Explain the teleological arguments for God’s existence, regarding Aquinas, Paley and Tennant (20)
The term ‘teleological’ comes from the Greek word ‘telos’ meaning order, this argument is an A Posterior argument, meaning that it is inductive, based on what we can observe in the universe. The teleological argument was first invented by cicero when he looked at the universe and observed its natural order and complexity and concluded that it must be the result of a designer God.
Aquinas contributed to the teleological argument through his fifth way to prove the existence of God in his book Summa Theologica, in this book he recorded that natural bodies that lack knowledge act towards an end. Through this Aquinas argued that there must be a driving force, a designer God as he called it, guiding these natural bodies towards their end. He used the analogy of the arrow and the archer, representing natural bodies with the arrow, that hits the target each time when the archer aims it even though it lacks knowledge. In this analogy, God is the Archer as he guides and directs natural bodies to their end like an archer does to an arrow. Aquinas supported this by saying that ‘Natural bodies do not reach their end fortuitously but designedly’ meaning that they can only reach their end as they have been designed by God to do so. A real-life example of Aquinas’ contribution is a baby joey knowing to climb up into its mother’s pouch after birth and to suckle. How does this organism which lacks knowledge and experience alike know how to do this? Aquinas argues that it is through God.
Another contribution to the teleological argument was through the philosopher William Paley, he proposed two reasons that prove the existence of a designer God, Design qua regularity and Design qua purpose.
Design Qua regularity looks at the perfect order of the universe and its complexity and concludes that everything in the universe has a law of regularity working within it like a programmed occurrence, that could not have occurred naturally and therefore must be due to a designer God. Paley used Newton’s laws of motion and gravity to show that such laws are ‘so improbable that it is rendered impossible’ to have existed naturally, so must be due to designer God.
The second part of his argument was Design Qua Purpose, to explain this Paley used the example of a watch. If you stumbled upon a watch in a pasture you would know that it was not a natural occurrence because of its great complexity and would know that it was designed and had a designer. Paley also used the natural example of the eye, stating that its complexity and perfect function is a clear example of design, he linked these two examples to the universe by telling us to see how elaborate and intricate the world is, and stating that like the watch and the eye it must have a designer and this, Paley concludes, is God.
F.R Tennant also contributed to the teleological arguments with two theories. The first of which is the aesthetic argument. Tennant argued that the universe was ‘not just beautiful in places but saturated with beauty; on the telescopic and microscopic scale’. For example, why do we get to enjoy music or literature and why are flowers all different colours when they could be the same? because of this he argued that as this beauty in nature is not necessary for the existence of the universe, therefore it must have been designed by a ‘personal being’ who wanted us to enjoy this world, even though we don’t necessarily need to, and this is God.
Tennant’s second contribution was the Anthropic Principle, which argues that the reason and purpose of the universe is for humans, the huge improbability of this fine-tuned universe that allows the existence of life proves there to be a designer as it could not have come about by accident. Additionally, this argument argues that the order of the universe is beyond chance, Swinburne contributes by arguing that ‘the world is compatible by a single throw of the dice, but common sense is not foolish in thinking the dice was not loaded’. This principle argues that the design argument need not reject the principle of evolution in order to postulate a designer God.