There are at least two such arguments. One would try to capitalize on the fact that the universe is orderly and works according to laws. Proteins fold into precise shapes, and the economy tends toward equilibrium. Somehow a conclusion would be reached that laws require a lawgiver, and the attributes of this lawgiver uncovered by the argument would be highlighted.
This is not the argument I’ll be considering here. Let me instead build on my discussion of organic wholes and efficient causation.
I concluded that the efficient cause of any object involves not only the object but a bigger device or machine of which it is a part.
Thus, the question “How does a human arm work?” cannot be answered without considering not only the arm but the body to which it is attached, the environment surrounding the body that keeps it alive such as air, the laws of biology, and possibly many other things. All of them “permeate” the arm and are in a real sense part of it.
This is despite the fact that materially, the arm is part of the body.
Similarly, a piston considered in itself is inert. But place it into a bigger machine, such as an internal combustion engine, and you’ll see it come alive and do interesting things.
And this is true for pretty must everything. It is impossible to understand how the planet Earth works without referencing not only it but the entire Solar system and even what lies beyond it.
As an additional result, the efficient cause of any object is more complex than the object.
But the universe as a whole does not appear to be a part of any larger entity. What then makes it work?
One possibility is to propose that the universe is animated by a soul and call this world-soul God. But I see no evidence that the universe as a whole has any 2nd-grade aspirations. You can peer through a telescope as much as you want and find no spiritual activity out there. So, this idea has to be abandoned.
Now any subsystem within the universe can apparently be explained by invoking the universe as a whole, but the universe as a whole is, too, a system and requires an explanation of its operation. So then, as per the apparent universal law that the efficient cause of any X is bigger and more complex than X, what we see as “the universe” must in fact be a part of a still grander device Y that causes it to function properly.
Of course, Y then must itself belong to a still greater and more magnificent Z, etc. Since we cannot go to infinity in terms of the number of containing mechanisms existing, we must postulate one object G which can control our universe and which itself is part of this universe as its efficient cause that is (1) immense, (2) infinitely complex, and (3) self-sufficient.
Another way to look at this matter would be to define the universe as “everything that exists; the full reality.” Then we’d have to expand our universe to incorporate into it Y, Z, etc. as parts. The rest of the reasoning is the same, however: the universe may be getting bigger, but it still cannot contain an actually infinite number of physical objects, infinity being a mathematical abstraction. So, we then instead postulate one G which is infinitely complex, a more tractable notion, whose operation intimately involves X, the universe — or perhaps better still, the observable universe — and which is the efficient cause of X, i.e., which is the answer to the question “What makes X work?”
Since we cannot observe G, it being beyond our field of perception, it is impossible to say precisely how G animates X, but the conclusion seems inevitable, anyway.
Far be it from me to worship a machine though, that G is what I want to call God.
NB: This proof is concerned with the efficient cause of our universe. The specific examples used may give the impression that if Y is a bigger and more complex efficient cause of X, then X must be a smaller material cause of Y. Regarding God, however, this need not hold. The universe need not (though the present argument expresses no opinion on this issue) be a material part of God, as an arm is a material cause of the body. All we have established is what sort of thing is the efficient part of the universe. That is all.