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Is there a plausible version of the teleological argument?
'The teleological argument' is a term that has been used to refer to arguments for the existence of God which argue from 'design'. The word 'design' is to be used in this discussion to imply a 'general pattern of order', or alternatively the apparent provision for the needs of conscious and sentient beings in our universe. The term 'teleological' stems from the Greek telos, meaning 'end' or 'purpose', which suggests a further element of rational decision-making, of which this order or provision is the result. We should begin our discussion by covering the teleological argument's classical forms, before moving on to discuss in turn two modern expositions of teleological argument, the first arguing from order or regularity, the second from 'fine-tuning'. I shall also look at the question of what the teleological argument can establish about the nature of God, and suggest that it might be possible to establish more than has often been considered the case. I intend to conclude that while the arguments from regularity from 'fine-tuning' both suffer a similar fate in reaching, at different points in their account, points of impasse through which reasoning cannot carry them, they do remain plausible, if not wholly persuasive. The classical exposition of the argument from design took its basic shape chiefly in the arguments of Aquinas, whose argument we will not focus upon here, and later Paley. Just as Aquinas suggested that the arrow only moves toward its end as a result of the existence of an archer, Paley, centuries later, expounded his now-famous 'watchmaker' analogy, proposing a situation thus: if I were to find a stone lying on the ground, I would not find it incongruous or unusual that this stone be there - I could suggest that it might have lain there practically forever without sounding absurd. However, were I to find a pocket-watch on the floor, in a similar situation, the same answer would sound absurd. Instead, I would posit the existence of a watchmaker, to explain how the intricate mechanisms involved in the operations of the watch came to be constructed. In the same way, Paley argues, the complexity of the natural world, and the manner in which its constituent elements are adapted to suit their roles, appears to demand the existence of an intelligent designer. The criticisms of Hume's Dialogues and the presentation of Darwin's evolutionary theory formed two important attacks upon this model of design argument. Hume's critique was famously devastating, and approaches Paley's teleological argument from a number of angles. Hume suggests that the weakness and remoteness of the analogy between products of human design and the works of nature do not support the notion of theism as an explanation for the apparent order in the natural world. Even if we allow the analogy in terms of accuracy and closeness between the concepts, Hume argues that it still fails, since whilst we have experience of many different objects, and can recognise those designed by humans from those not, we have experience of only one universe, and so cannot point to one designed universe out of many that are undesigned. Hume further argues that if a well-ordered universe requires a designer, so too must the wellordered mind of that designer - avoiding infinite regress is then only possible by being content to accept the inexplicable existence of this well-ordered designing mind, but we might equally simply accept the inexplicable existence of a well-ordered universe. Finally, Hume argues even if one could reconcile the occurrence of evil in the world with the existence of a wholly good divine creator, it is manifestly impossible
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