some background info for ppl doing the telological argument question in june

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The Teleological Argument
Teleological arguments are arguments from the order in the universe to the
existence of God. They are also known as arguments from design (or, to be
precise, arguments to design).
The name "the teleological argument" is derived from the Greek word telos,
meaning "end" or "purpose". When such arguments speak of the universe being
ordered, they mean that it is ordered towards some end or purpose. The
suggestion is that it is more plausible to suppose that the universe is so because it
was created by an intelligent being in order to accomplish that purpose than it is
to suppose that it is this way by chance.
The teleological argument was used by St Thomas Aquinas as one of his Five Ways
of knowing that God exists, but the most cited statement of the argument is that
of William Paley. Paley likened the universe to a watch, with many ordered parts
working in harmony to further some purpose. Just as the complexity, order, and
purpose of a watch implies intelligent design, he suggested, so too the complexity,
order, and purpose of the universe implies intelligent design. The argument as he
constructed it is thus an argument from analogy.
Modern teleological arguments look somewhat different to that constructed by
Paley. While Paley was particularly impressed by the appearance of design in
biological systems, such as the eye, or animals, modern teleological arguments
often find evidence of design in physics. Modern teleological arguments tend to
focus on the "fine-tuning" in the universe, the fact that it is exactly as it needs to
be ("fine-tuned") to support life.
One advantage that this gives modern design arguments over Paley's is that they
are less vulnerable to attacks based on evolution theory. It is an objection to
Paley's argument that evolution can explain the appearance of biological design;
evolutionary processes, though, do not apply to the laws of nature.
Although teleological arguments are often referred to as arguments from design,
those who oppose such arguments sometimes object to this. Antony Flew, in
particular, has done this, repeatedly and pointedly calling the argument the
argument to design. Though he is no longer the vehement critic of the argument
that he once was, having recently been persuaded that it might have merit, he
continues to be a critic of the common name, insisting that it is it the argument
to, not from, design.
If the universe contains design then there must be some intelligent agent that
designed it. Although a few dispute this, speaking of nature, or evolution, as our
designers, this appears to be a simple linguistic truth. Just as if something is
carried then there must be a carrier, so if there is design there must be a designer.
What those who reject the argument dispute, then, is not whether the design in
the universe implies that there is someone who designed it, but whether the order
and complexity in the universe does constitute design.
The Argument from Analogy
The classic statement of the teleological argument is that of William Paley in his
Natural Theology. Paley likened the universe to a watch. Like a watch, he said,
the universe consists of many complex parts functioning in harmony towards some
useful end. In a watch the various parts are ordered such that they measure time;
in the universe, such that they support life. The two are, in this respect, similar.
This comparison forms the basis of Paley's argument for intelligent design.
In the case of a watch we take these properties to constitute evidence of design.
If we were to stumble across a watch in a natural environment, lying on a heath,
to cite Paley's example, then we would instantly know, because of its order and
complexity, that it was designed. Order and complexity are the marks of design.
If order and complexity constitute evidence of design in the case of a watch,
though, then they must also constitute evidence of design in the case of the
universe. The case of the watch thus illustrates the fact that the order and
complexity of the universe is evidence that the universe was designed. Insofar as
the universe is observed to consist of many different parts functioning in harmony

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The inference from the order and complexity of a watch to its being designed is
not dependent on knowledge of how watches are made. If we were to stumble
across a watch in a natural environment, then we would instantly know that it was
designed even without any knowledge of how watches are made or where watches
come from. It is therefore no objection to Paley's argument that we know how
watches are made but do not know how universes are made.…read more

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Defenders of Paley point out that the inference is from order to design, and
suggest that it is irrelevant in what kind of system that order is found. Whether it
be a universe or a watch, they say, the observation is of the same thing:
complexity ordered towards a purpose. In every case, they suggest, this ordered
complexity is evidence of the same thing: intelligent design.…read more

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Analogy and Anthropomorphism
The argument from analogy is a form of the argument from design. It takes the
analogy between the order of the universe and the order of a watch to support
the inference that the universe, like a watch, has a designer.
One objection to this argument is that the analogy between a watch and the
universe is a weak one.…read more

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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.…read more

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Objections to the Argument from Fine-Tuning
It is common to think that the argument from design is obsolete, that since
Darwin's theory of evolution there has been no need to invoke God to explain the
appearance of design in nature. According to this evolutionary critique, the
universe was not designed to fit us; rather, we evolved to fit the universe.
Another objection to the argument from fine-tuning is that all possible universes
are improbable, and that the existence of some improbable universe was therefore
inevitable.…read more

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Setting aside the question as to just how strong the evidence for the resurrection,
or for any of the other miracles reported in the New Testament, is, religious
sceptics frequently cite David Hume as having undermined any such argument for
belief in the existence of God. According to Hume, no matter how strong the
evidence for a specific miracle may be, it will always be more rational to reject the
miracle than to believe in it.…read more


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