The Design Argument

This sort of argument is of wide and perennial appeal.  Almost everyone admits that reflection on the order and beauty of nature touches something very deep within us.  But was the order of nature intelligently designed?  For theists the answer would be yes.  The argument for design is an attempt to justify that answer – or even more accurately stated – to show that the theist’s answer is the most reasonable one.  The following shows the central tenets of the design argument:

1. The universe displays an incredible and almost incomprehensible amount of intelligibility, both within our own observations and how the elements of the universe relate to other elements outside of themselves.  For example the different systems in our body work together to accomplish the same worthy end, and it is the norm in nature for things to work this way.

2. Either this intelligible order is the product of chance or of intelligent design.

3. Not chance.

4. Therefore the universe is the product of intelligent design.

5. Design comes only from a mind, a designer.

6. Therefore the universe is the product of an intelligent Designer.

The first premise is certainly true – even those resistant to the argument admit it.  The person who did not would have to be almost pathetically obtuse.  A single protein molecule is a thing of immensely impressive order; much more so a single cell; and incredibly much more so an organ like the eye.  So the first premise stands.

If all this order is not in some way the product of intelligent design – then what?  Obviously it “just happened.”  Things just fell out that way “by chance.”  Alternatively, if all this order is not the result of some blindless force, then it has resulted from some kind of purpose.  That purpose can only be intelligent design.  So the second premise stands.

It is of course, the third premise that is crucial.  Ultimately nonbelievers tell us, it is indeed by chance and not by design that the universe of our experience exists the way it does.  They want theists to demonstrate why it could not exist by chance alone.  But this seems a bit backward.  It is surely up to nonbelievers to produce a credible alternative to design.  And “chance” is simply not credible for we can understand chance only against a background of order.  To say that something happened “by chance” is to say that it did not turn out as we expected.  But expectation is impossible without order.  If you take away order and speak of chance alone as a kind of ultimate source, you have taken away the only background that allows us to speak meaningfully of chance at all.  Therefore it is highly reasonable to assume the third premise and the conclusion.

A Designer does indeed exist and His name is God.

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