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Examine the design argument for the existence of God.

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Introduction

(a) Examine the design argument for the existence of God. In this essay, I will be focusing on the different variations of the design argument, as expressed by Paley, as well as the version expressed by Hume, through Cleanthes, and its modern version in the form of the Anthropic Principle. I will describe the ideas of design 'qua regularity' and design 'qua order'; explaining what each means. I will also attempt to deconstruct the design argument and identify both its strengths and weaknesses, though this will form part (b) of my essay. I will then draw my own conclusion in response to the design argument. The design argument is also known as the teleological argument.1 This argument attempts to prove the existence of God, using analogy. The teleological argument is that of an a posteriori2 nature, as its basic form comes from the idea that we can deduce knowledge from what we know or have sense of, in this case, the existence of the universe. Even before the Greek philosophers, people have presumed that the natural order of the universe - and the way in which it works, i.e.the changing season, the intricacy of an eyeball, the complexity of the human brain - serves as evidence of a designer (who is often asserted to be God). The design argument has been expressed in two ways - 'design qua regularity', and 'design qua purpose'. Firstly, we will focus on design qua regularity. This aspect looks at design in relation to the order and regularity in the universe. Philosophers who support the argument would believe that it is evident that there is some sort of order in the universe - for example, the rotation of the planets - and that it cannot have occurred by random chance. This therefore suggests existence of a creator: God. St. Thomas Aquinas3 argues from design qua regularity in the fifth of his five ways, identifying that the way in which 'natural bodies' act in a regular fashion provides the ...read more.

Middle

inorganic world has provided the basic necessities required to sustain life * The progress of evolution towards the emergence of intelligent human life13 Basically, Tennant argues that because life is as it is - because we can see it for what it is and because we can survive in our universe as it is - there must have been a creator of this life and of the universe. 'The fact is, we are here, and here by the grace of some pretty felicitous arrangements. Our existence cannot of itself explain these arrangements. One could shrug the matter aside with the comment that we are certainly very lucky that the universe just happens to possess the necessary conditions for life is flourish, but that this is a meaningless quirk of fate. Again, it is a question of personal judgement.'14 Tennant also used the idea of aesthetic15 appreciation to further consolidate his argument. He stated that humans have the ability to appreciate the beauty of our world - and things such as art, music and literature - and this aesthetic appreciation is not a necessity. Tennant argues that it is not vital to regard things as beautiful and certainly not necessary for evolutionary survival, and yet, humans do - so there must have been a 'divine creator' of the universe, who determined that humans would have specific attributes in addiction to those required for basic survival. Although Tennant regarded his argument as valid, it was not particularly appreciated by people at that time. It was the developments in cosmology, theoretical physics and pure mathematics, which urged philosophers - such as Richard Swinburne - to re-examine it. Swinburne argues, using probability16, that it is much more likely for the universe to have been created through design as opposed to having been created by random chance. Swinburne again reiterated that the complexity and the order of the universe support the theory that there must have been some form of design: and he concludes that this design's simplest explanation is that of God. ...read more.

Conclusion

This may be argued against by the fact that the chances of the universe forming as it has done were infinitesimal; however, do we actually have the knowledge to predict that if the slightest thing had changed, the whole universe would be entirely different? Or that perhaps human life wouldn't have evolved at all? If there was a God who created the world for us to appreciate things such as aesthetics, what were his18 motives? What did he want of humans? What is the meaning of life? The truth is, the Anthropic Principle causes us to ask more questions: what sort of God created humankind? And there is no logical explanation as to why there was a single, personal, transcendent God with qualities such as being omnipotent, omniscient etc. To make that much of a presumption without justification cannot be valid - where is any evidence for such a being? In conclusion, I think both the Design Argument and the Anthropic Principle - although based upon probability rather than reality or evidence - can be understood and accepted by most philosophers and humans: the universe really is complex, and how is it so that our universe may have just fallen into place in such a precise way? It seems unlikely; and the universe now - in its current form - certainly points to the idea of a designer. However, whether this designer was/is God is another argument and personally I find the way in which Paley, for example, manages to jump from the idea of a designer to the idea of God rather illogical. How can there be a Theistic God when it is evident that we have suffering in the world? ... 'This world, for all he knows, is very faulty and imperfect compared to a superior standard; and was only the first rude essay of some infant deity who afterwards abandoned it. ...read more.

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