12 November 2012
The Façade of the Teleological Argument
In Accordance with David Hume’s “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion”
The Teleological argument for the existence of God seems strikingly compelling at first glance, but greatly weakens once it becomes subjected to intense discourse. This argument, also referred to as the “design argument”, is an a posteriori argument claiming that through observation of the universe we can discover evidence of intelligent design that justifiably infers the existence of a “grand designer”, usually posited as God. In Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, David Hume, a British empiricist, first presents his version of the Teleological argument through the use of his character Cleanthes, Hume’s representation of the typical 18th century empirical theist: Look round the world: contemplate the whole and every part of it: you will find it to be nothing but one great machine, subdivided into an infinite number of lesser machines, which again admit of subdivisions to a degree beyond what human senses and faculties can trace and explain. All these various machines, and even their most minute parts, are adjusted to each other with an accuracy which ravishes into admiration all men who have ever contemplated them . . . By this argument a posteriori, and by this argument alone, do we prove at once the
existence of a Deity, and his similarity to human mind and intelligence. (Hume, and Smith 143) Cleanthes argues here that the universe is like a purposefully made machine––only an extremely intricate, big, orderly, and complex one. He asserts that since an intelligent, human creator must design every machine (as machines do not assemble themselves randomly nor by chance) we can justifiably assume that an intelligent creator, whom instead holds divine-like, rather than human-like, properties, must have designed the universe as well. However, Hume attempts to disprove this assertion through the discourse of his other characters––Cleanthes’ friends–Demea, an Orthodox fideist, and Philo, the philosophical skeptic.
It is worth noting that at beginning of Dialogues all of the characters seem to be arguing over the nature of God and not necessarily over His existence, if at least tentatively. Even Philo, who bears the strongest resemblance to the empiricist Hume, consents using a variation of the Cosmological argument for his reasoning: But surely, where reasonable men treat these subjects, the question can never be concerning the Being, but only the Nature, of the Deity. The former truth, as you well observe, is unquestionable and self-evident. Nothing exists without a cause; and the original cause of this universe (whatever it be) we call God; and piously ascribe to him every species of perfection. (142) All three characters agree for now that, indeed, God’s existence is not questionable, but Philo and Demea are in disagreement with Cleanthes on whether God’s nature is actually unknowable. Cleanthes, arguing that His nature is indeed knowable, maneuvers this by claiming that we can draw reasonable conclusions from God’s “art” (the universe) about God’s perceived perfections. Basically, Cleanthes is supporting an anthropomorphic version of God (relating God directly to Greavu 3
human beings) but with perfected attributes. I believe Hume includes the original consensus on God’s existence to allow for some of the stronger objections to Cleanthes’ argument––those directed specifically at God’s specific nature, occurring later on in the text––to flourish, as it would be rather silly to begin questioning God’s nature without first affirming His existence. Demea and Philo present several counterarguments to Cleanthes’ reasoning. First, Demea, the fideist, does not like the fact that Cleanthes is using an a posteriori argument for proving both God’s nature and His existence. He argues a posteriori reasoning is not...
By Zenny Saheel
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy which studies the nature of “being”. The search for the existence of God has been questioned many a time and astounded many philosophers and scientists alike. By looking at certain arguments for the existence of God we are not only attempting to see if God exists but what God is like. Omniscient (All seeing), omnipresent (Present everywhere), omnipotent (All powerful), Benevolent (Good) and Eternal (Always Existed) are some of the words used to define God. By using these definitions philosophers have tried to reveal the existence of God through a judicious argument. Nevertheless there are criticisms of these arguments which are of equal worth when trying to determine the truth.
If we observe the universe we can is has order, purpose and complexity. By observing the universe and everything in it we can see that it is incredibly complex. The existence of such intricate designs points to a designer. Due to the universes’ complexity many would argue that it cannot simply exist as it is by mere chance and that there is regularity and design in the world that illustrate this. For example the sun sets in the west and rises in the west – this cannot be random it was designed to do this. The TeleologicalArgument or Argument from Design points to God as a purposeful creator and that all...
...a) Explain key ideas in the Design Argument for the existence of God.
b) Assess the view that science has made the Design Argument a failure.
“With such signs of forethought in the design of living creature, can you doubt they are the work of choice or design?” (Socrates) The Design argument looks at the order and purpose, or telos, in the world and states that it implies that there must be a designer who made the world ‘just right’ for human existence. Religious believers go on to state that this designer is God. The argument states that if one uses one’s senses to look at order, such as gravity and the motion of the planets, which exists in the world, it is likely that one will accept that there is a designer God who created the world and gave it this order. Thus, the argument is both a posteriori, based on experience, and inductive, containing a conclusion that we are likely to accept if we believe the premises to be true. Although the argument was one of Aquinas’ five ‘ways’ in his book, Summa Theologica, the most famous version of the Argument from Design was put forward by William Paley in his book Natural Theology (1802), and therefore, this essay will focus mainly on Paley’s version of the argument.
The most popular way to argue for the existence of God in Paley’s day was by use of an anaology. Therefore, in Natural...
AO1 - Explain how the teleologicalargument attempts to prove that god is the designer of the universe?
The design argument is also referred to at the TeleologicalArgument stemmed from the Greek work ‘Telos’ meaning end or purpose. It is an ‘A posterior’ argument (from experience) based on our empirical senses and it is synthetic meaning that it is from observation. The argument is also inductive meaning there a number of possible conclusions. The main basis of the Teleologicalargument is based on a designer commonly known as ‘the classical God of theism’ The design argument is also referred to at the TeleologicalArgument stemmed from the Greek work ‘Telos’ meaning end or purpose. It is an ‘A posterior’ argument (from experience) based on our empirical senses and it is synthetic meaning that it is from observation. The argument is also inductive meaning there a number of possible conclusions. The main basis of the Teleologicalargument is based on a designer commonly known as ‘the classical God of theism’
The theory of the Design argument was first put forward by Socrates who was a Greek Philosopher who lived in 400 BC. He held that the adaption of human parts to one another,...
...design argument for the existence of God”
“With such signs of forethought in the design of living creatures can you doubt that they are the work of choice or design?” this first recording of the Design Argument occurred in 390 BC when Xenophon quoted Socrates of his observation that the features of the world and universe are so perfectly adapted to work together and fulfil a purpose, that this shows evidence of design behind the creation of the universe. This helps to strengthen the idea that because there is design, there must be a designer.
The design argument is also known as the Teleologicalargument, which comes from the Greek word Telos, meaning end or purpose. It is a Posteriori argument, due to the fact it is based on evidence of the world around us, this evidence, being evidence of Design.
The design argument originates from pre-Christian ideas, which, over time, has been adopted by Christian beliefs. The early philosopher Plato, student of Socrates, believed of a supreme wisdom and intelligence as the creator of the cosmos (universe) in his work “Timaeus”, specifying a designer, not a creator. Also, in the philosopher Aristotle’s (384-322 BC) argued for the existence of a divine by developing the idea of the creature of the cosmos (universe) in his work “Metaphysics”, often referred to as the Prime Mover. This prime Mover, he believed, used materials...
...November 4, 2011
The TeleologicalArgument and its Not-so-logical Form.
The teleologicalargument attempts to prove in its form that there is an ultimate design and therefore ultimate designer of the universe. It attempts to tell us that, since the universe shows some form of design (a butterfly’s wings, a human eye, etc), there must be some sort of intelligent designer behind it all. The argument from design is as follows:
“Watches, houses, ships, machines and so on all exhibit design, and are planned and produced by intelligent beings. The universe exhibits design. Therefore, the universe was probably planned and produced by an intelligent being,” (Miller, 72). Convinced? I certainly am not. Though this is a valid argument, I refuse to accept the conclusion so quickly. How, with these two premises can we arrive at this definite conclusion? I, personally, need more. I need a rationally convincing argument to prove to me that there is an infinite being by which all of this was created. There are, however, alternative ways of wording this argument for design that may seem more convincing to the naked eye. One of them being: “The universe (or objects within the universe) exhibit certain types of pattern. The best explanation of these types of patterns are intelligent design. Therefore, it is probable that the universe (or objects within the universe) are...
15 October 2012
Evaluation of the TeleologicalArgument
The teleologicalargument argues that the universe must have had a designer, therefore implying the existence of a Supreme Being. This argument strongly relies on observations of the apparent design and orderly complexity within the universe that has existed long before humans inhabited and affected it. Everything is here for a reason, and everything has a purpose. From these main points, the teleologicalargument claims that the only way that this is possible is through the existence of a thing that is greater than anything else, God.
In Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, David Hume writes that “Whatever exists must have a cause or reason of its existence; it being absolutely impossible for any thing to produce itself, or be the cause of its own existence.” He claims that in going through the causes and reasons of each existing thing that we either have to “go on in tracing in tracing an infinite succession, without any ultimate cause at all”, (which Hume states is “absurd”) or we “must at last have recourse to some ultimate cause, that is necessarily existent” (Hume). Even at the most basic level of life, sub-atomic particles, cannot produce themselves; something is necessary for their existence. Hume then states:
What was it, then, which determined Something to exist...
...Examine the key features of the Teleologicalargument.
The word teleological comes from the Greek word ‘Telos’ which means purpose. The teleologicalargument is a posteriori and like the cosmological argument, attempts to prove the existence of God. It claims that certain phenomena within the universe appear to display features of design and are perfectly adapted to fulfil their function. Therefore, if features of the universe are so perfectly designed, for example the structure and function of the heart, then there must be a designer, which points towards the existence of God.
The teleologicalargument is based around the idea that the universe in some way demands the existence of an intelligent being that designed the universe to allow life. For example Thomas Aquinas included a form of the teleologicalargument as the fifth of his five ways. Aquinas presented his fifth ‘way’ to prove God exists and argues that nature seems to have an order and a purpose to it. Nothing inanimate can be of use unless there is someone or something to give it purpose, or a guiding hand as Aquinas stated it. Inanimate objects could not have ordered themselves – such as the planets – as they do not have the capacity or intelligence to do this. Therefore, someone with intelligence must have put them in order, which would be God.
...‘The world appears designed, so God exists’ (
This statement could be seen as a tenable teleological position, as it can’t be proven or disproven – Although there are significantly tenable scientific theories against it. Many philosophers have argued over this statement, with William Paley putting forth his argument for design, and Hume among others arguing against it.
William Paley’s teleologicalargument gives the example of walking through a natural environment and finding a watch – One would assume that the watch must have been designed, rather than simply coming into existence. Therefore, there must be a designer at work. The watch represents the world, and God is the designer. Paley says there is evidence of design in the world around us – The human eye, for example, is so an intricate and complicated – How can this have come into existence with no higher creator? David Hume argued back that if the world was designed by God, who is by definition all good and all powerful – a perfect being – then anything which he designed must by necessity also be perfect. But there are many flaws and imperfections in the world, so this doesn’t match up; this implies a flawed and imperfect designer… This cannot be God, because this would go against his very definition.
Paley also proposed the existence of God through order and regularity in the world, such as astronomical patterns. He stated that with no creator, there would...