In the beginning of Hovot Helevavot the author prooves the existence of God by bringing a proof from all creations.

To paraphrase: just as every creation (painting, car, book) has a creator so to does the universe and the living creatures have a creator.

The issue I have with this line of thought is that the majority things in our environment have not been made by human creators (forests, oceans, galaxies). Can you prove how the majority of things came into existence by analyzing the minority?

That's like saying that if a certain ethnicity has a certain unique physical attribute so to does the whole human race - which is not the case.

  • 2
    To add to your question: The fact that all observable paintings, cars, books etc. have creators does not imply that all such things necessarily need a creator. Personally, I've found that trying to work out all the 'proofs' lead you nowhere..
    – intuit
    Jun 4, 2015 at 14:11
  • Sounds more like an intelligent design / teleological argument: "anything that is complicated like a picture has a creator. Nature is complicated. -> Nature has a creator." Something like that. IAE of course the proof isn't sound.
    – Double AA
    Jun 4, 2015 at 14:41
  • 1
    related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/56713/759
    – Double AA
    Jun 4, 2015 at 14:42
  • "the majority things in our environment have not been made by human creators (forests, oceans, galaxies)" - does that mean they were not made by any creator?
    – user813801
    Jun 4, 2015 at 16:52
  • 1
    @user813801 The whole point of the question is to determine if they did have one. Hence you can't assume either way in your proof as that would be begging the question (in the classical sense).
    – Double AA
    Jun 4, 2015 at 17:28

2 Answers 2


The Chovos Halevavos does not refer to human beings but makes a general statement (Gate 1 ch.6):

"It is evident to us that for things which come about without the intent of an intender (i.e. an intelligence) - none of them will display any trace of wisdom or ability."

so if we see something that displays wisdom and we know it cannot be eternally existing, then we conclude it must have come about through an act of intelligence.

the alternative is dumb luck which is not impossible just that as the number of events that need to occur for the thing to function increases, the odds decrease exponentially.

the scientist Roger Penrose for example calculated the odds of chance making the universe stable enough that it still exists is about 1 in 10^10^123

i.e not 1 with 123 zeros but 1 with 10^123 zeros. see http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/creatorfacts/

  • I just rolled 100 dice. I got some combination of numbers. The chance of me getting those numbers is 10^-78. But I just got them. Wow! Unbelievable!
    – Double AA
    Jun 4, 2015 at 17:35
  • @DoubleAA yes, but to get something that works. that is functional. for example to assemble a working engine by chance there are far more failures combinations than there are working combinations.
    – ray
    Jun 4, 2015 at 17:45
  • Ok... But it's only in the case where it worked that anyone will be smart enough to ask about it. Making the numbers higher doesn't change any of this.
    – Double AA
    Jun 4, 2015 at 17:52
  • @DoubleAA i understnad what you mean, but the fact remains that the odds are almost infinitely small. so the explanation that an intelligence was involved is far more likely to be the correct answer. unless you want to say there are infinite universes, but then there's no reason to consider that possibility.
    – ray
    Jun 4, 2015 at 18:04
  • A) There's no reason not to consider infinite universes. B) There might be reason to consider infinite universes. C) This is still post facto as in my first comment.
    – Double AA
    Jun 4, 2015 at 18:06

Assuming you are referring to what is often called the "teleological proof", the proof is indeed sound (and, isolated from the noise of the angry agnostics/atheists, is even obvious). The argument is based on statistical induction, the same cognitive methodology that is behind all of the natural and social sciences, as well as basic, rational thought. The construct of the argument is fairly simple and, like all proofs about the real world, involves taking something we already know, and interpolating from it to something we originally did not. In the case of teleological reasoning, it is actually the exact same proof we use when we assume that other people exist (albeit somewhat stronger since in those applications there is technically more room for attacks based on the possibility of intentional deception, which would not apply here since the whole point is to show intention to begin with).

With regard to your specific questions regarding the obvious differences between artificial machines and natural ones, the argument does not induce all properties from the known relationship to the unknown. Using Occams' Razor, one only induces the minimum "properties" necessary to explain the phenomenon.

The argument is essentially the strongest form of what is known as hypothesis testing. When a scientist proposes a model to explain observed phenomena, he tests the models ability to explain the phenomena relative to the null hypothesis, namely, the likelihood that the phenomenon would be observed at random even if the model model/hypothesis were false. The criterion generally accepted to "prove" a hypothesis is 95% or in stronger studies sometimes %99. In the case of the teleological proof, the criterion reached is 99.99999999999... which is as close to certainty a proof in the natural sciences could ever get (and, indeed, in no other instance do other such proofs come close.)

Getting to the actual proof, the observed phenomena upon which the inferrer bases his inference are:

  1. his own existence (which includes his observations of his own intentions/conscious choices as well as of his own ability to control and design his environment to reflect his intentions);
  2. the changing medium/environment in which his intentions are expressed, including both changes that he observes to correspond to his own expressed intentions, as well additional changes that he does not observe himself to be in control of.
  3. the partial similarity between those changes he observes as self-initiated and those that are not observed as self-initiated.

Based on this information, he is able to infer the presence of another mind behind those environmental changes. Based on how similar the other-initiated changes are to the self-initiated changes, the inferrer can infer the level of similarity between the intention of the detected other and his own intentions. This process is known as Theory-of-mind. As you note, in the case of natural phenomena, there are large differences from artificial ones. This is why teleologists do not assume man made the natural universe and rather that the Mind behind it is quite different. But the same basic logical argument is used in infering both man and G-d.

  • "As you note, in the case of natural phenomena, there are large differences from artificial ones." So how can you conclude a mind at all? Without the same level of "partial similarity" your analogy fails. Indeed you have no concept of what sorts of changes would be around without another mind to even compare to. Plus the whole basis of Theory of Mind is comparing seemingly intended actions to the neutral state of no intention! Claiming the base case is intentional too is not only circular but ruins the original intended use of ToM.
    – Double AA
    Jun 4, 2015 at 17:14
  • This post is a severely lacking, and your name-calling your detractors as angry noisemakers or your apodictic assertion that your proof is obvious raises a red flag regarding how little hard support you can actually give your argument. Try speaking with respect if you want others to respect your thoughts.
    – Double AA
    Jun 4, 2015 at 17:25
  • With regard to your first comment, as I note in my answer, there is no "analogy"; it is the exact same proof. However, (as I also note) Occam's Razor (and simple rationality) dictate the extent to which we can analogize the minds. The proof is that the null hypothesis is false even for the strictest of criteria. Not that "G-d likes eggplant parmesan because I do".
    – Loewian
    Jun 4, 2015 at 17:38
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – Loewian
    Jun 4, 2015 at 17:44

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