Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

The Design Argument for the Existence of God

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "The Design Argument for the Existence of God"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Design Argument for the Existence of God

2 Key Terms: Telos: from the Greek meaning end, aim, purpose. Analogy: a comparison of similars. Natural Theology: based on reason rather than special revelation (revealed truths from God). Anthropic Principle: the reason and purpose of the universe is to support human life. Anthropomorphism: speaking of non-human in human terms or as having human attributes.

3 Is there evidence of Design in the world?
Yes Wow Factors Grand Canyon Sunsets Waterfalls Great Barrier Reef Nature Life itself No Malfunctioning of the natural world. Tsunamis Earthquakes War Murder Disease and famine



6 Teleological argument
‘Telos’ form the Greek meaning ‘End’, ‘Aim’, ‘Purpose’. The Teleological (or design argument) claims that certain phenomena in the universe appear to display features of design, in so far as they are perfectly adapted to fulfil their function.

7 Such design could not have occurred by chance and can only be explained with reference to an intelligent, personal designer.

8 Classical approaches to the argument:
Thomas Aquinas included a form of the teleological argument as the fifth of his five ways, which he termed ‘From the Governance of the World’ We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that they achieve their end not fortuitously, but designedly. Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence …and this being we call God. (Cited in Hick (ed.), 1964) Aquinas was arguing from design qua regularity (design in relation to the order and regularity in the universe). He regarded the overall order evident in the world as proof of a designer, ‘this being we call God’.

9 Nature points to the notion of order in that things seem to have an innate sense of purpose (design?). We know that nothing that has purpose does so without the aid of a 'guiding hand' (E.g. an archer shooting an arrow at a target) thus everything in nature is directed to its goal by God. [Aquinas' Design Argument here is slightly different from the traditional view as presented, for example, by William Paley (see Paley's Watch). Aquinas agrees that there is order and purpose in the world but adds to this that inanimate objects (E.g. Planets), could not have ordered themselves, lacking the intelligence to do so, and so have been ordered by a Being with intelligence who could (which would be God).]  Aquinas' key idea is that things such as planets are not 'endowed with knowledge and intelligence', and so cannot determine their own place in the universe. However, they also, as far as he is concerned, could not have become fixed in 'perfect' orbits by chance (for example, one where they do not crash into each other). So how did they get where they are today? Aquinas' answer is that they are where they are because they were set there by an intelligent Being; 'and this being we call God'.

10 William Paley and the watch:
William Paley (CE 1743 – 1805)), Put forward a very popular teleological argument in his book Natural Theology (1802). Key Term: Analogy = a comparison of similars.              

11 Paley’s Analogy William Paley was Archdeacon of Carlisle:
Paley: Imagine crossing a heath. If you come across a stone, you might consider it to be an accident but if you come across a watch then this provides clear evidence of contrivance or design even if the purpose of the watch is not obvious. Just as the design of the watch implies a designer, so the design in the world implies a great designer – which is God.

12 Summary A watch has certain complex features (e.g. it consists of parts, each of which has a function, and they work together for a specific purpose). Anything, which exhibits these features, must have been designed. Therefore the watch must have been designed. The universe is like the watch in that it possesses the same features, except on a far more wondrous scale. Therefore the universe, like the watch, has been designed, except by a wondrous universe maker i.e. God Paley goes on in his argument to show the intricacy of animals and humans, leading to the conclusion that God must be their maker. He famously used the example of the eye that appears to have design and clearly has a purpose.

13 Richard Swinburne Richard Swinburne refers to his argument as a ‘teleological argument from the temporal order of the world’. That there is temporal order in the world is, says Swinburne, very evident. “The orderliness of nature of which I draw attention here is its conformity to formula, to simple formulable, scientific laws. The orderliness of the universe in this respect is a very striking fact about it. The universe might so naturally have been chaotic, but it is not – it is very orderly”.

14 From all of this Swinburne concludes that some explanation is called for. And his suggestion is that the temporal order of the universe is explicable in terms of something analogous to human intelligence. In Swinburnes view there are only 2 types of explanation: SCIENTIFIC explanation (in terms of scientific laws) and PERSONAL explanation (in terms of the free conscious choice of the person). According to Swinburne, there can be no scientific explanation of the universe’s temporal order since:

15 “In scientific explanation we explain particular phenomena as brought about by prior phenomena in accord with scientific laws; or we explain the operation of scientific laws. From the very nature of science it cannot explain the highest level laws of all; for they are that by which it explains all other phenomena”.

16 As Swinburne sees it, therefore, if we are to account for the fact there are such laws then we have to appeal to a personal explanation. Someone (i.e. God) has brought it about that the universe exhibits a high degree of temporal order. And, so Swinburne adds, the likelihood of this supposition is increased by the fact that God has reason to produce an orderly world. For example, says Swinburne, order is a necessary condition of beauty, and it is good that the world is beautiful rather than ugly.

17 The 10 Card Shuffling Machine.
Imagine 10 card shuffling machines. A madman kidnaps someone and ties them to a chair. He sets the card shuffling machines going and says that a box of explosives will blow up unless every pack shows an ace of hearts. When the victim survives, he will be convinced that the ‘dice must have been loaded’ but the madman will reply that he could not see anything else – as he would otherwise be dead. Similarly the odds of human beings coming to be are so huge that the probability is that there is an intelligence behind the universe.

18 Swinburne’s conclusions
It is very unlikely that the Universe has just happened to exist. Given the character of God postulated by the main monotheistic religions, this is just the sort of world God would have reason to create Whereas the Design argument does not prove the existence of God, it does make it more probable than not that God exists. HOWEVER assessing probability is very difficult and much depends on individual opinion so it is important to assess Swinburne’s possible bias… Peter Vardy also argues that he fails to take real account of the problem of evil and negative factors in the Universe.

19 How successful is the Design Argument?
In ‘Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion’ (1779), Hume emerged as a major opponent of the design argument. His main reasons for opposing the argument include the following: Humans do not have sufficient knowledge and experience of the creation of the world to conclude that there is only one designer. Humans have only the experience of the things that they design and create. This limited experience is not enough to come to similar conclusions about the creation and design of the world. If the human experience of design was valid, the design argument would prove that the universe has a designer, but not that the designer was the God of Classical Theism. The design could have been the work of several lesser Gods or, alternatively, of an apprentice god who has moved on to create bigger and better worlds: “This world, for all he knows, is very faulty and imperfect compared to a superior standard; and was only the first rude essay of some infant deity who afterwards abandoned it.” (David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural religion, 1779)

20 There is no evidence to support the benevolent God of Classical Theism
There is no evidence to support the benevolent God of Classical Theism. The very existence of evil in the world would suggest a designer who is not benevolent or all-powerful God of Classical Theism. Hume argued that to try to discuss the design of the universe in human terms was not an acceptable analogy, because God transcends human understanding. If we are going to use an analogy of manufactured objects, then it is more usual for a machine to be designed and made by many hands. This analogy would suggest many gods rather than one God. Hume does not think that it is a good analogy to liken the universe to a vast machine. The universe is more like a vegetable or inert animal – something that grows of its own accord, rather than something made by hand.

21 The Epicurean Hypothesis:
The Epicurean Hypothesis argued that, at the time of creation, the universe consisted of particles in random motion. This initial state was chaotic, but gradually the natural forces evolved into an ordered system. The universe is eternal and, in this unlimited time, it was inevitable that a constantly ordered state would develop. The stability and the order is not a result of a divine designer but of random particles coming together through time to form the current stable universe.

22 Immanuel Kant: Kant emphasised that the design argument depended on the assumption that there is design in the universe. The design must be the independent work of a designer who imposed order on the universe. The argument is based on the assumption that there is regularity, order and purpose in the universe. Kant argued that the universe may be in chaos but because of the ways in which our minds organise our experiences, the world around us appears to be ordered. We impose the design on the world ourselves and cannot be certain of the reality of the situation.

23 Conclusion: Whether or not there is design in the universe comes down to probabilities. Hume accepted that it was more probable that the universe was designed and that there was a designer, but there was no proof that the designer was God.

24 Exam Watch: It is essential that you have knowledge and understanding of key terms. There are numerous contributors to the design argument, however, remember you are under exam conditions so you could stick to Paley, Aquinas, Swinburne and Hume. You can gain credit from demonstrating a clear and analytic understanding of the traditional presentations of the argument.

Download ppt "The Design Argument for the Existence of God"

Similar presentations

Ads by Google