Ocr a-level religious studies essay - feedback

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Mentor05
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I have completed this essay and I was wondering if anyone could give me any feedback? I'm trying to aim for 36/40 in my Mock.

Thanks so much!

To what extent can teleological arguments for the existence of God be defended against the challenge of ‘chance’? [40]


The design argument is a posteriori inductive argument which suggests that because of the complexity and order within nature there is evidence of an intelligent designer, God, reinforcing the idea that it could not have appeared through chance. The focus of the argument is the idea that the world has a purpose (telos), which is explained through an analogy. There are conflicting arguments for and against the existence of God however despite the heavily convincing arguments in support for a designer it could be argued that the overriding belief in God creating the world is a manifestation of psychological need, the idea that humans feel as though that there needs to be evidence and therefore refusing to accept the possibilities of chance and evolution. This is supported by Immanuel Kant, “design is a trap that we fall in to: we see design and a designer because we want to see design and a designer”.

Aquinas provided logical thinking to the Christian faith by reinforcing the reason for believing in God, he identified that nature has both order and purpose. For example, the sun cannot decide to rise in the morning and make each day the right length although this does happen. This therefore enabled him to draw the conclusion that nothing inanimate is purposeful without a guiding hand, this being God, “some intelligent beings exists by whom all-natural things are directed to”. However, Aquinas’ argument may be deemed as self-defeating as the aim to provide reason for Christians to believe in God could be juxtaposed by Hume’s criticisms. The design argument does not specifically identify and relate directly to the God of Classical Theism, it could have been the work of several lesser Gods or as such Aquinas’ theory proposes an anthropomorphism approach, which highlights the weaknesses of Aquinas’ fifth way. Despite this weakness, order provides a convincing argument for the existence of God, the idea that the universe seems to work to definable rules such as laws of nature and allows a sense of purpose rather than having blind nature moving in random direction. Kant contrasts this by highlighting that as humans we are motivated by the idea of order and so therefore unintentionally seek it; our perceptions deceive us and the order within the universe may not be genuine. Similarly, Epicurus argued that order can come from chaos with time, although it may seem that the world is almost in need of a designer now, what once was chaos proves differently as a so called chaotic universe would not need to support the existence of God.

F.R Tennant promoted the existence of God through the anthropic principle, which proves that the universe has provided suitability for human life with the element of benefit, for example the ‘natural’ occurrence of the water cycle and the idea that the earth is just the right distance from the sun in order for survival. These harmonic motions of the cosmos are unexplained by Darwinism, as evolution is solely restricted to living things, whereas Tennant’s design argument confidently explores the unjustified from within the evolutionist theories. Although, evolution is heavily convincing as it proves that God does not exist through the idea of natural selection, humans came into existence because of survival of the fittest. Survival of the fittest can be flawed by Tennant’s quote “the survival of the fittest presupposes the idea of the arrival of the fit” which proves that the ‘fit’ needed to be placed here originally by God to therefore then evolve and adapt. However, evolution itself is the sole explanation for the complexity within biology and consequently rejects the idea of an external designer. As well as this Tennant holds a convincing argument which proves that there is more to life than mere existence, humans are experiencing aesthetic activity which could only be designed, beauty. Beauty can not be created through natural selection or chance and so there must be a designer; Plato disregards this approach. Plato identifies that the perfect from of beauty does not exist in this world, instead it belongs in the world of the forms and so the beauty we are faced with in the modern world is false and therefore God does not exist as he omnipotence would allow perfection in this world, which is also not present. Similarly, John Stuart Mill criticises the design argument, by suggesting the presence of suffering and evil in the world suggests a cruel designer which immediately goes against the idea of the God of classical theism.

William Paley supports the idea that there is designer, Paley reveals that as the universe is complex and intricately designed, it would take an all-powerful and all- knowing designer in order to exist. To prove his argument Paley created an analogy where compares a “watch-maker to the world maker”, the analogy expresses the idea that, suppose you found a watch, it has not occurred by chance, instead there has been a designer and a purpose, the idea that the watch has been designed in such way that the purpose is successfully fulfilled, “if there had been any other than a transparent substance, the hour could not been seen without opening the case”. If you saw a watch on the ground, he argues, you would not believe the watch had simply always been there. You also know if something is man made, because of its complexity and intricate nature; he uses the watch as an example “I could not account for it in that natural way… reveals an array of intricate, beautifully made cogs…”. Its existence would need to be explained by some sort of intelligent design. A pebble, in contrast, does not require the same explanation of its existence. Paley argues that the difference is that a watch is composed of many parts organised for a purpose. This, he says, is the hallmark of design. Paley then goes on to argue that there are many examples in nature of things that have many parts organised to serve a purpose. The eye, for example, is a very complex natural object that has a very clear purpose: to see. Just as the existence of the watch can only be explained in terms of a designer, so too can the eye only be explained with reference to a designer. Paley argues that this designer is God. However, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution provides an alternative explanation of complexity within nature without a designer. The competition to survive and breed in nature means that certain advantages, features, and genetic mutations become exaggerated to adapt to the environment. This creates the appearance of design even though there is no intelligent design behind it. However, this complexity is borne of necessity, rather than design. Thus Darwin’s theory refutes Paley’s assumption that anything that has parts organised to serve a purpose is designed. Additionally, the watch maker analogy is only partially convincing as Hume’s criticisms juxtaposes it effectively. Hume suggests that we cannot liken the universe to a machine as the universe is more like a vegetable, something which is natural and not man made. The universe is similar to a vegetable because it grows at its own accord, however a weakness of this argument is that even a vegetable needs to be created and planted which means there must be a designer this designer being God. Despite this small weakness, Hume successfully identifies that there is ‘inexplicable difficulties in the works of nature’, which proves God is not perfect.

Swinburne accepts that evolution can explain how complexity can arise within nature without a designer. He calls this spatial order. However, he argues that temporal order – the order of the laws of nature – cannot be explained in this same way. For example, the force of gravity is strong enough such that it keeps the moon in orbit around the earth and the earth in orbit around the sun. But the laws of nature have not evolved the same way fish eyes have, they just are. But if gravity had the opposite effect – it repelled objects, say – then planets would never be able to form and therefore life wouldn’t be able to form. Swinburne argues that this cannot be a coincidence: the laws of nature are too perfectly suited to sustain life that they cannot be explained without a designer. David Hume’s objection to the original teleological argument can be adapted to accommodate Swinburne’s objection. Hume argued that given an infinity of time and a finite amount of matter, the matter would combine in ways that appear to be designed just through sheer chance. Today, multiple universes is a popular idea in modern physics, with many scientists arguing that there is an infinite number of these universes. If this is true, then it is inevitable that some of these universes will have laws of nature (temporal order) that are perfectly suited for life. However, this isn’t intelligent design, it’s just luck. For every universe like ours, there may be millions of other universes where gravity does repel objects or is too weak or strong. So, if there are multiple universes, the chance of one having perfect temporal order becomes increasingly likely – even without a designer. Even if the multiverse theory is not true, Swinburne’s argument still does not successfully prove that God exists. God is traditionally thought of as omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and the creator of the universe. But none of these attributes is evident in the design of the universe. Firstly, designers and creators are often separate. The woman who designs a car, say, is not necessarily on the production line building each one. So even if Swinburne’s argument does succeed in proving that God designed the universe, it does not prove that God created the universe. Secondly, the existence of evil within the universe may suggest that the designer – whoever he is – is not omnibenevolent. Finally, we may argue that while the universe is enormous, there is no evidence to suggest it is infinite. So whilst this may be evidence that the designer of the universe is very powerful, we cannot prove he is infinitely powerful (omnipotent).

To conclude, in spite of the strong arguments in support for the existence of God the idea of a designer who brought order and purpose to the world is unconvincing. The teleological argument is an a posteriori which means with experience, however as Hume identified humans do not have sufficient knowledge and experience of the creation of the world to conclude that there is a designer. The argument is also inductive which means based on probable circumstances and it is almost impossible to create a premise and conclusion on something of which is not definite and therefore the belief that God designed the world is a manifestation of psychological need as science has proved otherwise. Neither spatial nor temporal order necessarily prove that God exists. Darwin’s theory shows that spatial order can emerge in response to environment, removing the need for a designer. Temporal order cannot be explained in the same way but can nonetheless be explained without intelligent design if there are multiple universes. Finally, even if Swinburne does succeed in proving the existence of a designer, his argument from temporal order does not necessarily prove that this designer is an omnipotent creator (God). Therefore, the order of the universe is not sufficient to prove that God exists. I believe you cannot rule out design completely, because for example, Behe said there are things in nature that are ‘irreducibly complex’ parts have no function for natural selection to work unless they are together. These incredibly complex things in the universe, for example the process of blood coagulation, makes you question whether there is any design in that. I have argued that on balance the challenges to intelligent design are more persuasive than the teleological arguments. The evolutionary theory especially is a very strong argument for the universe coming about naturally, and is solid evidence against the universe being designed. For example, the finch’s beaks that changed over time to adapt to their environments, indicates no design because their original beaks had to change and were not sufficient enough for their purpose in the universe.
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L.k30
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(Original post by Mentor05)
I have completed this essay and I was wondering if anyone could give me any feedback? I'm trying to aim for 36/40 in my Mock.

Thanks so much!

To what extent can teleological arguments for the existence of God be defended against the challenge of ‘chance’? [40]


The design argument is a posteriori inductive argument which suggests that because of the complexity and order within nature there is evidence of an intelligent designer, God, reinforcing the idea that it could not have appeared through chance. The focus of the argument is the idea that the world has a purpose (telos), which is explained through an analogy. There are conflicting arguments for and against the existence of God however despite the heavily convincing arguments in support for a designer it could be argued that the overriding belief in God creating the world is a manifestation of psychological need, the idea that humans feel as though that there needs to be evidence and therefore refusing to accept the possibilities of chance and evolution. This is supported by Immanuel Kant, “design is a trap that we fall in to: we see design and a designer because we want to see design and a designer”.

Aquinas provided logical thinking to the Christian faith by reinforcing the reason for believing in God, he identified that nature has both order and purpose. For example, the sun cannot decide to rise in the morning and make each day the right length although this does happen. This therefore enabled him to draw the conclusion that nothing inanimate is purposeful without a guiding hand, this being God, “some intelligent beings exists by whom all-natural things are directed to”. However, Aquinas’ argument may be deemed as self-defeating as the aim to provide reason for Christians to believe in God could be juxtaposed by Hume’s criticisms. The design argument does not specifically identify and relate directly to the God of Classical Theism, it could have been the work of several lesser Gods or as such Aquinas’ theory proposes an anthropomorphism approach, which highlights the weaknesses of Aquinas’ fifth way. Despite this weakness, order provides a convincing argument for the existence of God, the idea that the universe seems to work to definable rules such as laws of nature and allows a sense of purpose rather than having blind nature moving in random direction. Kant contrasts this by highlighting that as humans we are motivated by the idea of order and so therefore unintentionally seek it; our perceptions deceive us and the order within the universe may not be genuine. Similarly, Epicurus argued that order can come from chaos with time, although it may seem that the world is almost in need of a designer now, what once was chaos proves differently as a so called chaotic universe would not need to support the existence of God.

F.R Tennant promoted the existence of God through the anthropic principle, which proves that the universe has provided suitability for human life with the element of benefit, for example the ‘natural’ occurrence of the water cycle and the idea that the earth is just the right distance from the sun in order for survival. These harmonic motions of the cosmos are unexplained by Darwinism, as evolution is solely restricted to living things, whereas Tennant’s design argument confidently explores the unjustified from within the evolutionist theories. Although, evolution is heavily convincing as it proves that God does not exist through the idea of natural selection, humans came into existence because of survival of the fittest. Survival of the fittest can be flawed by Tennant’s quote “the survival of the fittest presupposes the idea of the arrival of the fit” which proves that the ‘fit’ needed to be placed here originally by God to therefore then evolve and adapt. However, evolution itself is the sole explanation for the complexity within biology and consequently rejects the idea of an external designer. As well as this Tennant holds a convincing argument which proves that there is more to life than mere existence, humans are experiencing aesthetic activity which could only be designed, beauty. Beauty can not be created through natural selection or chance and so there must be a designer; Plato disregards this approach. Plato identifies that the perfect from of beauty does not exist in this world, instead it belongs in the world of the forms and so the beauty we are faced with in the modern world is false and therefore God does not exist as he omnipotence would allow perfection in this world, which is also not present. Similarly, John Stuart Mill criticises the design argument, by suggesting the presence of suffering and evil in the world suggests a cruel designer which immediately goes against the idea of the God of classical theism.

William Paley supports the idea that there is designer, Paley reveals that as the universe is complex and intricately designed, it would take an all-powerful and all- knowing designer in order to exist. To prove his argument Paley created an analogy where compares a “watch-maker to the world maker”, the analogy expresses the idea that, suppose you found a watch, it has not occurred by chance, instead there has been a designer and a purpose, the idea that the watch has been designed in such way that the purpose is successfully fulfilled, “if there had been any other than a transparent substance, the hour could not been seen without opening the case”. If you saw a watch on the ground, he argues, you would not believe the watch had simply always been there. You also know if something is man made, because of its complexity and intricate nature; he uses the watch as an example “I could not account for it in that natural way… reveals an array of intricate, beautifully made cogs…”. Its existence would need to be explained by some sort of intelligent design. A pebble, in contrast, does not require the same explanation of its existence. Paley argues that the difference is that a watch is composed of many parts organised for a purpose. This, he says, is the hallmark of design. Paley then goes on to argue that there are many examples in nature of things that have many parts organised to serve a purpose. The eye, for example, is a very complex natural object that has a very clear purpose: to see. Just as the existence of the watch can only be explained in terms of a designer, so too can the eye only be explained with reference to a designer. Paley argues that this designer is God. However, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution provides an alternative explanation of complexity within nature without a designer. The competition to survive and breed in nature means that certain advantages, features, and genetic mutations become exaggerated to adapt to the environment. This creates the appearance of design even though there is no intelligent design behind it. However, this complexity is borne of necessity, rather than design. Thus Darwin’s theory refutes Paley’s assumption that anything that has parts organised to serve a purpose is designed. Additionally, the watch maker analogy is only partially convincing as Hume’s criticisms juxtaposes it effectively. Hume suggests that we cannot liken the universe to a machine as the universe is more like a vegetable, something which is natural and not man made. The universe is similar to a vegetable because it grows at its own accord, however a weakness of this argument is that even a vegetable needs to be created and planted which means there must be a designer this designer being God. Despite this small weakness, Hume successfully identifies that there is ‘inexplicable difficulties in the works of nature’, which proves God is not perfect.

Swinburne accepts that evolution can explain how complexity can arise within nature without a designer. He calls this spatial order. However, he argues that temporal order – the order of the laws of nature – cannot be explained in this same way. For example, the force of gravity is strong enough such that it keeps the moon in orbit around the earth and the earth in orbit around the sun. But the laws of nature have not evolved the same way fish eyes have, they just are. But if gravity had the opposite effect – it repelled objects, say – then planets would never be able to form and therefore life wouldn’t be able to form. Swinburne argues that this cannot be a coincidence: the laws of nature are too perfectly suited to sustain life that they cannot be explained without a designer. David Hume’s objection to the original teleological argument can be adapted to accommodate Swinburne’s objection. Hume argued that given an infinity of time and a finite amount of matter, the matter would combine in ways that appear to be designed just through sheer chance. Today, multiple universes is a popular idea in modern physics, with many scientists arguing that there is an infinite number of these universes. If this is true, then it is inevitable that some of these universes will have laws of nature (temporal order) that are perfectly suited for life. However, this isn’t intelligent design, it’s just luck. For every universe like ours, there may be millions of other universes where gravity does repel objects or is too weak or strong. So, if there are multiple universes, the chance of one having perfect temporal order becomes increasingly likely – even without a designer. Even if the multiverse theory is not true, Swinburne’s argument still does not successfully prove that God exists. God is traditionally thought of as omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and the creator of the universe. But none of these attributes is evident in the design of the universe. Firstly, designers and creators are often separate. The woman who designs a car, say, is not necessarily on the production line building each one. So even if Swinburne’s argument does succeed in proving that God designed the universe, it does not prove that God created the universe. Secondly, the existence of evil within the universe may suggest that the designer – whoever he is – is not omnibenevolent. Finally, we may argue that while the universe is enormous, there is no evidence to suggest it is infinite. So whilst this may be evidence that the designer of the universe is very powerful, we cannot prove he is infinitely powerful (omnipotent).

To conclude, in spite of the strong arguments in support for the existence of God the idea of a designer who brought order and purpose to the world is unconvincing. The teleological argument is an a posteriori which means with experience, however as Hume identified humans do not have sufficient knowledge and experience of the creation of the world to conclude that there is a designer. The argument is also inductive which means based on probable circumstances and it is almost impossible to create a premise and conclusion on something of which is not definite and therefore the belief that God designed the world is a manifestation of psychological need as science has proved otherwise. Neither spatial nor temporal order necessarily prove that God exists. Darwin’s theory shows that spatial order can emerge in response to environment, removing the need for a designer. Temporal order cannot be explained in the same way but can nonetheless be explained without intelligent design if there are multiple universes. Finally, even if Swinburne does succeed in proving the existence of a designer, his argument from temporal order does not necessarily prove that this designer is an omnipotent creator (God). Therefore, the order of the universe is not sufficient to prove that God exists. I believe you cannot rule out design completely, because for example, Behe said there are things in nature that are ‘irreducibly complex’ parts have no function for natural selection to work unless they are together. These incredibly complex things in the universe, for example the process of blood coagulation, makes you question whether there is any design in that. I have argued that on balance the challenges to intelligent design are more persuasive than the teleological arguments. The evolutionary theory especially is a very strong argument for the universe coming about naturally, and is solid evidence against the universe being designed. For example, the finch’s beaks that changed over time to adapt to their environments, indicates no design because their original beaks had to change and were not sufficient enough for their purpose in the universe.
how about the citation or it's not required?
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