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The Teleological Argument: William PaleyWilliam Paley (1743-1805) wrote a book – Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity collected from the Appearances of Nature (1802). In it he put forward a story to support his teleological argument.
Analogy – watch discovered on a heath:
Design qua purpose – the argument that the Universe appears to have been designed to fulfil some purpose e.g. bees pollinating flowers, or tick birds (symbiotic relationship), or the human eye.
Paley goes on to argue that there is further evidence for a Creator God in the regularity of the Universe:
Design qua Regularity – the argument that the Universe appears to behave according to some order or rule e.g. Newton’s laws of motion, Keplar’s three laws of planetary motion – points to a mechanical universe.
Hence, Paley’s argument is referred to as the Teleological Argument – i.e. it looks to the end purpose of things. It is also referred to as the Design Argument as it looks for evidence of God’s existence through design in creation.
Paley’s argument was not new. As we have already seen Aquinas outlined the argument in the fifth of his Five Ways.
The Bible also appears to echo much of the Teleological Argument when it says:
Plato also outlined a Teleological Argument. The Roman orator Cicero also looked at the natural order of things and was convinced that there must be some superior intelligence to explain it all.
Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods