Are there any Arguments Which Work to Prove the Existence of God?

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In this essay it shall be discussed whether there are any arguments which work to prove the existence of God. The teleological and cosmological arguments shall be first discussed, criticised by showing their reliance on the ontological argument, which shall then be shown to be an inadequate argument. It will then be concluded that there appear to be no arguments which work to prove the existence of God.

The Teleological Argument

The teleological argument, or the argument from design, puts forward the claim that God’s existence is proven by the evidence that the universe is so well ordered, and its contents complex, to the point that they must have been designed. If this is the case, then there must be a designer of the universe, and this designer can only be God. The strongest version of this argument is put forward by Paley. He claims that should he find a stone on the ground, he might suppose that it had always been there. However, should he then come across a watch, he could not hold this same supposition. This, he claims, is because the watch’s parts are such that “they are framed and put together for a purpose” (Paley, 1867: 11). The watch must have been designed and must therefore have a designer. Paley makes this same claim of the universe. He argues that: “Every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater and more…” (Paley, 1867: 21). Therefore, as the universe is of such a complex nature, in which all things are made of parts which allow them to fulfil their purpose in the same way the watch is made of mechanisms which permit its owner to tell the time, the universe must have been designed and must therefore have a designer. This designer, the argument concludes, is God. However, there are problems with this argument. Firstly, it can be claimed that the world isn’t as perfectly designed as it would have been should God (being omniscient, omnipotent etc.) have created it. For example, there are many degenerative diseases which affect animals as they grow older, and therefore show the parts of their anatomy to be unable to complete their purpose of life. Secondly, there are other, scientific, arguments which give explanation for things in nature being fit for their purpose such that do not suppose the existence of God. The most prominent of these arguments is evolution, proposed initially by Darwin (Darwin, 1859). Evolution argues that living beings in nature come to fit their purpose by adaptation, and therefore, though appearing to be designed, are not.

The Cosmological Argument

The cosmological argument, or the argument from first cause, claims that everything in the universe must have a cause. Were all the chains of cause and effect to be traced backwards in time, they would lead to the creation of the universe. However, the creation of the universe must also have a cause,

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