God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory

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There is no good evidence to support the claims of intelligent supernatural design. The lessons learned here about the failings of these arguments ought to serve as guides to the critical analysis of future intelligent design arguments, since these will no doubt be forthcoming as gaps get closed and the theorists of supernatural causation are forced to hop to other, currently empty explanatory niches.

In the concluding chapter, I will end the book with some remarks about science, morality, and God. The intelligent design movement has a social agenda that seems to go well beyond science education. Design theorists see the issue of origins as being crucial to the formulation of social, political, and legal policies. At the root of these claims is belief in supernatural causation and an objective, transcendent moral order rooted in God.

By contrast, I believe that Darwin himself provides a way of thinking about the functional role of morality that, when developed, accords well with the democratic values that are our common inheritance from the Enlightenment. At rock bottom, this book is about the Enlightenment and its enemies and about the choices we will all have to make, not just about science, but about life itself: how we want to live, how we want society to be structured, how we want to see the future unfold.

This argument has a long evolutionary ancestry Shanks , with roots trailing back into pre-Christian, heathen philosophy, and in this chapter we will examine the evolution of this centerpiece of contemporary creationist theorizing. Since wine does not necessarily improve with age, and since modern creationist thinking contains much old wine in new designer-label bottles, it will be useful to examine this history in order to appreciate the context in which the modern arguments survive, like tenacious weeds, in the minds of men. A convenient place to start this magical history tour is with the heathen philosophy and science of Aristotle — B.

Thomas Aquinas — , who would give a classic statement of the Christian version of the argument from design. Aristotle, like many other Greek thinkers of his time, was very interested in the relationship between matter and form. Everything that exists in nature is a unity of matter and form. This unity of matter and form Aristotle designates as a substance. Dogs were one type of substance formed or shaped by the form dogness, and mice another, formed or shaped by mouseness.

Form thus determines species membership. Form is what all members of a species have in common, despite variations in appearance. Species-determining forms are held to be eternal and changeless, and thus evolution is claimed to be impossible. To understand what substances are and how they change, Aristotle introduced the idea of the four causes.

And since this view of causation will turn out to be of importance later, we must examine the basic details here.


The doctrine of the four causes is put forward to explain the changes we see in nature. Of any object, be it an inanimate object, an organism, or a human artifact, we can ask four questions: 1 What is it? But this scheme works for objects that are not human artifacts. An object might be an acorn, made of organic matter, by the parental oak tree, to become an oak tree itself. Importantly for our purposes, Aristotle saw that the form of an object determines its end or function.

That is to say, the end or function of an object is determined by its internal nature. This is the sense in which it is the end of an acorn to become an oak tree Stumpf , 89— For Aristotle, everything in nature, be it organic or inorganic, had a natural end, function, or purpose determined by its form. Yet Aristotle differentiated between organic and inorganic beings through the idea of souls. The soul becomes the form of the living, organized body. An organized body has functional parts, such that when they attain their end, the organized body as a whole is capable of attaining its end.

The parts of the acorn work together that the acorn might become an oak tree; the parts of a human work together that we, too, can achieve our end, which was for Aristotle eudemonia. But what is eudemonia? The purpose of human existence, then, is the attainment of this state of well-being. A human is as goal-directed by virtue of its rational nature as the acorn is by its oak tree nature.

But how did nature do this? Aristotle was somewhat vague about this, yet it is clearly an issue that calls out for an explanation of some sort. Perhaps an analogy would help. Human artifacts, after all, serve various functions and are here for the sake of various people. But they are also crafted by artisans with these ends and functions in mind. Going beyond the works of Aristotle but remaining rooted in ancient Greece, many thinkers saw evidence of design and purpose in nature.

The demiurge thus came to be viewed as the maker of the universe. The demiurge of the ancient Greeks was a cosmic craftsman who purposely shapes and models things from preexisting matter.

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This hypothetical being was not one who creates something from nothing. Indeed, the idea that matter is not created but has always existed is an enduring theme in important strands of ancient Greek thought. The demiurge is thus a shaper of preexisting stuff, not a creator of stuff from nothing.

By the time these heathen intellectual traditions had reached the Roman commentator Cicero, two distinct strands of reasoning about design-with-purpose had appeared—a cosmological strand and a biological strand. Cicero explained the cosmological strand of designer reasoning as follows: Again, the revolutions of the sun and moon and other heavenly bodies, although contributing to the maintenance of the structure of the world, nevertheless also afford a spectacle for man to behold.

And if these things are known to men alone, they must be judged to have been created for the sake of men. As the argument from design evolved, two distinct strains emerged—a celestial strain and a terrestrial strain—and both strains, moving from the minds of heathens to pastures new, found ways to invade the minds of Christians.

Thomas Aquinas. The oak tree giving rise to the acorn is an actual tree; the acorn is a potential oak tree. From this, Aristotle observes that for a potential thing an acorn to become an actual thing, there must be a prior actual thing the parental oak tree. To explain how there can be a world containing potential things that can become actual things, Aristotle thought that there must be a being that was pure actuality, without any potentiality. Such a being would be a precondition for the existence of potential beings that can be subsequently actualized.

Aristotle called this being the Unmoved Mover. Exactly what sort of a being Aristotle was trying to talk about is a little vague. But it was not so for St. For Aquinas, the unmoved mover was the Christian God.

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It is the celebrated argument from design, an argument that in various mutated forms has worked much mischief on human thinking about the natural world. The fact that they nearly always operate in the same way, and so as to achieve the maximum good, makes this obvious, and shows that they attain their end by design, not by chance. Things that have no knowledge tend towards an end only through the agency of something which knows and also understands, as an arrow through an archer.

There is therefore an intelligent being by whom all natural things are directed to their end. This we call God. Fairweather , 56 In the natural world around us, we observe all manner of seemingly purposeful regularities in the behavior of things that do not possess intelligence. For example, there are regularities in the motions of the tides and in the motions of heavenly bodies—they appear to move in a purposeful manner. The behavior of body parts, such as eyes, hearts, and lungs, seems also to be purposive and functional. And thus, into the yawning gaps in medieval knowledge of the natural mechanisms that give rise to observable phenomena, God-the-designer found a large, cozy niche.

The way people interact with the world, through the crafts they practice, the skills they possess and observe in others , and the machines they make to achieve their own ends and goals, provides the intellectual background, tools, metaphors, analogies, and associated imagery whereby people come to terms with the world around them. This is especially true when those experiences and activities have yielded fruit of great value to us. But though computers can simulate many interesting phenomena, sometimes the real divide between the computational metaphor and its puzzling subject is not as clearly drawn as we might like.

The problem is that metaphors are seductive precisely because they enable us to get a handle on the unfamiliar. They can bewitch us, and many before and since the time of Aquinas have been trapped in ways of thinking prompted by the very analogies and metaphors they used to comprehend that which was initially puzzling.

It is very easy—and often very misleading—to move from the claim that something puzzling that has caught our interest appears to us as if it is like something else we are familiar with, to the very different claim that this puzzling thing is literally like this familiar thing in crucial respects perhaps even identical. Thus it is one thing to say that in certain circumstances the mind behaves as if it is a computer and quite another, with a very different evidential burden, to say that it literally is a computer.

We do not need to settle the dispute one way or the other to appreciate its importance. Another example may help here. At the beginning of the twentieth century, physicists were struggling to come to terms with the relationship between electrons just discovered by J. The as if clause, though undoubtedly helpful early on in these inquiries, did not translate into an is literally clause. Ernest Rutherford suggested a planetary model in terms of which the electrons orbited the nucleus like planets orbiting a sun. This was once again fruitful, since it suggested that it might be important to examine the shapes of electron orbits and their orbital velocities.

If the model was right, matter should have collapsed long ago. This puzzle was ultimately resolved in the quantum theory, but in the process we learned that electrons are nothing like macroscopic objects such as planets or even baseballs or bullets and that they obey very different rules. These remarks are relevant here because medieval society in Europe was a mechanically sophisticated society. While the coupling and subsequent coevolution of science and technology that was to accompany the rise of modern science had not yet happened, this should not blind us to the broader cultural importance of machines and machine making in medieval society Shanks Today, the visible remnants of medieval society are primarily churches, cathedrals, and castles.

Their mechanical accomplishments, often made of wood and leather, have all but perished. Yet those that have survived, along with extensive writings and drawings, testify to a society fascinated by machinery and its possibilities. Mechanical artifacts such as clocks provided important metaphors in the struggle to understand the nature of nature. And they helped to crystallize a mechanical picture of nature in which there was purposeful, intelligent design on a cosmic scale.

These metaphors were crucially important for an understanding of the purposes served by organisms and the functions of the parts of those organisms. These studies required extensive dissection of dead humans and animals and also vivisection of live animals. These developments in early science played an important role in the evolution of the argument from design. Some readers of this book may recall dissecting dead rats or frogs in school. Some readers may recall butchering animals for food or watching others do it.

A much smaller number of readers will have dissected human cadavers or performed surgery on live humans or other animals. Vesalius deserves attention partly because he corrected errors in earlier anatomical traditions—he showed that men and women had the same number of ribs, contrary to biblical authority I still catch students out with this one —but partly because he emphasized the importance of direct experimental observation, rather than blind reliance on authority. Pioneers like Vesalius had to go into this anatomical territory alone, groping their way along with little by way of accurate maps and guides.

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On entering unknown territory, it was very natural for them to draw on metaphors and analogies derived from more familiar and settled aspects of their experience. The metaphors they drew on were suggestive and helpful in coming to terms with this new and alien experience of the insides of animals. Thus, part of the explanation for the blossoming of anatomical and physiological inquiry lies in the way that Renaissance investigators became increasingly reliant on mechanical metaphors to conceptualize the objects of their inquiries—bodies—in mechanical terms.

The metaphor of body-asmachine evolved from crude mechanical analogies e. The metaphor of body-as-machine had enormous implications for medical inquiries. But we will also see that the mechanical metaphors that fueled the growth of anatomical and physiological inquiry also had broader implications, helping to reinforce the idea of natureas-machine. It is arguably no accident that a method that had proved so fruitful for physicians should come to shape early inquiries by physicists as well.

Somewhere in this process our intellectual ancestors made a transition from seeing nature as if it was a machine, with many and complex mechanical components, to seeing it literally as a machine, with sundry mechanical wheels within wheels. And to anticipate the relevance of this intellectual transition, real machines need designers and makers. Medicine and the Rise of Machine Thinking The role of machine thinking is very clear in the writings of the seventeenth-century anatomist and physiologist William Harvey — The problem confronting Harvey was understanding the complex motions of the heart.

Harvey needed subjects in which the motions of the heart were slower so that the component motions could be resolved. Cold-blooded creatures were most useful in these inquiries, and frogs in particular were very useful, as their hearts will continue to beat a short while after they have been excised from the body. Not for nothing was the frog known as the Job of physiology!

Harvey analyzed the complex cardiac motion into component motions associated with structures discernible in the heart ventricles and auricles, the latter being the old word for atria. Clendening , , my italics In this passage, we see how the explicit use of mechanical metaphors could yield natural resolutions of problems that had hitherto been viewed as mysteries beyond the reach of human ken. Thinking of the operation of the heart in mechanical terms—and hence as a system admitting of a quantitative description—yielded further fruits.

Even granting a large margin of error, Harvey estimated that in an hour the heart could pump more blood than the weight of its human owner. Where was all this blood coming from, and where did it go? Harvey had a radical solution. There is a mystery. Clendening , Harvey thereby united his own research on the structure and function of the heart with earlier work on pulmonary circulation to conceptualize the conjoined system of heart and blood vessels as a closed, mechanical circulatory system. But even as machine thinking closed these gaps in our knowledge, it should be obvious that the very employment of machine metaphors invited theological speculation.

Surveying these events, it is fair to say that correlative with the rise of modern science is the dual phenomenon of nature being conceptualized with the aid of mechanical metaphors and nature being studied with the aid of machines telescopes, microscopes, barometers, vacuum pumps, and so on. It was the incredible success of this new way of thinking and this new way of exploring nature that cemented the union between science and technology—a union that owes its existence in no small measure to the work of investigators in anatomy and physiology.

The resulting system of physics—Newtonian mechanics—provides a vision of the universe itself as a giant machine whose parts are held together, and whose motions are interrelated, through gravitational forces. Their Neighbours did scorne to follow it, though not to doe it, was to their own Detriment. Each seemed to have a natural place in the economy of nature. Each was clearly adapted to a place in the environment. As for further observations of the adapted nature of animal behavior—for example, the nest building of birds and the return of swallows in the spring—as well as observations of physiological, morphological, and anatomical adaptation, these were evidences of providential machine design.

The metaphors bolster a picture of organisms as special machines made by God. This it is which makes the difference between nature and art, that is to say, between Divine art and ours. But inorganic nature, too, was seen in mechanical terms. And wheels within wheels could be seen everywhere. Specialized in distinct and unique ways, they, like the parts within them, had proper places in the natural machine. We have already seen that a version of the argument from design was formulated in the medieval period. But the argument, far from being dispelled by the rise of modern science, was in fact bolstered by it.

This was particularly true of Sir Isaac Newton. We are all creatures of our times, and Newton was no exception. Thomas Aquinas were times when it was intellectually respectable to entertain the ideas that the Earth was at the center of the universe, that there were but four elements, and that infectious disease was caused by sin. It was arguably no accident that Newton, the father of classical mechanics in physics, should have articulated a version of the cosmological design argument in the context of natural theology; after all, he was an heir to a rich inheritance of mechanical thinking that had been intertwined with theological speculation.

As Newton himself put it: The six primary planets are revolved about the sun in circles concentric with the sun, and with motions directed toward the same parts and almost in the same plane. This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. Importantly for the present purposes, Newton saw evidence of intelligent design in the biological world, too: Opposite to godliness is atheism in profession and idolatry in practice. Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors.

Can it be by accident that all birds, beasts and men have their right side and left side alike shaped except in their bowels ; and just two eyes, and no more, on either side of the face. Whence arises this uniformity in all their outward shapes but from the counsel and contrivance of an Author? Thayer , 65 For Newton, morphological similarities were evidence of deliberate intelligent design. Atheism was odious because it could offer no good account of the similarities, save that they were, perhaps, fortuitous accidents.

But Newton does not rest his case simply with the observation of morphological similarities. These and suchlike considerations always have and ever will prevail with mankind to believe that there is a Being who made all things and has all things in his power, and who is therefore to be feared. Newton is inclined to the former, as the latter is—and everyone will admit this—so implausible as to be silly and beyond belief. Newton, though clearly a believer in both God and creation, was no biblical literalist, and this sets him apart from many contemporary advocates of creation science.

For Moses, accommodating his words to the gross conceptions of the vulgar, describes things much after the manner as one of the vulgar would have been inclined to do had he lived and seen the whole series of what Moses describes. It was a book that Darwin read and admired. Like earlier natural theologians, Paley is impressed by his observations of the way organisms show adaptation to their natural surroundings.

In the grand tradition of thinking in terms of mechanical metaphors and analogies, Paley reasons as follows: In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer, that for anything I knew to the contrary it had lain there for ever. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground. I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that for anything I knew the watch might always have been there.

Eyes are compared to telescopes, and Paley is led to the conclusion that the eye, like the watch and the telescope, must have had a designer , ch. Different species occupy different places in nature, and for each species, the machinery of the eye has been fashioned to suit the needs consequent upon their allotted place. Nature thus contains many wheels, and wheels within wheels, all standing as evidence of a mighty feat of engineering and design.

Could chance or natural causes be behind the adapted complexity we see in nature? Notice that Paley equates chance not with uncaused events but with events that may have natural causes but that are unguided by intelligence. For the present, what explanations could there be of such complex, adapted structures than deliberate design? And it is clear that he had some acquaintance with naturalistic, evolutionary hypotheses, however fanciful they may have been, that attempted to explain the appearance of adapted complexity without the existence of a supernatural designer.

Paley, as Gould , ch. Darwin, who had studied Paley carefully, must have noticed this passage. But Paley did not see how to develop the ideas, and in the same discussion, the insights are lost. No reason can be given why, if these deperdits ever existed, they have now disappeared. Yet if all possible existences have been tried, they must have formed part of the catalogue.

The third reason that Paley missed the evolutionary insight had to do with the state of systematics in his day, which, unlike modern, evolutionary approaches to systematics, had no historical component because none was deemed necessary : The hypothesis teaches, that every possible variety of being hath, at one time or another, found its way into existence—by what cause or in what manner is not said—and that those which were badly formed perished; but how or why those which survived should be cast, as we see the plants and animals are cast, into regular classes, the hypothesis does not explain; or rather the hypothesis is inconsistent with this phenomenon.

Paley, far from bucking the science of his day, was entirely consistent with it: What should we think of a man who, because we had never ourselves seen watches, telescopes, stocking-mills, steam-engines, etc. These things which we see are what were left from the incident, as best worth preserving, and as such are become the remaining stock of a magazine which, at one time or other, has by this means contained every mechanism, useful and useless, convenient and inconvenient, into which such like materials could be thrown?

If organisms are not machines, it is no longer absurd to deny design. The Age of Reason and the Argument from Design The eighteenth century, the age of Enlightenment, saw the dawn of the industrial revolution; the spread of technologies rooted in coal, iron, and steam; and the beginning of the social changes that, continued in the nineteenth century, would culminate in the modern, urbanized, industrial economies of the twentieth century. It was also the time of the American Revolution in , the French Revolution in , and the gradual emergence and spread of secular, democratic ideals in politics.

Importantly, it was the time of David Hume — and Immanuel Kant — , two of the great philosophers this period produced.

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Both raised concerns about the argument from design. Given the way in which Michael Behe, a leading light of the contemporary intelligent design movement, has recently taken the argument from design out of the context of organic anatomy and recast it in terms of the anatomy of biochemical pathways, it is hard to argue with Kant on this point. As Kant points out, human artifacts result from the intelligence of craftsmen who cause these objects to exist by forcing or causing nature to bend to their wills. They do this by literally reshaping, rearranging and re-forming the stuff of nature.

The argument from design requires that the same type of causality involving understanding and will, this time of a supreme intelligence, be operative in the causation of the shapes and forms of things in general, including organisms and even the universe that contains them. To establish the truth of the latter opinion, it would be necessary to prove that all things would be in themselves incapable of this harmony and order, unless they were, even as regards their substance, the product of supreme wisdom.

But this would require very different grounds of proof than those presented by the analogy with human art. The proof can at most, therefore, demonstrate the existence of an architect of the world, whose efforts are limited by the capabilities of the material with which he works, but not of a creator of the world, to whom all things are subject.

Meiklejohn , — Thus, if the argument from design works, it supports at most the existence of a cosmic craftsman or engineer who, like a human craftsman or engineer, imposes his will and understanding on preexisting matter and whose creative capabilities are limited by the properties and dispositions of that matter.

A bad workman may blame his tools, but even a skilled craftsman cannot get something from nothing and is limited in his works by the materials he deals with. The argument simply will not support ambitious Christian conclusions, and for all the massage and manipulation, the cosmic craftsman of the argument from design is hardly different from the demiurge of heathenism from which it was derived.

By contrast, Hume is more concerned with the issue of the inference to design itself, as it appears in the argument from design. The equal possibility of both these suppositions is allowed. Throw several pieces of steel together, without shape or form; they will never arrange themselves so as to compose a watch. Stone, and mortar, and wood, without an architect, never erect a house. But the ideas in a human mind, we see, by an unknown, inexplicable economy, arrange themselves so as to form the plan of a watch or house.

Experience, therefore, proves, that there is an original principle of order in mind, not in matter. From similar effects we infer similar causes.

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The adjustment of means to ends is alike in the universe, as in a machine of human contrivance. The causes, therefore, must be resembling. Pike , 25—26 This passage is worthy of scrutiny for what follows, because we do see complexity, order, and purpose in nature. And there is indeed a hard-to-shake intuition that these phenomena could not possibly arise from matter guided only by unintelligent natural causes. We will see in the next chapter that Darwin discovered a natural causal mechanism one unknown to Hume that was indeed capable of explaining some of the order, complexity, and adaptation that we see in the world, thereby offering an explanation in terms of unintelligent natural causes for that which had hitherto seemed to require an explanation in terms of the operation of a supernatural intelligence.

In point of fact, the natural, evolutionary processes giving rise to adaptations are so well documented today that many creationists will tell you that they accept microevolution adaptive evolution within a species but that they do not accept macroevolution evolution giving rise to new species. Yet it was these very same functional structures and processes that were supposed to establish the need for intelligent causation as a consequence of the argument from design. His arguments will be examined in later chapters. There is another point here. Natural evolutionary causes, important as they are, cannot account for all the order and complexity we see in nature.

Natural selection does not operate on inanimate objects. Though astronomers talk of stellar evolution, they do not mean that the stars literally evolve, as do populations of organisms. Evolution is a word with many meanings, and we must be careful not to confuse them.


Nevertheless, inanimate objects do organize themselves in certain circumstances, and without the intervention of a designing intelligence, into complex, ordered structures. For example, natural gravitational mechanisms, operating in accord with the laws of physics, can account for the ways in which stars in galaxies become organized into enormous spiral structures. Other natural causal mechanisms can account for complexity and organization as it is observed in complex systems ranging from the molecular to the stellar in the world around us.

Scientists discuss these causal mechanisms, operating in accord with the laws of nature, under the heading of self-organization and self-assembly. Some of these phenomena are of great interest to polymer scientists, biologists, materials scientists, and engineers. We will discuss self-organization in later chapters. The conditions are not right, and you would do better here to hire an intelligent architect and a reasonably smart and sober group of builders.

The conditions are not right. By contrast, protein molecules can selforganize into structures like the microtubules that are found in your cells; individual cells in a developing animal interact with other cells, differentiate as a consequence, and self-organize into the tissues that will give rise to its organs. And stars, also lacking in intelligence, interact through exchanges of gravitational energy and in the process self-organize into the mighty spiral structures observable to astronomers, all without deliberate, intentional, intelligent guidance.

Hume was unacquainted with the mechanisms giving rise to the organizing power of matter. The acquaintance was the great Scottish economist, Adam Smith, who was a professor at the University of Glasgow and whose Wealth of Nations, published in , is the classical cornerstone of capitalist free market economics. For Adam Smith and many smart folk since , markets do best if they are left to their own devices, without centralized intelligent design and manipulation by government.

And he is in this led by an invisible hand to promote an end that was no part of his intention. By pursuing his own self interest, he frequently promotes that of society more effectually than when he intends to promote it. The good effects result from selforganization—that is, the invisible hand of economic mechanisms operating in accord with the laws of supply and demand.

The hand is invisible precisely because the good effects of market mechanisms for the economy as a whole are not deliberately intended and brought about by any intelligence or small, centralized group of such deliberately working to that end. As biologist Thomas Seeley has recently remarked: The subunits in a self-organized system do not necessarily have low cognitive abilities. The subunits might possess cognitive abilities that are high in an absolute sense, but low relative to what is needed to effectively supervise a large system.

The lesson here is this: Something as functional and adaptive as a market economy that looks as if it must be the result of centralized intelligent design and control is in reality nothing of the sort. Appearing as if it is intelligently designed to bring about the common good does not imply that it literally is so designed. Indeed, our experience with centralized intelligent design and control of economic systems, such as those found in numerous disastrous experiments with socialism in the twentieth century, contains parables worth heeding by the erstwhile champions of intelligent design in nature.

But this brings me back to Hume. No intelligent, sensible, and benevolent engineer would have designed humans to be so subject to diseases like cancer; such a benevolent engineer would surely not have designed pathogens so adapted to our bodies and effective at making us sick. Pike , 55 If we set aside unwarranted speculation to the effect that this world, imperfect as it is, is the best of all possible worlds, warts and all, or if we reject the idea that the design defects are to be dismissed as mysteries beyond the scope of human ken, then we cannot count only examples that are evidences of good design and ignore all the evidence of bad design.

Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander! What do these evidences of imperfect design tell us about the hypothetical designer? Perhaps, adopting the old tactic of blaming the victims, the design defects result from original sin and are visited upon the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve for this reason alone. Perhaps the intelligent designer was drunk, stupid, or both.

We do not know, and we have no rational means of investigating, let alone settling, the matter. In the case of the argument from design, we have the analogy of complex adaptive structures arising from the intelligent design of a craftsman. But no human craftsman has ever made an organism, much less a universe.

Animals make other animals, however. So why not consider animal reproduction as an analogy for the way the universe came into being? No animal has made a universe either, but animals do make other animals, including complex intelligent animals such as ourselves. So can we make a parallel to the argument from design that we might term the argument from animal reproduction?

Hume evidently thought so: Compare, I beseech you, the consequences on both sides. The world, say I, resembles an animal; therefore it is an animal, therefore it arose from generation. The steps, I confess, are wide; yet there is some small appearance of analogy in each step. The world, says Cleanthes, resembles a machine; therefore it is a machine, therefore it arose from design. The steps are here equally wide, and the analogy less striking. And if he pretends to carry on my hypothesis a step further, and to infer design or reason from the great principle of generation, on which I insist; I may, with better authority, use the same freedom to push further his hypothesis, and infer a divine generation or theogony from his principle of reason.

I have at least some faint shadow of experience, which is the utmost that can ever be attained in the present subject. Reason, in innumerable instances, is observed to arise from the principle of generation, and never to arise from any other principle. Pike , 65 And just as the argument from design has an ancient ancestry in heathenism, so, too, does the argument from animal reproduction: Hesiod, and all the ancient mythologists, were so struck with this analogy, that they universally explained the origin of nature from an animal birth, and copulation.

Plato too, so far as he is intelligible, seems to have adopted some such notion in his Timaeus.

Here is a species of cosmogony, which appears to us ridiculous; because a spider is a little contemptible animal, whose operations we are never likely to take for a model of the whole universe. Overall, a good review of Intelligent Design and Evolution. The author covers familiar ground for those who have read on this topic; for those who haven't, this probably isn't a good starting book Niall Shanks.

In the last fifteen years a controversial new theory of the origins of biological complexity and the nature of the universe has been fomenting bitter debates in education and science policy across North America, Europe, and Australia. Backed by intellectuals at respectable universities, Intelligent Design Theory ID proposes an alternative to accepted accounts of evolutionary theory: that life is so complex, and that the universe is so fine-tuned for the appearance of life, that the only plausible explanation is the existence of an intelligent designer.

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