An Introduction to the Teleological Argument

by Forest Antemesaris

As we continue our introduction of fundamental apologetics concepts, we move onto the second of the “Big Three” apologetics arguments: the teleological argument. The teleological argument, like the cosmological argument, is a logical defense of God predicated upon the observable universe. In other words, it is a way to prove God’s existence by looking at things in the physical universe.

Definitions and History

Simply, the teleological argument is an argument (logos) from observable design/purpose (telos) within the universe back to a transcendental Designer (God).  A not-so-developed nod to the teleological argument is found in Psalm 19:1: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (ESV).

The teleological argument was originally made famous by Thomas Aquinas as it was one of his five ways to prove the existence of God. In modern times the argument was made famous by William Paley who likened the universe, with its design, complexity, and purpose, to a watch. Paley concluded that just as a watch is proof of an intelligent watchmaker, the universe is proof of an intelligent universe-maker.

The teleological argument today finds itself in many forms. From irreducibly complex biological processes to fine-tuning in the universe and the laws of physics, the argument can be made that the universe is too complex, orderly, and seemingly purposeful to be made by mere chance. The fact that the earth is perfectly tuned to support life, that blood clotting and energy-making processes are irreducibly complex, coupled with the sheer amount of complexity in the universe all points to some intelligent creation process and therefore an intelligent creator.

There are several simple logical syllogisms that fall under the umbrella of the teleological argument…


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