Natural Selection and The Design Argument

Natural Selection and The Design Argument
he Design Argument is quite similar to The Cosmological Argument as it attempts to infer the existence of God, but instead of from the existence of the cosmos it is from a particular aspect or character of the world, namely the presence of order, regularity and purpose. Order, regularity and purpose are seen as marks of design, and the argument concludes that God must be the source of that design. There are various types of Design Arguments, with philosophers giving them different names but the two most well known are The Argument from Design and The Argument to Design. Both arguments are inductive, a posteriori and synthetic.
The Argument from Design is the most popular form, involving analogy. In philosophical terms it can be expressed as: P1. Objects in nature are similar to man-made machines. P2. Man-made machines are the result of intelligent design. P3. Similar effects will have similar causes C. Objects in nature are the result of something similar to intelligent design. Supporters of the argument included such philosophers as St Thomas Aquinas and William Paley. Aquinas featured the argument as the fifth of his five ways. The heart of the argument is that non-intelligent material things produce beneficial order, and therefore require an intelligent being to bring this about, i.e. God William Paley went on to use the analogy of a watch, he asked us to suppose that we are crossing a heath and come across a watch. He argued that even if you had never seen a watch before, you would know that the instrument did not happen by chance, but must be the result of the work of an intelligent mind. He went on to say that the watch demanded a watch maker and that likewise, the order in the universe demands a designer. Paley is often depicted as someone who was trying to prove God to the unbeliever however he implies that he is more concerned with making things clearer to those who believe in God already. The Argument to Design, also referred to as The Anthropic Argument argues that nature seems to plan in advance for the needs of animals and humans. This planning cannot be accounted for by physical laws alone since there are innumerable ways that electrons could run. There must be more than physical laws to account for the improbability of life, it suggests mind or intelligence. Some modern philosophers have argued that recent developments in science have supported rather than flawed the design arguments. It has been suggested that the development of living organisms could not have occurred by accident but rather required some overall direction. Some people were sceptical about the design arguments, the most famous being Hume. Hume worked on his critique of the argument of design for some 25 years, culminating in his famous book, many of his friends urged him to abandon it or even destroy it, regarding it as too dangerous and irreligious. In the book he criticised the analogy of the world being similar to man-made machines, saying that the greater the similarity, the stronger the argument but that the world and machines are too far apart and consequently make the argument weak. He also claimed that similar effects do not necessarily imply similar causes and asked why not similar effects should be the result of different causes. He said that ?the world plainly resembles more an animal or vegetable than it does a watch or a knitting loom.? Other people have asked if the world has been designed than why do we have natural disasters? Did ?God? plan them too? In conclusion Hume suggested that we cannot be sure that the so called organised universe is not the result of some blind cosmic accident. Indeed any universe is bound to have the appearance of design. There could be no universe at all if the parts of it were not mutually adapted to some degree. Another argument against The Design Arguments is Darwinism. This is the theory of natural selection that accounts for changes in nature. Basically what the theory of natural selection says is that living things are engaged in a struggle to survive, and those that are best adapted to their environment do in fact survive. These living beings then pass on their genes to their descendants, who accordingly inherit the characteristics that are useful for survival. The beings not well adapted to the environment die off. Hence, what explains why living beings have the properties they do is not that they have been designed but that gradually, over millions of years, they have evolved to fit their environment. In conclusion the theory of natural selection does render the design argument worthless.

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