Originally, I had wanted to write something about a quote that I had read from Richard Dawkins where he said something to the effect that, by all outward appearances, if we didn’t know any better, it looks like life is the product of design. I couldn’t find that quote, however, but instead found a large number of hits for a different quote from Dawkins.
Over and over again, I found countless hits (and now, here is one more) where Dawkins was quoted as asking some variation of the question, “Who designed the designer?” This is his refutation of the Intelligent Design theory (ID). In some sense, I find this quote almost as absurd as the one that I was looking for in the first place.
Essentially, this ends up getting into the “first cause” thing. If you continue to regress, you can always continue to ask “…and where did that come from?” ad infinitum.
However, the most commonly accepted theory of the universe is that it did have a beginning. Therefore, it seems we cannot have this infinite regress of causes. There apparently had to have been an initial cause to begin all other subsequent events and causes.
Typically, this “initial cause” is thought in secular science to be attributed to the Big Bang. The problem with this theory is that it does not regress quite far enough. If both space and time began to exist at some point, then the question must be asked…where did space and time come from. And, to my thinking, the Big Bang theory just doesn’t offer an explanation…only more questions.
For example, the Big Bang theory seems to revolve around the idea that there was some very small bit of unbelievably dense matter that exploded into the void and eventually planets and stars and such were formed. (That’s an extremely abbreviated version.) The problem here is that it doesn’t explain two things. First, it doesn’t explain where this unbelievably dense matter came from and second, it doesn’t explain how/why it suddenly just exploded.
Rather than get into the whole Big Bang thing (maybe another time), the point here is that most scientists agree that there was a beginning to the universe and that there was a “first moment” of time. This is why we (or I, anyway) am put in a position to claim that there had to have been a first cause rather than an infinite regress of causes.
This is where one starts getting out of the realm of physical sciences and into the realm of philosophy. Dawkins doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of philosophy, though his “Who designed the designer?” question has been answered many times over by those who do.
By using logic and just doing some sound reasoning, if one accepts the idea that the universe began to exist and therefore that there cannot be an infinite regress of causes, one can deduce that there must have been a first cause. Something must have caused the universe to come into existence. This is basically what is popularly known as the Kalaam Cosmological Argument.
The argument basically is that, first, everything that begins to exist must have a cause and that, second, the universe began to exist. When theists posit a God or some sort of supernatural entity, they are not positing a thing that begins to exist, but rather something that is “eternal.” In other words, it is a necessary thing. Which means that this first cause is something that cannot not exist. Therefore, it was not designed and didn’t need to be.
From there, one can get into all sorts of theories about the nature of this first cause. Could it be an object with all the attributes of consciousness? Was it simply an unintelligent “force” that has to exist? Is there some other alternative?
Given the existence of the natural universe as a result of this first cause and then the other issues such as the fine tuning of the universe (the teleological argument), in addition to a number of other lines of evidence, it seems most plausible to me that the first cause was personal in the sense that it was a “being” with a consciousness. This is an explanation which fits the definition of “intelligent design.”
So, when the “new atheists,” such as Dawkins start throwing out questions about who designed the designer, the question is philosophically unsound. It’s essentially an absurd question. If one accepts that the universe had a beginning, then one must conclude from that fact that there must necessarily be a first cause. Sometimes this is known as an “un-caused cause” or, as I referred to earlier, a “necessary” object or being…one that cannot not exist. We call this first cause “God.”
Grace, love and peace.