The Flaw That Isn’t In The Paley Argument That A Watch Requires A Watchmaker To Be Created

Watches don’t just magically appear out of nothing or assemble themselves without any outside assistance, therefore there must be a watchmaker doing what scientists and philosophers today call “intelligence design.”

Photo by Agê Barros on Unsplash

The preceding paragraph is a modern restatement of William Paley’s Watchmaker argument for the existence of God. Just as the watch requires a watchmaker, the universe requires a creator.

Critics today argue there is a fundamental flaw in Paley’s argument. Biochemist Fazale Rana explains on Reasons to Believe:

“Despite the powerful analogy that exists between machines produced by human designers and biomolecular machines, many skeptics continue to challenge the revitalized watchmaker argument on logical grounds by arguing in the same vein as David Hume. These skeptics assert that significant and fundamental differences exist between bio-machines and human creations.

“In a recent interaction on Twitter, a skeptic raised just such an objection. Here is what he wrote: ‘Do [objects and machines designed by humans] replicate with heritable variation? Bad analogy, category mistake. Same one Paley made with his watch on the heath centuries ago.’

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“In other words, biological systems replicate, whereas devices and artefacts made by human beings don’t. This difference is fundamental. Such a dissimilarity is so significant that it undermines the analogy between biological systems (in general) and bio-molecular machines (specifically) and human designs, invalidating the conclusion that life must stem from a Mind.

“This is not the first time I have encountered this objection. Still, I don’t find it compelling because it fails to take into account manmade machines that do, indeed, replicate.”

Ever hear of Von Nuemann’s Universal Constructor? Read on here.

Author: Mark Tapscott

Follower of Christ, devoted husband of Claudia, doting father and grandfather, conservative lover of liberty, journalist and First Amendment fanatic, former Hill and Reagan aide, vintage Formula Ford racer, Okie by birth/Texan by blood/proud of both, resident of Maryland. Go here:

2 thoughts on “The Flaw That Isn’t In The Paley Argument That A Watch Requires A Watchmaker To Be Created”

  1. The ‘machines don’t replicate, living things do’ argument actually works the other way. Which is more complex and thus less likely to arise by chance, a watch or a watch that can also create other watches much like itself? Obviously, it’s the second.


  2. Even if you accept the premise of “not replicating”, I don’t see how that invalidates the logic.

    Also, it’s “intelligent design”, not “intelligenCE design” – sorry! /grammar Nazi


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