Intention, teleology, and God

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




William P. Alston


God, Intention, Teleology

Subject Categories

Psychology | Religion


This dissertation involves the construction and evaluation of a teleological argument for God's existence. It is argued that purposive behavior ought to be determined by the mental states of intention. These intentional states must originate within a mind and the actions of an agent can reasonably be identified by others as exhibiting the qualities of being intentional. Criteria for determining the intentional nature of events are identified and their use justified as well as applied. The dissertation goes on to argue that the Universe exhibits intentional design in that it appears to be finely tuned to promote and sustain intelligent life. Applying the criteria of intention, it is argued that there is good inductive evidence for concluding the purposive nature of the Universe.

The dissertation next examines the nature of an intending mind capable of creating such a finely tuned Universe. Ultimately it is concluded that the evidence is insufficient to conclude the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good God by means of a descriptivist's theory of reference. However, it is maintained that this teleological argument does adequately pick out the intending mind as God through direct reference vis-à-vis the believers experiences in religious community. To this extent the argument may confirm or uphold existing beliefs in God as well as provide collaborating support for other proofs for God's existence. In light of these results it is concluded that this teleological argument provides evidence for supporting belief in God's existence.


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