The teleological argument

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The argument from Regularity

The teleological argument is a posteriori so it looks backwards from the results and tries to work out what caused the result Aquinas' 5th way to prove the existence of God is the teleological argument. Everything follows natural laws heading towards a purpose even if they can't think. If it can't think for itself, it must be directed by God.


Regularity of succesion- Certain laws lead to certain results.

Archer example- arrow does not think for itself and is directed by something, like how natural laws must be directed by something intelligent. Aquinas links this idea to Aristotle's final cause. So everything has a design, purpose and follows natural laws because of God. We exist because God is the uncaused cause.

Weaknesses- Some would say the natural world is just the way it is  Anthony Flew in nature suggests this in nature being directed towards a purpose goes against availiable evidence

Richard Swinburne- argument does not state what is being debated- must this thinker be G?

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Paley's watch- the argument from purpose & Humes c

Watch has the purpose of telling the time. The parts fit and work together for a purpose. They are ordered to fit that purpose. If they were arranged differently it would not work. If the watch had an imaginary function- your admiration would increase.

The watch argument shows there must be a grand designer. Paley's argument differes from A's as it is based on how things fit together for a purpose.

Hume's hate

  • The analogies are not evidential enough. You can't compare the human circulatory system to an animals. (Mainly directed @ Payley)
  • We can't say the universe has a builder & architect te same way a house does. If the house is faulty, does this mean the designer is? If God designs, is he responsible for evil?
  • There is nothing grand enough to compare the universe to in the universe. So any analogy is weak because it lies on experience, we dont have any unvierse like objects to compare.
  • CRITICSM BY SWINBURNE-Just because the universe is unique, we can still think of c
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Other options than God

  • Hume says it is possible that matter sorted itself out
  • Effects may be caused by a wide variety of things. E.g natural selection.
  • The unvierse many be a result of years of trial and error
  • Random order leads from disorder to order
  • JS MILL- the state of nature as cruel is sufficient to reject design
  • Dawin's natural selection shows that it is the survival of the fittest, not like an eye which has been designed as it designs itself


It can be said things like natural selection destroy the teleological argument. But it is still valuable for philosophers to study.

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