Philosophy of Religion

Design arguments refer to the empirical arguments for God’s existence. Several contemporary and classic versions of the design arguments exist.  One of them is the “Fifth Way” of St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas’ fifth way to prove that God exists is an argument founded on the ends or final causes in nature. Aquinas argue that everything, including natural bodies in the universe, has a purpose assigned by God, the same way the firing archer gives a flying arrow towards the target purpose (Metcalf, 2018). Most natural things are not knowledgeable but achieve their goals by being directed by an intelligent force, which he termed as God.

The Aquinas’ “Fifth Way” design argument can be explored in the direction of inductive argument, which begins with something that we can see and observe or a universal experience that everyone has had or tested. We cannot deny the presence of order in the universe and its complexity. Aquinas Fifth Way argument does not rely on static definitions that people may be forced to accept, unlike in ontological argument. The application of analogy in the argument also makes it clear and comprehensible. The argument moves from what we can experience, such as an archer directing an arrow to explain the universe creation, something beyond our experience, in just a simple and straightforward way. However, the argument also has some weakness. For instance, since it is more based on inductive proof, it can only generate a probable conclusion. Again, just because natural bodies have a designer may not imply that the universe itself has a designer. For instance, we see houses being designed and constructed but lack experience designing and building the universe. The world may also have more than one designer, or the designer of the universe might have also been created, leading to infinitive regress.

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It is undeniable that the complex order of nature is proof of a creator, as Paley and Aquinas argue. The world comprises intricate design, details, and purpose in the universe, which point to a creator or designer. All the incredible details and sophistication that nature presents could not have occurred by a mere chance. We see tall buildings in our cities, complex architectural structures, bridges crossing tens of thousand miles in the sea, sophisticated airplanes, complex warfare machinery, which are made-made and do not happen by chance. Instead, they are designed and created by people. Likewise, there are several examples of how the universe is designed in such a manner that it functions properly. For instance, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. The earth is also positioned perfectly in the solar system in a way that it can support life. It is not very close to the sun that living creators can burn or very far from the sun to cause freezing, which indicates that there might have been a designer behind the creation.

The Aquinas Fifth Way of the design argument is more practical and logical than the first four. The design argument assigns purpose to natural bodies instead of having a blind nature that moves in random directions. Hence, it is more practical than the others. On the rationality of God’s existence, I think that God’s existence cannot rationally be proven and is beyond human reason. If God’s existence could rationally be demonstrated, His existence could have been less significant to humans. Some people could have already questioned whether existence warrants the much respect given to God in the world that is advancing every day, and where humans can create things that are more complex such as a 710 tons An-225 airplane floating in the air, compared to the weight of a bird.


Metcalf, T. (2018). Design Arguments for the Existence of God. 1000 Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology.