God and The World - Teleological Argument


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  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 18-05-12 12:14


Aquinas believed that causation gives things their perfection

He believed that goal-directed behaviour is observed in all bodies obeying natural laws.

He used the analogy of an arrow, where it requires an archer.

If you were to see an arrow flying through the air, you would know that somebody had fired it from a bow, and there was a purpose to firing it.

Similarly, everything in nature is directed to its goal by someone with understanding.

And this, we call God.

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Paley used the analogy of a watch to determine that God created the world.

We see that the watch is complex in the way that it has many components that work harmoniously.

With this, we know that the watchmaker planned for the hours and minutes to be regulared and thus used his intelligence to make that watch so that it was tuned to work neatly together.

The watchmaker evidently made the watch to fulfil a purpose: for the user to tell the time.

He then goes on to use the same anology for the eye; both things are made up of many intricate parts that work collectively for a purpose, concluding that both must have a designer. 

There must be a watchmaker; so - there must be a maker of the eye.

He went even further to compare the eye to the universe.

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Complex – lots of parts

Harmonious – they work together

Planned – Hours and minutes regulated

Intelligence – tuned to work neatly together


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Hume - Cleanthes

• Cleanthes supports the teleological argument

• The world is like one great machine, sub-divided into an infinite number of smaller machines. & must therefore have a designer

• Stone, mortar and wood cannot build a house without an architect

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The Anthropic Principle

Everything works in the world for us, as humans.

“the world was created with us in mind”

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Hume - Philo (criticisms)

• Philo criticises it

We do not know how this world was created

• “have the worlds ever been formed under your eye” – none of us have witnessed it

• For all we know, the world could’ve been created by two parenting worlds

• We do not have the knowledge to compare this world with others

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We do not have the knowledge to compare this world

"It is impossible for us to tell whether this system contains any great faults or deserves any considerable praise if compared to other possible or even real systems"

A key feature of this argument is that even if you find that there is order in the world, all that it enables you to say is that... there is order in the world. It does not justify the leap from the sense of order to the concept of God.

It has been suggested that if enough monkeys sat down at typewriters and randomly hit the keys, one of them would type of the Lord's Prayer. This does not mean the particular money is any more intelligent or informed than the others, it would just be a matter of coincidence

The development of the earth could be similar in that there might be countless millions of planets where there is disorder and chaos and we are the one exception through chance.

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Criticism - Evolution

Natural selection: the apparent design being nothing more than the result of unintelligent evolutionary processes.

Darwin concluded that animals adapt and evolve from their surorundings, which can allude to the variety of life on earth can be a result of such adaptations, rather than intelligent design by God - the apparent designer.

Dawkins supported Darwin by saying these mutations and processes of natural selection may cause an illusion of design, as it has taken millions of years for the sepicies we see now to survive in the world as it is now.

An example of this is:a giraffe with a longer neck will survive to breed, rather than a giraffe with a smaller neck, as the one with the longer neck can reach the top branches to eat.

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Within living things, damage occurs in a random way to the genetic information coded on DNA molecules, causing random mutations.

When these mutations are beneficial - in the sense that it adapts better than those without the mutation - then the opportunity is there for a new form of life to develop.

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Natural Evil

We are told that God is perfect and therefore flawless. Yet:

John Stewart Mill calimed that is is very unlikely to him that there is in fact a perfect designer because there is such imperfection in the world.

e.g. the tectonic plates move and collide in  a way that they can cause tsunamis and earthquakes, thus causing complete devastation and death.

Volcanoes can erupt and kill; and poverty has affected the world for countless years.

It is illogical to believe there is a perfect God, where he has created an unsafe world for us all, whilst creating us to be physically quite weak, whilst letting illnesses exist, take over, and consequently kill us.

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