My interlocutor who asked me questions about the Faith that I answered here is stymied when it comes to the argument against Design that the materialists make. I thought sharing some of our dialogue might be of interest to some of you.
Let me note that the question of Design in the universe is a philosophical question, not a scientific one. "Intelligent design" is bad science; but noting and pondering Design can be good philosophy.
What follows may or may not be good philosophy. That is for the reader to decide.
Q. Isn't it possible that the universe could indeed have arisen merely by chance?
No. Given the finite limit of the universe in space and time, it cannot have developed like this without a designer. Only if the universe is infinite and eternal can it have developed without design, and scientists know that it is neither. We know how old the universe is and we know how much matter is in it, and there has not been enough time for anything as complex as a single cell to evolve at random, much less an eye, much less a human being.
The nihilists elevate "chance" as a god and say that things happen "by chance" - but nothing can happen "by chance"; "chance" just means an event which is unintentional or not intentionally controlled. "Chance" is the absence of intent, not an intending agent. (For more on that, click on the link)
Q. If the materialists are right, then "beauty" and "love" only exist in the mind of man. But that doesn't mean they don't exist; it just means each of us defines what they are, right?
No, it would mean that they don't exist in any objective sense. It would mean that beauty and love were illusions.
Are they real or are they not? Be a man and engage this question. Don't play games with a compromise that doesn't exist. Don't be a soft nihilist. Face the consequences of what materialistic nihilism actually means.
If "beauty", "love" and "meaning" are merely subjective, then nothing has any meaning, not even the realization that life is without meaning - and certainly not the meaning we "posit" or put forth. If life has no meaning, then nothing has meaning, and dead matter is as valuable as live matter, regardless of what we think or how we feel, regardless of what "evolution" tells us.
And if transcendent non-material realities don't exist, then why presume that matter does? If the one is subjective, why is the other real? If beauty and love are illusions, why is anything in the so-called "outside world" any more real than the intangibles are?
So be a solipsist and be happy. If you can.
The irony is that when you deny Spirit, you are forced to deny Matter. In the same way that the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection of the body, lost both body and spirit in a philosophy doomed to self-destruct, so nihilists eventually learn that they can't have it both ways. If there is no objective meaning, then there is no meaning period - even from frightened soul to frightened soul clinging to illusions or biology. If Christ can't save us from the abyss, neither can Darwin.
Q. Isn't the need for God just biological like the need for food or water or sex?
If we walked around hungry but never found food, we would wonder why we had hunger. If we walked around thirsty but never found water, the same would apply. Desire implies satisfaction; it implies the thing that satisfies it. It does not prove it, but it does imply it, and it's a very strong argument that we are made to desire what we really need.
Q. But what if religion is only the opiate for the masses?
Well, that's the question, isn't it? If God is just our own sad make-believe, only a teddy bear to help us sleep at night, then to hell with him. Let's burn down all the churches. I'm in this for Truth, not comfort. What about you?
Q. But I'm not so sure I see evidence of "Design" - and I don't think Design proves there is a God.
You either see design or you don't. Use your eyes.
Speaking of which - why do we have eyes? Eyes exist to allow us to see. They have a function and a purpose. They are designed.
Are you saying that Design does not get you to the God of Christianity? Of course you're right. It doesn't. But it gets you out of the sophomoric nonsense that is materialism and nihilism.