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What is the alternative name for the Design Argument for the existence of God?

The Teleological Argument


The word Teleological comes from what Greek word and what does it mean?

Teleos - which means 'end' or 'purpose'


The classical argument from design states fours things - what are these things?

  1. The unverse has order, regularity and purpose.
  2. The complexity of the universe shows evidence of design
  3. Such design implies a designer
  4. The designer of the universe is God



The classical version of the design argument is in two parts - what are these parts?

Design Quo regularity

Design Quo purpose


What is Aquinas' 'Fifth way'

He stated that everything is directed towards an end and inanimate objects have no rational powers then they must be directed to that purpose by some external power. - He concluded that that power came from God.


What did Aquinas use to illustrate his Fifth way?

He said... an arrow is directed by an archer... an intelligent being exists that directs all natural things.



Socrates said..

‘With such signs of forethought in the design of living creatures, can you doubt that they are the work of choice or design?’



The design argument is an a posteriori argument - Why?

because it is an argument based on external evidence


Can you give at least three examples of order and regularity in the world to illustrate Quo Regularity?


A formal garden did not come about by chance but through the work of a gardener.

A neat harcut needed to be designed and cut by a hairdresser.

An Ipad could not come about by chance but needed to be designed and created by intellegent life.

The rotation of the planets and natural laws?




Aquinas identified that the way in which ‘natural bodies’ act in a regular fashion to accomplish their end must draw us to one conclusion - what did he conclude?

He said it provides the evidence for the existence of an intelligent being; he concluded that this must be God.



Aquinas believed that the natural world provided a lot of evidence for God. Aquinas mentions two things present in nature which, taken together, imply design.  what are these things? 




The first is order ('things act always, or nearly always, in the same way'). 


The second is that the order in nature seems to be beneficial. 



Aquinas believed that the existence of God was not self evident – No human being could hear, touch, feel, smell or taste God. Our natural senses did not help us discover God.  What did he suggest could help us to disciver God?




He did believe that the design of the natural world provided a lot of evidence for God.



Design qua purpose developed in the 17th century in response to what? 




In response to new mechanistic physics. 


Scientific developments had proved that planets orbited the sun according to patterns and natural laws and Newton had discovered the natural laws of motion and gravity.


Many scientists started to see earth as a ‘machine’, with all the parts working together like ‘clockwork’.





What is design qua purpose?


This aspect of the design argument looks at design in relation to the ways in which the parts of the universe appear to fit together for some greater purpose.





The first part of Paley’s argument was design qua purpose. What did he use to illustrate his point?




Paley used the simple analogy of a watch; arguing that an intelligent person would infer that a pocket watch had to of been designed by a pocket watch maker or designer from looking at the watch.


In the same way, if we look at the world we can infer a design and a designer because of the way in which things fit together for a purpose.



Paley thought that a similar conclusion might be drawn from the intricate mechanisms of the human body. Which body part did he use to show this?


Paley used the example of the eye and the way in which is adapted for our sight. Its various parts function in complex ways to produce sight. The eye is designed for the purpose of seeing; it must have had an intelligent designer.




What did Paley say about the lacteal system?

The lacteal system is a constant wonder; and it adds to other causes of our admiration, that the number of teats or paps in each species is found to bear a proportion to the number of the young...  ...the most simple account of this, is to refer it to a designing creator!



The second of Paley’s arguments for the existence of God is design qua regularity. What did he use to show this?




  • Paley used evidence from astronomy and Newton’s laws of motion and gravity to prove design in the universe.
  • Paley pointed to the rotation of the planets in the solar system, and how they obey the same universal laws, and hold their orbits because of gravity.

    This could not have come about by chance. He concluded that an external agent must have imposed order on the universe as a whole, and on it many parts, and this agent must have been God.

    He noted that even slight differences or irregularities within the system would have resulted in chaos.



What contribution did Arthur Brown give to the design argument in the 20th century?


Brown pointed to the ozone layer as evidence of design.


He argued that the ozone layer’s purpose, to filter out ultraviolet rays to protect life, could not have happened by chance.



Hume asked why we must conclude that the universe had to have a point of beginning. How does this oppose the design argument?

If the unviverse is eternal and has always existed then there is no need for a designer to start it all off.


Humes said... even if it were possible to discern order and purpose in the universe it would still not be evidence that it was the work of God of classical theism. What two things did he use to illustrate this point?

The design could have been the work of several lesser gods, or alternatively, an apprentice god who was moved on to create bigger and better worlds.

The evidence of flaws in the design such as suffering and death would be more supportive of a designer that was not an infinite perfect Being.


Hume offered three challenges to the argument for design: what was his first argument?


Humans do not have sufficient knowledge and experience of the creation of the world to conclude that there is only one designer. Humans have only the experience of the things they design and create. Humans can only recognise human-designed objects, for example a ship. This limited experience is not sufficient to come to similar conclusions about the creation and design of the world.


Hume offered three challenges to the argument for design: what was his second argument?


Hume does not think that it is a good analogy to liken the universe to a vast machine. The universe is more like a vegetable or inert animal; something that grows of its accord, rather than something made by hand.




Hume offered three challenges to the argument for design: what was his third argument?


Hume argues that to try to discuss the design of the universe in human terms was not an acceptable analogy because God transcends human understanding. 


Hume offers challenges to the argument from design: what is the first?


Even if the world is designed it still cannot prove that the designer is God. The conclusion could easily be reached that the universe’s configuration is the result of some morally ambiguous, possibly unintelligent agent or agents whose method bears only a remote similarity to human design.




What is the Epicurean hypothesis?


Hume’s Epicurean hypothesis argued that at the time of creation, the universe consisted of particles in random motion.


This initial state was chaotic but gradually the natural forces evolved into an ordered system. The universe is eternal, and in this unlimited time it was inevitable that a constantly ordered state would develop.



How did John Stuart Mill seek to argue against the design argument?


Mill believed that because there is evil and suffering in the world then the designer cannot have been all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving.


If the designer were all-loving then the suffering of humanity would not have been included in the design.

As it is then, at least one of these three attributes must be missing. It goes against the Christian view of God.



How did C.S Lewis respond to John Stuart Mill and his argument about evil and sufferring?

Lewis said... But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse our deaf world.


Who said the design argument was “…the oldest, the clearest, and that most in conformity with the common reason of humanity”

Immanuel Kant


How did Immanuel Kant argue against the design argument?


Kant believed that we cannot see structure, order or reason in our world.


Kant thought that our minds made sense of chaos and simply believed it to be ordered, when in fact, it was not.