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Wednesday
Jan092008

Theological Term of the Week

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For the next few weeks, the theological terms will be the names of some traditional arguments used to justify belief in the existence of God. As you might imagine, there is quite a bit of disagreement about the validity and usefulness of these proofs.
 
Teleological  Argument
An argument for the existence of God that begins with evidence of order, complexity, pattern and purpose in the universe and argues from that evidence that the universe must have an intelligent and purposeful designer.
 
  • From William Paley’s Natural Theology (1802), a bit of his watchmaker analogy, which is an example of a teleological argument.
    In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer I had before given, that for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. (…) There must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed [the watch] for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use. (…) Every indication of contrivance, 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 or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.     

Learn more

  1. Teleological Argument from Theopedia
  2. The Teleological Argument from Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry
This series of theological terms was suggested by Kim of Hiraeth. The graphic at the beginning of the post was also done by Kim. See more of her work at Bookworm Bookmarks.
 
Have you come across a theological term that you don’t understand and you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

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