To: DAN CEPPA
From: ROGER GRIFFITH
THE ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN
This sort of argument is of wide and perennial appeal. Almost everyone admits that reflection on the order and beauty of nature touches something very deep within us. But are the order and beauty the product of intelligent design and conscious purpose? For theists the answer is yes. Arguments for design are attempts to vindicate this answer; to show why it is the most reasonable one to give. They have been formulated in ways as richly varied as the experience in which they are rooted. The following displays the core or central insight.
1. The universe displays a staggering amount of intelligibility, both within the things we observe and in the way these things relate to others outside themselves. That is to say: the way they exist and coexist display an intricately beautiful order and regularity that can fill even the most casual ovbserver with wonder. It is the norm in nature for many different beings to work together to produce the same valuable end - for example the organs in the body work for our life and health.
2. Either this intelligible order is the product of chance or of intelligent design.
3. Not chance.
4. Therefore the universe is the product of intelligent design.
5. Design comes only from a mind, a Designer.
6. Therefore the universe is the product of an intelligent Designer.
The first premise is certainly true - even those resistant to the argument admit it. The person who did not would have to be almost pathetically obtuse. A single protein molecule is a thing of immensely impressive order; much more so a single cell; and incredibly much more so an organ like the eye, where ordered parts of enourmous and delicate complexity work together with countless others to achieve a single certain end. Even chemical elements are ordered to combine with other elements in cettain ways and under certain conditions. Apparent disorder is a problem precisely because of the overwhelming pervasiveness of order and regularity. So the first premise stands.
If all this order is not in some way the product of intelligent design - then what? Obviously, it "just happened." Things just fell out that way "by chance." Alternatively, if all this order is not the product of blind, purposeless forces, then it has resulted from some kind of purpose. That purpose can only be intelligent design. So the second premise stands.
It is of course the third premise that is crucial. Ultimately, nonbelievers tell us, it is indeed by chance and not by any design that the universe of our experience exists the way it does. It just happens to have this order, and the burden of proof is on believers to demonstrate why this could not be so by chance alone.
But this seems a bit backward.
It is surely up to nonbelievers to produce a credible alternative to design. And "chance" is simply not credible. For we can understand chance only against a background of order. To say that something happened "by chance" is to say that it did not turn out as we would have expected, or that it did turn out in a way we would not have expected. But expectiation is impossible without order. If you take away order and speak of chance alone as a kind of ultimate source, you have taken away the only background that allows us to speak meaningfully of chance at all. Instead of thinking of chance against a background of order, we are invited to think of order - overwhelmingly intricate and ubiquitous order - against a random and purposeless background of chance. Frankly, that is incredible.
Therefore it is eminently reasonable to affirm the third premise, not chance, and therefore to affirm the conclusion, that this universe is the product of intelligent design.
Origin: Complications BBS, Rio Rancho, NM