Key introductory points
The teleological/design argument suggests that the world in which man lives is so complex and ordered (among other characteristics) that it could not have come about by chance. In order for it to be as we currently see the world, it must have been designed, ultimately by a designer whom some call ‘God’.
It is an old argument, even predating Christianity. Kant commented that:
“This proof always deserves to be mentioned with respect.
It is the oldest, the clearest and most accordant with the common reason of mankind.”
Kant (1781), Critique of Pure Reason ‘Teleological’ comes from Greek – telos – meaning ‘end’ or ‘purpose’.
It is an a posteriori argument (many forget to say this in answers).
An umbrella term for different types of argument/thinkers.
It can loosely be summed up by the following model:
The world has order, purpose, benefit, regularity and suitability for life.
This shows evidence of design
Such design implies a designer
The designer of the world is God
Classical Forms of the Argument
Aquinas’ Fifth Way (13th Century)
(remember the first three of the five are used in the cosmological argument)
Essentially, Aquinas is suggesting that not only must there be a purpose for all things, but that especially since apparently non-rational beings can work towards such a goal, something must be directing them to do so i.e. God.
Paley and the Watchmaker (1802)
“Every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature…
For this reason that when we come to inspect the watch we perceive that its several parts are framed an put together for a purpose.”
Natural Theology 1802
The analogy between the World & the Watch
The features of the Watch:
ORDER: The watch functions owing to the successful order to which it was created.
COMPLEX: Because there are several parts, the watch is deemed complex.
INTERACTION: Parts interact with each other and have responsibilities towards each other.
PURPOSE: Given these responsibilities, the watch can be said to have a total purpose – to tell the time.
These things could not have come about of their own accord. There must be a designer of this watch, (as there would be for any watch).
The features of the World:
ORDERED – we can see that there are distinct patterns and rhythms to nature, as well as ecosystems.
COMPLEX – there are billions of species of animal and plant in the world.
INTERACTION: Things in the world interact with one another.
PURPOSE: Things do seem to act for individuated purpose – each animal, for example, does its own thing.
In the same manner by which we viewed the watch, it seems sensible and even logical to say that there is a designer of the world.
Note: Paley in fact continues his argument mentioning the intricacy of animals and humans leading to the conclusion that God must have been their maker. (Uses example of the eye especially to show intricacy)
Paley’s use of analogy
For Paley, by analogy, it is likely that the world has a total purpose. The watch does, and it is similar in all other respects to the world. So by analogy we can say that the world has a total purpose.
If there is a watch designer, how much more likely is it that there is a world designer given the order, complexity and purpose in the world, compared to that in the watch? By analogy, we can say that there must be a world designer.
Because the world is so much more complex, ordered etc…than the world, its maker must be so much greater than the watch-maker in many ways. In fact, the world-maker could conceivably be so powerful that it is reasonable to attach the term ‘God’ to him.
In short…the key features of Paley’s argument
1. It is a posteriori - drawing on observations about the world/the watch.
2. It has a basis in a mechanistic