Well done on completing the work, tasks and videos on the Oakes Future page. This really shows your commitment to the course and we are excited to be working with you more in September. This next page will be updated with different tasks to help develop your skills further. It gives you the opportunity to delve into content from the course and get you ready to start in the new term. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions but use this page to strengthen your knowledge and interest in Religious Studies.

Arguments for the existence of God


  • The philosopher and theologian William Paley tried to prove the existence of God

  • He came up with the Design Argument.

Watch this clip which explains his idea.

What is he basing his proof on? The clue is in the title of his argument.

Complete a brief biography of William Paley.

The following will explore his ideas in more detail using new key words. (Make notes on these for the future!)

 The Design Argument

  • William Paley’s Analogical Argument: its basis in observation.
  • The argument is inductive. (Uses reasoning in which the premises seek to supply strong evidence for the truth.)
  • Paley’s argument is a posteriori (depend on sense/experience) and inductive, his conclusion that the universe was designed is at best probably true, and it might be false.

Paley’s argument based on three observations about the world

•Its complexity – looks at the complexity of the natural world, of biological organisms and organs, such as the eye. Then nature.
• Its regularity – he observes the regularity of the orbits of comets, moons and planets.
• Its purpose – observes machines we make are built for a purpose. Therefore, the complexity and regularity of the world implies it too has a purpose.

Design Argument

Some objects in the world show clear evidence that they were designed because they show complexity and regularity, from which we can infer they were made for a purpose.

  • Can you think of 3 examples?

  • The universe also shows the same inferring purpose.

  • So it is likely that the universe was

  • He reasons by observing –cause must be God.

Watch Paley’s Watch analogy

  1. Draw a large flow chart explaining the Design Argument


  1. What is Paley inferring? Explain


  1. Explain Paley’s analogy.


  1. How is an analogy useful?


  1. Why does Paley use a watch as an example? Explain.

Strengths and weaknesses of the Design Argument

This is an argument for the existence of God. It points to evidence that suggests our world works well – that it was designed in a specific way, because the world shows complexity (of life), purpose (it supports life) and regularity (e.g. the seasons). The argument follows that if it was designed like this, then someone or something must have designed it. That must be God.

Strengths of Design Argument


  • Paley might be right to argue that the designer is all powerful Christian God, because this is the simplest explanation.

  • The existence of an all-powerful God is a simpler and therefore better explanation of design.

‘……..simplicity is always evidence for truth’

  • Evolution does not destroy the design argument as some say because:

    (1) evolution does not explain itself

    (2) evolution is compatible with God anyway (maybe he created it to make life)

  • Paley’s conclusion that the designer exists beyond the universe seems reasonable: the designer must be metaphysical (beyond the world), since it would be impossible to design such a system (universe) from the inside.

  • We have neither imagined nor imposed the laws of nature- science only works because these laws exist. They could only have come from an external source

  • There are 30 or more ‘boundary conditions’ (such as gravity and expansion rate of Big Bang) that have to be fine-tuned for an ordered universe with intelligent life to develop. The odds against all boundary conditions being exactly right are colossal – so obviously something designed it – God.            


Weaknesses of Design Argument

David Hume was a Scottish philosopher. He was an empiricist, a sceptic and probably an atheist. He criticised religion a lot in his work including Paley’s Design Argument.

  • Even if we accept God was the designer, there is no evidence to suggest that it was the God of Christianity – all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing.

  • Hume uses one of his guiding principles here: that a cause must be proportional to its effect. eg. You hear an orchestra in corridor;

a.) it’s full orchestra   b.) a strong sound system

A is possible, B is all you need to account for what you hear.

  • Paley infers that the designer of the universe is the all-powerful, all knowing, all loving God of Christianity. Although such an inference might be true it is nevertheless out of proportion to the evidence. If there is a designer, a lesser being could be responsible.

  • Wherever we find intelligent minds, we find them attached to physical bodies, so there is no reason to suggest that the designer of the universe was a metaphysical being. The designer might have been physical (had a body) was mortal and died long ago.

  • Design is normally a feature of teamwork, so there is no obvious reason to suppose that the designer of this universe was a single being on his own.

  • The existence of so much evil and imperfection in the world does indeed suggest a limited designer – why would an all-powerful God allow evil to exist.

  • The universe could have developed into a comparatively ordered state simply by chance. This is called the multiverse theory.

Task: Create a simplified table on the strengths and weakness of William Paley’s Design Argument. There are YouTube clips included to help you understand both sides.

1. Write up which side is more convincing, the strengths or weaknesses of the Design Argument, explain your choice and include a brief conclusion. Write at least 8 lines.




2. What would the value of William Paley’s argument be for people of religious faith? Write at least 5 lines.