Teleological Argument

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  • In effect a special application of the cosmological argument in that it too, through an a posteriori, inductive, synthetic argument, attempts to propose an explanation for a particular feature of the universe.
  • Observation of the universe being ordered- gravity, laws of nature, day/night, planets.
  • Universe provides- humans are able to survive (oxygen, temperature), aesthetic (beauty), inductive and a posteriori- all work to an end- must be God.
  • Claims that certain phenomena within the universe appear to display features of design, in so far as they are perfectly adapted to fulfil their function. Such design cannot come about by chance and can only be explained with reference to an intelligent, personal designer. it is possible to draw an analogy between the works of human design and the works of nature, and there are sufficient similarities to infer design of a similar nature. Since the works of nature are far greater than the works of man, an infinitely greater designer must be postulated, which points towards the existence of God as the one who possesses the necessary attributes. 
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Aquinas' Fifth Way

  • He said that the beneficial order of the universe could not happen by chance and as many objects do not have the intelligence to work towards an end/purpose- they must be directed by something that does have intelligence and is of great power- thus God must exist as an explanation of beneficial order.

Everything acts with order and purpose -> this is not by chance but by design -> as unintelligent things cannot order themselves -> e.g. an arrow needs an archer to reach a target -> therefore something intelligent must design unintelligent things be ordered= God.

  • Another example- grey whale- travels from Canada to Alaska to feed and then back to breed- end/ purpose= not chance- must be something that designs them to do this.
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William Paleys Watchamker Analogy

  • Shows how unity and purpose cannot be explained by chance.
  • Just as the discovery of a watch on a heath could not be explained by it always being there- the order of the universe also demands explanation.
  • He believed that if you found a stone on the ground and knew nothing about it or how it came to be there you would think it had been there forever.
  • He then went onto say that there must have been a designer who made the watch for its purpose because of its intricacy.
  • He drew an analogy between a watch and the creation of the universe and because of this believed that there must have been a designer for that too.
  • His analogy does not question or draw conclusions of the designers character or the actual design- perfection, infinity, rarity.
  • Even if the watch goes wrong or shows bad design, or we have never seen a watch before or we cannot work out how individuals contribute as a whole- it does not disprove that it has been designed.

Paley found a watch -> it must be designed -> by a designer -> this must be true of nature    -> but nature is more complex than a watch.

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The Aesthetic Argument

  • The universe contains more beauty than needed.
  • Natural beauty vs. human beauty- created by humans.
  • Premise one- universe is ordered
  • Premise two- universe is more ordered than needed- must have been designed = benevolent god because he is giving us more beauty than needed.
  • Superfluous- beauty with little survival values- Niagara falls- not essential so evidence of loving creator.

"Nature is saturated by beauty, from microscopic to telescopic."

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The Anthropic Principle

  • Evolution- theists say science alone isn't sufficient to explain the perfectly balanced order that prevails.
  • Gravity- who gave us gravity? Couldn’t be chance.
  • Not evolution alone

"Religion without science is false, science without religion is lame."

  • Leads to probability argument- 23 constants- 1 to a billion= couldn't be chance.
  • God creates evolution.
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The Probability Argument

  • The probability of design is greater than chance.
  • Seven features of the world which demand explanation- existence, order, consciousness, opportunity to do good, the pattern of history, miracles, religious experience-the very existence of the universe, the fact that the universe is ordered, the existence of consciousness, human opportunities to do good, the pattern of history, the evidence of miracles and religious experience.
  •  Human’s fit 23 constants- improve existence of god and humans share gods creativity.
  • The evidence of design and order in the universe increases the probability of the existence of God- how does it behave in such a coherent way?
  • Swinburne's key observations of the universe- its fittingness for human life, scope for humans to share in Gods creative activity and to make significant choices.
  • He believes that we do not simply perceive order rather than disorder but that we should be amazed by the fact that there is order rather than disorder. Just because we are there to observe, it does not make it less probable.
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The Providential Argument

  • The universe contains everything needed for human survival and benefit.
  • Universe provides us.
  • Humans occupy highest position- cannot be chance- allows humans to contribute to the world.
  • It is not just ordered but here for us- providence must be divine.
  • There was a choice but we were designed to be on top or in gods image.
  • (links with aesthetic argument)
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Strengths of the Design Argument

  • It is the clearest and most accordant with common reasons and order needs explanation- Kant. 
  • It is empirical and a posteriori.
  • Swinburne's argument from probability- the idea that if you put together all the arguments about the exact conditions needed for our life to come about on a planet the probability is so low that it cannot be chance.
  • Argument also from providential nature- contains everything necessary for survival; God had a choice about what kind of universe to make therefore this universe cannot be chance.
  • Rules out chance and probability.
  • The probability that he does exist is greater than that he doesn't.
  • Logical.
  • Evolution does not explain morality, art, music etc.
  • Does not necessarily rule out God as reason behind evolution.

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Weaknesses of the Design Argument

  • Like effects do not infer like causes.
  • A posteriori and inductive- evidence may not be as compelling as suggested.
  • Paley has chosen to see order; order is a concept we impose on the universe- not orderly at quantum level.
  • The epicurean hypothesis of multi-verses states that it is not surprising that one universe at least produced our kind of life, but this is chance not design.
  • Not God of classical theism.
  • Who created the watchmaker?
  • Probability is not proof.
  • To be a proof (convince everyone) the argument must be valid and have true premises. In terms of logic the argument is not valid as the existence of God is not a necessary conclusion.
  • The argument is guilty of anthropomorphising God- portrays him as being limited and flawed like humans.
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Dawkins Opposing Argument

  • Analogy Paley uses does not work as we know very well a watch has a maker but we cannot be sure that the universe does so. Stones are also complex? And may also be designed by someone for a purpose.
  • Assumes that the universe has order because he has seen it work but to say that the universe is patterned on order is to say that the universe is patterned on the universe.
  • The universe could not have come about by one chance but could have come about from a series of chances.
  • Because humans are purpose driven we assume that the universe too, has a purpose- but purpose lies within, not outside a human.
  • We should stop asking more and instead value life as intrinsically special as it is just as easy for us not to exist.
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Humes Opposing Argument

  • The watchmaker analogy is unsound because it argues from that which we know to that which we are ignorant.
  • Draws an analogy between that which we know to be limited and imperfect to that which we claim to be unlimited and perfect.
  • It is not clear as to whether the analogy refers to parts of the universe or the universe as a whole. Parts of the universe appear to have a purpose but the universe as a whole doesn't particularly.
  • Problem of induction- we infer a designer when we see design because custom has taught us that this is a legitimate connection to make. In most cases where there is design, there is a designer but why, rationally do we make this association.
  • To draw an analogy between the universe and the works of man is difficult for a theist because it leads to anthropomorphism- Gods qualities and characteristics are closely linked with those of man but it removes the elements of the God of classical theism.
  • Emphasises his limitedness, changeability and fallibility- does not support the view that a great being of infinite capacity designed and created the universe with benevolent interest in his creatures- surely implies that God is non-moral and limited.
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Humes Opposing Argument (2)

  • The analogy of the watchmaker does not work but the universe instead can be compared to an organic model such as a vegetable or animal.
  • This other analogy is more compatible with the findings of science which suggest that the universe is in a permanent state of development and decay, not of order- it is not like a machine.
  • The presence of order could be explained in many ways without reference to God. It cannot be assumed that God is the only explanation for its features and although we can say that the designer was very powerful and highly intelligent it is difficult to say that they are all powerful and morally perfect.
  • There is insufficient evidence for claiming that there is design in the universe at all- no way of establishing the correct explanation until we can conceivably reach some eschatological destiny.
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Strengths of the Design Argument (2)

  • Explains order and beauty- aesthetic argument
  • Beauty is an unnecessary quality for existence so must have a purpose- that purpose reflects the nature of the God behind it.
  • Swinburne- weak anthropic principle (we are here because all creation- evolution has led to us being here, not random series of chances).
  • Tenant- strong anthropic principle (intelligent life would have taken hold anyway whatever the circumstances and will spread throughout the universe and is the purpose of the universe.
  • Swinburne's argument from probability- order and design evidence increases the probability that God exists.
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Epicurean Hypothesis

  • Hume suggested the epicurean hypothesis as a possible explanation for the design of the universe.
  • Epicurus puts forward the idea of infinite time, in which there is a huge but finite number of particles moving about, going through every possible combination. If any one combination happens to represent a stable order, it must occur -this would have the appearance of design. Thus, apparent design could happen at random, without the need to infer a designer.
  • This is akin to the argument that if an infinite number of monkeys were all put together in a room, each with a type-writer, one of them would produce the works of Shakespeare- no special explanation is demanded for the universe.
  • Seeks to explain the totality of the universe despite our lack of experience of it. Thus universe is unique and cannot be reasonably compared with anything. The design argument attempts to draw conclusions based on limited knowledge and experience.
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The Problem of Evil and Suffering/ dysteleological

  • We can question the idea that the universe is a beautiful and harmonious place because of evil and suffering.
  • Mill argued that the most we can claim is that the designer may be benevolent but must be seriously limited in power to allow such suffering.
  • Mill and Hume- dysteleological argument- the problem of evil as the absence of order and the argument of poor design.
  • Examples of poor design- the appendix and it leading to fatal appendicitis, unnecessary wings in flightless birds, portions of DNA that serve no purpose, congenital and genetic disorders and the malfunction of the human spinal column
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The Design Argument and Modern Science

  • Evolution destroys the concept of goal-orientated design and the beauty of the world as the work of God. 
  • Natural selection removed the mystery of life and its origins.
  • God of the gaps (invoking God as an explanation) is now challenged by the view that because so much natural phenomena is now explained by science instead of God- theistic or divine explanations for any natural phenomenon become less plausible.
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The Theory of Intelligent Design

  • Certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
  • Intelligent design is equal with or superior to current scientific theories regarding the origin of life.
  • It does not try to identify the name of the intelligent cause, merely stating that one or more must exist, although many proponents of intelligent design believe that it is the God of classical theism.
  • Largely rejected by the scientific community as it is religious in nature so is not a science, however proponents believe that it should be taught in schools as an alternative to evolution.
  • Intelligent design was mainly proposed by Christian apologists who feel science threatens their biblical based view of reality.
  • The key principle of intelligent design is that of irreducible complexity- the argument that in the universe there are biological processes that are so complex they cannot be broken down into smaller functioning systems.
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  • All it really succeeds in proving is that the universe is ordered; it cannot prove that it was designed, only that there appears to us to be a design.
  • Should it be valid, then it can prove the existence of a sentient, designing intelligence, but this is not the same as an eternal, omnipotent deity.
  • No proof either way.
  • Simplest answer.
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