Does God Exist? Part 2 - An Argument from Design

Last time we looked at the Argument from Causality and concluded that “that only an eternal, personal God could have brought the universe into being.”  Now we look at the Argument from Design and Purpose (Teleology).

The fact is that everywhere we look in the universe there is a wonderful, intricate order.  How did that come about?  Some Christians believe it shows that God created the world in six days or some relatively short period of time.  But that is not a necessary conclusion and most scientists say that the evidence does not support it. On the other hand, many believe that the universe evolved over billions of years and are content to leave it at that. However that will not do. We have to explain the incredible order and evidence of purpose. 

After all, Darwinism presupposes order. In order for evolutionary processes to get going, a specific set of conditions must hold: there must be a universe with certain natural laws, there must be an environment capable of supporting some primitive form of life, and there must be organisms that are able to reproduce. 

The chance of our universe existing

The Big Bang, from which the universe emerged was not chaotic, or disordered, it was a very highly ordered event.   
The various forces of nature (gravitation, strong and weak nuclear forces, electro-magnetism) must be almost exactly as they are for a universe capable of producing and sustaining life to have developed. Variations in the order of 1% to 2% would have rendered it impossible.  Professor Paul Davies (former professor of theoretical physics at the University of Adelaide) states that changes in either gravitation or electromagnetism by only one part in 1040 would have spelled disaster for stars like the sun. Donald Page, an eminent cosmologist, says that the odds of our universe existing as being one chance in 1010(123), an incomprehensibly huge number.[1]

The chance of our world existing

To support life, the earth has to be just the right size, its rotation must be within certain limits, its tilt must be correct to cause the seasons, its land - water ratio must be a delicate balance. Our biological structure is very fragile. A little too much heat or cold and we die. We need light, but not too much ultraviolet. We need heat, but not too much infrared. We live just beneath an airscreen shielding us from millions of missiles every day. We live just ten miles above a rock screen that shields us from the terrible heat under our feet. 

Professors John Barrow and Frank Tipler estimate the odds of the evolution of the human genome (the total genetic composition of an individual) by chance to be on the order of 4-360 (110,000) which is another incomprehensibly large number.[2]

Professor Paul Davies writes: “Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact. I cannot believe that our existence in this universe is a mere quirk of fate, an accident of history, an incidental blip in the great cosmic drama.”[3]  Sir Fred Hoyle (late Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge): “A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in Nature.”[4] 
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Professor Vera Kistiakowski (professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology): “The exquisite order displayed by our scientific understanding of the physical world calls for the divine.”  Robert Jastrow, the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has called the intricate order and intelligibility of the universe the most powerful evidence for the existence of God "ever to come out of science."  

OBJECTIONS TO THE ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN/TELEOLOGY 

1.  The order is only in our minds 

However the same can be said about the existence of the world. It may only be a concept in our minds and not exist objectively, but we all accept the world does exist (by faith?). 

2.  The universe is not perfect 

But that is no argument against design. One can't deny the design of a watch because there could have been a better-running, more complex watch. 

3.  The Anthropic Principle 

This is the principle that in order for the universe to be observed it must be such as to permit the existence of observers, and that there is therefore no need to explain why we observe the universe to be fit for habitation. However this does not explain why there is anything out there to observe. 
Tony Rothman, Theoretical Physicist Lecturer, Princeton University: “It's not a big step from the [Anthropic Principle] to the Argument from Design . . . . When confronted with the order and beauty of the universe and the strange coincidences of nature, it's very tempting to take the leap of faith from science into religion. I am sure many physicists want to. I only wish they would admit it.”  

Heinz Pagels, late Professor of Physics, Rockefeller University, New York said: “The reason the universe seems tailor-made for our existence is that it was tailor-made . . . . Faced with questions that do not neatly fit into the framework of science, they are loath to resort to religious explanations; yet their curiosity will not let them leave matters unaddressed. Hence, the anthropic principle. It is the closest that some atheists can get to God."  

4.  The Many Worlds or MultiverseTheory 

This is the theory that our observable universe is but one member of a collection of diverse universes that go to make up a wider Universe-as-a-Whole. Therefore surprise at our being in a universe with basic features essential to life is inappropriate.   

However there is no evidence for this theory. In any case, the theory does not explain why there is anything out there to observe.

Professor John Leslie, University of Guelph, Ontario comments: “While the manner in which our universe appears ‘fine tuned for permitting life to evolve’ could encourage a story about many widely differing universes, it could equally well support belief in a designer.”  

So my second argument is that our universe and our world show such evidence of wonderful and intricate design that they must have been designed by the eternal, personal God indicated by the previous argument from causality. Next time we shall look at the Argument from Morality.  

© Tony Higton: see conditions for copying on the Home Page


L. Stafford Betty and Bruce Cordell, "God and Modern Science: New Life for the Teleological Argument"' International Philosophical Quarterly 27 (1987): 416 
[2] John Barrow, Professor of Mathematical Science, Cambridge and  Frank Tipler Professor of Mathematical Physics at Tulane University, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986)., pp. 561-565
[3] Paul Davies, The Mind of God, page 16.
[4] Fred Hoyle, The Universe: Past and Present Reflections. Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12.