The Teleological Argument Essay Ideas

Counter argument to the teleological argument based on Complexity or Improbability

Dennett, Daniel C. Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life, Simon and Schuster, 1995, especially pp. 28-34 and 68-80.

Dawkins, Richard. The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals
a Universe Without Design
, W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.

Hume, David. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Prometheus Books, modern reprint of 1779 work.

Pigliucci, Massimo. Tales of the Rational, Freethought Press, 2000.

Stein, Gordon, ed. An Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism, Prometheus Books, 1980, pp. 55-59 and 88-104.

A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory:

The "Intelligent Design (ID) Movement" is comprised of a diverse group of persons - including philosophers, lawyers, theologians, public policy advocates, and scientific or technical professionals - who believe that contemporary evolutionary theory is inadequate to explain the diversity and complexity of life on Earth. They argue that a full scientific explanation of the structures and processes of life requires reference to an intelligent agent beyond nature. The ID Movement seeks to modify public science education policy at state and local levels to allow inclusion of the Movement's critiques of evolutionary theory and its assertions of an extra-natural origin of biological diversity and complexity. Institutionally, the Movement is supported by the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute and has also created its own virtual professional society to promote its views. However, all other relevant professional scientific organizations judge the ID Movement to be outside of mainstream science and its theoretical proposals to be unwarranted on the basis of observations from nature and laboratory experiments.--- from this site

VIDEO with Critiques of Creationism and Intelligent Design


AAAS Board Resolution on Intelligent Design Theory

The contemporary theory of biological evolution is one of the most robust products of scientific inquiry. It is the foundation for research in many areas of biology as well as an essential element of science education. To become informed and responsible citizens in our contemporary technological world, students need to study the theories and empirical evidence central to current scientific understanding.

Over the past several years proponents of so-called "intelligent design theory," also known as ID, have challenged the accepted scientific theory of biological evolution. As part of this effort they have sought to introduce the teaching of "intelligent design theory" into the science curricula of the public schools. The movement presents "intelligent design theory" to the public as a theoretical innovation, supported by scientific evidence, that offers a more adequate explanation for the origin of the diversity of living organisms than the current scientifically accepted theory of evolution. In response to this effort, individual scientists and philosophers of science have provided substantive critiques of "intelligent design," demonstrating significant conceptual flaws in its formulation, a lack of credible scientific evidence, and misrepresentations of scientific facts.

Recognizing that the "intelligent design theory" represents a challenge to the quality of science education, the Board of Directors of the AAAS unanimously adopts the following resolution:

Whereas, ID proponents claim that contemporary evolutionary theory is incapable of explaining the origin of the diversity of living organisms;

Whereas, to date, the ID movement has failed to offer credible scientific evidence to support their claim that ID undermines the current scientifically accepted theory of evolution;

Whereas, the ID movement has not proposed a scientific means of testing its claims;

Therefore Be It Resolved, that the lack of scientific warrant for so-called "intelligent design theory" makes it improper to include as a part of science education;

Therefore Be Further It Resolved, that AAAS urges citizens across the nation to oppose the establishment of policies that would permit the teaching of "intelligent design theory" as a part of the science curricula of the public schools;

Therefore Be It Further Resolved, that AAAS calls upon its members to assist those engaged in overseeing science education policy to understand the nature of science, the content of contemporary evolutionary theory and the inappropriateness of "intelligent design theory" as subject matter for science education;

Therefore Be Further It Resolved, that AAAS encourages its affiliated societies to endorse this resolution and to communicate their support to appropriate parties at the federal, state and local levels of the government.

Approved by the AAAS Board of Directors on 10/18/02  

Intelligent Design:  

·        Evolution

·         all about evolution

·         critical examination of ID theory  

·         sort of a catch-all for these things

READ: Design yes, Intelligent no!: A critique of intelligent design "theory." by Massimo Pigliucci

READ: Neither Intelligent nor Designed: Evolution succeeds where "Intelligent Design" fails in describing the natural world. by Bruce and Frances Martin  Skeptical Inquirermagazine : Nov 2003

Doubting Darwin, by Jerry Adler, Newsweek, February 7, 2005

Science Classes Are for Science, Not Faith, by Alan Leshner, AAAS CEO, Philadelphia Inquirer, February 2, 2005  

The Crusade Against Evolution, by Evan Ratliff, Wired, October 2004

In Defense of Darwin and a Former Icon of Evolution, by Fiona Proffitt, Science, June 25, 2004

Political Challenges to the Teaching of Evolution American Geological Institute

The National Center for Science Education provides up-to-date listings of anti-evolution activity around the nation.

Position statements by AGI and its member societies are available at

The booklet Evolution and the Fossil Record, produced by AGI and the Paleontological Society, is now available on-line. Written by paleontologists John Pojeta Jr. and Dale Springer, this non-technical introduction to evolution aims to help the general public gain a better understanding of one of the fundamental underlying concepts of modern science.

The October 1999 issue of Geotimes features a series of perspectives on the Kansas situation from geoscience community leaders along with columns addressing the ramifications from both public policy and curriculum development standpoints. The December 2000 issues of Geotimes is devoted to the evolution debate. Articles include "The Politics of Education in Kansas" by M. Lee Allison, "Studying Evolution and Keeping the Faith" by Patricia H. Kelley, "Evolution Grades for the States" (a review of the Fordham report), and "Hot Spots across the U.S." (an overview of recent flare-ups). Other articles and columns are listed.

The National Academies have produced several publications for teachers and the general public. They are available, along with an extensive array of links to other resources

Voices for Evolution is a compilation of statements by scientific, educational, religious, and civil rights organizations published by the National Center for Science Education. It is available online at:

A position paper by the National Science Teachers Association .

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has an evolution issues section on their Web site. It contains a current issues section, information on state science education standards and various state evolution issues.


One stop source for information on evolution

What is evolution and how does it work?
Detailed explanations of the mechanisms of evolution and the history of life on Earth

This interactive and entertaining website is a companion to the PBS series on evolution. Explore Darwin's life and the theory he proposed, find resources for teachers and students and a library of additional resources.
The Writing of Charles Darwin on the Web
This site claims to be the most extensive collection of Darwin's writings ever published and includes The Origin of Species and other books, volumes of letters, and articles published in periodicals.  Although the site appears to come from the British Library, it is produced by a historian affiliated with Cambridge University.
Exploring Constitutional Conflicts: The Evolution Controversy
A fascinating look at both sides of the issue from a University of Missouri law professor.  Includes links to websites supporting evolutionist theory and creationism.
More about Darwin himself than about evolution, this entertaining site offers great detail about Darwin's life and science in the late 1800s.  It includes a long list of links.
Center for Science and Culture
This website presents the non-Darwinist and non-creationist point of view known as intelligent design, which holds that the universe is the product of intelligent thinking.
Answers in Genesis
A very large young-Earth creationist website. Although most material is in English, it includes pages in ten Asian and European languages.
The Talk.Origins Archive
This website is built around essays and articles addressing the evolution/creationism controversy from a mainstream science viewpoint.  Lots of links to websites on both sides of the issue.
National Center for Science Education
The NCSE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending the teaching of evolution in public schools.

Robert Clark
Preview the diverse work of this award-winning photographer at this site, which includes photo galleries, a short biography, and more.

The National Academies
This organization provides a committee of experts in all areas of scientific and technological endeavor and gives independent, objective advice on critical international and national issues.

Browne, Janet. Charles Darwin: Voyaging.Vol. 1. Alfred A. Knopf, 1995.
Browne, Janet. Charles Darwin: The Power of Place. Vol. 2. Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.
Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. John Murray, 1859. (Modern editions are available from many publishers.)
Desmond, Adrian, and James Moore. Darwin. Michael Joseph, 1991.
Eldredge, Niles. The Pattern of Evolution. W. H. Freeman and Company, 1999.
Larson, Edward J. Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. Modern Library, 2004.


Title: Was Darwin Wrong? ,  By: Quammen, David, National Geographic, 00279358, Nov2004, Vol. 206, Issue 5

Was Darwin Wrong? No. The evidence for Evolution is overwhelming.


View also Debunking the Teleological, Cosmological, and Ontological Arguments for the Existence of God

Examine the main ideas and strengths of the design argument for the existence of God
The Design argument is often called an inductive, teleological argument which is most commonly associated with William Paley and Richard Swinburne. The DA is concerned with the search for a meaning or purpose in the world. The DA is a posteriori proof argument; which is an argument made after knowledge is assembled, using your own experience as reasons to argue. The DA often called the teleological argument comes from the Greek word 'telos' which means 'purpose' it focuses on the observation that something has been created for a purpose. Everything in the world appears to have been designed by a designer and fulfil a function. Another idea of the design argument is that there is evidence of design in the universe around us, everything appears to have been designed to fulfil a function this is called Design qua purpose. Design qua regularity is the basis of the argument that the universe appears to behave according to some rule, however as some DA's differ some argue that the universe's starting point was because of there being regularity in the universe whereas others argue there is evidence of the universe being designed for a purpose. The DA is an inductive argument which is insisting the ultimate explanation for design is a designer or God.

A classical example the DA is William Paley's, his argument includes several ideas one of this is uses an analogy of a watch and comparing it to the universe in his book called Natural Theology. The analogy explains that if a person found a watch, even though they had never seen one before they would know it had been designed therefore just as the existence of a watch indicates a watchmaker – implying it is clearly designed and the same is with a universe implying that God has created the Universe, this part of Paley’s argument links in with design qua regularity. In addition to this, the human eye is too complicated to be created by chance there must be a purpose for its existence this is called design qua purpose. The main side of the argument is that everything that has been designed needs a designer therefore by analogy the world must have a designer. Paley explained "every manifestation on design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature" he is suggesting here that this could not have happened by chance, and the designer of the universe must be God who is above all designers.

Moreover, a strength of the argument is that the use of the analogy (watchmaker) in the argument makes it easy for us to understand as it moves from something within our experience to try to explain something behind (the creation of the universe) the argument is straightforward but the use of the analogy makes it clear to us that that examples that are as complex as the watchmaker is showing us that God is the only logical explanation for the universe's design as the universe is so complex.

Another strength of the argument is that the argument is reasonable and therefore more people are likely to believe. It is not impossible for God to exist and create the Universe and as we have evidence in the Bible as God said "let there be light" shows that God has the power to create a universe like this. The Bible preaches the truth and God is evidently the only explanation as we have proof from the bible. The argument is a reasonable interpretation of experience.

Another example of the design argument comes from a philosopher called Richard Swinburne who clarifies the modern version of the DA which is called the Anthropic Argument, from this argument the idea he argues is that the universe functions by rules e.g. each day has 24 hours and this is not by chance it has been designed to have 24 hours, and the most probable explanation is God. He argues that God the only possible reason for the occurrence of these laws. Although science can explain a reason behind these laws occurring, it cannot confirm the presence of these laws and so God is the most logical explanation for this as he is above human power.

Furthermore, another strength of the argument that proves the existence of God is that the world has been so perfectly built and you cannot fault it. It's amazing creation clearly shows that no one but God could be the explanation because the world is so intricately structured that only an omnipotent God could create it and it is clearly designed e.g. The world has four seasons - this could not be happen by chance some thought has gone into creating the universe, therefore there is evidence everywhere in the world today that it is has been created and because it is so complex the only logical explanation behind the design of the universe is God.

Another attribute of the DA comes from St. Thomas Aquinas, an idea from his argument includes the beneficial order in the universe which he observes I.e. There are things in the universe that work towards an end or purpose. He argues that the world is like an arrow shot from an archers bow - it has direction purpose. God is the archer and the world is the arrow. God is controlling the world and as he is the reason behind why it is been created. Aquinas then goes on to say the world works because the designer is God because things in nature are ordered and their apparent purpose e.g. Trees give us oxygen

An idea that has been put forward by F.R. Tennant is that beauty exists in world, his argument is called the Aesthetic argument. Tennant points out that beauty exists within the world e.g. Nature, he explains further that beauty cannot be derived through natural selection and it provides no survival benefit to species and therefore beauty has to have a designer. He argues that the universe was designed explicitly for human life. Tenant concludes his argument by stating that the designer must be God. God is omnipotent and only someone as great as him would have the power to great such as the universe.

Another strength of the DA that proves God is the designer is that the universe has order, benefit, purpose and suitability and something cannot exist without these four quantities. For example in order for something to have purpose something needs to be created therefore the world has been created as its purpose is for humans to live in it. The next quantity is benefit, by the world existing the benefit is gets is from humans to live it and do actions justly e.g. Feed the poor there are many more benefits for the world existing. The third quantity is order - the world is ordered exactly and evidence has clearly shown us that the universe has been created with thought e.g. the earth is at an exact existence away from the sun I.e. so it's not too hot or cold, which is clearly showing how complex the universe is. The last quantity is suitability, which backs up the argument of the world being too complex to have just happened by chance e.g. Scientists believe that the Big Bang Theory was the reason behind design but it is not a clear explanation because the world is too complex to have happened with a bang, careful thought has gone into the creation.

In conclusion, the DA is an a posteriori which is based on our knowledge of the world and design. The world is far too complex to appear by chance there has to be a logical explanation for its design and it's designer; the world presents regularity e.g. The consistency of having 4 seasons throughout 1 year and purpose e.g. The purpose of the human eye is to see it cannot be created by chance as it is far too complex, consequently the universe must be designed and as everything designed needs a designer there must be a designer behind the creation of the universe. A watch cannot be made by itself even though all the pieces are there to make the watch, the same goes for the universe (or life) could not have made itself even though all the 'pieces' were there. There has to be a designer and as the DA is a inductive argument - God is the most likely the answer to the formation of the universe

Comment on the view that the weaknesses are overcome by the strengths of the argument

A strength of the design argument is that it is simple to understand and is reasonable therefore many people will adjust to the reason behind why the universe has been created. For example every human knows that one day they are going to die and by the theory that we have all be created by God and he is 'in charge' of us dying or living - it all fits in together people understand gods existence and therefore they will believe that god is the only logical explanation for the reason of the creation of the universe. It is impossible for any human to create a universe like this as it is far too complex to begin with and the fact that we have 24 hours in the day and have day and night relates to qua regularity showing that the universe is here but its here because of a extremely intelligent designer which is God. However a weakness of the argument that overcomes the strength is if god is the designer and he is omnipotent, benevolent and omniscient then why is the world full of evil? The design argument is focused on the positives but is failing to realise that there is so many things going wrong in the world today. There are illnesses, huge destruction, pain, torturing and much more but if god was omniscient he'd know those things were happening and be ready to stop them as he is a benevolent god. If god is omnipotent then he would have the power to stop all the evil occurring in the world but he isn’t. As humans we have never met god and we personally don not know what he is like. A point made by john Stuart mill is "why would a benevolent god let such things happen? Or why would an omnipotent god create a world where such things happen?" Therefore as we don't god intentions we cannot trust the theory that god has created the world as we don't know his intentions.

Conversely, another strength of the argument is that the conditions of the world are so perfect for us to live in for example how we have trees that provide us with oxygen - this shows that behind every creation within the world there is a reason behind why it's been created. When we jump our eyes are still and don't move around, with our human eyes we have the ability to see under water thus the universe must have been designed in order for humans to live in it. Evidence is everywhere. Paley’s watchmaker theory supports this strength: William Paley explains that if you find a watch you don't assume it is there by accident you know that there is a reason behind it, you know someone has made it as it is so intricate which is the same with the world. On the other hand, Hume has made criticisms of the DA and believes that you cannot be born with the fact that the world has been designed by god. It is not innate knowledge, you have to of have some sort of experience and by humans having no experience of the world being built how we can possibly say that god is the reason behind it. Hume goes on to explain that if a watch is made by many as it is so complex, the universe must be made by many gods and not just one therefore there isn’t the one powerful god. He also goes on to explain that we shouldn't stop at god when asking for explanations. Another criticism from Hume is he compares the world to a machine that didn't work. He explains that the universe is more like a vegetable that grows of its own accord "so the vegetable the world or this planetary system, produces within itself certain seeds which being scattered into the surrounding chaos vegetate into new worlds". Hume Is saying that the world has grown on its own and the analogy between the products of human design and the works of nature is remote and weak.

Overall, the weaknesses overcome the strengths for the DA because the suffering that goes on in the world shows how dysfunctional the universe is - everything designed needs to work in order. Mill supports this point and argues that the universe cannot be ordered and the result of intelligent design. Hume thought that the argument cannot be supported by a Christian god as Christians believe that god is omnipotent, benevolent and omniscient. Although the argument is easy to understand, the fact that the world isn’t ordered overcomes the logician explanation. Fundamentally, the strengths of the argument are arguable, the DA will depend on your belief - if you're a theist God will be you're explanation however ultimately the Weaknesses of the DA have weighed out the strengths because of the natural disasters that occur in the world such as tornados evidently showing God is not omnibenevolent as he would stop these from happening but he hasn't so we cannot say he created the world due to the fact he doesn't stop evil in the world ultimately the Weaknesses overcome the strengths

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