The Teleological Argument

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  • The Teleological Argument (The Design Argument)
    • Aquinas (1225-1274) Argument: Design Qua Purpose
      • 1. All natural occurrences show evidence of design
      • 2. This suggests that there is a being that directs all things
      • 3. Things that lack knowledge cannot achieve anything unless directed by a thing of knowledge
      • 4. Therefore there is an intelligent being that directs everyone towards a purpose
      • 5. For Aquinas this is God. Aquinas assumes all things have a purpose. However, he gives no examples to back this up.
      • "It is plain to see that they achieve their end, not fortuitously, but designedly"
      • Just as an arrow requires an archer to direct it towards a target
      • Design Qua Purpose - Things in the natural world make up interrelated systems as though they were aiming for a purpose
    • William Paley (1743-1805) Writing: Natural Theology
      • Design Qua Purpose
        • Analogy: A man walks across a heath and finds a rock. He attributes the existence of the rock to nature. He then finds a watch, and realises that it's purpose it to tell the time. Due to the complexity of the watch he concludes that the watch couldn't have came about without a watchmaker or designer.
        • The watch is like the universe – it is too complex to have just happened by chance. It is impossible therefore to suppose that the universe had come about without the agency of a 'universe maker' – God.
      • Design Qua Regularity
        • Things that lack intelligence act with regularity. The relationship between the planets and gravity could not have come about without a designing principle at work
      • Six Points regarding the argument
        • Doesn't matter if you haven't seen a watch being made
        • Doesn't matter if the watch doesn't work
        • Doesn't matter if you don't know how all the parts work
        • Doesn't make sense to just say that it is one possible combination of materials
        • It's not simply a result of a 'Principle of Order'
        • If the watch could multiply itself, it still means it was desgined
    • Critics
      • David Hume (1711-1776) Writing: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
        • Analogy between the watch and the world is weak. Characteristics of design and purpose are less obvious in the world. The world and machines have little in common
        • The order of the world does not necessarily mean someone had the idea of design. We do not know that the order of the world is a result of an intelligent idea from a divine orderer
        • Order is not necessarily part of the worlds existence. Any world will look designed because if it wasn't, it would not survive. The worlds order could just be by chance.
        • You cannot work backwards from the effect (the world) and infer there is a cause (God). The cause and effect does not create as simply as this
        • Even if we assume there is a God, there is no reason to suggest it is the biblical God. There is no evidence that the world is a result of an infinite and perfect creator
        • There is no reason to assume the world is made by one God and not numerous creators. This world could be a last attempt after many failures by a team of Gods
        • The universe is unique, we cannot know how worlds are made. We have nothing to compare our world to. We have no knowledge of what could have been
      • John StuartMill (1806-1873)
        • Argument
          • If we look at the world and the rules which govern it, then we can see cruelty, violence, and unnecessary suffering.
          • "Nature is red in tooth and claw"
          • If the world has been deliberatly designed, then it indicates something very different from a loving creator or God
        • Conclusion
          • Nature kills people through earthquakes and hurricanes, just as murderers kill people.
          • Everything humans do, mother nature does on a grander scale
          • If God created the world it cannot be used as evidence for the goodness of God, as there is so much evil in the world that causes suffering and pain
      • Darwin  (1809-1882) Writing: The Origin of Species
        • Discoveries:
          • Natural Selection and Evolution
        • The challenge to design and the existence of God:
          • Species have evolved from simple organisms over thousands of years. Not created in a perfect form by God
        • How can the eye as an example of divine contrivance be challenged?
          • The eye has evolved through time, there are multiple versions of what the eye could have been. Therefore God did not design this complex thing as a perfect sense
        • Conclusion
          • Everything has evolved. Mutations happen in the DNA, and are kept if they aid survival. God did not perfectly evolved creatures and put them on the earth
    • F.R Tennant (1866-1957)
      • Anthropic Principle: The universe shows propensity for human life. The existence of God is evident from the nature of the universe. If physical laws were slightly different, life could not exist
    • Richard Swinburne (1934-)
      • Aesthetic Principle: There must be a reason behind the regularity we can observe in the universe.
      • Accepting that the universe is just a coincidence is as much as a 'leap of faith' as belief in God does.
      • Humans ability to appreciate beauty is evidence of God's existence
  • Goldilocks Enigma - Paul Davis


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