Re: [asa] The argument against the argument against design

From: Bill Powers <>
Date: Fri May 29 2009 - 16:02:19 EDT


I am aware that since Plantinga's Free Will Defence and Mackie's failed
arguments regarding problem of evil that such arguments have taken a
probabalistic turn. So that arguments against God existence, etc. are
regarded as more likely than the contrary.

The argument I formulated (in the heat of discussion) was not well
thought out and meant to be vague and nonspecific.

I had in mind something like:

1) Necessarily, if a world were designed, it would be generally free of
2) The world has many flaws (e.g., too much evil, a poorly designed eye)
3) Therefore the world is not designed.

I could see such an argument be couched in probabilistic terms.

What would probabilistic contexts do to my argument?

The conclusion that I come to is that every world could possibly be

I suppose couched in probablistic terms, I would have to conclude that
it is more likely than not that every world could possibly be designed.

That could be incorrect. But it's all the time I have right now to think
about it.



Fri, 29 May 2009,
Chris Barden wrote:

> Bill,
> The argument against design I am more familiar with is probabilistic
> and could be considered as follows:
> 1) If this world is designed, then properties P1-n obtain (scenario S1).
> 2) If this world is not designed, then properties P1-n obtain because
> of ... (scenarios S2-m).
> 3) P1-n obtain.
> 4) m is a large number.
> 5) Therefore, it is much more likely that P1-n obtain due to scenarios
> S2-m than due to scenario S1.
> I was wondering if you could provide a real-life example of your
> formulation of an argument against design, as it seems different from
> the ones I am familiar with.
> Chris
> On Wed, May 27, 2009 at 10:11 AM, wjp <> wrote:
>> Terry et al. have presented an argument, or perhaps I might say
>> a scenario, which purports to cohere a world designed by God
>> and yet ruled by chance and necessity.
>> I here use this scenario to offer an argument against what I
>> will call the argument against design.
>> It is an argument much like Plantinga's Free Will Defense.
>> Consider the argument against design as going something like
>> this:
>> 1) Necessarily if a world W is designed, W will have property P.
>> 2) Property P does not obtain in this world.
>> 3) Therefore, This world is not designed.
>> To defeat this argument all we need show is that it is possible
>> that a world W could be designed and not possess property P.
>> In order to defeat this argument against design,
>> we need not argue that world W obtains, nor that W is the
>> actual world (this world).
>> 1) Suppose there is an all powerful designer D with perfect foreknowledge F
>> and free will.
>> 2) By premise (2) above, there is a world W in which P does not obtain.
>> 3) Because of F the designer D can foresee all the events and properties
>> of world W.
>> 4) Because D is all powerful and free, D can freely choose to realize
>> any possible world.
>> 5) To design something is to be able to freely choose to bring something
>> into being.
>> 6) To freely bring something into being entails that it would be possible
>> for the agent to not bring it into being.
>> 7) The designer D freely decides to realize world W
>> knowing it does not possess property P,
>> even though D could have realized a world where property P obtains.
>> 8) Therefore, world W is designed.
>> 9) Hence, it is possible for a world W with property P to be designed.
>> 10) Hence, there is no property P such that if that world were designed
>> that it would have to have property P.
>> 11) Hence, any possible world could have been designed.
>> Note, that this argument defeats also the argument that if
>> a world W is designed, then necessarily W has property P.
>> It does not, however, affect an argument from design that might
>> argue that necessarily if P obtains, then W is designed.
>> bill
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Received on Fri May 29 16:03:11 2009

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