Explain Paley's Teleological Argument Essay

1739 words - 7 pages

Explain Paley’s Teleological argument (25)
According to the argument from design, or teleological argument, the design or order found in the universe provides evidence for the existence of an intelligent designer (or orderer) usually identified as God. A classic version of this argument appears in William Paley's 1802 Natural Theology, where Paley compares the complexity of living things to the inferior complexity of a watch that we deduce to be designed by an intelligent being. Just as a watch could not exist without a watchmaker, Paley argued, living things could not exist without an intelligent designer. 

The teleological or design argument is a derivative of the Greek word Telos ...view middle of the document...

Aquinas then goes on to suggest that ‘as an arrow is directed to its mark by the archer’ so too is the movement/regularity of things directed by a being with intelligence. The analogy of the arrow and the archer is used by Aquinas to demonstrate the link between God and creation. For Aquinas this intelligence that provides regularity of movement in the universe is God. This is the conclusion of Aquinas’ argument from design qua regularity. This analogy clearly supports Paley’s own qua purpose argument know as ‘The analogy of the watch’

Paley’s design qua purpose argument has a different feel from Aquinas’ as he first focused on outlining a hypothetical situation and then drawing conclusions about the nature of existence from this hypothesis. The analogy begins with Paley asking us to imagine crossing a heath (wasteland) and ‘pitching your foot against a stone’. If you were to pick up this stone you would not immediately ask the question ‘where does this stone come from?’ as there would be little remarkable about it. However if you continued on the heath and pitched your foot against a watch you would simply not be able to dismiss the watch as you did the stone - this is due of the complexity of the watch. The cogs, wheels and counter weights in the mechanism, on closer inspection, would demonstrate this complexity. Moreover, if the pieces of the watch were placed in any other order, the watch wouldn’t work or it would not fulfil its purpose of telling the time. Yet the pocket watch fulfils the purpose of telling the time. Paley states that on discovery of this watch you would have to stipulate a watch maker or designer because of the complex nature of the mechanism and its obvious purpose for telling the time. Using similar logic Paley continues his analogy by moving onto his observations of the universe or world around us. In particular Paley focuses on the human eye to demonstrate complexity and purpose. Paley observed that the human eye was made up of different complex components, the lens, iris and cornea etc, and that the coming together of these different parts could not have come about by sheer chance alone as the eye is too complex. He suggested that just as in the case of the watch with its clear complexity and purpose, we must conclude a designer of the eye because of its obvious purpose of seeing. If the eye were put together in a different manner either it wouldn’t see at all or would only provide partial sight, either case would see it falling short of its purpose (telos). For Paley complexity and purpose of the eye points to clear evidence of design in the world. This designer or provider of purpose in the universe is, for Paley, the God of Christianity. Yet Paley does not stop there, he continues onto voice the theory of design qua regularity,
Paley’s design qua regularity argument comes on the back of some major changes in the way that the universe was understood. In 1687 Sir Isaac Newton formulated the laws of motion and...

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