Saturday, March 24, 2012

Arguments against the Teleological Argument

 We have looked at the teleological argument for the existence of God (if you have not read them, please take a few minutes and familiarize yourself with them).  Of course those who are against the faith have their arguments that try to demolish the argument.  Please find here the most common of them and my answers to them.

1) Some of the defenses of the premises use unprovable assumptions.
    A) For example, we cannot prove that if the earth were closer to the sun that a
         negative effect would transpire and life on earth would not be possible.
    B) Remember what we are trying to do with our arguments.  We can never prove
         anything 100 %. 
        1) You cannot prove 100% that you exist.  There is only one way to do this.
             You must exit your body and observe yourself in a state of existence.  This we
             cannot do.  It is physically impossible.  What is the answer then. Can we
             come to any type of conclusion about our own existence.  Yes we can.
             We need to remember three things, 1) What is the evidence? 2) What
             is the plausibility of you existing? 3) We must use our own reasoning
             and common sense.
            a) Is there any evidence that you exist.  Well, you are reading this.
                You are thinking about the things written.  Have someone punch
                in the arm, go ahead.  Did you feel any pain?  Someone once said,
                “I think, therefore I am.”  These two areas are evidence that you exist.
                1) You are capable of thinking.
                2) You can feel things that are physical in nature.
            b) Based on these two (there are others that can be added, just trying
                to keep it simple) what is more plausible?  That you do in fact exist,
                or that you do not exist.  Based on the evidence, it is more plausible
                that you do exist.  In fact, the plausibility of your existence is so
                overwhelming, it is reasonable to conclude it is a fact.
            c) Besides, common sense tells us that we do.
        2) This is the same with this objection.  No, we can not prove 100% that the
            defenses are fact.  But the plausibility of them being fact is so overwhelming
            that it is reasonable to conclude that they are fact.

2) The Anthropic Principle
    A) The Anthropic principle is this, the universe is tailor-made for habitation, and that
         both the laws of physics and the initial conditions obligingly arranged themselves in
         such a way that living organisms are subsequently assured of existence.
    B) Well, DAH!  Of course they are.  We are here.  The only difference is we know the
         Tailor who made it so. 
    C) This is really not a strong argument.  In fact, realizing the obvious implications of the
         scientific evidence for the Anthropic principle, many evolutionary scientists have
         rebelled at even the mere mention of it in the halls of science.

3) God of the Gaps
    A) It is often stated something like this, “ Just because we do not know how something
         came about does not mean we can or should insert God as the cause.”
    B) This is an argument from ignorance.  The Design argument is based on our everyday
         design inference.  When we see something that looks designed, that is what we infer.
    C) We use the design inference on a daily bases.  Even scientists, whether they want to
         admit it or not, use it on a daily basis in their everyday work.  A doctor and a
         mechanic diagnose the same way.  They each look within the machine to identify
         what has gone wrong.  The mechanic looks at the engine to see if one of the parts
         has malfunctioned or if something has entered in to disrupt the machines inner
         workings.  They make the inference to design since the all the parts have to be
         working properly in order for the machine to function as it should.  The doctor in
         essence does the exact same thing. They look at the inner parts to see what is not
         functioning properly.  They to make the same inference to design since all the
         parts of the system have to be working properly in order for the system to work.
         By identifying the problem, they then can correct it.
    D) All the argument does is show that some intelligent being has designed the
         system.  We do not know what that intelligent being is.  It could have been aliens
         for all we know.  This is a possible explanation.  (Although I personally do not
         believe that aliens exist.)  Do not get caught up in this trap.  They are making
         assumptions that the argument is not asserting.

4) Darwin has shown that variations and natural selection can account for the
     appearance of design.
    A) We will deal with this more readily when we refute the evolutionary theory.
    B) This rebuttal is primarily focused at the biochemical design argument.
    C) If it can be shown that mutations and natural selection can produce the complex
         systems such as the blood clotting cascade, then their argument stands.  Yet, as
         of today, none have been put forward.  Perhaps we can understand why
         detailed models are missing from the evolutionists by asking what a real
         scientific investigation of mousetrap evolution would be like.  They would first
         have to think of a precursor to the modern mousetrap, one that was simpler. 
         Suppose they started with a wooden platform?  No, that will not catch mice.
         Suppose they started with a modern mousetrap that has a shortened holding
         bar?  No, if the bar is too short it would not reach the catch, and the trap would
         spring uselessly while they were holding it.  Suppose they started with a smaller
         trap?  No, that would not explain the complexity.  Suppose the parts developed
         individually for other functions-such as a popsicle stick for the platform, a clock
         spring for the trap spring, and so on- and then accidentally got together?  No, their
         previous functions would leave them unfit for trapping mice, and they still have
         to explain how they gradually developed into a mousetrap.  If they cannot explain
         the mousetrap, which is simple compared to the systems of the body, it is easy
         to see why there are no attempts to give an evolutionary explanation.
    D) A pertinent question to ask now is, “How do we know things?”  Without getting
         into the discipline of epistemology, there are really only two ways that we know
         things.  1) Through personal experience and 2) By authority.
        1) If you make the positive knowledge statement that the walls in your house
            are green, how exactly do you know that?  It is through personal experience.
            You know the walls in your house are green because you live there and saw
              that they are green.  Similarly you know what a bird is, how gravity works
            (in an everyday sense), And how to get to the nearest shopping mall, all by
            direct experience.
        2) If you make the positive knowledge statement that the earth revolves around
            the sun, how exactly do you know this?  It is by authority.  That is, you rely
            on some source on information, believing it to be reliable, when you have no
            experience of your own.  Anyone who has attended school believes that the
            earth goes around the sun, even though only a few have the knowledge of how
            to detect this. 
    E) Scientists are people too, so we can ask how they know what they know.  They are
         like everyone else, they rely upon personal experience and, or authority.
        1) No one has personal experience in the evolution of complex biochemical
            systems.  It does not happen in the lab.  In fact, there is an ongoing
            experiment that is testing the validity of the mutation, natural selection theory.
            They use a bacteria that the generations come and go at a rapid pace.  They
            have gone through about 40,000 generations.  As of yet, there have been no
            noticeable changes in the bacteria.  Therefore they cannot say that the reason
            that they know it has happened this way is through personal experience.
        2) It is also not based on authority.  There is no publication in scientific
            literature- prestigious journal, specialty journals, or books- that describes
            how evolution of any real, complex, biochemical system either did occur or
            even might have occurred.  There are assertions that such evolution occurred,
            but absolutely none are supported by pertinent experiments or calculations.
        3) Since no one knows biochemical evolution by direct experience, and since
            there is no authority on which to base claims of knowledge, it can be said that
            the assertions of biochemical evolution is merely bluster.       

5) Design is not science
    A) This rebuttal goes something like this, “ Since we do not have access to the designer,
         we have no way to falsify the concept.”
    B) This is hypocritical on their part.  A great example of science and design is the SETI
         (stands for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence)
         project.  This project was stated in the early 60's, but did not really get started until
         Carl Sagan founded the Planetary Society.  It was a vehicle to advance the SETI
         program.  Simply, the program uses radio telescopes to search the skies for
         intelligent life.  Basically, millions of dollars (some of which were tax payers
         dollars) were pumped into a project to detect codes or messages from outer space
         that would indicate intelligence.  Those involved in the project recognized that
         mathematical patterns, codes, languages, algorithms, and various other
         “fundamental laws” would be accepted as evidence that some type of intelligence
         did exist.  The premise that can be surmised from the SETI program is that
         Intelligence could be recognized and distinguished from non-intelligence, natural
         explanations; the required criteria for this recognition being some type of code,
         mathematical sequence, physical patterns, etc.  Such codes have been found in
         biochemical systems.
    C) The two are basically the same.  They are both looking for design in nature.  The
         SETI scientists are looking for things that do not occur naturally.  If they were to
         come across something such as that, then they would immediately infer design.
         It would be on the front page of every newspaper that intelligent life exists
         elsewhere in the universe.  No one would begin to question the statement even
         though we could not test the being that designed the signal or whatever.  The same
         is true for the biochemical design we see in the body.  We see something that looks
         designed.  Just as with the SETI people, we naturally infer design.  No, we cannot
         test the designer, but just as with SETI, we do not have to for it to be science.  We
         are justified to infer the design concept.

5) Just trying to get religion into the schools
    A) This is a bad assumption on their part.
    B) It has nothing to do with religion. 
    C) Who the intelligent designer is, is not what the argument is showing.  Of course
         the next logical step would be to say that it is God.  But that is apart from this
    D) This, I believe, is just an attempt to curtail the discussion from what it is about
         in order not to deal with the argument.  It would be kind of like putting a band aid
         on a severed limb.  It just will not help the situation. 

6) Does not prove a creator
    A) This is true, but the argument does have value.
    B) We need to recognize the fact that the teleological argument does not prove
         an infinite, Necessary being who created the universe out of nothing.  The
         Cosmological argument is intended to accomplish this.  However, when combined
         with the cosmological argument the teleological argument does show that the
         infinite cause of all finite being is an intelligent one, which is evidenced by the
         extremely complex design manifested in the universe. 

7) The perfection problem
    A) Stated as such, “It does not prove the existence of God.”
        1) The fact that the world is full of chaos indicates that there was no designer
            and that it is best explained by natural phenomena.
        2) The fact that mankind is plagued with disease, sickness, suffering indicates
             that an intelligent being could not and would not design something so sloppy.
    B) This is usually a rebuttal against the God of the Bible.
    C) This is faulty on their part, since we are not arguing for the God of the Bible using
         this argument.  The only thing that the argument is stating is that there is design
         in the universe that requires an intelligent being. 
    D) It is also faulty since we do not know at this point what the intelligent being had
         in mind at the start.  Could it not have purposely designed it in such a way as to have
         the chaos, disease, and suffering as a part of its original plan?  Possibly.  (We will
         examine this further when we discuss the issue of evil, pain, and suffering.)  Also
         what makes mankind’s definition of perfection the “rule of law”?  Just because
         mankind does not see it as perfection does not of necessity mean it is imperfect.
           There are many buildings that I would say are really not very appealing to the eye.
         Of course the designer of the building would disagree with my view of what he has
         designed.  Who is correct? 

8) Multi universe theory
    A) The multiverse theory is the hypothetical set of multiple universes that together
         comprise all of reality.
            1) It is argued that if this theory is correct then the design argument fails.
        2) With the increase in number of universes, the probability of one having
               the exact chemistry (for lack of a better word) for life to come into existence
            becomes greater and greater. 
        3) Not only does it become more probably, it becomes plausible.
    B) The major problem with this theory is the fact that we have absolutely NO
         Empirical evidence to even suggest such.  This theory laughs in the face of all
         science.  Science is not based on wishes.  It is based on evidence. 
    C) Since this theory has none, it should not even be considered.

    The teleological argument, as such, is a highly plausible but not absolutely certain argument for intelligent design manifested in the world.  Chance is possible though not plausible.  The teleological evidence favors the unity of this cause since this world is really a universe, not a multi universe.  This is especially evident in view of the anthropic principle which reveals that the world, life, and humankind were anticipated from the very moment of the origin of the material universe.
    The teleological argument as such does not demand that this cause be absolutely perfect.  Nor does it explain the presence of evil and disorder in the world.  The teleological argument is dependent on the cosmological and moral argument to establish these other aspects of the theistic God.
    It is really a casual argument from effect to cause, only it argues from the intelligent nature of the effect to an intelligent cause.  This point is important.  For if the principle of causality cannot be supported, the admittedly one cannot insist that there must be a cause or ground of the design in the world.  Design might just be there without a cause.  Only if there is a purpose for everything can it follow that the world must have a purposer.  The teleological argument depends on the cosmological argument in the important sense that it borrows from it the principle of causality.  As can be readily seen from every form of the design argument, the underlying assumption is that there needs to be a cause for the order in the world.  Deny this and the argument fails, for the alleged design would merely be gratuitous.