The Random Design Argument

An Example of Science Under Theological Influence

  • Cornelius Hunter


The “random design argument” is a popular mode of justification, used to prove that scientific theories are true. The first part of this argument is that, if God had designed X, the features of X would approximate randomness. The second part of this argument is that random design can therefore be used, in the form of a null hypothesis, as a proxy for design. If the null hypothesis can be falsified, then design is falsified and contingency is confirmed. The random design argument has two important problems that have gone unrecognized. First, though presented as a finding of empirical science, it relies on theological claims. Second, though presented as a null hypothesis, there is no justification that random design is the logical complement of the scientific theory in question. Despite its failings, the random design argument has a long history of use for justifying and proving scientific hypotheses. This paper documents several areas where the random design argument has been used (both currently and historically) as well as the logical problems with the argument.