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Name:Dr. Andrew Loke Ter Ern
Title of the project:A Reassessment of the Cosmological and Teleological Arguments for the Existence of God
Researcher(s)’ information:Dr. Andrew Loke
Principal Investigator
Associate Professor
Department of Religion and Philosophy
Name of the funding (scheme) & amount of the funding:General Research Fund (GRF), HKSAR Government 
Introduction of the project:The Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA) (which attempts to demonstrate that the universe has a First Cause) and the Teleological Argument (which attempts to demonstrate that the universe has a designer) are two of the most widely discussed arguments in contemporary scholarly discussions in philosophy of religion. This project aims to expose the weaknesses in recent assessments by their proponents and opponents, to offer a more compelling evaluation of alternative explanations, and to examine whether both arguments can be integrated in such a way that both are strengthened. In particular, I shall assess whether KCA can be used to strengthen the Teleological Argument by answering the question ‘Who designed the Designer’ through demonstrating that there is a beginningless and hence undesigned First Cause with free will. I shall also assess whether the Teleological Argument can be used to strengthen KCA by providing considerations for thinking that the First Cause brought about the first event intelligently rather than accidentally. In addition, I shall examine the usefulness of my approach for responding to David Hume’s classic objections to the Teleological Argument, and contemporary critics’ objections concerning the range of explanatory latitude.
Abstract of the research project:
  1.  To contribute to contemporary scholarly debates in philosophy of religion concerning the nature of Ultimate Reality.
  2. To address problems concerning the consideration of alternative hypotheses other than Design by developing an original deductive argument which demonstrates a logically exhaustive list of categories of hypotheses, and to use it to address other objections to the Teleological Argument.
  3. To address problems concerning the issue of ultimate explanation and the nature of First Cause by combining recent work on the Cosmological and Teleological Arguments.
  4. To demonstrate the relevance of philosophical arguments for answering the question of ultimate origins and promote the dialogue between philosophers and scientists.
  5. To apply the results to contemporary discussions on comparative religion and to promote interfaith dialogue.
Methodology of the research project:Concerning the Teleological Argument, many scientists and philosophers have argued that the fact that the existence of life in the universe is delicately dependent on various of its fundamental characteristics is evidence for a Designer. Critics object that there could be alternative hypotheses which have yet to be considered. I plan to contribute to the discussion by making the argument more rigorous in its consideration of alternative hypotheses than current versions by Oxford philosopher Richard Swinburne and others. This is accomplished through devising an original deductive argument which demonstrates that the following are the only possible categories of hypotheses: (i) Chance, (ii) Regularity, (iii) Combinations of Regularity and Chance, (iv) Uncaused, and (v) Design. I shall collate a large variety of hypotheses in the literature and classify and evaluate them in accordance with their essential characteristics within the above mentioned categories. In particular, I shall compare and evaluate the hypotheses of an uncaused universe with that of an uncaused Designer by utilizing my previous monograph on KCA, and I shall examine the objections which have been raised since the publication of my monograph on this argument.
The interdisciplinary expertise involved in this project:Philosophy of religion