Pay And The Watchmaker: The Classical Design Argument

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Paley and the Watchmaker
The Classical Design Argument

The analogy between the World & the Watch:

The features of the Watch: • Parts have individual purpose + total purpose. Individual purpose based on order (they are framed). So there is order in watch. • Because there are several parts, the watch is deemed complex. • Parts interact with each other + have responsibilities towards each other. • Given these responsibilities, the watch can be said to have a total purpose – to tell the time. • These things could not have come about of their own accord. There must be a designer. • Complex ( order ( individuated purpose ( interaction ( total purpose ( designer

The features of the World: • Complex – there are billions of species of animal and plant in the world. • Ordered – we can see that there are distinct patterns and rhythms to nature, as well as ecosystems. • Things do seem to act for individuated purpose – each animal, for example, does its own thing. • Things in the world interact with one another. • Not necessarily a total purpose. We are inside the world and therefore we cannot know the purpose of the world in the same way that we can know the purpose of a watch (where we are outside of it). We do not have the Archimedean perspective required.

The use of analogy: • By analogy, it is likely that analogue 2 possesses very similar qualities to analogue 1. So it is likely that the world has a total purpose. The watch does, and it is similar in all other respects to the world. So by analogy we can say that the world has a total purpose. • The more similar the analogues are, the more certain one can be that they share the same characteristics. Need to be similar in key characteristics. (And there are key questions as to how similar the world and the watch actually are – see criticisms). • If there is a watch designer, how much more likely is it that there is a world designer given the order, complexity and purpose in the world, compared to that in the watch. By analogy, we can say that there must be a world designer. • One must proportion causes to effects. Because the world is so complex, ordered…then the world-maker must be so much greater than the watch-maker in all ways. In fact, the world-maker could conceivably be so powerful that it is reasonable to attach the term ‘God’ to him. • Revealed theology backs up this claim that the maker of the world is God. Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Paley’s pre-emptive arguments against criticism:

1. Paley answers the problem of evil by saying that just because something goes wrong, it doesn’t mean that there is no designer, or that God is imperfect. The world could be made perfectly but could still go wrong, just as a watch does.

2. The conclusion is not invalidated if we don’t understand all the parts of watch. It merely shows that we are less competent than the designer. There still is a designer, but we are just ignorant of all his machinations. So, just because we do not understand all the parts of the world, it does not mean that our conclusion about there being a designer for the world is invalid. This gets over the problem of us being inside the world and therefore being limited in terms of our knowledge of it.

The Key Features of Paley’s argument

1. The type of argument – a posteriori (so drawing on observations about the world), most are inductive; there is religious justification behind Paul’s teachings that can know G through creation, supports/strengthens a religious interpretation of nature and the world because it is demonstrating God’s nature.

2. It has a basis in analogy – Paley makes observations about the watch, the human eye and the world and claims that they have essential similarity. He claims that they are analogous, and uses this fact to draw conclusions about the world that are