Design or Teleological notes A02

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AS Religious Studies Revision: The Teleological Argument
AO2: Critical evaluation i.e. `what do I put in part b)?'
Remember to read the question first before just regurgitating.
The strengths of the design argument.
The strengths of the design argument are the strengths of inductive reasoning: inductive
arguments begin with something that we can observe. It is difficult to deny the presence of
order and complexity in the universe.
Inductive reasoning begins with experience which may be universal (i.e. everyone has had it) or
it may at least be testable.
The argument does not rely upon fixed definitions that we must accept
The use of analogy (the watchmaker) in this argument makes it comprehensible to us: it moves
from something within our experience to try to explain something beyond it (the creation of
the universe); the argument is simple and straightforward to follow.
The argument is not necessarily incompatible with evolution and Big Bang: both of these
processes could be part of the design of the universe.
The concept of God as designer reinforces the idea that God is involved in the history of the
universe and is therefore omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent.
The design argument gives a purpose to the universe, rather than having blind nature moving
in a random direction. This in turn gives the universe meaning. We can see this within the
workings of the universe.
Weaknesses of the design argument (you should learn David Hume's criticisms).
It is an inductive proof and therefore only leads to a probable conclusion.
Just because things in the world have designers, that doesn't mean that the world itself has a
designer. We have experience of house being designed and built, but we do not have
experience of worlds being designed and built. (Hume 1)
The universe is unique and we cannot make assumptions about the creation of unique things.
(Hume 2)
The world may be designed, but there may be more than one designer. (Hume 3)
We judge the attributes of the creator by what is created. The presence of suffering and evil in
the world suggests a cruel designer. (Hume 4 and J.S. Mill)
The designer of the world may have a designer: this leads to an infinite regress.
The order and complexity that we see might just be human perception: there might not
actually be any order or complexity there, perhaps we impose it on the world. (Kant)
The Design argument does not tell us anything about the creator/designer: it is just as
possible to use this argument to say that God is evil rather than omnibenevolent (look at all
the natural disasters and diseases like cancer). (Stephen Law)
The Design argument does not necessarily lead to the God of classical theism.
Evolutionary theory and natural selection seem to suggest that complex organisms arose
through genetic mutation, not through design.
Purpose ­ it is not always clear what a things purpose is ­ e.g. the purpose of a human being?
What do both Hume and Dawkins say about evidence of purpose?
God cannot be known purely from natural theology: God can also be known through mystical
revelation and direct awareness (William Blake).

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Does the design argument work?
Depends on what you think it is trying to do: prove the existence of God through reason? To
raise the probability of God's existence? Give reasoned support for faith?
Some Design arguments work better than others.
Might convince an existing believer; may not convince an atheist as there are other viable
interpretations that can be reached.
Isn't there a problem in moving from "designer" to "God" ­ quite a jump.
Exam Questions
1.…read more


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