Sample Essay on Teleological Argument

Teleological Argument

Also referred to as argument from design or design argument, teleological argument is an argument that tries to explain the existence of the deity or God based on the perceived evidence of deliberate design in the physical or natural world. The name teleological argument is borrowed from the Greek word, telos that means ‘end’ or purpose. This according to the argument tries to point out that the world is being ordered, meaning that it is ordered towards a certain end or purpose.

This argument suggests that the universe is the way it is because it was created by an intelligent being in order to accomplish that purpose than it is to suppose that it is this way by chance. The use of the teleological argument can be traced back to the times of St Thomas Aquinas. He used the argument as one of his Five Ways of knowing the existence of God. However, the most cited statement of the argument is that of William Paley who likened the universe to a watch, with many ordered parts that work harmoniously to further a certain purpose. In the same way that a watch’s intelligent design can be implied by its order, complexity and purpose, he suggested that it so occurs to the universe.

Today, teleological arguments have been described as quite different to that constructed by William Paley. The reason for this is because, as Paley was particularly impressed by the appearance of design in biological systems like the eye or animals, the teleological arguments that we have today often refer to physics for evidence of design. Modern teleological arguments tend to emphasize on the fact that the universe is exactly as should be or ‘fine-tuned’ to support life.

Apart from just demonstrating the existence of God, teleological argument also exposes shortcomings in the evolution theory. This gives an advantage to modern design arguments over Paley’s in that they are less vulnerable to attacks based on the theory of evolution. It objects the argument by Paley that evolution can explain the appearance of biological design that involves, evolutionary processes, however, do not apply to the laws of nature.


Over the years, there have been several criticisms of the different versions of teleological argument. Of great concern are the general logical arguments made by David Hume in publication of 1779 titled, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, and also the explanation of biological complexity given by Charles Darwin in his Origins of Species publication of 1859. Today, the teleological argument is crucial to the creationist religious concepts of intelligent design and creation science, which are presented with the allegation that they are alternative explanations in opposition to the evolution theory.

The teleological argument operates on the assumption that one can infer the existence of intelligent design through mere examination, and since life is reminiscent of something a human might design, it too must have been designed. However, the design claim can be challenged as an argument from analogy.

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