Design Demarcation Argument

July 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

An article in a university’s “freethinkers” blog critical of the theist’s Argument from Design (the universe’s design points to a Designer—God) points out the weaknesses of the argument, summarized below.

The Argument from Design:

1. Every design has a designer.
2. Some things in the universe show evidence of design.
3. Therefore, some things in the universe were designed, and we call the designer God.

The problem is in line 2… theists believe that the entire universe was designed. According to their view, every complex brain, as well as every common and boring (and simple!) grain of sand was designed by God. … if one believes that everything is designed, then the whole exercise of demarcation is incredibly pointless: it boils down to, ‘things that exist are designed.’ [emphasis author’s]

My comment

When IDers [Intelligent Design proponents] talk about design, they are most likely referring to obvious design. Given the view that everything is created and therefore designed, some things will display design (a brain) more than others (a grain of sand). This usually relates to function and purpose. Things that mechanically function and seem to serve an obvious purpose (a brain) present an obvious case of design. While grains of sand would be “designed”, their purpose and function is not visibly mechanical. Think of how you recognize design and pretty much the same rules apply.

I don’t prefer evidentialist arguments for God for the reason this article (a well-written description of a dilemma for evidentialist apologetics) presents, and that is its circular reasoning. Not that all circular reasoning makes for a bad argument. Bad circular reasoning uses circles that are too small. When arguing for or against God, we’re discussing ultimate commitments and ultimate authorities. Arguments are then necessarily circular. The fallacy comes when there is something higher, more ultimate, more basic/foundational to appeal to and that route isn’t taken.

[re: the conclusion] “by God” is of course a non-sequitur, since that would constitute a religious a priori assumption.

God is presupposed in Christian apologetics and this is circular, but so is every other argument, as the above statement from the previous commenter shows. What does he presuppose? Is the ultimate presupposition reason? A defense of reason BY reason is circular also. Is knowledge the ultimate presupposition? Logic? Objective morality? Those all assume what is to be proven.

The Argument from Design and other evidentialist approaches will go so far but fail to make sense of ultimate presuppositions, the knowledge, reason, moral reasoning, reliability of the senses, and uniformity in nature we all assume before we even begin to make an argument. The God described in the Bible provides a basis for those assumptions.

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