Design Argument

my notes on the design argument :)

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  • Created by: Chantal
  • Created on: 16-02-13 11:23
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Design Argument:
Infers the existence of God from a particular aspect or character of the world, namely presence
of order, regularity and purpose
Order, regularity and purpose are seen as marks of design- God must be the source of that
Telos= `end' or `purpose'
A Posteriori argument
Inductive- move from observation of the world to God
Last of his five ways (order):
When you look at the natural world you can see that everything in it follows
natural laws, even if the things are not conscious, thinking beings
If things follow natural laws they tend to do well and have some goal or purpose
However, if a thing cannot think for itself it does not have any goal or purpose
unless it is directed by something that thinks eg an arrow reaches its goal by
someone such as Legolas
Concludes everything in the natural world that does not think for itself heads
towards its goal/purpose because it is directed by something which does think.
That something we call God
Human beings think for themselves and cause things to be aimed at some goal, the
reason why human beings exist has to be explained as human beings are not immortal
Everything in the natural world is directed to some goal and follows natural laws,
whether intelligent or not
Natural laws direct things and these were set up by something which thinks, God
Argument by regularity:
Regularity of succession= he bases his argument on the fact that things in nature
follow certain laws that lead to certain results
An arrow hits a target even though it does not have a mind of its own (an effect)
The archer (someone with a mind of their own) shot the arrow (a cause)
Things in the natural world follow natural laws even though they do not
necessarily have a mind of their own (an effect)
Someone with a mind of their own caused the natural world to behave in this
way. We call this someone God (a cause)
Aristotle and Aquinas:
Aquinas was a follower of Aristotle
Aquinas' teleological is influenced by Aristotle's theory of the four causes
Aquinas links Aristotle's idea of a final cause to God
Links in with Aristotle's thinking and cosmological argument
Ultimately the reason why human beings exist is because an uncaused cause
made the natural laws that led to their existence
Weakness' in Aquinas' argument:
Aquinas assumes that things in the natural world have some purpose and are
aimed at some goals. He never provides examples. But he does explain this point
in much greater depth in a separate book
Id it correct to assume everything follows a general law set down by a designer?

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Richard Swinburne has pointed out Aquinas' argument is not entirely satisfactory
His famous argument compares a rock and a watch:
If you went for a walk and found a rock you could conclude it had been there
forever and not think any more about it.…read more

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Mill's essay on nature summarises what, for Mill, was a key problem in the teleological
Mill develops Hume's point about the imperfection in nature. He engages seriously with
the problem of evil and works through the possible consequences for the traditional
theistic God
Cruelty of nature:
Mill feels that observation of nature does not logically lead to the conclusion that
it is designed for human good
The 2 cruelest things that humans do are to take life and to deprive someon of
their livelihood.…read more


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