The Design or Teleological Argument for the Existence of God. Department of Philosophy and Religion Wellington College V 1.1, GJW, Mich 2012. What is the argument?. The argument basically works as follows: The world contains order, regularity, purpose, and beauty.
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Department of Philosophy and Religion
V 1.1, GJW, Mich 2012
CONCLUSION: the world was designed; the designer we call ‘God’
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The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.
Notebook computer, Christian Louboutin slingbacks, chocolate soufflé
In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer that for anything I knew to the contrary it had lain there forever; nor would it, perhaps, be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that for anything I knew the watch might have always been there. Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch as well as for the stone? Why is it not as admissible in the second case as in the first?
If we found a watch on a heath, we would assume that it has some designer. By analogy, we could say the same of nature.
Nature displays purpose (e.g. birds have wings to fly) and regularity (e.g. planets orbit in regular motion). As with a watch, the attributes of purpose and regularity are suggestive of a designer.
CONCLUSION: the world has a designer - God
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Let it also be borne in mind how infinitely complex and close-fitting are the mutual relations of all organic beings to each other and to their physical conditions of life; and consequently what infinitely varied diversities of structure might be of use to each being under changing conditions of life. Can it, then, be thought improbable, seeing that variations useful to man have undoubtedly occurred, that other variations useful in some way to each being in the great and complex battle of life, should occur in the course of many successive generations? If such do occur, can we doubt (remembering that many more individuals are born than can possibly survive) that individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind? On the other hand, we may feel sure that any variation in the least degree injurious would be rigidly destroyed. This preservation of favourableindividual differences and variations, and the destruction of those which are injurious, I have called Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest.
Bacterial flagellum – very complicated.
How effective are the criticisms?
‘Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion’, 1779
Hume focuses on the weaknesses of the analogy and the conclusion drawn from the available empirical evidence
1) We have no experience of world making
2) Arguments from analogy can only be suggestive not
conclusive (issue of scale, mechanic/organic)
3) The available evidence cannot prove the God of classical theism (multiple designers? The failed attempt of an imperfect designer?)
REMEMBER: these criticisms are applicable to Paley. However, Hume was criticising the design argument in general – Paley had not yet even written ‘Natural Theology’ (1805).
Abandon the argument
Re-state the argument
Base theism on
Reject / reply to
Hume & Darwinian
argument on a
Argue for non-classical theology
Different theistic arguments
CONCLUSION: God exists
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But can you criticise Ward’s ‘new’ argument?
“The argument in its seventeenth-century form … may have been superseded by Darwin. But the design argument still lives, as an argument that the precise structure of laws and constants that seem uniquely fitted to produce life by a process of evolution is highly improbable. The existence of a designer or creator God makes this much less improbable. That is the new Design Argument, and it is very effective.”
I pass on to consider a form of teleological argument which seems to me a much stronger one-the teleological argument from the temporal order of the world. The temporal order of the universe is, to the man who bothers to give it a moment's thought, an overwhelmingly striking fact about it. Regularities of succession are all pervasive. For simple laws govern almost all successions of events. In books of physics, chemistry, and biology we can learn how almost everything in the world behaves. The laws of their behaviourcan be set out by relatively simple formulae which men can understand and by means of which they can successfully predict the future. The orderliness of the universe to which I draw attention here is its conformity to formula, to simple, formutable, scientific laws. The orderliness of the universe in this respect is a very striking fact about it. The universe might so naturally have been chaotic, but it is not-it is very orderly.
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Blake’s opposition to natural religion is typified in his famous painting of Isaac Newton. Here, Newton is unflatteringly depicted at the bottom of the sea, fixed upon his mathematical drawings.
Blake, a visionary, opposed the idea of religion being discovered materially and naturally, through science. The possibility of different types of perception of the divine are important for Blake: man “perceives more than sense can discover”.
To what extent is it possible to offer a convincing a posteriori proof for the existence of the divine, based upon the apparent design of the universe?