Cosmological and Design Arguments

Alexander R. Pruss and Richard M. Gale

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780195138092
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835348 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Cosmological and Design Arguments

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The cosmological and teleological argument both start with some contingent feature of the actual world and argue that the best or only explanation of that feature is that it was produced by an intelligent and powerful supernatural being. The cosmological argument starts with a general feature, such as the existence of contingent being or the presence of motion and uses some version of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) to conclude that this feature must have an explanation. The debate then focuses on two points: first, whether the PSR in question is true, and second, whether the explanation must involve God or at least some God-like being.  The teleological argument begins with a general feature of the cosmos judged to have value, such as the existence of intelligent life or the presence of order in the universe, and argues, usually inductively but sometimes deductively, that this feature is to be explained by the agency of a powerful supernatural being.  Here, the debate tends to focus on whether there are alternate naturalistic explanations, such as Darwinian evolution.

Keywords: contingent being; cosmological argument; Darwinian evolution; design argument; existence of God; explanation; naturalistic explanations; Principle of Sufficient Reason; teleological argument

Chapter.  11079 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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