"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." “When I hear people say politics and religion don't mix, I wonder what Bible they are reading.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

"And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6.8

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4.19

"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2.12

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sir, I don't get it! Teleology and Yr 10

So, as William Paley said: Imagine walking through the countryside, so far away from civilization that is possible to believe you are in a totally natural environment. As you walk, you find at your feet two objects: a stone and a pocket watch. As you examine the stone you see nothing remarkable about it at all. As you examine the pocket watch you see clear evidence of design: symmetry, beauty, intricacy, interdependence, purpose and detail. Where there is design you have to surmise the existence of a designer. i.e. the watchmaker.

The universe is like the watch, Paley said. It too, has all those design characteristics and more. Therefore we must surmise the existence of a designer: God.


Sir, I don't get it!

Which bit?

All of it.

Do you understand analogy?

It's when you're allergic to something.

So Thomas Aquinas, Medieval monk and scholar, argued for the existance of God in ways not entirely in accordance with the thinking of his age.

His First Cause Argument, part of a larger series of similar arguments for the existence of God, goes something like:

Every effect has a cause.

Nothing that we experience is caused by itself.

There can not be an infinite regression of causes.

Therefore there must be a First Cause.

That is what everyone understands as God.

Although Aquinas predates modern thought, he is largely responsible for the acceptance by many modern Christians of the Big Bang Theory and Evolution: God is the trigger that sets the whole process in motion.

For me personally that is a bigger God than the Hebrew tribal totem who created the world in six days and I find that transcendence and omnipotence very exciting, while I find the traditional creation story, which I believe to be religious myth, very limiting.

Remember, though, as I have said before, with the God of classical theology ANYTHING is possible. The outcome is the same, though: there is a creative and sustaining force in the universe and we call that force YHWH.

Sir! Why do we have to do this?


  1. Perhaps they would have related more easily to the stone.

  2. Don't shoot me here but have you read any of the articles on the Guardian CIF belief section of the website looking at Genesis? Hugely interesting.