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Philosophy of Religion
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Philosophy of Religion
Arguments for the Existence of God
Gods Intrinsic Probability
Reformed Epistemology
Pascals Wager
The Entrance Criteria for Heaven
Wagering on Atheism
We Cannot Choose Our Beliefs
The Atheists Wager
The Ontological Argument
St Anselms Ontological Argument
Gaunilos Perfect Island
Existence is not a Predicate
Hume on A Priori Existential Proofs
The Modal Ontological Argument
The Cosmological Argument
The Kalam Cosmological Argument
Maths and the Finitude of the Past
The Argument from Contingency
Is the Universe Contingent?
The Teleological Argument
The Argument from Analogy
A Weak Analogy
Alternative Analogies
Analogy and Anthropomorphism
Gods Designer
The Argument from Fine-Tuning
The Evolutionary Critique
All Universes are Improbable
The Weak Anthropic Principle
The Many Worlds Hypothesis
The Argument from Desire
The Argument from Consciousness
The Moral Argument
The Formal Moral Argument
The Perfectionist Moral Argument
The Kantian Moral Argument
The Argument from Religious Experience
The Principle of Credulity
Artificial Religious Experiences
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Conflicting Religious Experiences
The Subjectivity of Experience
The Argument from Miracles
Arguments for Agnosticism
The Argument from Uncertainty
The Argument from Incomprehensibility
Arguments for Atheism
The Presumption of Atheism
The Problem of Evil
The Argument from Imperfection
Is There a Best Possible World?
The Argument from Natural Evil
The Argument from Moral Evil
The Free Will Defence
The Problem of Morality
The Argument from Unbelief
Divine Hiddenness Makes Faith Possible
Is God Good?
Does Evil Exist?
Problems With Divine Omnipotence
Dissolving the Paradox of Omnipotence
Omnipotence and Logically Impossible Rocks
Problems With Divine Omniscience
Experiential Knowledge
Freedom and Foreknowledge
How Does God Know the Future?
The Argument from Future Facts
Problems With Divine Justice
Problems With Immortality
Problems With Original Sin
Inherited Guilt
Guilt by Identification
Guilt by Participation
Guilt by Association
Inherited Corruption
Individual Falls
Problems With Petitionary Prayer
The Argument from Autonomy
The Psychogenesis of Religion
Ludwig Feuerbach: Theology as Anthropology
Sigmund Freud: Religion as Wish-Fulfilment
Religion and Memetics
Christian Ethics
Natural Law Theory
Divine Command Theory
The Euthyphro Dilemma
The Origin of the Euthyphro Dilemma
The Independence Problem
The Arbitrariness Problem
The Emptiness Problem
The Problem of Abhorrent Commands
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Moral Relativism
Cultural Relativism
Just War Theory
Whos Who
Historic Figures
St Anselm of Canterbury
St Thomas Aquinas
St Augustine of Hippo
Rene Descartes
Gaunilo of Marmoutiers
David Hume
Immanuel Kant
CS Lewis
John Stuart Mill
William Paley
Blaise Pascal
Bertrand Russell
Modern Authors
Robert Adams
William Lane Craig
Brian Davies
Richard Dawkins
Antony Flew
John Hick
Michael Martin
Alvin Plantinga
Richard Swinburne
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The Teleological Argument
Teleological arguments are arguments from the order in the universe to the existence of God. They are also
known as arguments from design (or, to be precise, arguments to design).
The name the teleological argument is derived from the Greek word telos, meaning end or purpose.
When such arguments speak of the universe being ordered, they mean that it is ordered towards some end
or purpose. The suggestion is that it is more plausible to suppose that the universe is so because it was
created by an intelligent being in order to accomplish that purpose than it is to suppose that it is this way
by chance.
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The teleological argument was used by St Thomas Aquinas as one of his Five Ways of knowing that God
exists, but the most cited statement of the argument is that of William Paley. Paley likened the universe to
a watch, with many ordered parts working in harmony to further some purpose. Just as the complexity,
order, and purpose of a watch implies intelligent design, he suggested, so too the complexity, order, and
purpose of the universe implies intelligent design. The argument as he constructed it is thus an argument
from analogy.
Modern teleological arguments look somewhat different to that constructed by Paley. While Paley was
particularly impressed by the appearance of design in biological systems, such as the eye, or animals,
modern teleological arguments often find evidence of design in physics. Modern teleological arguments
tend to focus on the fine-tuning in the universe, the fact that it is exactly as it needs to be (fine-tuned)
to support life.
One advantage that this gives modern design arguments over Paleys is that they are less vulnerable to
attacks based on evolution theory. It is an objection to Paleys argument that evolution can explain the
appearance of biological design; evolutionary processes, though, do not apply to the laws of nature.
Although teleological arguments are often referred to as arguments from design, those who oppose such
arguments sometimes object to this. Antony Flew, in particular, has done this, repeatedly and pointedly
calling the argument the argument to design. Though he is no longer the vehement critic of the argument
that he once was, having recently been persuaded that it might have merit, he continues to be a critic of the
common name, insisting that it is it the argument to, not from, design.
If the universe contains design then there must be some intelligent agent that designed it. Although a few
dispute this, speaking of nature, or evolution, as our designers, this appears to be a simple linguistic truth.
Just as if something is carried then there must be a carrier, so if there is design there must be a designer.
What those who reject the argument dispute, then, is not whether the design in the universe implies that
there is someone who designed it, but whether the order and complexity in the universe does constitute
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