Chapter 2The Design Argument The first half of this chapter: sections 1-5The second half: sections 6-11.Copyright by Paul Herrick, 2020. For class use only. Not for distribution. The chapters you are about to read online this quarter are excerpted from a textbook that will be published later this year. This chapter: 37 pages of reading. The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows his handiwork.”— Psalm 19, King DavidWhat could be more clear or obvious when we look up to the sky and contemplate the heavens, than that there is some divinity of superior intelligence? —Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher, lawyer, statesman, De Natura Deorum1. A Philosophical TaleOn the first morning of summer in the year 430 BC, the sun is coming up and an old philosopher is sitting on a hill above Athens, Greece. Observing. Listening. Reflecting on the cycles of life. The sun continues to rise, revealing the flowers in bloom. On a nearby hill, a sheep gives birth. A small stream gently makes its way to the sea. As he has observed many times before, he thinks again: Each thing within nature has its own unique role to play within the overall order of things.He reflects on nature’s order: Within the system of nature, the many parts are intertwined and balanced like the notes of a song. Nature is a system of interconnected parts functioning in harmony.Nature certainly does reflect an underlying order. We make predictions on the basis of that order every time we take a step, sit on a chair, drink a cup of water, or take a breath of air.The old philosopher now looks at the city below. Athens is beginning to awake. Farmers are transporting their produce along roads leading into the city. People are gathering in the center of town, waiting for the agora (marketplace) to open. His thoughts continue:Each part of the city has its own unique role to play within the overall economy of the city-state. Roads lead into the city so that farmers and merchants can transport their goods into and out of town; the marketplace serves people buying and selling; public speeches are given at city hall. The whole wouldn’t function properly if each part within the whole did not serve its intended purpose. What holds it all together? Like nature, Athens has an underlying order. Day by day the city, like the system of nature, goes through its cycles, intertwined parts balanced in an overall harmony. In a nearby grove of olive trees, a shepherd plays a flute. The melody causes the old philosopher to think: Each note in the song contributes to the harmony and beauty of the whole. Each note is placed on purpose for the unique role it will play. The balance and harmony of the song reminds him of a recent experience. As he was standing in front of a temple in downtown Athens, he was deeply moved by its beauty. Each column, each piece of marble, each statue, each architectural element makes its own contribution to the overall harmony of the whole; the beauty of the structure emerges from the way in which the parts are arranged. This calls to mind an argument he recently heard his friend and fellow philosopher Socrates give. The argument went approximately like this: Nature, like a magnificent building, a beautiful song, or a city plan, is a system of intertwined, balanced parts functioning in harmony. We know the cause of the temple’s order: it was designed by an architect to reflect a purpose. Similarly, the orderly arrangement of Athens is due to the work of city planners. The harmony in a song is crafted by the composer. In each case, when we trace cause and effect back, the ultimate cause of order is an intelligent designer. Since the deep order we see in nature is similar in form, and since it is common sense that similar effects probably have similar causes, the cause of nature’s order—like the cause of the order displayed by a temple, city plan, or a song—is probably also an intelligent designer, although one great enough to have crafted the entire cosmos. The most reasonable conclusion to draw is therefore that the cosmos owes its deep order to an intelligent designer. The Greek word cosmosis very significant here. To the ancient Greeks the word meant not simply the “universe” but “the universe understood as an orderly, harmonic, and beautiful system.” Our modern word cosmetics is derived from the same Greek root. It was the majestic order of the universe as a whole that especially caught Socrates’s eye and pointed his thoughts to a divine, presiding intelligence above it all. Upon hearing a philosophical argument, the first thing to do is to understand it. There will be plenty of time to criticize after it has been understood. Recall that an inductive argument aims to show that its conclusion, although not completely certain, is so probable or likely that it is the most reasonable conclusion to draw based on the premises. The placement of the word probable near the conclusion of Socrates’s argument indicates that it is inductive in nature. Socrates’s claim is that the conclusion, although not mathematically certain, is the most reasonable conclusion to draw from the data. But there are different kinds of inductive argumentation. Logicians call Socrates’s induction an “analogical” inductive argument because it starts with an analogy, or similarity, between two or more things. Let’s pause to clarify the structure of this very common form of reasoning. Boiled down to essentials, an analogical inductive argument follows this general format: 1. A and B have many properties, or characteristics, in common. 2. A has property x. 3. B is not known not to have property x. 4. Therefore, B very probably has property x as well. 5. Therefore, the most reasonable conclusion to draw is that B also has property x.Here is an example from medical science: 1. Monkey hearts are very similar to human hearts. 2. Drug X cures heart disease in monkeys. 3. Drug X is not known not to cure heart disease in humans. 4. Therefore, drug X will probably cure heart disease in humans.5. Therefore, the most reasonable conclusion to draw is that drug X will cure heart disease in humans. This example of analogical reasoning is perhaps more familiar: 1. I’ve taken three of professor Smith’s classes and I learned a lot in each one. 2. Professor Smith has a new class scheduled for next quarter. 3. I have no reason to think his new class will be different in quality from his other classes. 4. Therefore, I will probably learn a lot if I take his new class.5. Therefore, the most reasonable conclusion to draw is that I will learn a lot if I take his new class. Here is Socrates’s analogical argument translated into “textbook” (step-by-step) form:1. The deep order we observe in the universe is similar in form to the deep order we observe in songs, buildings, city plans, and works of art, namely, many parts fit together to form an improbable, interrelated, complex system that functions in an identifiable way. Comment: The orderly nature of the universe is evident in the predictable events, natural cycles, and complex but stable systems that characterize the world from the smallest scales to the largest. Thanks to the discoveries of the Greek mathematician Pythagoras (570-495 BC), the ancient Greeks even knew that orderly mathematical substructures exist within nature at levels too fundamental to be observable. 2. When we trace things back, the root cause of the underlying order we observe in buildings, cities, songs, and works of art is always found to be an intelligent designer. Comment. The ultimate source of the building’s design plan is the chief architect; the song’s composer is the source of its melody; the artist is the source of the painting’s order, and so forth. 3. The deep order of the universe is not known not to be the result of intelligent design. 4. Therefore, the cause of nature’s deep order is probably also an intelligent designer, although one great enough to have designed the entire cosmos. 5. Therefore, the most reasonable conclusion to draw is that the source of nature’s deep order is an intelligent designer. The order of the cosmos, in short, is the expression of a rational mind. We reason by analogy all the time. Suppose Pat gets sick and has a specific set of symptoms. The next day his sister Maria gets sick and shows the same symptoms. When the doctor discovers that the cause of Pat’s illness is a flu virus, she naturally concludes by analogy that the cause of Maria’s illness is probably also a flu virus. Or, a teenager prepares to buy his first car. He doesn’t have much money, but he wants it to be reliable. He reasons analogically: “Dad’s car is a Chevrolet, and it’s reliable. Mom’s car is a Chevrolet, and it’s reliable. The car for sale down the street is also a Chevrolet, so it’s probably also reliable.” Analogical reasoning, in short, is part of our shared common sense. Applied to nature, this universal pattern of inductive reasoning points logically to the existence of an intelligent designer of the cosmos. So argued Socrates. <Sidebar< Is analogical thinking the “fuel and fire” of all thought? In their fascinating book, Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking, Douglas Hofstadterand Emmanuel Sander argue that “analogy is the core of all thinking.” From an advertisement for the book on Amazon.com:
Why did two-year-old Camille proudly exclaim, “I undressed the banana!”? Why do people who hear a story often blurt out, “Exactly the same thing happened to me!” when it was a completely different event? How do we recognize an aggressive driver from a split-second glance in our rearview mirror? What in a friend’s remark triggers the offhand reply, “That’s just sour grapes”? What did Albert Einstein see that made him suspect that light consists of particles when a century of research had driven the final nail in the coffin of that long-dead idea? The answer to all these questions . . . is analogy-making—the meat and potatoes . . . the fuel and fire . . . of thought. Analogy-making, far from happening at rare intervals, occurs at all moments, defining thinking from . . . the most fleeting thoughts to the most creative scientific insights.<End Sidebar<2. Introducing the Design ArgumentThe argument given by Socrates and by the old philosopher on the hill above Athens is known in philosophy as the “argument from design” (or the “design argument”). It is also called the “teleological argument” (from the Greek word telos for “purpose,” or “end state”) since it claims that the overall order of the universe appears purposive, that is, intentionally directed toward an end state. In general, an argument from design is a philosophical argument that begins with the orderly nature of the material universe and reasons from there to the conclusion that an intelligent designer is the ultimate source of that order. Most philosophers throughout history have agreed with Socrates that an analogy exists between the order of a song, a building, a city plan, or a mechanism such as a clock, and the deep order of the cosmos. Most philosophers throughout history have also agreed that the most reasonable conclusion to draw is that the deep order of nature is the product of a rational mind. Thus, an argument from design can be found in the writings of almost every major philosopher of the ancient, medieval, and modern periods, starting with the pre-Socratics, and after them Plato, Aristotle, the Greek and Roman members of the Stoic school of philosophy, and following the Stoics such towering figures as Augustine (354–430), Aquinas (1225–1274), Leibniz (1646–1716), Hume (1711-1776), and Paley (1743–1805). Versions of the design argument can also be found in the Jewish, Hindu, and Muslim philosophical traditions. The list of recent philosophers East and West who have defended the design inference is very long and includes many of the most eminent philosophers and scientists of our time. In short, this argument is not only historically important and mainstream, it is also very contemporary!Some may object at this point: Why not many designers instead of just one? After all, it takes many architects to design a skyscraper; and John and Paul wrote most of the Beatle’s hits. Defenders of the design argument reply that the highly integrated unity of the cosmos as a whole points to one supreme designer, not many. Modern astrophysics supports this reply with its discovery of massive evidence pointing to the existence of one “grand unified theory” of the cosmos—a system of mathematical equations uniting every material aspect of the universe under one principle. If you reject the conclusion of the design argument, then you face an extremely difficult philosophical question. How do you explain the fact that the material universe as a whole is orderly and predicable rather than not orderly? More specifically, How do you explain the fact that the trillions and trillions of particles of matter and quanta of energy that compose our universe are not randomly and aimlessly flitting about with no predictable pattern but instead exhibit a deep order—a unity that can be expressed with mathematical equations? Put even more sharply, how do you explain the fact that the behavior of the many particles of matter and quanta of energy that compose the material universe can be described using a single system of interrelated differential equations that is intelligible to a rational mind? Let’s consider this question for a moment. Physicists have discovered that the behavior of matter and energy can be expressed with intricate differential equations. It now appears almost certain that the equations fit together into one unified system of interconnected formulas stemming from a single source. But physicists—in their capacity as physicists--have never explained why this mathematically expressible, unified order exists. Why isn’t motion entirely random or unpredictable all the way down to the subatomic level? Of course, if the universe were to be unpredictable we would not exist (no structures at all would likely exist for more than a nanosecond). But we can imagine the possibility and ask the question. Physicists have also not explained why the universal order is accessible to rational minds. Look at a college physics textbook and you’ll see hundreds of equations describing the predictable behavior of matter and energy across every domain; what you won’t see is even an attempt at explaining—within the domain of physics--why matter obeys an intelligible system of laws rather than no laws at all. Even the technical condition scientists call “chaos” is governed by laws that can be expressed with equations (fractal mathematics). Sidebar. Try to imagine a state of complete disorder--no laws of nature, no regularities, no persisting structures, and units of matter distributed so randomly that no predictions are possible. Here is an interesting question: How could a stable state of order such as the observable universe arise out of such a state? The problem actually cuts deeper than this. Atoms are composed of subatomic particles (electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks, etc.). Molecules are composed of atoms. Each quanta of energy and each particle of matter in our universe functions in accord with mathematical laws. Years of calculus and other fields of advanced mathematics are required just to understand the mathematics of subatomic particles such as the proton, neutron, and electron. Further study is required to understand the mathematics of the quarks that compose protons and neutrons. The universal order runs deep. Why is nature orderly rather than not orderly? What underlying reality explains the order we observe? Why this order rather than another logically possible order? These are among the questions that drive further research into the design argument today. End sidebar. These questions suggests a different kind of design argument, called an “inference to the best explanation” or a “best explanation argument” for a designer of nature. A best explanation argument is an inductive argument that fits the following abstract format: 1. D is a collection of data (facts, observations) in need of explanation.2. Hypothesis H, if true, would explain D.3. No other hypothesis can explain D as well as H does.4. Thus, D is the best explanation available. 5. Therefore, it is probable that H is true.6. Therefore, the most reasonable conclusion to draw is that H is true.When we decide which explanation is best, we employ rational standards such as the following: A good explanation is consistent with already known facts. A good explanation is internally consistent, i.e., it is not self-contradictory. One explanation is better than another if it explains a wider array of facts. If two explanations explain the very same set of facts, the simpler explanation—the one that makes fewer assumptions or posits fewer entities or both—is the more reasonable choice. Comment, Generally, the simpler of two explanations that explain the same data is the more reasonable choice for three reasons. (1) Because it makes fewer unnecessary assumptions, it is less arbitrary. (2) If it is less arbitrary, then it is more intelligible. (3) On the assumption, necessary for science and all rational thought, that the universe is intelligible, it follows that the simpler (more intelligible) of two explanations--when both explain the same data--is more reasonable. Here is Socrates’s design argument translated into contemporary terms in the form of an inference to the best explanation rather than an analogical induction.1. Observation indicates that the universe from the smallest to the largest scale is orderly rather than not orderly. 2. The evidence from physics indicates that the universal order is highly unified. 3. The evidence from physics indicates that the universal order stems from a single source. (Premises 1,2, and 3 constitute the data in need of explanation.)4. One possible explanations of the data is that the universal order is the product of a mind--an intelligent designer. 5. A second possible explanation is that the universal order is the product of absolute, blind, unstructured, undirected random chance. 6. No alternative hypothesis—scientific or otherwise—is conceivable. 7. The design hypothesis makes the best sense of the data. 8. Intelligent design is therefore the best explanation. 9. Therefore, the most reasonable conclusion to draw is that the order of the universe is ultimately the product of an intelligent designer. Argument for premise 1.Current physics reveals that the cosmos, from the smallest observable particles to the largest sheets of galaxies, is orderly in the sense that its operations are predictable and can be expressed with mathematical equations. Argument for premise 2. The latest research in big bang astrophysics indicates that the universal order of cause and effect is highly unified—the equations that describe the way the universe functions appear to constitute a single interconnected system. Argument for premise 3. In Dreams of a Final Theory, the theoretical physicist and Nobel-prize recipient Steven Weinberg, one of the greatest physicists of our time, writes: Think of the space of scientific theories as being filled with arrows, pointing toward each principle and away from the others by which it is explained. These arrows of explanation have already revealed a remarkable pattern: They do not form separate disconnected clumps, representing independent sciences, and they do not wander aimlessly—rather they are all connected and if followed backward (to deeper levels) they all seem to flow from a common starting point.This is an amazing statement worth pondering for a moment or two: All the evidence indicates that the universal order, as revealed by modern astrophysics, originates from a single cause.Argument for premises 4 and 5. Both are obvious possibilities.Argument for premise 6. No one within science has ever given a scientific explanation for the fundamental fact that the universe is orderly rather than not orderly and no one in science ever will. There is a reason for this. Every scientific explanation presupposes the intelligibility as well as the orderly nature of the universe and then attempts, on that basis, to explain how one part or another of the orderly universe functions. Science, in short, takes the universal order for granted. It follows that science cannot explain why the universe is orderly rather than not orderly--that question is simply too fundamental to be handled by the method of science alone. Philosophers from the start have probed the question, and no hypothesis that does not involve mind at a fundamental level has ever succeeded in making even the slightest sense of the fact that the universe is orderly rather than not. Argument for premise 7. Imagine that you walk into class one day to find 100 colorful leaves arranged on the floor in the form of the following English sentence: “The professor is sick today; class is cancelled.” Which hypothesis makes the best sense of the data: H1. The wind blew the leaves in from outside and they formed the sentence by sheer, blind, random chance. H2. An intelligent being with a knowledge of English arranged the leaves on purpose, namely, to convey a message.Does H1 make logical sense of the data? Isn’t H2 the more reasonable explanation? What are we to make of this version of the design argument? The first thing to note is that this kind of inductive reasoning is also common. We give best explanation arguments all the time in everyday life. For example, Jan comes home hungry and finds that the leftover cauliflower soup is gone. She reasons, “My roommate Joe hates soup. My roommate Sue can’t stand cauliflower. The cat would eat it, but he can’t get into the refrigerator. However, my roommate Chris loves cauliflower soup, and he has done this before. The best explanation is therefore that Chris ate the leftover soup. The most reasonable conclusion to draw is that Chris is the culprit.” Best explanation arguments are also common in both civil and criminal courts of law. When a jury finds the defendant guilty, it is usually because the hypothesis—that the defendant committed the offense—best explains the verified facts presented by the prosecution. Inference to the best explanation is also routinely employed in the physical sciences and in every one of the social sciences. For example, the arguments Einstein gave for his general and special theories of relativity, like the argument Darwin gave for his theory of evolution and the arguments economists give for their theories, are best explanation arguments. (In the conclusion of his greatest work, the Origin of Species, Darwin explicitly claims that his theory is reasonable because it is the “best explanation” of the facts.) The case for every large-scale scientific theory ultimately boils down to the claim that the theory at hand provides the best explanation of the data. So, reject best explanation reasoning and you will have to give up much if not most of what you believe about the world—if you are consistent. Inference to the best explanation is a very useful form of reasoning. Many philosophers believe that the design argument is more compelling when stated in the best explanation form rather than as an analogy. Compare the two kinds of design argument and decide for yourself. One thing is certain: In either form—analogical or best explanation—the conclusion of the design argument contradicts nothing in physics. Indeed, the design argument complements physics and science in general for it adds a level of depth to all explanations. But is intelligent design really the best explanation of the universal order? Let’s turn to the first known critique of the argument. Does Blind Chance Make Better Sense of the Data?In the fifth century BC, Leucippus of Miletus founded the school of philosophy known as “atomism” based on the hypothesis that every observable material object is composed of tiny, indivisible particles too small to be seen, which he named “atoms” (from the Greek word for “uncuttables”). Leucippus’s atomic hypothesis anticipated modern physics by over two thousand years. He was as aware as anyone else that the universe is amazingly orderly. In place of intelligent design, however, he proposed the following explanation, which I paraphrase: There is no intelligent designer. The most reasonable explanation of the unified order of nature is that it is just one giant accident. Long ago, billions and billions of primeval atoms randomly falling through the void (empty space) happened by sheer random chance to fall into the predictable patterns we observe in nature—for no reason at all. Blind random chance is the ultimate explanation of all order. Leucippus’s critique targets premise 7 of the best explanation design argument as we have stated it. Let’s reflect on his proposal for a moment. Suppose we are playing poker and I am dealing. Imagine that I deal myself an ace-high straight flush fifty times in a row and win every game. When you finally question my honesty, I reply, “It was just an amazing run of pure, dumb luck—one big chance accident.” Would that be a reasonable and intellectually satisfying explanation of my winning streak? Would that make sense of the highly improbable pattern of the hands I have dealt? Would you keep playing? Or would intelligent design—in this case the hypothesis that I cheated—make better sense of the data? Defenders of the design argument ask, If blind random chance is not a good explanation for a small-scale order, such as a winning streak in a crooked game of cards, why is it a reasonable explanation for the largest, deepest, and most persistent order of all, the order of all orders, the order of nature that has persisted for billions of years? And we are back to where we started. Socrates would ask, If you do not believe that intelligent design is the best explanation, then how do you explain the fact that the universe is orderly rather than not orderly? Why isn’t it all just a completely random chaos? Thales would ask, What holds it all together? What is the One Over the Many that makes this one universe? Going DeeperA rigorous argument can be given for the proposition that design rather than chance is a better explanation of the data. First, the following is an additional criterion commonly used in science and philosophy when choosing the best explanation:If the data is more expected on one possible explanation or hypothesis (call it “H1”) than on another (“H2”), then H1 is the more likely and thus the more reasonable explanation. For a contemporary example, suppose a jewelry store owner is shot during a robbery. Using video footage from the store’s cameras, detectives focus on a career criminal who lives nearby, Sam Smith. The stolen jewels are found in Smith’s possession immediately after the crime and Smith’s fingerprints are found on the murder weapon that was left behind at the store. This is the data in need of explanation. Now consider two hypotheses: H1: Smith robbed the store and shot the owner. H2: Someone else robbed the store and shot the owner. On the basis of H1, the evidence (Smith’s fingerprints on the gun and the jewelry found in his possession shortly after the crime) is expected. For if Smith robbed the store we would expect to find his fingerprints on the gun left behind and we would not be surprised to learn that the jewels were found in his possession shortly after the crime. However, if we suppose that someone else robbed the store, the evidence is not expected at all. For if someone else committed the crime, it would be highly unlikely that Smith’s fingerprints would be found on the murder weapon and that the jewels would be found in his possession shortly after the crime. The data is therefore more likely on the assumption that H1 rather than H2 is true. In other words, the evidence is more likely on H1. If the data is expected on the first hypothesis and is not expected on the second, this is a reason to suppose H1 is more likely true. It follows, by the standard just cited, that H1 is the better explanation. Now consider two hypotheses for the overall order of the universe: H1: The universal order is the product of an intelligent designer who imposed the order on purpose. H2. The universal order is the product of absolute, blind, unstructured, purely random chance governed by no laws. If we suppose the initial state or the ultimate explanation of the universal order is an intelligent designer who intends to create an orderly universe, the universal order is very likely. If we suppose the initial state is absolute, random, unstructured, blind chance not governed by any laws whatsoever, the universal order we observe is extremely unlikely and unexpected. To test your intuitions here, suppose that one day fifty white rocks are observed scattered randomly on the ground in front of Judy’s house at 5133 Kensington Avenue. The next day they are observed in an arrangement that spells out in perfectly formed letters Judy’s address, “5133.” One possible explanation is that a blind, random gust of wind picked the rocks up and they accidentally fell into the observed pattern—an arrangement that just happened to give the correct address. In this case, the explanation is blind, random chance. A second hypothesis is that the rocks were arranged by an intelligent agent on purpose (to display the correct address). Isn’t the fact in need of explanation—the orderly as well as correct arrangement of the rocks—more expected if we suppose an intelligent agent arranged them on purpose? Isn’t it highly unlikely that a random, mindless, unguided gust of wind blew the rocks into the correct arrangement by accident? If an intelligent agent intends to arrange the rocks so that they show the correct address, it is likely the rocks will be arranged in the highly specific pattern that shows the address. If a random gust of wind blindly blows the rocks, it is highly unlikely they will accidentally fall into place so as to spell out the house’s address, for the direction the mindless wind blows has no cause and effect relation to the address of the house. Thus, the data is more expected—more likely--on the design hypothesis. By this common standard—used throughout science as well as everyday life--design rather than chance is the more reasonable explanation for the universal order. <Box<: The Cosmos: A Fruitful IdeaRecall the philosopher David Stewart’s observation: the hypothesis that the universe is a cosmos rather than a chaos was a “brilliant leap forward in the history of thought, an advance absolutely essential to the development of modern physical science.” No wonder most scientists throughout history have believed that science supports, rather than contradicts, belief in a supreme designer or God. Many scientists throughout history, including Charles Darwin, have reported at times feeling an almost irresistible inclination to see the deep order of the cosmos as the expression of a rational mind. <End Box<3. A Surprising Boost for the Design ArgumentThomas Nagel, University Professor of Philosophy and Law, Emeritus, at New York University, is the author of numerous influential works of philosophy. He is also one of the leading philosophers of mind of our time. He has stated that he is an atheist; however, he has also stated that his atheism is based not on philosophical argument but on emotion. In The Last Word, Nagel writes: In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper–namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. In his latest book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, Nagel surprised the philosophical world by presenting an argument that adds a great deal of scientific as well as philosophical support to the theistic argument from design. Here is my summary of his reasoning: 1. The success of contemporary theoretical physics, including the surprising revelations contained in general relativity theory, special relativity theory, quantum theory, and evolutionary biology, indicates that the material universe at the deepest level discernable by science is governed by complex laws that are intelligible to rational minds. 2. If the universe at the deepest level discernable by science is governed by complex laws that are intelligible to rational minds, then the universe at the most fundamental level discernable by science is rationally intelligible. 3. If the universe is rationally intelligible at the most fundamental level that science can reach, then rational consciousness is not simply an accidental consequence of the deepest laws of nature working in an undirected, random fashion on matter moving aimlessly; rather, the fact that rational minds exist must be closely related to the nature of the universe at the most fundamental level.4. Therefore, the universe at the most fundamental level has something importantly to do with, or is intrinsically connected to, mind, consciousness, and rationality.  But what is the connection between mind and the intelligible basis of the cosmos? Nagel admits that theism explains the data; however, he stops short of endorsing belief in God for the emotional reasons quoted above. That doesn’t stop theistic philosophers from extending his reasoning. Here is one way to complete Nagel’s argument: 5. The most obvious way to explain the fact that the material universe at the most fundamental level has something importantly to do with mind or consciousness is to conclude that the order of the material universe was imposed by a superintending rational mind. The order of the universe, in short, is the expression of a mind. 6. This is elementary theism. 7. The alternative explanation is that the origin of all order is absolute, blind, random, unpredictable, unstructured chance: all order arose from an initial state of randomness containing no laws of nature, no structure, no reason, no predictability, and no mind. 8. No one has ever suggested any remotely plausible alternative explanation for the data in question. 9. The existence of an intelligible universe is extremely unlikely on the random chance hypothesis. 10. The existence of an intelligible universe is very likely on the theistic hypothesis. 11. The design hypothesis is internally consistent and explains a wider range of facts. 12. Therefore, design--elementary theism--is the best explanation of the fundamental intelligibility of the universe. 13. It is therefore reasonable to believe that the material universe is the product of a superintending rational mind. Put another way, elementary theism is the most reasonable conclusion to draw from the data of deep physics and the fact that the universe is rationally intelligible. Recently an impressive number of scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians have argued that the deep order of nature points logically to an intelligent designer. Despite the rigorous nature of their arguments, intelligent design theorists have been ridiculed by powerful members of the scientific and intellectual establishments. Given Nagel’s position, it should not be surprising that he writes, to the chagrin of the secular and atheist establishments, this: I believe the defenders of intelligent design deserve our gratitude for challenging a scientific world view [scientific naturalism which includes the denial of God’s existence] that owes some of the passion displayed by its adherents precisely to the fact that it is thought to liberate us from religion. That world view is ripe for displacement....And: In thinking about these questions I have been stimulated by criticisms of the prevailing scientific world picture... by the [theistic] defenders of intelligent design. Even though writers like Michael Behe and Stephen C. Meyer [contemporary proponents of the design argument] are motivated at least in part by their religious beliefs, the empirical arguments they offer against the likelihood that the origin of life and its evolutionary history can be fully explained by physics and chemistry [i.e., without reference to God or anything supernatural] are of great interest in themselves….The problems that these iconoclasts pose for the orthodox scientific consensus should be taken seriously. They do not deserve the scorn with which they are commonly met. It is manifestly unfair.Going Deeper Still: In response to the latest versions of the design argument some propose that the universal order simply has no explanation at all. The universal order, they hypothesize, has just always existed and nothing more can be said. This proposal has serious problems. First, the basic order of the universe is logically contingent—it could have taken a different form. (Generally, something is logically contingent if it could have been otherwise.) Experience teaches that the cause of any contingent order is always something outside itself. A contingent structure therefore points beyond itself to an external cause. If a contingent order has no cause, then it is unexplained and its existence is arbitrary. If its existence is arbitrary then its existence is unintelligible. It follows that if the universal order has no explanation, then the universe is unintelligible. But the evidence indicates that the universe is intelligible. Furthermore, it is astronomically unlikely that an orderly, intelligible universe arises from a completely random and unintelligible base. The probability that the universe is orderly and intelligible--given that its base is random--is almost infinitely smaller than the chance that a super gun blindly aimed at random from earth hits a target the size of a pea sitting across the universe. The proposal that the universal order has no explanation is extremely problematic. Questions for Reflection and Discussion 2.11. What did the ancient Greeks mean by the word cosmos? 2. What is an analogical argument? 3. Give an example of a situation in your life when you employed analogical reasoning. 4. In what ways is the cosmos like a designed system? 5. In your own words, explain the old philosopher’s reasoning. 6. In your own words, explain the logical structure of an inference to the best explanation.7. Give an example of a situation in your life when you employed inference to the best explanation reasoning. 8. In your own words, explain the atomists’ objection to the design argument.9. What do philosophers and scientists mean when they claim that the universe is intelligible? 10. Why is the notion of the universe as a cosmos such a fruitful idea? 11. Which is the better explanation, the chance hypothesis or the designer hypothesis? Argue for your position. 12. Suppose you walk into a classroom one autumn day to see leaves from a tree outside the door scattered in no particular order on the floor in the front of the room. Would you be inclined to suppose that the leaves had been placed in their specific positions on purpose by an intelligent designer? Now suppose you walk into a classroom and see leaves on the floor in a definite pattern that spells out the following sentence, “The instructor will not be in class today.” In this case, would you be inclined to suppose the leaves had been placed in their positions on purpose by an intelligence? What is the difference between the two scenarios? How do these thoughts relate to the design argument? 13. This is a much more difficult question: In the second scenario just mentioned, would it be reasonable to suppose that the leaves had been randomly blown by the wind into an English sentence by sheer accident and at the same time to also believe that the English sentence is meaningful and informative? What bearing, if any, does this have on the design argument?
14. How likely would the intelligible structure of the universe be if the design hypothesis is true? How likely would it be if the chance hypothesis is true? If we suppose that there was initially pure absolute chance, with no structure, no order, no laws of nature or regularities, then it is unlikely an orderly universe would exist. Is it reasonable to suppose that absolute, blind chance produced the order of the universe? Dec 22, 2019…..15. There are two ways an inductive argument might go wrong. First, one of its premises might be false. Second, its reasoning might be weak. Thus, if you do not accept the design argument, you must believe that either (a) one of its premises is false or (b) its reasoning is weak. If you do not accept the design argument, then either (1) identify the premise you reject and state your argument against that premise; or (2) give an argument for the conclusion that the design argument’s reasoning is weak. 4. The Design Argument during the Rise of Modern ScienceModern experimental science, that is, science based on hypothesis-testing and applied mathematics, with laboratories, specialized scientific instruments such as the microscope and telescope, textbooks, full-time experimenters, university courses, and experimental results disseminated in written form across a continent through scientific societies publishing technical journals, was born in Europe during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. This was a remarkable age that also saw the birth (in Europe) of modern mathematics (including analytic geometry, calculus, advanced number theory, and statistics), the first social sciences, and many other academic fields considered standard today.In this period in Europe we also see the first application of science to agriculture, industry, technology, medicine, public health, transportation, communications, business, information technology, and dozens of other areas of life. The relevant point is that everywhere scientists pointed their new instruments, tested their new theories, and employed their new methods, they discovered previously unknown dimensions of intelligible order of stunning complexity. Microscopes revealed that a drop of pond water contains tiny living creatures with amazingly complex bodies. Telescopic observations, combined with advances in theoretical mathematics made by Galileo, Kepler, Descartes, Newton, and Leibniz, revealed that the cosmos in the large scale operates according to exact mathematical formulas. To the first generation of modern scientists, it seemed that no matter how deeply they probed the cosmos, their instruments revealed intricate functional systems of ravishing complexity. The pioneers of modern science interpreted the new dimensions of intelligible order as empirical (observable) evidence that the universe is governed by a supreme mind or intelligence fittingly called “God.” Where else could structures on this scale come from? Many included a philosophical design argument within their scientificworks. For example, in The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of Creation, John Ray (1627–1705), the founder of modern botany and a pioneer of ecology and modern zoology, argues that the order of nature is best explained by reference to a designer:The bee, a creature . . . [such] that no man can expect it to have any considerable measure of understanding . . . yet makes her combs and cells with that geometrical accuracy that she must needs be acting by an instinct implanted in her by the wise author of Nature.In 1665, Thomas Hooke, the first great microscopist, published the first book containing sketches of microscopic creatures. In his greatest work, Micrographia,Hooke interprets the intricate wonders of life seen in a drop of pond water as signs of “God’s handiwork.”Robert Boyle (1627–1691), one of the pioneers of modern chemistry, was fascinated by the structure of an insect’s eye. His microscope revealed “hundreds of little round protuberances curiously ranged on the convexity of a single eye” of a common housefly. When Boyle discovered their function, he called the engineering of the fly’s eye “a tribute to the wisdom of the creator.” Boyle also argues: [The universe as a whole] is like a rare clock . . . where all things are so skillfully contrived that the engine being once set moving all things proceed according to the artificer’s design . . . The excellent contrivance of that great system of the world [has] been . . . the great motive that in all ages and nations induced philosophers to acknowledge a Deity as the author of these admirable structures.Sir Isaac Newton (1643–1727), the founder of modern, mathematical physics, deserves special mention. His The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (1687) is considered one of the two or three greatest single works of science ever written. I. Bernard Cohen, the noted historian of science, calls Newton’s treatise “the culmination of thousands of years of striving to comprehend the system of the world, the principles of force and of motion, and the physics of bodies moving in different media.” Newton included in his great treatise of mathematical physics a detailed philosophical argument for an intelligent designer of the cosmos. We can make rational sense of the deep order of nature, he believed, only if we suppose it is the expression not of blind chance but of a rational mind. 5. David Hume’s Critique of All Design ArgumentsBy the middle of the eighteenth century, the argument from design was accepted by most scientists, and nearly everyone agreed that belief in God and in science fit together logically. This consensus, however, did not last. Two major events popped the bubble. The first was the publication in 1778 of Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion by the Scottish philosopher David Hume. The second was the publication in 1859 of Charles’s Darwin’s The Origin of Species. We’ll begin with Hume’s Dialogues, the first major philosophical work to challenge the design argument. Many in the New Atheist movement today believe that the objections raised by Hume demolished the design argument and show that theism and science stand in logical conflict. Siding with science, they conclude that belief in God is irrational. Let’s test their claim by examining three of Hume’s famous criticisms. Objection 1. Why Not an Unintelligent Designer?Hume wrote the Dialogues in the form of a fictional conversation between three characters debating the existence of God. Philo, the first character, has a skeptical attitude toward religion; Cleanthes argues that we have good reason to believe in God; Demea is a religious dogmatist who believes that reason does not affect religious belief. In the course of their discussion, Hume puts the following interesting objection to the design argument into the mouth of Philo. Here is my summary: If we must posit a designer as the best explanation of the universal order, why assume with religious people that the designer is intelligent and personal? Why suppose it is a divine being we would want to worship? Why not suppose it is an unintelligent being within the material universe? Consider a spider web. Seen glistening in the morning light, it has a complex and beautiful geometrical order. Yet this complex order is produced by an unintelligent insect. Complex order therefore does not always come from intelligence. Thus, it is just as reasonable to conclude that the order of the universe was produced by a gigantic, unintelligent spider or something similar. Philo continues:The [Hindu] Brahmins assert, that the world arose from an infinite spider, who spun this whole complicated mass from his bowels, and annihilates afterwards the whole or any part of it, by absorbing it again, and resolving it into his own essence. 
This is a clever objection. But is Hume’s alternative hypothesis--that an unintelligent being created the universal order--a reasonable explanation for the fundamental order of the entire cosmos, including the mathematical equations discovered by modern physics and the chemical equations discovered by modern chemistry? There is a deeper problem with this hypothesis. An unintelligent source would be nonrational. But if it is nonrational, then it is arbitrary. And if it is arbitrary, it is unintelligible. One problem is that the evidence of science suggests the universal order is intelligible. Furthermore, it is astronomically improbable that an order as vast as that of this universe would burst forth from an arbitrary, unintelligible source. And we have seen that when design and unguided, unintelligible chance are compared as explanations for the universal order, design is the more reasonable explanation. Objection 2. Why Not Many Designers?When scientists and philosophers of Hume’s day presented the design argument, they typically argued that one supreme designer exists. In other words, they believed that the argument supports monotheism (belief in one God). In reply, Philo asks essentially, Why not postulate many designers, instead of one? After all, a machine, a temple, or a complex mechanism is typically the product of a committee: “A great number of men join in building a house or a ship,” says Hume, “why may not several deities combine in framing a world?” This is polytheism (belief in many gods). The theist has a strong reply on this point. Philosophers and scientists from the earliest times have tested their hypotheses on the assumption that when two hypotheses equally explain the same data, the simpler hypothesis (the one making the fewest assumptions or positing the fewest entities) is the more reasonable choice. Since the fourteenth century, this principle has been called “Ockham’s razor” in honor of William of Ockham (1287–1347), a medieval logician and scientific pioneer who was the first to state it explicitly and defend it. Ockham’s razor is now an integral part of scientific practice because scientists discovered that (a) for every set of data, there exist an infinite number of possible explanations, each of increasing complexity, and (b) it is impossible to choose one explanation over another without assuming Ockham’s razor. But Ockham’s razor is also common sense. Suppose that detectives find sixty identical shoeprints at the scene of a crime. One hypothesis is that one person left all sixty prints. A second hypothesis is that two people, each wearing identical shoes with identical wear patterns, each left thirty prints. Another hypothesis is that three individuals, each wearing identical shoes, left twenty prints each, and so forth. Each hypothesis explains the same data. How do we decide which one makes the best sense? We employ Ockham’s razor and go with the simplest hypothesis: one individual left all sixty prints. In the absence of any evidence pointing to more than one culprit, such as shoeprints in two or more sizes, the most reasonable hypothesis is that one person left all sixty prints. An infinite number of hypotheses of increasing complexity can be formulated for any set of data. Therefore, without Ockham’s razor it is impossible to ever settle on one explanation—in science, in the courtroom, or in everyday life.The application to the design argument is obvious. Consider the conclusion that one designer exists. Now consider the conclusion that two independent but cooperative designers exist. Both hypotheses explain the same data set, yet the first is obviously simpler (makes fewer assumptions and posits fewer entities). Scientific considerations of simplicity, as well as common sense, thus support monotheism over polytheism. Modern physics also offers evidence supporting one rather than many designers of nature. Recall the words of Steven Weinberg, one of the leading theoretical physicists of our time.
Think of the space of scientific theories as being filled with arrows, pointing toward each principle and away from the others by which it is explained. These arrows of explanation have already revealed a remarkable pattern: They do not form separate disconnected clumps, representing independent sciences, and they do not wander aimlessly—rather they are all connected and if followed backward (to deeper levels) they all seem to flow from a common starting point.And in The Little Book of the Big Bang: A Cosmic Primer, the astrophysicist Craig Hogan presents the now-standard model of the universe in the form of a single, unified chain of causes and effects that traces back through many cosmic epochs to a single creation event.Although they could not have known it, Thales, Socrates, and the old philosopher on the hill over Athens were in line with contemporary big bang physics when they argued for a single source of order—a One Over the Many—to explain the overall structure of the cosmos. Add: As Thomas Nagel observes, Ockham’s Razor can also be supported by the thesis of the intelligibility of nature. The success of deep physics suggests that the universe is intelligible at the deepest level. Now, if two explanations explain the same data, and the first explanation is theoretically simpler, then the first is more intelligible than the second. The intelligibility of the universe thus suggests that the simpler of two explanations, when both explain the same data, is more likely to be true. Objection 3. Blind Chance Is a Better ExplanationPhilo next recycles an idea similar to the atomists’ ancient hypothesis. Blind chance, he suggests, rather than an intelligent designer, is a better explanation of the universal order. Let us suppose [matter] is finite. A finite number of particles is only susceptible of finite transpositions: And it must happen, in an eternal duration, that every possible order or position must be tried an infinite number of times...Suppose ...that matter were thrown into any position, by a blind, unguided force, it is evident that this first position must in all probability be the most confused and disorderly imaginable., without any resemblance to those works of human contrivance which, along with a symmetry of parts, discover an adjustment of means to ends...Thus the universe goes on for many ages in a continued succession of chaos and disorder. But is it not possible that it may settle at last?...may we not...be assured of it...[settling into this system at least for a time]...and may not this account for all [that looks like]wisdom and contrivance in the universe? The design theorist has a commonsense response. This hypothesis requires that the universe is carefully governed by an immensely complex and highly functional background order that holds the whole together while trying out one transformation after another, each time varying the fundamentals so that all possibilities get their day in the sun. Imagine a very large roulette wheel designed to give every possible number an equal chance. Wouldn’t the underlying mechanism governing such a wheel be complex? Wouldn’t it require intelligent design? Don’t the roulette wheels in Las Vegas embody a great deal of intelligent design? Does Hume’s random chance hypothesis really reduce all order to chance? Think for yourself and decide on the basis of your best reasoning. The Balance of the EvidenceSurprisingly, after the conversation between Philo, Cleanthes, and Demea ends, Hume editorializes and sides with his character Cleanthes! The order we observe in nature, he states, is indeed good evidence that the universe was designed by a superintending mind. The most reasonable conclusion to draw is, after all, that nature’s order is the product of an intelligent designer of immense magnitude. Hume writes:Cleanthes and Philo did not pursue this conversation much further; and as nothing ever made greater impression on me than all the reasonings of that day, so I confess that on carefully looking over the whole conversation I cannot help thinking that Philo’s principles are more probable than Demea’s, but that those of Cleanthes approach still nearer to the truth. Given Hume’s endorsement here of intelligent design, it is surprising that most secular philosophers and secular philosophy texts today present Hume’s arguments as the classic refutationof the design argument. I remember being taught in my first philosophy class that Hume demolished the design inference. The passage just quoted suggests that Hume did nothing of the sort. Questions for Reflection and Discussion 2.21. How does the ancient design argument differ from the argument commonly given during the rise of modern science?2. Explain one of the design arguments given during the rise of modern science. 3. In the light of modern science, does the design argument show that it is reasonable to believe in an intelligent designer? Argue for your position. 4. In your own words, explain one of Hume’s criticisms of the design argument. How do you think Socrates would reply? 5. Do any of Hume’s criticisms hit home? Argue for your position. 6. Paley’s Famous Update: The “Watchmaker” ArgumentHume’s criticisms of the design argument did not convince everyone. They certainly did not convince William Paley (1743–1805), professor of philosophy at Cambridge University and archdeacon in the Anglican Church. In 1802 Paley wrote an entire book defending the design argument based on the latest science of his day. Paley’s treatise, titled Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity Collected from the Appearances of Nature, became a best seller. His book is fascinating because it delves into many of nature’s most interesting wonders. Not only did it become one of the most influential works of philosophy of the nineteenth century, philosophers today agree that Paley’s book contains one of the clearest and most complete expositions of the design argument ever given, which explains why it still gets honorable mention in just about every introductory philosophy text. Paley begins his famous argument with a thought experiment. Suppose you are out for a stroll and find a watch lying on the ground. Your response would be different from the thought you would have if you saw a rough stone lying in the same spot. If you were to see an ordinary stone, you would not be inclined to suppose it was given its rough shape by an intelligent being. But if you were to see a watch, you would instinctively conclude that its parts were arranged and adjusted by an intelligent designer—by a watchmaker who knew what he was doing—and not by the blind and chance processes of nature (wind, erosion, floods, earthquakes, etc.). Why? The purposeful nature of the watch’s organization, according to Paley, gives it away—the fact thatit is a system of many interrelated parts; the parts are arranged in a highly improbable order; and the parts work together to serve an identifiable purpose. Paley next describes in detail living organisms whose structures look every bit as designed as the insides of a watch. His argument in skeletal form, minus its accompanying scientific data, looks about like this: Paley’s Design Argument1. The deep order of nature and the order of a watch are similar in many ways. 2. Like effects probably have like causes. 3. The cause of a watch’s order is an intelligent designer (a watchmaker). 4. Therefore, the cause of nature’s order is probably also an intelligent designer. 5. It is thus reasonable to conclude that nature owes its order to the mind of an intelligent designer. Paley’s analogy can be condensed to the slogan watch is to watchmaker as nature is to a designer of nature. Here are some excerpts from his famous “watchmaker” argument:In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to shew the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place. I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that, for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch as well as for the stone? Why is it not as admissible in the second case, as in the first?The answer, Paley believes, is the purposefulnessexhibited by the structure of the watch: For this reason, and for no other, namely, that when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive (what we could not discover in the stone) that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e.g., that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day; that, if the different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, of a different size from what they are, or placed after any other manner, or in any other order, than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none that would have answered the use that is now served by it. This mechanism being observed, the inference is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker. That there must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use.From here Paley reasons by analogy: Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater and more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation. Paley’s Natural Theology contains wonderful examples of organizational structures in nature that certainly look designed. The hinge on a clamshell, for example, is similar in design to the hinge on a door made by a carpenter; the lens of the human eye follows many of the design principles opticians build into the lens of a telescope, and so on. With each new example of apparent design in nature, argues Paley, it becomes more and more reasonable to believe that nature’s order is the product of intentional design.<Sidebar< Two kinds of theology. Theology(from the Greek words Theos for “God” and logos for “reason,” literally “the study of God”) has traditionally been divided into two branches. Revealedtheology is the attempt to learn about God by studying sacred scripture—writings believed to be God’s self-revelation. Natural theology is the attempt to learn about God by studying nature, using our natural reasoning abilities. This is why philosophical arguments for God’s existence are often called “natural theology.” In Paley’s day, it was often said that God had written two books: the Bible and the Book of Nature. <End sidebar<7. Darwin Rejects Paley’s WatchmakerThe lives of famous people are sometimes connected in surprising ways. On October 15, 1827, nineteen-year old Charles Darwin entered Cambridge University planning to study for the Presbyterian ministry. Although Paley was no longer teaching there (he had died more than twenty years before), every Cambridge undergraduate at the time studied Paley’s Natural Theology (and his Evidences of Christianity) in preparation for a comprehensive exam at the end of the second year. Darwin not only studied Paley’s books, he fervently agreed and defended Paley in discussions with fellow students. Like most universities, Cambridge had student housing. In an amazing coincidence, Darwin was assigned to live in Paley’s old room at Cambridge. There is a reason why this coincidence is surprising. In 1831 Darwin was hired to serve as the naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle, a British Royal Navy vessel ordered to conduct a trans-Atlantic scientific expedition. As the ship’s naturalist, Darwin’s job was to collect and catalogue specimens at every port of call. When the ship set sail from Plymouth, England, on December 27, 1831, thanks in large part to having studied Paley’s books, Darwin interpreted the wonders of nature as beautiful evidence of divine design. However, when the Beagle returned to England five years later, he was having doubts. A new theory was forming in his mind. At the time, two opposing views on the origin and history of life competed for allegiance. Creationism. In the beginning God created all the biological species at once and gave each one a fixed and unchanging nature. Evolutionism. The species were not created at once, and they do not have fixed natures. Rather, species have changed over time, and presently existing species developed slowly, step-by-step, out of very small changes in previously existing species. There are no permanent natures in nature. Creationism was the dominant view for two reasons: First, it seemed to be implied by the Bible. Second, no one could explain how piecemeal evolutionary change could possibly have produced the extremely complex and diverse forms of life we see today. In other words, the evolutionary hypothesis lacked an underlying mechanism. Darwin presented his new theory in 1859 in his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. His book contained the first systematic scientific theory of evolutionary change combined with an account of an underlying mechanism. Unlike many large-scale scientific theories, Darwin’s can be summarized without mathematics and in layman’s terms. Here is my attempt: First, organisms tend to produce more offspring than their environment can support. As a result, the members of each generation compete in a struggle for survival, and many die. Next, observation also reveals that inheritance is high fidelity but not perfect fidelity. That is to say, offspring resemble their parents closely but not exactly. As a result, small variations appear with each new generation. Now, assuming that variations occur randomly, some will be advantageous in the struggle for existence while others will be harmful. (Inherited variations are random in the sense that they do not occur because they are needed for survival.) Organisms possessing advantageous variations will tend to live longer and reproduce in greater numbers, while organisms possessing harmful variations will tend to die off before reproducing. In other words, the more “fit” will reproduce in greater numbers. With each new generation, this process (called “natural selection”) repeats. Over time, ever-more adaptive life-forms will develop. If one extremely simple life-form with the power to make high but not perfect fidelity copies of itself came into existence long ago, then over long periods of time ever-more complicated and functional life-forms might develop through natural selection alone. In this way, without intending to, nature acts like a plant or animal breeder, selecting some forms for reproduction while rejecting others. The most controversial aspect of Darwin’s revolutionary theory, however, was not the mechanism of change that he proposed (natural selection acting on random inherited variations). Nor was it his claim that human beings have evolved from apes by small modifications over long periods of time. Rather, it was a separate and completely unsubstantiated claim that Darwin (and other scientists) added to his theory. Natural selection, Darwin and others claimed, is a completely purposeless, unplanned, unguided process. It is not the result of, and it does not reflect in any way, intelligent design, God, or any supernatural guidance. In short, it is entirely natural—there is nothing supernatural about it. The intended conclusion was obvious: We can explain the appearance of design in nature without reference to God or an intelligent designer. Darwin did not make this claim in his famous book. Indeed, in the book’s conclusion he wrote: I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of any one. It is satisfactory, as showing how transient such impressions are, to remember that the greatest discovery ever made by man, namely, the law of the attraction of gravity, was also attacked …as subversive of religion. A celebrated author and divine has written to me that “he has gradually learnt to see that it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that he created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms as to believe that he required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of his laws. 443Indeed, Darwin’s concluding statement actually refers to God and affirms theism: There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved. Footnote: Mentor edition, 1959, p 450. However, Darwin eventually came to believe that natural selection is a completely unguided process that can be explained entirely in naturalistic terms, that is, without reference to God or anything supernatural. In private correspondence he wrote:The old argument of design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by a man. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings and in the action of natural selection than in the course which the wind blows. Think carefully now about this claim: Natural selection reflects no purpose at all. It is not aimed at a goal, it has no designer, it is as purposeless as “the course in which the wind blows.” This was Darwin’s unscientific opinion; it was not a scientific proposition derived from the observable evidence he had collected. It was not validated by a scientific experiment. Indeed, it was not even a properly scientific claim. Let’s delve into the reason, for this is a most important point. Standard science restricts itself to claims about the material or natural universe. (The view that scientists must restrict themselves to claims referring only to the material universe is called “methodological naturalism.”) This restriction means that a scientist cannot in principle make assertions about what may or may not lie above or beyond the system of space, time, matter and energy. It follows that Darwin’s assertion--that natural selection does not reflect intelligent design or a higher power in any way--is not scientific. No wonder he never even attempted to substantiate his claim that there is no intelligent designer. His denial of design was simply an opinion added to his theory. Despite the fact that his denial of intelligent design was nothing more than an unsubstantiated and nonscientific add-on, after 1859 mainstream scientific thought shifted heavily in a naturalistic direction, thanks in large part to Darwin’s theory. Many contemporary biologists today add Darwin’s unsubstantiated naturalistic assumption to their scientific presentations. For example, the biologist Douglas Futuyma, in his Introduction to Evolutionary Biology, writes that “by coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological, or spiritual, explanations of life superfluous.” And the biologist Julian Huxley writes, “Darwinism removed the whole idea of God as a creator of organisms from the sphere of rational discussion.” Thanks to statements like these, generations of college students have been taught that Darwin refuted the design argument and rendered belief in an intelligent designer rationally unnecessary. If we simply assume, without any argument or evidence at all, that the system of natural selection does not reflect intelligent design or purpose in any way, and if we simply assume that natural selection explains all order, then of course there is no longer any need to suppose that nature is the product of intelligent design. But to do so is to abandon reason in favor of dogmatism. Similarly, if we simply assume without argument that the first cars simply popped into existence out of thin air, fully designed, by sheer accident, then there is no longer any need to suppose an intelligent engineer designed the first car. Yet most contemporary biologists continue to teach that Darwin’s theory eliminated all need to refer to a designer of nature. One famous example is particularly instructive. 8. Richard Dawkins’s “Proof” that Modern Evolutionary Theory Has Rendered Intelligent Design ObsoleteIn his New York Times best seller, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design, the famous biologist and New Atheist Richard Dawkins uses a computer simulation to support his claim that there is no intelligent designer. Dawkins begins his argument with a question. What is the probability that in one try a computer prints out, by blind chance alone, the following line from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet: “Methinks it looks like a weasel”? The probability can be calculated. Here is how small the likelihood is: a computer program generating one random string of letters after another for trillions of years would almost certainly never hit the target. Dawkins calls this kind of random chance “single-step selection.” Next, Dawkins introduces a computer program he wrote that, he claims, mimics evolution by routinely executing the following sequence:Step 1. Using a random character generator, the computer types out a sequence of twenty-eight characters (the length of the target sentence). Since this sequence is not planned or directed in any way, it is extremely unlikely the computer types out in one try “Methinks it is like a weasel.” At the first step, the computer produces a string of nonsense letters. Step 2. The computer “breeds” from this initial sequence of twenty-eight characters by copying it over and over again thousands of times, with one wrinkle: Dawkins wrote a rule into the program that introduces into each new copy a small chance of a random copying error (representing a random genetic mutation).Step 3. The program scans all the thousands of copies of the original random string. Although most are exactly like the original, a few contain minor copying errors. The program automatically selects the one random copy that most resembles the target sentence. In the beginning, this will be a random string with one or two letters in common with the target sentence. Step 4. The program repeats step 2.Step 5. The program repeats step 3.And so on . . .The first time Dawkins tested his program, it produced the highly improbable yet complex and orderly sentence “Methinks it is like a weasel” in less than an hour while he was out of the room. The program, he claims. produced the highly unlikely result without any intelligent design or oversight. Since natural selection operates in a similar way, this shows, he argues, that an unguided process of natural selection, operating on randomly generated entities, can produce a highly improbable, complex, and orderly outcome without the oversight of an intelligent designer. Dawkins calls this kind of chance process “cumulative selection” because the process, although based in chance, builds on itself over time as chance results are fed through one filter after another. Evolution, Dawkins notes, operates by cumulative, rather than by single-step, selection. The difference between the two kinds of selection is huge. Consider single step selection first. If we place a monkey in front of a computer keyboard and have him start typing random sequences of twenty-eight letters, each time starting over from scratch, there is one chance in 10,000 million million million million million million that he will type “Methinks it is like a weasel.” It would take approximately a million million million million million yearsto get the sentence by single-step selection. However, Dawkins notes, using cumulative selection, his computer program reaches the target sentence in a few minutes—while operating on nothing but randomly generated strings of letters. It follows, he concludes, that an unguided, purely naturalistic process of natural selection can begin with simple organisms and transform them over time into highly complex and improbably structured entities.A Flaw in Dawkins’s Argument?A defender of the design argument has an immediate and somewhat obvious rejoinder. Dawkins’s computer program is itself an intelligently designed system! Dawkins purposely designed his software to produce a predetermined result. It is simply not true that his system achieves its goal without intelligent oversight—it embodiesintelligent oversight. Dawkins is the intelligent designer. But the flaw in Dawkins’s reasoning runs deeper than this. His intelligently designed program accomplishes its purpose only when it is running within a deeper intelligently designed system, namely, his computer’s operating system. And the operating system of a digital computer is a masterpiece of intelligent design. Yet without that program running in the background, Dawkins’s smartly designed simulation of natural selection would not function. Dawkins’s simulation program therefore does not show that natural selection is as blind and unplanned “as the course in which the wind blows.” Nor does it show that a blind evolutionary process operating on random mutations can produce intelligent life. All it shows is that an intelligently designed system operating within a deeper intelligently designed system can mimic the evolutionary process. Which brings us to the latest design argument. During the second half of the twentieth century, theoretical physicists discovered a background program functioning deep within the universe at the subatomic level. To their great surprise, they discovered that no conceivable process of evolution can even get started unless this background program, or one very, very similar, is alreadyin place and running. It followed that the newly found background order operating deep within nature (and needed if any evolutionary process is to occur) cannot itself be the product of an unplanned evolutionary process.Even more surprising was the stunning degree of organized complexity displayed by this background order: it looked every bit as designed as Paley’s watch. One scientist claimed it looked as designed as a Boeing jumbo jet. A number of scientists and philosophers drew the obvious implication: a Darwinian theory of natural selection—or any naturalistic theory of evolution—cannot explain all of nature’s amazing order all the way down to the most fundamental level. Rather, at a deep level there exists a complex, functional order that is not itself due to any evolutionary process. And this order—being logically contingent—looked like the result of choice not chance. What is this newly discovered pre-evolutionary background order? Why does it look like the result of a choice? The details are contained in the latest version of the design argument, one first given by astrophysicists during the second half of the twentieth century, often called the “fine-tuning argument” but sometimes called “the new watchmaker argument.” Questions for Reflection and Discussion 2.31. In your own words, explain Paley’s argument. 2. State an objection to Paley. How might a defender of Paley’s argument reply? 3. What is the difference between natural and revealed theology? 4. In your own words, explain Darwin’s hypothesis of natural selection. 5. Was Darwin’s claim that natural selection does not in any way reflect intelligent design a scientific claim? Was it supported by empirical (observable) data? Discuss. 6. Imagine that Socrates is transported through time to meet Darwin. What does he say after Darwin presents his theory of natural selection and his claim that natural selection is completely purposeless? 7. What was the impact of Darwin’s theory? 8. Did Darwin’s theory make intelligent design intellectually obsolete? Discuss. 9. The New Watchmaker or “Fine-Tuning” ArgumentSince the new design argument rests on recent discoveries in fundamental physics, some background will be essential. The Atomic Nuts and Bolts of the UniverseEarly in the twentieth century, physicists began discovering the atomic details of the deep structure of the material universe. The current model is based on data concerning the fundamental particles of matter, including the following: Protons and neutrons make up the dense central nucleus of the atom. Electrons gyrate around the atomic nucleus in orbitals. Photons carry electromagnetic radiation. Quarks exist inside protons and neutrons.And data on the four fundamental forces of nature: 1. The electromagnetic force holds the negatively charged electrons in their orbitals around the positively charged atomic nucleus.2. The strong nuclear force holds protons and neutrons together within the atom’s nucleus. 3. The weak nuclear force governs radioactivity and controls such processes as the conversion of neutrons into protons, electrons, and neutrinos. 4. The gravitational force is an attractive force operating between all particles of matter. Among other things, gravity holds planets in their orbits, clusters stars into galaxies, and forms galaxies into clusters of galaxies.The Discovery of the Universal ConstantsThanks to powerful computers and advanced telescopes, astrophysicists have discovered that no matter which region of the cosmos we study, the basic particles and the fundamental forces have the same unchanging properties. Thus, the laws of physics hold across all domains. These unchanging properties have been measured and are represented in the general equations of physics by constants—numbers that do not change. Since these constants describe the deep structure of the entire universe, they are called the “universal constants.” The astrophysicists John Gribbin and Martin Rees write:Physicists have now reduced nature still further. They now believe that the basic structure of the entire physical world—not just atoms but stars and people as well—is in principle determined by a few basic “constants.” These are the masses of a few so-called elementary particles, and the strengths of the forces—electric, nuclear, and gravitational—that bind those particles together and govern their motions. Once physicists had precise values for several universal constants, they asked an intriguing question: What would the universe have been like if these constants had taken different values? For instance, what would the cosmos be like if the force of gravity had been 1 percent less or 1 percent more? What would the cosmos be like if protons were 1 percent heavier? To their amazement, when they plugged alternative values into their mathematical models of the universe, they discovered that if even oneof the universal constants had taken a slightly different value, the universe would have been so disorderly that no evolutionary process of any kind would have been possible and life in any conceivable form would not have been possible. Physicists’ Comments on the Constants Many respected physicists have commented on the fortuitous arrangement of the universal constants. Paul Davies: If we could play God, and select values for [the fundamental constants] by twiddling a set of knobs, we would find that almost all knob settings would render the universe uninhabitable. Some knobs would have to be fine-tuned to enormous precision if life [in any form] is to flourish in the universe. John Barrow:If we were to imagine a whole collection of hypothetical “other universes” in which all the quantities that define the structure of our universe take on all possible permutations of values, then we find that almost all of these other possible universes we have created on paper are stillborn, unable to give rise to that type of chemical complexity that we call “life.” The more we examine the other types of universe that the laws of physics appear to allow, so the more special and unusual do the properties of the actual universe appear to be.Heinz Pagels: The universe, it seems, has been finely tuned for our comfort; its properties appear to be precisely conducive to intelligent life. The force of gravity, for example, could hardly have been set at a more ideal level.John Gribbin:Our form of life depends, in delicate and subtle ways, on several apparent “coincidences” in the fundamental laws of nature which make the universe tick. Without these coincidences, we would not be here to puzzle over the problem of their existence. Gribbin and Martin Rees:If we modify the value of one of the fundamental constants, something invariably goes wrong, leading to a universe that is inhospitable to life. Whenever we adjust a second constant in an attempt to fix the problem the result is generally to create three new problems for every one we “solve.” The conditions in our universe really do seem to be uniquely suitable for life-forms like ourselves. [T]he universe seems to have been set up in such a way that interesting things can happen in it. It is very easy to imagine other kinds of universes, which would have been stillborn because the laws of physics in them would not have allowed anything interesting to evolve.By the 1980s, astrophysicists generally agreed that no systematic evolutionary process of any kind would have occurred and life in any form would not exist if the fundamental constants had taken slightly different values. To many of the leading physicists who studied the matter, the arrangement of the universal constants did not look random at all—it looked intentional. In other words, it looked designed. Let’s have a look some of the physical relationships that many scientists and philosophers today call the “cosmic coincidences.” After this we will take up the question: Is the surprising arrangement of the universal constants physical evidence that the universe was intelligently designed? Cosmic Coincidence 1. Electron-Proton Charges in Precise BalanceThe positively charged proton (normally found in the nucleus of the atom) differs in many ways from the negatively charged electron (normally found orbiting the atomic nucleus). For instance, the proton is about 1,836 times heavier than the electron. About a million electrons would theoretically fit inside a proton. The two particles also have different magnetic properties, and the proton participates in processes involving the strong nuclear force while the electron does not. Given their many fundamental differences, it is amazing that the negative charge on the electron precisely balances the positive charge on the proton. The two charges could theoretically have been unbalanced, for there are an infinity of alternative values each could have taken, most of which would have left them out of balance. How accurate is the balance? Accurate at least to one part in 100 billion, according to the astrophysicist George Greenstein. If the charges were to differ by just one part in 100 billion, our bodies would explode like sticks of dynamite. If the balance were to be off by just one part in a billion billion, objects like the earth and sun would explode. Thus, had the charges been out of balance by just one part in 100 billion, life would never have evolved. It follows that if the universe is to have any structure at all, let alone an evolutionary one, and if it is to have stars, galaxies, planets, and intelligent life, the charges of electrons and protons must be finely tuned to an astonishing degree. <Sidebar