Difference between revisions of "Teleological argument"

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Latest revision as of 07:14, 21 November 2019

William Paley was an advocate of the teleological argument.

One of the most famous statements about the teleological argument using the watchmaker analogy was given by William Paley in his 1802 book Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity.[1]

Probably the most popular argument for God's existence is the teleological argument. Derived from the Greek word telos, which refers to purpose or end, this argument hinges on the idea that the world gives evidence of being designed, and concludes that a divine designer must be posited to account for the orderly world we encounter. Although the teleological argument dates at least as far back as Plato, it is perhaps most memorable today from the work of William Paley (1743-1805), in his Natural Theology (1802). Recently, the teleological argument has gained renewed interest as a core element of the theory of Intelligent Design and the related efforts to reconcile science and faith. This was predicted by Kelvin who pointed out that in the 19th century the argument of design has been greatly too much lost sight of in contemporary zoological speculations and that reaction against frivolities of teleology by 'learned Commentators' on Paley's "Natural Theology" should have had only a temporary effect in turning attention from "the solid and irrefragable argument so well put forward in that excellent old book".[2]

Although there are variations, the basic argument goes something like this:

  1. X is too complex to have occurred randomly or naturally.
  2. Therefore, X must have been created by an intelligent being, Y.
  3. God is that intelligent being.
  4. Therefore, God exists.

Often, X is life, but there are other values for which the argument works. For example, scientists have found that if the universal constants (such as the speed of light or the Planck constant) were only a tiny bit different life could not exist.

William Paley on the watchmaker analogy

William Paley was an advocate of the teleological argument

One of the most famous statements about the teleological argument using the watchmaker analogy was given by William Paley in his 1802 book Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity.[3]

William Paley wrote in 1802:

In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer I had before given, that for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. ... There must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed [the watch] for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use. ... Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.[4]

See also

Notes

  1. William Paley - William Carey University
  2. W. Thomson (Lord Kelvin) (1871). On the Origin of Life. Transactions of the Geological Society of Glasgow. Retrieved on 6 June 2015. “I feel profoundly convinced that the argument of design has been greatly too much lost sight of in recent zoological speculations. Reaction against frivolities of teleology, such as are to be found, not rarely, in the notes of learned Commentators on Paley's "Natural Theology," has I believe had a temporary effect in turning attention from the solid and irrefragable argument so well put forward in that excellent old book. But overpoweringly strong proofs of intelligent and benevolent design lie all round us, and if ever perplexities, whether metaphysical or scientific, turn us away from them for a time, they come back upon us with irresistible force, showing to us through nature the influence of a free will, and teaching us that all living beings depend on one ever-acting Creator and Ruler.”
  3. William Paley - William Carey University
  4. William Paley - William Carey University