• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Outline the key strengths and weaknesses of the teleological argument.

Extracts from this document...


Outline the key strengths and weaknesses of the teleological argument. One of the most popular proofs for the existence of God is the one from design. It is known as the Teleological Argument. This comes from the Greek word meaning `end' or `purpose'. It is based on the observation of the world in which we live and the argument created. Xenophon in 390BC first recorded it when he quoted Socrates as saying: `With such signs of forethought in the design of living creatures, can you doubt they are the work of choice or design'. Another good quotation is that of St. Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) who said, in his Summa Theologica: `Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer.' In other words, Aquinas is saying that the universe and everything in it has to have some kind of motivated intelligence behind it - i.e. God. William Paley (1743-1805) said in his book, Natural Theology (1802): `In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer, that for any thing I knew to the contrary it had lain there for ever; nor would it, perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I ha found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given... ...read more.


Natural selection, or Darwinism, as it may be called, suggests that species have arrived at their present states due to evolution. Evolution occurs as there is only survival for the fittest when there is so much competition. Because of the changes that occur because of evolution, species change to suit their surroundings. Humans, for example, may be traced back in a chain through several stages, ultimately resulting in the beginning of human life being apes. Because of this, F.R. Tennant devised a reformulation to the argument which tackles this subject. He said: "The fitness of the world to be the home of living beings depends on certain primary conditions - astronomical, thermal, chemical, etc. an on the coincidence of qualities, apparently not causally connected with each other. The unique assembly of unique properties on so vast a scale makes the organic world comparable to an organism. It is suggestive of a formulative principle. The world is compatible with a single throw of dice and common sense is not foolish in suspecting the dice to have been loaded." This is known as the Anthropic Principle. This basically states that God arranged the different qualities of the universe in such a way as to allow life. In other words, God just started the ball rolling, and evolution (part of His master plan) allowed all that has taken place to bring species of life as to how we see them now. ...read more.


Some believe leaps of faith have to occur in order for this argument to have any weight to it. Just because so many analogies can be drawn from nature, it does not mean there is a designer to nature. Also, even if there is a designer, this does not necessarily mean it is the Christian God. Assumptions are made when thinking about arguments like this - it is natural for a religious person to automatically think of their God as the creator of the universe, this may not be so. As a conclusion to this argument it can be said that clearly there are many problems that need addressing for the teleological argument to even come close to being indisputable evidence for the existence of God. However, the reformulations do indicate that it does have a lot of weight in indicating towards God the creator, as they can be used to go around several criticisms of the argument. One of the main problems with this argument is that too many assumptions have to be made in order for the argument to work as one wants it to. One assumes, for example, that there is only one God, and that this was his only creation. It could be, as David Hume suggests, that there are many Gods, or this was just a botched attempt at a universe. Ultimately, although this argument is not indisputable, the amount of power it has in proving the existence of God depends on one's personal beliefs on the matter. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Existence of God section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Existence of God essays

  1. The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Cosmological Argument

    Aquinas tries to prove that a neccessary being has an existence that is independant of evrything else, is external; it has always existed and will never cease to exist and it has to exist; it is impossible that it could be different, no matter how past, present or future circumstances might vary.

  2. What are the main strengths and weaknesses of teleological argument for the existence of ...

    Therefore without god we would not have heaven or earth. The concept of cause and effect means that one cannot have the effect without the efficient cause. This brings another item into being or causes something to change. The idea is that there can't simply be a continuous weakening of

  1. The Teleological Argument.

    Taylor stated that this is true throughout nature. He believes that advanced planning could not be accounted for by physical laws alone, since there are innumerable ways that electrons could run, but they do invariably move in accordance with advanced planning that sustains the organisms.

  2. Free essay

    1.) Outline and explain the main points of teleological arguments for the existence of ...

    to examine a large number of other universes to inductively infer that most or all of them are the result of intelligent design. However in the Design Argument, our sample size reaches one, as only the current universe that we inhabit is available for inspection.

  1. What are the key features of the design argument for the existence of God? ...

    for a purpose, the universe is a product of a divine designer. Paley suggested that the universe has a purpose and has been created to fulfil it, just as an eye is used to see and its parts allow it to fulfil this purpose.

  2. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the Teleological Arguments

    He tells us, through Philo, that like effects have like causes. He points out to us that a ship has many carpenters working to build it and by juxtaposing the ship and the Universe, Hume says that there could easily be many gods, rather than just one.

  1. T H E C O S M O L O G ...

    Both D.Z. Phillips and R.W. Hepburn consider, with Tillich, that: 'The Cosmological Argument degrades God to the level of the world.' Tillich says: 'The arguments for the existence of God are neither arguments nor are they proofs of the existence of God, they are expressions of the Question of God which is implied by human finitude.'

  2. Willam Paley'sVersion of the Teleological Argument

    An intelligent person would then conclude that the watch had a designer. The watch demands a watchmaker, and similarly the universe demands a designer because of the way the way in which things fit together for a purpose. Paley understands that we may not fully understand the design of the

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work