Evolution and Design III: I Make a Concession

I think Danny Shahar and I have actually gotten somewhere, which may be a first for a Facebook discussion. I see I should make a concession, and perhaps Kevin Vallier should modify his original hypothesis: If one's design argument for God was a god-of-the-gaps type of argument, then Darwinism significantly weakens that argument. So, here is the Shane Battier analogy: I say, "Battier must be some kind of wizard, who willed that ball into the hoop, because that shot defied the laws of physics!" If you then show me that, no, the shot obeyed those laws in all respects, my case is significantly weakened, if not wiped out. So if someone is forwarding a design argument that runs, "These creatures we see around us are such that only miracles could have created them," then, yes, that design argument is wrecked by Darwinism. I had just never thought of the argument from design in that way myself, although I now see that there surely are people who do. (But any major theistic philosopher? Not that I know of.)


  1. Dawkins discusses the argument quite a bit in The Blind Watchmaker. It's been a few years since I read the book, but presents it as an argument that was treated very seriously in the 19th century with some textual evidence. Other evolution advocates bring it up very frequently.

    1. Ryan, here's what Kevin Vallier, who kicked off this discussion, and has been deeply researching this history, has to say about this:

      "I think the reason people insist that Darwinian evolution seems to significantly alter the probabilistic judgment a rational person would make from observing nature is that they have a picture of pre-Darwinian views about nature among British intellectual elites that is false. And I think that's interesting. It's a way that atheists like Dawkins and Dennett have presented Darwin in order to make him seem more revolutionary than he was and to support Darwin hagiography."

      Dawkins may be an excellent biologist, but he is a terrible historian of thought.

  2. I looked it up and the person Dawkins was referring to was William Paley. I don't have that particular book in front of me, but according to Dennett, "Paley's influential version was the actual inspiration and target of Darwin's rebuttal..."


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