Is There a God? Part One: Paley's Watch



Webster defines God as “the supreme or ultimate reality: such as the being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe.” Google furthers defines God as “the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.”

If such a being were to exist and He choose not to reveal Himself to the world in a blaze of glory, then how would we be aware of His existence? How can we be sure there is a God?

In the late eighteen hundreds, the Anglican clergyman William Paley put forth what has come to be known as “Paley's Teleological Argument For The Existence Of God.” When I consider the structure of a logical argument I picture the expression A=B=C or A therefore B therefore C. This kind of argument starts with a cause and reaches a result or conclusion. For example:

 A. God created the universe.
 B. A creator God would create with intelligent design.
 C. The universe shows evidence of intelligent design

A teleological argument goes backwards, it looks at the result, or conclusion and infers back to the cause. C=B=A or C therefore B therefore A. For example:

 C. The universe shows evidence of intelligent design.
 B. A creator God would have created with intelligent design.
 A. God created the universe.

 Paley used a watch as the example for his argument. If, while walking down a dirt road, you stumble upon a watch you have two possible options for the origin of that watch. You could assume that random chance came together to create a fully functioning precise machine that resulted in a watch or you can assume that somewhere at some point in time there was a watchmaker(s) who designed and built the watch. Paley proposed that:

 C. A watch shows evidence of intelligent design, it does not occur by accident.
 B. An intelligent watchmaker would be needed to design and create a watch with intelligent design therefore
 A. Somewhere at sometime in the past there was a watchmaker who designed and made this watch.

 The same could be said for any signs of intelligence found around us. No one looks at Mount Rushmore and marvels at the billions of years it would have taken for a stream to carve the faces of four presidents out of the rock. It is a clear example of intelligent design. This same principle is used by the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) institute where they examine interstellar radio waves for signs of intelligent design.

 Taking Paley’s argument as our example, the question then becomes, does the universe show signs of intelligent design?

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