How come atheists deride the idea that the world, itself, is proof of a divine designer?

The world is too complex to have just evolved into being.

Posted: June 10th 2007

George Locke

I believe the argument goes like this: the world is so amazingly complex, how could it have arrived at its current state without a designer?

This is self-defeating. Who designed the designer? If the world was designed, then the designer is necessarily more complicated than the universe (since it can conceive of and produce something so complicated as the world). So the explanation solves one complication by substituting a bigger one.

Posted: September 5th 2007

See all questions answered by George Locke

Russell Blackford www

The idea that the world is too complex to have come about without a designer must be based on the premise that all highly complex things have designers. However, there is no reason to believe that any such premise is true.

It is not our common experience that every time we find a complex thing we find out that it is an artifact, i.e. that it was produced by intelligence and technology, and had a designer. On the contrary, many of the complex things that we are familiar with (plants, animals, and so on) do not come into existence in that way.

There are various ways that we can tell whether something is probably an artifact. For example, we know that some materials, such as plastics and even metal alloys, do not appear by natural processes (by which I mean that they require technology … of course, there is another sense in which even we are “natural”, along with everything we create, in that we are merely part of nature).

If we chanced across a complex organism on another planet, we would not necessarily think it was an artifact: we might assume it was an animal much like those on Earth, or at least something similar. Conversely, we could come across a quite simple object made from certain materials, and we would be fairly sure it was the product of intelligence and technology. We would look for a designer and a manufacturing process.

Hence, there is no reason to think that the world as a whole is an artifact, or a product of design and manufacture. The premise that all highly complex things have designers is not established, and we can be fairly sure that it’s actually false.

What we do know is that the world contains artifacts, and hence it contains intelligent, technology-producing, artifact-designing beings (i.e., us). But that’s hardly a surprise.

Posted: June 13th 2007

See all questions answered by Russell Blackford


The world is not proof of an intelligent designer. All the evidence, in fact, points to the opposite. The Earth is very old – over 4.5 billion years and humans only developed in last few million years, with today’s anatomical humans appearing for only about the last 100,000 to 150,000 years.

The historical account, given by the fossil evidence, dated by several independent radiometric methods, is also independently verified by the molecular biological method. Mutation rates of genes can be a “clock,” and the conclusion is that all humans are 99.9% genetically similar and about 98% similar to a chimpanzee or bonobo.

Having two independent lines of evidence – fossils in the ground & genetics in our cells – strengthens the case for evolution. Furthermore, a third line of evidence is neurological, where chimpanzees & bonobos are the most intelligent of all the primates.

Also consider these facts:
Almost all species on Earth that have ever lived have become extinct either due to being competed out of existence by rival species or by being wiped out by a cataclysmic event.

There are many examples of human anatomy which are clear vestiges of our evolution: male nipples, sore back in adults, blind spot in the eyes, and choking when eating. An intelligent engineer would have designed many aspects of human physiology a lot better.

The sun won’t last forever – it’s surface is getting hotter and will one day engulf the Earth. Before then, any number of dramatic events could end life on Earth: nearby gamma ray burst or supernova, asteroid impact, runaway climate change, etc.

Posted: June 12th 2007

See all questions answered by RTambree


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