Numerous predicament arise on further inspection of this argument, first of all, it follows on an assumption that everything in the universe does and has a purpose, but what is the purpose of the universe or humans; it is quite unreasonable to compare the target of an arrow to that of the universe, the two concepts are completely unlike, it becomes an inextricable situation for Aquinas here. Also in the archer and arrow situation we can see the archer’s arms directing the arrow towards the target; however we cannot see these unintelligent beings being directed by anything, as it was pointed out by Antony Flew. Modern scientific developments may turn out to pose great problems for Aquinas; however we cannot blame Aquinas for these, as they were discovered a long time after his death.
Another design argument worth mentioning, probably the most famous design argument from analogy, was put forth by eighteenth century English philosopher, William Paley. It is commonly known as the watchmaker analogy. Paley says imagine walking across a heath and discovering a rock, but you kick it aside as it not worth interest to wonder where it came from, however you walk further on, and you stumble upon a watch, however this time as the object discovered exhibits certain properties, the same answer will not satisfy. For Paley, for all one knows, the rock could have lain there forever however we cannot answer the same question with that answer, as we will require something more that. The stone and watch are comprised of contrasting characteristics. The rock is one lump of material; it seems to serve no prospect or purpose. However the watch is starkly different, it possesses several parts and these parts seem to work together for a purpose, these allow the object to produce motion, but had these parts been arranged in a different way, such motion would not be produced. In Paley’s argument, the watch possesses: complexity, harmony, intelligence and purpose which, as Paley calls it, is ‘spatial order’, as everything seems to be in the right place for a specific purpose to be fulfilled. Any object which exhibits such features, indicate the existence of design. Paley then says, while looking at the watch and acknowledging its implications of a designer, you turn your head and view the world, then you will come to the same conclusion. As you consider the world and its wondrous features, you realise that it is akin to the watch, in that it contains: complexity, harmony, intelligence and purpose. But this is more astounding and overwhelming in the world, and due to the exhibition of these features, it is manifested that there is a designer. Therefore, alike the watch, the universe has also been designed, by not a mere human designer, but by a far greater designer; God.
Paley foresees certain criticism of his argument, by stating the following. He claims that we may be in ignorance of how watches are made, however we still know that the watch has been made. For example, we know that a computer is designed even though we may be ignorant of how it is made, we know it is designed, and there are certain intrinsic qualities within the computer that resonate outward, as it contains the aforementioned features, that Paley talked of, we know almost innately that it must have been designed.
However we often see that the universe has no precise purpose, we contemplate and dwell on the matter of purpose, but to no avail. A designer would not design things inadvertently, so how can Paley make such an assertion that the world has a designer. This would greatly damage Paley’s argument, as sometimes many parts in a machine do not have purpose; just like how in the world there appears to be no significant purpose. Paley countered this objection, by saying even if some parts of the original watch that his argument resides on, appear to not have a purpose, you can still retain the same position. He claims that there are parts were we yet to find the purpose of, the purpose of it may be understood in the future or never find the purpose of, however according to Paley, this does not invalidate his argument, and we can still see that the object has a designer, due to the intrinsic features that radiate from within it.
David Hume, the empiricist British philosopher, objected vigorously to design arguments; most of his objections were made before Paley actually published his argument. Hume states that we do not have any experience, either directly or indirectly of world making, how can we suppose it has been designed, when we have not had any sort of experience of design of such a wondrous and colossal thing as the universe. If we had never experienced engineered or manufacture before, then we would never conjecture up an idea of design. Paley replied this by saying that ‘Does one in a million know how oval frames are turned?’ the obvious answer being no, but we still ascertain that it has been designed. As Paley says there are certain intrinsic features possessed by certain objects which indicate their design. But Hume’s point is far more substantial and damaging than that. We can only know that things have been designed because we can compare an object to other objects which have been manufactured, in this way we can infer that an object has been designed. However, there is no other universe that has been created like ours that we can compare it to, thus we cannot reasonably conclude that a God or anything else designed the universe.
Furthermore, Hume points out that a watch does not have enough similarities for an analogy to be made. He claims that a watch is a mechanical object, while the universe is more akin to a giant vegetable; organic, rather the mechanical. Hume’s point is beside this though, comparing the universe to a watch is just as absurd as comparing it to a vegetable, this is Hume’s greater point, as the universe is unique, so we cannot reasonably compare it to anything, both comparisons are equally flawed. On these grounds we cannot conclude that the universe has been designed. However, we compare unique things in everyday life, so it is quite unreasonable in criticising Paley for comparing a universe.
In conclusion, design arguments do not prove the existence of God; however they do give insightful and interesting observations about the universe. The criticisms directed at them cut deep in their fragile condition and usually outweigh everything else about them. Also arguments that are inductive like this, start from experience and observation, and so people will interpret the universe differently. So to a religious person, the world is a wondrous creation of God which has been meticulously designed, but to an atheist, it is mere chance and evolution that things are as they are now, so there is a degree of ‘seeing as’ which inflicts damage to the arguments.