Some have argued that the world has obvious elements of design that indicates that the existence of a designer. Does this design argument prove that God exists?
The design argument proves that God exists. Paley uses the analogy of the universe and a watch, which someone stumbles on somewhere in the woods, to explain this idea. He argues that human beings may not know the identity or the capability of the being that made the watch, but this does not negate the very existence of that being. Likewise, man should consider God’s existence even when he may not understand his complexity.
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The watch may possess certain unexplained parts; however, this does not nullify the fact that it was designed. According to Paley, a designer may have made the watch regardless of structural necessity; design and structure are two separate entities. One should not link the presence of orderliness in the universe to the design process of the watch because these aspects can exist independently. Skeptics may claim that the watch was planted in the woods in order to fool the observer; this argument still accommodates aspects of design. The universe possesses certain regularities that human beings recognize as laws. However, laws must stem from a law-giver. Even ignorance of the watch, or its functionality, does not counteract existence of a designer.
Paley considered the present state of the universe and expounded on his design argument through it. The universe is self replicating; it does not require an agent to contribute to the day to day production of other life forms or objects. Similarly, if the watch had self replicating abilities, without direct intervention of the designer, then one ought to appreciate this designer’s skills even further.
The self propagating properties of the objects in the universe testify to the supremacy of an intelligent designer. Even though the designer did not participate in the direct creation of the second, third, or one hundredth watch, he is still the designer of the watch. The objects inside the earth may come from one another, but these prerequisite objects do not design subsequent ones; they only create them. An intelligent being was the one that designed them. Designing differs substantially from making as is the case with the universe. One must assume that if an intelligent designer made the first universal objects, then all other creatures that stem from the first one, were also made by God.
Hume came up with a number of counterclaims to Paley’s arguments, but these criticisms do not neutralize the legitimacy of the design argument. Hume agrees that the universe works like a machine, which designers create. This means that an intelligent being exists.
However, he does not believe that the intelligent designer is God. Hume sees no correlation between finite beings and an infinite creator. God has numerous infinite qualities, such as omnipotence and omniscience, yet the objects of the earth are finite. If man focuses only on the finite things that he sees to deduce properties of the intelligent designer, then he has no basis to assume that the designer is infinitely powerful or good. Humans can only infer that the god under consideration is just as powerful as the things man observes.
The problem with this argument is that it only focuses on particular elements of the world; it does not look at the big picture. If one was to consider the self-replicating nature of the things in the universe (birds yielding generations of other birds), then one would realize that the universe possesses infinite qualities. These may be likened to an infinite being; that is, God. Additionally, Hume limited the qualities of the designer to the artifact, yet this is not reasonable. A designer must possess qualities that are superior to his artifact. Consequently, it makes sense to assume that God – a perfect being – created a less than perfect world.
Other opponents claim that a universe must contain parts that adapt to each other in order to function. This may deceive individuals into thinking that a conscious planner created them, yet one cannot prove the assumption. Although the above statement may seem like a plausible counterclaim, one must question the underlying assumption; that the principle of order created the objects. Existence of order in the universe does not mean that the principle made the universe. It only shows that a designer and the principle coexist.
Some have argued that God must exist because only God’s existence can explain the beginning of the universe. Is “God caused our universe to come to be” the only explanation that makes sense?
Indeed, the argument that God must exist because only God’s existence can explain the beginning of the universe, is the only argument that makes sense. Most explanations on intelligent design can be reduced to this premise.
For instance, Aquinas gives five ways of proving God’s existence, yet each way points to the latter argument. First, he states that substances change when other things with the desired characteristic interact with them. For instance, ice melts into water when it interacts with warm water. The initiator of this chain must be a supreme being; that is, God. Aquinas also states that all things in nature depend on a chain of events. These events must have come from a first cause, which must have existed at the beginning of the universe. The philosopher separates contingent aspects of life with necessitates.
Certain things are there because they depend on others. For instance, football teams or cities are contingent things. They rely on a chain of things to bring them into existence. When one traces the source of these contingencies, one will get to a necessity. The first cause was there at the beginning of time, and he was God. Existence of degrees of properties points to the prevalence of an ultimate cause behind those properties.
This being must have existed at the beginning of the universe. Additionally, natural laws support this premise because they provide goals for objects in the universe. A ball will fall to the ground owing to these laws. Those goals must have emanated from a being with awareness. He must have made them at the very beginning, and he is God.
Clarke also makes arguments that support this premise by asserting that the universe must have an independent and unchangeable being. He makes this claim by deducing that contingent and dependent things need a starting point. Additionally, a necessary being will account for prevalence of the series itself. This again points to a creator that existed at the beginning of the universe.
Some critics claim that making this presupposition (existence of a first cause) is not fair because of the existence of brute facts. One may assume that the universe is unintelligible by refusing to ask ‘why’ the universe exists. However, this thinking places one in a fix because it does not allow one to make sense of the world. Clarke’s argument allows one to indulge in a logical explanation of why the universe works. Since he supposes that a first being existed in order to start a causal series, then one must look for proof to support this assumption. Clarke believes that no infinite causal regression can exist, and this can be validated by the fact that the series itself may be dependent. As such, a first cause must have caused that chain of events.
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If one presumes that the universe is such a series, then one can accept the argument that God must exist because only his existence can explain the beginning of universe. This is the only explanation about intelligent design that makes sense. All other arguments are reducible to the above statement.