A rebuttal to the design argument for God by Elliott Sober (see https://appearedtoblogly.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/sober-elliot-22the-design-argument22.pdf) is that we simply cannot know what God would or would not do. If O = an observation, and H = the hypothesis that God exists, then the point made is that P (O|H) is unknown. As such, he argues, we can never say that chance, or really any other process, explains an observation worse than God, since we don’t know what God would do. He does say we can do this if we had independent reasons for justifying certain actions over others, but we have none for God.

But isn’t this whole matter subjective? How does this not apply to other agents? And how independent must the assumptions be? For example, can’t we say that the Christian God is more likely to make an atheist suffer than a Christian given that He likes Christians? Note that I’m asking what we should reasonably expect God to do, not what actually happens in reality. So a response along the lines of showing that Christians don’t actually suffer less than atheists is irrelevant. Sober seems to say we’re not justified in saying this when he responds to the argument from evil, since perhaps God has some hidden plan that eventually puts a suffering Christian in heaven, or some other way of defining what “good” really is.

But why is this a valid argument? And can’t we make a similar counter argument in cases of observations where it seems obvious that a designer is what caused it. For example, suppose we came across a gadget in the beach that looked different from every other tool that we’d ever come across.

Despite this, most of us would assume it was designed by some human. No one would accept a counter along the lines of “well maybe a human is not capable enough to create this, or maybe he wouldn’t want to create this gadget.” How is this counter any more valid than the counter of “maybe God would want a Christian to unimaginably suffer even though He likes Christians”

If the response is that we’ve atleast seen humans design SOMETHING and we haven’t verified that God could design ANYTHING, then I could make the counter of “we haven’t seen humans design THIS object. We’ve only seen humans design other objects. So in all practicality, we have no reason to say humans designed this.”

Is this valid?

  • I suppose that probability would depend upon what characteristics one assigns to God. Does God intervene in human affairs or no? Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 21:27
  • So even though Einstein said God doesn't play dice, we can still play dice with God. Or as Bohr replied, "Albert, stop telling God what to do!"
    – user4894
    Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 22:30
  • In essence "God" is a very poorly and inconsistently defined term, even to a degree in philosophical contexts. Sober's argument is taking the bare minimum - that God is the cause of reality. Taking the Christian God however would mean making further assumptions about the qualities of this God, such as that they like Christians more than atheists. Probabilistically speaking, more assumptions means the god is less likely to be real, but since we have no information at all about the existence of a creator, much less its qualities, it's rather arbitrary anyways. Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 6:35
  • It is a strawman argument. No one argues that since the eye has features F1, F2, ..., that therefore there is a high probability that it was designed. Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 7:55

2 Answers 2


The problem with most arguments about God is that God is not a defined term, so one person may interpret it in one way and another person in another, with the result that they argue at cross purposes.

If you define God as being some omnipotence who acts in unknown ways, then Sober's argument might make sense to you. On the other hand, if you define God to mean some omnipotence who acts in a way that is consistent with a certain set of beliefs, then Sober's argument might not apply, since you can declare that you know how God will act.

As far as your gadget on the beach is concerned... if you were to encounter something entirely novel which seemed incapable of being designed by humans, then you might struggle to explain its existence. But to leap to the conclusion that is must have been designed by 'God'- where the term 'God' can mean virtually anything you please- is an empty explanation.


I don't know one can refer to a particular religion's philosophy in an answer here or not. I will go ahead and give my answer.

Islam defines concept of God very well. God has properties, thats how He is defined. God have 3,000 properties, 99 of them are known to humans.

God can ofcourse do everything and anything He likes. Still we see universe running on set rules.

We never see a physics law getting violated. We may have misunderstood a law of universe but once we know it better it do fit to all data. No law of physics is ever seen violated.

The only way to concile the two - God can do everything, universe works on fix laws - is that God Himself like the rules be followed. So, we can guarantee that rules will be followed.

Infact its a teaching of islam that God don't change his laws.

Therefore, one can go ahead make life decisions, learn trades, make investments, marry, have kids, knowing that things will work in a particular way. Certain inputs will always give certain outputs.

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