Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The fatal flaw in the argument from design

Yonasan Roseblum in his weekly Mishpacha column reviewed a book whose thesis is to establish the case for God. The sole purpose of the book is to establish the case for the Creator of the Universe – and to do so based largely on the words of the world's leading scientists themselves, even when they deny the evidence before them.

One quote from Rosenblum in particular struck me and in IMHO actually undermines his whole thesis.
Sir Francis Crick published articles speculating that the first living matter was sent to earth by a highly advanced extra-terrestrial civilization. Could a scientific genius on Crick's level have failed to notice that he had not solved the problem, but only removed it one level: From where did that extra-terrestrial civilization emerge according to the laws of physics and chemistry?
I would ask the same question of Rosenblum about God. Religious people have also not solved the problem but only removed it one level. If something as complex as man could not have arisen spontaneously without a creator, then how did a much more complex God (after all God created everything)  arise without a creator? In short, who created God, or how did God come into existence? Of course, the answer is God is the exception, he is God, but once you say that you can just as easily answer that life is the exception.


  1. The fatal flaw in the argument from design (properly asked) is evolution.

    The fatal flaw in the argument from design (improperly asked as in the article you linked) is the anthropic principle.

    People seem to keep forgetting that the power of the argument from design was always in the questions it posed about how things *other than humans* were well designed. The anthropic principle is strong enough to ensure that a human, or some sort of conscious being, exists. Even if it requires that being to spontaneously arise out of inanimate material by pure chance! that would be a far smaller probability event than the spontaneous generation of a bacterium by many orders of magnitude. Nevertheless if that is what is required to have a conscious being existent we can be assured that it would occur.

    The power of the argument from design is really from the fact that other well designed objects exist too. OK we have people, we are necessary to ask the question of why are we here. But why are there cats? dogs? giant squid? pink mould? These are all well designed and *not* necessary for us to be able to wonder at our own existence.

    Evolution neatly answers that question. We observe many well evolved organisms precisely because that is the simplest way to get a conscious being existent. There is no use trying to then use the argument from design on the starting point, the simplest living organism, because that is now the simplest thing that is needed for sentient live.

    It is admittedly a very interesting question whether this simplest organism is simple enough to spontaneously arise from inanimate matter with a high enough frequency that we can somehow determine the mechanism involved; or to expect to find a similar process having taken place elsewhere. But in no way is this anymore powerful like the argument from design was prior to having evolution as an answer. For now the anthropic principle will necessarily back us up to not needing an answer. Yes, maybe life only arises in 1x10^1000000000 or whatever observable universes. That may well be the case, but of course that is precisely the observable universe we find ourselves in.

  2. Same old faulty Theist arguments - many of my blog posts repudiate them.

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  4. The vast majority of people who believe in their god(s) and the associated religion do so because they are born into a family with such beliefs. Objective evaluation of arguments for supernatural being(s)show the arguments all fail. It is about childhood brainwashing.

  5. If I see a watch, I know that a watchmaker made it. If I then come across a shoe, I know that a shoemaker made it. I certainly don't assume that the same person made both.

    So by analogy (in reply to someone promulgating the design proof) why shouldn't I likewise presume that a multiplicity of gods created the universe rather than a single god?