Aquinas' & Paley's Design Argument

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: asma
  • Created on: 11-06-13 19:37

Who was Aquinas'?

    St. Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) was a Dominican priest, theologian, and philosopher. He was also known as Doctor Angelicas (the Angelic Doctor). He is considered as one of the greatest Christian philosophers to have ever lived. Two of his most famous works, the Summa Theology and the Summa Contra Gentiles, are the finest examples of his work on Christian philosophy. The last of the five ways is the one which takes up a version of the design argument for the existence of God.

1 of 7

Aquinas' Design Argument

Aquinas uses the summa theologiae to state that common sense tells us that the universe works in such a way, that one can conclude that is was designed by an intelligent designer, God. He was suggesting that all physical laws and the order of nature and life were designed and ordered by God, the intelligent designer. He also suggested that nothing inamite is purposeful without the aid of a ‘guiding hand’ (the example of an archer shooting an arrow at his target is used. Aquinas used the example of archery to illustrate his belief that purpose in the universe is evidence for the existence of God. It shows that everything in nature which is moving but has no intelligence must be directed to its goal by God. Aquinas says that there is purpose in the world but adds to this that inanimate objects. Another example, is the planets could not have ordered themselves, as they do not have any intelligence with which make plans and patterns. Therefore they must have been given an order by someone with intelligence (God). The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies act for an end and this is evident from their acting always or nearly always in the same way so as to obtain the best result.Hence it is plain that they achieve their end not fortuitously but designedly.Whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence, as the arrow is directed by whom all natural things are directed to their end; this is the being we call God.

2 of 7

Who was William Paley?

William Paley (July 1743 – 25 May 1805, who was Archdeacon of Carlisle, an English Christian apologist, philosopher and utilitarian. He put forward what is probably the most famous version of the design argument, in his book Natural Theology, which made use of the watchmaker theology. He was known for his Contributions to moral philosophy, political philosophy, ethics and philosophy of religion.

3 of 7

Paley's Design Argument

Paley argued the mechanism of the universe could be compared to the mechanism of a manufactured object such as a watch. William Paley used the analogy of someone coming across a watch on a heath (this was probably not Paley’s own analogy, but one which was popular and which he chose to repeat). Imagine, he said, if someone was out walking on a heath, and looked down and saw a watch lying on the ground. The person finding the watch worked in order to tell the time, and would conclude that someone must have made it, there has to be a designer, as the watch cannot just have happened by chance. Everything in the world has a designer so even the world does, so this means there has to be a creator and this is God. Paley said that looking at a watch was similar to looking at the world, or at the human body, and noticing how it all works together, so this means there must have been a divine intelligence ordering it to work properly.

4 of 7

Paley's Design Argument cont...

Paley argued that everything that has been designed, has been made for a reason and to fulfil some function: šThe Design qua purpose – is the argument that tells us that the universe appears to have been designed to fulfil some purpose, for example, bees pollinating flowers, trees giving out oxygen and taking in carbon dioxide. Paley argues that there is additional evidence for a creator God in the regularity of the Universe: šThe Design qua regularity – this argument tells us that the Universe appears to perform according to some order. Therefore, Paley’s argument is referred as the Teleological argument as it looks to the end purpose of things, and it is also referred as the design argument as it looks for evidence of God’s existence through design in creation. The Bible also appears to echo much of the Teleological argument when it says: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. (Psalm 19:1-3)

5 of 7

Similarities of Aquinas’ and Paley’s argument

šPaley’s analogy is built on the base of the details of the design that is visible in the world for Paley things such as trees, plants and eyes cannot have just happened by chance there must have been a designer. šSimilarly Aquinas claims that the reason distinctive objects can perform in away that achieves the best result is due to them being designed that way, this proves that there is an intelligent designer behind every thing and that designer is God. Aquinas uses an Empirical fact and proves his point with his anology of the arrow shooter, both Paley and Aquinas   both argue that there must have been a designer, because of the incredibility in the world that’s why they both argue from “Design qua purpose” š

6 of 7

The differences between Aquinas’ and Paley’s argum

The main differences of the two design arguments  vary but not completely, because Paley argues that Gods presence is revealed through details of things in the natural world where as Aquinas bases natural preferences in the natural world.

7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Philosophy resources:

See all Philosophy resources »See all resources »