Some theists of the Abrahamic persuasion claim that the harmony of the universe is proof of an intelligent designer. This argument is known as the teleological argument and has evolved from classical philosophy to modern theology. In addition, subscribers of the Abrahamic religions also hold that God has attributes that include omniscience, omnipotence, and benevolence. Fundamentally, God is all knowing, all-powerful, and all good. In contrast, God created a perfect universe that is in harmony, but occasionally practices miracles. Can the teleological argument, miracles, and God’s attributes coexist in a rational universe?
This essay’s goal is to demonstrate that the teleological argument is inconsistent with an Abrahamic God that works miracles. God’s attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, and benevolence create contradictions in a fine tuned universe. A solution consists of God losing attributes or not being able to practice miracles. First, we need to define what the teleological argument and miracles consist of. Explanation of the Teleological Argument In proving that God exists there are typically three main arguments that all sub arguments fall under.
These three main arguments include the ontological, cosmological, and teleological arguments. The teleological argument has evolved from antiquity and has been termed the physico-theological argument, argument from design, intelligent argument design, and the fine-tuned universe argument. The basic concept of the argument states that the world shows evidence of a designer because of its perfection, harmony, and consistency. The World Library defines teleological as: A “teleological” argument or explanation is one that explains the cause of things or events in terms of the aims, intentions, ends, or “designs”.
The word “design” in these discussions is used in the sense of a “pre-arranged purpose”. Intelligence is implied in any being with plans and designs, and when “intelligent design” is proposed as a cause for anything, this means that something can not have happened purely by chance or “dumb luck” The concept of harmony within the universe begun in classical philosophy and evolved throughout time. (Library) The presocratic philosopher Anaxagoras of Clazomenae used the term nous (defined in Attic Greek as intelligence) in reference to the universe. He believed that an immaterial moving cause, nous, set the universe in motion.
Anaxagoras’ first adaption of the teleological argument was refined later by Plato and Aristotle, but was later advanced by Cicero in the Roman era. Cicero claimed that the divine could be located in nature with proper reasoning. He offered the first analogy that compared the universe to a sundial. In the De Natura Deorum he stated: When you see a sundial or a water-clock, you see that it tells the time by design and not by chance. How then can you imagine that the universe as a whole is devoid of purpose and intelligence, when it embraces everything, including these artifacts themselves and their artificers? Cicero)
By comparing the universe to a sundial or water clock, Cicero is implying that the universe has a purpose. Although he was not arguing for an Abrahamic God, future followers of the Abrahamic religions adopted his analogy and adapted it to suit their beliefs. One of these followers was William Paley. In The Evidence of Design, he compounded the thought of the Anaxagoras’ nous and Cicero’s analogy of a sundial to deliver an argument for an intelligent designer. He claims that if an individual was walking on a beach and encountered a rock, the person would think that the rock was natural and had laid there forever.
In contrast, if one were to find a watch laying in the sand, they would not doubt that an intelligent designer created it. He claims that we can look at the universe just as we would view the watch, and comprehend that an intelligent designer drafted the universe. He asserts that this understanding would be self-evident and states: The inference we think is inevitable, that the watch must have a maker-that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer, who comprehended its construction and designed its use. Paley, 79)
Moreover, Paley and other followers of the argument from design claimed that human body parts (ears, eyes, and organs) demonstrated evidence of an intelligent designer, because of their complex nature. Consequently, these claims became problematic when Charles Darwin’s theories became mainstream. Common descent raised an issue regarding humans and evolution in relation to an intelligent designer.
Modern supporters of the teleological argument have recognized these problems and have evolved the argument into what is known as the fine-tuned universe claim. This evolved teleological rgument claims that the universe was fine-tuned with precise precepts that offer evidence of a designer. If certain precepts within the universe were altered than life would not exist. Moreover, according to a follower of the fine-tuned universe argument the perfect amount of hydrogen, oxygen, the law of gravity, and even the goldilocks zone we live in demonstrates the proof of an intelligent designer. Explanation of Miracles A miracle can be defined as an event that occurs which violates natural and physical law. Occasionally, in an informal fashion, some individuals use the word miracle in an ambiguous manner.
The ambiguity consists in an event that is not probable which is labeled as a miracle. For instance, if an individual survives an illness that is deemed incurable, they may attribute their survival to a miracle. Moreover, miracles are normally connected to a deity whom performs the miracle. Examples include Jesus walking on water, Moses crossing of the Red Sea, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Modern philosopher David Hume claimed that a miracle is a violation of some natural law, and it is likely that an individual is lying or misunderstands an event that is claimed to be miraculous.
In the book titled, Exploring Philosophy of Religion, Steven M. Cahn states that Hume believed that for: An event to be a miracle, that is, a deity’s transgression of a law of nature, is almost surely unreasonable, for the human testimony on which such beliefs are based is highly improbable compared with the evidence in support of the regularity of the world’s order. Furthermore, reports are invariably suspect because the witnesses are likely to exhibit foolishness and dishonesty. (Hume, 127) Hume highlights that when a miracle is claimed to have happened we should weigh out the evidence and support the claim that has the most proof.
If an individual claims that a miracle has occurred the most probable cause is that the individual hallucinated and/or lied. In addition, he highlights the importance of comprehending the difference between an extraordinary event and a miracle. Moreover, a miracle is a violation of natural and physical law, while an extraordinary event is an improbable occurrence, which does not break any physical or natural laws. This essay will concentrate on Hume’s definition that a miracle is a violation of natural law. Objection to an intelligent designer who creates miracles
Abrahamic theists claim that God is perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent. With these attributes, God practices miracles capriciously throughout the universe. These claims are problematic because each attribute of God conflicts with miracles. An omniscience deity by definition will know everything that could be known in the present, past and future. If God knows all, why would miracles happen? An omniscient being would have the knowledge to design and create the universe in a perfect fashion, there would be no reason to create miracles to fix a perfect creation.
Apologists of the teleological argument have claimed that the universe is perfect, in harmony, and fine-tuned. These claims are used to demonstrate that the universe is consistent and is attributed to an intelligent designer, but when this intelligent designer creates miracles, the perfection and harmony become altered. An all-knowing being who creates a fine-tuned universe will be able to foresee all future events and can comprehend all future obstacles. This knowledge can be used to fix the issue before it happens, which deem miracles unnecessary.
Miracles are in conflict with God’s omniscience and perfection. The attribute of omnipotence and God raises the same issue. The attribute of having unlimited power is problematic when God creates miracles, because God’s foreseen knowledge and power would be capable of squashing any obstacles before they were to occur. An omnibenevolent deity that creates miracles in a perfectly designed universe is inconsistent. As stated by Hume, a miracle is a violation of natural or scientific laws. When laws are created is it okay for the lawmaker to break the law in a capricious fashion?
When God creates miracles, he is contradicting his own benevolence. If God is all good, why would certain individuals receive charity through miracles, while other equal individuals receive nothing? In Miracles as Evidence against the Existence of God, Christine Overall states: If we consider the standard biblical examples of miracles, they reflect a certain caprice, —one is cured, another is not; bias—in favor of one group or people over another; and triviality.
These events do not appear to be consistent with the sorts of purposes that might be supposed to be held by a benevolent being. Overall, 138) Throughout Abrahamic texts, this issue is constant, God chooses arbitrarily an individual or group who receives providence through miracles, while others do not. A benevolent God that creates miracles is not reasonable. When an Abrahamic deity performs miracles he is going against his benevolence, for if he created the cosmos, and set laws in motion to govern them and then contradicts his laws he is confusing those who he created. Some theists may offer a possible objection that God knows all and uses miracles to persuade men to worship or believe in Him.
Consequently, according to Abrahamic texts if a person is knowledgeable of God he/she ought to believe in Him or will be damned to hell. When God performs miracles, he is contradicting his creation thus casting doubt on his existence. For example, if God sets in place a prophet and that prophet performs miracles he/she is contradicting God’s creation, it would be more reasonable if that prophet instead revealed the workings of the cosmos, which were, then unknown to his subjects, instead of contradicting the workings of the cosmos.
A reasonable individual would comprehend that if God creates miracles, then He is contradicting his own creation. An omniscient being would be able to persuade individuals to worship him without contradicting his creation. Solution When contemplating on the qualities that Abrahamic theists attribute to God, one realizes that miracles by this deity is inconsistent. These theists cannot have it both ways and claim that God who is omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent creates miracles. The solution is simple and can be demonstrated with basic logic.
Either the attributes of God need to be discarded for there to be miracles by God, or miracles by God must be discarded for God to have his many attributes. For instance, for God to keep his attributes we must negate miracles—this can be demonstrated with argument (a): Premise 1: If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent, then God does not create miracles. Premise 2: God is omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent. Conclusion: Therefore, God does not create miracles. This simple argument relieves the issue regarding God’s attributes and miracles.
There may be other issues regarding God’s attributes on their own, but this basic argument is consistent with theists’ claims of God’s predicates. In contrast, if theists desired to keep miracles in their doctrine, they would have to negate God’s attributes. This can be demonstrated with argument (b): Premise 1: If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent, then God does not create miracles. Premise 2: God does create miracles. Conclusion: Therefore, God cannot simultaneously have the attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and benevolence while committing miracles.
If the antecedent of premise (1) is true and the consequent of premise (1) is false, then compounding God’s attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and benevolence with miracles will always result in a false truth-value. One would assume that this final solution would not be attractive to theists, because of the negation of God’s predicates of omnipotence, omniscience, and benevolence. In contrast, some Abrahamic theists may be satisfied with the reasoning that there cannot be miracles. However, this contradicts fundamental aspects of their faith.
For example, the story of the Virgin Mary is a miracle that is fundamental to Christian and Muslim faith. According to the story, Mary was selected to be the giver of birth to God’s son, the angel Gabriel delivered the news to her. She was impregnated by the Holy Spirit and then gave birth to Jesus Christ as a virgin. If a theist is willing to disregard the Virgin Mary being a virgin, then this may disrupt fundamental aspects of Christian and Muslim faith. Moreover, this would mean either that Jesus was not the son of God and thus he would not have divine attributes such as the ability to work miracles, or that Jesus never existed at all.
Consequently, Jesus would have never died for humanity’s sins and thus all humans would be damned to hell. Therefore, Abrahamic theists cannot accept argument (a) without disrupting fundamental aspects of their faith, and argument (b) demonstrates that God cannot have certain attributes and create miracles. There is no reasonable solution that an all knowing, all powerful, and an all good being creates miracles within this universe. Conclusion A perfectly fine-tuned universe cannot be consistent with miracles that are created by an Abrahamic God who is omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent.
An omniscient being who created a perfect universe that is in harmony with good would not need to create miracles when obstacles could have been foreseen in the process of creation. In addition, this omnibenevolent deity raises issues when he creates miracles in a capricious fashion that benefit only certain individuals while ignoring others. Abrahamic theists need to comprehend that a God that contains the attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and benevolence, cannot perform miracles.