William Paley’s Design Argument

So Year 12 what did you think of William Paley’s argument? Do you think it holds any weight after Darwin? Why or why not? What about the argument itself? Can you find any weak parts? How strong is the evidence he gives? Is a watch analogous to the universe?


  1. The argument certainly holds some weight as it is obvious to all that design is within nature through mathmatical truths and so on. It is made in a simple way that people can understand. However, it’s simplicity causes an area of concern for me. To say that existence of a craftsman God is such a brute fact through design seems, for myself, too shallow to be true.

    • Paley’s argument can be seen to be fairly weak due to a watch being man made where as a stone is something that was created in the christian God’s 7 days of creation. Therefore, the watch can be simply replaced for another object and there would be a different outcome. However, there is some truth to his argument due to the face of a watch having a cycle, like nature eg the sun rises and sets everyday; where as the stone doesn’t show any cycle.

    • I see the argument to be fairly weak, this is because a watch is a man made object, which took time into making it.. however, a stone is something that God had created, therefore they are completeley different objects. However, this could be aruged due to a watch having a regular cycle like the sun and the moon, where as a stone has no cycle. On the other hand, I can agree that the argument certainly holds some weight as because the universe is also ordered and complicated, someone must have designed it, and that ‘someone’ must be God.

  2. It can be seen that William Paley’s analogy of the watch does not carry much weight because he is already operating with the idea that God exists – we know that a watch is man-made, whereas we do not have any evidence that God exists.

  3. i think that Paley’s argument is strong because his watch analogy it explains how something was designed for a particular purpose is plausible as it must have been created by an intelligent designer. This can also be seen for the creation for the universe; the universe has an intelligent designer, God, who created the world for a purpose. Although, this analogy may not be quite strong becaue a watch only fits in a circumstance that only is strong for him and is not a good way of comparing it to the universe as it doesnt develop or grow so it may be hard to compare to a similar conclusion for why and how the universe created.

  4. The watchmaker analogy is a logical way of explaining the argument and is something that all people can understand. Similar to the watch, the world is too detailed to not have been designed by ‘someone’, and for a certain purpose. Although a watch is not as complex as the Universe, the analogy strengthens Paleys argument by showing exactly how complex the Universe is in comparison. I agree with Katie because the watch has some similarites, such as having a natural cycle.

  5. To some extent the teleological/design argument makes sense, as it provides some kind of evidence which proves that everything has been designed to fulfil some function, for instance an human eye is fulfilling its purpose by allowing the human to see. William Paley provides an analogy of a watch to support his argument, Whereas, it could be argued that the watch is not equivalent to the universe. In greater detail, this is because a watch exists within the universe and it is man made which suggests that it is not comparable to the universe and it is more complex.

  6. I like this argument as we are able to observe it because it is inductive, unlike other arguments for God that we have studied. However, with this being an inductive argument it also means that it therefore only leads to a probable conclusion. I agree with Savarnah when she says that the argument is too simple for it to prove the existence of God. Also, I don’t think that the watch is a good analogy, just because the watch has a designer doesn’t mean that the world does. This is because we don’t have experience of a universe being built, whereas we have experience of a watch being designed and built. Also, the universe is unique and therefore we cannot make assumptions about it. On the other hand, I prefer this argument to the Ontological, as it doesn’t try and define God into existence.

  7. I think that William Paley’s argument holds some weight to a certain extent. This is because, a complex watch needs a watchmaker to explain how it came into being and using evidence from the natural world and how things fit together for a purpose, it is clear that the universe, just like the watch, is complex and must also have a designer. The complexity of nature is far greater than any machine humans can create. Thus, the whole of nature requires a grand designer – God. Also, the watch also shares similarities to nature. For instance, a watch tells the time over and over again while humans see day turn to night in a repeated cycle.

  8. I think William Paley’s argument is very reasonable to the idea that it merely implies that the imaginary function of the watch would suggest the existence of something conscious and intelligent and therefore would mean that nature would require a much greater designer than the watch, that designer is god and that he clearly distinguishes that the watch and nature are two different complexities and therefore require different designers, as nature is more complex and therefore not man-made.To conclude on this point, the complexity of nature is illustrated by the human eye, as Paley’s uses as an example.To add, Paley finished his argument that the cause is the idea that the universe must have an intelligent designer. This is purely reasonable for his argument and sees the difference between the design of god and the design that is not by God(man-made).
    Although this point can be argued to suggest that he did not think about the questions relating to the quality of the design and therefore means that as a designer of a house creates a faulty house, what does this suggest about the designer and if God does design the world, is God directly responsible for evil?,Paley ignores some of these points.

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