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Sunday, 1 May 2016

Understanding the teleological arguments:

Teleology (from Greek telos, meaning end or purpose) is the philosophical study of nature by attempting to describe things in terms of their apparent purpose, directive principle, or goal. A purpose that is imposed by a human use, such as that of a fork, is called extrinsic.Natural teleology, common in classical philosophy but controversial today,contends that natural entities also have intrinsic purposes irrespective of the human use or opinion.

Let me cite an example of a tea cup, we see the tea cup is perfectly designed to hold tea without allowing the liquid to leak. Its handle is designed to fit our fingers and how it holds the liquid hot without burning our fingers. So we wouldn't assume that a tea cup was simply there to be exhibiting these attributes designed for its function without someone having created it that way.

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William Paley, an English clergyman and philosopher, to make case for his belief in the existence of God gave his arguments based on the concepts of analogy. This kind of arguments invites us to consider two form of events ( say situation A and situation B). Situation A is where we already have certain kinds of knowledge and then he gives his arguments for his belief and then he correlates it to situation B where we are less familiar and then he states, in the interest of consistency, whatever conclusion we draw about situation A would have to be similar to situation B.

We can use this argument by analogy for anything, but Paley used it to prove the existence of God in what came to known as the Watchmaker Analogy. He describes the situation A as follows:

Imagine one day, you find a watch in the jungle. Would we assume that watch was always there on its own or would we see the complexities in its parts and how they fit together in a particular way to accomplish a goal? If so, wouldn't we think that watch must have been designed by someone on purpose.

Paley was arguing that the teleology demonstrated by watch would lead us to conclude that it was designed was an intelligent designer with ends on his mind. So, in the same way as teleology of a watch implies the existence of a watch maker and the teleology of a cup implies the existence of cup maker, the teleology of the world implies the existence of a world maker.

He continued his analogy by comparing watch to a living organism. Look at the complexities of a human body. Heart and lungs working together, producing sweat to keep our body from overheating and the breaking of food to release energy.  Look at how the elements of the natural world operates according to the complex laws that sustains a beautiful harmony. Paley said that this couldn't have possibly just have happened any more than the design of a watch could just have happened. There must be a designer. 

If you accept this analogy then you accept that as the purposefulness of a watch implies the existence of a watchmaker so does the purposefulness of world implies the existence of a world maker. In the book, the language of God, Francis Collins tells that the conditions that allow life in the universe can only occur when certain fundamental physical constants are in very narrow range.


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