Teleological Biology & Chemistry

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info.gif Teleological Argument: "An argument for the existence of God that takes as its starting point the purposive (teleological) character of the universe. The argument is often termed the argument from design and comes in many different versions. This argument was quite popular in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but many atheists believe it has been discredited by Darwinism. Philosophers of religion such as Richard Swinburne, however, have developed versions of the argument that are compatible with Darwinism."

Evans, C. (2002) Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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    Behe, Michael J.

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    Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference

    "To Darwin, the cell-and every microbiological function-was an unknowable black box. Now that we can look into this box, can we apply Darwin's theory to it? Why is it that, of the thousands of papers published in science journals, none ever discuss detailed models for intermediates in the development of complex biomolecular structures? In drawing his groundbreaking conclusions, Behe is not inferring design from what we do not know, but from what we do know."
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    Chela-Flores, Julian

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    Evolution of Intelligent Behavior: Does Complex Chemistry Offer Evidence of Purpose?

    "The question that brings us together is whether in science (cosmology, astrophysics or biology especially biochemistry) there may be laws, general mechanisms (for instance, natural selection), and special values of some physical constants that could be interpreted in natural theology as indications of purpose. The example of 'fine-tuning' in astrophysics has led to a weaker and a stronger version of the Anthropic Principle. Firstly, there are some remarkable numerical coincidences in the fundamental constants of physics that seem to conspire in favor of the appearance of intelligent life in the universe (an early remark attributed to Hoyle). These arguments have inspired discussions in the cultural frontier with the humanities. Is there an analogy in biochemistry? We will argue that the appearance of intelligent life may be interpreted, not only as the conspiracy of the values of the physical constants of microscopic physics, but intelligent life also seems to be the end product of a 'conspiracy' of evolution; indeed, natural selection and convergence are relevant at various levels, starting at the level of biochemistry and ending at the cosmic level. We will illustrate general aspects of this 'second interpretation' for the appearance of intelligent behavior in the universe."
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    Denton, Michael J.

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    The Protein Folds as Complex Natural Forms: Evidence that the Properties of Matter may be "Fine Tuned" for Protein Based Life

    "In the Fitness Henderson argued that many of the basic natural constituents of carbon based life on earth, such as water, carbon dioxide, simple carbon compounds and basic natural procesess such as oxidations appear to form a uniquely fit ensemble of constituents for 'the organic mechanism which we call life.' He concluded that as it is unlikely that any other ensemble of constituents exists [none is know ninety years later] which 'could possess . . . such great fitness' then carbon based life is a unique phenomenon and the universe specially ‘biocentric.’ Here I show that the one thousand protein folds represent another ensemble of natural constituents of life on earth (vastly more complex than the simple constituents considered by Henderson) which may also be uniquely fit for their biological role. This suggests that the properties of matter may be ‘fine tuned’ not just for generic carbon based life but for the specific type of protein based life as it exists on earth."
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    Meyer, Stephen C.

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    The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories

    "This review, and much of the literature it has surveyed, suggests that four of the most prominent models for explaining the origin of biological form fail to provide adequate causal explanations for the discontinuous increases of CSI that are required to produce novel morphologies. Yet, we have repeated experience of rational and conscious agents-- in particular ourselves--generating or causing increases in complex specified information, both in the form of sequence-specific lines of code and in the form of hierarchically arranged systems of parts."
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    Meyer, Stephen C.

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    DNA by Design: An Inference to the Best Explanation for the Origin of Biological Information

    "This paper will present a design hypotheses, not as an explanation for the origin of species, but as an explanation for the origin of the information required to make a living system in the first place. Whereas Darwinism and neo-Darwinism address the former question, theories of chemical evolution have addressed the latter question of the ultimate origin of life. This essay will argue against the causal adequacy of chemical evolutionary theories whether based upon “chance,” “necessity,” or their combination. Instead it will suggest design as the best explanation for the origin of the information present in large bio-macromolecules such as DNA, RNA and proteins."
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    Meyer, Stephen C.

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    DNA and the Origin of Life: Information, Specification, and Explanation

    "Many origin-of-life researchers now regard the origin of biological information as the central problem facing origin-of-life research. Yet, the term ‘information’ can designate several theoretically distinct concepts. By distinguishing between specified and unspecified information, this essay seeks to eliminate definitional ambiguity associated with the term ‘information’ as used in biology...In particular, this essay challenges the causal adequacy of naturalistic chemical evolutionary explanations for the origin of specified biological information, whether based upon “chance,” “necessity,” or the combination. Instead, it argues that our present knowledge of causal powers suggests intelligent design or agent causation as a better, more causally adequate, explanation for the origin of specified biological information."
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    Meyer, Stephen C.

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    Evidence for Design in Physics and Biology: From the Origin of the Universe to the Origin of Life

    "Dembski’s work shows that detecting the activity of intelligent agency ('inferring design') represents an indisputably common form of rational activity. His work also suggests that the properties of complexity and specification reliably indicate the prior activity of an intelligent cause. This essay will build on this insight to address another question. It will ask: Are the criteria that indicate intelligent design present in features of nature that clearly preexist the advent of humans on earth? Are the features that indicate the activity of a designing intelligence present in the physical structure of the universe or in the features of living organisms?"
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    Meyer, Stephen C. et al.

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    The Cambrian Explosion: Biology’s Big Bang

    "In this essay, we will test the claims of neo-Darwinism and two other materialistic models of evolutionary theory: punctuated equilibrium and self-organization. We will do so by assessing how well these theories explain the main features of the Cambrian explosion—a term that refers to the geologically sudden appearance of numerous new animal forms (and their distinctive body plans) 530 million years ago...[W]e will argue that intelligent design explains both the pattern of the fossil record and the origin of new biological form and information better than the competing models of purposeless and undirected evolutionary change."
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    Pruss, Alexander R.

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    Programs, Bugs, DNA and a Design Argument.

    I argue that an examination of the analogy between the notion of a bug and that of a genetic defect supports an analogy not just between a computer program and DNA, but between a computer program designed by a programmer and DNA. This provides an analogical teleological argument for the existence of a highly intelligent designer.
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    Thaxton, Charles

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    A New Design Argument

    "The new argument from design in biology and mathematics is not as well known as the one from astronomy and physics. Even so, it is perhaps more important. If the argument developed here can be shown to indicate a designer, then it may be used fairly as a basis for clarifying the vague impression on this point obtained in astronomy and physics. It is this new argument from design that I plan to focus on there."
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    Thornhill, Richard

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    The Historical Relationship Between Darwinism and the Biological Design Argument

    "It is often held that the argument from biological design (ABD) was valid and almost universally accepted before Darwin, that it was the most important rational ground for theism, and that it was invalidated by Darwinism. However, this is wrong. The history of the ABD ran parallel with those of evolutionary theories, with Lamarck having published in 1801 and Paley in 1802. Evolutionary theories and the ABD were alternative responses to empirical evidence that (1) spontaneous generation does not occur, and (2) new species have arisen in geological history. The main reason why evolution was seldom hypothesized before 1796 was probably that materialism was tenable otherwise."
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    Utke, Allen R.

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    104.5° And 180°: Two Critical But Unsung Cosmological Constants

    "...'[T]he new cosmological story' now being told by increasing numbers of people in the science/religion community, and elsewhere, is invariably being told today predominantly from the pointed perspectives of 'the new physics', astronomy, biology, neurological sciences, and genetics. Inexplicably, the role of chemistry, the oldest of the sciences, is usually underemphasized or even absent in that new story. The author of this paper, a chemist, views such 'oversights' as being extremely unfortunate. For, he contends that chemistry also has a major, contributory story to tell, and thus a key role to play, in defining the unfolding nature of 'our finely-tuned cosmos'."