Does the Appearance of Design Prove God’s Existence?

by Bill Pratt

Certainly the appearance of design in the natural world makes a strong case for the existence of a super-intelligent being, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Many people look at the world around them and marvel at its functionality and complexity.  A common reaction to the functionality and complexity of the world is to wonder who or what made it that way.

Based on that intuition about the world, theists, those who believe in a single creator God, have made an argument about the existence of God in the following way.

  1. Every design has a designer.
  2. The universe exhibits complex design.
  3. Therefore the universe has a designer.

Premise 1 is fairly straightforward.  If something can be shown to be designed, it must have had a designer.

Premise 2, however, requires evidence.  Below is an extended quotation from William Lane Craig, one of the foremost Christian scholars of our day.

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During the last thirty years or so, scientists have discovered that the existence of intelligent life depends on a complex and delicate balance of initial conditions given in the big bang itself.  Scientists once believed that whatever the initial conditions of the universe, eventually intelligent life might evolve.  But we now know that our existence is balanced on a knife’s edge.  It seems vastly more probable that a life-prohibiting universe rather than a life-permitting universe such as ours should exist.  The existence of intelligent life depends on a conspiracy of initial conditions that must be fine-tuned to a degree that is literally incomprehensible and incalculable.  For example, Stephen Hawking has estimated that if the rate of the universe’s expansion one second after the big bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have re-collapsed into a hot fireball.  British physicist P. C. W. Davies has calculated that the odds against the initial conditions being suitable for later star formation (without which planets could not exist) is one followed by a thousand billion billion zeroes, at least.  He also estimates that a change in the strength of gravity or of the weak force by only one part in 10,100 would have prevented a life-permitting universe. Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of the big bang’s low entropy condition existing by chance are on the order of one out of 10 to the 123rd power.  There are [many] such quantities and constants present in the big bang that must be fine-tuned in this way if the universe is to permit life. And it’s not just each quantity that must be finely tuned; their ratios to one another must be also finely tuned. Therefore, improbability is added to improbability to improbability until our minds are reeling in incomprehensible numbers.

It is not just the physical conditions that must be present in the universe for life to exist that exhibit complex design.  There is also the issue of life itself…

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