The Teleological Proof of God
"Bishop Pangloss," I said as I opened the door, "how good to have you drop
in so unexpectedly. Have a seat by the fire to dry yourself out. Can I get
you something to drink? Some hot tea or something?"
"I would care for a spot of warm milk," he answered.
"Hrm, I believe all I have is some soy milk. Would that do?" I asked.
"No, thank-you," he replied, "In food, as in religion, I prefer to get my
nourishment naturally, and direct from the source."
I raised an eyebrow at that and said, "I'm guessing that since you are
weaned, am I to assume that you regularly suck cow tits?"
"Oh dear lard, no!" he exclaimed. "I must say, you are the most disturbing
man I know."
"Thank you very much. You are too kind in your flattery."
Now it was his turn to roll his eyes, as the Bishop muttered, "Of course,
you would take that as a compliment."
I smiled in spite of myself. "So what brings you out to my door on such a
wet afternoon? Didn't you go on vacation?"
The mention of the word, vacation, seem to bring his spirit's back up, and
chatted excitedly, "Oh yes, my wife and I just got back from Hawaii, and I
had an experience there that wanted to relay to you. For I now have a proof
of the existence of God."
"That is good news, indeed," I said. "The world has been waiting many years
He seemed to not noticed or purposely ignore the little jab, and
continued, "I was walking down the beach in the late afternoon, when
something shiny in the sand caught my attention. It was square and
white, and I knew that something like that could not be natural, but must
be man-made. Sure enough, it turned out be someone's lost iPod half-buried
in the sand.
"At that moment, the sun poked itself from behind a cloud, and the object
gleemed with a holy white light, and a revelation came to me.
Just like this iPod wasn't natural, but had a designer and a creator, so
this earth, along with the dolphins swimming in the waves, and you and I
talking next to the warm hearth, and all of its complexities we witness,
must have had a designer and a creator."
"Ah yes," I replied. "The old teleological argument. I'm glad to see that
old watch in the forest has now evolved into an iPod."
The good bishop was still revering his memory and seemed not to have paid
any attention to my comment, and if past history is any indication, what I
had to say would not amount to much in the way of persuation, so I simply
"Now keep in mind that I'm not saying there isn't a God, but just that your
argument isn't a proof. You see, when you were on the beach looking at the
white square object in the sand, you didn't think it was an evolved turtle
egg or something normally encountered in nature, nor did you think that
aliens planted it. You actually came up with the most rational, plausible
and natural explanation that you could.
"When I look out to sea, and watch the dolphins swimming in the waves, I
too, look for the most rational, plausible and natural explanation. I
notice the whales who have lots of similarities with the dolphins, but
while they live in the sea, they are clearly quite distinct from the fish
they live with. I conclude that the whales and dolphins weren't created and
dropped in the oceans from an extraterriestrial being, but evolved from the
"I can then notice their up-and-down motion and air-breathing abilities and
conclude they came from the land, for things like air-breathing is quite a
silly feature for a sea creature. If God had created them with gills, they
might be able to catch more fish. I can even do DNA analysis and conclude
that they did evolve from land-dwelling wolves."
"You take the easy examples. How can you explain the huge intelligence in
humans or beginnings of the first bacteria? If you don't have an answer,
then that proves there must have been a creator." he countered.
"It seems you are now proving God based on human ignorance. I will
certainly admit that we haven't plugged every hole in our model, but those
holes shrink as we acquire more evidence. The lack of evidence doesn't cause
us to throw the entire system out. The model has been so good, that as more
evidence is discovered, it fits and confirms the model."
The wind had obviously deflated from the Bishop's sails, and I thought I
would offer him some hope, so I continued, "I do believe that we can merge
the views of a divine creator and the views of an evolved natural world, if
we simply change our definition of God from that anthropomorphic being from
the Bible that likes to get people to start wars and intermediate in our
"What!" He exclaimed. "That's blasphemous! God doesn't change."
"Well," I replied, "even if you don't think that God can change, you must
admit, that our views of God have evolved and grown over the last 15,000
"You mean, 6,000 years," he said.
"Sure, whatever." I continued, "So let's expand our understanding of the
divine mind. If divinity is the ruler of the universe, what can we say for
certain about that rule? There does seem to be order in the universe, as
two follows one. In fact, that ordering or designing principle seems to be
based on mathematics. Plato's 'God', who heavily influenced Christian
thought, was pure intellect. The foundation of the intellectual forms that
pre-existed the physical forms we see.
"However, it seems that old Pythagoras may have been onto something
when he said that numbers ruled the universe. I believe the quote goes,
'Number is the ruler of forms and ideas, and the cause of gods and
The Bishop didn't like my idea, "Ugh! How can a purely intellectual idea
like mathematics inspire nobel aspirations, passionate morality, or even
hope in a here-after? That concept couldn't instill personal meaning and
"Well," I replied, "Perhaps other things could fulfill that tall order, but
I would have to take them on one at a time."
This internal discussion is continued on the other side of this
cassette, please turn the cassette over and rewind to continue towards the
exciting conclusion that may never end.
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