I have been asked to survey the
history of the argument from design. This
presents something of a challenge since the argument from design has a long and
winding road with many interesting turns and occasional "dead end"
signs along the way. In this brief time
we will have to content ourselves with an aerial survey of the landscape it has
traveled. But perhaps even that will be
instructive for our purposes. I will
move chronologically through its formulations, challenges and reformulations up
to its contemporary forms. Concluding
comments will ask what is at stake theologically in this whole effort.
The argument from design should
be distinguished from its close relative, the cosmological argument. Why is there something and not nothing? The existence of the cosmos as a whole is
contingent it is not self-explanatory, it does not by careful examination
reveal to us its own necessity. An
argument for the existence of God may be posed on the ground that something
The argument from design works
from what exists. The world evidences
order, adaptation, directionality - design.
Therefore it is argued an intelligent designer must have brought it into
being. This argument gets the name
teleological from the
Greek word telos that means "end" or "goal". Teleological order entails the notion that
processes or structures are fitted to bring about certain results - in that
sense "designed." (Alston 1967, p. 84).
Contributed by: Dr. Anna Case-Winters