Recommended Reading: Paley, the Watchmaker, & the Mantis Shrimp
In this lecture, Dr. Schenk discusses William Paley’s Watchmaker Design Argument, which stems from Paley’s book Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity (1802). While it is not necessary to read Paley’s book to understand this lecture, you may wish to investigate Paley’s nineteenth century work on your own.
William Paley (1743-1805) was an English clergyman, Christian apologist, philosopher, and natural theologist. His book, Natural Theology, contains a popular design argument analogy, the watchmaker. The watchmaker illustrates that an object which appears to be designed, such as a watch, must have a watchmaker. As Dr. Schenk shares in this lecture, Paley made other analogies, such as seeing the human eye as an object of such magnificent design that it, too, must have had a designer.
Paley’s work in natural theology came before the development of evolutionary science under such minds as Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Darwin’s work in natural selection offered a different explanation for the scientific complexity of human biology. With more recent developments in genetic science, Neo-Darwinians offer a more complex response to Paley: the human eye is, in fact, less impressive than previously supposed when compared with creatures that possess more excellent vision, such as the mantis shrimp. In this lecture, Dr. Schenk will explore William Paley’s famous argument, as well as its objections.