The second argument for the existence of God (outside of Scripture) is the Teleological Argument – also known as the Argument of Design – or the Argument to Design. As with the Cosmological Argument, we go back to Greek philosophers for early presentations of the argument. They include Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. The Intelligent Design Theory (IDT) is a modern version of the Teleological Argument that proposes that many features of the universe and living things are best explained by intelligent design – an intelligent cause. Logical reasoning from the Intelligent Design of the universe is that there is an Intelligent Designer of the universe.
Here are some explanations of Intelligent Design –
- The universe evidences great complexity or design; thus, it must have been designed by a great Designer or God.
- The position that there is positive evidence that life on Earth was created by one or more intelligent agents, but without making any explicit claim as to the identity or divinity of the agent or agents.
- Certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
The scientific support for what many call Intelligent Design is enormous and growing by the day. More and more scientists are writing papers and books about “The Mind” behind the Design of the universe. Some of the scientific fields represented by those who are concluding that a Great Intelligence is behind the design of the universe are physics, astrophysics, astronomy, biology, and biochemistry. Concepts being discussed among scientists include Irreducible Complexity, Specified Complexity, Fine-Tuned Universe, and the Thermodynamic Argument.
I was a television journalist in Huntsville, Alabama for almost 13 years. Huntsville is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and where Werner von Braun and his team of German scientists settled after they were “captured” by Allied forces at the end of World War II. Von Braun died a few years before I moved to Huntsville, but I had the opportunity to know and interview many members of his German team. I spent time in their homes and saw many of von Braun’s pictures, letters, papers, and drawings. One of my favorite quotes from von Braun is this one about the Creator:
“The vast mysteries of the universe should only confirm our belief in the certainty of its Creator. I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science.” Werner von Braun
The more science investigates the complexity of the universe and life within the universe, the more we learn about the amazing design of the universe. For many years, Christians viewed science as an enemy because of the conclusions “scientists” were making about scientific discoveries. The problem was that these so-called discoveries were being viewed through the glasses of people who did not believe in the existence of God. Because of their pre-conclusions, they wouldn’t know the truth if it bit them. What’s been happening in the last 20 – 30 years is that many scientists have dealt with the weight of scientific discoveries that point more and more to Intelligent Design – or as Christians would say – the Creator God.
The Teleological Argument is based on the fact that every design has a designer, the universe has a complex design, therefore, the universe has a complex Designer. It makes perfect sense to us, but atheists will have none of that. Most still believe in evolution. That’s what I was taught in the public school system of the 1950s and 60s. Believing that humans evolved from apes that evolved from smaller creatures that evolved from even smaller and less complex creatures played a role in my becoming an atheist. If humans evolved from single-cell slime, there is no place for a soul that continues beyond death. However, there is now powerful evidence that evolution is a farce.
Scientists with impeccable credentials from many of the most prestigious universities and laboratories in the world are skeptical about evolution. They got together and wrote an official dissent –
“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”
There have been many atheist responses to the Teleological Argument. They believe the analogy of “design = designer” doesn’t work in the case of the universe because comparing natural objects with man-made objects (e.g. Paley’s watch-design argument) is similar to comparing apples and oranges. They believe the big bang and evolution are a better explanation of the complexity in the universe (though they still can’t explain how something came from nothing – among many other major problems with Big Bang/evolutionary theory). Some say that even if the Teleological Argument is true, it doesn’t prove the existence of the God of the Bible.
Understand that when you talk with an atheist or agnostic about God, they are coming from an opposing philosophy. If you want to put them in their place, quote God’s Word to them and let that be that. God’s Word is True and trumps all other belief systems. However, if you want to invest time and effort to reach an atheist or agnostic for Christ, work on finding areas where you can reach their heart and mind. God’s Spirit will reach their soul. I’ll never forget how God used a Creation scientist to crack open my armor and touch me with the possibility that I might be wrong. God’s Spirit will do what you and I cannot do. He will reach those He wants to reach and will change them for the Glory of God.
Are there any other arguments we can use when sharing with atheists and agnostics about the existence of God? Yes, there are more and we’ll look at another one in our next study. It’s called the Law of Causality.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”