Teleological Argument for God’s Existence

by Robert Driskell · Print Print · Email Email

Most Christians have a presupposition that the Bible is true.  These Christians do not have to have the Bible proven to them; they accept it as God’s Word.  They accept it as containing the very words that God wanted written, and they accept those Words as containing everything necessary to the knowledge of salvation (2 Corinthians 4:6, 10:5; Ephesians 1:17, 4:13; Colossians 1:9-10, 2:2-3, 3:10; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Timothy 2:25; Philemon 1:6; 2 Peter 1:2; and many more).  I am one of those Christians.

However, the lost do not accept the authority of the Bible.  Therefore, the believer may use this method of getting the unbeliever’s attention, thereby opening the door to a conversation that may lead the unbeliever to become a believer. This presentation of evidence pointing to the existence of God is another means that can assist the Christian in spreading the Gospel to a lost and hurting world. 

An Overview of the Teleological Argument

The Teleological Argument gets its name from the Greek word ‘telos’ which means ‘purpose’ or ‘ultimate end’ (Powell, p. 51). Teleology is the study of a thing’s purpose or design (Powell, p. 51).

Teleology is the study of a thing’s purpose or design

The Teleological Argument for the existence of God is also sometimes called the Design Argument.  This is because the argument is based on the observance of the design we see in the universe around us.  The most common analogy for this argument goes something like this: If you were walking in a field and came across a stopwatch, would you say the stopwatch just formed all by itself, or would you say it was designed and created by an intelligence?  Is it reasonable to think that all the parts formed by random chance and then it assembled itself, or was assembled by random naturalistic forces?  On the other hand, would the intricacy and precision of its design and construction point to an intelligent designer and a watchmaker of sufficient means to have created it?

The answer is obvious; no sane person would imagine the stopwatch just came randomly into existence.  Its very design, complexity, and organization point to an intelligent entity (in this case, a watchmaker) as its creator.  This is the essence of the Teleological Argument for the existence of God.  The universe reveals an intricacy and precision that calls for the existence of an intelligent, powerful Creator, rather than a universe created by random chemical processes and unintelligent physical forces. 

Elements of the Teleological Argument

One of the main elements in the Teleological Argument is known as the “Anthropic Principle”.  This principle sees the universe as designed specifically to support life.  Many environmental parameters are so precisely tuned to support life that to alter any one of them, even the slightest, would disallow conditions for life here on Earth.  For example, life on Earth would not be possible if:

  • The axial tilt of the Earth were greater or less
  • The distance of the Earth from the Sun were greater or less
  • The Earth’s gravitational interaction with the Moon were greater or less
  • If the Earth’s surface gravity were greater or less
  • If the length of the day were longer or shorter 

The sad failure of the scientific community

Much of the scientific community would have us believe that the design, order, and complexity of the universe organized itself somehow.  It is difficult to understand how science, the discipline involved in research and discovery, many times rejects the evidence for God it uncovers in its daily work.  This rejection is not based on empirical evidence, but on the fact that they have presuppositions that exclude the possibility of the existence of God.  Therefore, they have already made up their minds that any discovery made cannot be attributed to a supernatural cause.

It is sad, indeed tragic, that the study of God’s creation can be so perverted that it can lead people to believe that the design, intricacy, organization, and complexity we see in the universe came about by blind chance instead of through the act of a loving, powerful Creator.  The Bible has this to say about such people, “…they are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:20-21 ESV).  It is so heartbreaking that hearts can become so hard as to reject truth so clearly observed. 

Biblical support for the Teleological Argument

The Bible tells us that the Teleological Argument, although not specifically called by that name, is not a man-made construct, but it truly exists.

“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20 ESV).  It could not be much clearer that God’s existence, and even some things about His power and nature, can be perceived by examining the universe. 

“Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness”  (Acts 14:17 ESV).  This verse tells us that the very rain that falls from the sky speaks of a Creator.  God provides the rains, the sun, and everything else we have.  The evidence is right in front of us.  Some do not see it because they do not want to see it, not because it is hidden or does not exist. 

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1 ESV).  Whether we are looking at the tiniest thing visible under the microscope or the largest thing visible in the sky through a telescope, we are looking at evidence of design, intelligence, and great power.  We are looking at evidence for God. 

Conclusion

The Teleological Argument can help us make a rational case for the existence of God based on the observed order and complexity of the universe.  It can be an aid in our evangelistic efforts to dismantle the intellectual arguments of unbelievers.  It is not infallible, and is never to be considered a substitute for the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer.  It is yet another tool to be used to, “make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (I Peter 3:15 ESV).

“The precision of the universe, the nature of information, and the observation that random and undirected forces cannot account for the complexity of living things all lead to a transcendent, personal, intelligent designer” (Powell, p. 68).  However, Christians already knew that, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 ESV, cf. Job 38:4-7; Psalm 33:6, 136:5; Isaiah 42:5, 45:18; John 1:1-3; Acts 14:15, 17:24; Colossians 1:16, 17; Hebrews 1:10, 11:3; Revelation 4:11). 

Here are some related articles for you to read:

Resources:

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Powell, Doug. Holman Guide to Christian Apologetics.  Holman Reference, 2006.

YouTube video “Creation Calls – are you listening”? by Brian Doerksen



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