The Argument From Design Versus the Ontological and Kalam Cosmological Arguments

The Argument From Design, one of the most famous arguments in support of God’s existence, points to the machine-like complexity of many aspects of nature to indicate that God, as its sole creator, designed the universe with purpose and intention. Its premises are as follows:

  1. Many natural objects appear to have been designed for a purpose.
  2. Natural objects are ultimately the product of an intelligent creator.
  3. Therefore, it is reasonable that God exists.

According to Gideon Rosen from the Department of Philosophy at Princeton University, The Argument From Design relies on what is evident to the senses and on reasoning imbedded in common sense and scientific thinking. This makes it more difficult for rational atheists and agnostics to argue, as they would be debating empirical information. Contrastingly, the Ontological and Kalam Cosmological Arguments do not rely on the senses for proof, so those in disagreement are more likely to question these arguments’ rationality.

Anselm’s Ontological Argument aims to be a priori proof of God’s existence as its premises don’t depend upon objective truths to justify them. This argument concerns those who recognize the claim of God’s existence, but do not believe in Him. Anselm aimed to expose the inconsistency in this position, as he sees the content’s of one’s understanding as ideas that are existing. Therefore, God exists in one’s understanding if they are familiar with the idea of God. He exists in the understanding as a being greater than any other. God can be conceived to exist in reality, as one is able to think of a case in which theism would be true. It is greater for a thing to exist in reality than for it to exist in one’s understanding alone. We, according to Rosen, “seem forced” to conclude that an unsurpassable being can be perceived to be greater than it really is, but to Anselm, this notion is “impossible.” Anselm’s argument closes with the conclusion that it must be true that God exists in reality as well as one’s understanding.

The existence of a starting point of the universe is controversial, as it was thought for a long time that it was infinite. The Kalam Cosmological Argument uses a philosophical approach to disprove the concept of infinity in this case and show that the universe had a beginning. It is constructed by William Lane Craig in his book The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe as follows: 

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of existence.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of existence.

To support the second premise of the universe having had a starting point, Craig provides two separate arguments regarding the concept of infinity.

1. An actual infinity cannot exist. A part of an infinity equals a whole of an infinity because both the part and the whole are infinite. Adding one infinity to another infinity “leads to absurdities” (Craig). An occurrence of an infinite set of events happening before a moment in time is impossible.

2. An actual infinity cannot be formed. History is created by adding events onto others that have already occurred. Adding events to history is always possible, so it is potential that the universe could be infinite, but it could never be an actual infinity.

Thus, the universe has a beginning, and God as the First Mover created it. This is stated in the very first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). It is also implied that God is independent of the universe, as “…the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him”(2 Chronicles 2:6).

Both the Ontological and Kalam Cosmological Arguments are consistent with the Argument From Design in that they prove God as the Creator of the universe, yet they accomplish this in different ways. The Argument from Design utilizes objective truths to prove its premises while the Ontological and Kalam Cosmological arguments draw upon subjective truths and logic to prove themselves. This is why the Argument from Design is much less likely to be disproved, as it points to what is inevitably true to the senses.

-AEC

Sources Cited:

Rosen, Gideon. “The Argument from Design.” Princeton University. The Trustees of Princeton University, n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

Rosen, Gideon. “The Ontological Argument.” Princeton University. The Trustees of Princeton University, n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

Craig, William Lane. “The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe.”The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2017

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