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Paley’s Analogy Essay

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Updated: Dec 14th, 2018

The watchmaker`s analogy is one of the theories discussing the issue of existence of God. William Paley is the developer of this analogy, who gives a detailed explanation of the existence of God by means of watch. Paley claims that the design of making a watch could only be explained by the watchmaker. He meant that it was not possible for any common being to explain the complex nature of the watch.

According to his theory, only the watch developer could explain its intricate nature. In trying to prove the existence of God, Paley has stated that ordinary human beings do not have explanation of how the universe was developed since its developer is a supreme being. With the complex nature of the universe and its organisms, Paley asserts that God is the designer of the universe and living organisms on earth. This paper tries to find out the weaknesses in the Paley`s analogy of the existence of God.

Paley based his argument on the complex nature of the watch and magnified the reasoning in regards to the designing of the universe and its complex organisms. In his premises, he has posited that the world was created miraculously, and that it is not possible to explain how the things present on earth came into being just because we do not have the powers or the knowledge about it.

Similar to the way an ordinary person would not be able to design a watch or repair it, it is not possible for us to explain how the world was created. In his argument, Paley ignores the fact that man is not the same as he was two thousand years ago. Based on the increased complexity of organisms, it is, therefore, illogical to conclude that God created the universe and organisms in a perfect and complex nature as Paley`s argument posits (Engel 23).

Paley has claimed that nature is unfair at some point but pleasure is more abundant in our lives than pain. He has also stated that God is just and fair in his actions, and whatever happens in the universe is not by accident or meant to make people suffer, but rather happens in the will of God.

Analysis of this argument brings into play several questions about God`s will and pain in human life. Pain and pleasure are all components in the human life, however, their occurrences tend to differ among human beings. Some people in the developed world are brought up in rich families, attend the best schools, and get highly paying jobs, which makes them live in grand style. In contrast, a child growing in a developing country will be born in a poor family.

These children lack basic needs and most of them end up being casual workers. Their lives are often characterized by misery. As such, the question that arises: Is it the same God who created all people? If God is fair and just in his actions, could we consider him being fair to both individuals? If he is fair as Paley puts it, then Paley should come up with a better definition on justice and fairness of God in the context of pain and pleasure in the human life (McGrath 49).

In the watchmaker’s theory, Paley has tried to compare a watch and the universe. The watch is a mechanical device created with the help of human knowledge. Paley asserts that the world operates in an order and a fixed process like the watch. Conversely, there is no particular order of the events that are observed in the universe. People observe adverse weather conditions, such as storms, floods, fires, and hurricanes.

These adverse conditions usually lead to loss of lives and massive loss of property in the affected areas. Comparing world occurrences to the watch, the similarity of the watch and the universe by Paley can, therefore, be disputed. The watch is meant to indicate time, and it cannot be used as an object whose structure can be linked to the universe and human life. Such analysis has, therefore, flawed the developments created by Paley on the relation between the watch, the universe, and a human life (Engel 29).

Paley has also not articulated the origin of God. Even though we may overlook and accept that God is a superior being, our conscience will still be in doubts over the origin of this superior being. Logic consists in the fact that anything with a beginning must have an end, which means that the superior being should have had his origin as per Paley’s theory. For a watch developer to have knowledge on designing a watch, he/she must have acquired knowledge from a father who would also be a watch designer.

On the other hand, the superior being who created the universe seems to have been a very intelligent person. If watchmaker’s father concept is anything to go by, we should also presume that knowledge on designing the universe was also passed by another superior being. It is evident that the watchmaker theory is largely dependent on personal views by Paley that do not explain the origin of God (McGrath 56).

The analogy by Paley does not seem to provide the three sides of the coin. We live in the universe where we only have the watch and the universe. It is not possible for us to understand the existence of another universe since no one has ever been there. This makes our knowledge of the universe confined and with this confinement, Paley decided to justify the confinement through the development of watchmaker`s theory.

Our rationality bounds our thinking, and it is not possible to develop a theory of contradicting premises and unsound conclusions just to escape the fact that our knowledge on the creation of the universe is limited. Having limited knowledge on the existence of God does not, as such, mean that we can plainly accept the arguments brought about by Paley on the existence of God and the design of the universe (Engel 33).

The design theory does not explain the variability and the diversity of living organisms. Life is in itself complex and has been changing over the years. The same applies to the universe and other living organisms that have changed over time. Nature is self-regulating and this explains why organisms have changed over time.

Charles Darwin has argued that natural selection leads to the development of more complex organisms where organisms that fit best in the society survive. Darwin has also explained the concept of evolution where he states that organisms change gradually in their interaction with the environment, bringing rise to evolution. In contrast, Paley does not put into consideration evolution as a factor and posits that the universe and the component organisms were created in a complex design.

The complexity of life cannot be explained fully through design. Highly complex systems are produced through a number of connected events, resulting to complex biological processes. It, therefore, remains logical, if not rational, to dispute the theory presented by Paley on the design of the universe and the complex nature of organisms with human beings included (McGrath 49).

Some of the theories presented by Paley seem to be valid. The majority of human beings will agree on the existence of a superior being that created the universe and all the organisms in it. It is also partly true that the universe and the organisms in it present a specific design that is best known to the Supreme Being. These are the few elements of truth found in the theory that cannot be used to justify Paley‘s claims of the existence of God.

In conclusion, the watchmaker`s theory is just an analogy and not a proof that can be used to validate the existence of God. Even though I disagree with Paley’s watchmaker argument, some of the claims put forward are true. I totally believe that it is God who planned and created the universe; however, to state that the universe was designed similar to the way the watch was designed is fallacious and shallow.

In his watchmaker argument, Paley leaves a number of questions unanswered. Instead of solving the mystery of creation, he creates another mystery of design. For God to create a properly designed universe, he had to be very intelligent. In this regard, God is also the creation of a more super intelligent being, who Paley does not mention. It must be pointed out that as human beings, we are not entirely capable of ascertaining how the universe was created since there is no clear evidence left.

Works Cited

Engel, Soldan, and Kevin, Durand. The Study of Philosophy. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008. Print.

McGrath, Alister. Darwinism and the Divine: Evolutionary Thought and Natural Theology. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. Print.

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