What Key Arguments Are There for God’s Existence? (Part 2: Design Argument)
By Natasha Crain
(This is the second post in my “65 Questions Every Christian Parent Needs to Learn to Answer” series. Sign up to receive posts via email to make sure you learn to answer each one!)
Today, I’m continuing to answer question #1: What key arguments are there for God’s existence? My last post described the creation (“cosmological”) argument. Today I’ll describe the design argument.
But first a quick note. If all this is new to you and it looks overwhelming, I want to say two things. 1) It’s actually not overwhelming – I’m writing these posts with a person brand new to these concepts in mind. Give it a try. 2) In the last hour, I’ve wiped stinky bottoms, cleaned snot off faces and issued two time-outs. I’m a normal parent entrenched in daily duties, just like you. If I can learn these things, so can you!
So here we go.
What is the Design Argument?
Quite simply, the design argument states that a designer (e.g., God) must exist since the universe and living things show evidence of design by an intelligent source.
The most famous explanation of this is the “Watchmaker Analogy” given by William Paley in 1802. Paley stated that if you found a watch in an empty field, you would of course conclude that it was designed and not just the result of random formation. Similarly, when we look at the universe and life, it is natural to conclude that there is a designer since we see how precisely formed they are.
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The Key Question: Are We Looking at the Appearance of Design or Actual Design by a Designer?
Almost all scientists – atheists and theists alike – acknowledge that many aspects of the universe and life have at least the appearance of design rather than the appearance of unguided, chance formation. Even famous atheist Richard Dawkins implicitly acknowledged this when he said, “Biology is the study of complex things that appear to have been designed for a purpose.”
The question is whether the universe and life simply have the appearance of design (but actually are the result of a purposeless, unguided process) or if they demonstrate actual design by a designer (e.g., God).
This isn’t a straightforward question. Where do you draw the line objectively? What are the right criteria for determining that something came about by chance versus design?
It’s important to understand that making scientific judgments about nature is not a simple matter of common sense. Our perceptions of nature often don’t match reality. For example, the sun appears to circle the earth, but we know from science that the earth actually circles the sun.
For this reason, the design argument is scientifically specific today…