Skip to main content Accesibility Help

The Argument from Design—a Defence

  • R. G. Swinburne (a1)

Mr Olding's recent attack on my exposition of the argument from design gives me an opportunity to defend the central theses of my original article. My article pointed out that there were arguments from design of two types—those which take as their premisses regularities of copresence (spatial order) and those which take as their premisses regularities of succession (temporal order). I sought to defend an argument of the second type. One merit of such an argument is that there is no doubt about the truth of its premisses. Almost all objects in the world behave in a highly regular way describable by scientific laws. Further, any scientific explanation of such a regularity must invoke some more general regularity. (We explain the gas laws by Newton's laws.) The most general regularities of all are, as such, scientifically inexplicable. The question arises whether there is a possible explanation of another kind which can be provided for them, and whether their occurrence gives any or much support to that explanation. I urged that we do explain some phenomena by explanation of an entirely different kind from the scientific. We explain states of affairs by the action of agents who bring them about intentionally of their own choice. Regularities of succession, as well as other phenomena may be explained in this way. Explanation of this kind I will term intentional explanation. Intentional explanation of some phenomenon E consists in adducing an agent A who brought E about of his own choice and a further end G which, he believed, would be forwarded by the production of E. (When an agent brings about E ‘for its own sake’, E will be the same as G.)

Hide All

Page 193 note 1 Olding, A., ‘The Argument from Design-A Reply to R. G. Swinburne’, Religious Studies, 1971, 7, 361–73.

Page 193 note 2 Swinburne, R. G., ‘The Argument from Design’, Philosophy, 1968, 43, 199212.

Page 195 note 1 Penelhum, Terence, Survival and Disembodied Existence, London, 1970.

Page 196 note 1 Bernard, Williams, ‘The Self and the Future’, Philosophical Review, 1970, 79, 161–80.

Page 197 note 1 John, Knox Jr, ‘Can the Self Survive the Death of its Mind?Religious Studies, 1969, 5, 8597; and ‘Reply to Professor Woodhouse’, Religious Studies, 1970, 6, 273–80.

Page 202 note 1 David, Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, ed. Aiken, H. D. (New York 1948), p. 39.

Page 202 note 2 Eccles, J. C., The Neurophysiological Basis of Mind, Oxford, 1953, Chapter 8.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed