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The Blind Watchmaker-Maker

Arguments for a creator god aren't always as convincing as they might at first seem, even on their own terms. Here is one of the most well-known:

In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer I had before given, that for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. (...) There must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed [the watch] for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use. (...)

William Paley, Natural Theology (1802)

Paley might have continued:

Indeed, this was a true tale. I did discover such a watch. Then, as I continued my journey, I encountered a fellow walker looking around himself at the ground. I asked the walker what is his trouble, and if I might assist him. The walker, I discover, is the very maker of watches whose existence I had deduced from my earlier discovery. He told me he had lost his watch a while earlier, and thanked me considerably when I directed him back along my route to where I had seen the fine result of his work. Suppose I enquired how the watchmaker happened to come to be? I should hardly think to hear the response that watchmakers were eternal beings, forever constructing timepieces, beings who appeared fully-formed with the skill and the tools to perform their craft. No, I would surely be told of a life of learning, of a young apprenticeship in the workshop of some other craftsman. I might then then pursue the matter and trace the development of watch-production back through the generations, with skills passed on and on from teacher to pupil, craftsman to apprentice, with exquisite refinements in tools and in materials as the years, the decades, the centuries passed. The history of man the tool-maker could be laid out before me, back to the first builders of huts and weapons, the first carvers of bone,the first knappers of flint.

The story of the watch, if it is designed, is of necessity a long one, and at the very start we find the origin of all craft. That origin is Nature, the blind watchmaker-maker, the mother of invention through the necessity of survival.



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