of the universe and everything revolved around us? That would make it a bit obvious.

Ah yes.  God doesn't want to make it too easy now does he?  Gotta make it tricky or there'd be no fun in damning unbelievers to hell.  But then again, up until VERY recently, most people thought we were at the centre of everything.  So they had it better than us hey?  Died of all sorts of nasty diseases but it was easier to believe in God. 

H&S, I really think you're almost done with this religion thing. 

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Re:design or not design

Date Posted:10/11/2005 7:15 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : MrJonah

Grrr at God....or perhaps Grrr into the air. H&S, I really think you're almost done with this religion thing.

Oh... why do I feel like apologising to the forum police for posting too much. TV sucks... I'd rather be here chewing the fat. I'm done with religion and I think I'm done with churches. I'm not done with God yet (shakes fist into air). I think I'm daring Him (capital H... always with the capital H) into revealing himself. I can feel myself turning into that 'Free oh free' dude but I don't want to join the dark side of the force just yet. Gotta hang onto hope. I refuse to accept that we spin through this universe alone and without something at the wheel. I don't want to. Never been one to burn bridges... but it happens (friends come and go but enemies accumulate) sorry... sidetracked... where was I?

Supernatural stuff happens. If it weren't for bizarre things I've experienced this year I would nearly write God off in a puff of logic. Unfortunately, all the memorable supernatural things I've seen have a negative angle to them. Death and loss and crap. I used to think that tongues was quite a miracle but I was fooling myself and those I witnessed to. I even used to exaggerate the tongues to make it seem amazing (many, if not all do) - you know that type of testmony people have... "I felt the Spirit (capital S) well up and a warm feeling welled up inside me as I started speaking in a completely new language"... pfft... in the words of Motmot - "Always tell the truth".

Life can seem so orchestrated sometimes. It's hard to believe that celestial beings aren't pulling strings. I'm convinced something's up... maybe if I stop looking for it, it'll start to make some sense.

[LINK SiteName=Mothrust: Movies and Modern Myth Target=_blank]http://aintchristian.blogspot.com.au/[/LINK] Be nice, for everyone that you meet is fighting a harder battle - Anita Roddick
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Re:design or not design

Date Posted:14/11/2005 5:44 AMCopy HTML

Read this http://interventionmag.com/Primary/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=47

And read this

Some rich people do very questionable things to get rich, then turn to religion to convince themselves that God really did want them to be rich. Wealth is the sign of the elect, etc. Their religion does not teach morality as they like to claim but in fact is used to justify immorality. Proselytizing is simple a way of forcing the rest of the world to see the proselytizer as the proselytizer sees themselves.
RCI prophesies
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