Design and designers
Harriet and Joan were best friends so when Harriet got this fabulous watch Joan was pleased for her. It was one of those modern jobs that did everything but give you a manicure. They both agreed it was a masterpiece of design and beauty. Harriet said, "The person that designed that must have been an absolute wizard." Just an innocent remark and before they knew it they were into an argument on the question, "One designer or more?" Harriet was sure only one person had designed it but when Joan pressed her for good reasons for saying that, Harriet found herself in difficulty.
"Just look at it. It has unity and harmony written all over it!"
"That's what's called 'design' but it says nothing about how many designed it."
"But look at how it all fits together…"
"You just said that. It's what's called 'design' but that doesn't tell us how many designers there were."
Harriet saw what she meant. Joan remarked that beyond the design, whoever actually put it together must have been brilliant. As soon as she said that she got what he expected, Harriet reminded her there might be numerous "whoevers". Joan made another blunder when she said something that suggested that the designer(s) must have put it together.
"How do you know that?" Harriet asked. "There's no way to know the designer(s) actually put it together."
"I just assumed it," her friend said.
So ended the discussion and they both admired the watch.
Arguments from design to a (single) designer just don't work. Even if we knew there was a single designer for a certain artefact we couldn't tell if he/she was the one that actually made it. Look at your own watch or shoe or house or whatever, and think about it.
Arguments in favour of the one God of the Hebrew—Christian scriptures can only be made with a Bible in your hand. A universe, however complex and designed, doesn't prove a single Designer any more than a watch proves a single watchmaker. If you allow the believer to quote scripture the debate is over but that is precisely what sceptics will not allow. Add to that that many believers insist that you can prove the existence of the one true God without the Bible and by unaided reasoning on the realities around us. But when we're asked to do it we aren't able. We quote scripture in support of our claim. We say things like, "But Paul said it could be done." Now I don't believe Paul said that; but even if he did—it's scripture! What if a sceptic says, "Paul was wrong and I won't take his word for it." What if he then says, "You make the argument"? It won't help a lot if we say we can't make it but since Paul says it could be made it must be "makeable".
Arguments in favour of only one all-powerful, all-wise God don't work apart from special revelation (in whatever forms it takes). Unaided reason can't get us there. It may make atheism look silly or inadequate but that isn't the same as establishing biblical monotheism. If there were only two options—atheism or monotheism—that would make a big difference but that isn't the case.
The ancients believed the creation was indeed "created" but they believed it was the work of numerous gods of varying powers and varying characters. The truth is (or at least part of it is), having suppressed truth that had been made known, they used their unaided reason to make sense of the world they lived in. They explained the existence of fertile land and howling desert, disease-carrying mosquitoes and honey-giving bees—explained them by inventing numerous gods. They "knew" they couldn't lay calamity at the feet of the same god that gave them food so they attributed the "bad" to one source and the good to another (a lot of modern believers do that—don't they?). Professing themselves to be wise they turned the elements and the creatures into gods and tried to manipulate or appease them.
The brilliant John S Mill believed in no gods at all but he offered rational alternatives to Christian belief. Since the earth was not a flawless home why not speculate that there are numerous gods and that the earth was made by a young god that hadn't yet gained his full power? Or, imagine the creator as a very old god whose power was waning; and why not? If the creator had been at the peak of his power, Mill suggested, he wouldn't have made a place that was too cold at top and bottom and too hot in the middle.
It's all so silly, of course. Yes, so a believer with a Bible in his hand might say; but put away the Bible and any other form of special revelation (real or imagined) and work with nothing but rational reflection. Now, say why Mill's "silly" suggestion is silly. We believers say God is all-powerful, all-wise and omni-benevolent and point to the marvellous design of our earth home and bodies as proof. The sceptic points to the astonishing design of the parasite that eats out the eyes and livers of little children in far away places.
So what do we make of Paul in Romans 1 and David in Psalm 19?