An Argument for the Design of the Universe
In the Bible, King David attests to the designer when he writes in Psalms 19:1-2 (NIV) “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” We learn the design of the universe displays God’s glory. They display His handiwork. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1 people who reject the God of the universe are without excuse; they will be judged for their moral wrongs because the knowledge of him has been displayed throughout creation. Instead asking for forgiveness, they suppress the truth about God in their unrighteousness.
Christian philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig regularly debates atheists on the existence of God. In his opening arguments he almost always begins with the cosmological argument (God is the cause of the universe), followed with the teleological argument. The teleological argument uses the design of the universe to establish the existence of God. The Greek word “telos” means design. The argument goes like this:
- Every design had a designer
- The universe has highly complex design
- Therefore, the universe had a Designer
The conclusion #3 follows logically from the first two premises. Therefore, to defeat this argument a person would have to show either premise #1 or #2 were false. I am going to assume #1 is true. I will spend rest of my time defending premise #2, demonstrating the universe has a highly complex design.
Way back in the 18th century, William Paley (1743-1805) made the argument for design famous with his illustration concerning a watch. Supposed you are walking along the beach and you find a watch. What do you conclude? Was it created by the ocean waves moving it forward and backwards? Did the sun and wind help make it into a watch? The answer of course is no. Nobody questions the fact that a designer made the watch and someone accidently dropped it along the sea shore.
The universe displays a similar design. Scientists say the universe is very delicately balanced and extremely sensitive to change. If that balance is upset even slightly in the basic conditions necessary for life, it would never have been produced. There are over 122 factors present (number continues to increase) in the universe that if one small change occurred, life on earth would be impossible.
Today there is a term for describing the purpose of this amazing design; it is call the anthropic principle. This principle refers to the fact the universe seems to be designed for humans to exist. Anthro refers to man. This principle comes from science not Christianity. The anthropic principle was first popularized by American physicists, John Wheeler, Frank Tipler and British astronomer, John Barrow. Wheeler writes “A life giving factor lies at the center of the whole machinery and design of the world.”
Harvard educated Patrick Glynn in his book, God: The Evidence, said this: “Modern thinkers assumed that science would reveal the universe to be ever more random and mechanical; instead it has discovered unexpected new layers of intricate order that bespeak an almost unimaginably vast master design.”
A whole host of books have documented this phenomenon. There’s not much debate about the anthropic principle anymore. The experts in the field are saying that the evidence for design is beyond question. Many astronomers, physicists, and mathematicians today are theists; atheism struggles with the vast amount of evidence for design.
My science teacher friend John said the anthropic principle was the most powerful argument I presented to him. He said he didn’t have a good explanation for what we see in the universe. What are these critical factors of design that have caused atheists and scientists to wonder about the universe?
 Wheeler, John A., “Forward,” in The Anthropic Cosmological Principle by John Barrow and Frank
Tipler (Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1986), vii., quoted in Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God
(Orange, CA: Promise Publishing, 1989), 120
 Patrick Glynn, God: The Evidence (Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1997), 19.