Religious Studies

Anthropocentrism and the design argument

a1 Department of Philosophy, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 3UB


The design argument for the existence of God is often criticized for resting on anthropocentrism. Some critics maintain that anthropocentrism explains the origin of the design argument. Such critics commit the genetic fallacy. Others say anthropocentrism explains the appeal of the belief that human beings are ends especially worthy of creation. They fail to appreciate that the design argument need not be framed in terms of the fitness of the universe for humanity. Lastly, some say the design argument requires a picture of value according to which it was true, prior to the coming-into-being of the universe, that our sort of universe is worthy of creation. Such a picture, they say, is mistaken, though our attraction to it can be explained in terms of anthropocentrism. This is a serious criticism. To respond to it, proponents of the design argument must either defend an objectivist conception of value or, if not, provide some independent reason for thinking an intelligent designer is likely to create our sort of universe.