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The “who designed the designer?” objection to design arguments

Strickland, Lloyd (2013) The “who designed the designer?” objection to design arguments. International journal for philosophy of religion, 75 (2). pp. 87-100. ISSN 1572-8684

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Abstract

One of the most commonly-raised objections to the design argument is the so-called “who designed the designer?” objection, which charges that any designer invoked to explain complexity in the universe will feature complexity of its own, and thus require explanation in terms of design. There are two distinct versions of this objection in the contemporary literature, with it being couched in terms of: (1) Complexity of designer: a designer exhibits complexity, which calls for explanation in terms of design; (2) Complexity of ideas: a designer’s ideas exhibit complexity, which calls for explanation in terms of design. To each of these versions of the objection there corresponds various responses from proponents of design. These proponents adopt a very particular strategy when crafting their responses: they argue that the objection can be neutralised simply by appealing to one or more of God’s attributes. In this paper I argue that this strategy is inapt, and unable to yield a successful response to either version of the objection. I also argue that a more promising way of tackling the objections is to identify their own peculiar weaknesses, for once these are exposed the objections cease to be a credible threat to the design hypothesis.

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