The Universe: The Design Argument By William Paley

1423 words - 6 pages

In this paper I will present two differing views on the topic of the design argument. In particular, I will explain William Paley's view supporting the design argument and Bertrand Russell's view against the design argument. After a presentation of the differing views, I will then evaluate the arguments to show that William Paley has a stronger argument.
There are several forms of the design argument. The general form of the design argument starts with the basic idea that certain parts of the universe are such that they indicate that they have been designed and have a purpose. The argument uses this fact to prove the existence of an ultimate designer, in particular, God.
William Paley develops his view of the design argument through an example of a wristwatch. He has the reader imagine themselves coming across a watch on the ground. He then asks the reader how they think the watch came to be there or came to exist in the first place. Looking at the watch, Paley says that one will notice the intricate design of the watch and notice that all the parts were put together in such a way to serve a purpose, namely, to tell time. Paley believes that from looking at the watch we will be lead to think that the watch has a clever designer. The watch displays a certain evidence of its own design.
Many of us know that a watch indeed does have a designer, but what if we had never seen a watch made before or known of anyone capable of such design? Lacking this knowledge, Paley argues, should raise no doubt in our mind that the object must have a designer. Even if the watch told the wrong time most of the time, Paley says that the intended purpose of the watch to tell time is still obvious. Paley says we should still conclude that the watch has a designer even if we didn't discover all the parts of the watch, the watch was broken, or the watch was a product of another watch. The watch in and of itself displays an evidence of its own design, regardless of all these possibilities.
Just like the watch, many objects in the world display an evidence of design. Paley believes that there is evidence of the design of the whole universe. Also like the watch, the whole world has many unique features that all work together to make up the whole thing. For example, the watch has a clear overlay so you can see the time without opening it and the earth is just so far from the sun to be suitable for life. Based on this evidence and relationship, he concludes that there must be an ultimate designer and that this ultimate designer is God. Therefore, God exists.
Turning to Bertrand Russell's view of the design argument, he says the basic idea of the design argument is that "everything in the world is made just so that we can manage to live in the world, and if the world was ever so little different, we could not manage to live in it" (Russell, 57-58). He sees the design argument as very unusual. He points out that the when you apply the argument, untrue conclusions...

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