The watchmaker analogy, watchmaker fallacy, or watchmaker argument, is a teleological argument. By way of an analogy, the argument states that design implies a designer. The analogy has played a prominent role in natural theology and the "argument from design," where it was used to support arguments for the existence of God and for the intelligent design of the universe.
The most famous statement of the teleological argument using the watchmaker analogy was given by William Paley in his 1802 book. The 1859 publication of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection put forward an alternative explanation for complexity and adaptation, and so provided a counter-argument to the watchmaker analogy. Richard Dawkins referred to the analogy in his 1986 book The Blind Watchmaker giving his explanation of evolution.
In the United States, starting in the 1960s, creationists revived versions of the argument to dispute the concepts of evolution and natural selection, and there was renewed interest in the watchmaker argument.
Famous quotes containing the words watchmaker and/or analogy:
“Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no minds eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of the watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker.”
—Richard Dawkins (b. 1941)
“The whole of natural theology ... resolves itself into one simple, though somewhat ambiguous proposition, That the cause or causes of order in the universe probably bear some remote analogy to human intelligence.”
—David Hume (17111776)