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Willam Paley'sVersion of the Teleological Argument

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Willam Paley's Version of the Teleological Argument Edward Cohen Teleological comes from 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 creation. Evidence used makes it an a posteriori argument, meaning it is based on observation. The argument has two parts, design qua regularity and design qua purpose, qua meaning 'as relating to.' A prominent philosopher advocating the "design argument" is Willam Paley. 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. ...read more.


The projector would not function in the appropriate way if the parts had just been fitted together in a random manner. Similarly, it seems there are incredibly complex designs in nature that must have been fitted together by a designer for a specific purpose, such as the tides, the seasons and the order of the planets. The natural world seems to fulfil its purpose well and further credits design. William Paley put forward a very famous version of the argument in his book, 'Natural Theology' and used both parts of the argument - design qua regularity and qua purpose. His first part of the argument was design qua purpose and was put forward in the simple analogy of a watch. He said that if we were crossing a heath and came across a watch we would conclude that all the parts fitted together for a purpose (to produce motion in order to tell the time) and had not come into existence by chance, and compared it to finding a stone, '...when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive - what we could not discover in a stone - that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose...' ...read more.


Paley particularly focussed on the rotation of the planets in the solar system, how they all obey the same universal laws, and how they hold their orbits because of gravity. This could have not occurred by chance, and from this Paley concluded that an external agent must have imposed order on the universe as a whole, and that this agent must be God. The Laws of motion clearly demonstrate control led principle to the universe as opposed to randomness. In conclusion the design argument uses the evidence from the world to conclude that there must have been a designer and that this designer is God. Paley used an analogy of a watch, it could just as easily be modernised to comparing an eye with a sophisticated auto - focus camera, or engineers efforts in making robots. Using design qua purpose and also design qua regularity, where he uses evidence from astronomy and Newton's laws. Although it may not necessarily convert an atheist in believing in God it may help a religious believer in cementing his faith in God by practical reasoning. ...read more.

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