by Richard E. Noble
The basic contention of this argument is, as I perceive it, that the Universe or individual aspects of it (life, the human eye, etc.) are so phenomenal that they could not have possibly evolved, but instead must have been initiated by an “Intelligent Designer”.
I don’t understand why this argument has promoted such a stir, nor do I understand why it is considered, today, more viable than when it was first introduced centuries ago by St. Thomas Aquinas.
Proponents of this notion enhance this old argument by Design with notions involving probability statistics and the old “clock” argument.
The Clock Argument has also been around for quite some time. This argument compares a Clock or a Watch to the Universe. It goes like this: If all the parts of a watch or a clock were placed in a sack or cast to the wind does anyone believe that these random parts could assemble themselves into a functioning watch or a clock? Certainly not! Then why would anyone believe that the Universe could have assembled itself?
By the same argument could the wind or a tornado assemble the random parts of an automobile, could a monkey select the proper letters on a typewriter to spell out a Shakespearean Tragedy? So then why would anyone assume that random chance has created the Universe?
The Clock: The clock is a mechanical device constructed by man. Because the wind could not construct a clock, this is reason to conclude that there must be such a thing as an Intelligent Designer? Are we saying that only a God could create a clock? But a God did not create the clock - a human being did, and the Universe is not a mechanical apparatus. So because a monkey can peal an orange why is it that a gorilla can not construct a tricycle? What does one have to do with the other?
Man constructs a watch that the wind cannot duplicate; the ant constructs an anthill that the wind cannot duplicate; a bee constructs a beehive that the wind cannot duplicate. But the ant cannot construct a watch or a beehive; and the bee cannot construct an anthill or a clock; and a man cannot construct a beehive or and anthill. So what?
So then an Intelligent Designer must somehow be responsible for all of these things. And what is an Intelligent Designer?
An Intelligent Designer is a humanly imagined, super natural, unsubstantiated suspicion; with no discernible qualities, who exists beyond Existence and outside of the limitations of time and space, beyond the realm of the known, the understandable, or the rationally consistent.
And this is what is responsible for the Universe?
If this be the case, could we not also say that it is Santa Clause that is responsible for the Universe? As far as I know Santa fits the entire above criterion. Santa traditionally has centered his abilities on creating toys for children and delivering them simultaneously about the world, but I am sure that he could construct a clock; and I can imagine that he could do so by first constructing all the various parts and then casting them into the wind - where they would then assemble themselves. And I wouldn’t be surprised if when the parts assembled themselves, they would be able to speak and tell us all what time it is. Hey kids, it’s Howdy Doody time!
The notion that something is not probable does not mean that it is impossible. It is true that we live in a very improbable universe - but clearly it was not impossible. It is!
When you exist in an infinite Universe, the possibilities of anything happening are infinite. I would say that this leaves the realm of what is possible wide open.
To say that you have doubts that something could have come about via an infinity of possibility and that therefore it must have come about via something “un-natural” or “super-natural” is incomprehensible to me.
It seems to me that you are trying to replace the improbable or even the highly improbable with the impossible - the totally impossible. If I must choose between the impossible and the improbable, I will choose the improbable.
As I understand the “laws” of probability, they are not laws at all. It may seem highly improbable that a coin could be flipped into the air and land on one side or the other a thousand times in a row - but it is not impossible. Many people have lost a fortune going to gambling casinos and betting on the probable. The “laws” of probability say that a coin will come up either heads or tails fifty percent of the time, but unfortunately the coin in question has not read about the laws of probability. If a coin has been flipped nine hundred times and it has come up heads each time, one might conclude that on the next flip that the laws of probability would favor tails. Not so. The chance of heads or tails is still 50/50 no matter what the previous results. Unfortunately the coin does not have a memory - nor is it involved in the passions of the gamblers.
Intelligent Designer equals God?
Philosophically, I think that it has been well established that the concept of God is un-definable.
That the Universe has a design has not been established by anyone. That there are patterns and events that seem to be repetitious is obvious, but that anything is infinitely repeatable or predictable throughout the universe for all eternity, as far as I understand, is not known. Many great scientists have not felt this to be true - Newton, Laplace, Einstein.
Newton and Einstein saw predictability and claimed a Designer, Laplace saw the same predictability but yet found no need for such a presumption or hypothesis. There are some scientists today who think that they know the beginning and can even predict the end of the Universe. I don’t think so. Can we look at one tiny particle of infinity and claim that it is but a grain of sand on the homogenized beach of the never ending?
But let’s say that the Universe does exhibit design. Let’s say that there are laws of the Universe that apply consistently throughout the Universe. Why would this presuppose that there is an undesigned, supra-natural, un-reasonable, illogical being (or “intelligent” entity) that is responsible for such design? - never mind that this intelligent entity, dictates novels and has literature and poetry transcribed, or can contain and establish justice and morality in what is claimed to be His own personal immoral, unjustified creation. There is no reason to presume any such thing.
Today we have DNA. Does this mean that Man has been preprogrammed? Can we now say, as Calvin claimed, that each man is pre-destined and his fate is sealed by the DNA Designer? I don’t think so. So what if all living things contain a genetic record? So what if all things living or not living contain an encoded history?
A table may imply a table maker but the wind does not imply a wind maker; the sun does not imply a star builder, and an infinite Universe does not imply an Infinite Creator. An infinite Universe has no center; no bottom and no top. By the very same logic it may have no beginning and no end.
And if this Universe has no beginning and no end, is that any reason why I should “worship” it?
What some scientists today describe as the beginning of the Universe is clearly and logically not the beginning. What they have pointed out as the “beginning” is merely a cataclysmic event which may have happened at some previous moment within the realm of Existence. Clearly there was something in existence before the moment they describe - whether it be energy, light, matter or whatever. And clearly there will be something existing beyond what they predict as the end of the Universe.
What we presently understand as the Universe may have both a beginning and an end, but Existence, itself, will remain beyond the end and was clearly in place before the beginning. As Epicurus pointed out many long centuries ago: Something does not come from nothing. In the beginning, there was something. If in the beginning there were nothing, then there would be nothing today and there would continue to be nothing for all future eternity.
The concept of intelligence in relation to a God is very confusing. I don’t think that any of us can think of “intelligence” without thinking of a human being.
Human intelligence involves thinking, reasoning, judging, understanding, induction, deduction, theorizing, prefacing, concluding, remembering etc. To a God - the perfection of all things - all of these processes and/or attributes are impossible. God cannot think; He must know, and what He knows - must be; it cannot “become”. Intelligence, as we understand it, would not be possible for God. Intelligence implies ‘before and after”. God cannot learn - He has no need for learning. If God must learn, then He must not know. If God doesn’t know something, then He is lacking in knowledge. If God lacks any knowledge, He cannot be All-knowing. If God is not All-knowing, then He cannot be the ultimately perfect entity or being and therefore He would not be God. For that matter God cannot be a “being”. Because a “being” is only one thing among many things; and for God to be God, He must be all things.
This is the type of round-about analyzing that has led a good many theologians to conclude that discovering or defining God is impossible. The theologian might say that it is the discovering of God that is impossible; while the Philosopher and skeptic might say that it is God that is impossible. The theologian chooses to “believe” in the impossible; the Skeptic does not.
To teach the possibility of the impossible, whether you believe in it or not, I don’t think can be considered science. It has been and will most likely continue to be considered Religion. From my point of view, I would rather not teach religion as science, nor would I be inclined to teach science as religion. Science should not have to be believed; it is supposed to be demonstrated.