Assuming arguments is William Paley’s “watch” argument.

Assuming that a human or universe has been created by a divine being or “designer” as stated in the teleological argument by William Paley, is as foolish as stating, “All apples I have ever had are red and edible, the fruit in my refrigerator is red and edible, therefore the fruit must be an apple” and even more foolish to discredit the science of Charles Darwin proving “designer” wrong.  Living organisms have similarities to designed artificial items but the differences outweigh the similarities proving that you can’t assume a “designer” of one object or organism just because the item next to it had a specific designer.  In this paper I will refute Paley to prove that a “watch” is completely irrelevant to the design of the universe and intelligent beings and how Darwinism invalidates his argument through science.  The Teleological argument for the existence of God can also be know as the Design argument.

  The basis behind the argument is, there is so much intricate detail within the cosmos and nature that we must impose the fact that there must be a creator or higher power who designed the universe we live in.  Something of such order and preciseness couldn’t have just been in existence by chance.  Depending on who you are, and the perception in which you see, the universe could be filled with both order and disorder.  The Teleological argument is second of the Big three philosophical arguments for the existence of God known as, a posteriori argument.  One of the most important and most well known arguments is William Paley’s “watch” argument.  William Paley’s idea of the watch states; After coming across a watch, one must assume, with its complex design and perfect order which allows the watch to hold time, then it must have a designer because it is too precise and complex to have come into existence through evolution or any other reasoning that disregards a designer.

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  Paley bases his theory off of four basic principles or premises which he seems to believe back his argument: 1. Human artifacts are products of intelligent design; they have a purpose. 2. The universe resembles these human artifacts. 3. Therefore:  It is probable that the universe is a product of intelligent design, and has a purpose. 4. However, the universe is vastly more complex and gigantic than a human artifact is.

It is apparent that Paley is simply using analogy to back his argument to claim the existence of God, by comparing a material item to that of an intellectual human being. Watchmaker is to watch, as God is to Universal Design.  In Paley’s argument he compares human design and universal design to that of a watch. In some cases you can list similarities of  artificial objects and living beings but you will often times see dissimilarities as well. I found that often times the dissimilarities outweigh the similarities which would ultimately invalidate Paley’s argument. Furthermore, David Hume in his work, Dialogues Concerning Natural religion, states, “The universe is more comparable to that of an animal or a plant rather than a man-made or designed machine” in reference to plants and animals being able to reproduce asexually or within themselves. Hume also claimed, if no evidence is apparent for the design of the universe and the universe doesn’t physically resemble a watch, how could one possibly compare the two analogically.

  Paley is by no means wrong concerning his argument inferring that living beings, the cosmos, and watches have a form of design within them therefore having the possibility of a creator. It must be brought forth that Paley’s argument is based solely on design and not the relationship or similarities between the two objects brought to question therefore this doesn’t invalidate his argument, it only weakens it. If two objects are going to be compared they need to be similar and relatable in nature. If two Items are going to be analogically compared, relevance must play a major key in an argument of such in order to be valid. As I had previously stated, “All apples I have ever had are red and edible, the fruit in my refrigerator is red and edible, therefore the fruit must be an apple.” As this statement does have validity due to the overall relevance, If I were to add a non-essential piece of information that isn’t an essential quality of being an apple then the whole situation would be moot an incomparable. For example, Paley compared coming across a simple stone to a watch. The problem here is, the universe cannot be compared to anything else.

The complexities are irrelative and incomparable to anything else. This weakens Paley’s argument but doesn’t necessarily invalidate it.  To strengthen the case against Paley I first want to talk about God. As a being who, According to Paley “designed” the universe so intricately that he has been labeled a powerful designer, he must be looked at as all-powerful and all-good also known as omnipotent and omnibenevolent. When I look at the sky and think about the universe I don’t picture a perfect and orderly place. The universe is something that over time has proven how chaotic it can be. God may call it orderly chaos, something that is intentionally flawed for the perfection of the universe.

The universe does not always work perfectly as we would all hope for. Discoveries are made each and everyday detailing the chaos and uncontrollable nature of the universe both here on earth with our surrounding environment and within the cosmos. If this is the case is our God or “designer” not omnipotent or onmibenevolent?  When I look at the possibility of chaos being a defeater for Paley’s argument I know I am wrong.

As a philosopher he would always have a counter argument. Looking at things from his perspective and the principles of his “watch” comparison it would be very likely that he would argue something along the lines of this: You don’t have to prove that an object, being, or universe, has to be perfect to infer that there was a designer, if something shows signs of an intelligent design, there is an argument for the existence of a higher power who developed the design. From this point of view Paley would have leverage considering his argument is of a designer and the subject of potential flaws would then be removed from the conversation only validating the potential existence of a higher being.

  Taking into account all of the moral and non-moral evil within the world, disasters on earth, explosions in the cosmos, and much more.  There are many signs of an imperfect design which takes me back to the question of is our God really omnibenevolent and omnipotent if he is willing to create an imperfect design?  A “designer” who is truly either one of those divine names wouldn’t design a universe that would allow the presence of evil.  Also, If he was an all-powerful being he would be able to stop disasters from ruining the design in which he built.  Realistically, if he is a higher and more intelligent being then he would have had to be labelled as omniscient. With omniscience he would be all-knowing, an omniscient being would have had an unflawed design from day one.  As omniscience is all-knowing, it also includes the word science, the dreaded word causes hard fought debates.

The one argument in which Paley may never be able to truly battle is that of Darwinism a science backed counterargument. Darwinism is a theory of the evolutionary mechanism propounded by Charles Darwin as an explanation of organic change. Darwin based his study in the Galapagos Islands where he studied the variated evolutionary changes of Finch across the Galapagos Islands. In terms of Paley he would argue that the finch had a designer, an original designer because they are intricately and intelligently put together. The part where Darwinism begins to veer away from the teleological argument and into the argument of science against philosophy is when Darwin begins to notice biological and physical changes within finch variation amongst all of the different Islands. The thing that really caught Darwin’s attention were the beaks of the Finch.

On each individual island the lengths and overall shape of beaks were different, primarily due to the conditions and locations of food sources amongst the islands. Darwin linked this with evolution, the theory in biology postulating that the various types of plants, animals, and other living things on Earth and in the universe have their origin in other preexisting types and that the distinguishable differences are due to modifications in successive generations. 15 These birds changed over a prolonged period of time to adapt for future generations survival, which we call survival of the fittest or natural selection.

  Darwin single handedly proved that things within the universe can have evolutionary changes through strictly biological matter which had already existed, proving that the need for a higher deity is not necessary for the “design” of a well constructed being or “thing.” He showed that complex organisms evolved from non-complex organisms, who in turn evolved from inorganic matter. 13   Darwin stated, “It is so easy to hide our ignorance under such expressions as ‘the plan of creation,” and “unity of design” and to think that we give an explanation when we only re-state a fact.” Science is a form of argument that is very difficult to counteract and William Paley would have his handful other than the lack of transitional species to determine evolution as a set and stone theory.

Only one philosopher has a counterargument that can uphold Darwinism being, Swineburn. Swineburn reconstructs that argument as such: We experience living organisms that have spatial order and are similar to machines. We know that these organisms “evolved by natural process from inorganic matter.” Evolution can only have occurred “given certain special natural laws”— “chemical laws stating how under certain circumstances inorganic molecules combine to make organic ones, and organic ones combine to make organisms,” and “biological laws of evolution stating how organisms have very many offspring.

” Nature is, therefore, a “machine-making machine.”Therefore, we can “infer from nature which produces animals and plants, to a creator of nature similar to men who make machine-making machines.”  With three string arguments against William Paley’s Teleological view, it was my intentions to clarify that the assumption of having a designer just because something is intelligently structured, filled with intricacies, and complexities, does not mean that a designer is evident. Arguments can be made both ways however, the strength against the Teleological side of the debate can be put to rest by the arguments of Darwin and Hume, Hume arguing the position before Paley had even considered his argument and proposed “watch” theory. With the culmination of both philosophy and science, it can be said that any comparison of the universe to that of a human-made item such as a watch are not relevant enough nor backed by science to be argued in any manner. Complexities of material items and complexities such as the universe are World’s apart in relevance to the correlation of each other.

As stated previously, William Paley’s analogy is as foolish as saying, ” All apples I have ever had are red and edible, the fruit in my refrigerator is red and edible, therefore the fruit must be an apple” and even more foolish to discredit the science of Charles Darwin. There is a small amount of relevancy to generate an argument until a more in depth factor comes into discussion. The in depth factor being the universe. It is incomparable.



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