The Teleological Argument

What is the Teleological Argument?

The teleological argument is another argument that takes premises from the world of experience. That is to say that it is another INDUCTIVE argument for the existence of God, using A POSTERIORI reasoning, ie evidence from the senses. The term TELEOLOGICAL derives from two Ancient Greek words TELOS and LOGOS. Logos, as we saw in the chapter on the cosmological argument is best translated “reasoning”, and TELOS is best translated “goal” or “purpose”. So, teleological arguments are REASONING BASED ON PURPOSE. The teleological argument takes as its basis the fact that the world seems too purposive or regular to be the result of chance. This is perhaps the most intuitive of the arguments for God, and yet is also one of the most stridently criticised.

A Quick Video Overview of the Teleological (Design) Argument

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The Design Argument (1 of 2) | by MrMcMillanREvis

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The Design Argument (2 of 2) | by MrMcMillanREvis

Key words and terms relating to the Teleological (Design) Argument

  • AESTHETIC – Relating to beauty
  • ANALOGY – An example that is similar to the subject about which you are arguing, which is used to argue a point based on a similarity. Analogies are used a lot in teleological arguments
  • DESIGN QUA PURPOSE – Teleological arguments can focus on the idea of design in different ways. Some focus on the idea that the universe works in a purposive way, and that purpose implies design. Paley’s argument is based on design qua purpose
  • DESIGN QUA REGULARITY – Teleological arguments based on the idea that the regular behaviour of natural objects is evidence that they must be designedly like that. Aquinas’ teleological argument is based on the idea of design qua regularity
  • EMPIRICISM – A philosophical movement that claims that reality is best studied through study of and appeal to sense data
  • EVOLUTION – The view that natural objects are not designed, rather that species as a whole develop traits that seem designed because those without useful traits die out, through a process called natural selection
  • GOLDILOCKS ENIGMA – Paul Davies’ term for the puzzle that the world brings by seeming “just right” in a way that seem overwhelmingly unlikely
  • LIKE CAUSES HAVE LIKE EFFECTS – A key assumption behind many teleological arguments, and the basis on which Hume mounts his reductio ad absurdum
  • OMEGA POINT – The end to which evolution is aimed, according to Teilhard de Chardin
  • REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM – An argument that pushes a view to its logical conclusion, in order to show up its flaws
  • TELEOLOGICAL – From the Greek “Telos” and “Logos”; reasoning about purpose
  • TELOS – Greek: purpose, goal

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