One of the main qualitative aspects of the theological approach to tacking the divinity-related subject matter is that it is thoroughly rational. That is, in their strive to prove the existence of God, theologians mainly operate with the categories of logic, which in turn is expected to legitimize the validity of the would-be obtained insights into the issue at stake, on their part. As Velasquez noted: “Literally speaking, theology means simply the rational study of God” (241). To exemplify the soundness of the above-stated, we can well refer to the so-called teleological (or ‘design’) line of argumentation, which is being usually deployed by theologians, on the way of promoting the idea that God indeed exists.
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According to Velasquez, the main conceptual premise of the ‘design’ argument can be outlined as follows: “Simply put, the design argument, or the argument from design, states that the order and purpose manifest in the works of nature indicate that they were designed by an intelligent Being” (251). While trying to substantiate the validity of this argument, theologians most commonly point out the fact that there is an observable orderliness in the universe. For example, within the Solar system, the planets revolve around the Sun in exactly the manner that their orbiting-positions prescribe them to. In their turn, these positions are being defined by the objectively existing laws of gravity, which naturally implies that there must have been some sort of an intelligent force that laid them down. Furthermore, the very fact that the so-called ‘fundamental physical constants’ happened to be associated with the specific numerical values is also being brought forward, as the proof the universe is rather ‘fine-tuned.’ The reason for this is that, had these numerical values been even slightly different, the existence of the universe, in the way we know it, would have been deemed impossible: “Atomic particles have exactly the numerical properties needed to allow them to form into the elements needed for life, such as carbon and oxygen” (Velasquez 258). This, of course, does prompt one to consider the possibility that there is a ‘creator,’ after all.
Another observable indication that there must have been an intelligent designer, who brought the universe into being, the advocates of the teleological argument consider the fact that there is an amazing complexity to even the most primitive life-forms – not to mention the representatives of Homo Sapiens species. Even while pondering upon such a part of just about any mammal’s body, like an eye, one cannot help experiencing the sensation of awe, in regards to the ‘purposeful complexity’ that it happened to feature. According to Paley, quoted by Velasquez: “The eye… was exactly shaped so that its lens focused light on its sensitive interior exactly in accordance with the laws of optics; the skull was hollowed out into a socket exactly sized to enclose and protect the eye…” (253). Therefore, there is nothing too surprising about the fact that many people do think of the ‘design’ argument, as such that represents an undisputed truth-value – this argument’s main premise correlates well with the intuitive workings of one’s consciousness. After all, our life-experiences do tell us that, for as long as a physical object (such as a car) appears to have been designed (due to being ‘purposefully complex’), this indeed happened to be the case.
Nevertheless, upon being closely scrutinized, the ‘design’ argument will appear as such that does not hold much water. The reason for this is that, while making an inquiry into how the universe operates, people cannot help addressing the subject matter in question, well within the spatial boundaries of their senses-based perceptual apparatus. Given the fact that the representatives of our species, rarely live for longer than 80-90 years, they are naturally inclined to assess the significance of the surrounding physical reality, as such that immediately relates to their spatially limited lifespans. This, however, is far from being the case. The rationale behind this suggestion is that allegorically speaking when compared to the age of the universe (14 billion years), one’s life does not even last a microsecond. However, once we assess the universe’s apparent orderliness on even as short, as a million-year scale, it will appear that it is, in fact, an illusion – planets fly off their orbits, stars explode, even galaxies themselves collide into each other, which in turn suggests that it is chaos, which rules the universe, and not some ‘divine’ order.
The same line of reasoning can be deployed; when it comes to refuting the teleological claim that the complexity of the organic life’s emanations presupposes an ‘intelligent design.’ After all, as the Darwinian Theory of Evolution points out to, the seemingly intelligent design of life-forms is nothing but a result of the forces of evolution (concerned with the principle of ‘natural selection’) having been enabling these life-forms to grow ever more complex, over the course of millions and millions of years. The mentioned forces, however, are ‘blind,’ in the sense that they simply facilitate “a non-intelligent mechanical process that over millions of years could produce organisms that were perfectly adapted to do what they do” (Velasquez 255). What it means is that the creationist account of the universe is conceptually misleading, because it does not consider the effects of time on the organic matter’s ‘innate’ capacity to resist entropy – without the involvement of any intelligent ‘third party.’ Referring back to the earlier mentioned body-part of an eye – once we look at it, without giving much thought to the huge amount of time it has taken to evolve into what it is now, this body-part will indeed appear nothing short of yet another ‘miracle of creation.’ This, however, will not be the case if we assess its present complexity, within the context of what we know about the operational principles of the laws of evolution. It is understood, of course, that the above-stated does contradict the workings of our commonsense logic. This, however, does not make it less discursively legitimate.
Thus, it will be thoroughly appropriate, on our part, to conclude this paper by reinstating once again that the teleological perspective on the origins of the universe (life) can no longer be considered discursively legitimate. The reason for this is that this perspective is being ‘fueled’ by both: people’s perceptual arrogance/lack of education and by their infantile desire to have a ‘big daddy’ up in the sky. Therefore, even though religion does help many people to cope with life challenges, it can be the least referred to as the source of knowledge about how the universe actually operates. Apparently, the universe is just much too enormous in order to fit into the spatially narrow paradigm of ‘divinity,’ provided by the world’s organized religions.
Velasquez, Manuel. Philosophy, A Text with Readings. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.