Where Do Watches Come From?

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14

Fifty years before Darwin’s Origin of Species, William Paley wrote Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, offering a fresh metaphor:  Imagine if we came upon a watch, having never seen a timekeeping device before. How would we explain the existence of that watch? As we discovered what the watch could do, saw how it could tell time and then saw all the mechanics behind it, we would naturally assume somebody had designed it.

I doubt we would assume the watch had a mommy watch and daddy watch who loved each other very much, and then went on to produce a baby watch! No, it would be more natural to marvel at the watch and assume it had an inventor.

The human eye is much more sophisticated and marvelous than a watch. Why would we look at a watch and wonder who made it,  but resist the idea that someone made the human eye? We don’t assume that a watch just popped up randomly out of nature. So take the watch as evidence of somebody’s creativity but not the human eye?

Later Darwin would rock the world with the theory of evolution, but I don’t think he contradicted Paley. It still all fits together. Let’s appreciate the scientific theory but let’s not make an idol of it. Evolution can be part of the explanation but not the complete explanation.

Nothing in nature, including evolution, has ever made me question my faith. To me, evolution is like that watch. I can’t imagine how it got made but I trust that someone made it.


Creator, thank you for the signs of your existence that you leave everywhere, if we have the eyes to see them. Amen. 

16177.jpg About the Author
Lillian Daniel is the Senior Minister of First Congregational United Church of Christ, Dubuque, Iowa, and the author of When “Spiritual But Not Religious” is Not Enough.