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Outline the design argument for the existence of God?

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The teleological argument for the existence of God a) Outline the design argument for the existence of God? (7 marks) The design argument is also known as the teleological argument, the word telos meaning 'end' or 'purpose.' It infers the existence of God from a specific aspect or character of the world, mostly the presence of order, purpose and regularity. These are seen as marks of design, and the argument concludes it must be God who was the source of the latter. Evidence used is often the solar system, with the planets revolving in their set orbits, and also the human eye. This evidence means that it is an a posteriori argument, meaning it is based on observation, which could easily be deceptive, is limited and can be open to several different interpretations. This means there will always be a measure of doubt. The argument has two parts, design qua regularity and design qua purpose, qua meaning 'as relating to.' The two most prominent philosophers in advocating the design argument are Aquinas (associated with design qua regularity) and Paley (associated with both parts.) A more recent version of the argument has been developed by Tennant and accepted by Swinburne, and this is known as the Anthropic Principle. Before looking in detail at the various types of the argument, it is important to establish the basics of the design argument for the existence of God. It states that; the universe has order, purpose and regularity, the complexity of the universe shows evidence of design, such design implies a designer, and the designer of the universe is God. It is clear from this that the argument makes the simple assumption that there is order and design in the universe, and that all things function for a specific reason. This assumption is made from evidence in the world such as the changing seasons, the lifestyles of both animals and birds and the intricate design of the human body and its perfect adaptations. ...read more.


A more recent development of the argument is that of F. R. Tennant who devised the Anthropic Principle, stating the universe was designed for intelligent human life, and backed up by Richard Swinburne who concluded it came down to probability. The argument appears to be strong, but in fact does have some weaknesses that some people may say causes it to fail. Words - 1411 b) "The design argument fails because of its weaknesses." Examine and comment on this claim. (13 marks) The design argument has received criticism from many philosophers but an initial difficulty is that it is not clear in the analogy whether the machine is being compared to the whole of the universe or parts of the universe. If it is compared to the whole universe it is unrealistic to say that the whole universe is working to an end or purpose. To conclude this requires knowledge only obtainable from being outside the universe. If the machine is being compared to parts of the universe then it is possible to prove that these parts work towards an end or purpose, but it is false reasoning to argue from that that the universe as a whole works to a specific end or purpose. Hume emerged as a major opponent of the argument, highlighting many weaknesses and other philosophers such as John Stuart Mill, Charles Darwin and Immanuel Kant and the Epicurean Hypothesis also presented their own individual challenges towards the argument. The latter believed the weaknesses were enough to allow the argument to fail, but others would argue against this, saying the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. David Hume's criticisms covered several points and he worked on them for twenty-five years. The first point talks of an unsound analogy, as it is wrong to compare our world with a machine as it is composed of vegetables and animals. It is certainly more organic than it is mechanical. ...read more.


He argues natural selection gives the appearance of design, mistakenly leading people to believe there is a designer. Dawkins however, rejects the idea of design and argues that any variations in the world were caused by random mistakes in the DNA molecules of any life form. Immanuel Kant, who emphasised that the design argument depends purely on the assumption that there is design, regularity, order and purpose in the universe, put a final criticism forward. Kant made the very interesting point that the universe may actually be in chaos, but because of the way our minds organise experiences, it appears in order to us. It is not possible to be certain of the reality of the situation, as we impose the design on the world ourselves. Having explored the weaknesses of the design argument, I feel that it most definitely fails in proving the existence of God, but does certainly point to the universe having a design. Whether this is the work of a designer is a tough question, as I agree with the Epicurean Hypothesis - the fact that the universe is a product of random particles coming together. The weaknesses brought forward by Hume have looked in specific detail Paley's analogies, and he has managed to find many faults with comparing something as huge as the universe to something man-made such as a watch. It is clear from this that to use an analogy like that is just too simple. Hume may lead us to a probable conclusion that the world was designed but there is nothing to prove that designer was God. A huge disadvantage is also the fact it is an a posteriori argument, as it is merely based on experience and only leads to a probable conclusion so is open to several interpretations. Finally, some of the weaknesses in the argument are due to recent scientific discovery or evidence, that some people, myself included trust further than to believe something just based on assumption and probable conclusions. Words - 1654 Caroline Neal 12M ...read more.

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