Can Science Detect Design in Nature?

Yearbook of the Irish Philosophical Society 2008:110-131 (2008)
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Abstract

In recent years there has been a renewed interest in the design argument, which states that the seemingly purposeful features of the natural world point to the existence of a supernatural designer. The purpose of this article is to give a brief survey of the fine-tuning of the fundamental constants in physics and cosmology, and complexity in biology, and their potential implications for the design argument. Contingency in the history of the earth and the evolution of life on earth is also discussed, and some of the problems associated with inferring design from scientific investigations of nature are evaluated. It is concluded that an unambiguous detection of design in nature is not possible, but that this does not eliminate the demand for an ultimate explanation of the existence of the universe and the life it harbours.

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