A Teleological Argument For The Existence Of A Supernatural Designer Of The Universe

2746 words - 11 pages

A teleological argument is an argument for the existence of a supernatural designer of the universe based on an empirical observation of order, purpose and design in nature. It is argued that nature is too complex, orderly and adaptive to have occurred randomly or accidentally. Therefore, there must be an intelligent designer behind the whole process. This intelligent designer in most versions of the teleological argument is a direct inference to God. Due to the fact that the teleological argument is presented in many forms, I will set its boundaries in this paper by focusing on William Paley's analogy of the watchmaker and Thomas Aquinas' fifth way for the argument of the existence of God. In order to weigh the soundness of the argument in question, I will outline some of its criticisms, looking particularly at the views of Immanuel Kant, David Hume and Darwin's theory of natural selection. Finally, I will conclude with my own assessment of the teleological argument.2. Presenting the argumentA teleological argument involves the claim that the universe is designed for something. To be more accurate, a teleological argument is a claim that the universe 'has been programmed to evolve towards some final goal' (Davies 1983:165). For example, predators such as dogs and wolfs have ears facing forward so as to detect more easily the sounds from their prey. The resultant argument from such observations, in its various logical forms, concludes that the universe is a planned, purposive and intentional design of some intelligent mind. As already been said above, the intelligent mind, in most versions of the teleological argument is thought to be God. Before we consider Paley's analogy of the watchmaker, let us look at Thomas Aquinas' presentation of this argument.2.1 Thomas AquinasIn the Summa Theologia, Aquinas outlines five proofs for the existence of God. The fifth proof is a teleological argument. Although Aquinas is living in the 13th century and he is not well acquainted to the fundamental laws of physics, as known in our modern age, he observes how the material bodies obey the laws of nature such as the gravitational force. Aquinas argues from the governance of the universe, and empirically observes that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end: they always act in the same way, which shows that they are purposefully directed to a goal. However, Aquinas logically reasons that anything that lacks knowledge cannot initiate a movement towards its end. That is possible only if some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence directs it. Thus, Aquinas writes: 'Nothing… that lacks awareness tends to a goal, except under the direction of someone with awareness and understanding; the arrow, for example, requires an archer' The intelligent being by which all natural things are directed to their end, is what Aquinas calls God. This is how Aquinas accounts for the existence of an intelligent designer of the universe. What...

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