The Evolution of Intelligent Design Arguments

Niall Shanks

in God, the Devil, and Darwin

Published in print February 2004 | ISBN: 9780195161991
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835058 | DOI:
 The Evolution of Intelligent Design Arguments

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Two versions of the argument from design are distinguished: first, the argument that organisms exhibit design (biological design); and second, the argument that the universe as a whole does (cosmological design). The history of the argument is traced from its roots in pre-Christian times with Aristotle, through its medieval expression by Aquinas to its heyday in the early modern period with the rise of modern science. Paley’s presentation of the argument is discussed in the light of the scientific knowledge of the time. The criticisms of Kant, who argued that the argument establishes at best the existence of a demiurge working with preexisting materials, and Hume, who argued that other equally plausible explanations of apparent design in nature are available, are noted.

Keywords: Aquinas; argument from design; Aristotle; Hume; Kant; Paley

Chapter.  12325 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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