Is God a watchmaker?

This recent letter to The Jerusalem Post Letters page prompted my reply (below):


Your opinion piece concerning belief in God (“Faith vs. facts” April 26) was accompanied by a remarkable illustration of the interior of a watch.  I wonder whether this was the author’s intention.  Did T.M. Luhrman have in mind the 19th century British theologian William Paley, who wrote that anyone regarding the fine detail and precision of a watch cannot but conclude that it was created by a watchmaker?  Considering the complexity of a watch, how much more so that the complexity of the natural world requires a Maker.

Fred Gottleib, Jerusalem


May 3, 2015


Fred Gottleib (letter, April 28) is wrong when he asserts that because of the fine detail of a watch, “anyone..cannot but conclude that it was created by a watchmaker,” then “how much more so would the complexity of the natural world require a Maker.”  This is a fallacious argument based on nineteenth century philosophy.  In fact it is a syllogism defined as “a kind of logical argument that applies deductive reasoning to arrive at a conclusion based on two or more propositions that are asserted or assumed to be true.”  Note that they are “asserted” or”assumed,” but not proven.

In the 19th century a watch was considered advanced technology, but in fact it is a simple device run by a spring.  In our more advanced time, a person finding an actual living organism (such as a sheep) cannot be sure whether it was naturally produced or it is a laboratory product, produced by a man (a biologist) by cloning.  Now that we know about DNA and we understand the great complexity of the natural world there is no need, according to Occam’s theorem of accepting the simplest satisfactory explanation, to assert the existence of a “Maker” to explain it.

Jack S. Cohen, Netanya
The writer is a retired Professor of Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


One thought on “Is God a watchmaker?

  1. Well put, Yaakov. – though I do recall when I proposed that “analogy isn’t proof” you wernt too happy:

    perhaps some analogies are more equal than others.

    Love to all,



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