A completely new dimension of reality is opened up by the view that the universe is the product of Design. It implies that purpose is not a rare phenomenon but fundamental and widespread. Even inanimate objects are valuable and significant because without them life would be impossible. This is where science is entirely uninformative and insignificant because it tells us nothing about the reasons for our existence. To leave people with the impression that science explains everything is to leave them with no authentic purpose at all. It doesn’t tell us how we should behave towards others or even towards ourselves. It doesn’t distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong, just and unjust. In other words it leads to a dead end…
One of the saddest features of contemporary society is its loss of moral values and the pursuit of pleasure rather than perfection. A typical secular interpretation of life is given by Clarence Darrow:
All we know is that we were born on this little grain of sand which we call the earth. We know that it is one of the smallest bits of matter that floats in the great shoreless sea of space and we have every reason to believe that it is as inconsequential in every other respect… we are like a body of shipwrecked sailors clutching to a raft and desperately engaged in holding on… The best that we can do is to be kindly and helpful towards our friends and fellow passengers clinging to the same speck of dirt while we are drifting side by side to our common doom.
- A Modern Introduction to Philosophy - edited by Paul Edwards and Arthur Pap, p. 453.
Science is based on the principle that there are explanations for everything - even though they may not be of the type we expect. Science is inadequate because it excludes explanations in terms of **purpose **which are the basis of a rational existence. We all have to work out our own way of life and decide what is more important than anything else. Even if we don’t believe in Design we know it is absurd to live as if we have no reasons for living. So in practice we live **as if **we don’t exist by Chance.
Design implies that we all have a specific vocation and an obligation to develop our potentialities to the best of our ability. We have a definite incentive to persevere in the quest for truth and meaning, inspired by the thought that everything will ultimately fit into an intelligible pattern. In other words we are sustained by faith, hope and love because we don’t regard others as accidental companions with whom we have nothing in common and towards whom we have no obligations.
As we get older and infirm it becomes difficult not to regard our efforts and sufferings as pointless, especially if we think everything is going to be swallowed up in total oblivion. Suicide is often thought to be a solution but it causes problems for others and certainly undermines belief in virtues like courage and fortitude because it implies we are useless and of no value to anyone. It is the thin end of the wedge to base life on how **useful **we think we are to others. According to that criterion euthanasia is justified for a fair proportion of the population! Even when he was blind Milton did not yield to that temptation:
“He also serves who only stands and waits…”
The most convincing evidence for Design is the richness of personal existence with all its opportunities for exploration, creativity, appreciation and enjoyment - like art, music, drama, literature, history, science, technology and - of course - philosophy. This is not to mention the happiness to be found in family life, friendship, travel and even work - but it is the spiritual life that must surpass everything else because it is our greatest source of inspiration. Many people today cannot understand how monks and nuns can be happy and fulfilled when they are isolated from all that gives others their reasons for living. Yet their closeness to God is the greatest source of joy and peace anyone can have. Just to read what the saints and mystics of different religions - and even no religion - have written about their experiences is to glimpse a higher level of existence.
“By their fruits you shall know them…”
It is the fertility of Design that makes it far superior to its rival.