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Proving God: The Teleological Argument

“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” Hebrews 11:3 ESV

The oldest argument for God’s existence comes from Plato (and Aristotle). Plato had used two reasonings for God’s existence. These were the following:

  1. The argument from the existence of the soul.

  2. The argument from the order of the motion of the stars and of all things under the dominion of the Mind which ordered the universe.

Aristotle concluded that the cause of the universe was due to Divine Intelligence. He argued that there must be One, First, Uncaused Cause.

This reminds us of what Paul said in Romans 1:19-20 (ESV): “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and Divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” A person can conclude that the universe is incomprehensibly fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent life.

There are two definitions we must understand moving forward:

  1. Constants of nature: these are unchanging quantities. They are not determined by the laws of nature.

  2. Arbitrary quantities: these are any value that can be assigned at pleasure. They are not determined by laws of nature. An example of this would be the amount of thermodynamic disorder in the early universe. It is given as an initial condition, then the laws take over.

As we have just mentioned, the universe is precisely fine-tuned for the existence of life. Now, the term “fine-tuned” means that the range for the life-permitting value of constants of nature and arbitrary quantities is so precise, that even the subtlest shift would destroy a life-permitting world from existing. Fine-tuned does not mean a design, but rather a neutral expression that does not say anything about how the fine-tuning is best explained.

In order for us to understand the precision of the fine-tuning of the universe, let us look at some numerical examples:

  1. The number of seconds in the history of the universe is 10^(17).

  2. The number of subatomic particles in the universe is 10^(80).

  3. Both the force of gravity and atomic weak force is so precise that an alteration of their values by even 1:10^(100) would have changed the ability to have a life permitting universe.

  4. A change in the value of the cosmological constant (which drives the acceleration of the universe’s expansion), by even one part out of 10^(120) would have rendered the universe life-prohibiting.

Roger Penrose is a highly-recognized English mathematical physicist, mathematician, and philosopher of science at Oxford University. Roger is a self-proclaimed Atheist who is best known for his work in mathematical physics, cosmology, and general relativity.

In his work, he has estimated that the odds of our universe’s early low entropy condition (that initial condition of the low entropy in the universe - meaning how fixed atoms provide a means for life to be permitted) occurring by chance is somewhere on the order of one chance out of 10^(10)^(123).

That is 10 followed by twelve-thousand-three-hundred zeros! Dr. William Lane Craig says that this is “a number which is so incomprehensibly large that to call it astronomical would be a wild understatement.”

Dr. Craig further gives us an analogy of what the odds are of the fine-tuning of the universe happening by chance. He says that having “an accuracy of even one part out of 1060 would be like having an aim so accurate that you could fire a bullet at a target on the other side of the universe twenty billion light years away and nailing a one-inch bullseye!”

The numbers above are simply incomprehensible and the fine-tuning of the universe is simply a fact of life which is now scientifically well established.

When we talk about “life-permitting” we simply mean that life forms are able to take in food, extract energy from it, grow, adapt to their environment, and reproduce. If we were to alter the numbers even in the slightest proportion, it would make a universe that would be life-prohibiting, rather than life-permitting.

There are therefore three explanations as to how best explain fine-tuning:

  1. Physical necessity

  2. Chance

  3. Design

For intelligent life to live, the initial conditions of the Big Bang (where time, space, matter, and energy began) need to be fine-tuned so delicately and accurately, that it is beyond human comprehension.

Therefore, the probability that the universe should be life-permitting is extremely and incomprehensibly improbable. For life to evolve anywhere, the initial conditions in the Big Bang must be there. The question of evolution, therefore, is irrelevant to this argument because we are talking about initial conditions - how the universe starts out from its very beginning.

We also must note that we are not just reviewing the number of quantities, but the variety of the quantities that must be fine-tuned. Therefore, let us proceed into what can be known as the Teleological Argument.

The Teleological Argument

The Teleological Argument can be summarized into three points, and they are as follows:

  1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.

  2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

  3. Therefore, it is due to design.

Let us look at the first point.

(1) The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.


The view that the fine-tuning of the universe is due to physical necessity would have us believe that a life-prohibiting universe is impossible. This is excruciatingly inaccurate and implausible. There has to be proof that the values and constants of these quantities is physically necessary; which, in fact, there is no evidence.

Some would point to the Theory Of Everything (T.O.E.). This view (which was made by Stephen Hawking), provides a unified theory of physics which would unite the four fundamental forces of nature (gravitation, electromagnetism, the strong force, and the weak force) into a single force which is carried by a single particle. Though this view serves some merit, it does not explain everything.

Edward Witten, who is an American theoretical physicist and professor of mathematical physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, was the initial proposer of M-Theory. In this view, T.O.E. cannot work because M-Theory reveals that the fine-tuning of the universe can only exist by physical necessity if there are eleven dimensions, not four (which is what we live in).

Now, the M-Theory does nothing to explain why there would exist exactly eleven dimensions rather than any other number of dimensions. It is just presupposed by the theory.

The fine-tuning of the universe permits a wide range of universes having around 10,500 members with different values of the fundamental constants of nature. That range is so incomprehensibly large (10,500 different possibilities) that some explanation is needed for why a life-permitting universe exists rather than a life-prohibiting universe (since life-permitting universes represent a virtually infinitesimal proportion of the cosmic landscape).

Therefore, we can presume that the fine-tuning of the universe is not due to physical necessity.


Chance would have us believe that it was just an accident that all the quantities fell into a life-permitting universe. If one thinks rationally about this hypothesis, they can quickly come to see that this is just simply unreasonable.

People often will use a lottery example to try and convey these odds. This would be to illustrate why a particular universe exists, rather than trying to explain why a life-permitting universe exists. If we were to describe why a particular universe exists, then we would illustrate a lottery example. However, since we are trying to illustrate a life-permitting universe, this is to add in something that offsets the equation entirely.

The correct analogy would be a lottery in which a single blue ping-pong ball is mixed in with (insert Trump voice) billions and billions and billions of white ping-pong balls. We are then told to randomly pick a ball. If the ball is blue, we shall live. If it is white, we shall die.

These are the factors that determine which ball we choose. We are setting the stage that all lottery tickets have been sold and there is no room for any other entries. There is only one shot out of the billions of chances to pick the blue. Likewise, is the chance for a life-permitting universe to exist.

The Anthropic Principle says that one can only observe properties of the universe which are compatible with our existence. This principle suggests that if the universe were not life permitting, then we would not be here to even discuss why it is life-permitting. This reasoning is fallacious, however.

The fact that we can only observe life-permitting universes does nothing to explain why a life-permitting universe exists. Dr. Craig gives the example that it is like 120 armed snipers are aimed at your heart, point blank, and all of them miss. We would be rational in concluding that the whole thing was a setup. Likewise, we can have similar thinking as to why a life-permitting universe exists; namely, that it is due to design.

The only way the Anthropic Principle would make sense is if it is joined with the Many-Worlds (Multiverse) Hypothesis. The Many-Worlds (Multiverse) Hypothesis suggests that the universe is just one member of a world ensemble of parallel, ensemble universes. There are an infinite number of universes with unlimited quantities and variations that could come from this Multiverse. Ironically, while this view desires to get away from design, a multiverse would have to be fine-tuned in order for the many worlds to be created within the ensemble.

Why should we give reason to think that a world ensemble of invisible universes actually exist? There really is no evidence to make us think that this is real.

George Ellis, who is a famous cosmologist, agrees that we should not adopt this view. As mentioned earlier, the Oxford University physicist, Roger Penrose, has also pressed this objection with great force. As stated previously, he revealed that the odds of our universe’s initial low entropy condition existing by chance alone are somewhere on the order of one chance out of 10^10^(123). The odds of just our solar system forming by a random collision of particles, has been calculated by Penrose to be about one chance out of 10^10^(60)!

Therefore, the next time somebody says, “Oh, well, the universe being fine-tuned could have happened by chance!” or “You know, the improbable happens!” or “It was just luck!” -- ask them, “If that is the case, why do the critics of design feel compelled to embrace such an extravagant view like the World Ensemble Hypothesis in order to avoid design?” They will be stunned by even the question!

This leads us to our final point within our first premise; that being, design.


Design seems to be the most probable explanation. Most people, however, say, “Well, who designed the designer?” Or they will say, “If God designed the universe, then who designed God?” This very question reveals a misunderstanding as to what “God” means. God, simply put, is to be the highest conceivable Being. In Chapter 2 of the Proslogion, Anselm defines God as a "being than which no greater can be conceived."

God infinitely transcends all else. Therefore, God cannot be created by something else, for that very thing would be God!

In order to recognize that a certain explanation is best, we do not need to have an explanation for the explanation. This is simply an elementary principle in science. This would lead to an infinite regress. We would constantly need an explanation for the explanation’s explanation, for the explanation's explanation of the explanation, etc.

If archeologists were to find arrowheads in a cave, they would be rational in concluding that intelligent agents had made the arrowheads. There does not need to be an endless series of explanations. We can end it at rationally coming to the conclusion that the arrowheads were created by intelligent agents. Likewise, the same can be true that the universe was created by a Designer (especially that we now understand the probabilities that have been scientifically developed and revealed).

The well-known Atheist, Richard Dawkins, believes that a Designer would have to be as complex as the universe. Ironically, a Divine Mind is startlingly simple.

John 4:24 tells us that God is Spirit. Though He is simple in His form, He can think of and create massively complex ideas. It is in God’s simplicity, therefore, that we can find complexity.

In this Divine Mind, we can rationally conclude that there are no physical parts, for a mind and a soul are not made up of physical parts. The Teleological Argument does not need to reveal that the Trinitarian God is needed for a Designer. However, we receive the knowledge that the Trinity is real through Divine Revelation.

For now, we have just been discussing whether or not there is a Designer of the universe. Based upon the appearance of design, we can infer that there is a Cosmic Designer simply by the appearance of design all around us!

Theistic Personalism believes that God interferes with the world to draw men to Him and make His perfect will known.

Thomism says that God is so high and above that we cannot understand Him.

There is reason to believe in both. God has made Himself personal and able to understand through His One and Only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

God in His Nature, however, is Infinite. He transcends all that is, for He has created all that is. Therefore, we should be both Theistic Personalists and Thomists when it comes to the One, True, Triune God.

Based upon physical necessity, chance, and design, we can rationally come to the conclusion that the universe was in fact designed. This would lead us into our final two premises.

(2) It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

(3) Therefore, it is due to design.

In the words of Paul the Apostle in Colossians 1:15-20 (NKJV):

"He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross."

""For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to Whom be glory forever. Amen" (Romans 11:36 KJV).

Lance VanTine

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