Saturday, August 28, 2010
Purpose, Design and Evil
It is really amazing how closely purpose and design are related, and their further relation to the problem of evil. Before someone can design some device, they must have a purpose- they don't just start throwing stuff together and find a purpose for it later. Likewise, end-users look at devices and see specific purposes for them. The sane end-user would not conclude that the useful device was not designed. Granted, some devices take on purposes different from the original; however, the device still has purpose, otherwise it would not be in the market.
True design is never attributed to unconscious sources. Right now, I am setting on my couch, watching my LCD TV, being cooled by an air conditioning unit in a room lit by fluorescent lights. Each device has a specific purpose, specifically identified. I do not have to personally know the inventor of these devices, nor do I need to see the plans behind each to know that they have a specific purpose. From that, I can infer that they had a designer. It would be ludicrous for me to attribute these "designs" to an unconscious source. Even if I were to look at the level of complexity of each device relative to the others, I would not be justified in concluding that the one with the least amount of complexity is not designed. They all have purpose; they all have designs; they all have designers.
Anytime someone is asking "why?", they are assuming that a purpose behind something exists. If someone who had never seen an LCD TV before, asked "why have such a device?", the answer would not be able to be communicated without mentioning its purpose. Likewise, many people ask me "why" I took a certain course of action in my troubleshooting of computer issues. They ask it anticipating that I had a purpose. Which, they are correct, and I explain my purpose behind specific steps. If I were to tell them that I had no purpose, they would conclude that anyone (or anything) could have done and accomplished the same "purpose". If the step was conducted automatically by some source other than a person, it would not make sense to even ask the question (unless the person who is the source of the design of the process, is available; but then we're back to a designer). The "why" question not only cannot be answered, but there is really no need to even ask it.
My point is that in everyday life, we would not assume a purpose, while trying to deny a design(er). The fact is that people assume one while trying to deny the other all the time. I was asked the other day why God would allow a certain (bad) thing to happen to a child. This person (and many others) typically use this type of question as a reason to dismiss the idea of an Intelligent Designer. Unfortunately for them, by asking "why?", they are assuming an end purpose with a mind behind it. If such a purpose exists, a design exists. If a design exists, a designer exists.
This type of question is an effort to "have one's cake and eat it too". A person cannot assume a purpose without being forced to assume a designer. A person also cannot deny a designer without being forced to deny a purpose.