What is the "Divine Watchmaker" Argument?
A classic argument, developed in the eighteenth century by British theologian William Paley, uses an analogy to postulate the existence of a creator:
In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for anything I know to the contrary, it lain there forever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there...The watch must have had a maker: that there must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use...Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.
In short, this argument persuasively displays the inherent 'obviousness' we have when we come across something that seems to have design and purpose. Upon discovering the watch, it is logical to assume that it did not occur by accident, and that it was placed there by a creator possessing intelligence. And, when considering the incredible complexity of living organisms compared to a watch, the argument is even more persuasive.
Arguments Against the Divine Watchmaker
1) Mere Appearance of Design
Philosopher David Hume argued that the Divine Watchmaker analogy with living organisms is not close enough. He concludes that a finite number of particles in perpetual random motion for an infinite amount of time would eventually produce complex systems that give only the appearance of design. But Hume operated under assumptions that have drastically changed since his rebuttal. Infinite time has been disputed with the evidence of a 'Big Bang.' And the mechanisms of living organisms have in fact proven to be considerably more complex than was assumed, and in fact are very similar to engines in that they process energy to perform work, much like the watch. Therefore, despite Hume's argument, the analogy is correct.
2) Natural Selection
Darwin began the postulation that random mutations and natural selection are capable of explaining the variations found in all life forms (see more information in the discussion about Evolution.) In effect, the Natural Selection argument says "evolution (blind, unconscious, automatic chance) caused everything to end up like it is today". Combining these thoughts with the Paley argument coined the term "The Blind Watchmaker". But this argument fails to address the origin of life. Even if we made the huge leap of faith that evolution were true, it had to start somewhere. there would be nothing to evolve from. Unless we can address where life comes from, how can we even discuss evolution? You can see why the evolution scientists are desperately searching for a means to explain life generating from non-life. See the article on evolution for more detailed exposure of this radical theory.
3) Bad Designs
Some scientists and philosophers will even attempt to dispute the Grand Designer theory by proving that there are bad designs found in nature. (An incredibly arrogant statement, seeing that no man has designed a life form of his own!) A good example of such statement is from the famous atheist Stephen Jay Gould, as he describes the panda 'thumb,' which to him appears to be a clumsy adaptation of a wrist bone, not the work of a divine designer. Of course these types of statements are as subjective as they are arrogant, and are disputed by other scientists of equally good reputation. Living organisms are so complex it is impossible to understand them completely. And, like the Evolutionary theory's rebuff, this argument has evolution at its core, again ignoring that life had to begin somehow in order for it to 'evolve.'
Adapted from The Creator and the Cosmos, Hugh Ross
In summary, the "Divine Watchmaker" is a valid analogy, lending us further to consider a Creator for the Creation
Copyright Pending 2002