H5267: PART A: Exploration towards the Divine Mystery
(cont.) (I)Ways of going towards the Divine (cont.)
(b)ORDER AND DESIGN AND SCIENTIFIC THEISM - cf. the
Argument from Design, also called the 'Teleological Argument'
(A) Intuitive presentation:
: Touching the Divine Mystery in the midst of an
experience of the beauty and order of the Natural World.
Even philosophers admit that what we have here is
in the way of a codification by philosophers of a reaction to the world
that is deeply impedded in the human consciousness (Swinburne), originating
from experiences of the beauty and order of the natural world, both living
and non-living. This is one reason why even the likes of Hume and Kant
show this way a lot of respect. Cf. Hume, Dialogues, Part XII, and Kant,
Critique of Pure Reason, Transcendental Dialectic.
A particular advantage of the argument is that the
experience of wonder at the beauty and simplicity of the order of nature
is perhaps strongest of all among scientists and philosophers, not only
some practicing biologists but also and even especially mathematical physicists.
Thus Plato, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Einstein, Peacocke, Jaki, Bartholomew,
Thorpe, Paul Davies, John Polkinghorne (see bibliography for latter names).
Nowadays a lot of emphasis is placed on the rather
special character of the order in the universe we happen to live in. If
the fundamental laws and constants were even a little bit different, we
wouldn’t be here. It seems the universe is a put-up job (Paul Davies).
However, this is only one form of the argument, and probably not the strongest.
One difficulty with this way is in respect of what
exactly it can be reasonably taken as directing us towards --unless used
as a complement to the cosmological approach (showing the giving of Being,
the Creator-Creating, the Economic-God as intelligent and with a feeling
for beauty), or to some other way such as the way of religious experience.
By itself it is probably not enough to justify
belief in creation out of nothing, or in an infinite Creator, and by itself
might well leave us undecided about benevolence or transcendence.
However, even the sceptical Hume is prepared to
admit that a reasonable person would on the basis of the experiences accept
"that the cause or causes of order in the universe probably bear some remote
analogy to human intelligence".
But before we come to any conclusions about this,
it is necessary to distinguish a number of significantly different philosophical
codifications of this way relating to a number of different experiences.
Following on Swinburne, The Existence of God,
Chs. 10 and 8, there is a need to distinguish three or four importantly
different kinds of argument, corresponding to three or four importantly
different kinds of experience or pre-reflective contact points.
Distinguish firstly between
Arguments from PROVIDENCE, following on experience
of order as directed to human and animal welfare or at least existence,
on the one hand
Arguments from ORDER as such, the intelligibility
of the universe, beautiful in its intelligibility independent of whether
directed as such to human and animal welfare on the other.
I: arguments from PROVIDENCE may be themselves be
of two kinds:
(i) arguments from Particular Providence:
some particular pattern of order manifested on a unique occasion in a person's
life-time: discerning the Lord/Lady's guiding hand in the events of my
life or in the life of my community. Most appropriately expressed as 'testimony'
of one kind or another, but can still be reasonable for a person who has
the experience, and to some lesser extent also for others.
(ii) arguments from General Providence:
the fact, if it is a fact, that the general features of the world are such
as to show that a good God is providing for the existence and basic needs
of conscious beings.
We are not necessarily presupposing divine intervention
in the operation of scientific laws or that what happens can't be given
an explanation in terms of such laws.
What cannot be given a scientific explanation is
why there are these particular laws and these particular initial conditions,
why the laws of nature are such as to produce those features of the universe
that make the world a place where there can well exist and thrive conscious
beings like people and higher animals. At this point the argument joins
with the cosmological argument in respect of the question, why this particular
kind of world and not some other. Cf. the so-called 'Anthropic Principle'
(II) arguments from ORDER
-- differ from arguments from providence in
that here it is not the end to which the order contributes but the order
itself which counts as evidence for a Cosmic Intelligence.
This order may be of two kinds, which once again
gives us two forms of the argument (though they are often combined in one):
(i) the argument from spatial order or
regularities of 'co-presence' (Swinburne): tends to focus especially on
the order in the biological realm, animal and plant organisms, e.g. a human
eye, but even a leaf would do.
Cf. William Paley's classic argument of the watch
and the watchmaker.
It was the argument in this form that was supposedly
undermined by Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, which
has complex order originating from less complex orderings and eventually
from inorganic matter.
This may not so much destroy the argument as
require it to be updated --thus Swinburne, also Bartholomew, Thorpe, Polkinghorne,
chance as actually quite an intelligent mechanism for exploring the potentialities
of matter in different environment.
(ii) the argument from temporal order
or regularities of succession:
This is the strongest form of the argument, but also
the form most susceptible to the difficulty mentioned above as to what
exactly it can reasonably be taken as directing us towards:
--The universe as characterized by vast, all pervasive
temporal order, the conformity of nature to formulae, as recorded in the
scientific laws we manage to come up with, laws and theories often of great
beauty and simplicity.
:God as a subtle mathematician, Cosmic Architect
or Demiurge, Craftsperson, with a feeling for beauty, good in an austere
and equal kind of way but not particularly anthropocentric or animal directed.
Not necessarily transcendent: for that we need the cosmological argument.
We get too anthropocentric in our idea of God, however,
and this version of the Fifth Way of St Thomas (which is an argument from
order, not from providence) may contribute to a correction, a re-direction
of our concern to the Cosmic Pantocrator, the Cosmic Christ, Sophia, Logos,
through whom all things were made, risen Lord of All and in All, the creative
Pneuma who hovers over the waters.
C) History of the design approach in philosophy --in
--the basic principle of the teleological argument
goes back at least to Plato, Laws, Book X: see Hartshorne and Reese, Philosophers
Speak of God, p. 46. Plato uses it here as a complement to a version of
what we have called the cosmological argument, to determine whether the
World Soul is or is not a principle of intelligence, wisdom and virtue.
--already in a well developed form in the works
of Philo of Alexandria, also an argument from cosmic order. See Hartshorne
and Reese, p. 77. Philo compares the universe to a great city.
--Aquinas' Fifth Way is probably also an argument
from cosmic order rather than an argument from providence, esp. if we interpret
it along the lines of the version in the Summa Contra Gentiles: the unconscious
co-operation of different kinds of material things in the production and
maintenance of a relatively stable cosmic system, rather than the benefits
accruing to us from our use of certain objects.
--the Argument from Design, usually focussing
on spatial order, was the favourite argument of both theists and deists
in the 18th century, including Isaac Newton and the majority of his disciples,
in Newton in a modest fashion, in some of his followers in a less modest,
anthropocentric form. Also among biologists and natural historians and
in popular apologetics of the time, concentrating on plants and animals.
Among philosophers, cf. esp. Bishop Butler.
This mostly spatial order argument was submitted
to a thorough examination and allegedly largely devastating critique towards
the end of the century, at the hands first of Hume in his Dialogues concerning
Natural Religion, almost all of which (except Part IX) is devoted to it,
published 1779; and then of Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason (1781),
Hume: the proof, considered as an allegedly
scientific argument to be evaluated according to the rules of evidence
which apply to arguments of this kind, proves very little: that the universe
sometime arose from something like design. It shows neither the infinity
nor the unity of deity and given the appearance of things has no chance
of showing benevolence. Indeed given possible alternative hypotheses it
may prove nothing at all.
finds it difficult to avoid the intuitive appeal of the argument, or, rather,
of the experience behind the argument. Natural good sense, he thinks
(or apparently thinks) is in favour of it, and a sensible person would
probably admit in spite of all their scruples aht the cause or causes of
order in the universe probably do bear some remote analogy to human intelligence.
Kant: the proof, though it always deserves to
be mentioned with respect, as the oldest, the clearest and that most in
conformity with the common reason of humanity, can, at most, demonstrate
the existence of an architect of the world, whose efforts are limited by
the capabilities of the material with which he/she/it works, not of a creator
of the world. [cf. Plato's Demiurge}
This did not stop the argument from being popular,
however: William Paley's Evidences of Christianity, the watch and the watchmaker
theme, is dated 1794. On the critical side, see also Voltaire, Candide,
the direct target of which is Leibniz's idea that this is the best of all
--the Darwinian theory of evolution by natural
selection knocked it on the head, or was thought to, and led to the virtual
disappearance of the argument from design from popular apologetics. Strictly
speaking this affects only the first form of the argument from order and
may not even be devasting to that (see above).
--the foremost early proponent of the teleological
argument this century is probably Dr F.R. Tennant: see John Hick, The Existence
of God, pp. 120ff. for an extract, and E.L. Mascall, He Who Is, Ch. XII,
for a commentary.
Alfred North Whitehead's reasons for introducing
God into philosophy include also an approach along the lines of the argument
from temporal order: the need to talk in terms of a principle of limitation,
also of possibility and of novelty, in the course of developing a coherent,
logical, necessary system of general ideas in terms of which every element
of our experience might be interpreted. See Science and the Modern World
(1925), Process and Reality (1929). This is in fact a combination of the
second form of the Cosmological Way with both the argument from general
providence and the argument from temporal order. The 'primordial envisagement
of eternal objects'/the divine persuasion is what determines that this
world is this way rather than some other way, that it is ordered rather
than chaotic, and that it is developing in the direction of more and more
subtle kinds of ordering providing the necessary conditions for e.g. dolphins
and apes and human beings.
Charles Hartshorne also defends an argument from
order, in his case not so dependent on the overall process metaphysics
--see Creative Synthesis and Philosophic Method. In the Process camp, see
also David Griffin, God and Religion in the Postmodern World, chs. 4 and
For a contemporary philosophical defence
of the argument, moderately sophisticated, see Richard Swinburne, The Existence
of God (1979), Ch. 8. Also, Richard Swinburne, "The Argument from Design",
Philosophy, Vol. XLIII, No. 5, July 1968, pp. 199-212. For an appreciation
of Swinburne, see Mark Wynn’s recent article.
Swinburne also has an argument from beauty: our
experience of beauty in the universe as constituting grounds for a probable
argument for the existence of a God with a feeling for beauty. There are
whole heaps in recent philosophical literature, a lot of it having to do
with Hume's supposedly devastating critique. For some references, see bibliography
in Volume II of The Doing of Philosophy in the Philosophical Works of David
Hume (doctoral dissertation, Leuven 1985), in library. See also H.D. Lewis,
Philosophy of Religion (Teach Yourself Books, The English Universities
Press, London, 1965), Ch. 17.
The Design Approach, as already noted, is a strong
element within contemporary scientific theism, often in combination with
a version of the Cosmological Way. See people referred to under Intuitive
Presentation, above, references in general bibliography. Also David Griffin,
editor, The Reenchantment of Science, and works by Charles Birch. See especially
Paul Davies and John Polkinghorne, and from the philosophical side, Peter
Forrest, God without the Supernatural.
We now turn to a family of Ways which have less
to do with the World Out There and rather more to do with the human world,
the world of interpersonal relationships and of everyday experiences and
strivings, where, it seems, God is also to be found, by some people even
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