‘The design arguments prove God’s existence’.
Assess this view. (30 marks)
Design arguments, also sometimes known as teleological arguments, from the Greek ‘Telos’ for goal and ‘Logos’, meaning reason, hence reasoning for a goal or purpose and that purpose being God’s existence. These arguments endeavour to ascertain God’s existence, by inferring from evidence of design and purpose in the universe, and claim that there must have been a designer of this. Design arguments start from experience, so they are a posteriori and use inductive reasoning, as we infer from a specific observation, a general conclusion.
Design arguments usually point to certain examples in the universe, such as the complexity of the human body, and especially the human eye, as it works together coherently to accomplish a purpose. Also the position of the earth in relation to other astronomical factors, such as earth’s perfect positioning in relation to the sun, if it were to be just a bit further away or closer to the sun, then human life could not emerge and sustain itself; the earth’s climate consequently being too hot or too cold. Also Jupiter’s position is perfect, as it deflects a significant amount of meteorites due to its gigantic magnetic field; furthermore, the earth is also in perfect accordance to moon, as it controls the tides, which enables human life to sustain.
Saint Thomas Aquinas’ version of the design argument was first presented in his ‘Summa Theologica’, where he offers a way in which God’s existence could be demonstrated. Aquinas claims that things that lack intelligence, such as living organism have an objective or purpose, and without some sort of director to lead them to their objective, who possess intelligence and knowledge. Aquinas famously uses the archer analogy, where he states that without an archer, an arrow will not go to its target, but will require something to direct it; hence the archer. Therefore, by the outcome of the analogy, it is logical that all the unintelligent beings are led or directed towards their target by some intelligent being, and of course, the being here is God, who directs all unintelligent beings, like humans and all animals. Aquinas uses some fundamental ideas that third century BCE philosopher Aristotle had stated, that all organisms in nature have a purpose, for example ducks have webbed, in order for them to swim better, although Aristotle claims this was just a fact about nature rather an indication of a designer.
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...
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