RE: Randomness from full disclosure--Paley's watch not original

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Fri Jan 30 2004 - 15:52:10 EST

I believe the reason the clock metaphor was used has to do with the
mechanical analogy used to describe Nature at the time of Paley. Let us
say that one wanted to leave something that upon being found, the finder
would conclude that he/she had found "love"---or what love is. What
would you leave for the finder to find the meaning of what love is? I
claim there is nothing physical you could leave for the finder to infer
that he/she had found "love." Similarly, there is nothing physical that
you can leave to a potential finder so that he/she would infer a
Creator. It is the sum total of our scientific knowledge plus the
totality of human experience that requires a Creator to, not only answer
the ontological question regarding existence, but that allows us to make
sense of the whole of reality.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Ted Davis
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2004 12:02 PM
Subject: Re: Randomness from full disclosure--Paley's watch notoriginal

>>> "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.
accedes that a watch implies design but that the similarities between
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
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Boyle's unpublished papers--which Paley did now know about.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
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 15:52:32 2004

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