Home > atheism, philosophy, religion > An Atheist’s Perspective: Being Part IV of an In-Depth Look at the Argument from Design

An Atheist’s Perspective: Being Part IV of an In-Depth Look at the Argument from Design

Having done away with the idea that accomplishment as an adjective that can be applied to something like, “all that is.” We can reformulate the argument from design as an argument against the existence of an omnipotent being as follows: if there exists a being that has the ability to create everything, then to call that act an accomplishment means that there was some difficulty that was overcome. If there was a difficulty then the creating being cannot be considered omnipotent.

This week we tackle another problem with the AfD (argument from design). This problem will be labeled the problem of gradient. Part of the argument lies in analogy (which we covered last post) of which a subset is this new gradient problem. The gradient problem is that we are going from something that fits in the hand to something of which the hand is a part of. If the watch is complex then the universe must be infinitely more complex by virtue of its vastness (i.e. the hand is inside the universe). The gradient issue lives on the back of an appeal to common sense, which we all know is neither common nor is it usually sensical. Big things awe us, big things are impressive, but big things are not any more complex than small things. The water that falls as it spills over a rock one inch downward can be explained by the same rules which govern the immense Niagara Falls. The existence of a Megaladon is fearsome but it is no more threatening than its smaller descendant the Great White Shark. As Yoda explained to us in Empire the only difference is in our minds. We can use clockwork as an example as well; the principles by which a pocket watch runs are the same principles by which all clocks no matter their size run. The difference, it must be stressed, is only in scale.

Gravity works in small things as well as in large. The rules which describe the evolution of animals over time apply equally to tabby cats as well as their tiger cousins. Merely to claim that complexity, ingenuity, and intelligence exists because a thing is large is spurious at best. To claim that more intelligence is needed because a thing is larger than another is an abject falsehood that is nearly impossible to support with evidence, either rationally or empirically. The only thing that larger artifacts require is more energy in creating them. Building 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue took no more mental work than building the apartment that I live in, it just took more people, material, and time. Certain intellectual problems do need to be solved in making larger objects, but coming up with the idea of them is not the issue. Only the problem of manufacture is.

The size difference is merely accidental. What we need is an essential difference, something that once changed shifts the very being of the thing which we are considering. This type of analogy may not actually be possible because it would require us to think outside of our own reality. Ultimately the point is that this difference in scale does nothing to prove that a grand intelligence must be the source of all that is. This argument does not do the necessary work.

  1. September 24, 2013 at 3:39 am

    I like this argument.

    • rdxdave
      October 29, 2013 at 1:58 am

      My argument against or the design argument itself? I’m taking a guess based on your name that it is the former rather than the latter.

      • October 29, 2013 at 2:45 am

        The argument against 😉

      • rdxdave
        October 29, 2013 at 11:59 pm

        Thanks for the compliment. I think it’s one of the better counters myself.

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