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Monday, December 29, 2014

Two Types of Design Argument; The Rational Mind behind a Rational Order

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Two Types of Design Argument; The Rational Mind behind a Rational Order

…for what can be so plain and evident, when we behold the heavens and contemplate the celestial bodies, as the existence of some supreme, divine intelligence, by which all these things are governed? - Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
by understanding he established the heavens;
by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
and the clouds drop down the dew. - Proverbs 3:19-20

Two Types of Design Argument
I wish to rehabilitate a type of design argument and in so doing, tease out exactly what sort of God can be known and demonstrated by this argument and it’s theological meaning for us.

Now it is an unfortunate accident of the history of the discussion of this argument that it has almost always entangled two separate types of arguments which ought to be considered distinct from one another. To roughly state the two different types of arguments:

(1) The Universe Exhibits Rational Order and Regularity
(2) The Universe Exhibits Purpose, Intention and Goal

The name traditionally used for design arguments, “teleological” from the Greek telos or “purpose”, “end”, etc, already betrays the bias of the philosophical world for regarding (2) as the primary substance of design arguments rather than (1). My argument will be to focus upon (1) and disregard (2) as something which can only be known from special revelation rather than “read off” nature.

William Paley Argument from Design

"Yes, one of the things that I love about Paley is that he was the equal of David Hume in his mastery of the English language. Whether you read Hume or Paley, you are reading someone who is a master of English prose. Although many people think that Paley's argument was refuted by Hume, Paley actually wrote the Natural Theology in full cognizance of Hume's work and refuted the objections that Hume brings against the design argument in his dialogues concerning natural religion. So far from being a refutation of Paley, Hume's work is actually overtaken by Paley's work, I think." - Dr. Craig - Is the Watchmaker Argument Still Valid? Click HERE to read the whole transcript.

Paley’s Watchmaker Argument
To motivate the discussion it would be necessary to illustrate the distinction between (1) and (2) in clearer terms. Now, some of us maybe familiar with Paley’s “Watchmaker” argument whereby he argues that if we notice a watch lying on a beach, we wouldn’t think it got there by accident but it must be the product of intentional or purposeful formation, that is, created for telling the time. Then by analogy he compares the watch to the eye and argues that just as the intricacies of wheels and springs of the watch were so intelligently fitted together for the purpose of telling the time, likewise the complexities and delicate fit of the various parts of the eye for the purpose of producing sight is evidence for the intelligent and purposeful formation of the eye.

The problem with all such “teleological arguments” which depends upon “purpose” and “intentions” is simply the problem of evil. We see many such organic “creations” fail in their purpose, “malfunction”, unable to perform what they were meant to do, in short, the existence of many “bad design” and failed designs and faulty designs is effectively a refutation against their being created for a purpose, or at least, their being created by an infallibly intentional being. We might add to this that many aspects of nature seemed to have evil purposes and goals, a further refutation of the idea of a benevolent intentional former of nature towards good ends.

Let us now consider the other type of design arguments. What if, instead of encountering a watch in the wild, you encounter a work of art. Now, a work of art does not intrinsically possess a purpose. To be sure, a work of art can be used purposefully by others to further some economic or political agenda, it’s artist may even have created the piece of art for a purpose or a specific intention, but this intention is extrinsic from the piece of art itself. The art, unlike the watch, does not intrinsically possess the artist’s intentions or purpose. The watch’s parts itself were fitted together for for telling time, but no such intrinsic purpose or intention exist for an art piece. Maybe an artist simply wanted to express himself and so he painted and then locked it up in his chest which got lost and ended up in the wild. - PLEASE CLICK HERE to continue reading.

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