Sunday, December 12, 2010

SSC vs AA: the Design Argument from Analogy

Interestingly J. P. Moreland makes use of the Design Argument from Analogy in Scaling the Secular City. It seems as though this is an argument that very few people (including theists) think works, but it is still very common in non-academic circles. He states the argument somewhat as follows:
1. The world resembles human artifacts in that it: contains order and is a movement toward and end
            2. Human artifacts are designed by a mind
            3. Therefore the world is designed by a mind as well.
The reason that this argument is rarely taken seriously these days is because of Darwin and his theory of natural selection (Though Hume launched some scathing critiques as well, I will probably discuss these at some further point in this my cblog). Evolution is an adequate natural account of why things exhibit some form of order and what function limbs and whatnot play. Le Poidevin says “Although we can, at one level, talk of the purpose of the eye—to provide information about the immediate environment—the facts underlying this talk are not themselves purposive” (pg 46).
Moreland highlights three responses to Evolution and its effect on the argument:
M   Evolution only accounts for the existence of ordered biological systems, not for the existence of beauty or natural laws
·         But an argument from design involving beauty or natural laws would change the argument significantly, so it is curious as to why he would use this as a defense.
§         Some theists have “accepted and used evolution as examples of design” (pg 70).
·         However it seems as though this is solved by Occam’s Razor. If evolution allows any organism to adapt in order to survive on their own, one does not need to say that a mind allows organisms to adapt to survive on their own. The hypothesis of a mind would be superfluous in this case. It would also be difficult to reconcile the movement of evolution; species adapt to their environment in order to survive and reproduce; with a much friendly cosmic purpose view of theism without being circular,
§         Finally one could question the validity of Evolution of a theory.
·         But this would be rather dubious, to say the least.

In conclusion this argument is not very strong, and has even being adapted into theological arguments by Martin and Salmon. So in order to make a stronger argument from design one will have to focus on the existence of the laws of nature rather then the results of those laws.
Le Poidevin, Robin. Arguing for Atheism: An Introduction to the Philosophy of   
Religion. London: Routledge, 1996. N. pag. Print.
Moreland, J P. Scaling the Secular City. Grand Rapids,MO: Baker Books, 1987. N. pag. Print.

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