Christians often point to the appearance of design and fine tuning in the universe as an argument for God’s existence. A design implies a designer. Skeptics sometimes respond by pointing out supposed flaws in the design. They argue that a perfect God would not make errors, while naturalistic evolution would of course have some rough spots. How should Christians answer this? Does flawed design disprove the designer?
Are You Sure That the Design is Flawed?
The first thing to look for is what are they pointing to as a flaw, and what exactly is flawed about it. Some of the more common examples used in biology are things like the appendix, or junk DNA, both of which have over time been found to serve important purposes. This happens time and time again, where we assume something to be useless or flawed, only to discover its purpose later. This is no better than a “God of the Gaps” argument. “We don’t know how it works, so God must have done it,” vs, “We don’t know what it’s for, so it must be useless.”
The other thing some will point to as flawed design are moral claims. “A perfect God would not have designed a system with so much death and violence.” However, this is shifting the conversation away from science and design to moral questions about the nature of God. That may be worth discussing, but it’s a different subject.
Were There Other Limitations?
It’s easy to say that something is a design flaw, and that we would have done better if we were in control. We cannot know something is sub-optimal without knowing all the trade offs. For such an incredibly precise system like the universe or organic life, one might solve one problem only to create five more. Any coder or electrical engineer should be able to relate to that.
The World is Broken
We are not living in God’s perfect ideal. Romans 8 tells us that ‘the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” Sin has not only affected us, but everything in creation. Are we sure that God is to blame for a supposed flaw, or is it a result of sin?
Flawed Design is Still Design
Even if we had found an irrefutable flaw in the design, that would not then mean there is no designer. A phone with a broken screen or small battery life does not then mean it came into existence randomly. To use flawed design as an argument against a designer is not a scientific claim, but a theological one about the nature of God.
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