Countering the Teleological Argument
Countering the Teleological Argument
Establishing the existence of God has consistently been an argumentative subject for philosophers. Both proponents and opposers of this metaphysical incongruity have attempted to raise objective notions that either accredit or discredit the subsistence of an existential and Supreme Being. Even though opposers associate the belief in God with irrationality, the focus on the metaphysical aspect has provided equal opportunity for supporters of this conviction to voice sound and reasonable arguments. Hence, with such philosophical support, various theories have been formulated to ascertain the existence of God. One of these arguments constitutes the Argument from Design. In order to establish rationality as per the respective claim, the Argument from Design has focused on the discovery and provision of empirical evidence that proves the reality of God. To be more specific, the earth as the only fit planet for life acts as rational proof for corroborating the subsistence of God. Despite the empirical nature of this claim, certain objections have been established against the argument. These objections, established by Hume, argue that the design argument fails to provide enough evidence to prove God’s existence and empirically, fails to elucidate the existence of God as much as it explains the creation of Earth.
Overview of the Argument from Design
In overview, the Argument from Design, also known as the Teleological Argument, implies that the subsistence of God is real because of the objective in or the form of design of the natural world. Simply, the reality that all things in nature seem to be integrated together in the right capacity or manner purports that an intelligent designer claims responsibility for its conception (Harrison 5). In this sense, the existence of God comprises the best possible explanation for the presence of these facets. Teleological arguments usually constitute a theory that establishes the evidence of empirical property based on the material world or universe. In addition, such claims hold that the respective empirical property, exuded by the world or universe, is a convincing proof of intellectual plan or purpose. Lastly, design arguments allege the existence of an intelligent creator as the prime reason for the creation of the material world that produces evidence of a persuasive empirical property.
Aside from this, the Argument from Design has also produced a wide set of variations based on its claim. However, such variations further attempt to establish empirical validity for the existence of God. The conjecture of the Fine Tuned Universe comprises a fair illustration. Accordingly, the argument established by this premise alleges that the universe comprises a lucid, delicate poise of conditions that are necessary to facilitate human life (Collins 209). Moreover, the establishment of such conditions in a precise way implies the existence of an intelligent and perfect designer: God. In a more empirical sense, this design argument claims that the perfect condition of the Universe is due to the preciseness of values evident within nature’s physical constraints and the cosmos’ beginning state. These physical constraints, which comprise the constant elements of physics such as gravity, are fine-tuned in order to allow the subsistence of life on earth (Collins 214).
Objections to the Argument from Design
Despite the empiricism offered by the design argument in light of the existence of God, specific claims seem to negate this particular conjecture due to various scientific and rational reasoning. The premises regarding the subsistence of a Supreme Being provide a more reasonable and sound basis for arguing against the teleological claims. In this inference, Hume presents his claims via the character, Cleanthes. As such, the opposer provides two sets of arguments that counter the assertions alleged by the Argument from Design.
Objection I: Insufficient Evidential Basis
For Hume, the Argument from Design consistently attributes unexplainable occurrences and matter to the presence of an intelligent creator/designer. Accordingly, human beings, in a way of justifying their convictions, draw their claims from a seen pattern of relationships. This is commonly evident when faced when attempting to understand the subsistence of a natural phenomenon. As such, by observing different yet unexplainable occurrences, human beings relate such events to the existence of a superior cause (Speaks 2). However, this is not the case. According to Hume, individuals lack an outline of correlations between the creator and the universe (Speaks 2). Specifically, they cannot attach an explanation, such as the existence of God, to the natural occurrence and perfect nature of the universe since they do not have prior evidence of these relations. This lack of proof as well as precedent disapproves any intent to substantiate God’s existence.
In addition, the similarity between objects does not necessarily imply the existence of an intelligent designer. In instances, where the subjects are exclusive, individual, and lack resemblance, then it may be impossible for the design argument to explain the cause of this phenomenon. Hence, the design argument, in its dependence on the similarity of the universe, possesses a loophole that further discredits its insistence concerning the existence of God. Moreover, the fact that a disparity in objects illustrates the irrationality of the design argument also indicates the importance of evidence in crediting the existence of God. Specifically, teleological arguments lack the evidence to prove that God exists on account of the dissimilarities that exist in certain objects. Hence, the design argument need not depend on sameness. However, in an effort to use similarity as evidence of an intellectual creator, the claim further negates God’s existence due to insufficient evidential basis.
Objection II: Insufficient Explanation of the ‘Intelligent Designer’
Instead of focusing mainly on the lack of evidence as a loophole for the design argument, Hume also focuses on the lack of explanation regarding the creation of the designer, in this sense, God. Indeed, when the subject regarding the existence of God is raised, then it should be imperative for the claim to elucidate the originality of the creator. Nonetheless, the design argument fails to do this. According to Hume, there is instability especially in inferring to an intelligent developer as the prime evidence for establishing the existence of God. In this objection, the allegation that purports the subsistence of an intellectual creator also needs elucidation as much as the reality of the universe and the earth does (Speaks 2). Based on this loophole, the argument from design also fails to provide sufficient and reasonable explanation concerning the creation of the suggested designer (Speaks 3).
To this end, the Argument from Design continues to form a considerable part of the debate centered on proving the existence of God. With its focus on the perfect nature of the universe and the fitness of the Earth for human life, the teleological arguments have attributed such properties as evidence that an intellectual designer subsists. However, the objections presented by Hume also illustrate the extent to which the design arguments seem irrational and insufficient towards their cause. With an insufficient evidential foundation and elucidation concerning the origin of the proposed intelligent designer, the argument from design proves to be unreasonable since it does not provide substantial and rational evidence to show that God exists.
Collins, Robin. “The Teleological Argument: An Exploration of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe.” The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Eds. William L. Craig and J. P. Moreland. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2009. 202-281. PDF file.
Harrison, Victoria S. Arguments from Design: A Self-Defeating Strategy? (Archived version) University of Glasgow, Glasgow, ST. 31 Oct. 2014.
Speaks, Jeff. “Hume’s Criticism of the Design Argument.” 2006. PDF file.
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