Paley's Argument Essay

1308 words - 5 pages

Exposing Paley Paley's argument on the existence of God is well laid out and quite clear. Even so, it lacks the strength wherewith we can undoubtedly come to his same conclusion. There are a few points that weaken what seems like a solid argument and make us explore different possibilities and conclusions.In his argument, he likens observing a watch on a heath to studying complex and adapted living organisms. If we were to question how the watch came to be, the answer that it had been designed and made by an intelligent being would be far more plausible than the assumption that it was formed by random events. Therefore, Paley states by the same reasoning that living organisms were designed, not accidentally produced.This argument lacks strength because it concludes that just because the watch is very sophisticated, it must be the product of someone's scheme or plan. Who is capable of deciding when an object is complex enough to merit the assumption that it was designed, not simply the product of the right combination of materials. There are purposes for a stone that are just as, if not more, important than those of a watch yet we seldom question how a stone came to be.Paley says that we would be surprised to hear that the watch was "no proof of contrivance." (Sober, p118) He points to the fact that we cannot look at the watch and see the working mechanism without being convinced that it is the result of a plan made by some entity.This objection caters to the very standardized thinking that is a part of the mould of our society. A link with a designer cannot be made solely on the level of complexity of an object, namely a watch. This form of thinking would have us look at a wedge and believe that, because of its' simplicity, it was not designed but merely existed in that state indefinitely in the past. Making it a surprise to find that the watch was not planned just leans on our weakness to claim most good things as the work of humans and forces us to lower our image of human ability if we think otherwise.Paley could claim that it is the level of complexity that is proof of the planning. The different metals, not normally found together, shaped in such a way to move together uniformly are proof enough to convince us of this conclusion.This claim states that random events do not occur on the earth that mix the substances so that all the 'ingredients' of a watch are present in one place. We know from observation that natural events, such as earthquakes and volcanoes, take place and constantly leave substances, like metals, mixed in a very unique fashion. Therefore it is entirely possible that the watch was formed by natural, random events on the earth and not by the scheme of some designer.Another point that is important is the fact that we know very little or nothing about the watch or its' making. How can we be sure that the watch was designed when we don't even know exactly how it works or where the parts of it originated? Paley explains that we...

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