Unformatted text preview: The Design Argument
18th century version William Paley (17431805) William Paley The watch The intricacy, complexity, and adaption of means to ends in the watch strongly suggests intelligent design. The same goes for plants and animals.
Consider the human eye... The fish eye... A relatively modest conclusion Like the watch, plants and animals are produced by intelligent design. How is the argument supposed to work?
It is best understood as an argument from analogy.
1. 2. 3. Living things are like machines in the complexity, intricacy, and adaption of their parts to various purposes. Machines are the product of intelligent design. This strongly suggests the hypothesis that living things are also the product of intelligent design. David Hume (1711 1776) Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
Cleanthes defends a more ambitious version of the design argument one that seeks to establish design for the universe as a whole. Philo attacks this argument. Cleanthes' argument 1. Houses and watches and ships exhibit a certain kind of order viz., adaption of means to ends and they are produced by intelligent design. The universe exhibits the same kind of order. So probably the universe was produced by intelligent design. An a posteriori argument, as opposed to an a priori one. 2. 3. Hume's empiricism
"Experience alone can point out ... the true cause of any phenomenon." (54) Some of Philo's criticisms Weak analogy How can we draw a conclusion about the universe as a whole from the tiny part that we can observe?
"What peculiar privilege has this little agitation of the brain that we call `thought,' that we must make it a model of the whole universe?" (55) How can we draw a conclusion about the origin of the universe from observations of it in its developed state? The argument fails to establish that the universe has just one designer. Or that its designer is unlimited in intelligence, power, or goodness. Richard Dawkins
An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: "I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one." I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. The Blind Watchmaker, p. 6 What about the theory of evolution? Seems to show how what looks like design isn't. Natural selection and random mutation. Compatible with theism, but (obviously) doesn't require it. Note that the theory says nothing about the origin of life. But it does have implications for the origin of human life. Question: Is this how God (if he exists) would be likely to operate? ...
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- Fall '07
- Philosophy, Richard Dawkins, Teleological argument, William Paley, Watchmaker analogy