An examination of william paleys theological argument

Paleys teleological argument essay

I deny, that for the design, the contrivance, the suitableness of means to an end, the adaptation of instruments to a use all which we discover in the watch , we have any cause whatever. To suppose it to be so, is to suppose that it made no difference whether we had found a watch or a stone. Hume's arguments, however, were not widely accepted by most of the reading public and they fell 'stillborn' to use Hume's own assessment from the press. Thus, predation is presented as a form of population control that prevents the potentially disastrous effects of superfecundity and the application of venom is a particularly merciful method of dispatching prey. Evolutionary theory provides a means of exploring the origin of complex adaptations using a variety of analytical approaches e. Even Richard Dawkins , an opponent of the design argument, described himself as a neo-Paleyan in The Blind Watchmaker. For this reason, and for no other, viz. Nor, fifthly, would it yield his inquiry more satisfaction to be answered, that there existed in things a principle of order, which had disposed the parts of the watch into their present form and situation. It might seem to be a force sufficient to shatter to atoms the hardest bodies. Design and Diversity The preceding arguments occupy only the first six of the 27 chapters in Natural Theology. By the s and s, well-known liberals like Thomas Wakley and other radical editors of The Lancet were using Paley's ageing examples to attack the establishment's control over medical and scientific education in Durham, London, Oxford and Cambridge.

These, like functional traits shared more broadly, also reflect the remarkable fit of species to their environments which Paley takes as strong evidence for their origin by design. It might seem to be a force sufficient to shatter to atoms the hardest bodies. The indication of contrivance remained, with respect to them, nearly as it was before.

The design argument has also been applied in other fields of scientific and philosophical inquiry, notably in regards to anthropic cosmological fine-tuning, [13] [14] fine-tuning for discoverability [15] and the origin of life.

I see no way whatever of getting over it.

An examination of william paleys theological argument

However, his description is of an ancient version of the idea that, as Paley rightly notes, is unworkable in practice. No one, therefore, can rationally believe, that the insensible, inanimate watch, from which the watch before us issued, was the proper cause of the mechanism we so much admire in it;—could be truly said to have constructed the instrument, disposed its parts, assigned their office, determined their order, action, and mutual dependency, combined their several motions into one result, and that also a result connected with the utilities of other beings. A designing mind is neither supplied by this supposition, nor dispensed with. Contemporary design proponents, by contrast, generally attempt to distance themselves from Paley so as not to be seen as simply repackaging a year-old theological argument. The examples may have changed e. It is the gradual escalatory quality of non-random natural selection that arms the Darwinian theory against the menace of infinite regress. The more the complexity of the universe is advocated or presented by the promoters of the intelligent design argument as a supposed indication of intelligence at work, then the more it works against the conclusion that there must be an intelligent designer. Nor do the works of the Deity want this clearest species of relation. Paley strenuously supported the abolition of the slave trade , and his attack on slavery in the book was instrumental in drawing greater public attention to the practice. No answer is given to this question, by telling us that a preceding watch produced it. All these, and a thousand other imaginable varieties, might live and propagate.

Contrivance is still unaccounted for. Whether he regarded the object of the contrivance, the distinct apparatus, the intricate, yet in many parts intelligible mechanism, by which it was carried on, he would perceive, in this new observation, nothing but an additional reason for doing what he had already done,—for referring the construction of the watch to design, and to supreme art.

The formation then of such an image being necessary no matter how to the sense of sight, and to the exercise of that sense, the apparatus by which it is formed is constructed and put together, not only with infinitely more art, but upon the self-same principles of art, as in the telescope or the camera obscura.

These types of examples can be seen in the work of the ancient philosopher Ciceroespecially in his De natura deorum, ii.

teleological argument

Given a few million generations over a few billion years, such design forces can create an astonishing variety of interesting products—but that in no way suggests an omnipotent, omniscient, purposeful Creator.

Paley and Darwin understood that chance plays a role in nature, but that it is incapable of producing adaptive complexity: What does chance ever do for us?

Teleological argument pdf

All these properties, therefore, are as much unaccounted for, as they were before. Therefore, in order to have a greater length in a less compass, the cord of the main muscle makes an angle. Nor, thirdly, would it bring any uncertainty into the argument, if there were a few parts of the watch, concerning which we could not discover, or had not yet discovered, in what manner they conduced to the general effect; or even some parts, concerning which we could not ascertain, whether they conduced to that effect in any manner whatever. It is called Intelligent Design Theory. The indication of contrivance remained, with respect to them, nearly as it was before. The more the complexity of the universe is advocated or presented by the promoters of the intelligent design argument as a supposed indication of intelligence at work, then the more it works against the conclusion that there must be an intelligent designer. Take away this, and you take away from us every subject of observation, and ground of reasoning; I mean as our rational faculties are formed at present. Nor would it, I apprehend, weaken the conclusion, that we had never seen a watch made; that we had never known an artist capable of making one; that we were altogether incapable of executing such a piece of workmanship ourselves, or of understanding in what manner it was performed; all this being no more than what is true of some exquisite remains of ancient art, of some lost arts, and, to the generality of mankind, of the more curious productions of modern manufacture. Hume, David. Paley's works were more influential than Hume's from the s to the s. By a proportionable minuteness of the particles of which light is composed. Though the basic premise of the teleological argument had been articulated by thinkers as far back as ancient Greece and Rome, today it is almost universally associated with the writings of one person: William Paley Fig.

Nor can I perceive that it varies at all the inference, whether the question arise concerning a human agent, or concerning an agent of a different species, or an agent possessing, in some respects, a different nature.

It is not difficult to see why, as Paley passionately addressed what they see as the most important question in evolutionary biology: the origins of complex adaptations. Hume's arguments, however, were not widely accepted by most of the reading public and they fell 'stillborn' to use Hume's own assessment from the press.

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The Teleological Argument