|The Watchmaker Analogy –
Only those with an agenda to deny design would deny the design clearly apparent in a mechanical watch.
|A mechanical watch such as this see through one aptly illustrates the principle of clearly apparent design.|
I tend to be hard on watches. The bands break, the crystals crack, they get scratched up – something usually befalls them. So I tend to ask for watches as gifts – especially around Christmas time. This past year was no different. My family gave me an extraordinary gift – two watches – one digital, one mechanical. What’s extraordinary is not that I received two watches (though that was very nice), it’s the type of watch I received.
The one watch – a mechanical one featured above – is an amazing sight to behold. It has a see through design, so you can see the inner mechanisms from both the front and the back. I’m not a watch maker, so bear with me as I try to describe just a few of the marvelous mechanisms in this mechanical wonder with terms borrowed from Wikipedia. As I said, it’s mechanical – not battery operated, so it has a mainspring; but it is also self winding, so it has an “eccentric weight” which you can see from the back moving back and forth with the motion of the watch, attached to a mechanism that winds the mainspring. From the front, in addition to the regular motion of the sweeping second hand, you can see the oscillating motion of the balance wheel marking out regular intervals of time. You can see the mainspring and the various gears which make up the gear train, and particularly the escapement mechanism and its back and forth motion moving the gears at a set rate and producing the familiar ticking sound mechanical watching are known for.
When I saw it, I couldn’t help but marvel at the ingenuity of the device. The design elements which are clearly present have made this made favorite watch – so much so that I don’t even allow myself to wear it – lest I break it like all my other watches. And of course, seeing the inner mechanism, I couldn’t help but be reminded of William Paley’s argument for the existence of God from his watchmaker analogy. All the carefully designed, produced and assembled parts noted above, Paley calls “contrivances” – an appropriate word he uses in his Natural Theology to describe the clear elements of design evident in such a watch. His watchmaker’s argument for the existence of God is a classic argument. If you’ve never read it, or haven’t read it recently, I encourage you to read it. From his 18th century vantage point he anticipates and counters objections still used by 21st century atheists and other objectors to the argument from design. That argument is also known as the Teleological argument (from the Greek Telos – meaning end or goal). Teleological arguments focus on an intended outcome, a goal which is clearly manifest in the item under consideration. Of course intentions are only possible by a being who intends them, thus if a goal or intention is apparent, there was obviously a being who initially had that goal or intention.
Paley isn’t the first to use the argument. A version of the argument was used by Socrates, and a well developed version was presented by Thomas Aquinas. In his Summa Theologiae, Aquinas presents five proofs for the existence of God. His fifth proof is a Teleological one – based on the “guidedness of nature.” He considers inanimate, unaware objects – like an arrow – which tend toward a goal and notes “Nothing that lacks awareness tends to a goal, except under the direction of someone with awareness and understanding; the arrow, for example, requires an archer.”1
This is a perfect description of the watch and its “contrivances”; you can see the watch clearly and very effectively tends toward the goal of marking the passage of time. It marks of the passage of not just one unit of time but multiple units of time: marking off the passage of seconds, minutes and hours as does the one depicted above. Other watches also include days, months and years. This is clearly not by accident, and the mechanisms are clearly designed and obviously point to an intelligent designer. In my opinion this watch is so clearly and obviously designed, the conclusion that it was designed by a watchmaker is inescapable.
A mere cursory examination of the watch, combined with a consideration of the goal or purpose that it achieves, when considered along with the fact that inanimate objects have no goals or intentions (as atheists readily admit2), can lead you to no other conclusion. And thus the title: everyone should have one of these see through mechanical watches. Just as the tefillin of the old testament reminded you of God’s commands3; such a watch cannot help but remind you of the designer, and in so doing allude to the designer of the universe and all life.
You’ll note that those who claim to refute the analogy from the design in a watch never offer to demonstrate how non-guided, random forces can produce such a watch. Which is why Dawkins’ “Blind Watchmaker” thesis – that complex creatures can come about by purposeless processes is so utterly ridiculous, and lays bare his intention to deny design at all costs. Without an intelligence to guide the process, unguided forces would not tend toward any goal as Aquinas notes, and thus you could not get any of the required components of living organisms that are complex and fulfill a goal – such as proteins, cellular structures, and entire organs like hearts, lungs and eyes. Continue Reading