The Basic Premises of the Design Argument
Here are the basic premises of the design argument:
Premise 1 – The universe has order, purpose and regularity.
Premise 2 – The complex nature of the universe shows signs of design.
Premise 3 - The design implies a designer.
And the conclusion from the premises:
Conclusion – The designer of the universe must be God.
Quotes to back this up
Cicero – “What could be more clear or obvious when we look up to the sky and contemplate the heavens, than that there is some divinity or superior intelligence?” Presumably Cicero is talking about the regularity of the planets.
Socrates – “With such signs of forethought in the designs of living creatures, can you doubt that they are the work of choice or design?” Here, Socrates is pointing towards a designer.
Plato – He spoke of an “intelligible living creature” which is the model by which the creator works.
The teleological argument can be split into the two strands of design qua regularity and design qua purpose. Here is what they mean:
Design Qua Regularity
The argument from regularity basically looks at the things in nature which seem to happen in an orderly, organised and regular way. Examples of things in nature that happen in regularity are as follows:
- The movement of the planets and their orbits
- The seasons
- The tides
- The moon cycle
- Hibernation of animals
Design Qua Purpose
The argument from purpose looks at the things in nature which appear to have been designed in such perfect ways to fulfill their purpose. Examples of natural things that appear to have been designed for a purpose are as follows:
- The human eye
- The plant respiratory system
- Gills on a fish
- Wings on a bird
- White hair on a polar bear
William Paley and the Analogy of the Watch
William Paley thought up of an analogy which supports the idea of design qua purpose. This is the watch analogy. It is about a watch which is found on a heath.
Paley stated how if he was to cross a heath and “pitch his foot against a stone” and ask how it got there then he might answer that it had “lain there for ever” and that it nor would it be easy to show the absurdity of this answer.
However, Paley goes on to say that if he was to stumble upon a watch on the floor it would cross his mind how it got there. And he says that he would not think about it like he did the stone but, for all he knows, the watch too may also have been there.
Paley then asks, “Why not this answer serve for the watch as well as the stone?” and “Why is it not as admissible in the second case as in the first?” and he says that it is for the following reason and no other: “When we come to inspect the watch, we perceive (what we would not see in the stone) that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e.g. that they are so formed and adjusted to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point to the hour of the day.”
He then goes on to finish his analogy by saying that if the mechanism was to be changed ever so slightly the mechanism would not work in the same regulated manner that it did meaning that the watch would not be fulfilling its purpose.
Here Paley is saying that there is something distinctive about the watch and its apparent design, unlike the stone. If he was to open up the back he would see all the cogs and springs and intricate parts working together to tell the time accurately. This is comparing the cogs and springs to how the world works so well and now everything fit in nature etc. This devise would not have come about by chance. He is comparing the watch to the world. The watch would have to have been designed by some intelligent designer. In other words, the world has an intelligent designer who can only be God.
Paley Defends the Analogy
- Firstly, Paley says that it would not matter if the person on the heath had never seen a watch before and therefore didn’t know that it was a product of human construction. Paley says, “We have never seen another world other than this one and so we work on interference when we make statements on its creation.”
- Secondly, Paley says that if the watch does not work exactly perfectly to how it was meant to be designed, it is still reasonable to suggest the notion of a designer. The world does not always function in the way that we expect
- Finally Paley says that if there are parts of the watches mechanism that we do not understand, just like in nature there are things we don’t understand, we shouldn’t dismiss a designer.