Gce religious Studies

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Suggested teaching time

8 hours


The Teleological Argument

Topic outline

Suggested teaching and homework activities

Suggested resources

Points to note


  • General Discussion: do they believe in God? Why or why not? What arguments can be brought?

  • Write up discussion.

  • This activity will vary according to the group and whether they studied the topic at GCSE.

  • The battleground God game at www.philosophersnet.com/games is a fun way of seeing if your beliefs on God are coherent.

The Teleological Argument from Aquinas and Paley

  • Issue students in groups with simple jigsaws. Some groups attempt to solve the jigsaws blindfolded, others by sight. Discuss what was learned. Is a complex thing like the universe more likely to be the product of design or chance? Is the jigsaw task a fair analogy?

  • Explain a simple version of the teleological argument for students to note in stages.

  • Simple children’s jigsaws 20-30 pieces. Students could make their own if time allows.

  • Any activity that pits intelligence against chance will make the point.

  • Alternatively students can be asked to go and find objects that appear designed by nature, by a human, or would be believed to be designed by God (see sample lesson).

  • Explain and lead discussion on Paley’s analogy of the watch.

  • Students make guided notes on the arguments of Aquinas and Paley. Attempt to write Aquinas’ fifth way in plain English and compare to Paley’s argument. What is similar/different? Whose is more successful?

  • Philosophy of Religion (Jordan, Lockyer & Tate).

  • The Question of God (Palmer) contains the extract from Paley.

  • www.newadvent.org/summa gives the text from Aquinas.

Challenges to it from Hume; there could be other explanations for the apparent order of the universe

  • Research the criticisms that Hume makes of this argument. Write the criticisms in plain English. Rank them and attempt to write a response on behalf of the Theist.

  • Philosophy of Religion (Jordan, Lockyer & Tate).

  • A Beginner’s Guide to Ideas (Raeper & Smith).

  • The Question of God (Palmer) contains an extract from Hume.

Challenges to it from Mill and Darwin.

  • Students take notes from Mill’s criticism and Darwin’s Criticism from either video or text.

  • Teleological Argument Video (Dialogue Education – Peter Vardy).

  • www.tutor2u.net

Darwinist Challenges that order comes through evolution and not a Divine Mind

  • Students consolidate work on Darwin by producing a PowerPoint explaining his ideas on evolution and how it affects this argument.

  • Assess whether Darwin’s ideas make it impossible to believe in God.

  • Philosophy of Religion (Jordan, Lockyer & Tate).

  • A Beginner’s Guide to Ideas (Raeper & Smith).

  • The Question of God (Palmer) contains an extract from Darwin.

  • The Philosophy Files (Stephen Law) contains a chapter entitled ‘Does God exist?’

  • Examine modern debate on Teleological Argument. Consider the anthropic principle, Swinburne and the criticism of Dawkins.

  • Teleological Argument Video (Dialogue Education – Peter Vardy).

  • Is there a God? (Swinburne).

  • The God Delusion (Dawkins).

  • This is an opportunity to stretch able students and engage interest.

Exam Practice

  • Past Examination question on topic. Students to carry out peer marking using levels of response.

  • Past Papers.

Religious Studies H172: Philosophy of Religion G571

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