I still remember when I first learned about the Teleological Argument, or Argument from Design. My philosophy professor had gone to great lengths to make all sorts of comparisons so even the most simple-minded in the class could understand it perfectly. Why? Because he himself was a theist, and while he never said it specifically, I believe the strongest reason was the Teleological Argument. I wondered a lot about that. Here was this worldly intellectual, a doctor of philosophy, a professional critical thinker, who had taught in several countries, implying that this was his reason for theism. He was not some provincial who would take anything handed to him at face value. I wrote it off as a flaw of character.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Teleological Argument, I will elaborate. Basically, it is the idea that there is observable order in nature. This order could not have occurred at random, so it must have been designed. Therefore, God exists.
I gave this idea a lot of intellectual consideration, as I would any other philosophical idea, merely to understand why people would believe it. While I could see why some people would entertain this debate in order to convince weaker skeptics that their particular God or Goddess exists. I found it severely lacking. Until, that is, I observed it with emotion.
While I live in the middle of the city, I am fortunate that I live on the first floor of my apartment building in which my window faces a small house with a yard and two trees. I have a tendency to stare out the window a lot.
Yesterday, I was watching two squirrels bounding around the yard. Almost against my will, I began to observe certain characteristics of these small mammals. They keep amazing balance due to the counter-weight of their tails, and they are also swift and dexterous. I began thinking about their adaptation to living in a city, when all of a sudden, as if on cue, a small bird landed nearby. It may have been a swallow, but I'm not much of a bird-person, so I don't know. I examined its sleek aerodynamic shape, and thought of its hollow bones and its minimal organs. The perfect air traveller.
Watching these creatures with emotion as well as intellect, I could see how compelling this argument could be, even to an educated and jaded city-dweller. I, personally, still find the evolutionary argument far more attractive, but looking at the way we (collectively as animal life on this planet) are so completely perfect for our environments is enough to give one pause. Perhaps my old philosophy professor wasn't crazy after all.
But, there is a problem with his teleological argument for the existence of God.
To be clear, at no time did I claim any argument from design as my personal belief. The point was to illustrate how I discovered why the argument is still compelling to many theists and that I could, upon reflection, see how one could accept such an argument as a proof for the existence of divinity. There is a rather large difference between understanding and advocacy.