The Teleological Argument by Lee Strobel (Summarized + Expanded)

N. What is Teleology?

I. Anthropic Principle
II. Complexity
III. Intelligent Design

What is Teleology?

Tele -: combining form representing Greek télos end, and téleios perfected; akin to teleîn to fulfill

-Ology: suffix indicating “branch of knowledge, science,” the usual form of -logy, with the -o- belonging to the preceding element.

Therefore, Teleology is the science of fulfillment (a.k.a. – the study of purpose). Or, put in everyday terms, “It’s the idea that things were done with a goal in mind.”

. . .

I. Anthropic Principle

The Anthropic Principle is the concept that the universe is made precisely to allow life to observe it. More specifically, the physical laws are fine-tuned (in physics) and our galaxy have precise environmental conditions (in astronomy) to allow man’s existence. If any of the conditions are changed just slightly, it would make it impossible for humans to be here today.


List of Constants and Their Margins of Error:

-Mass between Protons and Neutrons – 1 part in 700
-Range of Force Strengths – 1 part in 1039
-Atomic Weak Force – 1 part in 10100
-Cosmological Constant – 1 part in 10120
-Original Phase-Space Volume – 1 part in 1010123

Oxford physicist Roger Penrose says that the last number has “more zeros than the number of elementary particles in the entire universe!”


          “As long as we’re talking about probabilities, then theoretically you can’t rule out the possibility–however remote–that this could occur by chance,” Collins said.

          “However, if I bet you a thousand dollars that I could flip a coin and get heads fifty times in a row, and then I proceeded to do it, you wouldn’t accept that. You’d know that the odds against that are so improbable–about one chance in a million billion–that it’s extraordinarily unlikely to happen. The fact that I was able to do it against such monumental odds would be strong evidence to you that the game had been rigged. And the same is true for the fine-tuning of the universe–before you’d conclude that random chance was responsible, you’d conclude that there is strong evidence that the universe was rigged. That is, designed.”

Interview with Dr. Robin Collins


“Is it a pure coincidence that the laws of nature are such that life is possible? Might this not be an important clue to the nature and destiny of humanity?” -Alister McGrath

Why should anything have gone right rather than wrong in such an absurdly improbable situation? There were certain values set which could go either right or wrong; and they went right. The fact that there was even a possibility of going wrong (having ‘heads’ and ‘tails’ on a coin rather than just ‘heads’) leads us to believe that there was intended purpose to be seen.


List of Environmental Conditions and Overall Probability:

-Within Galactic Habitable Zone
-Orbiting Main Sequence G2 Dwarf Star
-Protected by Gas Giant Planets
-Within Circumstellar Habitable Zone
-Correct Mass
-Orbited by Large Moon
-Magnetic Field
-Plate Tectonics
-Oxygen Rich Atmosphere
-Ratio of Liquid Water and Continents
-Terrestrial Planet

The chance that all these conditions are met at the same time is 1/1,000,000,000,000,000 or 1 in 1015.


          “I like to use the analogy of astronauts landing on Mars and finding an enclosed biosphere, sort of like the domed structure that was built in Arizona a few years ago. At the control panel they find that all the dials for its environment are set just right for life. The oxygen ratio is perfect; the temperature is seventy degrees; the humidity is fifty percent; there’s a system for replenishing the air; there are systems for producing food, generating energy, and disposing of wastes. Each dial has a huge range of possible settings, and you can see if you were to adjust one or more of them just a little bit, the environment would go out of whack and life would be impossible. What conclusion would you draw from that?”

          “The answer was obvious. That someone took great care in designing and building it,’ I said.”

Interview with Dr. Robin Collins cont.


“Rather than being one planet among billions, Earth now appears to be the uncommon Earth. The data imply that Earth may be the only planet in the right place at the right time.” -Jimmy H. Davis and Harry L. Poe

Such necessary precision demands an explanation. Why was it not that the physical laws were just easily made to be compatible with life? If there is solely this universe (which no evidence points otherwise), then why make it so specifically necessary that all these conditions be met unless we are directed to be found favored.


II. Complexity

Something that is ‘Complex’ could be described as “composed of many interconnected parts.” In the case of Teleology, it means that an object has and ordered pattern to it which could not have been gradually developed over time or by self-organizing properties in nature. The object must have been put together all at once (irreducible complexity) or had an agent specify the way its ordered (specified complexity).



Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution Website

Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution by Dr. Jobe Martin

          The DVDs go through examples of animals (though this could be applied to any creature) whose body parts could not have developed separately because their function would be purposeless (and removed by Natural Selection) or fatal (and incapable of being passed on) without having been integrated to the whole system of the body from the start. Some creatures shown even have traits of symbiotic mutualism with other creatures that is necessary for survival from the beginning.


In his book, Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe uses a similar argument, though on the molecular level. He argues that there are microorganisms, such as the flagellum and cilium, which have integral components that must have all come together at the same time. He uses the analogy of a mousetrap to convey his message to the general audience.

Behe states:

          “First, there’s a flat wooden platform to which the other parts are attached. Second, there’s a metal hammer, which does the job of crushing the mouse. Third, there’s a spring with extended ends to press against the platform and the hammer when the trap is charged. Fourth, there’s a catch that releases when a mouse applies a slight bit of pressure. And, fifth, there’s a metal bar that connects to the catch and holds the hammer back when the trap is charged.
          “. . . They also have to be matched to each other and have the right spatial relationship to each other. See–the parts are stapled in the right place. An intelligent agent does that for a mousetrap. But in the cell, who tells the parts where they should go? Who staples them together? Nobody–they have to do it on their own. You have to have the information resident in the system to tell the components to get together in the right orientation, otherwise it’s useless.”

[To check out the flagellum Behe describes in his book, click here. Behe states that when he shows a drawing of the flagellum, “people say it looks like something from NASA.”]

          Apart from these being a problem for evolution, the probability of the two levels of irreducible complexity happening for every animal and microorganism is extraordinarily unlikely because each one would have to develop separately. Just the probability of the formation of only one protein molecule (apart from bacteria or animals) is “1 in 10300. “The probability of this ‘1’ actually occurring is practically nil. (In practice, probabilities smaller than 1 over 1050 are thought of as ‘zero probability’).” This adds the weight of biological improbability to the overall argument.


William Dembski has evoked another type of complexity called “Specified Complexity.” This is the idea that complex systems have been ordered in a way which are irregular but show pattern. They are irregular in that they could not have arisen by a purely self-organizing processes. Instead, the only way these “specified” patterns could have come about are by deliberate modifications; the only way we see them coming about today.

          “We’ll use proteins as an example,” he said. “Remember, proteins are composed of a long line of amino acids. The hope was that there would be some forces of attraction between the amino acids that would cause them to line up the way they do and then fold so that the protein can perform the functions that keep a cell alive.
          “. . . There were some very, very slight affinities, but they don’t correlate to any of the known patterns of sequencing that we find in functional proteins. Obviously, that’s a major problem–but there was an even bigger theoretical difficulty. Information theorist Hubert Yockey and chemist Michael Polanyi raised a deeper issue: ‘What would happen if we could explain the sequencing in DNA and proteins as a result of self-organization properties? Wouldn’t we end up with something like a crystal of salt, where there’s merely a repetitive sequence?'”

Interview with Michael Behe

For example:

          If you only have affinities between certain letters (in the alphabet let’s say), then you’d have those letters come together and reoccur without possibility of anything else. The only message which could arise from the letters “H” and “I” having affinities would be “HIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHI.” Specified Complexity means that there’s a message that arises, such as “HI MY NAME IS DAVID,” even though there are predisposing affinities that would conflict with this formation (i.e. – the HIHIHI pattern).

“Notice [in language] you don’t have mere repetition … instead, there’s an irregular combination of letters that conform to an independent patter or specific set of functional requirements–English vocabulary and grammar. So we immediately recognize this as informational. Whenever we encounter these two elements … we recognize this as information. And this kind of information is invariably the result of mind–not chance, not natural selection, and not self-organizational processes.” -Stephen C. Meyer


III. Intelligent Design

          The most commonly used part of the Teleological Argument is the idea of Intelligent Design. Scientists cite findings in the area of information science, while philosophers like to take the cognitive approach and use evidence of the mind to show that there is inherent purpose in nature. Most theists like this approach because it has the most direct impact on proving that the Grand Designer is also personal.


-DNA in a human body:

All living organisms are composed of DNA. In each strand of DNA is: coded information to create the organism, the factory parts to build with, and the processing equipment to direct the construction. It is quite literally a blueprint, toolbox, and data processor all contained in one. Further, in each of our bodies, there is:

-6 feet of DNA
-One hundred trillion cells
-30,000 genes in our 23 chromosomes
-20,500 different proteins (typically 1,200-2,000 bases of codes for each one)
-3.1 billion letters of code (A,G,C,T) stored in our genome
-Each person having their own unique structure (scent, eyes, fingerprints, signatures, etc.)

Molecular Biologist Doug Axe has said that the probability of getting the most basic functioning protein is roughly 1 in a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion. Robert Shapiro, a professor of chemistry at New York University and a DNA expert, calculated the probability of the coincidental formation of the 2000 types of proteins found in a single bacterium (and this is not even talking about the human cell which has 200,000 different types of proteins within it). The number that was found was 1 over 1040,000; and though a Buddhist, Mathematician Chandra Wickramasinghe concurs. (For comparison, there are approximately 1080 atoms in this universe.)

“Are such public bows to a Creator merely a polite social custom, meant only as a nodding courtesy to a predominantly theistic country? Or does the bounty of information in DNA really warrant the conclusion that an intelligent designer must have infused genetic material with its protein-building instruction? Are there any naturalistic processes that can account for the appearance of biological data in the earliest cells?” -Lee Strobel

[For a view of human DNA compared to a stained glass window, click here.]


“…No hypothesis has come close to explaining how information got into biological matter by naturalistic means.” -Lee Strobel

“Information theorist Henry Quastler said as far back as the 1960s [before computers] that the ‘creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity.'” -Stephen C. Meyer

“Books, computer codes, and DNA all have these two properties [1) It has a sequential arrangement that’s complex and 2) it corresponds to an independent pattern or function]. . . . We know books and computer codes are designed by intelligence, and the presence of this type of information in DNA also implies an intelligent source.” -Stephen C. Meyer

“There is enough storage capacity in the DNA of a single lily seed or a single salamander sperm to store the Encyclopædia Britannica 60 times over. Some species of the unjustly called ‘primitive’ amoebas have as much information in their DNA as 1,000 Encyclopædia Britannicas.” -Richard Dawkins

“DNA is like a software program, only much more complex than anything we’ve ever devised.” -Bill Gates

If we believe that words in books, codes in computers, or archeological inscriptions were made by an intelligent source, how much more the 3.1 billion genetic letters found in the human body? How about the 2.5 petabytes (2.5 million gigabytes) of information which could be stored in the neurons of the human brain?


There are basically two commonly cited examples of human consciousness: Wilder Penfield’s experiment and documented entries in the Journal “Resuscitation”.

-Wilder Penfield

“Perhaps the simplest and most significant observations were those of Wilder Penfield, the founder of the Montreal Neurological Institute and one of the greatest neuroscientists who ever lived. Penfield explored the function of the brain by electrically stimulating different regions of cerebral cortex in conscious patients undergoing surgery (with local anesthetic) for focalized seizure disorders. Penfield described the activation of motor cortex, an area of the brain responsible for transmitting all willed conscious movement to the appropriate levels of brain stem and spinal cord.

When he applied a weak electrical current to the “hand” region of this cortex the patient began to move his hand (on the opposite side of the body) back and forth. When Penfield asked the patient why he was moving his hand, the patient replied that he (the patient) was not causing the movement, but rather Penfield was doing it with his electrode. When Penfield stimulated the motor area activating the larynx, the patient uttered a syllable. When asked about this, the patient replied that he himself had had nothing to do with the sound and that Penfield had caused it.”

This study might not sound surprising to many people in today’s age where movies and TV shows portray people fighting against some force that has taken control of their body, but many people have forgotten the significance of that. It shows that there really is a will within us that is separate from the body. We are able to think from a third person, be aware of our self (say “I”), and deliberately act (have intention before the action) apart from stimulation to even our own brain. No portion of our brain can explain why we possess these cognitive faculties, or even explain how they work; leading us to believe it is not contingent on purely material causes.

-The Journal Resuscitation

          “In their journal article, physician Sam Parnia and Peter Fenwick, a neuropsychiatrist at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, describe their [year-long] study of sixty-three heart attack victims who were declared clinically dead but were later revived and interviewed. About ten percent reported having well-structured, lucid thought processes, with memory formation and reasoning, during the time that their brains were not functioning. The effects of oxygen starvation or drugs–objections commonly offered by skeptics–were ruled out as factors. Later, the researches found numerous cases that were similar.
          While large-scale studies are still needed, the once-skeptical Parnia said the scientific findings so far ‘would support the view that mind, ‘consciousness,’ or the ‘soul’ is a separate entity from the brain.'” -Lee Strobel

[I would put a numerical probability up in this section, but there isn’t even a way of measuring 1) the likelihood of something so complex as the brain could actually come about nor 2) how such a thing as consciousness (or even information in general) got into matter.]

If the Information Source (God) made humans uniquely (through consciousness), then He has shown that He has given purpose for you in this life and the next.

. . .

As an Aside:

“The multiverse theory is increasingly popular, but it doesn’t so much explain the [fine tuned] laws of physics as dodge the whole issue. There has to be a physical mechanism to make all those universes and bestow bylaws on them. This process will require its own laws, or meta-laws. Where do they come from? The problem has simply been shifted up a level from the laws of the universe to the meta-laws of the multiverse.”

~Paul Davies, Taking Science on Faith

. . .


          With all of humanity’s advancement (as utterly incredible as it is), we cannot replicate anything stated above synthetically. The fact that we cannot do any of this with our faculty of purpose, shows all the more that, “Where there’s a building, there’s an architect. Where there’s art, there’s an artist. Where there’s a message, there’s a mind.” If God exists, then He cares about the universe; the earth in particular; life in particular; man in particular. If God doesn’t exist, the probability that purpose is not intrinsic to the universe is no less than a miracle itself.


Psalm 8

For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David.
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.
From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what are men that you are mindful of them,
the Son of Man that you care for Him?
You made men a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

More Verses

– “Is not God in the height of heaven? And see the highest stars, how lofty they are! And you say, ‘What does God know? Can He judge through the deep darkness?” (Job 22:12-13)

– “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4a)

– “Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and the name of his son? Tell me if you know!” (Proverbs 30:4)

– “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:7-12)

– “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)

– “Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind? Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens.” (Job 38:36-37)

– “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.” (Psalm 139:4)

– “All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.” Selah. Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf!” (Psalm 66:4-5)


“The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming.” -Freeman Dyson (Disturbing the Universe, p. 250)

“How is it that common elements such as carbon, nitrogen and oxygen happened to have just the kind of atomic structure that they needed to combine to make the molecules upon which life depends? It is almost as though the universe had been consciously designed …” -Richard Morris (The Fate of the Universe, p. 28)


Related Videos


  • The average person (that’s you) occupies about 2 feet of space. There are 7 billion people in the world. Since the surface area of Earth is approximately 510,000,000 square kilometers, you could technically fit 5.1 quadrillion people on the earth.
  • 1-1.3 million earths fit in sun (1 million if you don’t crumble it up; 1.3 if you do).
  • 3.3×1021 suns (or 3.3 thousand billion billion) could fit into (where some scientists believe) our solar system ends (the hypothetical Oort cloud).
  • NASA states that they have found 500 solar systems, but there could be as many as 100 billion solar systems in our galaxy.
  • Discover Magazine states that, through an 11 day observance of the Hubble telescope, there are at least 100 billion galaxies in our universe!
  • Light travels at 186,282.397 miles (299,792,458 meters) per second. A light-year is the distance that light travels in a year. The universe is about 93 billion light-years in length.
  • God is so Great and Powerful, yet He care so much about you.


[Check out this video on ATP here.]

  • There are an average of 4 atoms in each amino acid molecule.
  • There are about 20 different amino acids found in proteins and most are up to 200-300 amino unit chains. There are about 1,000 copies of the same protein in a human cell.
  • “There are about 40,000 different enzymes in human cells, each controlling a different chemical reaction. They increase the rate of reactions by a factor of between 106 to 1012 times, allowing the chemical reactions that make life possible to take place at normal temperatures.” Many of which need coenzymes to function correctly.
  • There are approximately 10 trillion cells in the human body. All multiplying and performing precise and complex functions.
  • If we found one complex chain of amino acids on another planet, we would exclaim “Life! It’s a miracle!” yet we don’t do it here. There are 7 billion people in the world, yet He cares for each one.
  • “Scientists have sorts of telescopes looking out into space for any signs of intelligent life …when all they have to do is turn those telescopes around and look at ourselves.” -Biologist, Gary Parker



“teleology.” Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 17 Jul. 2012. < >.

The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God. Dir. Lad Allen. Perf. Lee Strobel. Illustra Media, 2006. DVD.

Strobel, Lee. The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004. Print.

Craig, William Lane. “Teleological Argument – Part 1 to 10 – William Lane Craig.” YouTube. ReasonableFaith, 29 Mar. 2011. Web. 02 Apr. 2013.

“Scientific Discoveries : Incredible Creatures III.” Incredible Creatures That Defy Evolution III. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2012. < >.

“THE BACTERIAL FLAGELLUM.” Bacterial Flagellum. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2012. < >.

Oktar, Adnan. “The Problem of the Origin of Proteins.” Darwinism N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2012. < >.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Dir. Nathan Frankowski. Perf. Ben Stein. Premise, 2008. DVD. Accessed 7/2/2014

Gates, Bill. The Road Ahead. p228. 1996.

Shapiro, Robert. Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, Summit Books, New York, 1986, p. 127.

Chandra Wickramasinghe, quoted by Norman Geisler, A. F. Brooke, and Mark J. Keosh, The Creator in the Courtroom (Milford, Mich.: Mott Media, 1982), 149.

“Chances of Evolution.” ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2012. < >.

Dawkins, Richard. “The Power and the Archives.” The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design. New York: Norton, 1996. 116. Print.

SHAMIR. “Neurology and The Soul.” Neurology and The Soul. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 July 2012. < >.

Rayman, Marc. “How Many Solar Systems Are in Our Galaxy?” NASA’s Space Place. NASA, n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013. < >.

Crux. “How Many Galaxies Are There in the Universe? The Redder We Look, the More We See.” Discover. DiscoverMagazine, 10 Oct. 2012. Web. 06 Mar. 2013. < >.

For a more in-depth look and answers to further questions, get Lee Strobel’s Book:


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