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HomeDebate Religion(Most) Intelligent Design Arguments dont make sense

(Most) Intelligent Design Arguments dont make sense

This mainly refers to Christian version of ID, but may apply more broadly.

ID proponents usually argue for intelligent design by taking an object (an organism or something) and pointing out features of that object that imply design. But these same people believe that god made the entire universe, so that means they could point at any feature of any object and say that it’s a sign of design. If god created everything, then we’ve never seen an un-designed object.


Maybe you could say that while god made the universe, he didn’t “design” all of it, but that depends on how you define design. I take “design” to mean that there was a specific plan in mind for a created object, and since everything happens according to gods plan, that implies to me that everything is designed.

In general, I’m not sure an all knowing, all powerful being could even make an object without designing it. It feels like some sort of contradiction, because to make something without designing it implies some sort of lack of knowledge or intention on the part of the designer.


Side Question: Is an omni-god capable of performing a truly random action?


Perhaps you could try to identify design not by comparing designed and un-designed objects, but by appealing to an abstract, made up, non-empirical idea of what it means to be designed. If you do that, however, things can get pretty murky I think. Far from the “obvious” signs of design that ID proponents claim.

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Mary Johnson
Mary Johnson
I have been reading and writing for over 20 years. My passion is reading and I would like to someday write a novel. I enjoy exercise and shopping.


  1. All natural objects have teleology, but not all objects are designed. For example, even inorganic matter…or a matchbox, for example, has a purpose or *telos* toward the production of certain effects. “Final causality” goes hand in hand with efficient causality, as the ground of the substances regularity, harmony, directedness in particular, ways.

    This doesn’t mean a matchbook was deliberately intelligently design. However, everything is a composite of efficient and final causes. In addition of explaining regularity, they appear in greater and more obviously needed form in biology. For example, “the heart is for pumping blood”.

    It’s not as if God imposed order on the heart, in the way we impose order on our artifacts, or tools and inventions. So, it’s not as if God designed the heart in the sense that He physically assembled the heart. Rather, nature gave rose to the heart, and God serves as the metaphysical foundation of the giveness of the heart’s teleology.

    Naturalists try to replace “purpose” in biology with mechanical function according to darwinian principles. However, even if the wacky special creationists were right, we could still see the heart is for pumping blood. It’s not that God fiddled in history, it’s that He’s the metaphysical base which gives and donates purpose to self-sufficient systems.

    When we explain the heart in terms of its final causes, we realize that it has *that* purpose belongs entirely to it (not imposed like a watchmaker), but the contingency of what the heart does and really is means that the source is external. Just as the purpose of an arrow is within the archerer, in a sense, the intentionality and purpose in dependent on something higher.

    In a broad sense, even inorganic material possess “immanent teleology”. A fundamental particular has natural powers that make it the sort thing it is. That said, an inanimate object doesn’t have conscious intentionality. So like when we design, God is the ground of that object’s telelogy. Nevertheless, that purpose is *given* to the substance, and belongs to and for it.

    In this sense, all of nature possess intrinsic teleology in virtue of being composed of efficient causes whose final causes “aim” or physically intent (unconsciously) to follow its nature.

    In the sense that God is the fullness of efficient causal power, and therefore possess total freedom because any unhindered causal act is both free and rational, God is the teleological *ground* of all nature.

    What about particular aspects of nature? So God is both the *general* background source of teleology, and as an agent Himself, He acts according to His own self-posited goals within the natural world. So, there immanent teleology to the background of all nature–which God donates or gives away, and then there are specific actions of God.

    However, there’s a common logic to both kinds. In the case of general teleology, God is the ground of teleology but He makes it fully intrinsic to nature. However, the physical intentionality of inorganic matter, like a human artifact, it ultimately grounded in God. BUT, what calls out for God is the contingency of the union of efficient and final causality.

    Microevolution cannot *naturally* produce macroevolution because high levels of life (say, an animal versus a vegetable) can’t give more than it has itself. Therefore, part of God’s intrinsic teleology is the further gift of the formal possibility of higher life.

    In this way, there is no discontinuity between regular teleology and intelligent design. It’s that God grants the teleology of what is to be produced a *virtual* potential to produce higher life.

    This follows from the classic Aristotelian doctrine that accidental changes cannot give rise to substantial changes. In weakened form, that’s just a normal assumption of the gradualist-saltationist debate.

    It’s also possible God *rationally* structures creation, without messing with it. For example, mathematical objects and their properties explain why periodical cicadas have prime life cycles. Using basic number theory, we see that prime numbers for life cycles cuts down on intersection with pray.

    It’s not as if numbers *cause* or twiddle with biology. It’s that certain directions of life’s teleology can be moved by purely abstract, Platonic reasons. If we believe in electrons because they are indispensible to scientific explanation, that ought to be extended to mathematical explanations playing the same function.

    So, there’s all sorts of ways to construe this. The tinkering God, discontinuous with nature, is just the worse.

  2. Everything is designed according to natural processes. Some designs are simpler, some more complex, but they all follow established laws.

    The laws are not so simple. For example, everything breaks down according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, except living things in their earlier stages of life. The information coded into the DNA of an embryo results in the creation of an adult in stages, which then begins to follow the Second Law and deteriorate resulting in eventual death.

    Intelligent Design proponents mostly believe evolution is driven by “front-loading,” rather than Darwinism, a similar process to the life cycle, just on a larger scale. Sudden appearance and stasis are the rule in the fossil record and it fits. An intelligent designer is invoked due to the complexity involved in the coding. Darwinism isn’t far-sighted and isn’t a good explanation for the complexity we observe. I honestly believe Darwin would believe in Intelligent Design if he were alive, today. He was a very smart man but did not have the information we currently possess.

  3. I think the point is that we can see, beyond any reasonable doubt, the existence of a *degree* in the design.

    * Say, a living microbe shows a higher *degree of design* compared to a rock.

    * A plant shows a higher *degree of design* than the microbe.

    * An animal a higher degree of design respect to the plant.

    * Man, as a rational being, an higher degree of design than the animals.

    And so on… It’s an argument similar to the one from degree of perfection mad by Aquinas, in the other thread…

  4. If you want I can tell you my argument for intelligent design.

    But, firstly, let me refute the claims you have given.

    >ID proponents usually argue for intelligent design by taking an object (an organism or something) and pointing out features of that object that imply design.


    >they could point at any feature of any object and say that it’s a sign of design.


    A painting clearly shows sign of design, and maybe even a pet rock, but not some chunk of wood or normal rock.

    >If god created everything, then we’ve never seen an un-designed object

    Plenty of objects God created could be considered “un-designed.” Did God really take the time to shape every rock he created? No, he probably just made rocks. But are the rocks, dirt, sand, etc important for creation? Yes, that’s what we stand on. Do you just want God to not create any dirt for us to stand on because dirt shows no signs of being designed?

    There are FAR too many signs of design in this world to argue it is not designed. That is why I believe in an Intelligent Designer.

  5. You say most intelligent design doesn’t make sense. That implies that you think some do.
    I would point out that that the approach to ID, which purports to be scientific, is counter to the scientific method used elsewhere.
    The standard scientific process starts with a null hypothesis. The theory is tested to see if it will break.
    Conversely ID proponents believe in the Bible literally and search for evidence to support the Bible. Only evidence to support their views will be accepted. Findings will be interpreted in biblical terms. Any contradictions in standard scientific results are used as evidence to state that evolution doesn’t work or had to be guided.
    So I would say that all ID doesn’t make sense and is intellectually dishonest in addition.

  6. I’m currently an atheist, but I can answer this from my past life as a creationist.

    God didn’t design every rock, but he designed the process that makes rocks. God didn’t design every star and planet but he designed the process that makes stars and planets. God doesn’t need to scupt every wave on the ocean and grain of sand on the beach. The waves and the sand just happen according to other rules he’s built into the system.

    I didn’t believe in evolution, but one could extend this line of reasoning to biology as well. It would depend on how interventionist they believe their god to be. If you take it far enough, you eventually arrive at ‘first cause’ deism. Which is where all theist arguments inevitably retreat to anyway.

  7. It seems that ID arguments focus on the complexities of a designed object. While all objects would be designed in a theistic universe, it does not imply that all objects would be designed to such a degree that the complexity implies something. There’s a reason Paley cites a watch and not a whittled, walking stick.

  8. iv always thought that the teaching was he designed everything? and i thought ID is the belief of something is supernatural design when its something that is unnatural to the scientific evolution. like a platypus

  9. I appreciate the (most) and will try to engage the ‘broad’ argument. Used as an argument for the mythical Christian God, ID makes little sense. However, I think it works well as an argument or explanation for the actuality behind ideas of God.

    There are numerous evolutionary events evidencing some form of ‘non-local-mind-effect’, an entirely natural process of spontaneous creativity, an overarching ‘wholeness’ which guides humans actions – as least, it certainly did for the millions of years before our ontological interpretation of nature.

    I take the design to mean a **design**ation of form or function. I take intelligence to suggest some faculty of objective understanding, abstracting, acquiring and applying. In Process theism, what ‘God’ does is offer occasions of experience. The outcome is a co-creation with the ‘creative force’ and the world. Schopenhauer called it The Will, Heidegger called it Dasein(intentionally similar to *design*), most call it God..

    … so, Christianity misrepresenting the argument to fit their claims is quite a disservice to truth, but so is accepting their meaning with disregard to its meaningfulness.

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