Explain the teleological argument for the existence of God. [25]


a)      Explain the teleological argument for the existence of God. [25]

The teleological argument is one of five arguments for the existence of God. It attempts to prove God’s existence by using our experience of the world or universe around us. This makes it a posteriori in nature. Teleological arguments can essentially be broken down into two main types: pre-Darwinian and post Darwinian. We shall focus on pre-Darwinian as they are considered to be the more traditional of these arguments. Further subdivisions of the teleological arguments can be identified in the guise of ‘design qua regularity’ and ‘design qua purpose’. It is within these areas that we find the thinking of two main advocates of Aquinas (13th C) and Paley (19th C).

The teleological or design argument gets its name from the Greek word telos which means end, goal or purpose. It is this end or purpose that both Aquinas and Paley are looking for that will suggest the existence of a divine creator.

 We will begin by outlining Aquinas’ fifth way ‘From the governance of things’ or design qua regularity argument (qua meaning through or pertaining to). Aquinas observed the universe and saw that everything in the universe appeared to be working in some sort of order. In particular he noticed that ‘natural bodies’ behaved in a regular way. Here Aquinas is talking about things like flowers or insects. He then goes on to notice the fact that these natural bodies ‘lack intelligence’. By this he means that they are not conscious of their own movement, yet even so they appear to move or act in regular fashion, as our daffodil flowers every spring time. Aquinas suggests that these things cannot provide their own movement as they lack the intelligence to do so. This must mean that their movement or regularity must come from somewhere other than themselves. He argues that this movement does not occur ‘fortuitously but designedly’. By this he means that this regularity or movement has not come around by sheer chance but that something else has caused the flower or ‘natural bodies’ to obey an ordained pattern.

Aquinas then goes on to suggest that ‘as an arrow is directed to its mark by the archer’ so too is the movement/regularity of things directed by a being with intelligence. The analogy of the arrow and the archer is used by Aquinas to demonstrate the link between God and creation. For Aquinas this intelligence that provides regularity of movement in the universe is God. This is the conclusion of Aquinas’ argument from design qua regularity. William Paley also has a design qua regularity argument but is most famous for his design qua…


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