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1

What does the Teleological argument attempt to do?

The word ‘Telos’ is Greek for purpose. The Teleological argument thus argues that the universe is being directed towards a telos, an end purpose, and the a posteriori evidence of an apparent intelligent design in the world implies the existence of an intelligent designer, God.

2

What is the teleological argument founded on?

The Teleological argument is founded on Aquinas’s fifth way: The Argument From Intelligent Design

3

What does Aquinas' fifth way say?

1. All natural occurrences show evidence of design
2. This suggests that there is a being that directs all things
3. Things that lack knowledge cannot achieve anything unless directed by a thing with knowledge
4. There is therefore an intelligent being that directs everyone towards a purpose
5. For Aquinas, this being is God

4

What are the two parts of William Paley's argument?

In his book, ‘Natural Theology,’ William Paley presents his own form of the Teleological argument.
1. Design qua Purpose – the universe was designed to fulfil a purpose
2. Design qua Regularity – the universe behaves according to some order

5

What is Paley's analogy of the watch?

A man walks across a heath and finds a rock. He attributes the existence of the rock to nature. He walks further and stumbles across a watch. After some examination he concludes that its purpose is to measure time. Due to the complexities of the watch, he concludes that it is impossible to suppose that the watch had come about without the agency of a ‘watch maker.’

6

What does the analogy of the watch suggest?

The watch is like the universe – it is too complex to have just happened by chance. It is impossible therefore to suppose that the universe had come about without the agency of a ‘universe maker’ – God.

7

How does Paley used the example of the eye to support design qua purpose?

It is obvious that the eye was designed with the specific purpose to see. Thus there is a Designing Creator – God.

8

How does Paley support design qua regularity?

There is evidence for a creator in the regularity of the universe. The relationships between the planets and the effect of gravity could not have come about without a designing principle at work – God. For example, if gravity was slightly stronger or weaker the universe would not exist today; the inference being that there is a calculating being who purposefully created the universe according to a well-constructed plan.

9

How did Hume criticize the teleological argument?

Hume set out two versions of the design argument and then criticised them:
(1)- To speak of design is to imply a designer
- Great design implies a great designer
- There is great design in the world
- Therefore, there must be a great designer – God
This implies a superhuman, anthropomorphic concept of God (a God who is human-like) which is inconsistent with the notion of perfection. Moreover, the world is imperfect and flawed thus implying an incompetent designer.
(2)- The world is ordered
- This is due to either chance or design
- It is very possible the world came about by chance
- Therefore the world came about through design
Hume argued that there is nothing in this argument to suppose there is only one creator – there may be a team of lesser Gods who built the world. This supports the theory of paganism

10

What did Hume believe?

Hume subscribed to a belief in the theory of evolution and the idea that series of random adaptations made in order to survive (the theory of natural selection) could lead to the apparent intelligent design of humans.

11

How does Mill criticize the teleological argument?

In ‘Nature and the Utility of Religion’ John Stuart Mill criticises the Teleological argument. Mill postulates that nature is guilty of serious crimes for which she goes unpunished, and the atrocities through which humans and animals suffer would not go unpunished if they were the result of human agency.“Nearly all the things which men are hanged or imprisoned for doing to one another are nature’s everyday performances.” For Mill, there is no intelligent design apparent in the universe and if there is a designer he is either an incompetent or cruel designer: “Either there is no God or there exists an incompetent or immoral God”

12

How does Darwinism challenge the teleological argument?

Darwinism thus postulates that the fittest and healthiest members of society survive and their characteristics are passed down – giving the appearance of design in the universe. Geneticist Steve Jones described the evolutionary process as: ‘a series of successful mistakes’

13

How did Richard Dawkins challenge the teleological argument?

Richard Dawkins, a biological materialist and reductionist, supported Darwin by arguing that random mutations in DNA alone give rise to variation in the world and the illusion of design. For Dawkins, life amounts to nothing more that bytes of digital information contained in the quaternary code, DNA.

14

Who else outlined a teleological argument?

Plato also outlined a Teleological Argument. The Roman orator Cicero also looked at the natural order of things and was convinced that there must be some superior intelligence to explain it all.

What could be more clear or obvious when we look up to the sky and contemplate the heavens, than that there is some divinity of superior intelligence?

15

Who was Hume responding to with his criticisms?

It is important to remember that Hume predates Paley by 20-30 years. Hume was not responding to Paley but rather the argument as outlined by thinkers such as Plato, Cicero and Aquinas.

16

Weaknesses of the teleological argument?

The designer of the world may have a designer: this leads to an infinite regress.
Analogous design argument's (like Paley's) constrain and reduce nature, because they suggest that nature is like manmade objects and artefacts. (Robert Hambourger)
Arguments from analogy (like Paley's) are flawed when the inference from one case to another is too great. In other words, worlds are not like watches.
The design argument does not tell us anything about the creator/designer: it is just as possible to use this argument to say that God is evil rather than omnibenevolent (look at all the natural disasters and diseases like cancer). (Stephen Law)
The design argument does not necessarily lead to the God of classical theism.
Just because we are here to marvel at the incredible fact of our own existence, does not mean that it didn't come about by chance. Random processes could create a universe with complex and beautiful structures: they might come about rarely and remain, whereas ugly and dysfunctional structures may die away. (Robert Hambourger)
Evolutionary theory and natural selection seem to suggest that complex organisms arose through genetic mutation, not through design.

17

What are the strengths of the Teleological argument?

The strengths of the design argument are the strengths of inductive reasoning: inductive arguments begin with something that we can observe. It is difficult to deny the presence of order and complexity in the universe.
The argument does not rely upon fixed definitions that we must accept (unlike the ontological argument).
The use of analogy (the watchmaker) in this argument makes it comprehensible to us: it moves from something within our experience to try to explain something beyond it (the creation of the universe); the argument is simple and straightforward to follow.
It fits in with human reason; it encourages and deepens the study of nature; it suggests purpose in the universe; it strengthens faith.
The argument is not necessarily incompatible with evolution and Big Bang: both of these processes could be part of the design of the universe.
The concept of God as designer reinforces the idea that God is involved in the history of the universe and is therefore omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent.
The design argument gives a purpose to the universe, rather than having blind nature moving in a random direction. This in turn gives the universe meaning.