The Argument from Design for the Existence of God

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Area: Language Arts and Literature
Grade Level: High School & Beyond, Middle School, Primary/Elementary School
Topics: Intelligent design, metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion
Estimated Time Necessary: 30-45 minutes

Lesson Plan

Objectives:
Inductive Reasoning
Understanding the inductive argument (from Design to Intelligent Designer / God) is a foundation for Inductive Argumentation.

One of the most plausible arguments for the existence of God is the argument from design. This argument proceeds by pointing out how all things in the world seem fitted to one another, something that is also true of all the elements of each organism. It then points out that, when we find design in created things – from watches to books – we know that they were created by someone. Reasoning by analogy, the claim is that the world must also have a creator, only one with much greater intellect and power than any human being.

Yellow and Pink presents two puppets arguing about whether they must have been designed. This charming book actually does a nice job of presenting both sides of this discussion before its surprise ending resolves the issue. After reading the book to students, you can pose interesting questions about both sides of the argument, stressing that the issue is not whether or not God exists but the viability of this argument for establishing the existence of a creator of the world.

One interesting way to proceed is to ask students to evaluate the cogency of each side of the argument. One criterion in favor of the argument from design is its simplicity: Just taking a creator to exist can explain a wide range of different features of the world. The supporter of the “accidental existence” view, on the other hand, can point out that her view adheres to the advice of Ockham’s Razor not to needlessly multiply entities. (William of Ockham was a medieval philosopher.) This can open up the doors for an interesting discussion of the plausibility of this proof of God’s existence.

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This lesson plan was contributed by: Thomas Wartenberg, Mt. Holyoke College.