Arguments For The Existence of God
As well as knowing what believers think God is like, you also have to be able to explain a number of the arguments used by believers to prove that God exists. It is important that you can criticize these arguments too.
The Design Argument
Put forward by William Paley using the analogy of a perfectly designed pocket watch.
Suppose you were walking across a field and you found a watch. You would assume, looking at its intricate design and how perfectly suited to its purpose it is that the watch did not come about by chance. Someone must have designed it that way.
Similarly, if you look at the world around you, it is too perfectly designed to have come about by chance and must therefore also have a designer.
Just as a watch has a watchmaker, the world has a worldmaker who can only be God.
Initially this argument has appeal and did when Paley put it forward. So much in nature appeared to be designed but gradually a number of weaknesses emerged.
Problems with the Design Argument
- The world is not perfectly designed. There are many flaws such as natural disasters, which cause immense pain and suffering. Why would God design a flawed world?
- Just because something looks designed doesn’t mean it really is. Penicillin for example was an accident. The person who invented Post It Notes was trying to invent glue, which bonded two sides together and would not come unstuck.
- Paley compares the world to a watch. This is a poor analogy. The watch is a mechanical object, the world is natural so cannot be compared.
- The Theory of Evolution would convincingly argue that animals such as Polar Bears or the human eye have evolved over millions of years rather than being specifically ‘designed’ that way. Richard Dawkins stated ‘Natural selection is the ‘blind’ watchmaker. . . the living results of evolution give us the appearance, the illusion of design as if by a master watchmaker. [But] evolution . . . is the explanation for the existence . . . of all life, has no purpose in mind. . . It is the blind watchmaker. ‘
- Why does God have to be the ‘Designer’?