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Outline the key strengths and weaknesses of the teleological argument.

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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.

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