How Can We Tell If The Universe Has Design?
by Glenn Smith
This is another in a series of questions about Christianity from critics and skeptics.
Question: In most arguments from design, the universe is compared to a designed object. For example, Paley uses a watch to illustrate design, since we all know watches are designed. What other universe is the proponent of Intelligent Design comparing our current universe to so he can show design? We would need another universe that is designed or undersigned to compare this one so we can decide about design. With only one universe to evaluate, we can make no valid comparisons about design.
Answer: This question sets up a false dilemma. It is not true that we need another universe to compare ours. We can merely observe that everything that works toward an end has an intelligence behind it working toward that end. All things that are purposeless require no designer, a fact which many thoughtful atheists are quick to point out. Thomas Aquinas put it this way in On Truth (De Veritate), Q5.A2:
Those things that happen by chance, happen only rarely; we know from experience, however, that harmony and usefulness are found in nature either at all times or at least for the most part. This cannot be the result of mere chance; it must be because an end is intended.
Thomas is here saying that because we see harmony and usefulness in the universe on a regular basis, we can conclude that it is only reasonable that things are working toward an end…
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