Philosophy 120 (F 05), MacLeod
Philosophy of Religion,
Paley’s Argument from Design
Paley’s Argument from Design as an Abductive Argument
A watch is a complicated mechanism that serves a function --
to indicate the time of day.
watch just came together randomly, or maybe it was designed.
Which is the better explanation for the
fact that the watch functions in this way?
: the object came together through the random action of wind and waves
the object is a product of intelligent design
I think we can safely say that the Design Hypothesis is a better explanation; wind and waves
frequently produce foam and messes of seaweed, shells and garbage, but not machines that can be used to
serve purposes (watches, can openers, food processors).
One expects intelligent design to produce such
So, since this is the best explanation for the watch being as it is, we CONCLUDE
that the watch is the product of intelligent design.
draws similar conclusions concerning the Earth.
The Earth is filled with many and
varied complicated biological species, each suited to their environments, which enables survival and
Maybe biological species just came together randomly, or maybe they were designed.
Which is the better explanation for the fact that biological species function so well?
the Earth’s biological species came to be as they are randomly
the Earth’s biological species are products of extraordinarily intelligent
If the Random hypothesis makes the existence of watches unlikely, then it makes the existence of
lions, tigers and bears (say) even less likely (or so Paley would argue) since biological organisms are
more complicated, and exhibit even more functional organization than does a watch.
So the Design
Hypothesis is the better explanation for the facts of biology , Paley would argue.
biological function is so complex and impressive, the facts of biology favor the hypothesis of
design over random collection.
Therefore, Paley concludes, God, the Designer, exists.