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"The Problems with Paley's theory"

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Stacey Carter 18th November 2002 13 A.K "The Problems with Paley's theory" William Paley developed the teleological argument to try and prove God's existence. He used analogies to explain his theories the most famous being his "World and the watch" theory. "In crossing the 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 for ever; nor would it, perhaps, be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I 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, which I had given before - that, for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch as well as for the stone? ...read more.


Here nature works harmoniously together. This, for Paley, proves that all this could not have not been designed or created. There are many problems with Paley's teleological theory: One could be that even if this argument does conclude that the universe had a creator, this does not necessarily mean that it still exists. In the argument nothing implies that this creator or God must be eternal or have a non physical existence. Another weakness is the fact that Paley used a weak analogy to try and prove his theory. The more similarities between the two things being compared the stronger the analogy. A watch and the world however have very few similarities and therefore the analogy is weak. All man made objects are created out of pre-existing materials. Using Paley's analogy, we have to conclude that the creator also made the universe out of pre-existing materials. This makes the creator, merely a builder. ...read more.


Hume also suggests that there may be more than one creator just as there is more than one watchmaker contributing to a finished watch. Hume thought that Paley's analogy of the world to a watch was also weak as the universe is very unlike a piece of clockwork machinery. This reinforces what I was saying earlier about the analogy having very little similarities. John Stuart Mill took a different approach to disprove Paley's argument. He suggested that if somebody had designed the world than this designer must be evil and misery wishing upon earth's inhabitants. He backs this up with the fact that in nature animals' murder, rape and struggle to survive in a tough environment. If we were to murder or rape the government would punish us, as these actions are considered evil. From this he deduces that if there is a God he designed the world with misery in mind for us, Mill on the other hand uses his theory as his prove that the world is unordered and therefore was not designed by an ultimate being. ...read more.

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