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A philosophical overview of the existence of god in science

The Classical Versions of the Design Argument a. Scriptural Roots and Aquinas's Fifth Way The scriptures of each of the major classically theistic religions contain language that suggests that there is evidence of divine design in the world. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has a philosophical overview of the existence of god in science it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.

So they are without excuse. Perhaps the earliest philosophically rigorous version of the design argument owes to St. According to Aquinas's Fifth Way: We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result.

Hence it is plain that they achieve their end, not fortuitously, but designedly. Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer.

Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Article 3, Question 2.

It is worth noting that Aquinas's version of the argument relies on a very strong claim about the explanation for ends and processes: Since the operations of all natural bodies, on Aquinas's view, are directed towards some specific end that conduces to, at the very least, the preservation of the object, these operations can be explained only by the existence of an intelligent being.

Accordingly, the empirical fact that the operations of natural objects are directed towards ends shows that an intelligent Deity exists. This crucial claim, however, seems to be refuted by the mere possibility of an evolutionary explanation. If a Darwinian explanation is even coherent that is, non-contradictory, as opposed to truethen it provides a logically possible explanation for how the end-directedness of the operations of living beings in this world might have come about.

According to this explanation, such operations evolve through a process by which random genetic mutations are naturally selected for their adaptive value; organisms that have evolved some system that performs a fitness-enhancing operation are more likely to survive and leave offspring, other things being equal, than organisms that have not evolved such systems.

If this explanation is possibly true, it shows that Aquinas is wrong in thinking that "whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence. The Argument from Simple Analogy The next important version of the design argument came in the 17th and 18th Centuries.

Design Arguments for the Existence of God

Pursuing a strategy that has been adopted by the contemporary intelligent design movement, John Ray, Richard Bentley, and William Derham drew on scientific discoveries of the 16th and 17th Century to argue for the existence of an intelligent Deity.

William Derham, for example, saw evidence of intelligent design in the vision of birds, the drum of the ear, the eye-socket, and the digestive system. Richard Bentley saw evidence of intelligent design in Newton's discovery of the law of gravitation.

It is noteworthy that each of these thinkers attempted to give scientifically-based arguments for the existence of God.

  1. Positive atheists will argue that there are compelling reasons or evidence for concluding that in fact those claims are false. Rowman and Littlefield Press.
  2. Rushd essentially comes to a conclusion that there has to be a higher being who has made everything perfectly to serve the needs of human beings. Second, we know from past experience with such events that they are usually explained by the deliberate agency of one or more of these agents.
  3. Clifford 1999 in which he argues that it is wrong, always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything for which there is insufficient reason.
  4. The argument from human dignity could be put into propositional form as follows.

David Hume is the most famous critic of these arguments. Look round the world: All these various machines, and even their most minute parts, are adjusted to each other with an accuracy which ravishes into admiration all men who have ever contemplated them.

The curious adapting of means to ends, throughout all nature, resembles exactly, though it much exceeds, the productions of human contrivance; of human designs, thought, wisdom, and intelligence.

Since, therefore, the effects resemble each other, we are led to infer, by all the rules of analogy, that the causes also resemble; and that the Author of Nature is somewhat similar to the mind of man, though possessed of much larger faculties, proportioned to the grandeur of the work which he has executed. By this argument a posteriori, and by this argument alone, do we prove at once the existence of a Deity, and his similarity to human mind and intelligence.

Since the world, on this analysis, is closely analogous to the most intricate artifacts produced by human beings, we can infer "by all the rules of analogy" the existence of an intelligent designer who created the world.

Just as the watch has a watchmaker, then, the universe has a universe-maker. As expressed in this passage, then, the argument is a straightforward argument from analogy with the following structure: The material universe resembles the intelligent productions of human beings in that it exhibits design.

Laws of math

The design in any human artifact is the effect of having been made by an intelligent being. Like effects have like causes.

  1. The non-overlapping magisteria view proposed by Stephen Jay Gould also holds that the existence or otherwise of God is irrelevant to and beyond the domain of science.
  2. The theist believes that these truths about the special status of humans tell us something about the kind of universe humans find themselves in. Martin concludes, therefore, that God satisfied all of the conditions, so, positive narrow atheism is justified.
  3. For example, Kant thought that it would be impossible for someone who believed that mechanistic determinism was the literal truth about himself to believe that he was a moral agent, since morality requires an autonomy that is incompatible with determinism.
  4. An important collection of inductive atheological arguments distinct from the problem of evil.

Therefore, the design in the material universe is the effect of having been made by an intelligent creator. Hume criticizes the argument on two main grounds. First, Hume rejects the analogy between the material universe and any particular human artifact. As Hume states the relevant rule of analogy, "wherever you depart in the least, from the similarity of the cases, you diminish proportionably the evidence; and may at last bring it to a very weak analogy, which is confessedly liable to error and uncertainty" Hume, Dialogues, Part II.

Hume then goes on to argue that the cases are simply too dissimilar to support an inference that they are like effects having like causes: If we see a house,… we conclude, with the greatest certainty, that it had an architect or builder because this is precisely that species of effect which we have experienced to proceed from that species of cause.

Moral Arguments for the Existence of God

But surely you will not affirm that the universe bears such a resemblance to a house that we can with the same certainty infer a similar cause, or that the analogy is here entire and perfect Hume, Dialogues, Part II. Since the analogy fails, Hume argues that we would need to have experience with the creation of material worlds in order to justify any a posteriori claims about the causes of any particular material world; since we obviously lack such experience, we lack adequate justification for the claim that the material universe has an intelligent cause.

Second, Hume argues that, even if the resemblance between the material universe and human artifacts justified thinking they have similar causes, it would not justify thinking that an all-perfect God exists and created the world. For example, there is nothing in the argument that would warrant the inference that the creator of the universe is perfectly intelligent or perfectly good. Indeed, Hume argues that there is nothing there that would justify thinking even that there is just one deity: A great number of men join in building a house or ship, in rearing a city, in framing a commonwealth; why may not several deities combine in contriving and framing a world" Hume Dialogues, Part V?

Paley's Watchmaker Argument Though often confused with the argument from simple analogy, the watchmaker argument from William Paley is a more sophisticated design argument that attempts to avoid Hume's objection to the analogy between worlds and artifacts.

Instead of simply asserting a similarity between the material world and some human artifact, Paley's argument proceeds by identifying what he takes to be a reliable indicator of intelligent design: Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch as well as for [a] stone [that happened to be lying on the ground]?

There are thus two features of a watch that reliably indicate that it is the result of an intelligent design. First, it performs some function that an intelligent agent would regard as valuable; the fact that the watch performs the function of keeping time is something that has value to an intelligent agent. Second, the watch could not perform this function a philosophical overview of the existence of god in science its parts and mechanisms were differently sized or arranged; the fact that the ability of a watch to keep time depends on the precise shape, size, and arrangement of its parts suggests that the watch has these characteristics because some intelligent agency designed it to these specifications.

Taken together, these two characteristics endow the watch with a functional complexity that reliably distinguishes objects that have intelligent designers from objects that do not. Paley then goes on to argue that the material universe a philosophical overview of the existence of god in science the same kind of functional complexity as a watch: Every indicator of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater and more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.

I mean that the contrivances of nature surpass the contrivances of art, in the complexity, subtilty, and curiosity of the mechanism; and still more, if possible, do they go beyond them in number and variety; yet in a multitude of cases, are not less evidently mechanical, not less evidently contrivances, not less evidently accommodated to their end, or suited to their office, than are the most perfect productions of human ingenuity Paley 1867, 13. Since the works of nature possess functional complexity, a reliable indicator of intelligent design, we can justifiably conclude that these works were created by an intelligent agent who designed them to instantiate this property.

Paley's watchmaker argument is clearly not vulnerable to Hume's criticism that the works of nature and human artifacts are too dissimilar to infer that they are like effects having like causes.

Paley's argument, unlike arguments from analogy, does not depend on a premise asserting a general resemblance between the objects of comparison.

What matters for Paley's argument is that works of nature and human artifacts have a particular property that reliably indicates design. Regardless of how dissimilar any particular natural object might otherwise be from a watch, both objects exhibit the sort of functional complexity that warrants an inference that it was made by an intelligent designer. Paley's version of the argument, however, is generally thought to have been refuted by Charles Darwin's competing explanation for complex organisms.

In The Origin of the Species, Darwin argued that more complex biological organisms evolved gradually over millions of years from simpler organisms through a process of natural selection.

As Julian Huxley describes the logic of this process: The evolutionary process results immediately and automatically from the basic property of living matter—that of self-copying, but with occasional errors. Self-copying leads to multiplication and competition; the errors in self-copying are what we call mutations, and mutations will inevitably confer different degrees of biological advantage or disadvantage on their possessors.

The consequence will be differential reproduction down the generations—in other words, natural selection Huxley 1953, 4. Over time, the replication of genetic material in an organism results in mutations that give rise to new traits in the organism's offspring.

Sometimes these new traits are so unfavorable to a being's survival prospects that beings with the traits die off; but sometimes these new traits enable the possessors to survive conditions that kill off beings without them. If the trait is sufficiently favorable, only members of the species with the trait will survive.

Good arguments needn’t be proofs

By this natural process, functionally complex organisms gradually evolve over millions of years from primordially simple organisms. Contemporary biologist, Richard Dawkins 1986uses a programming problem to show that the logic of the process renders the Darwinian explanation significantly more probable than the design explanation. Dawkins considers two ways in which one might program a computer to generate the following sequence of characters: The first program randomly producing a new 28-character sequence each time it is run; since the program starts over each time, it incorporates a "single-step selection process.

While a computer running eternally would eventually produce the sequence, Dawkins estimates that it would take 1,000,0005 years—which is 1,000,0003 years longer than the universe has existed. As is readily evident, a program that selects numbers by means of such a "single-step selection mechanism" has a very low probability of reaching the target.

The second program incorporates a "cumulative-step selection mechanism.

Existence of God

For a specified period of time, it generates copies of itself; most of the copies perfectly replicate the sequence, but some copies have errors or mutations.

For example, a sequence that has an E in the second place more closely resembles a sequence that is exactly like the first except that it has a Q in the second place. It then begins breeding from a philosophical overview of the existence of god in science new sequence in exactly the same way.

Unlike the first program which starts afresh with each try, the second program builds on previous steps, getting successively closer to the program as it breeds from the sequence closest to the target.

This feature of the program increases the probability of reaching the sequence to such an extent that a computer running this program hit the target sequence after 43 generations, which took about half-an-hour.

The problem with Paley's watchmaker argument, as Dawkins explains it, is that it falsely assumes that all of the other possible competing explanations are sufficiently improbable to warrant an inference of design. While this might be true of explanations that rely entirely on random single-step selection mechanisms, this is not true of Darwinian explanations. As is readily evident from Huxley's description of the process, Darwinian evolution is a cumulative-step selection method that closely resembles in general structure the second computer program.

The result is that the probability of evolving functionally complex organisms capable of surviving a wide variety of conditions is increased to such an extent that it exceeds the probability of the design explanation. Guided Evolution While many theists are creationists who accept the occurrence of "microevolution" that is, evolution that occurs within a species, such as the evolution of penicillin-resistant bacteria but deny the occurrence of "macroevolution" that is, one species evolving from a distinct speciessome theists accept the theory of evolution as consistent with theism and with their own denominational religious commitments.

Such thinkers, however, frequently maintain that the existence of God is needed to explain the purposive quality of the evolutionary process. Just as the purposive quality of the cumulative-step computer program above is best explained by intelligent design, so too the a philosophical overview of the existence of god in science quality of natural selection is best explained by intelligent design.

The first theist widely known to have made such an argument is Frederick Robert Tennant. As he puts the matter, in Volume 2 of Philosophical Theology, "the multitude of interwoven adaptations by which the world is constituted a theatre of life, intelligence, and morality, cannot reasonably be regarded as an outcome of mechanism, or of blind formative power, or aught but purposive intelligence" Tennant 1928-30, 121.

In effect, this influential move infers design, not from the existence of functionally complex organisms, but from the purposive quality of the evolutionary process itself. Evolution is, on this line of response, guided by an intelligent Deity. Contemporary Versions of the Design Argument Contemporary versions of the design argument typically attempt to articulate a more sophisticated strategy for detecting evidence of design in the world.

These versions typically contain three main elements—though they are not always explicitly articulated. First, they identify some property P that is thought to be a probabilistically reliable index of design in the following sense: Second they argue that some feature or features of the world exhibits P.

Third, they conclude that the design explanation is significantly more likely to be true.