Does Evolution Argue Against Design?

For well over a hundred years, the writings of William Paley stood as a strong voice arguing that all of nature and in particular life itself was the work of a divine Creator. His natural theology argued from the compelling appearance of design in nature. Perhaps the most famous segment was his watchmaker narrative.

William Paley's watchmaker

In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever. Nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of the answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer, which I had before given, that for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there ... the watch must have had a maker: that there must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use .... Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature, of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation. "

While I still find Paley's watchmaker compelling and see his conclusion that nature is the creation of God as true, the framework of evolution does cause us to look at things more carefully.

One of the common summary statements about the impact of Darwin and evolution is that it has disproved the idea that life is designed. Certainly a powerful part of the scientific community, particularly the life-science community, argues passionately against design as Paley saw it.

Francisco Ayala

"The functional design of organisms and their features would therefore seem to argue for the existence of a designer. It was Darwin's greatest accomplishment to show that the directive organization of living beings can be explained as the result of natural process, natural selection, without any need to resort to a Creator or other external agent."

Ayala is a prominent evolutionary biologist and past president of the AAAS. Of his several books, "Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion" strongly argues against intelligent design and in favor of strict evolutionary development of life.

Windows of Creation
Evidence from nature Is the universe designed?
William Paley
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