From Divine Engineer to Divine Architect
by Luke Nix
Arguments from Design
One of the most common arguments that Christian apologists use for God’s existence is the argument from design (teleological argument). It looks at both biological and astronomical systems then uses the observations in two different ways: to argue against naturalism and to argue for God’s existence. The argument against naturalism basically argues that the designs and fine-tuning found in nature are so remotely improbable that an unguided universe would never produce them. The argument for God uses an analogy that compares man’s designs to nature and concludes that since things we know are designed required an intelligence (man), then the designs we see in nature must also require a mind (God). (More in my post Paperclips and Design)
One of the Critiques
This argument does have its critics. Most people like to target the biological evidence by pointing to what they believe to be bad or superfluous designs in nature. There are two ways to respond to this evidence. The first is to say that we need to continue to investigate the system, and in so doing, we will eventually find that the “bad” or “superfluous” design is balanced with something else and is actually necessary for multiple functional purposes and thus a good design (more on this in Bad Designs and the Pharmaceutical Industry). This response is sometimes criticized because it makes God into a hyper-engineer who is only concerned with function of his creation.
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An Alternative Offered
I’ve heard this offered by some philosophers and theologians who are not comfortable with saying that God is the “Divine Engineer”, because they see many things in creation that don’t seem to have a unique, functional purpose. Instead they prefer a second option: to think of God as being creative and not only concerned with efficiency of His creation to accomplish His purposes. Not that these philosophers and theologians are trying to do this, but it seems that a false dichotomy is being proposed: either God is Engineer or He is Artist. At the least, they do tend to prefer and describe God as one or the other- some generally, and others depending on the system that is being described…
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