There seems to be a widespread conviction — evidenced, for example, in the work of Mackie, Dawkins and Sober — that it is Darwinian rather than Humean considerations which deal the fatal logical blow to arguments for intelligent design. I argue that this conviction cannot be well-founded. If there are current logically decisive objections to design arguments, they must be Humean — for Darwinian considerations count not at all against design arguments based upon apparent cosmological fine-tuning. I (...) argue, further, that there are good Humean reasons for atheists and agnostics to resist the suggestion that apparent design — apparent biological design and/or apparent cosmological fine-tuning — establishes (or even strongly supports) the hypothesis of intelligent design. (shrink)
One of the most commonly-raised objections to the designargument is the so-called “who designed the designer?” objection, which charges that any designer invoked to explain complexity in the universe will feature complexity of its own, and thus require explanation in terms of design. There are two distinct versions of this objection in the contemporary literature, with it being couched in terms of: (1) Complexity of designer: a designer exhibits complexity, which calls for explanation in terms of (...)design; (2) Complexity of ideas: a designer’s ideas exhibit complexity, which calls for explanation in terms of design. To each of these versions of the objection there corresponds various responses from proponents of design. These proponents adopt a very particular strategy when crafting their responses: they argue that the objection can be neutralised simply by appealing to one or more of God’s attributes. In this paper I argue that this strategy is inapt, and unable to yield a successful response to either version of the objection. I also argue that a more promising way of tackling the objections is to identify their own peculiar weaknesses, for once these are exposed the objections cease to be a credible threat to the design hypothesis. (shrink)
Elliott Sober has recently argued that the cosmological designargument is unsound, since our observation of cosmic fine-tuning is subject to an observation selection effect (OSE). I argue that this view commits Sober to rejecting patently correct design inferences in more mundane scenarios. I show that Sober's view, that there are OSEs in those mundane cases, rests on a confusion about what information an agent ought to treat as background when evaluating likelihoods. Applying this analysis to the (...)designargument shows that our observation of fine-tuning is not rendered uninformative by an OSE. Design and the Anthropic Objection Previous responses to the Anthropic Objection Variations: experimental squads and survivor reunions Why there is no OSE in firing squad cases Application to the designargument. (shrink)
Evidence for instances of astrophysical 'fine tuning' (or 'coincidences') is thought by some to lend support to the designargument (i.e. the argument that our universe has been designed by some deity). We assess some of the relevant empirical and conceptual issues. We argue that astrophysical fine tuning calls for some explanation, but this explanation need not appeal to the designargument. A clear and strict separation of the issue of anthropic fine tuning on one (...) hand and any form of Eddingtonian numerology and teleology on the other, may help clarify arguably the most significant issue in the philosophy of cosmology. (shrink)
The designargument for God’s existence was critically assessed when in the growth of modern science the cognitive value of teleological categories was called into question. In recent discussions dealing with anthropic principles there has appeared a new version of the designargument, in which cosmic design is described without the use of teleological terms. The weak anthropic principle (WAP), a most critical version of all these principles, describes the fine-tuning of physical parameters necessary to (...) the genesis of carbon-based life. Consequently, a new version of the philosophical designargument can be developed on the basis of the weak anthropic principle.(edited). (shrink)
The argument from design stands as one of the most intuitively compelling arguments for the existence of a divine Creator. Yet, for many scientists and philosophers, Hume's critique and Darwin's theory of natural selection have definitely undermined the idea that we can draw any analogy from design in artifacts to design in nature. Here, we examine empirical studies from developmental and experimental psychology to investigate the cognitive basis of the designargument. From this it (...) becomes clear that humans spontaneously discern purpose in nature. When constructed theologically and philosophically correctly, the designargument is not presented as conclusive evidence for God's existence but rather as an abductive, probabilistic argument. We examine the cognitive basis of probabilistic judgments in relationship to natural theology. Placing emphasis on how people assess improbable events, we clarify the intuitive appeal of Paley's watch analogy. We conclude that the reason why some scientists find the designargument compelling and others do not lies not in any intrinsic differences in assessing design in nature but rather in the prior probability they place on complexity being produced by chance events or by a Creator. This difference provides atheists and theists with a rational basis for disagreement. (shrink)
In a recent study of astrophysical “fine-tunings” (or “coincidences”), Robert Klee critically assesses the support that such astrophysical evidence might be thought to lend to the designargument (i.e., the argument that our universe has been designed by some deity). Klee argues that a proper assessment indicates that the universe is not as “fine-tuned” as advertised by proponents of the design arguments. We argue (i) that Klee’s assessment of the data is, to a certain extent, problematic; (...) and (ii) even if Klee’s assessment of the data is correct, it provides a necessary but not a sufficient response to the designargument. However, an adequate skeptical rejoinder to the designargument can be made by appealing to the anthropic principle. (shrink)
Recent developments in astrophysical cosmology have revived support for the designargument among a growing clique of astrophysicists. I show that the scientific/mathematical evidence cited in support of intelligent design of the universe is infected with a mathematical sharp practice: the concepts of two numbers being of the same order of magnitude, and of being within an order of each other, have been stretched from their proper meanings so as to doctor the numbers evidentially. This practice started (...) with A. S. Eddington and P. A. M. Dirac in the 1920s and 1930s, but it is still very much alive today. 1 Introduction 2 The birth of a sharp practice 3 High tide for the anthropic principle 4 How not to do things with numbers 5 The recalcitrant sloppiness of crud 6 How excited can excited carbon-12 be? 7 Is a pile of doubts a doubtful pile? 8 Conclusion. (shrink)
The designargument for the existence of God is often criticized for resting on anthropocentrism. Some critics maintain that anthropocentrism explains the origin of the designargument. Such critics commit the genetic fallacy. Others say anthropocentrism explains the appeal of the belief that human beings are ends especially worthy of creation. They fail to appreciate that the designargument need not be framed in terms of the fitness of the universe for humanity. Lastly, some (...) say the designargument requires a picture of value according to which it was true, prior to the coming-into-being of the universe, that our sort of universe is worthy of creation. Such a picture, they say, is mistaken, though our attraction to it can be explained in terms of anthropocentrism. This is a serious criticism. To respond to it, proponents of the designargument must either defend an objectivist conception of value or, if not, provide some independent reason for thinking an intelligent designer is likely to create our sort of universe. (shrink)
The Argument from Fine-Tuning, a relatively new version of the DesignArgument, has given rise to an objection, based on what is known as the Anthropic Principle. It is alleged that the argument is fallacious in that it involves an observation selection effect—that given the existence of intelligent living observers, the observation that the universe is fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent life is not surprising. Many find this objection puzzling, or at least easily refutable. My (...) main contribution to the discussion is to offer an analysis of what is wrong (and what is right) in the objection. (shrink)
Jonathan Weisberg (2010 ) argues that, given that life exists, the fact that the universe is fine-tuned for life does not confirm the design hypothesis. And if the fact that life exists confirms the design hypothesis, fine-tuning is irrelevant. So either way, fine-tuning has nothing to do with it. I will defend a designargument that survives Weisberg’s critique — the fact that life exists supports the design hypothesis, but it only does so given fine-tuning.
Richard Dawkins has a dilemma when it comes to design arguments. On the one hand, he maintains that it was Darwin who killed off design and so implies that his rejection of design depends upon the findings of modern science. On the other hand, he follows Hume when he claims that appealing to a designer does not explain anything and so implies that rejection of design need not be based on the findings of modern science. These (...) contrasting approaches lead to the following dilemma: if he claims that Darwinism is necessary for rejecting design, he has no satisfactory response to design arguments based on the order in the laws of physics or the fine-tuning of the physical constants; alternatively, if Humean arguments are doing most of the work, this would undermine one of his main contentions, that atheism is justified by science and especially by evolution. In any case, his Humean arguments do not provide a more secure basis for his atheism because they are seriously flawed. A particular problem is that his argument for the improbability of theism rests on a highly questionable application of probability theory since, even if it were sound, it would only establish that the prior probability of God’s existence is low, a conclusion which is compatible with the posterior probability of God’s existence being high. (shrink)
Recent discoveries in physics, cosmology and biochemistry have captured the public imagination and made the DesignArgument - the theory that God created the world according to a specific plan - the object of renewed scientific and philosophical interest. This accessible but serious introduction to the design problem brings together new perspectives from prominent scientists and philosophers including Paul Davies, Richard Swinburne, Sir Martin Rees, Michael Behe, Elliot Sober and Peter van Inwagen.
I argue that an examination of the analogy between the notion of a bug and that of a genetic defect supports an analogy not just between a computer program and DNA, but between a computer program designed by a programmer and DNA. This provides an analogical teleological argument for the existence of a highly intelligent designer.
I argue that an examination of the analogy between the notion of a bug and that of a genetic defect supports an analogy not just between a computer program and DNA, but between a computer program designed by a programmer and DNA.Â This provides an analogical teleological argument for the existence of a highly intelligent designer.
The main aim of this paper is to examine an almost universal assumption concerning the structure of Paley’s argument for design. Almost all commentators suppose that Paley’s argument is an inductive argument---either an argument by analogy or an argument by inference to the best explanation. I contend, on the contrary, that Paley’s argument is actually a straightforwardly deductive argument. Moreover, I argue that, when Paley’s argument is properly understood, it can readily (...) be seen that it is no good. Finally---although I do not stress this very much---I note that the points that I make about Paley’s argument can carryover to modern design arguments that are based upon the argument that Paley actually gives. (shrink)
This document is an edited transcript of an impromptu talk by Mark F. Sharlow. In this talk, Dr. Sharlow examines one of the common arguments for God’s existence. He suggests that this argument is wrong, but not for the reason that skeptics usually cite. Instead, he points out a deeper error — and shows that by understanding this mistake, we can gain new insights into evolution and design.
The argument from design for God's existence is involved with important questions about the conditions under which it is reasonable to believe that a state of affairs was brought about intentionally. In this paper I shall offer a version of the argument and defend it, if not quite in the sense of trying to show conclusively that it succeeds, then, at least, in the sense of trying to show that it deserves to be taken seriously. In Part (...) I, I shall present a number of objections to the argument that, for the most part, are quite well known and, I think, quite weighty. Most are descendants of objections to be found in the writings of David Hume.l Then, in Part II, I shall present the specific version of the argument I wish to offer here and, finally, in Part III, try to show that it does not succumb to the objections raised at the start. (shrink)
Descartes’s proof of the existence of God in the third ’Meditation’ can be interpreted as a version of the argument from design. He cannot point to the marvels of nature, since all he has after the second ’Meditation’ is his ideas, but his idea of God serves as the brilliantly designed entity that he claims he cannot have authored on his own. Several passages in his replies to commentators support this interpretation, and when one considers what Descartes believed (...) he had deduced from this idea, it is understandable that he could consider it a wonderful idea. (shrink)
Many things in the natural world work so well that they seem to have been designed. But by what? Could nature itself, by processes including those of evolution, be the designer? Or must their complex structure and function be attributed to some intelligent designer or God? Is natural design compatible with intelligent design? How good is the argument from the presence of design to an intelligent designer? And if we could legitimately infer the probable existence of (...) an intelligent designer from the presence of design in the natural world, what could we then infer about that designer's nature? (shrink)
ARGUMENTS FROM DESIGN TO THE EXISTENCE OF GOD MAY TAKE AS THEIR PREMISS EITHER THE EXISTENCE OF REGULARITIES OF COPRESENCE OR THE EXISTENCE OF REGULARITIES OF SUCCESSION. THERE ARE NO VALID FORMAL OBJECTIONS TO A CAREFULLY ARTICULATED ARGUMENT OF THE LATTER TYPE. AGAINST SUCH AN ARGUMENT NONE OF THE OBJECTIONS IN HUME’S "DIALOGUES" HAVE ANY WORTH. THE ARGUMENT MAY HOWEVER GIVE ONLY A SMALL DEGREE OF SUPPORT TO ITS CONCLUSION.
Gives two pared-down versions of the argument from design, which may prove more persuasive as to a Creator, discusses briefly the mathematics underpinning disbelief and nonbelief and its misuse and some proper uses, moves to why the full argument is needed anyway, viz., to demonstrate Providence, offers a theory as to how miracles (open and hidden) occur, viz. the replacement of any particular mathematics underlying a natural law (save logic) by its most appropriate nonstandard variant. -/- Note: (...) This is an extended abstract; there are no present plans to complete it. (shrink)
I DEFEND IN DETAIL AN EXPOSITION OF THE ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN IN "PHILOSOPHY" 1968 AGAINST A. OLDING’S RECENT ATTACK IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES. I JUSTIFY THE DUALISM UNDERLYING THE ORIGINAL EXPOSITION. I FIND OLDING GUILTY OF TWO INTERESTING FALLACIES OF INDUCTIVE LOGIC - THE SUPERSIMILARITY FALLACY (POSTULATING IN AN ARGUMENT FROM ANALOGY SIMILARITIES OF CAUSES IN RESPECTS IN WHICH DIFFERENCES OF EFFECTS SUGGEST DIFFERENCES OF CAUSES) AND THE COMPLETIST FALLACY (CLAIMING THAT AN EXPLANATION OF E BY C IS (...) IMPERFECT UNLESS THE EXISTENCE OF C AND HOW C CAUSES E CAN ALSO BE EXPLAINED). (shrink)
recent defence of the massive modularity thesis. However, as this paper seeks to show, there are major flaws in its structure. If construed deductively, it is unsound: modular mental architecture is not necessarily the best architecture, and even if it were, this alone would not show that this architecture evolved. If construed inductively, it is not much more convincing, as it then appears to be too weak to support the kind of modularity Carruthers is concerned with. The upshot of this (...) is that whatever reason we might have for believing that the mind is massively modular, it is not based on the argument from design. Introduction Carruthers’ Argument from Design Modularity and Optimality: Problems for the Deductive Argument from Design Degrees of Modularity: Problems for the Inductive Argument from Design Conclusion CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
At the outset of this discussion, I undertook to present an argument from design which would follow Swinburne's example in making use of a priori judgments, while avoiding some of the objections which have been posed in response to his treatment of these issues. So we need to ask: how does this approach to the question of design compare with Swinburne's?Swinburne argues that a chaotic world is a priori more likely than an ordered world: this consideration provides (...) one central reason, on his account, for giving an explanation of some sort for the world's regularity. The other central argument he advances for this claim is the argument from analogy (in terms of the coins) which we noted earlier. The approach I have taken offers an alternative route to this same conclusion. In particular, it substitutes the simpler a priori judgments recorded in (i) and (ii) for the rather difficult and contentious claim that chaos is a priori more likely than order. In place of this claim, I have offered the judgment that order, or recurrence, is more likely given the activity of a common source or common kind of source than otherwise: this proposal does not commit us to a view either way on the question of whether order is a priori likely per se. Moreover, in place of Swinburne's analogical argument, I have offered an a priori approach, with the advantages I have noted.Given that recurrence is to be explained, we might ask: why offer an explanation in terms of design? On this point, Swinburne argues, for instance, that no other explanation of temporal regularity is even possible a priori. Again, the a priori principles which I have used, in (iv) and (v), may be less ambitious, but at the same time more persuasive. In support of this same idea, Swinburne also cites various ideas to do with the predictive power of the idea of design. I have tried to bring out the role of this sort of consideration in terms of my principle (v). Principle (iv) has no place in Swinburne's account, in view of his reliance on the principle of simplicity as a measure of prior probability.Lastly, we may ask: if we are to cite a designer, are there reasons for attributing to this agent more powers than are needed for the production of the effect to be explained? On this point, Swinburne cites the principle of simplicity. Again, my approach avoids what has proved to be a relatively controversial judgment about the nature of a priori probabilities, offering in place of the principle of simplicity the less ambitious principle recorded in (iii). At this point, I have moreover inverted the logical sequence of Swinburne's argument: it seems to me that, in the ways I have indicated, it is helpful to consider the extent of the powers of the source of recurrence before addressing the question of design.In these various ways, I hope I have made good my undertaking to present an argument which avoids some of the controversy surrounding the particular measures of a priori probability which figure in Swinburne's argument. Moreover, I hope that this approach provides an indication of how a priori judgments may function in a relatively unproblematic way within an argument from design, in so far as (i)–(v) are all rather modest proposals. In sum, the argument I have presented is distinguished by its explicit use of the a priori judgments recorded in (i)–(v), by its attempt to buttress in this fashion analogical forms of argument, and by the logical role it gives to the idea that the source of regularity possesses more powers than are required for the production of this effect.Lastly, we might ask: how persuasive is this argument? Of course, the cogency of the idea of design depends upon the balance of debate in other areas of the philosophy of religion, especially upon our ability to provide some account of the existence of evil. In this paper, I have been concerned to argue simply that recurrence by kind provides evidence for design: I have not addressed the question of whether other features of the world provide good evidence against the idea of (benevolent) design. However, if we confine our attention to this one phenomenon, there is it seems to me good evidence for the idea of design, (i) and (ii) suggest that recurrence surely calls for some explanation; (iii), together with the existence in nature of statistical irregularities, suggests that whatever provides this explanation could have brought about other effects besides; and design seems the only clear explanation of why this effect should have been brought about, if (as I have argued) analogies drawn from vegetable and animal reproduction fail, and if we cannot explain the effect satisfactorily by reference to the conditions of observation. Moreover, I have argued that there are reasons for supposing that the probability a priori of design is relatively high in relation to the probability a priori of any rival hypothesis of equivalent predictive power. In brief, this is because the design hypothesis (unlike the hypothesis of theism) can cite an agent of relatively indeterminate power in order to account for the phenomenon to be explained. In this regard, it is less ‘precisely defined’ than any rival hypothesis of equivalent predictive power. If all of this is so, then as philosophers from early times have supposed, temporal regularity provides the basis for a powerful argument in favour of design. It remains true, of course, that its import can be judged in full only when we have taken into account the relevance of other phenomena, many of which are apparently less favourable to the idea of design. (shrink)
This paper presents a simple argument against life being the product of design. The argument rests on three points, (1) We can conceive of the debate in terms of likelihoods, in the technical sense -how probable the design hypothesis renders our evidence, versus how probable the competing Darwinian hypothesis renders that evidence. (2) God, as traditionally conceived, had many more options by which to bring about life as we observe it than were available to natural selection. (...) That is, the relevant parameters were, in many cases, far more constrained under natural selection. (3) Utterly mundane features of the world, like that the earth is very old, are actually powerful evidence that the world was not designed, since that outcome was optional on the design hypothesis but nearly inevitable on natural selection. (shrink)
There is much more said in the Critique of Pure Reason about the relationship between God and purposiveness than what is found in Kant's analysis of the physico-theological (design) argument. The ‘Wise Author of Nature’ is central to his analysis of regulative principles in the ‘Appendix to the Transcendental Dialectic’ and also appears in the ‘Canon’, first with regards to the Highest Good and then again in relation to our theoretical use of purposiveness. This paper will begin with (...) a brief discussion of the physico-theological argument before moving on to the Appendix and the Canon. Finally, it will consider some changes to the role of the Wise Author in the Critique of Judgement. (shrink)
Suppose you take a tour of the Louvre, that great museum in Paris housing one of the finest art collections in the world. As you walk through the museum, you come across a painting by someone named Leonardo da Vinci -- the Mona Lisa . Suppose this is your first exposure to da Vinci -- you hadn't heard of him or seen the Mona Lisa before. What could you conclude? Certainly you could conclude that da Vinci was a consummate (...) painter. Nevertheless, just from the Mona Lisa you couldn't conclude that da Vinci was also a consummate engineer, musician, scientist, and inventor, whose ideas were centuries ahead of their time. (shrink)
If you have taken a college biology class, or just watched Animal Planet, you may have been struck by the startling complexity of living organisms. From the grandest mammal to the lowliest cell, life displays intricacy and structure that would put a high-paid team of engineers to shame. How could such fantastically organized, complex structures arise blindly out of unintelligent matter? Speaking of matter, why is it the way it is? Though unimaginably vast, our universe has precise features, as does (...) the matter in it. A glance at the inside back cover of a college physics textbook shows that there are extremely precise numbers describing the fundamental properties of matter. These include numbers for the speed of light in a vacuum, for the masses of fundamental particles like the electron, proton, and neutron, and for the strengths of forces like gravity and electromagnetism that act on those particles. These numbers seem utterly arbitrary. For all we know, they could have been completely different. Yet they turn out to be exactly what a universe needs in order for complex life to emerge in it. Likewise, the cosmology section of an astronomy course will teach you that there are very precise values for the temperature of the universe, for how much matter there is per cubic centimeter in the universe, for the rate at which the universe is expanding, and so on. How did those numbers get to be what they are? Were they just magically pulled out of a cosmic hat at the Big Bang? (shrink)