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Dismantling Paley’s Watch: Equivocation Regarding the Word “Order” in the Teleological Argument

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DOI: 10.4236/ojpp.2020.101012    32 Downloads   94 Views


William Paley’s classic version of the Teleological Argument contends that just as a watch is ordered for a purpose and we rightfully conclude that it had a creator who ordered it, the universe is also ordered in many ways and for a variety of purposes, so we should similarly conclude that it had a creator, God, who ordered it. This paper contends that Paley committed the fallacy of equivocation when he lumped various types of order together as if they had no differences. The watch’s operations are an example of Intentional Order—order created intentionally by a conscious agent for a specific purpose. The universe, on the other hand, until it had conscious and purposeful beings such as human beings, had exhibited only Ramseyian Order, Purposeless Order, and Functional Order. These three types of order can be explained by science in naturalistic terms, and therefore it is superfluous to appeal to a conscious Creator-God, let alone a supernatural one. Additionally, the paper asserts that the best scientific evidence indicates that the universe has always been and still is primarily disordered, and further argues that the natural laws, contrary to popular belief, are not ordered. Moreover, the order that is present is riddled with design flaws. As such, our universe is inconsistent with what one would expect from an Intelligent Designer/God. Therefore both Paley’s analogical argument and all standard versions of the Teleological Argument, which rely on the order present in the universe to argue for the existence of God, fail.

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Firestone, R. (2020) Dismantling Paley’s Watch: Equivocation Regarding the Word “Order” in the Teleological Argument. Open Journal of Philosophy, 10, 155-186. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2020.101012.

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