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Great Apologists – William Paley

In an era that dignified science while degrading revelation, God raised William Paley (1743–1805). Receiving his education at Cambridge in mathematics, he would go on to produce history’s most influential argument from design for God’s existence. Written while suffering a debilitating disease, Paley’s Natural Theology compares nature’s intricate design to the complexity of a watch. If a person walking in a field stumbled upon a timepiece, they would assume it had a designer even if they had never seen a watch before. How much more should those who examine the exquisite craftsmanship of objects such as the eye infer a master Craftsman.

Many believed for much of the twentieth century that David Hume and Charles Darwin had definitively demolished the argument philosophically and scientifically. But Paley’s argument is making a comeback. Mathematician/philosopher William Dembski has demonstrated recently that design inferences of the watch/Watch- maker sort can legitimately be philosophically constructed. And biologist Michael Behe has presented a powerful contemporary scientific version of the argument in Darwin’s Black Box.

Paley also produced A View of the Evidences of Christianity in which he defended the veracity of biblical miracles. Unlike miracle claims from other sources, the stellar character of Christ and the willingness of the apostles to die for their message vouchsafe biblical miracles. Paley, in the mainstream of Christian apologetic tradition, also pointed to fulfilled prophecy as reason to trust the Bible.

Want more? Check out the Apologetics Study Bible on page 71 or visit ApologeticsBible.com.

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