Pick Your Design Argument

Pick Your Design Argument September 9, 2013

I recently mentioned the contrast between two very different sorts of “design argument.” Now another Patheos blog, The Secular Outpost, has gone even further, suggesting that the addition of additional design arguments undercuts others.

The point of that post in a nutshell is this: If one argues for evidence of design in biology, brought about through direct intervention, then you undercut the argument that the universe is fine-tuned for life to emerge and flourish. The former is rendered less persuasive if the claim is made that the universe actually fails to produce living things and further action is necessary on the part of the Designer. And likewise, if one posits that further intervention was required in order to have sentient beings, then one is arguing that the Designer is less adept than the process of evolution, which the evidence suggests produced sentience through natural processes.

And so it would seem that those who want to claim not simply that there are one or more Designers, but that there is one competent Designer, ought to adopt the argument that the universe was created in such a way as to produce living things and ultimately sentience, and leave it at that. Positing further interventions undercuts the force of that argument and demeans the competence of the Designer.

To put it briefly, while the evidence suggests that from the Big Bang onward, natural processes can account for the emergence of stars and planets, of living things, and of sentience, arguments for Intelligent Design suggest that God was not capable of making the universe science discloses to us, and had to fix, improve, correct, and further create things along the way.

If you are a religious believer who posits a Creator, which sort of Creator do you choose? The one that fits the scientific evidence and can accomplish everything necessary through a single act of creation, or one who has to keep tinkering to get it to work the way he wants it to?

See also the post on God of Evolution about another dubious argument sometimes used by Christians against evolution.


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