Teleological Argument Definition Essay

Essay on The Argument from Design, by William Paley

1089 Words5 Pages

During the 1800th century, William Paley, an English philosopher of religion and ethics, wrote the essay The Argument from Design. In The Argument from Design, Paley tries to prove the existence of a supreme being through the development of a special kind of argument known as the teleological argument. The teleological argument is argument by analogy, an argument based on the similarities between two different subjects. This essay purposefully attempts to break down Paley’s argument and does so in the following manner: firstly, Paley’s basis for the teleological argument is introduced; secondly, Paley’s argument is derived and analyzed; thirdly, the connection between Paley’s argument and the existence of a supreme being is made; and…show more content…

Having introduced Paley's main a posteriori experience, the following paragraphs will describe and justify Paley's reasoning for using such argument to describe the existence of a superior being. Firstly, Paley concentrates in the process leading to the creation of the watch. The process for creating a watch is very systematic and involves knowledge of mechanical engineering, a trade known to few men. Yet, it is not necessary to know the inner workings of the watch to use it on a daily basis: it is only necessary to understand the relationship between the position of the watch's hands to the sunrise and sunset of day. Paley concludes that even though he could not create a watch, some supreme being could create such watch. In other words, anything that shows evidence of creation has a creator and such creator exists or has existed at one point in time. To further refine the previous conclusion, Paley acknowledges the imprecision of the watch, for the watch is not always correct in predicting time. The watch might get ahead or behind, but the overall purpose for which the watch was created remains intact: it might predict the wrong time, note however, that it still predicts time. The conclusion in the previous paragraph is not contradicted by any of the watch's faults simply because the being’s purpose for creating the watch still exists. Therefore, Paley's supreme being not only creates but also does so with a specific purpose.

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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


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