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Argument from Design

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The argument from design, also known as the Teleological Argument, claims that every creation requires a creator. The more dramatic or complex (or least understood, a scientist might say) the more likely this is evidence of some supernatural designer, so say theists.

The problem with this argument is that it is basically playing God of the gaps and reasoning that since we don't understand how complicated things can form, Godidit!. Since we see some complex designs that we know were created by man, theists argue other complex designs must also have a creator.



The argument from design has been used for millenia, and is probably one of the main origins of religion. It was codified in Aquinas' Quinque viae as one- or perhaps three- of the 'proofs'. It was later taken by William Paley and formulated into the Watchmaker argument, affectionately known as the 'Argument from Bananas' by Internet evolutionists.


Imagine you're walking along the beach and you find a watch. You know there was a watch-maker.

Something so beautiful and functional must have been designed by someone. Look around at our world, and how exquisite and symbiotic it is.

Surely this is the work of.. God!

Problems with the Argument from design

  • "Every creation needs a creator" does not reconcile with reality. Is there a "rainbow factory?"
Our improved knowledge of science continues to explain what was previously unknown, and we have natural explanations for things previously attributed to the supernatural.
  • Life reproduces and mutates by itself. The same cannot be said of an inanimate object like a watch. This introduces an uneasy complexity to any discussion about Creation, and can lead a theist to put forward the deist position: that the universe was set in motion by a creator and left to run without further interference.
  • Supposing every creation needed a creator, then Who created god?
You can't have it both ways. If complexity is a sign of intelligent design, surely god is the most complex entity of them all, and thus requires a designer himself. Introducing god as a cause merely creates more questions and is not an acceptable solution. Note, that this often leads to Special Pleading, where the theist attempts to exempt his god from this rule.
  • Who created the creator? Nobody. What was before the "Big Bang?" - This double standard negates any logic the theist may employ to claim to prove god exists. When pressed on this issue, many theists turn into amateur theoretical physicists or cosmologists and start picking-and-choosing little pieces of scientific gobbly-gook to justify their contention that god is the beginning. A favorite argument involves referencing parts of big bang or quantum theory involving some theory of the "creation" of the universe or something outside of "time." The problem is, theists have no idea what they're talking about and cannot explain how such concepts work. They take snippets of scientific theory out of context and try to shoehorn them into their preconceived notion that Godidit!. There's an entire movie that rides on this goofy construct called What the bleep do we know?.
  • For issues where we know there is a creator even though we haven't seen the item created, there exists empirical evidence to recognize a creator existed. Theists often argue, How do you know Shakespeare or Socrates was real if he supposedly died years before you were born? We know because we have hard evidence of his existence and contemporaneous reports of him and his accomplishments. There is not nearly as convincing evidence of the same degree for god.
  • The scientific method also helps explain how this argument is false. During our lifetime we observe that paintings come from painters, therefore we know all paintings come from painters. If we grew up never having seen or been told that paintings come from painters, we might assume otherwise. But we do not observe any evidence of a higher power creating life, earth, etc. However, by examining our world and environment, we can find evidence to indicate how life, earth, etc. could have come about.

  • If we are so "perfectly suited" to our environment that we must have been specifically designed by a creator, how come there are so many defective parts?
    • Human beings have a broken gene when it comes to being able to produce vitamin C
    • Wisdom teeth, tonsils, and prostate glands are problematic and often cause further harm
    • There are numerous other vestiges and organs that are badly designed or obsolete
    • The human skeletal structure is not at all 'perfectly' suited to an upright walking animal, leading to widespread back, hip knee and foot problems.
    • The sheer volume (approx. 80%) of 'junk DNA' in our genome indicates the evolutionary false starts our ancestors experienced.
  • There are four fundamental forces. Gravity, the weak nuclear force, the strong nuclear force, and Electromagnetism. Interestingly there is an article that disproves that we need the weak force at all, in fact with or without it the universe would remain pretty much the same. For more details: slac.stanford.edu/cgi-wrap/getdoc/slac-pub-11795.pdf
    • another force is gravity, however at the microscopic scale(Quantum Physics) no calculations of Gravity are needed at all. Gravity is a very weak force, in fact gravity is a thousand billion billion billion billion times weaker than the EM force. And in the field of chemistry known as molecular dynamics Gravity is irrelevant, although it has simulations that are routinely used and are useful for the interpretation of experimental results and predictions of microscopic behavior
  • This claim ignores the huge size of the Universe and that it is in fact much better at being a black hole generator than for life&humans:
    life(on earth): 75km^3
    earth: 1 trillion km^3
    By volume the earth is 1/1000000000% is life. That's design?, it's just the Earth and we are already insignificant. Yet it gets better, the volume between us and the nearest galaxy is 10^58km^3. ie what the creationists are really saying is that 1/1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 means that this world is fine tuned for a certain object. It's like taking a million earths and finding a single land atom on one of them and then concluding they we are specifically made for that atom.

See Also

  • Intelligent Design
  • For further information on this subject, Richard Dawkins' documentary 'The Blind Watch Maker' addresses the Argument From Design thoroughly.

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