On Attempts to Salvage Paley's Argument from Design
On Attempts to Salvage Paley's Argument from Design
Author: Marie I. George (St. John's University, Jamaica, New York).
Published in: Science, Philosophy, Theology, ed. John O'Callaghan (South Bend, Indiana: St. Augustine's Press).
Publication date: 2002
Open just about any recent book mentioning Paley, and you will read things like: "In attempting to understand the mind of Paley, we must begin by probing the isolation of David Hume, whose critical philosophy, our most penetrating critics tell us, demolished the arguments of the archdeacon twenty years prior to their formulation". * (1)
"Paley's book came out more than half a century before Darwin's Origin of Species. So he can be excused for having gone astray in his reasoning". * (2) Still from time to time some hardy or naive soul challenges received opinion and takes up Paley's defence. Not surprisingly Thomists are among them, because of the similarity between Paley's argument and the 'fifth way'.
My intention in this paper is to investigate some of the arguments for and against Paley, paying special attention to arguments proffered by those who claim to be basically in agreement with him, but whom I think are unsuccessful in their efforts to resuscitate him.
I do not intend to do a thorough textual analysis of Paley, but a more general analysis of his key arguments. Also, I have no pretensions to be offering here more than an investigatory treatment of a difficult subject.
Before we begin we should remind ourselves of Paley's principal argument; namely, that if one found an object in which the parts were arranged so as to achieve some end, one would conclude that it had been designed by someone; the former holds true of organisms and their parts; therefore, they were designed by someone.
Another argument which I will refer to throughout the paper is that attributed to Empedocles: Organisms arose as a result of the elements linking up at random, those of the combinations being such as if the being had been designed to survive, surviving, the other combinations perishing.
Some general comments on the effect-cause relationship in the argument from design are also in order here:
To argue from design is to argue from order to an end found in some thing or in a group of things to a cause capable of explaining that order. We observe that the parts of the eye work together so that we can see, and we wonder what is responsible for this order. We know that in the case of an artifact, the order of the parts in it to an end depends on there being an agent capable of planning it. To plan is to figure out appropriate means to achieve an end which one has fixed upon. A plan for a toaster would involve heating elements, a place to put the bread, and controls. Ideally, in addition to this plan, however, one would also have another sort of plan, namely, directions for how to realize the desired arrangement (as we all know from having tried to assemble something without reading the directions). Aquinas says forunderstanding a thing it suffices to know the order of its parts, whereas for making a thing one has to also know by what operations the parts can be so ordered. * (3) It is all very well to know that nails hold bookshelves together, but to make one, one also has to know how to put nails in. Also, athough there has to be something in the line of these two sorts of plans, if there is to be order in the effect, still, the plans may at first be incomplete, and certain steps may end up being figured out as one goes along, through trial and error. In addition to plans, there must, of course, also be an agent with the power to realize them. The need for both planning and power to execute is sometimes overlooked: People sometimes mistakenly think that if one can identify efficient causes which realize order in the effect then there is no need to bring in a planner.
This description of how order to an end comes about in a thing * (4) sounds sensible, but when one tries to apply it to the origin of living things the alternative explanation of chance presents itself.
The concern to show that chance does not provide an adequate explanation of order in general, and thus consequently order in the realm of nature, lies in this: Chance is an efficient cause which is defined by a certain relation to the final cause, namely, it is an accidental cause of a meaningful outcome - one which could have been aimed at, but was not. * (5) Although a number of thinkers disagree with this definition, something we must keep in mind lest we misinterpret their objections to design, still most everyone would agree that chance is an efficient cause acting blindly to produce an effect it normally does not does not produce. Now, when an agent acts for an end, the outcome, barring impediment, is what the agent aims at. Thus, when presented with a meaningful outcome to be explained, one must either hold that it was aimed at or it was not aimed at the same time in the same respect (plainly contradictory propositions). Either the arrangement of the parts of the eye for sight was aimed at by the immediate agents responsible for it or it was not.
A difference of levels, however, leaves room for the same event to be both chance and intended without this involving a contradiction. Aquinas has a couple of classic examples to illustrate this, e.g., the meeting of two servants who were independently sent by their master to the same location; * (6) the finding of a treasure by someone digging a grave in a certain spot at the suggestion of someone who knew that the treasure was there. * (7) A similar sort of thing occurs when an intelligent being uses random processes to achieve its goals, something we'll come back to in a moment.
Probably one of the most common false dichotomies in the design discussion is that chance and design are mutually exclusive at every level. A number of authors note this mistake, e.g., Charles De Koninck and Arthur Peacocke. Paley, however, is not so astute:
I desire no greater certainty in reasoning, than that by which chance is excluded from the present disposition of the natural world. Universal experience is against it. What does chance ever do for us? In the human body, for instance, chance, i.e. the operation of causes without design, may produce a wen, a wart, a mole, a pimple, but never an eye. * (8)
Aquinas sees the presence of chance in the world as something God intends inasmuch as chance makes for a more varied and hierarchical world than one in which nothing ever failed, but every agent necessarily achieved its end. * (9) Now, the goodness of the universe consists not only in one thing being better than another, but also in one thing moving another, * (10) and chance has goodness of the latter sort as well. Charles De Koninck made a point of manifesting the utility of chance as to moving or bringing about things that otherwise would not have happened. He often gave humorous examples of this sort: Having a flat tire (bad luck) allows a woman to meet the policeman whom she never would have met otherwise, and whom she eventually marries (good luck). * (11) In a more serious vein:
The world's rising [to higher planes] consists in conquering indeterminism, by indeterminism itself, if that is necessary. * (12)
But can such a theory stand? [I.e., a theory that asserts that random variation and natural selection alone sufficiently account for evolution]. How does it differ from the assertion that the duck was brought down because this particular pellet of shot happened to strike a vital spot? that the bird was therefore downed by a random missile, since any other pellet might have done as well? Will this do as an ultimate explanation? Why does the hunter cultivate a random distribution of bird-shot? What would happen to mushrooms if they did not produce their enormous superfluity of spores? Or to humanity if there were but one sperm for each ovum? * (13) The duck-hunter uses shot instead of a bullet because it enhances the probability of hitting his target. In fact, his hope is that most of the pellets will miss the duck. But the 'scientific account' of a successful shot would suggest that the bird fell because one of the pellets happened to strike it in a vital organ. This is true; but is this all there is to it, when the plain purpose of a charge of many pellets was to ensure that one should strike? * (14)
Once it is recognised that chance can be put at the service of intelligence - a question still remains as to whether some features of the natural world demand an intelligent designer in order to be fully explained. * (15)
-The accustomed move is to maintain that there is present in nature an order to an end which involves a complexity which could not result from the simple crossing of paths.
-The standard response of those arguing against design is to say that a complex order can result from the accumulationof small chance changes alone.
-One could counter that these changes have to be coordinated, the blind addition of chance results does not give a coherent whole - a coordinator is needed for that.
-In response to that, a variety of strategies are adopted. Sometimes natural phenomena which appear to be genuinely amenable to being explained through chance processes are pointed to, such as are cases of micro-evolution, Darwin's finches, for instance. The theory of allopatric speciation is extremely plausible as an explanation of the origin of these finches: A group gets geographically separated from parent group (it flies to an island); it has a more limited gene pool and somewhat different environmental challenges than the parent stock, and so it is apt to evolve into a new species. At other times, and most often when giving explanations of how certain parts originated at the level of macroevolution, the anti-design advocates present what amount to just-so stories. For example, an account of the origin of feathers in birds was that elongated scales on a reptile's limbs supposedly helped it to catch insects, and through the generations the scales got longer and longer until, voilà, the creature was flying a few feet. And sometimes those who are anti-design will refuse the possibility of design without having any alternative in place, not even a just-so story. This is especially the case of the origin of life, where scientists are quite in the dark as to how this happened, and yet many remain confident that it happened without a designer, but by natural causes alone.
-In response to these tactics, the other side comes back to insist that there are gaps which in principle cannot be accounted for by natural causes, or at least not very readily. E.g., Michael Behe in Darwin's Black Box * (16) maintains that at present no one is close to showing how the biochemical pathways needed in living things arose. Moreover, the factors in these pathways are so interdependent that if one of them is missing, the function will be lost, and so the gap between functional and non-functional cannot be bridged gradually. And Michael Denton in Evolution a Theory in Crisis argues that neo-Darwinism cannot explain the existence of the different phyla because of the major differences in their body plans. Denton gives various arguments * (17) for why the gap between the body plans of organisms as different as a jellyfish and a fish is too big to be filled in gradually.
The 'gap' argument takes at least two forms. I intend to see if either of them, as elaborated by contemporary authors, allows for salvaging Paley. Behe and Denton are proponents of one form, and I'll limit myself to examining Behe, after which I will consider the other form of gap argument, looking to John Haldane.
Behe argues that instances of what he calls "irreducible complexity" cannot be explained without a designer. * (18) He defines "irreducible complexity" as the order of parts of a system to a goal when all of the parts are necessary for the attainment of that goal. * (19) The reason that an irreducibly complex system requires a designer is that if one part is missing or maladjusted the whole cannot function, and thus the origin of the whole cannot be explained by the accumulation of chance variations, for natural selection would not retain them, each variation of itself being useless or even deleterious. To give a simplified example of the sort of thing he is talking about: Blood clotting requires a determinate amount of substances activated at the right time and at the right speed. If any factor is missing or if the timing is not right death might ensue, for either the blood would clot so much that it would clog the blood vessel cutting off circulation, or not clot enough to prevent bleeding to death. Similarly in many other biochemical systems: a mutation which simply produced one of the factors and not the others would either be of no use to the organism, or to the extent it was produced in an unregulated fashion would be liable to be detrimental to it. Since gradualism cannot explain the existence of such biochemical systems, Behe maintains that the only reasonable alternative is intervention by an intelligent designer. Behe suggests more specifically that God installs the programs, so to speak, for the biochemical pathways of all future organisms in the first cell which he directly makes, some of the programs being turned on at a later point in time. (There are regulator genes which activate other gene complexes, and so this is not entirely farfetched).
Behe then is basically favourable to Paley's argument. However, he finds a need to revamp it because Paley gave examples of design which seem to admit of adequate explanation in gradualist terms. E.g., Behe concedes that an adequate account of the gross anatomy of the eye is possible in Darwinian terms, accepting as plausible the following scenario:
Some single-celled animals have a light-sensitive spot with a little pigment behind it. The screen shields it from light coming from one direction, which gives it some 'idea' of where the light is coming from. Among many-celled animals...the pigment-backed light-sensitive cells are set in a little cup. This gives slightly better direction-finding capability.... Now, if you make a cup very deep and turn the sides over, you eventually make a lenless pinhole camera. [Etc.] * (20)
Behe maintains that it is only when one looks at the biochemistry of the eye that one realises that neo-Darwinism cannot fully explain the eye's origin, for it is only at that level that one finds clear-cut instances of irreducibility.
Of course, Behe's opponents come back and ask: There are examples of irreducible complexity at the level of gross anatomy which admit of a gradualist explanation - what is so special about irreducible complexity at the biochemical level which precludes the possibility of similar explanation? For instance, the bones in the mammalian ear certainly seem to form an irreducibly complex system, and at first sight it seems that there is no way the system could have risen gradually from the reptilian lower jaw. What would the intermediary animal have done, lacking properly functional jaws, and being as yet unable to hear? But then a fossil was discovered with a double articulation of the jaw joint - an adaptation that would allow the animal both to eat and hear during the transition, enabling natural selection to favour each of the intermediate stages. * (21) So if at first sight it seems difficult to find intermediary biochemical systems, it is far from being certain that it is impossible to do so.
I think, however, that both Behe and his opponents are on the wrong track. They fail to distinguish the need for causes which physically produce the object from causes responsible for the plan. Planning and actually constructing may be found in one agent, but need not be. The architect may never touch the house, but is certainly responsible for its construction; whereas the artisans who actually assemble the house may have no idea of its overall layout, but simply follow instructions. One might legitimately ask: Are those who deny design doing so simply because they have found agents which account for the house's completed assembly? Are those who are trying to defend design, seeking to show that there are no natural causes capable of assembling the effect so that a Designer has to directly intervene?
Perhaps the watch-maker model Paley uses unwittingly fuels the ambiguity: Paley's watchmaker not only designs the watch, but puts it together. Hume notes the ambiguity of "contrive", * (22) a word virtually synonymous with design, when he asks whether the supposed maker of Paley's watch on the heath is necessarily intelligent, and is not just some ignorant artisan following instructions. However, even if the watchmaker is simply following instructions, there do have to be instructions, and they must have come from somewhere. * (23)
I think it is easy to make the mistake of conflating "contrive" in the sense of plan with "contrive" in the sense of assemble according to a plan, partly because they often are found together, partly because there may be reason to conclude that ultimately they must coincide in the same being. Aquinas, for one, argues that demiurges cannot be responsible for the initial condition of matter, * (24) and this suggests that the designer and producer of the original matter of the universe will be the same. (I think that anthropic arguments conclude to a designer-producer.)
Paley does not always speak in terms of direct assembly, but in certain cases acknowledges intermediary causes, e.g., God need not assemble each offspring, the parents are responsible for their generation (38). Even if Paley conflates designer with fabricator in his conclusion, the core of his argument is not affected to the extent that there is a necessary connection between ordering to an end and a mind that orders.
A further point regarding Behe's explanation is that it 'detracts from the order of the universe,' as Aquinas would put it. It is as if God is intelligent enough to make the first cell, but not intelligent enough to design the universe from things constituted in such a way that cells developed from them by natural processes. * (25) Put in other terms: Behe's God can make things to be, but is limited in his ability to communicate causality to creatures. From Behe's perspective, if science were to fill the gaps, the need for God would diminish in proportion. However, the use of intermediary causes does not indicate a God who is less intelligent and powerful than one who would make things directly, but one who is more intelligent and powerful. Getting non-intelligent beings to participate in the production of the world is more difficult than doing everything oneself - one has to design the instruments (the elements) themselves in such a way as to allow them to share in this task. Another way of putting it is that just as forming students so well that they are not only knowledgeable, but also capable of teaching others shows greater ability than only making them knowledgeable, so too making things not only to be, but to be causes shows greater power. * (26) That some of the intermediary causes be chance causes does not immediately discredit the intelligence of the designer, since chance can be put at the service of intelligence.
In sum, I think that Behe makes an unnecessary concession, and that it is in the interest of those who contentiously seek to defeat his conclusion not to point it out: The discovery of things adequate for assembling something does not do away with the need for a designer, and this is true whether the 'assembler' causes act determinately or indeterminately, gradualistically or in a saltational fashion - a planner may still be needed. * (27) * (28)
To turn now to the other sort of 'gaps' argument. John Haldane's approach to refuting neo-Darwinism is to point to gaps in the order in the universe (between non-living and living; non-reproducing and reproducing; non-mental and mental), an argument which turns on the need for sufficient efficient causality to explain the increasing perfection found at the higher levels of being. I do not think that all authors who present this argument think themselves to be presenting some form of the design argument; however, John Haldane presents it in the chapter entitled "Old Teleology", * (29) and Paley also says things which seem to be in this line. The argument from design, however, is an argument from the presence of the order of means to ends in the world to the need for a mind as the only sufficient efficient cause of the ordering of the former to the latter. Haldane's argument is that efficient causes which exist at a lower level of being do not have the power to generate something at a higher level of being. This may or may not prove a good way to argue to God's existence as an agent supplying what natural agents cannot, but whether it does or not it is not a design argument. Thus, I will add here but a brief Thomistic aside.
One might note that while Aquinas holds that God's efficient causality is required for created things to remain in existence, he sees no need for God's special intervention for the production of the forms of non-human living things, and even from non-living matter, the reason being that the organisms' activities indicate that their forms or souls are material forms; and thus they exist as a potency of matter to which correspond material agents capable of actualizing them. * (30)
It is said in Genesis I:20: 'The waters produced the reptile having a living soul'; and so it seems that the sensitive souls of reptiles and other animals are from the action of the corporeal elements." "Souls of this sort do not exceed the principles of natural things. And this is manifest from considering the operation of them. * (31)
Aquinas then would hold that non-human life could be made in a test tube from the appropriate elements by the application of the appropriate agents - something which Paley denies (322, cited below).
One gap, however, which I think does allow one to conclude to the existence of God is that between physical processes and the human soul. I have often wondered why Aquinas does not offer such a proof. * (32) Perhaps because the conclusion of such an argument would be: "There exists an immaterial cause responsible for the human soul. But is this what we mean by God? In any case, this conclusion does not provide much by way of a middle term for knowing the nature of that cause, whether it is one, good, omniscient, etc. (In passing, nor does the design argument seem to provide such a middle term, at least judging from the fact that Aquinas uses it, at most, in the case of one attribute, namely, God's oneness.)
So far, then, neither gap approach has shown itself adequate to reanimating the argument from design, and we are left with the question: What kind of effects demand a planner at a higher level, and cannot be just a sum of chance events?
What if one left out of Behe's argument the unnecessary false dichotomy: natural gradualist 'constructor' causes vs. designer, and simply considered the position that irreducible complexity (the ordering of a multiplicity of parts to an end) requires a designer? There seems to be something obvious about this. Aquinas speaks of how this is what goaded the early philosophers to posit an intelligent efficient cause, instead of material causes alone:
[T]hat thing to which nature is able to extend according to essential proper principles is not to that extent in need of being determined by some other, but that thing for which proper principles do not suffice. Whence the Philosophers were not led to posit the work of nature to be the work of intelligence from operations which belong to hot and cold of themselves; because to those things even those positing natural things to happen from the necessity of the matter were accustomed to reduce all works of nature. However, they were led from those operations to which the virtues of hot and cold and qualities of this sort are not able to suffice; such as from members ordered in the body of an animal in such a manner that the nature is preserved. * (33)
The proper adjustment of elements so that the animal has members ordered in such a way that it survives doesn't sound much different from Behe's irreducible complexity. Would Aquinas then maintain that the balance of hot and cold in animals had to be set directly by God for the animals' parts to be functional, and that it could not come about through random mixing? Though in some places he answers yes, * (34) it appears that in those places Aquinas is simplifying matters, * (35) for where he examines things in more detail, he answers in the negative:
[N]othing prevents a certain generation to be per se when referred to one cause, which nevertheless is per accidens and of a chance nature (casualis) when referred to another cause, as is manifest in the Philosopher's example. For it is outside the intention of the masseuse that health be obtained, whereas health itself, if it is referred to nature which rules the body is not per accidens but intended per se. If indeed it is referred to the intellect of the masseuse, it will be per accidens and casual. Similarly even in the generation of animals generated from putrefaction; if it is referred to particular causes, acting here at the lower level, it is found to be per accidens and casual. For heat which causes putridness does not tend by its natural appetite to the generation of this or that animal which follows from putrefaction, as the virtue which is from the seed does intend the production of such a species. But if it is referred to the heavenly power which is the universal virtue ruling generation and corruption in these lower things, this is not per accidens, but per se intended; because it belongs to its intention that all the forms which are in the potency of matter be drawn (educantur) into act. And thus Aristotle here rightly assimilates those things which become from art to those things which become from nature. * (36)
What is chance at a lower level can fall under intention at a higher level; chance mixing is a way of actualizing natural potentials which otherwise would not be actualized if things acted uniformly without encountering any impediments. Put more simply, chance is a source of novelty. * (37)
If this is an acceptable position, avoiding as it does the false dichotomy between chance and purpose, it is hard to see how it is different from Empedocles' position, or from the modern variation on Empedocles, namely: that the right 'pre-biotic soup mix' for cooking up living things was hit upon by chance, and out organisms came, and were retained or eliminated according to natural selection or (material necessity). Aquinas and Paley both reject Empedocles, but at this point we have not considered exactly what they object to.
Paley does not examine Empedocles' account as such, but does address another naturalistic account of evolution which seems to share at least one element in common with it:
As to the theory that matter has a tendency to acquire certain forms (wings, etc.): 'I am unwilling to give to [this theory] the name of an atheistic scheme, for two reasons; first, because, so far as I am able to understand it, the original propensities and the numberless varieties of them (so different, in this respect, from the laws of mechanical nature, which are few and simple) are in the plan itself, attributed to the ordination and appointment of an intelligent and designing Creator.... (322)
The design in natural things is brought about by non-conscious agents: e.g., genes code for the liver, and the liver produces bile. Once science figures out how the one is produced by the other, the need for a designer tends to get forgotten. There is no reason for it to be forgotten, which is one reason why Paley does not want to call the hypothesis of the elements tending to form into organisms an 'atheistic scheme.' A second reason that Paley gives is:
because, likewise, that large postulatum, which is all along assumed and presupposed, the faculty in living bodies of producing other bodies organised like themselves, seems to be referred to the same cause; at least is not attempted to be accounted for by any other. (322)
As noted earlier, Paley acknowledges the role of intermediary causes: parents are causes of their offspring. Paley does not think that acknowledging this provides ammunition to those wishing to eliminate the need for design, for the parents cannot account for the design in the offspring. Why, then, does an explanation in terms of other intermediary causes cause him to think that he would have to give up calling upon an intelligence to explain the design or order in the effects? Here is his answer:
In one important respect, however, the theory before us coincides with atheistic systems, viz., in that, in the formation of plants and animals, in the structure and use of their parts, it does away with final causes. Instead of the parts of a plant or animal, or the particular structure of the parts, having been intended for the action or the use to which we see them applied, according to this theory they have themselves grown out of that action, sprung from that use. The theory therefore dispenses with that which we insist upon, the necessity, in each particular case, of an intelligent, designing, mind, for the contriving and determining of the forms which organised bodies bear. (322, 323)
Paley is addressing a Larmarckian version of evolution, where the parts are held to develop by themselves in function of their use and disuse, rather than coming already well-fitted for their task; e.g., giraffes got their long necks from stretching short ones to get high-up leaves, rather than coming equipped with long ones so they could do so readily, and mutatis mutandis with the camel's hump. * (38) It is not entirely clear whether the imperfectly functional organs arise as something nature tends to produce (which the first part of Paley's text seems to suggest) or whether incipient organs pop up at random. If we assume that Paley is addressing the position that nature tends to produce the organs that are only imperfectly functional, up to the point that they are functional, it seems that they are a product of intelligence. It is only the manner in which they are perfected that does not seem purposeful; and this seems to be why Paley says that this scenario does away with final causes - why aren't they produced in the perfected state from the start?
An alternate reading of how Paley understands the imperfect organs to arise is Empedocles' position. Instead of a prior goal in function of which the parts are adjusted, the parts spring up for no definite purpose as a result of random mixing, and when they happen to serve a purpose, they eventually become more suited to it through use. Their function is not something intended, though it ends up appearing "as if" it were intended.
One might ask, however, whether it is necessarily the case that a part which appears at random is in no manner intended? Again one must avoid needlessly opposing design and randomness. I think doing so is a natural mistake to the extent that it is hard to look at things from the perspective different from that in which we are accustomed to seeing them. What we in fact observe is that like gives birth to like, and that parts of animals do not randomly sprout up, and birth defects are contrary to the norm. What reason is there to believe that it was different in the past? What possible advantage would there be if it were different?
It is only when one becomes convinced that new species arise and generally have to fit into a new environment, the demands of which are not something which the organism has a means of preparing for that one can readily see that the random production of parts is advantageous, and repetition of the same is not. Until you adopt this perspective, * (39) parts arising randomly certainly would seem vain and wasteful, and one's experience of nature is not that it does much that is vain and wasteful. * (40) This inclines one to wonder if one couldn't accept everything Empedocles says except the denial of design.
Paley concludes his critique of a naturalistic explanation of evolution with the following comment:
Give our philosopher these appetencies; give him a portion of living irritable matter (a nerve, or the clipping of a nerve) to work upon; give also to his incipient or progressive forms, the power, in every stage of their alteration, of propagating their like; and, if he is to be believed, he could replenish the world with all the vegetable and animal productions which we at present see in it. (323)
Paley deems unreasonable the possibility that humans reproduce in the laboratory what nature does, though it is not clear whether he thinks that it is the ingenuity or the power that is lacking (or both). If the latter is so, his position is reminiscent of the other gaps-type argument where life is thought to be incapable of arising naturally from what is non-living, and therefore to reproduce this process artificially is out of the question.
So Paley himself here is not much help when it comes to answering Empedocles' objections to his argument from design. If we travel back in time, could Paley perhaps be salvaged retrogressively by Aquinas?
Everything that does not have a determinate causes, happens by chance. Whence it would be necessary according to the position stated that all harmony and usefulness which are found in things would be chance; which Empedocles in fact posited, saying that it happened by chance that through friendship the parts of animals were assembled so that the animal would be able to be preserved, and that this happened many times.
This, however, cannot be: for those things which happen by chance come about in the fewer number of cases; we see, however, harmony and usefulness to happen in the works of nature either always or for the most part; whence it cannot be that they happen by chance; and so it is necessary that they proceed from the intention of an end.
But that which lacks intellect or knowledge is not able to tend to an end, unless through some knowledge fixing the end for it and directing it to it; whence it is necessary since natural things lack knowledge that some intellect pre-exists which orders natural things to an end, in the manner in which an archer gives the arrow a certain motion, so that it tends to a determinate end; whence, as the piercing which comes to be through the arrow is not only said to be the work of the arrow, but of the one projecting it, so too every work of nature is said by the philosophers to be a work of intelligence. * (41)
What this text seems to indicate is that regardless of whether or not chance can produce any result whatsoever in principle, the manner in which chance brings about an effect is not that in which natural things generally come about (and so the actual effects found in nature are not fully explained by chance).
Chance does not bring about its effect by determinate means. Digging graves is not a determinate way of coming upon buried treasure, though one has a chance of doing so, which is not the case if one flies planes or writes plays. In chance happenings there is some order between cause and chance effect; but it is not a determinate order. It is not, however, that obvious how the notion of chance applies to the pre-biotic soup scenario. It is not apparent that the elements were aiming at one thing, and ended up as parts of a living thing by chance. It is also not evident that one could not have expected the soup to eventually form and produce life of necessity like a century plant producing flowers.
In any case, even if the original soup was formed by chance, its composition would not be chance because it would have a recipe which if followed would give the same results. The situation seems just another case of something which the first time it happens can be considered chance, but when it happens repeatedly can no longer be so viewed. One might make Madeira by accident, and if one never got it again while on a wine-shipping voyage, one would think that the one time was luck. However, if one noticed that every time the ship got caught in the doldrums one got Madeira, one would realize it wasn't just luck, and if further one realized that the per se causes of the wine's being turned into Madeira is gentle rocking under high temperature, then making it by those means would plainly not be luck. Chance causes cannot be relied on to give the same effect. So the first time things get mixed into the proper soup and life emerges might be chance, but when genes code for the proteins that make up the organisms over and over again, one is no longer dealing with chance. I think that Aquinas would agree with such an analysis, for he says:
It happens, however, that for the sake of which something becomes sometimes happens by luck, when it is not done for the sake of it; as if someone came from the outside and returned bathed, we would say that this was by luck, because he so acted that he ought to be bathed, as if he had come on account of it, which nevertheless he did not come for; whence it was accidental (secundum accidens) that he was bathed: for luck is numbered among the accidental causes as was said earlier. But if this always or frequently happened to the one who came, this would not be said to by luck. * (42)
What is outside one's intention is arrived at in the fewer number of cases; for what is always or frequently conjoined to an effect falls under the same intention. For it is stupid to say that someone intends something and does not want what is frequently or always conjoined with it. * (43)
One intentionally uses trial and error to discover something, and when one first hits upon that thing, one hits upon it by chance. Yet plainly the result one gets every time one repeats that process thereafter is not chance. (This is why Denton makes the mistake of saying that the airplane was "the result of only the most rigorous application of all the rules which govern function.") Nor is it chance that the recipe or protocol is retained, for that was what was intentionally sought through trial and error. Going back to a passage cited earlier ( In goal. #1403) Aquinas maintained that an organism could be produced from a seed as from a per se cause or from putrefaction as from a per accidens cause. I doubt that he envisaged the possibility that an individual of a new species first arise from putrefaction, the generations after it being produced by reproduction. However, if he were to, he would see it as in keeping with principles of nature already known to him.
Here, however, it should be noted that Empedocles and Aquinas do not understand chance to be quite the same thing. Chance, for Aquinas, implies that something was aiming at one goal, and end up attaining some other goal, either in place of or in addition to it. I do not know if Empedocles would acknowledge tendencies in the elements or whether he envisages them uniting in a purely random way, anything with anything, as happens when one deals out hands of cards. Another thing to note is that comprehension of the design argument seems to require determining whether chance and randomness are different, and, if so, exactly how they are different.
Empedocles and Aquinas seem to at least agree that an organism cannot be constituted in just any way and meet the demands of the environment. Perhaps then the way to settle the question of whether there is or is not design in nature is not by examining chance, but by examining necessity. For from what we have seen neither chance nor randomness are necessarily incompatible with design, and indeed they sometimes seem to suggest design, as in the case of the shotgun. Yet we have been unable to establish some criteria by which we could unambiguously know there must also be design in addition to chance or randomness.
Before we turn to very briefly examine necessity, I'd like to look one last time at whether there may be things which chance cannot be the immediate cause of, for maybe after all the solution of the design question lies in the correct analysis of chance. Another text from Aquinas, and the analysis a number of people have made of an analogy Richard Dawkins gives contribute to my state of doubt. First, the text from Aquinas:
It is, however, impossible that something not knowing an end operate for the sake of the end, and arrive at it in an orderly way, unless it is moved by someone having knowledge of the end, as an arrow is directed to its mark by an archer. * (44)
Bringing about an end in an orderly way is something chance does not do, but further it seems impossible that a meaningful result be brought about in an orderly way without its being known as an end. If one doesn't know what the target is, one won't be able to figure out how to most efficaciously hit it. Chance has no target. That is why it does not hit it in the most efficacious manner: One doesn't need a ship in order to make Madeira; one doesn't best find a husband by driving to the mall in a poorly maintained car. Maybe chance could stumble upon the right order in the case of something very simple, but anything complex seems beyond it. * (45) If the difference between making different two things were one step, by making one mistake one could hit upon the exact steps for making the other thing; but if the differences were more than that, the chances of making just the 'right' mistakes seem slim to non-existent.
Another hesitation I have as to conceding that the production of all organic parts and pathways lies within the power of chance as an immediate cause is this: For the purposes of defending the notion that random variation and natural selection can account for evolution, Dawkins presents an analogy with computers which purportedly shows that blind processes can give a complex meaningful result. What he says is this: Take a sentence such as 'Methinks it is a weasel', and try to get a computer to come up with it by randomly producing letters. It is easy to see that a computer would never manage to do it in any reasonable amount of time, if ever at all. Next he says, say that one programmed the computer to retain each of the randomly produced letters when it comes up in the right place; then it wouldn't take all that long for the computer to come up with the sentence. Dawkins says that natural selection, a blind force, is analogous to the computer's retaining the correct letters. Now as many authors have pointed out, the meaningful result is not arrived at by pure randomness, but by use of intelligence which devised the algorithm that was subsequently programmed into the computer, so that the computer would retain the correct letters. Moreover, Dawkins' comparison of this computer scenario to natural selection is flawed, for since natural selection cannot foresee the future, it cannot retain mutations which might be of value in the future. But what it and other Dawkinesque scenarios (such as the biomorphs) * (46) point to is if one wants to get a meaningful result, one has to immediately sneak intelligence in somewhere.
So I still wonder whether chance can be the sole immediate cause of just anything. Maybe my problem stems from failing to acknowledge that chance always presupposes a framework of necessity. There is an order between chance cause and chance effect; chance is not the same as coincidence (e.g., taking a shower and the moon undergoing eclipse). Perhaps we tend to underestimate the extent to which material necessity provides a framework which is directive of chance. If matter indeed tends to form, and to the most perfect form possible; if things do tend to become more complex over time, as the evolution of the universe and of life seem to indicate, that chance account for why the complexification takes the form of these organisms rather than others does not seem to me a reason for wanting to eliminate it in an explanation of the origin of the species. * (47) The element of intelligence requisite for the production of the parts of animals seems hidden because we tend to take material necessity for granted, while therein lies the need for a designer. Furthermore, the ability to inject surprise in a situation also reveals mind - some have compared the universe to a piece of good music.
To summarize then, there are two general tacks to support design: one is to establish reasons that certain natural phenomena cannot come about by chance as an immediate cause, and therefore must be due to design, since it is the only other alternative; the second is to point out that chance and design are not mutually exclusive, and that further chance is factually accompanied by necessity, and that necessity needs an explanation which brings in intelligent design. I think, however, that even before necessity is looked at in detail, the order in the parts of animals is sufficient of itself to compel us to posit a designer. I suspect that Paley is right to insist that on the basis of the eye alone one would have to posit intelligence behind nature:
Were there no example in the world of contrivance except that of the eye, it would be alone sufficient to support the conclusion which we draw from it, as to the necessity of an intelligent Creator. ... [E]ven if other parts of nature...presented nothing to our examination but disorder and confusion, the validity of this would remain the same. * (48)
In a way this seems a daring statement, but is it really any more than an illustration of the principle evident to the wise and perhaps to all that the order of finality (determinate means to a determinate end) finds an adequate explanation only when one brings in mind? A cause must be proportioned to its effect - one can't get something from nothing, or order from chaos as from an efficient cause.
But there is just the rub: Chance events do seem to give one something for nothing a treasure, a bath, a free lunch without any effort on one's part. Yet, if one contemplates the task of preparing a series of models of organisms, starting with one that was unicellular and ending with man, each of which would be a take-off on the previous one, and all of which would be functional, one realises that it would take enormous intelligence to do this. Can one really believe that it could just happen by chance? And that is why it seems one could settle the design question simply by looking to the order itself, even before one located at what stage the design was introduced and by what means it was realised. So I am inclined to think that design in nature is evident, and that examining necessity allows us to see more clearly, but not more certainly the need for a designer.
I will close now with a brief overview of how examination of material necessity supports the argument from design. The fact that random processes can result in living things arising from non-living things presupposes the existence of not just any sort of matter, but one which has the potency to be formed into living things. Further, not just any sort of agents will do, but there must be ones apt to impart the appropriate forms to the appropriate matter. * (49) In addition, in order for the supposedly randomly formed living things to survive and reproduce, there must be a habitat favourable to them, and the possibility of its development also needs explanation. Just as it is luck that one gets a royal flush, but not that one can get it - the deck is designed that way, so too it may be luck that this or that organism appear, but it cannot be luck that it is able to appear. * (50) And this is true even if there are many universes. For even if the combination of factors which gives our universe its life-bearing potential have been 'dealt' into it alone, and not to any others, these factors still must have a specific design if they are to make life possible. * (51) If there are no queens and kings, having five billion cards games going instead of just one still won't get one any closer to drawing a royal flush. * (52)
Aquinas often argues that the living realm cannot be the result of chance because chance is rare ( DV 5.2 above). I used to think that this meant to exclude chance from playing a role in the production of natural things, but I am now convinced that this is a misreading of Aquinas. Rather, he is simply pointing to our experience that while chance events do occur, for the most part nature tends to produce results in an orderly way, * (53) something which only finds an adequate explanation in being in some way "programmed" to act thus. Indeed, our experience of nature is that it is "just as if the master shipbuilder could impart to the wood something from which it could move itself to taking on the form of the ship." * (54) And this, rather than a desire to completely exclude chance, leads Aquinas to say that "nature is nothing other than the plan (ratio) of a certain art, namely, the divine, inscribed in things, by which things themselves move to a determinate end." * (55) Aquinas parts ways with Empedocles when Empedocles fails to account for the regular production of what is good in things. Still, Aquinas holds that 'chance loves art', * (56) and so in nature there is both divine art, and its loving companion, chance.
I will leave off with this discussion of necessity and design, one which surely needs more careful development. I hope, however, to have given a fair overview of the various attempts to salvage Paley's argument from design.
SCG I 13: Adhuc etiam inducitur a Damasceno alia ratio sumpta ex rerum gubernatione; quam etiam innuit Commentator in secundo Physicorum. Et est talis: Impossibile est aliqua contraria et dissonantia in unum ordinem concordare semper vel pluries, nisi alicuius gubernatione, ex qua omnibus et singuli tribuitur, ut ad certum finem tendant; sed in mundo videmus res diversarum naturarum in unum ordinem concordare, non ut raro et a casu, sed ut semper vel in majori parte. Oportet ergo esse aliquid, cuius providentia mundus gubernetur; et hoc dicimus Deum.
SCG I 13: For proving that God exists one can also adduce from Damascene another argument taken from the governance of things; which the Commentator also mentions in the second book of the Physics. And the argument is this: It is impossible that things which are contrary and dissonant concord in one order always or for the most part, except by the government of someone, from which is assigned to each and every thing that it tend to a certain end; but we see in the world things of diverse natures agree in one order, not rarely and by chance, but always or for the most part. It is therefore necessary that there be something (aliquid) the providence of which governs the world; and this we call God.
- D.L. Mahieu, The Mind of William Paley (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1976), 30.
- Christian de Duve, Vital Dust (New York: Basic Books, 1995), 239.
- In Decem Libros Ethicorum Aristotelis ad Nicomachum Expositio, #255: "in practical sciences...it is necessary to know by which motions a given effect follows from a given cause, it does not suffice to know what the cause of the effect is".
- Note that there can be order to an end in processes as well as in parts; for the sake of simplicity I'll speak in terms of the parts.
- This definition was originally formulated by Aristotle in Physics, Bk II, c. 5. A more accurate paraphrase would be: chance is a per accidens cause of things in the realm of purpose which happen in the fewer number of cases.
- Compendium Theologiae in Opuscula Theologica, Vol. I, ed. Raymundi A Verardo, O.P. (Rome: Marietti, 1954), 137. (Hereafter cited as Comp. Theo.)
- Summa Theologiae Ed. Instituti Studiorum Medievalium Ottaviensis. (Ottawa: Commissio Piana, 1953), I 116.1: "For nothing prohibits that which is per accidens to be taken as one by some intellect; otherwise the intellect could not form this proposition: 'The one digging a grave finds a treasure.' And just as the intellect can apprehend this, so too it is able to bring it about: as would be the case if someone knowing that a treasure was hidden in a certain place, would incite some peasant ignorant of this to dig a grave there. And thus nothing prevents those things which here are done per accidens, as luck and chance events, to be reduced to some ordering cause which acts through intellect...." (Hereafter cited as ST.)
- William Paley, Natural Theology, (1802) (Houston: St. Thomas Press, 1972), 45.
- Cf. Summa Contra Gentiles, ed. C. Pera, O.P. et al. (Turin: Marietti, 1961), III 73. Hereafter cited as SCG.
- Cf. ST I 103.4 ad 1.
- Cf. Charles De Koninck, "Réflexions sur le problème de l'indéterminisme," in Revue Thomiste, XLIII, 100.2 juillet-sept 1937, 251, 252.
- Charles De Koninck, manuscript 193.10 in De Koninck Archives, 56.
- The advantages of randomness is seen in the way that white blood cells produce antibodies. They do so by randomly mixing pieces of genes to produce millions of different antibodies. One among the many random combinations is inevitably the right one. This kind of system working by random processes plainly has better chances of producing antibodies to deal with new mutant strains of germs than a system which produced determinate types of antibodies according to fixed rules.
- Charles De Koninck, The Hollow Universe, (Québec: Les Presses de l'Université Laval, 1964), 106.
- Answering this question supposes the answer to a prior question: What kind of effect demands planning at some level in order to be fully explained?
- Michael Behe, Darwin's Black Box (New York: Simon and Schuster,1996).
- Denton, for example, points out the absence of intermediaries in the fossil record. Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethseda, MD: Adler & Adler, 1986).
- Cf. Natural Theology, 186 where Paley uses the word 'relations' to express the same idea as irreducible complexity .
- Cf. Behe, op. cit., 39: "By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning".
- Behe, op. cit., 37. This is Richard Dawkins' paraphrase of Darwin.
- Cf. Kenneth Miller's review of Behe's book in Creation/Evolution, 16.2, 1996, 37, 38.
- Webster's New World Dictionary, 1980: contrive: 1a devise, plan b to form or create in an artistic or ingenious manner.
- Cf. David Hume, Dialogues concerning Natural Religion in The English Philosophers from Bacon to Mill, ed. Edwin A. Burtt (New York: Random House, 1939), part 5, 718: "But were this world ever so perfect a production, it must still remain uncertain, whether all the excellences of the work can justly ascribed to the workman. If we survey a ship, what an exalted idea we form of the ingenuity of the carpenter, who framed so complicated, useful, and beautiful a machine? And what surprise must we feel, when we find him a stupid mechanic, who imitated others, and copied an art, which, through a long succession of ages, after multiplied trials, mistakes, corrections, deliberations, and controversies, had been gradually improving". If the plan is imperfect is it still a plan and requires intelligence, as does correctly applying new elements of universal knowledge, even if these elementes were discovered by trial and error or by mistake.
- Cf. Quaestiones Disputatae de Potentia, 3.5 and SCG II 16.
- Cf. SCG III 70. A similar criticism could be leveled against Denton who seems to imply that the major body plans must be directly made by God.
- Cf. SCG III 97: "But in this that a premeditated order is imposed on things, the providence of governing is so much more worthy and perfect according as it is more univeral, and it unfolds its premeditated plan through more ministers, because even the disposition itself of ministers plays a large part in the forseen order".
- Cf. The Evidence of Purpose, ed. John Marks Templeton (New York: Continuum, 1994), 171: "One [network herring] is the idea that an extracosmic intelligence is (only) an alternate efficient cause. Teleological hypotheses do not concern an agent that acts in gaps between natural processes, but rather, one who directs them. Of course, an event without physical cause would clearly support the existence of an immaterial entity able to act as a cause, but a 'miracle' in that sense is not a proof that the 'whole show' is governed".
- Another variation on gaps reasoning is the argument that the genetic code, (which is certainly for the sake of something), cannot be the result of natural processes because it, like any code, spells things out in many arbitrary ways, rather than in one determinate way, while known natural processes, such as that involved in the formation of crystals, operate in a uniform manner, giving the same results. Cf. Nancy R. Pearcey, "DNA: The Message in the Message," inFirst Things, June/July 1996, 13, 14.
- Cf. J.J.C Smart and J.J. Haldane, Atheism and Theism, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), 119: "Assuming a history of development, these differences [between the inanimate and the animate; the non-reproductive and the reproductive; and the non-mental and the mental] involve a series of ascents giving rise to explanatory gaps in evolutionary theory.
- Quaestiones Disputatae de Potentia, 3.11, sc and corpus. There is more difficulty in maintaining this position than might first seem; what I am suggesting here would have to be more carefully thought out. A few of the numerous passages which are pertinent are: ST 71.unicus ad 1 and In Duodecim Libros Metaphysicorum Aristotelis Expositio, Ed. Raymundi M. Spiazzi, O.P. (Rome: Marietti, 1950), #1401: [T]o the extent that something is more perfect, to that extent more things are needed for its completion. And for this reason the power of the heavens alone suffices for the producing of plants and imperfect animals. Whence it is said in II Phy. that man generates man, and so does the sun. (Hereafter cited as In goal.) One might understand this to be saying that it takes more power to get what is more perfect, but this power to move is found in nature. It should also be noted that Aquinas does not find unreasonable Augustine's notion that the initial creation was like seeds as it were from which other beings would develop later on in time. Cf. Augustine,De Genesi ad Litteram (6.1.2): "But from the beginning of the ages, when day was made, the world is said to have been formed, and in its elements at he same times there were laid away the creatures that would later spring forth with the passage of time, plants and animals, each according to its kind".
- Cf. ST I 73.1 ad 3: "New species, if such appear, preexist in certain active powers even as animals generated from putrefaction are produced from the powers of the stars and of the elements which they receive their beginning from, even if new species of such animals are produced. For some animals according to a new species even sometimes arise from the mixing of animals diverse in species, as the mule is generated from the ass and the horse....".
- Perhaps it is because the immateriality of the human soul is less manifest than the presence of motion and of contingency in the world.
- Quaestiones Disputatae de Potentia, q. 2, art. 3, ad 5. Cf. In goal. #98: "For a good disposition and ability of this sort, which certain things already have, and certain obtain through some process of making, it is not adequate that fire or earth or any body of this sort be posited as its cause: For these bodies act in a manner determined to one according to the necessity of their proper forms, as fire heats and tends upwards, while water cools and tends downwards. The said useful features and good dispositions of things requires having a cause which is not determined to one alone, since in diverse animals the parts are diversely disposed, and in each according as befits their nature".
- In his commentary on the Metaphysics ( In goal. #99) Aquinas says that this order cannot come about by chance, because chance cannot account for what happens for the most part (and for the most part the elements in animals organs are properly balanced), and thus this must be the result of intelligence (#100).
- Cf. SCG III 54 where Aquinas, after giving the comparison of the arrow and the archer concludes that: "it is necessary that the whole operation of nature be ordered from some knowledge, and this certainly must mediately or immediately be brought back to God". (emphasis mine)
- In goal. #1403. However, sometimes Aquinas is not so confident in nature's ability to bring about certain adjustments. For example, he thought that God had to set the sun and moon and earth in their proper places ( In Psalmos, Ps. 8, #3 Leonine edition).
- Cf. Charles De Koninck, "Abstraction from Matter," Part III, Laval Théologique et Philosophique, 187: "Must we refuse to see that if nature did not resort to random mutations, new species would not arise." Cf. also, Arthur Peacocke,Theology in an Age of Science, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), 117 and 120: "Instead of being daunted by the role of chance in genetic mutations as being the manifestation of irrationality in the universe, it would be more consistent with the observations to assert that the full gamut of the potentialities of living matter could be explored only through the agency of the rapid and frequent randomization which is possible at the molecular level of the DNA." "...D.J. Bartholomew has urged that God and chance are not only logically compatible...but that there are 'positive reasons for supposing that an element of pure chance would play a constructive role in creating a richer environment than would otherwise be possible'. He argues the 'chance offers the potential Creator many advantages which it is difficult to envisage being obtained in any other way.' Since in many natural processes, often utilized by human beings, chance processes can in fact lead to determinate ends, for many of the laws of nature are statistical, 'there is every reason to suppose that a Creator wishing to achieve certain ends might choose to reach them by introducing random processes whose macro-behavior would have the desired character.' "
- Cf. Natural Theology, 326.
- Aquinas in contrast to Paley adopts a developmental perspective for two reasons: First Sacred Scripture seems to indicate it, and secondly spontaneous generation was believed to occur. De Koninck of course had evidence for evolution, and also had the genius to hit upon examples such as the shotgun to demonstrate that random processes can have utility for intelligent agents.
- Cf. Aristotle, Parts of Animals, Loeb edition, 687a10: "nature like a sensible human being, always assigns an organ to the animal that can use it...." Cf. also, 685a8: "that something of the kind really exists--that, in fact, which we call 'nature,' because in fact we do not find any chance creature being formed from a particular seed...nor does any chance seed come from any chance individual. Therefore the individual from which the seed comes is the source and the efficient agent of that which comes out of the seed." Cf. also, 684a27: "nature always gives things to those able to use them."
- Quaestiones Disputatae de Veritate, in Quaestiones Disputatae. Vol. I. Raymundi M. Spiazzi, O.P. (Turin: Marietti, 1964), 5.2. Other places where Aquinas addresses Empedocles' position are In Octo Libros de Physico Auditu Commentaria. Ed. P.M. Maggiolo, O.P. (Rome: Marietti, 1954), Bk. II, lec. 12, #252-254 and In goal. #98 (mentioned in note 5 above). I find that the discussion in the Physics ends abruptly after pointing out a faulty comparison which Empedocles makes.
- In Phy. #267. Cf. In Phy., #215.
- In Phy. #215.
- SCG III 54. Cf. also In Phy. #250.
- Cf. In goal., #1441: "And this chiefly happens in all things in which it happens that something may come about thus and [also] otherwise, when it does not happen by luck, i.e., when it happens that the same effect can come to be non-fortuitously from diverse causes. For example, someone is able to enter a house not by luck so that he may be saved from the hand of the enemy, or that he may eat, or that he may rest. Whence if by intending one of these things another comes about, this will be by luck. But a house and a statue do not come to be except through the same causes; and therefore it does not happen that such things come about by luck."
- The biomorphs, supposedly a product of blind forces, are actually due to rules already in the computer plus selection by humans. They are also non-functional, a secondary reason for wondering about the value of the comparison.
- Was Aristotle perhaps so concerned to eliminate the apparently vain element in Empedocles account of living nature that he unnecessarily pitted chance against design, and let this distract him from more closely examining material necessity?
- Natural Theology, 55, 56. Cf. also, 55: "The proof is not a conclusion, which lies at the end of a chain of reasoning, of which chain each instance of contrivance is only a link, and of which, if one link fails, the whole falls; but it is an argument separately supplied by every separate example. An error in stating an example affects only the example. The argument is cumulative in the fullest sense of that term. The eye proves it without the ear; the ear without the eye. The proof in each example is complete; for when the design of the part, and the conduciveness of its structure to that design, is shewn, the mind may set itself at rest: no future consideration can detract any thing from the force of the example." Aquinas says in commentary on the Physics (#252) that the opponents of finality in nature attempt to attack it where it appears to be most manifest, i.e., in the parts of animals.
- I think that this argument is basically the same as anthropic arguments, the difference being that the latter speak about the need for fine-tuning of specific values allowing for the apparition of life, whereas the former argument sticks to generalities - there must be built into matter the ability to produce the ordered world which we observe.
- Another thing which would seem to call for design is to explain why the universe has a rate of random occurrences which is not so high as there to result in too much chaos for evolution to occur, nor on the one hand so low that too little novelty would arise. One can draw a parallel with the number of digits the lottery numbers can have for the game to be interesting: If everyone won, the lottery would go broke in a hurry, whereas if some one won on the average only once every hundred years, no one would buy tickets.
- Cf. Arthur Peacocke, Theology for a Scientific Age, 109: Whatever the constraints and framework of goal-laws and supervening relations that operate in bringing about the range constituting any postulated ensemble of universes, they must be of such a kind as to enable in one of the universes ( this one) the combination of parameters, fundamental constants, etc., to be such that living organisms, including ourselves, could come into existence in some corner of it. So, on this argument, it is as significant that the ensemble of universes should be of such a kind that persons have emerged as it would be if ours were the only universe. Whether our purview is that of the present cosmos...or of the whole range of a hypothetical ensemble of universes, it is still a striking fact that the conditions were such on this planet Earth, in this galaxy, in this universe, for living organisms and self-conscious persons to come into existence. The fact is that it has happened at least one, here, and was thus among the range of potentialities of the whole natural order, whether this extends over many universes or only this one. Hence any argument for theism based on 'anthropic' considerations may be conducted independently of the question of whether or not this is the only universe".
- The Many World Interpretation of the Anthropic Principle maintains that it is not surprising that our universe is hospitable to life, because it is one among an infinite number of worlds. However, as M.A. Corey points out that: "[The MWI] fails to consider where the original matter for these worlds came from and how it initially came to possess the miraculous quality of self-organization "realized in our world""; secondly, there is no physical evidence for this theory; and finally: "It is far too complicated and burdensome an explanation". Multiplying worlds is not going to explain the order in this world. God and the New Cosmology, (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1993), 175, 176.
- Cf. In Phy. #204: "something is not generated from just any seed, but from one determinate seed a man comes to be, and from another determinate seed, an olive."
- In Phy. #268.
- In Phy. #268: "natura nihil est aliud quam ratio cuiusdam artis, sci. divinae, indita rebus, qua ipsae res moventur ad finem determinatum: sicut si artifex factor navis posset lignis tribuere quod ex se ipsis moverantur ad navis formam inducendam."
- Cf. In goal. #1403 (cited earlier) and NE #1159.