Outline the teleological argument for the existence of God.

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The Teleological Argument

Q:        Outline the teleological argument for the existence of God.

The Teleological argument is the oldest known and arguably most influential and widely accepted argument for the existence of God.

The argument first appears in Plato’s Timaeus, written over two thousand years ago and appears on numerous occasions in a number of different expositions up to the present day, the most famous of which being Thomas Aquinas’ fifth way, and more recently, that of William Paley in his natural theology written in 1802.

The Teleological Argument is an a posteriori argument, i.e. one based on knowledge of the phenomenal world (as opposed to an a priori argument, which is based independently of experience).

Paley initiates his argument with the simple analogy of the watch.    We are asked to imagine walking along and finding a watch in an isolated, deserted place.  Paley claims that if we were to examine the watch we would notice its complicated and intricate workings, and from this would assert that some intelligent designer has designed it.  The basic premise is that design (i.e. the watch) implies a designer (e.g. a human).  This, Paley holds, is analogous to the world.

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The watch represents the world; its complex and intricate workings representing those of nature, for example the way that all animals are so well adapted to their surroundings.  Just as the apparent design of the watch implies a designer, so to does the apparent design of the world.  This designer, Paley claims, is God.

Paley makes a number of additional statements to his analogy, in order to uphold its relevance in anticipation of criticism.  Firstly, he claims that it would not matter if we had never seen a watch before (as we have never seen another world before); ...

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