The Teleological Argument

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Frederick Tennant

'Philosophical Theology'


- Somes from the Greek word 'anthropos' meaning 'human'

- States that the purpose of the universe is to sustain human life


- Darwin's theory of evolution does not explain why humans have "an appreciation for music, art, literature and other beautiful things" and that "natural selection can not count for its existence"

- These are not necessary for human survival

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Arthur Brown

The ozone layer protects humans from radiation that would otherwise harm or kill them.

"The ozone layer is mighty proof of the creator's forethought."

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Mark Twain

Humans overstate their importance in the world.

"Man exists because of the universe, not the other way around."

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St. Thomas Aquinas

'Summa Theologia'

Arrow/Archer analogy

- Since the arrow can not fire itself, it needs an "intelligent force" behind it

- In the same way, there needs to be an "intelligent force" behind the design of the universe

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William Paley

'Natural Theology'

Postulated a watch analogy:

- If you came across a stone on a heath, you could conclude that it had been there forever, however if you came across a watch, you could not come to the same conclusion as it is too complex and intricate to not have a designer

- In the same way, the earth must have a designer as it is even more complex and intricate than a watch

- Logical designer - God

"Intricacies existing within nature could not have come about by chance."

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Richard Dawkins

'The Blind Watchmaker' 

There is an "illusion of design" that theists have misinterpreted as actual evidence of design

- Cultural inheritance: dominant genes from those who came before us have been passed down to us

- Our appreciation for aesthetics is part of natural selection, not evidence of a designer

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Richard Swinburne

'Is There a God?'

Formulated a "fine tuning" argument:

- He argues "the earth is too finely tuned to be like this on its own"

- Science can explain aspects of this, but can not explain how "occurrences have organised themselves over an extended period of time to work in mankind's favour"

- This must be the result of a higher being, which logically is God

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David Hume

'Philosophy of Religion'

Argued that Paley's analogy was flawed as the objects being compared are only alike in "hidden respects":

- "The objects being compared do not have enough relevant similarities to infer they were made in the same way."

- Instead, they need more obvious similarities, for example, "a cat and a lion"

Therefore, Paley's analogy is weak

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John Stuart Mill

Argued that the effects of evil are too widely felt to be dismissed and that evil is part of the design of the universe.

"Evil alone is enough to prove that either God does not exist or that if he does, he is not all loving."

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The design argument, also known as the teleological argument (comes from the Greek word 'telos' meaning 'order' or 'purpose') seeks to find the existence of the God of Classical Theism through the evidence of design in the universe.

It can be traced back to Ancient Greece, where Plato and Cicero spoke of a "higher intelligent being."

It is an a posteriori, inductive argument, as there is no definitive proof of God's existence.

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