William Paley Watch Analogy


William Paley came up with the watchmaker analogy; in his theory, he argued that the only way the existence of the watch could be explained is by means of their creation by a designer. Paley used this argument to explain the existence of God and, as such, believed in the intelligent design of the universe. The argument states that design implies that there is a designer and that the universe has been created the same way the watches were designed. God is perceived to be the designer of the universe and any living organism on earth. What is William Paley’s watchmaker argument about? This teleological argument essay aims to answer the question. The main part of it contains the summary of the theory and explains William Paley watch analogy in detail.

William Paley Watchmaker Argument

Paley’s watchmaker analogy presumes that God created the world by a miracle. The design doesn’t explain the order through which things were created. Living organisms as we all know are very complex in nature and they evolve with time. In his argument, Paley leaves out this vital component of evolution as his theory partakes that the way the universe was created was final and no change is expected in the future. He went on to argue that the complex nature of the universe and the development of living things called for the work of a very intelligent designer. He, as such, believed that God had carefully planned and designed everything on earth for the humankind.

Paley recognized that nature was unfair in some ways but believed that there is more pleasure than pain in life. Thus, God is just and fair in his actions, and, consequently, whatever happens in the universe is not by accident or meant to make people suffer, but is only the order of things as planned by God.

In this paper, Paley’s watchmaker theory is not going to be entirely disputed but it will highlight his failure to explain in detail creation and will prove otherwise.

According to Paley’s watchmaker argument, he compares the world to a machine (a watch). He believed that the world operates through the order and fixed processes like a watch do. He further presumes that order and purpose are only evident when they evolved as a result of the design. But on the contrary, the order on earth is observed regularly but not always, thus the world cannot operate systematically as a machine. People on earth often experience adverse weather conditions like storms, floods, hurricanes, and fires being not the order which God planned. Thus, Paley’s design is not feasible since it only explains a tiny part of the numerous happenings in the world.

Since we only know one universe, there is no chance for us to compare it with others, therefore, the analogy of a designed universe cannot be applied. Another issue that is not well articulated is the question of who created God. In order for God to create a designed universe he had to be intelligent, hence he also ought to have been created by a more intelligent being. There is no way we can live in a self-ordered natural world. Every day things change as evolution takes place. The best way to explain this phenomenon is through the self-correction mechanism whereby every action on earth has a reaction of an equal force and, therefore, in the long-run things self-correct automatically.

Charles Darwin in his Origin of Species argues that it is natural selection and not a divine design that is responsible for the gradual change in populations over time. In the universe, human beings are more superior and complex to other living things, thus they have the power and the capacity to change the order to their own advantage. A watch is made up of many components and is assembled and cannot be designed at once; in the same way, the universe encompasses many things that are inter-dependent.

The design theory as postulated by Paley cannot clearly explain the variability and diversity of living organisms, what the theory of natural selection clearly does. Nature follows fixed laws which are common and universal. The complexity of life cannot be explained fully through the design. Highly complex systems are produced through a number of not connected with each other things and events but not through the design. Therefore, life is the result of many complex biological processes.


Even though I disagree with Paley’s watchmaker argument, some of the theories put forward are true, and, as such, they hold ground. I totally believe that it is God who planned and created the universe but to state that the universe was designed similar to the way the watch was designed is very fallacious and shallow. In his watchmaker argument, Paley leaves a number of questions unanswered, hence rather than solve the mystery of creation and provide a credible solution, he creates another mystery of design.

For God to create a properly designed universe he had to be very intelligent, in this case, God is also the creation of a more super-intelligent being whom Paley doesn’t mention. In conclusion, it must be pointed out that as human beings we are not entirely capable of ascertaining how the universe was created since there is no clear evidence left.

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Premium Papers. 2023. "William Paley Watch Analogy." June 18, 2023. https://premium-papers.com/william-paleys-watch-and-humans-comparison/.

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