Friday, 27 January 2017

The teleological argument for God's existence

Structurally the argument is simple

/1/ The universe looks designed or imbued with intelligence.


/2/ Therefore there is a designer or a creator who imbued his creation with intelligence.

Aristotle, an early pupil of Plato’s academy in Athens (387 BC – AD 529), envisaged a race of people living underground with no knowledge of the land and sky above. He imagined them emerging from underground for the first time. They would be thunderstruck by the immense complexity, order and beauty of the living world, the ocean, the sky, the moon and the stars. It would be impossible to imagine it all existing without the intervention of an intelligent mind. In his Metaphysics he stated that ‘there must be a first uncaused cause, a living, intelligent, immaterial, eternal and most good being who is the source of order in the universe.’

Plato himself reasoned that there must be a God, not only because of the existence of the soul but ‘from the order of the motion of the stars and of all things under the dominion of the mind which ordered the Universe’.

The Holy Bible has verses too numerous to quote here about the works of God’s creation.

Today we have even more cause to discern intelligence and purpose in the universe. Until only a few decades ago scientists thought that the universe would finish up with living beings by chance. The exact opposite is the case. The  initial conditions of the universe were fine tuned to dozens of decimal places. Had they been out by an almost infinitesimal amount life could not have evolved.  See A universe built for life, but how much life?  We can also see how uniquely placed and endowed is our home planet, how events seem to be orchestrated to allow the potential for life to be realised in the thin film of air, soil and water that envelopes it – not only realised but created to be aware of the cosmos, to be curious about  its origins and to be able, because of Earth's rare position in the Milky Way and clear skies, to probe into its point of origin. See Our precious planet.

In the field of the life sciences this natural idea of a purpose behind reality has been obfuscated due to the unscientific sanctification of Darwin. Now, mercifully, the meaningful complexity of living systems at the sub-genetic and sub-cellular level, together with the networks of relationships between plants and animals in nature, reveal intelligence that can no longer be denied. Darwin showed us that evolution happens but the idea that no guiding intelligence is involved has had its time. The very fact that biochemical engineers who are ardently copying the systems of nature have to employ  mental resources, computational power and money to such a large degree that  they have to be spread over dozens of talented research teams working for decades just to simulate the simplest living system, shows that even over hundreds of millions of years these systems could not have evolved by random mutation and selective pressures. See for instance ENCODE turns DNA junk into treasure; and The fittest survive: but how? 

 Recent discoveries in quantum biology concerning photosynthesis, bird navigation and the sense of smell are revealing that the natural world is interconnected, coordinated, hierarchically organized and computed by some agency sophisticated and complex to a degree beyond human imagining. Scientists can no longer hide their heads in the sand, clinging to a 19th - 20th century reductionist world view.

Quantum physicists, elementary particle physicists and cosmologists have encountered fundamentally inexplicable phenomena and some have put forward irrational theories to explain them. This echoes the ancients invoking arbitrary gods to explain thunderstorms, earthquakes etc. However, providing faith in one rational God and the truth which he embodies remain, new theories will be created that get ever closer to, but never reach, absolute truth, since this is beyond scientific investigation or logic.

I recently started reading Improbable Planet by Hugh Ross. This is densely packed with a wealth of evidence pointing to layer upon layer of cosmic and terrestrial choreography culminating in our living planet and human civilisation, with its high dependence on fossil fuels and elements manufactured in stars then herded into our local stellar then solar then planetary environment in the necessary amounts. The moon-earth system alone appears uniquely suited to life and the result of astounding celestial engineering.

How the design process occurred or is occurring no mortal being can possibly know or envisage. Perhaps it occurred or is occurring outside of space-time and appears as ongoing in our mode of existence. When experimentation takes place in nature it is a manifestation of God composing a masterpiece and knowing when he has reached the desired perfect goal. 


author 2077:Knights of Peace

See also

Cosmological argument for the existence of God
Ontological argument - on the radio!
The doctrine of chance

For an academic exposition  on the existence of God by W.L.Craig (a brillliant Christian philosopher who is also an expert on cosmology, quantum mechanics and elementary particle physics) listen to the podcasts on this website. The students ask searching questions, ones which you may ask yourself, and he attempts to deal with them.

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