Paley’s Argument on Existence of God

Paley’s Argument on Existence of God




Paley’s Argument on Existence of God

There have been several arguments about the existence of God. Some consider God to be there and others consider the reverse. Among those who have tried to give people arguments about the existence of God is Paley. In his Design Argument, Paley is transferring his inference about the organization and design of watches to the organization and design of nature. In simple terms, his analogical argument is a comparison between two systems. Paley gives an inference conclusion towards the existence of God. The paper is going to focus on Paley’s argument that God exists.

Paley starts with an anthropic principle is that there is a direct link between our observation of the universe and the ‘boundary conditions’ which brought it into existence. William Paley’s argument claim that you can clearly distinguish rocks from objects that are designed for this case God designed human being unique.

The first part of Paley’s argument is that he puts forward the argument for design in the form of an analogy. If we come across a watch, we conclude that all parts fit together for a purpose and had not come into existence by chance. If we look at the world, we can infer design because of how things fit together for a purpose. Paley thought that a similar conclusion might be drawn from intricate mechanisms of the human body. He used the example of an eye and how it is adapted for sight. He argued this was God.

Design qua Regularity is the second argument Paley gives. He used evidence from astronomy and Newton’s law of motion and gravity to prove that there is design in the universe. Pointed to the rotation of the planets in the solar system, and how they obey the same universal laws, and hold their orbits because of gravity. This could not have come about by chance, and this must be through God.

He also gives the watchmaker analogy whereby, In crossing a heath, suppose one pitched his foot against a watch and was asked how the watch came to be there, one would give a direct answer of he does not know. He tells us that every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation. All these things happen through God.

When we look at human artefacts, we see evidence of complexity which requires explanation. We assume the existence of a designer or creator. Working on a principle of ‘like causes produce like effects,’ Paley concludes that what is true of human design, can also be said of nature and God. This complexity, purpose or regularity cannot have been brought by chance. Therefore, the best explanation is the existence of a divine intelligence designer and creator which is God. The analogy by Paley is valid from the way he presents his arguments. Possible to be compatible with the theory of evolution, which provides a mechanistic explanation of a system, but doesn’t provide a final explanation of why the system is set up as it is.


William Paley’s Argument on The Existence of God