Conversations from Campus: Cumulative Case 3

Rick Mattson Apologetics, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Imagine a set of stair-steps moving upward, each step another “plank” in the case for Christ.

The steps build on one another — hence the upward movement.

Step #1 last week was about origins: where the world came from, often called “cosmology.”

This week’s step is the design argument. It says that the order and beauty of the universe suggests an intelligent designer behind it all.

If I come upon an abandoned cabin in the woods, the most obvious explanation for its existence is an intelligent designer, a builder. The cabin exhibits what philosophers sometimes call purposive order.

Similarly, if I come upon a world that seems to exhibit purposive order, the best explanation is an intelligent designer.

In support, Christian philosophers and scientists tell us the universe is finely tuned to “life-permitting” conditions. Alvin Plantinga has estimated the odds of such fine-tuning to be 10 to the minus 100.*

I’m not really making the argument here, just telling you the direction it generally goes.


In conversation, the point to made for a “cumulative case” is that beauty and order is exactly what you’d expect to find in a universe created by God. Thus step one and two interlock, — that is, creation and design fit together and reinforce each other.

Remember that in a cumulative case it’s the combination of arguments, building on one another, that give strength to the entire case.

And that is what I tried to communicate to a young atheist at Michigan State recently (see Nov 18 post).

Next week: Step 3 in the cumulative case.


See Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies, ch 7.

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