Christian Video Response: Designer Regression

In this 5 minute video, Dr. William Lane Craig attempts to refute the argument made by Richard Dawkins that using a god to explain where the universe came from leads to an infinite regress of even more complicated gods. This argument can be found in Chapter 4 of The God Delusion, but it is introduced at the very end of Chapter 3.

The basis of Craig’s refutation is that “In order to recognize that an explanation is the best, you don’t have to be able to explain the explanation.”

It is true that explaining one thing doesn’t necessarily require explaining its precursor. For example evolution is perfectly acceptable even if we are entirely wrong about the origins of the universe.

It is also true that intelligent life on Earth does not necessitate an intelligent designer. If we believe that it does, then adding that requirement also adds the requirement of an intelligent designer to our designer because we have concluded that the best possible explanation for intelligent life is an intelligent designer.

Although he talks about intelligent design being the best explanation for the universe, his argument is not convincing. He compares the universe to an archaeological find on Earth and says that it would be ridiculous for archaeologists to attribute arrow heads to anything but an intelligent designer (in this case humans), and therefore it would be ridiculous to attribute what he sees as the appearance of design in nature to anything but an intelligent designer.

The problem is, unlike archaeology, we are dealing with something that we have a severely limited knowledge and understanding of.

We see arrow heads all over the world today and far back into history. We know that people make them, and we do not believe that any other life on this planet (apart from some of our closest relatives such as Neanderthals) has produced similar tools, so it is a reasonably safe assumption that arrow heads we find will be intelligently designed, usually by homo sapiens.

Even this has pitfalls though. It is not uncommon for people to find things that they believe to be ancient tools, and then find that the attribution of design is very questionable. Sometimes a strangely shaped rock is just a strangely shaped rock.

Crystals are another good example. If we hadn’t seen crystals before and we dug one up, we would be very tempted to believe that they were carved by intelligent beings, but they were not. They are formed by natural processes which we understand very well.

According to our understanding of the universe, there does have to be an explanation for everything, even if we have no idea what it is. However, to believe that we can find the truth through sheer speculation on what we feel is the best explanation for the entire universe is staggeringly arrogant and silly.

To say that God is so great in every way that we can’t even imagine what He is like is essentially to say that we have no idea what this God explanation really is or where it came from. That is no better than saying “The multiverse is infinite and has always existed.”

The root of this problem lies not in requiring an infinite regression of explanations for everything we explain, but in laying down the specific set of requirements that creationists (AKA intelligent design proponents) use.

If we say that something which has the appearance of design to us and which seems to us unlikely to form naturally is best explained by a designer, then that designer will also have the appearance of design and be unlikely to form naturally. This is the crux of the issue, and the place where Dr. Craig completely misses the point. From there on he is arguing against a straw man.

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About Kazz

My name is Shawn Esplin and I am an advocate of Free Thought and general good sense and thought in general. To that end, I encourage people to seriously question the things that they have been taught, especially as children, because many of these things - religious and secular - are taken on faith until we actively choose to seriously examine them for ourselves.

One thought on “Christian Video Response: Designer Regression

  1. You don’t have to explain the explanation? Really? An archeologist would document how the artifacts look and compare them to others of the same time. This would be to search for who or perhaps a new one. That is the effort of science.

    Also, looking for an explanation is what science is all about. Explaining what doesn’t exactly fit. Just saying God for it requires no insight just simple hubris.

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