1.1 The Teleological Argument
1.1 The Teleological Argument
Weaknesses of the Teleological Argument
It is an inductive proof and therefore only leads to a probable conclusion.
Just because things in the world have designers, that doesn’t mean that the world itself has a designer. We have experience of house being designed and built, but we do not have experience of worlds being designed and built. (Hume 1)
The universe is unique and we cannot make assumptions about the creation of unique things. (Hume 2)
The world may be designed, but there may be more than one designer. (Hume 3)
We judge the attributes of the creator by what is created. The presence of suffering and evil in the world suggests a cruel designer. (Hume 4 and J.S. Mill)
The designer of the world may have a designer: this leads to an infinite regress.
The order and complexity that we see might just be human perception: there might not actually be any order or complexity there, perhaps we impose it on the world. (Kant)
Design is a trap that we fall in to: we see design and a designer because we want to see design and a designer. (Kant)
Analogous design argument’s (like Paley’s) constrain and reduce nature, because they suggest that nature is like man-made objects and artifacts. (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.
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.
Inductive reasoning begins with experience which may be universal (i.e. everyone has had it) or it may at least be testable.
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. (Immanuel Kant, who rejected the argument)
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.
When joined with other proofs for God’s existence (cosmological, ontological moral etc) the design argument raises the probability of the existence of God. This is Swinburne’s cumulative argumen
Arguments For the Teleological Argument
William Paley (1743 - 1805)
Came up with the watch analogy: based on the idea that you wouldn't expect a watch to be created out of thin air with no design ideas and therefore you cannot expect that of the world because the world is too complicated for this to happen
Split his argument into "Design qua Purpose" (The argument that the universe appears to have been designed to fulfil some purpose) and "Design qua Regularity" which is the idea that the universe appears to behave in some order
Analysis of William Paley's argument
Cannot compare a watch which is man-made to something that is natural the comparison is too different
His argument could be seen as better than Aquinas' as it is argument for and from design
Idea that it is possible to imagine a chaotic universe, where there are no rules but the universe is evidently not chaotic and appears to have some kind of rules and it beautiful (aesthetic argument)
Argued that Evaluation itself looks like it has been designed
Idea that there is more to life then mere existence now, and as music and art have come about not through natural selection then someone must have designed it.
Argued that the universe being order was a matter of probabilities but the sheer size of the universe makes it unlikely that it would 'just happen'
Argued that the universe appeared to work by a series of laws and these laws would have to be created by someone and this someone must be God
More from Swinburne
Argued that science can only use scientific/natural law to explain phenomena and that science cannot explain the laws themselves. This is just a 'brute fact'
He argued that the idea of a designer was the best answer to the regularities of the world because it was the simplest and that is a lot better to explain science with a brute fact
St Thomas Aquinas
The argument originates from Aquinas' Summa Theologica and it is the fifth of his five ways
Argued from a Design qua Regularity (The idea that the earth is order and there must being somebody ordering it)
He stated that everything works together to achieve order, even though inanimate objects have no mind or rational powers to do this. He used the example of the arrow, saying that for an arrow to reach its destination it must be directed by an archer.
It is an argument from Design
Analysis of Aquinas' way
He refers to the existence of design without really proving it, he is too interested in proving that God put the design there.
However it could be assumed that Aquinas thought the evidence for design was too much to be able to understand
The Anthropic Principle
First developed by F.R. Tennant in his book "Philosophical Theology". He believed that the best evidence of design could be seen in the way that the universe supports intelligent life
He then went onto develop the aesthetic principle
Richard Swinburne contributed to the anthropic principle, he brought forward the idea that the world could have just as became chaos as it has become order, he brought in the fine tuning argument
This was the argument that the earth was too finely tuned to be like this by itself.
Challenges to the Design Argument
Produces a detail counter argument in his book "Dialogues concerning natural religion" and he did this in the fictional voice of Cleanthes outlining the argument before Philo (A character based on the views of Hume's creates a counter argument)
Every aspect of the natural world has a mark of design and fits together like a machiene
For example the human eye is brilliantly suited to seeing. This could have been thought up by superior intelligence.
The creator must have intelligence in proportion to his work and as the work is so vast it must be the God of classical theism.
He compared it to the work of a house and building it
Philo's criticisms of Cleanthes' argument
To use an analogy properly the two things that are comparing must be similar, a house and the world are not similar.
We cannot compare the two as we don't know as much about the universe as we know about a house.
If thought in depth we could come to the conclusion that the machinery used to build the house was designed by many people. Therefore we would have have to come to the conclusion that the world have been designed by many Gods
Philo's alternative argument to explain the apparent order and design in the world
Argues that animals are not well adapted and die in their surroundings, therefore their surroundings have not been designed for them. The apparent 'design' in the animal kingdom exists due to the sheer need for survival
This theory is pre-Darwin and as of when he came up with it 100 years later, it has become the most widely accepted theory to account for the design displayed by animals and plants
Also comes up with the idea that universe is being spun from the abdomen of a gigantic spider. His point is that apparent order and design do not necessary point to God, webs are spun with order and design but they are not created with brain power.
Hume's other view on the argument
Existence of evil undermines the existence of God. Therefore it doesn't point to the God of classical theism.
Could have been designed by lesser Gods or an apprentice God.
Hume has sympathies with the Epicurean Hypothesis, which states at the beginning the universe was chaotic but it is due to a large amount of time that it was calmed and order itself, this has mistakenly given us an illusion of design
Questions how we can even be sure that order exists in the world
Says that humans naturally categories and order our experiences and therefore we could be projecting order onto something which is not there.
John Stuart Mill
Argued that evil alone was enough to prove that either God does not exist or if he does, he is not all loving. The pain and suffering is enough for people to question the existence of God.
Argues that nature is far more cruel than the human mind and therefore by implication of 'evidence' of design in nature points to a cruel designer, or else no designer at all
Argues that the impressive system of natural selection creates an illusion of designs which theists have misinterpreted as actual evidence of design
In response to the anthropic and aesthetic principles, Dawkins explains that genes alone are responsible for what we know now as intelligent life, he also uses the word 'memes' to describe units of cultural inheritance. Memes are ideas and have been operated on by natural selection. Therefore we inherit some cultural values of those who came before us and who were strong enough to pass on their gene. This is therefore the reason that humans appear to have an apprication of beauty but is actually no more than part of the surivial mechanism