Essay Sample on Philosophy: Paley and Hume

Published: 2023-08-03
Essay Sample on Philosophy: Paley and Hume
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Philosophy God
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1693 words
15 min read

A supernatural and directive mind has been labeled by many humans to be responsible for some extraordinary phenomenon in nature. For many years, philosophical thinkers from both the past and the present have been concerned with shaping sensible ideas into fair inference. For thinkers like Paley and Hume, their theistic arguments within various logical forms concentrate on plan, purpose, reason, and design; therefore, they are best defined as teleological arguments. However, these arguments have been attacked with criticism from not only philosophers but scientists as well. He arranges his points in a systematic manner eliminating any possibility of contradiction in the subsequent discovery. This is particularly revealed in his explanation of moral sentiments and the nature of specific causal effects that cannot be explained by any scientific proof, and in situations where the understanding came, the depth of the details was undeniable. In addition, the most impressive part is how Hume shows arguments on evolution and intelligent make-up despite lacking sufficient knowledge on the topic of evolution. However, in this essay, I will discuss Paley’s argument that proves the existence of God.

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Paley’s Teleological Argument for God’s Existence

Paley uses the watchmaker analogy to imply the existence of a supernatural designer. This particular analogy has been credited for the argument of natural theology and that for design, which for many years has been used to acknowledge the existence of God for the extraordinary design of the universe in Christianity. According to Paley's argument on design, then complexity occurrence observed of nature can be attributed to the work of a supernatural being that, in this context, Paley referred to as a designer, which he compared to the artifacts from an artificer. Digging deeper into the argument, the argument of design draws parallel analysis by contrasting the human-made objects like machines and existing biological ones with similar use or purpose like the liver. From observations, it is evident that the former are complex, often consciously made to perform the required functions; therefore, they must be intentional designs. From this, the functional nature of living organisms like the eye is undeniable more magnificent, hence showing more significant evidence for the presence of a robust intelligence agency.

For many years, William Paley's work was labeled to be the whole teleological argument since it proved to be a lucid exploitation of the evidence of design. In the first paragraph of the book, Paley encapsulates the main components of his reasoning for design, which he proposed the presence of a more magnificent intelligent design. "As he strolled across a heath, he imagined pitching his foot against a rock and a watch, which lead to thinking of how the two different things came to exist, which by comparing pushed to the possibility of designer for both but each at a different level. After imagining the two scenarios at hand, he realizes that the conclusion will not be the same.”( Paley, 1849).The watch proposes a possible occurrence of a supreme being responsible for the complex universe. In his argument, he, therefore, points out the clock entails an irreducibly complex nature that was, without a doubt, designed for a particular purpose. In addition, if alterations either by removing or by adding unnecessary parts were made, then the watch will become barely more effective than the rock.

Paley, in his subsequent argument, proposes that there is no need to inquire into the details of the designer's identity in improving that indeed an intelligent designer was involved. Doubt should arise from the absence of the maker of the watch. Therefore, people must concur with Paley's hypothesis that the watch's complex functionality literally existed by mere chance, inherent, or through laws of matter. Paley gives evidence that supersedes scientific explanations like that of the evolution of man proposed by Charles Darwin; hence, all the details are superfluous. Paley further argues that it is challenging to reach a discussion that eliminates the view of a design as it is impossible to accept that different entities are aroused from similar substances. Therefore by any chance, the discovery of the watch's ability to reproduce would only deepen the observer's interest in its unique complexity.

Paley Replies to Problems

Paley presented influential critics of the debate of the occurrence of a situation by chance, especially those offered by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. He broadly thinks that the objections are weak to disqualify the watchmaker’s argument. In the complaints highlighting the unknown identity of the artist responsible for designing the universe or the method and process involved disapproves the analogy of the watchmaker. According to Paley's argument, it is wrong to dismiss the presence of a maker just because we are unable to see him. Since a watch already exists, it can never happen by chance; the other watch just come to exist from nowhere. In any given circumstance, like order cannot be in the absence of choice or arrangement without any forces arranging it; hence, hypothetically, a design can never exist without a designer. "The complexity of the watch which we cannot resist to admire could not have formed the instruments themselves, disposed each part, placed them in specific areas, and assigned them to order, purpose and mutual dependency."(Paley, 1849). Therefore, Paley explains that no matter how vast the generation of watches extend, or in the natural context, organisms conceiving offspring or cells divide in various daughter cells, the uniquely, irreducible, and functional arrangement of the inner working components of the watches can only reveal the presence of actions that were controlled and managed by an intelligent agency. Paley in is way disapproves of the belief of evolution in which in some sense stipulates that the watch is identified in the course of its movement to produce another watch that has attributes similar to itself.

Also, in the objections that the inability for the part of the watch to work smoothly shows the absence of a designer, Paley responds that it is not ambiguous to expect something to be utterly perfect in the presence of a designer. Despite God creating natural things so entirely, each able to work on its own, it is difficult to deny the enormous suffering and indifferent of pain among various humans and animals species, Paley believes that a benevolent God assumed in a condition that life holds more pleasure than pain. If both good and bad things happen in the world in the same sense in which both good and bad things happen, cruel people, only one explanation is reasonable, God's providence cannot be put in a negotiable category, since all the prophets from the bible who lived in different times good things happen to people as a reward, but bad things result as a test or sign of a wake-up call.

The Corns and Mill in Paley’s Discussion

Parley's hypothesis is not dependant on specific evidence to support his belief in the argument. In addition, he goes beyond the scope of the discussion and carefully examines parts responsible for the particular functions. He claims that, for instance, corn and mill are ideally conventional in nature, and they are responsible for explaining the new argument of design in teleology. Paley argument is, however, centered on interactions of independent components. “But relations sometimes do not appear appealing, especially when things subsist, meaning not between different components of the same thing but between self-explanatory things. The relationship between a corn and mill is more obvious."(Paley, 1849). From this, Paley stipulates that the fit of parts is significant, since, in case of a defect of one part, another element comes in act on its behalf. Therefore, Paley refers to this type of relation as compensation.

Hume Argument

David, on the other hand, had various concerns about the universe. He stated that the world lacks natural order since there are many evidence of lack of imperfection like the collision of galaxies, black hole phenomenon, cosmic radiation, earthquakes, and many others, the argument that progresses from part to whole being whole is ideally not valid, and the discussion did not indicate that the designer is infinite. According to Hume, a relevant argument should compare two things with supports on the basis of their distinguishable features, which can give room for the development of a valid and acceptable reference. The more similar things appear to be, the more quickly it gets to arrive at a conclusion. In Hume's view, the universe and created artifacts are very different; therefore, they should not be used to draw a meaningful analogy.

Lack of Evidential Basis

Hume is firmly against the objection without a proper evidential basis, as done by Paley. Hume claims that is cases where we link the occurrence of a particular phenomenon to a specific kind of cause. According to Hume, "A stone is expected to fall, the fire should just burn, meaning the earth as a whole exhibit solidity since we have witnessed same outcome of situations, and in situations where new result occur, we conclude without hesitation the common inference"(Hume, 2000). Therefore according to his idea, some phenomena must be grounded to other similar known aspects. In his view, if his purpose is hypothetically true, the design intelligence is weak in explaining the existence of a superior being.

Regress of Explanation

In this section, rather than arguing about the lack of enough evidence to support the existence of a supreme being, he, in this point, focuses his argument in evidential merits, which states that there is sense to the intelligent maker is unstable. In this second point, a more detailed explanation is needed that God presents.


Hume's argument is based on two main grounds; firstly, he denies the analogy between the universe and human-made artifacts, which is justifiably hypothetical in reaching a conclusion those things happen by chance. Moral arguments about the existence of God form a lot of contradictory families of reasoning similar to those of Paley and Hume, which reason on features about morality to the presence of a supreme creator. Therefore, Paley arguments are considered more reasonable.


Paley, W. (1849). The Works of William Paley.. Wm. S. Orr and Company.

Hume, D. (2000). An inquiry concerning human understanding: A critical edition (Vol. 3). Oxford University Press.

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