God and Design

4 April 2006

In God and Design, Neil A. Manson has gathered a group of intellectually stimulating articles pertaining to the Argument from Design. The collection includes articles supportive and critical of both local design arguments (i.e., Michael Behe’s irreducible complexity) and global design arguments (i.e., the fine-tuned laws which govern the universe). Thankfully, the representation is quite fair, and authors on both sides of the debate get a fair chance. However, global design arguments seem to be the main topic of the debate. For a fuller treatment of the controversial Intelligent Design movement, other works should be pursued.

As for the fine-tuning argument, Robin Collins adds a useful discussion of some “solid cases of fine-tuning”- thus overturning the claim that the probability figures for fine-tuning are pulled out of thin air. William Lane Craig successfully lays out the argument and discusses several objections in his paper. Jan Narveson objects to the explanatory power of theism, but his arguments seem to be unconvincing and are also addressed effectively by Richard Swinburne in his paper. The major criticisms of the fine-tuning argument found in the papers, however, have to do with the methods of probability used in supporting the inference to design. Eliot Sober and the Mcgrews/Vestrup argue that there is no basis for probabilities when concerning fundamental constants of nature. However, Collins in particular has elsewhere developed a ‘rigorous’ definition of fine-tuning, thus overcoming this particular objection, in my view. Once the validity of probability judgments are granted, it seems to me that the case for design is compelling.


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