William Paley (1743 - 1805)

William Paley was an English theologian and well-known proponent of the watchmaker argument, a teleological justification for the existence of God. The argument states that the complexities of a watch must have been created by an intelligent designer. Therefore human beings, who are much more complex, must be created by an intelligent designer. Paley used his watchmaker analogy in his book "Natural Theology, or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity collected from the Appearances of Nature" published in 1802. Charles Darwin studied Paley's book in school and for a time was convinced that Paley was right. But as he developed his theory of evolution, Darwin no longer found Paley's arguments supportable. Darwin wrote in his autobiography, "The old argument of design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered."

In his autobiography Clarence Darrow referenced Paley:

"Seldom do the believers in mysticism fail to talk about the evidence of purpose and design shown in the universe itself. This idea runs back at least one hundred and five years, to Paley's 'Natural Theology.' There was a time when this book was a part of the regular course in all schools of higher learning, which then included theology; but the book is now more likely to be found in museums."