Re: Randomness from full disclosure--Paley's watch notoriginal

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Fri Jan 30 2004 - 12:02:16 EST

>>> "Rich Blinne" <> 01/30/04 11:55AM >>> writes:

Another possibility is that Paley is reacting to David Hume. Here's a
couple of clips from his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
published in 1779.

Hume's character, Philo, makes a tu quoque argument concerning design. He
accedes that a watch implies design but that the similarities between the
watch and creation differ too much. Namely, that the creation is more
animal or vegetation than mechanical. This precedes the later argument
that atheistic evolutionists will make.
Ted replies:
Of course, yes, Paley would be responding to Hume and the whole
conversation about natural theology since the 17th century. The clock
metaphor was very widely used in the 17th century as a way of speaking about
God and the world, Boyle was perhaps its most subtle exponent.

My point about Boyle is simply that, the very precise version of the
metaphor for which Paley is so famous, the very same passage is found in
Boyle's unpublished papers--which Paley did now know about. Therefore,
there is probably yet another common source for this idea of a watch on the
beach or on the heath, a source older than the Boyle MS (probably 1680s), a
source no one has identified to my knowledge.

Received on Fri Jan 30 12:02:49 2004

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