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
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.
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.