Three forms of the argument

Read these views and then discuss the following:

The teleological argument – Page 1








The Fifth of his Five Ways

  • Many objects do not have the intelligence to work towards an end purpose themselves. Aquinas used the example of an acorn whose end was an oak tree)
  • Therefore, they must be directed by something that does have intelligence.
  • Whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it is directed by some being endowed with intelligence.
  • Therefore, there must be an intelligent being and this being we call God
  • Just as an archer (intelligent being) must direct an arrow (an object without intelligence), God must direct nature.


William Paley’s analogy of the watch has become the classic explanation of the Argument:

In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer, that…it had lain there forever… But suppose I found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given – that, for anything I knew, the watch might always have been there. Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch as well as for the stone? For this reason…that when we come to inspect the watch we perceive…that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose….the inference, we think, is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker: that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers….. who comprehended its construction, and designed its use…

  • The watch could not be explained by saying that it had always been there.
  • The watch has the feature of a manufactured machine in that the parts fit together to achieve a specific function (e.g telling the time).
  • Manufactured machines are the result of intelligent design.
  • Objects in nature are analogous to manufactured machines.
  • Analogous effects have analogous causes.
  • Therefore, objects in nature are the result of something analogous to intelligent design.
  • The agent responsible for such design must be God.

The watch analogy illustrated the design relating to purpose argument. Paley also argued that regularity observed in the universe demanded an intelligent mind as explanation. This is known as his design relating to regularity argument. He illustrated this by appeal to the way planets obey laws in their movement. The agent responsible for such order and regularity must be God.


Tennant, in his book; ‘Philosophical Theology’ said that there must be a designer because;

  • The universe perfectly fits the development of life.
  • The universe is designed in a way that allows life to grow and develop.
  • Most importantly, it is designed to develop intelligent human life.
  • This is the ‘Anthropic Principle’.

Tenant also spoke of the ‘Aesthetic Argument’ – that humans can appreciate and enjoy beauty, music, art, literature – none of which is vital to survival, but is there to develop qualities of beauty and love. The beauty of nature shows the beauty of the creator.

Further discussion point: is beauty evidence of design?