The teleological argument a summary

This argument needs its premises and conclusion properly stated. Viz:

Premise – There is evidence of order in nature

Premise – If there is order and not random chaos then this indicates that it has been designed and that it has a purpose

Conclusion 1 – There must therefore be a designer

Conclusion 2 – That designer must be God


It is worth explaining the watch analogy fully and then explaining that the analogy Paley drew was that if the watch showed evidence of a designer so much more so does the universe.

You could also here explain here and describe some of the interdependent systems in the universe or even here on planet earth e.g. weather systems and their effect on climate and the land, tectonic plates and recycling of the atmosphere, plants and their essential place in keeping CO2 levels down, animals and plants and the food chain etc think of your own from your own knowledge.

What therefore is the likelihood that just the right conditions came about randomly and allowed human life to develop on the planet? Too much, too little oxygen, not enough too much CO2, just the right balance of other chemicals, predators, minerals, gravity etc THIS IS A STRENGTH FOR THIS ACCOUNTS FOR WHY THINGS ARE THE WAY THEY ARE.

Of course the detractors would say that if it was any other way we wouldn’t know any different. And any way any chance is better than zero! Lottery players know this!

The aesthetic argument which is a variant of this one expresses the belief that the fact that the planet is beautiful, sunsets, landscapes etc is sufficient proof of an intelligence behind the design of the universe, after all if it was all just random chance why would it be beautiful, beauty is not a necessary survival trait, in fact it can be a disadvantage, so there must be a good reason. This would imply that it has been designed in from outside and theists would say this is evidence of God and that from this fact of beauty we can extrapolate that God is good.. THIS IS A STRENGTH BECAUSE IT EXPLAINS WHY THIS WORLD IS BEAUTIFUL.

HOWEVER THIS IS ALSO A WEAKNESS BEAUSE this world is plenty ugly too! And what does this say about God?

The anthropic principle as advocated by Tennant and Swinburne asserts that this world indeed this universe with the express purpose of giving rise to the human race, that the human race is the pinnacle of the universe’s achievement. THIS IS A WEAK ARGUMENT BECAUSE one IT IS VERY EGO OR MAN CENTRED, two WHY IS THE UNIVERSE SO BIG IF THAT IS ALL IT IS FOR AND three WHO KNOWS WHAT WE MAY DISCOVER ABOUT THE NATURE OF THE UNIVERSE IN THE FUTURE? though Swinburne’s belief in evolution as the mechanism for that process and development is an attractive one because Science and Evolutionary theory are given their place within the theistic argument.

THE STRENGTHS of this being an a posteriori argument lie within the fact that it is based on evidence, we can see for ourselves the strength and legitimacy of this argument’s claims.

Another STRENGTH could be the fact that it is inductive in that it is based on observation and a generic principle is drawn from the particular to the general. This might be alright if we are discussing the observed fact that all tigers that we have seen so far have stripes and therefore it seems logical to postulate that to be a tiger means to have stripes but is a WEAKNESS when extrapolating from the available evidence – from the fact of the watch’s existence to the need for a watch maker to from the fact of the universe’s existence to the existence of the universe maker i.e. God.

From this you can go to the idea of the flawed watchmaker to the flawed universe maker and the possibility that the universe isn’t as perfect as some would have us believe and if it is then the analogy cannot hold up under scrutiny because the watch and the universe are completely different categories and one cannot be compared with the other!

The fact that this analogy seems logical is a STRENGTH. THE WEAKNESS lies in the suggestion by Hume that the analogy is stretched too far.

A posteriori arguments are generally regarded as STRONG because they are based on evidence but (WEAKNESS) how complete is our evidence or our observations, Kant and Hume would say our knowledge is incomplete and it makes no sense to posit a designer based on our limited experience of design; modern chaos theory seems to lend support to their view!

When assessing the overall effect of the argument consider the weight of accumulated ‘evidence’; even if no single argument like the cosmological argument or the teleological can necessarily prove the existence of God maybe when weighed together their strengths outweigh their weaknesses.


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