Modern Biology and Natural Theology

By Alan Olding | Go to book overview

Chapter 8

From world to God

DESIGN

So ‘fit’ is the universe for the evolution of life and intelligent mind that several modern thinkers—philosophers, physicists and others—have revived the ancient argument from design for God’s existence and it is perhaps little wonder that Barrow and Tipler (1986) devote a long chapter to its history in their massive book The Anthropic Principle. The basic argument is as follows. There are many examples of order in the world which are brought about by the activities of minds, i.e. human minds. There is also the fact of the general orderliness of the universe as a whole. Therefore the orderliness of the whole universe (apart from the bits produced by human and other finite minds) is brought about by the mind of a god.

The argument can then be embellished in various ways by producing examples of the universe’s ‘design’, such as those stubbornly fine-tuned ‘coincidences’ the anthropic principle is concerned with. It can also be developed by inferring what characters the god must have from the supposedly awesome fact that he put the whole universe together—and so ‘he’ is commonly said to be enormously powerful, knowledgeable and so forth. He is also commonly said to be a non-embodied mind because, among other reasons that might be held for this view, he is supposed to have brought about everything that is material or, at least, brought law to the material. I find myself doubly impressed here. I am mightily impressed by the facts and arguments presented to us by the cosmologists—although retaining a residual scepticism concerning how much we can really be said to know about ‘the whole universe’—but I am also greatly moved by the immense logical difficulties involved in the argument from design and the god of its conclusion. I shall try to bring out first the problems associated with the analogy drawn between the minds of humans and that of God 1 and

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