The argument from analogy takes the order and complexity of the universe to be evidence that it was created by an intelligent designer. The principle that ordered complexity implies design, however, threatens to come back to haunt the theist. This is because the principle appears to be no more applicable to the universe than it is to God.

God himself exhibits ordered complexity. If these are the marks of design, then we have evidence to suggest that God has an intelligent designer.

This thought appears to give rise to an infinite regress. In order to explain one ordered and complex system, it seems, we must postulate another. This new system, however, will then require a further designer, and so on ad infinitum. If one ordered and complex system requires another, then there must be an infinite number of ordered and complex systems.

Clearly this is absurd; we must stop the regress somewhere. At some point, we must be justified in holding that an ordered and complex system needs no explanation, that it simply exists and that is the end of the story. The only question is where we stop, at the universe or at God.

Atheists such as David Hume and Richard Dawkins insist that if we have to stop somewhere, we might as well stop at the universe. Rather than postulating a Creator God whose origin we admit we cannot explain, we should simply admit that we cannot explain the origin of the universe. Russell thus described the universe as a “brute fact”, as something the existence of which must be accepted but which needs no explanation.

This objection can be summarised as follows: in solving one problem (that of the universe’s origins), the argument from analogy creates another (that of God’s origins). It therefore leaves us in no better position than it found us.