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Outline one version of the design argument for the existence of God

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Introduction

Outline one version of the design argument for the existence of God For centuries the philosophical debate for and against the existence of god has raged. The Teleological argument (another name for the design argument) attempts to prove the existence of the God through the order and purpose exhibited within nature and the universe as a whole. The word Teleological comes from the Greek teleos meaning end or purpose, hence the Teleological argument uses the universe as a basis for arguing for the existence of god. This argument is a rich a posteriori, inductive, analogical argument using natural theology. Different people's perceptions of god are very different. Those from other cultures and traditions will each have conflicting ideas about this "god". With the design argument are we trying to prove the existence of Plato's demiurge or perhaps the Roman polytheist "committee of gods"? No, we are providing proof (or not) for the existence of the god of classical theism, that is to say a monotheist, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, immutable, eternal god who created the universe ex nihilo, out of nothing. It is important to remember that this is theistic idea the Teleological argument is looking at. The design argument is the third of the five classical theistic proofs, but is probably the most easily understood. The basic principles of the design argument have been taken-up, adapted and regurgitated by many philosophers throughout the ages, each of who developed their own individual versions. Perhaps one of the earliest being Cicero with de Natura Deorum in which the character Lucilius looks up to the sky and asks, "What could be more clear or obvious when we look up to the sky and contemplate the heavens, that there is some divinity of superior intelligence?" ...read more.

Middle

The watch has an intelligent designer and so by the rules of analogy we can say the world has a designer. The watch and the world are similar but not identical, just as the watchmaker and world maker at similar but not identical. The Teleological design argument is a very simple argument to understand, when compared with the other four classical theist proofs it seems very "user-friendly" and accessible. Unlike the Cosmological and Ontological arguments, the Teleological argument can be understood with relatively little explanation. If I were, for instance, to outline the basic ideas of the design argument to a primary school child they would probably be able to understand without too much difficulty. One of the reasons it is so easy to understand is that it makes use of everyday objects, we can identify with the design argument more easily because we all know what a pocket watch looks like, what it does and have a vague idea of how it works. The use of analogy makes it vivid within out minds. Another informal characteristic of the Teleological design argument is that it captures our imagination whether we are looking at it from a scientific or religious perspective. In his essay "Design Argument" Colin Crowder says, "It can capitalise on moods as distinct as scientific curiousity and religious awe." If we are scientists we do not dismiss it for being overtly religious and faith-based in its outlook. Although the argument claims to use natural theology, that is, arguing for the existence of god through unaided human reason, it appeals to our religious awe because the argument celebrates the achievements of god (but only if we are theists). ...read more.

Conclusion

As is obvious, this simply doesn't work. We cannot jump from most other universes to ours quite simply because we do not have knowledge of other universes. Secondly, and more fundamentally the definition of the word universe is "all" it meanings literally everything. It is logically impossible for there to be more that one universe because the universe is everything, if there were a multitude of universes then each could not be "all". We must state the Design Argument analogically then, if it is to make sense. To talk about the universe as a whole, the only solution is to find something similar which we have knowledge of. Paley chooses the example of a watch. The watch and universe are analogous because both exhibit elements of order and purpose. Using the principle that similar effects have similar causes, we know that the watch was designed by an intelligent designer and so from this statement we can move to another stating that the order and purpose within the universe are the products of intelligent design also. There is one fundamental difference, that of scale. However, the rules of analogy state that the two objects do not have to be identical only similar, the analogy is drawing out the similarities between the two. To quote Colin Crowder again, this "analogical reasoning is weaker than straightforward inductive reasoning: it forces us to deal with two classes of things rather than one". Yet as I have shown, this is the only way of stating the argument because we do not have complete knowledge of the universe as a whole. To conclude, Paley's version of the Teleological Argument is an inductive, analogical, rich a posteriori argument. It uses Natural Theology, i.e. using unaided human reason, to argue for the existence of the god of classical theism. ?? ?? ?? ?? 02/05/07 Alice Ambrose Smith: The Teleological Argument Page1 ...read more.

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