Thursday, June 16, 2011

Teleological

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Teleological Argument


(Argument from Design)


“How far you think the Design Argument can be used to prove the existence of God.”


The teleological argument is often used as the clearest and simplest of the arguments for the existence, which are its main attractions. Most of its popularity is due to the late eighteenth century English theologian William Paley, who argued that although we may find nothing in and about a stone that necessarily suggested to us that it was fashioned (designed) by an intelligent being, if we were to find a watch in an isolated place we noticing just how well its various parts fitted together in order to give us the correct time, we couldnt but help think that it was the product of an intelligent designer. Paley observed the world (universe) is far more complex than any watch, and it certainly exhibits order. How can we not, Paley asks, believe that it, the world, is the product of an intelligent designer?


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The Eighteenth Century Scottish philosopher David Hume, undertakes a comprehensive critique of this argument; and most philosophers today are in agreement that the argument cannot withstand or recover from Humes onslaught.


The argument is quite flawed in a number of ways.


1. It seriously confuses purpose and adaptation. When the argument crucially compares the world with a machine, it is, in effect, comparing an artefact with a natural object. It correctly observes that in both cases we are confronted with something which is not only quite complex, but, importantly, performs a job quite perfectly. In the case of the machine, however, its performing of a job is the fulfilling of the purpose of its designer. In the case of, for example, the human eye, it performs a role, namely, facilitating visual perception, because the organism has developed in that way.


. Of course, if it is assumed at the outset that the universe has a purpose, then, since it is reasonable to believe that if something has a purpose then it is someones or somethings purpose, the question has been begged at the very beginning. The point is this The Design Argument cannot be an argument from design; but rather, has to be an argument to design. If it were the former, then the existence of a Designer of the universe would have been assumed, and, consequently, there would have been no need for the argument. But, if its the latter, then the differences between purpose and adaptation have been obliterated. These can be obliterated only if it is assumed that everything has a purpose; in which case, the argument is really only a disguised version of the question-begging argument from design.


. A good deal of the psychological potency of the argument, as it is usually presented, is derived from the observation that the universe (and of course even small parts of it; such as the leaf of a tree or the human eye) is an enormously complex, but marvellously functioning thing. In effect, the suggestion is that the order in the universe is an adequate indicator of there being or having been an Orderer of the universe. But this is, as it were, logically unnecessary overkill. The argument could have proceeded as it does no matter how the universe actually is. That is, it is we who, when thinking about things, and in terms of our needs and interests, order the universe.


The teleological argument on close examination is not strong enough to support the existence of God, as on closer analysis simply falls apart.





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