Precis: Graphic Design Theory “Design and Reflexivity” by Jan van Toorn, 1994. Verbal and Visual Rhetoric, University of Baltimore Publication Design Master’s Program, Spring, 2011 Dutch graphic designer Jan van….
Philosophy – Design Argument (with Plan)
(b) The world appears designed, so God exists. Discuss. (30 marks) Plan: * DO NOT GO INTO ONE ABOUT GOD’S EXISTENCE!!! * Purpose and design appears to exist in nature * Mathematical formulas in nature * Gases in atmosphere * Evolution * If we were made in the image of god, then why are we such a new species and how come we didn’t exist from the beginning of time * Furthermore, why are we the only known humans on this planet and why if god was the creator has he made it so we are not suited for other planets?
Let us assume that it is true to say that there is a clear existence of purpose and design in nature, the question is whether or not the existence of purpose and design implies the existence of God. The design that is apparent in the world can certainly be shown not to be the work of God, or at least God as an omnipotent (he can do anything), omniscient (he knows everything), omnipresent (He is everywhere) being. It seems that everything around us is some small cog in a large piece of clockwork that has been intricately designed for all aspects of the planet to coincide and work with each other.
The main strengths of the teleological argument are that the conditions of the world are so perfect for us to live in that it must have been designed. Evidence is everywhere. One can use the William Paley’s watchmaker theory in support. Which states that: if you’re walking along the beach and find a watch you don’t assume it’s there by accident. You know someone must have made it due to how intricate the interior and it showing evidence of design; this is the same with the world.
One of the most obvious forms of design is the Fibonacci sequence which appears in nature repeatedly; the mathematical pattern can be seen in snail shells and petals of a plant. It seems like this formula was the template for the production of nature, it surely cannot be coincidence that it appears in so many different aspects? Yet maybe it is man that has just made this theory up and is in fact finding patterns where they do not exist, it does seem likely due to man’s attempt at rationalising everything. Hersh/Davies illustration of mathematizing the world; insert here) This is just like the Parable of the Gardener an idea where two people go on holiday and leave their garden. When they come back one of them thinks the garden has gotten overgrown and has been neglected, whereas the other sees evidence that a gardener must have been tending to it. It is an example of how people can look at the same evidence yet come to different conclusions. The parable of the gardener shows how two people can view the same thing but interpret it in completely different ways.
This can be seen by contrasting the way a theist views the world and the way an evolutionary scientist views the world. The theist sees evidence of design, whereas the scientist sees evidence of evolution. It has long been demonstrated how natural selection can simulate the appearance of design; in short, you do not require a designer, design can be the result of a process. If we consider products such as an iPhone, we notice that the product has evolved technologically over time. Yet it most certainly had a designer.
Therefore, we can see that evolution is not necessarily at odds with creation. It could be the case that the world was designed, by a designer, but has been “upgrading” through a process of evolution and natural selection ever since. The problem with this view for the theist is that the theist wants to assert that God is omni-omni-omni, and therefore would have got it right first time and would not have created an imperfect world that needs to improve itself through evolution. Yet for the agnostics this is a difficult point to comprehend as there is no proof of a god or designer.
Yet as far back as the 13th century Thomas Aquinas argued that articles of faith can’t be scientifically proven and that it’s a mistake to try. It seems that the argument of the existence of god is the creation of man himself. There are some serious discrepancies between the bible and version of events known to all and the empirical evidence. According to biblical sources, man was made in god’s image on the sixth day of creation. Yet science and empirically backed sources make it clear that the existence of the human race is relatively new and was certainly not ‘formed’ at the time of the earth’s creation.
The theists can argue that the bible is not meant to be taken literally, but that God still created the world, only not in six days in the way described in the biblical story. Furthermore, if humans are the ‘divine’ race then surely their existence would be found on other planets, which currently there is no evidence of whatsoever. Michael Behe came up with the Irreducible Complexity, an argument designed to counter evolution. He argues that there are things in the world (such as bacterial flagellum and the human eye) that are so complex, they couldn’t have just arisen by chance: they must have been designed for the purpose they fulfil.
Yet, the human eye is not, actually, that well designed. It is back to front for one thing! So perhaps arguments such as these are not well supported when the subject in favour is greatly flawed. Perhaps then, the Fibonacci sequence is a mere act of chance that has been evolved through natural selection as the best form of survival. However, this is too vague and does not quite explain how such a complex form of maths just ‘evolved’ repeatedly within nature.
Again this is a clear indication of design and must prove that there has been planning within the planet, and on a larger scale within the universe. After all, there are solar systems which survive due to the most fragile balance of gravity, these could easily have not worked and it is of such small chances that it has. Hume often compared the universe to a vegetable, something that grows of its own accord if the environment is right; there have been examples of ‘failed’ planets just as there are sometimes failed crops.
This leads onto the delicate mix of gases within earth’s atmosphere that sustain life. If any one of these gases was to change its ratio, the consequences would be catastrophic, causing the likely extinction of life within the planet. Many marvel at the slim chances that our planet is the way it is, yet they seem to forget that there have been periods of millions of years where there has been no such life due to the mix of gases being wrong, or temperatures being too extreme.
However, having said this there must be design. Perhaps not in the universe as we know so little about it, but at least within the planet. It is not necessarily true that the designer is perfect, as of course there are flaws yet the sheer detail of every item in nature is so intricate that it makes one question its design and if something had a role in creating it. Conclusion: there was a designer, but that designer was not (an omni-omni-omni) God