|The Teleological Argument|
|The Cosmological Argument|
|The Ontological Argument|
|The Argument from Morality|
|The Argument from Miracles|
|The Argument from Religious Experience|
Charles Darwin (1809-1882), although not the first to propose the theory of evolution, first put forward a comprehensive theoretical explanation for it in his The Origin of Species (1858). Based on his study of species in their own habit, Darwin proposed that similarities between species could be explained through a common heredity - that is, that they both shared a common ancestor.
The way this works, according to Darwin, is through what he called Adaptation, whereby a certain species would change according to the environmental conditions. Once this happens, the environment also causes the species which is fittest - or best suited to the conditions - to survive. This theory is best known as Natural Selection or sometimes as survival of the fittest.
The consequences of this view for the Teleological argument can be summarised in four main points:
The teleological argument (from the Greek telos meaning 'end' or 'purpose') is also known as the design argument and is based upon examination of the nature of the world. The main thrust of the argument is therefore that the world is too complex and well ordered to have been produced by chance or random change. This being so, it is argued that God is the only being responsible.
The argument is perhaps most well known in the form put forward by William Paley (1743-1805) in his book Natural Theology: Or Evidences of the Existence and attributes of the Deity Collected from the Appearances of Nature (1802). In the book, Paley compares the world to a watch, suggesting that its intricate design and order presupposes a designer - a watchmaker.
This approach is known as Natural Theology in as much as it argues for the existence and nature of God from nature and natural facts.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1776) was influenced by Hume's scepticism regarding cause and effect. Since this view says that our knowledge of the world comes from our mind interacting with it through observation, Kant concluded that conclusions which go beyond observation are invalid. Therefore, such arguments as the Teleological and Cosmological arguments do not hold up because they go beyond space and time.
In other words, we usually gain knowledge of cause and effect through observing things within the world. For instance, a ball hits a bat and we observe the trajectory of the ball. However, if the effect is the whole world we cannot have any knowledge of the cause - in this case, God.
However, many philosophers have challenged this idea, most notably David Hume (1711-76) in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. The main thrust of his argument springs from his analysis of cause and effect and his conclusion that our knowledge of such things is based solely on habit.
From Hume's point of view, when we see one thing cause another our knowledge of that experience is based simply on that process of observation. So, when we see one ball hit another we can only base our knowledge of what the reaction is on seeing it happen. The important consequence of this is that we cannot know the nature of any cause apart from observation. Therefore, certainty - from Hume's point of view - is based on how many times something has happened (how probable it is to reoccur).
His objections may be summarised as follows:
1. Even if we admit that the world suggests a designer,
is it possible to infer the qualities of that designer?
2. Can we tell from the world whether there was more than one agent responsible?
3. In what way does the existence of evil argue against the teleological argument?
4. Is there any comeback that someone who believed in the teleological argument might use against the criticism that the world is not perfect?
5. If we suppose that the world was created by something, mustn't we then suppose that something was in turn responsible for that, and so on infinitely?
6. With the publication of The Origin of Species (1858), Charles Darwin (1802-1892) argued for "natural selection" as an alternative process to that of divine design. If this explanation is more likely than a theistic one, does that make the teleological argument redundant? Suggest pros and cons for each view.
Creationism is basically the view that the story of creation as depicted in the biblical book of Genesis is generally true. However, there are different brands of creationism, ranging from the fundamentalist view that the world was created in 7 days, to the less literal view that God created each species in its final state.
The fundamentalist view is very difficult to hold given the amount of geological evidence there is to suggest the gradual formation of the earth over millennia. However, the opposal of Darwin's theory of evolution is still current among religious beleivers - notably Jehovah's Witnesses - and tend to concentrate on the "missing link" problem (see the section on Darwin). This view considers that species did not evolve but were created in their final form.