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The teleological argument is defined as follows:

The teleological argument (from τέλος, telos, 'end, aim, goal'; also known as physico-theological argument, argument from design, or intelligent design argument) is an argument for the existence of God or, more generally, that complex functionality in the natural world which looks designed is evidence of an intelligent creator.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleological_argument

I'm aware of at least two Bible passages that seem to resonate a lot with the teleological argument:

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1 NKJV)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:18-25 NKJV)

However, secular mainstream science tells us a different story from the theistic one, emphasizing naturalistic explanations such as abiogenesis and evolution. This perspective excludes the notion of an intelligent creator, largely due to science's steadfast commitment to methodological naturalism. Advocates of this naturalistic approach in scientific research argue that supernatural explanations are not viable because they cannot be tested, falsified, or subjected to empirical investigation.

Moreover, there are atheists like Richard Dawkins who champion the theory of evolution as their trump card against the teleological argument:

"Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist."

Richard Dawkins (2015). “The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design”, p.18, W. W. Norton & Company

In response to the question Is the teleological argument for God completely refuted?, this answer asserts:

The teleological argument is effectively dead. The last gasp at it was by William Dembski and Michael Behe with "irreducible complexity" (the intellectual core of the intelligent design movement), and they simply failed to understand the actual problem and/or came up with handwaving to state that certain things were impossible, when in fact they were not only possible but there were examples of them.

That evolution provides the mechanism to produce all the complexity of life seen today is no longer in serious doubt; and that simple physical laws suffice to produce all the complexity of the universe is also no longer in serious doubt. The only area not completely nailed down is fine-tuning of universal constants, and that makes for an incredibly weak teleological argument since all we know about reality with different constants is that our familiar physics doesn't work. We cannot predict whether there'd be some other complex physical reality admitting evolution, so we can't tell if the numbers are actually finely tuned and thus whether we should be surprised by them.

Or in response to the question How does the theory of evolution make it less likely that the world is designed?, the most upvoted answer states:

When Laplace wrote his Newtonian, materialist explanation of the universe, Napoleon asked him where God fit into the scheme. "I have no need of that hypothesis, Sire," was Laplace's famous reply.

Your question is fair enough, but employs a common misrepresentation of science. You can take any scientific theory and then add on God, as if inviting a "plus one." Many scientists do, but only on their own time, so to speak.

To jettison redundant hypotheses is simply a critical working scientific convention, wielding Ockham's razor. You can always add God back in, but not into the published, peer-reviewed science.

If you want to use God as part of your causal explanation of physical events, you must offer some experimental way to falsify that hypothesis. And this is where believers usually have a problem.

Exactly what repeatable experiment would falsify the God hypothesis? A non-biased, double-blind series of unanswered prayers? It is not so much that evolution "disproves" God. It is simply that it offers a compelling, verifiable explanation of observations that does not require God.

If some scientists do indeed seem hostile to the idea of God, it is more properly a hostility towards undecidable claims that muddy the waters, subvert the scientific method, and then tend to backload a lot of moral implications and assertions.

Even concerning abiogenesis, whose evidential support is arguably much weaker than that of neo-Darwinism, we encounter statements such as the following:

Is abiogenesis proven?

No. It is not proven.

Regarding evidence, we know there was a time when Earth did not have life, now it does. So life did get started somehow. There is no evidence of intelligent agency involved and no other problem in science has been solved by invoking non-human intelligence. Thus the operating assumption is that OOL was a natural event.

As to how it can happen, that is an open and active area of research. And while it hasn't been solved there are promising avenues of research.

Could God have done it? We can't say he couldn't have, but there is no reason to think he did.

Source: Is abiogenesis proven? - r/DebateEvolution

In an era where the teleological argument for God encounters significant challenges from advocates of abiogenesis and evolution, how do Christians who present it navigate these obstacles to make the argument more intellectually compelling to those who don't believe in God?

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    A Christian's job is not to 'convince a skeptic in the existence of God'. A Christian's job is to present the gospel of God's grace as accurately as possible to others. Belief in God is from someone's own conscience. The message from God, from the Spirit, found in God's Word (the Bible), is where Christ's ambassadors (ministers of God's reconciliation) come in. Many Christians do take on the role of 'proving God's existence', but literal "proof" is not possible due to faith being the requirement to please God. Think of Abraham. He believed God and that was "counted to him for righteousness". Commented Jun 9 at 7:29
  • @MarkVestal Are you aware of this: gotquestions.org/evidential-apologetics.html & gotquestions.org/classical-apologetics.html ?
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 9 at 7:33
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    I suggest that inviting prospective penitents to reading Romans Chapters 1 to 3, would be a good idea. And I agree with @MarkVestal.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 9 at 7:39
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    No, but I'm aware of this: Roman's 8:24-25 "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." 1 Cor 2:4-5 "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." 1 Cor 2:16 "For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ." Commented Jun 9 at 7:47
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    "Science's steadfast commitment to methodological naturalism". It is, at the very beginning and throughout, a philosophical and theological divergence. One way is to place a can of soda down in front of the person and declare that no intelligence was behind it's production. Commented Jun 9 at 12:41

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This post will offer some general comments on teleological arguments, and then review the counter-arguments point by point.


General comments


One of the engaging features of teleological arguments for an intelligent creator is that they get stronger the more we learn about reality.

This is in contradistinction to "gap" hypotheses, which identify something we don't know and argue that this thing we don't know is space that is filled by a preferred explanation (e.g. "god of the gaps" = we don't know how it happened so we'll assume a divine explanation is best, or "naturalism of the gaps" = we don't know how it happened so we'll assume a naturalistic explanation is best).

In Darwin's day precious little was known about the inner-workings of the cell. The more humans learn about cells, the more we recognize the magnitude & complexity of the changes that Darwin proposed. Believing in an evolutionary theory which postulates that all of the information in cells resulted from random changes, and that all of inner-workings of the cell resulted from naturalistic processes, requires a much greater suspension of disbelief today than a belief in naturalistic evolution required in 1859.

Teleological arguments from the order in the heavens have been made for thousands of years (examples in 2.34 here and 30.44 here). Yet the order that has to be explained has become extraordinarily more complex with modern discoveries in gravitation, electromagnetism, nuclear forces, etc. The ancients saw a delicate balance in the movements in the skies--but had no idea just how delicate.

As the order that needs to be explained has grown, the need (among those disinclined to believe in an intelligent creator) for ever-more-improbable competing explanations has grown as well. One example should suffice to show how far one has to reach to avoid the hypothesis of an intelligent creator.

A bridge too far?

The principal naturalistic alternative to the fine-tuning of the universe by an intelligent creator is the belief in a multiverse, and to be more precise, a very specific type of multiverse, in which every possible outcome happens somewhere. As it relates to teleology, the argument is that yes, the constants of our universe are indeed extraordinarily improbable, but with an infinite number of universes a universe like ours would occur somewhere. Of course, this is not supported by empirical evidence and is non-falsifiable, and so it is more properly described as a philosophical theory than a scientific theory. The mechanism for the origin of the infinite number of postulated universes is itself a matter of intense speculation. But let's run with this for a minute....

If everything possible happens somewhere, then it is reasonable to expect that somewhere in the multiverse there are intelligent beings who have sufficiently mastered gene editing that they can stop the process of aging. And that somewhere in the multiverse there are intelligent beings who have such command of medicine that they can defeat any infection, cancerous growth, etc. And that somewhere in the multiverse there are intelligent beings who have developed mind-to-mind communication techniques (heck with implants we may not be too far off on this one). And beings that have developed efficient inter-stellar travel, and beings who have the energy & technology to form planets, and beings who can do things that look as miraculous to us as a cell phone would look to Oliver Cromwell. And so on.

And if each of these is individually possible and none of these technologies absolutely preclude the others, then somewhere in the multiverse there are intelligent beings who have developed all of the items described above. To people on this planet, such beings would be indistinguishable from the intelligent creator invoked by many teleological arguments.

In a great irony, then, in a non-scientific effort to explain creation without the creator, proponents of the many-worlds multiverse end up with some form of a creator somewhere anyway.

Avoiding the creator at any price

Additionally, the many-worlds multiverse offers a Faustian bargain, wherein one accepts that every single non-zero-improbable claim imaginable (and plenty we can't imagine too)--including the claim that you just won the lottery 1,000 times in a row, an infant verbally explained to you the math behind general relativity, then you defeated an army of Orcs while riding a pterodactyl, manually drove coast to coast at interstate speeds with your eyes closed without mishap, and upon arrival a shower of meteorites landed directly in front of you creating small craters that spelled out one of Shakespeare's plays in Morse code. After which you unfortunately got struck by lightning and attacked by a shark at the same time--all of that in combination is true somewhere, and must be accepted in order to get around the belief that one particular, undesired, commonplace claim is true: the universe looks designed because it was designed.

Contrast with a hypothesis that is falsifiable

Contrast all of this with a design hypothesis, such as one which argues abductively from our uniform and repeated experience with specified complexity that DNA--containing a greater density of specified complexity than any code humans have ever written--was also designed. And many design hypotheses are falsifiable: e.g. it would take only one naturally-occurring example of specified complexity to falsify the hypothesis that specified complexity comes only via design.

When archeologists find 3 rocks stacked together or 3 parallel lines etched in stone--both of which are many orders of magnitude simpler than cells & universes--they rightly entertain design as a plausible, scientific hypothesis to be evaluated side-by-side with other hypotheses. Discomfort with the implications should not prevent us from being just as open-minded in considering design in other contexts.

Metaphysical naturalism is not a scientific finding, but a dogma. When its supporters insist on removing other worldviews from consideration before evaluating the evidence, one cannot help but wonder if they do so out of concern that metaphysical naturalism could never compete without stacking the deck.


Response to competing arguments


(Quotes in italics, my comments in plain text)

The teleological argument is effectively dead. The last gasp at it was by William Dembski and Michael Behe

There have in fact been numerous works published in the years since, including a number of the books/articles listed here. It is remarkable how often ideas that are pronounced "dead" by their opponents keep walking around and eating into the monopolies of so-called "living" hypotheses. Beware the undead hypotheses...(cue spooky zombie music).

In politics and academia (do I repeat myself?) "the matter is settled" is code for "the matter is controversial and our position is too weak to defend with arguments".

they simply failed to understand the actual problem

This one cuts both ways, and is regularly employed as such.

came up with handwaving to state that certain things were impossible

Improbable != Impossible. Proponents of intelligent design regularly present probability arguments instead of waving their hands (example).

when in fact they were not only possible but there were examples of them

This actually does come across as hand-waving. The matter would be easily settled if one clear example of naturally-occurring irreducible complexity could be specifically identified; this would be a much more reasonable way to challenge Dembski & Behe's work.

That evolution provides the mechanism to produce all the complexity of life seen today is no longer in serious doubt; and that simple physical laws suffice to produce all the complexity of the universe is also no longer in serious doubt.

Not in serious doubt among those who have already decided to accept metaphysical naturalism a priori (see above), thus precluding the consideration of alternatives. "There is no flaw in the theory of evolution" (that's an actual statement I have encountered) is a statement of dogma, not science.

The only area not completely nailed down is fine-tuning of universal constants, and that makes for an incredibly weak teleological argument

On the contrary, it's usually considered to be the strongest form of the teleological argument.

since all we know about reality with different constants is that our familiar physics doesn't work. We cannot predict whether there'd be some other complex physical reality admitting evolution, so we can't tell if the numbers are actually finely tuned and thus whether we should be surprised by them.

We know rather more than this. The would-be result of many theoretical constants can be simulated and for almost all values, the results aren't favorable to the formation of basic elements, let alone complex life. The fine-tuning argument doesn't argue that no other constants would work, but rather, that the viable constants represent so small a portion of the plausible sequence space that an appeal to chance cannot reasonably be faced.

The proposal that there may be some other highly-probable but entirely different physical system out there that we don't know anything about is entirely ad-hoc, and it is a naturalism-of-the-gaps effort to avoid following the evidence where it leads.

"I have no need of that hypothesis, Sire," was Laplace's famous reply.

I wonder if he is more interested in that hypothesis now, 197 years after his death?

You can take any scientific theory and then add on God, as if inviting a "plus one."

That is not what teleological arguments do. Furthermore, identifying the mechanism by which something happens does not necessarily explain why it happens. To understand how an airplane flies, study aerodynamics. To understand why airplanes exist, read up on the designers.

You can always add God back in, but not into the published, peer-reviewed science.

Only because excluding God a priori is the practice scientific publications have chosen to adopt. That's not a statement on what's true, just a methodological decision.

If you want to use God as part of your causal explanation of physical events, you must offer some experimental way to falsify that hypothesis.

This is likewise a methodological rule, not a truth statement. And as discussed above, a sizeable portion of those who reject design appeal to a multiverse hypothesis, which cannot be experimentally falsified.

And this is where believers usually have a problem.

I have no problem at all with the idea that there is a God who wishes to be directly discovered through revelation rather than scientific inquiry, and was in fact interested in providing core eternal truths to people who lived prior to the scientific revolution.

Exactly what repeatable experiment would falsify the God hypothesis?...etc.

While some specific claims about God are falsifiable, a very general hypothesis that there is a God is not falsifiable. As noted above, God set up a system in which scientific inquiry was not the primary means of coming to know Him or His intentions.

The author of the counterargument is appealing to verificationism here. E.g. "you should only believe things which can be demonstrated by science". The trouble is, that statement cannot be demonstrated by science and so, by its own claim, shouldn't be believed.

If some scientists do indeed seem hostile to the idea of God, it is more properly a hostility towards undecidable claims that muddy the waters, subvert the scientific method...

Sure there have been foolish claims made in the name of religion, but there have been foolish claims made in the name of science too, because humans (who sometimes do foolish things) are the interpreters of both. A scientist would not be hostile to the very idea of God if pursuing truth wherever it leads is the goal. A scientist may be hostile to the idea of God if defending a particular worldview is the goal.

backload a lot of moral implications and assertions

Those pesky moral precepts! I have observed that many people do indeed reject God because they want to do things that God has commanded people not to do.

There is no evidence of intelligent agency involved

Only if we exclude intelligent agency as a possibility before looking at the evidence. Wouldn't it be awkward if we categorically ruled out considering intelligent agency, and it turned out that life was seeded on earth naturalistically by intelligent aliens?

no other problem in science has been solved by invoking non-human intelligence

Explain the existence of beaver lodges.


Conclusion


One of the objections raised was Could God have done it? We can't say he couldn't have, but there is no reason to think he did.

Christians, on the other hand, believe that the heavens do indeed declare the glory of God, but that God didn't leave the matter there. Christians believe God has intentionally, directly, and repeatedly revealed Himself to mankind, and that knowledge of Him and from Him is possible through the Holy Spirit.

How do Christians present the teleological argument for God's existence in an era where abiogenesis and evolution are so widely accepted?

Given the implications that God's existence carries, Christians are not surprised that great efforts are made to justify disbelief in God's existence (no matter how far-fetched--see the reductio ad absurdum above on using the many-worlds multiverse to deny a creator). Someone who absolutely does not want to believe in God isn't going to do so regardless of the evidence provided.

But the teleological argument is not an argument for the Christian God, it is an argument for an intelligent creator. And it is not a deductive proof, it is a probabilistic argument.

People who reject design when it comes to life or the universe regularly recognize and accept design (rejecting the chance hypothesis) every day in ordinary events--even where the probability of chance is much, much higher. Yet when the chance hypothesis is so weak that it cannot reasonably be faced, but the implications of design may be uncomfortable, somehow the calculus changes.

The OP acknowledged that This perspective excludes the notion of an intelligent creator, largely due to science's steadfast commitment to methodological naturalism, and therein lies the rub. Methodological naturalism can be a practical approach to many specific problems, but it is not useful as a means to justify a commitment to metaphysical naturalism. If one is pre-committed to a method that will not consider a supernatural cause, then one will never find a supernatural cause using that method.

Many Christians consider an a priori commitment to reject the supernatural-- regardless of any evidence and reason to the contrary--to be irrational. We live in an era where abiogenesis and evolution are widely accepted--that's true--but if the arguments to get to a naturalistic conclusion have to invoke naturalism as a methodological or logical premise, then using this as a basis for disbelief in the supernatural/God/creator is but a large-scale exercise in circular reasoning.

"We can show that there is no reason to believe in a creator, as long as we're allowed to start with that as a premise" has a probability of zero of producing a valid result. Teleology does quite a bit better than 0.

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    Excellent comprehensive answer. Upvoted and accepted.
    – Mark
    Commented yesterday
  • We know rather more than this. The would-be result of many theoretical constants can be simulated and for almost all values, the results aren't favorable to the formation of basic elements, let alone complex life. - This seems to be a powerful rebuttal. However, it would be much better if it were supported by citations. Do you happen to remember some?
    – Mark
    Commented yesterday
  • By the way, I'm excited to see the kind of responses this question will elicit.
    – Mark
    Commented yesterday
  • Any thoughts on these objections?
    – Mark
    Commented 5 hours ago
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Quite simply, the teleological argument makes sense. We know that complex systems consisting of many interacting parts can be designed; after all, humans do that all the time. We don't have evidence that such systems can arise through gradual modification in living beings, because this has never been observed. ("Genetic algorithms" aren't "proof" that it's possible, because they don't require an insanely complex living organism that functions and can reproduce itself at each step. All genetic algorithms really demonstrate is that a semi-directed walk of a many-dimensional search space is capable of finding points of local optimality. Moreover, it's questionable whether their "fitness functions" bear any meaningful relation to biological natural selection.)

Those asserting that we do have such evidence can usually be found to be arguing in circles, to be invoking the Holmesian fallacy (that is, asserting that "evolution" must be capable of creating life as we observe it because they have excluded alternative explanations, such as Intelligent Design, on philosophical grounds), or both.

This perspective [is committed] to methodological naturalism.

Correct, and such commitment is a form of circular reasoning and is logically unsound. Rejecting possible explanations a priori, on philosophical grounds, will result in incorrect explanations if those other explanations happen to be true. Such individuals will typically try to justify such commitment using one of two arguments:

  1. "Naturalism is almost always correct." This is true... but it's also consistent with Intelligent Design... and if such an argument were applied generally, Relativity would not be accepted. Moreover, consider a rock sitting in a field. According to natural law, rocks don't defy gravity. What do we say, then, when we find rocks stacked in a pile? Do we insist it is a property of rocks to naturally stack themselves thusly? Of course not... and it's equally absurd to reject the existence of a Designer just because He intervenes rarely.

  2. "There is no evidence of Design." This has been falsified many times; those that insist on this view nearly always ignore evidence or employ circular reasoning to insist on poorer explanations for the available evidence.

Advocates of this naturalistic approach in scientific research argue that supernatural explanations are not viable because they cannot be tested, falsified, or subjected to empirical investigation.

By that logic, forensics, archaeology, paleontology, much of geology and astronomy, and probably many others, aren't sciences. Meanwhile, ID has made many predictions (most of which have been confirmed, while most of CD's predictions have been falsified), and the notion that ID can't be falsified is utter nonsense. (It's especially ironic nonsense because falsifying it is exactly what materialists have been trying to do — and claim to have done — for almost two centuries.) Meanwhile, when CD is such an utter train wreck that even other materialists are looking to get off the sinking ship, you have to wonder just how "falsifiable" it is.

[IDiots] simply failed to understand the actual problem and/or came up with handwaving to state that certain things were impossible, when in fact they were not only possible but there were examples of them.

In my experience, ID proponents seem to have a better grasp on the complexities of life than those denying a Designer. The asserted "examples" almost always invoke circular reasoning and are tenuous at best, often falling apart completely on close examination. ID proponents have a combination of "common sense", mathematics, and observational evidence that all argue for their case, while in my experience, it's the design-deniers whose arguments are full of hand waving. Take eye "evolution" for example; design deniers insist that a spectrum of eyes exist, "proving" that eyes "evolved" from simple to complex, but offer no details. Meanwhile, ID proponents have a detailed mathematical and biochemical analysis of why it isn't possible to "bridge the gaps" between such proposed intermediates and why the supposed intermediates aren't viable as such in the first place. Meanwhile, there's no evidence that the supposed intermediates have ever actually been connected.


Ultimately, the problem isn't whether teleology is "scientific" or "intellectually compelling". The problem is that sinful men want nothing to do with God and will go to any length to avoid their Creator.

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  • Thanks Matthew for your answer, +1. However, can you please include more citations? In several paragraphs you reference things that have supposedly being shown or established elsewhere, but no citations are provided.
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 10 at 18:49
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    For example: "There is no evidence of Design." This has been falsified many times - Citations?
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 10 at 18:51
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    For example: and the notion that ID can't be falsified is utter nonsense.- Citations?
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 10 at 18:51
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    Take eye "evolution" for example; design deniers insist that a spectrum of eyes exist, "proving" that eyes "evolved" from simple to complex, but offer no details. Meanwhile, ID proponents have a detailed mathematical and biochemical analysis of why it isn't possible to "bridge the gaps" between such proposed intermediates and why the supposed intermediates aren't viable as such in the first place. - Citations?
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 10 at 18:53
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    Meanwhile, there's no evidence that the supposed intermediates have ever actually been connected. - Citations?
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 10 at 18:54
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Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy a good perspective on evolution, which any Christian (except those who pin their salvation on their literal interpretation of the first few chapters of Genesis) can accept.

Evolution is a good example of that modern intelligence which, if it destroys anything, destroys itself. Evolution is either an innocent scientific description of how certain earthly things came about; or, if it is anything more than this, it is an attack upon thought itself. If evolution destroys anything, it does not destroy religion but rationalism. If evolution simply means that a positive thing called an ape turned very slowly into a positive thing called a man, then it is stingless for the most orthodox; for a personal God might just as well do things slowly as quickly, especially if, like the Christian God, he were outside time. But if it means anything more, it means that there is no such thing as an ape to change, and no such thing as a man for him to change into. It means that there is no such thing as a thing. At best, there is only one thing, and that is a flux of everything and anything. This is an attack not upon the faith, but upon the mind; you cannot think if there are no things to think about. You cannot think if you are not separate from the subject of thought. Descartes said, "I think; therefore I am." The philosophic evolutionist reverses and negatives the epigram. He says, "I am not; therefore I cannot think."

Mysticism tells us why things happen, science only tells us that things happen. To an overwhelming majority of non-psychopaths who have been ruined by modernity (i.e. children) "why?" is what they ask, not "how". Christianity gives us this answer.

Intelligent design is not dogma to Christians, and I won't say that it is for scientists either - because scientists can (and ought) to be Christians, but evolutionism is dogma for the atheists.

Dr. Kreeft Addresses this question on his site (And goes into it in his numerous books too)

Question 1: Hasn't the Darwinian theory of evolution shown us how it is possible for all the order in the universe to have arisen by chance?

Reply: Not at all. If the Darwinian theory has shown anything, it has shown, in a general way, how species may have descended from others through random mutation; and how survival of these species can be accounted for by natural selection—by the fitness of some species to survive in their environment. In no way does it—can it—account for the ubiquitous order and intelligibility of nature. Rather, it presupposes order. To quote a famous phrase: "The survival of the fittest presupposes the arrival of the fit." If Darwinians wish to extrapolate from their purely biological theory and maintain that all the vast order around us is the result of random changes, then they are saying something which no empirical evidence could ever confirm; which no empirical science could ever demonstrate; and which, on the face of it, is simply beyond belief.

https://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm#5

The real problem with these cocksure atheist arguers is that they fail to engage with the right people. They attack intelligent design, but intelligent design is an explanation, it is not Christianity. It is like attacking transubstantiation to disprove the Real Present of Christ in the Eucharist. This might be a good argument because it's hard to think of another way that Christ could be present in the bread and wine. With creation, it is not a good argument because there are a million explanations for the creation of the universe.

There are a million missing links in evolution and abiogenesis. There is an infinite gap missing in intelligent design. The chances that either of these chasms are crossed until the heat death of the universe or the eschaton is effectively zero so it is up to individuals to accept Christ into their hearts and accept Him as Creator and Lord of all because all creation pointed to Him in the first place.

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Evolution ignores it's very own precepts: That we changed to survive and those that didn't change didn't survive otherwise we wouldn't have needed to change. Insects replicate prodigiously and we don't. That doesn't make sense. Insects have high resilience against temperature and we don't.
Insects are stronger (by an enormous factor like an ant can lift 50 times it's own weight!) and we are pathetic in comparison. Most animals can easily outrun a human (like your cat): We are slow by comparison.
None of this makes any sense. Also the fact that we apparently evolved all these complex emotions that hinder our survival like resentment, mindless fears, psychological issues, or just why we have such complex lives which don't enhance our survival at all. Why are our children born so helpless yet a giraffe can walk a few minutes from being born.
As a species we are useless when it comes to survival! None of this makes any sense when it comes to evolution. If evolution was true we would never have evolved past bacteria since that replicates faster than anything.
Because evolution says we changed to survive. Clearly we didn't do anything of the kind. Also, all the other forms of life we apparently evolved through, like apes, wouldn't be here, would they? Because they didn't evolve and they apparently needed to to survive. Evolution has never made sense. It was concocted by an unthinking moron who wanted an excuse not to acknowledge God. Of all the ways to do it evolution has to be the most nonsensical of the lot. It boggles the mind that intelligent people today just mindlessly accept it without raising these glaring questions. We propose that life just "happened" when we can't create even one cell of life? We don't even understand how our own brain fully works and we think that it just happened to be like this? Are they blind to what's around them? No...they are motivated by Satan to not acknowledge their true Creator, pure and simple. And they don't want to admit they missed the obvious all these years. And schools sure wouldn't want to admit they have been teaching absurd explanations for our biological history. Can you imagine the litigation that would pour forth if they fessed up?

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  • " No...they are motivated by Satan to not acknowledge their true Creator [...]" is the rhetorical equivalent of flipping the chess board. Also, this answer is related: christianity.stackexchange.com/a/101936/46521 Also, OP asks for an argument. The best way is to show the arguments presented by naturalists and counter them with logic and sources. Also, what you are doing is presenting the "irreducible complexity" argument in a different form than OP quoted. OP also quoted a refutation of this argument. So how is your answer "intellectually compelling to those who don't believe in God?"
    – telion
    Commented Jun 9 at 18:51
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    Also, a few advantages and disadvantages of a species do not factor in other factors that enable a species to survive. Your running faster example of some species shouldn't be compared to the speed of humans, because humans have other advantages like intelligence that make them the absolute apex predator in the animal kingdom. Also, it is not necessarily clear what effect each feature of a species has on its evolutionary strength. So your examples are easy to refute in my opinion and I say that as a Christian.
    – telion
    Commented Jun 9 at 19:02
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    "If humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes" is comparable to "If Americans descended from British people, why are there still British people" in the amount of sense that it makes. One would hope that the average 5-year-old would be able to see how that question doesn't make sense, yet professional apologists continue to present this as a serious argument over and over again.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Jun 9 at 19:20
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    +1. Not because I agree with every point, but because I appreciate your frustration with the nonsense that I confess I once believed. Commented Jun 10 at 7:36
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    I agree with others. Our most important job is to preach the Gospel, to which the elect will respond. If sinners want to hang on to the fig leaves of an intellectual cover for their nakedness before a holy God, we must speak of God's willingness to forgive freely. How can atheists throw away the fig leaves and turn back to God unless they know for sure God will embrace them? Commented Jun 10 at 7:41
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Evolutionary Creationism

The issue of the "gaps" that counters and undermines Intelligent Design (ID) is methodological naturalism, rather than the metaphysical teleological argument. It is important to distinguish between naturalism and methodological naturalism. Naturalism refers to the philosophical assumption that nature is a closed system and that there are no outside influences or non-natural factors at play. Methodological naturalism, on the other hand, is a heuristic principle that science should only appeal to natural entities and causes, without necessarily implying that there are no non-natural factors. This distinction is crucial because methodological naturalism does not necessarily commit one to philosophical naturalism, which is a broader philosophical stance

Evolutionary Creation (EC), a subset of Theistic Evolution (TE) seems to be more reasonable and robust against critiques of the mainstream ID position. Key point of divergence in the Method of Divine Action:

  • BioLogos: Emphasizes that God works through natural processes. It supports the idea that evolutionary mechanisms, as understood by contemporary science, are the means by which God created and sustains life.
  • Intelligent Design: Proposes that some aspects of life are best explained by direct intervention from an intelligent cause, which can be scientifically detected.

In summary, EC views the creator as setting the stage for evolution without direct involvement, making it less likely to detect the creator through natural processes. ID, on the other hand, sees the creator as actively guiding evolution, making it more likely to detect the creator through the observation of complex structures that cannot be explained by natural processes alone.

One article on Biologos distinguishes its position:

In contrast to EC, YEC, and OEC, Intelligent Design (ID) does not explicitly align itself with Christianity. It claims that the existence of an intelligent cause of the universe and of the development of life is a testable scientific hypothesis. ID arguments often point to parts of scientific theories where there is no consensus and claim that the best solution is to appeal to the direct action of an intelligent designer. At BioLogos, we believe that our intelligent God designed the universe, but we do not see scientific or biblical reasons to give up on pursuing natural explanations for how God governs natural phenomena. We believe that scientific explanations complement a robust theological understanding of God’s role as designer, creator, and sustainer of the universe.

Another article where Ted Davis articulates the problem with ID: Intelligent Design: History and Beliefs

Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature. The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
... (2) The whole universe itself, and some of the objects that compose it (both living and nonliving), exhibit abundant evidence of having been “designed” by an “intelligent designer”; they are NOT products of “blind chance.”

Keep in mind the basic idea of ID, “that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” Design theorists believe that, by analyzing the components of a system, they can determine “whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof.” Dembski has developed an “explanatory filter” for detecting “design” when we find “specified complexity,” enormously improbable events that fit a specific pattern. Such things cannot be accounted for by chance and law alone, or chance and law working together.

This illustrates that the ID position relies on the scientific "gaps" to support their case for direct supernatural intervention in evolution. The gaps, that keep getting narrower, serve as the detectable signature or clue of the creator. The Christian apologist is in no compulsion to hold such a narrow view of creation. In ID, it also appears that the role of the creator has been reduced to that of an extraterrestrial natural agent within creation. Nature is not fully and continuously sovereign; it seems that only the gaps in the evolutionary process are attributed to him, as if the world automatically functions beyond his control until he intervenes again. The 'God of the gaps' approach is the opposite of Psalm 19:1. There is an evident incompatibility between nature and God under ID, as indicated by their refusal of natural evolution. It is a conflict of divine sovereignty with nature, just as there's a conflict with freewill with under Calvinism.

Evolutionary Creationists accepts methodological naturalism. This view presents a sovereign role of God in the universe. I can correlate the superiority of Evolutionary Creationism over ID in apologetics with that of Molinism over Calvinism on the topic of predestination.

God is no less the creator of the man through millions of years of natural evolution than he is the creator of every baby in the womb through his very hands.

  • Psalm 139:13: "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

  • Jeremiah 1:5:"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

  • Job 31:15: "Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?"

  • Job 12:7-10: "But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind."

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  • Biblical (a.k.a. "young earth") Creationists also accept MN as per your definition. (But take care, as some use "MN" as a synonym for Philosophical Naturalism.) Also, ID does not conflict with BC, nor does it "narrow" how we understand God's interaction with Creation. Rather, ID contrasts with PN, essentially arguing that PN is incorrect.
    – Matthew
    Commented Jun 13 at 19:05
  • What is the basis for their rejection of MN by ID? Is it that it makes God unnecessary, or that God's inability to be sovereign over nature from the outside without direct natural intervention or tweaking things?
    – Michael16
    Commented Jun 14 at 3:42
  • ID doesn't reject MN, but rather asserts that "natural causes" are an unlikely (and, often, implausible) explanation for certain observations; particularly, the origin of life and of features of living things. Nor does MN make God "unnecessary"; God is just as necessary when he acts according to "natural law" (which is, after all, still God acting!) as when He does something supernatural. Without God, there would be no natural processes.
    – Matthew
    Commented Jun 14 at 15:34

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