Did Hawkins Reveal a Blind Watchmaker?

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Hoffman, Michael
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Existence of God , William Paley , Natural selection , Richard Dawkins , Evolution
Over the last two thousand years, Christians, as well as other theists, have attempted to prove the existence of God. The motivations and expectations of these proofs have varied. In the Enlightenment, people believed that they could prove God's existence in the same way that I could prove that the three angles of a triangle equal one hundred and eighty degrees. They did not only think that these proofs could succeed. Some even believed that a logical proof was a necessary foundation for the Christian religion. Today, theologians are more concerned with showing the probability or plausibility of the belief in an omnipotent being, in order to defend themselves from modern skeptics. A good proof for the existence of God can show that theistic religions are not illogical absurdities, but logically defensible positions. There are many different types of proofs for the existence of God, but the form that I find most promising is the argument from design. The most famous version of the design argument was formulated by William Paley. Basically, it claims that the complexity of different aspects of the universe, especially in biology, demands a creator. Many philosophers, like Hume and Kant, criticized this argument, but the design argument faced its most formidable opponent after 1859 with the publication of The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. Darwin's theory of evolution claims that complexity found in organisms is the result of physical forces. Therefore, the obvious conclusion is that if complexity is caused by blind forces, then it was not created by higher being. Darwin alludes to this conclusion, but Richard Dawkins clearly presents that sort of argument in his two works, The Blind Watchmaker and "The Improbability of God". Dawkin's basic thesis is that the complexity found in organisms is the product of natural selection and, therefore, not the work of a creative "watchmaker." In this paper, I am going to examine Dawkins' project and eventually conclude that he fails. I am not necessarily arguing against evolution, but criticizing Dawkins' attempts to show the plausibility of evolution and discredit all belief in an omnipotent creator.