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In the year of Our Lord, Eighteen Hundred and Two, the Reverend William Paley gave us
a book called Natural Theology as part of his lifelong effort to save us.
That book has survived as a work of art, even beyond that fateful day
when Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin blew its thesis away.
It's so beautifully and clearly written, with an abundance of pious feeling,
that even a convinced evolutionist (like me) finds its logic appealing.
Examine a watch, the Reverend Paley said, and you will discern within its parts
the most exquisite expression that we can see of the human mechanical arts.
The watch is clearly designed, we say, its workings could not be finer;
but if the watch has a design, then it must surely have a designer.
We must agree with Reverend Paley: oh, yes, we definitely do.
For what he has said about the watch must certainly be true.
But then he points to living things, like the watch by the path he found.
They, too, must have a design he infers by analogy deeply profound.
In every organ and every living process mechanism and contrivance he sees,
in the eye, in the limbs, in the act of breathing, and even in the stingers of the bees.
All life appeared as a kind of mechanical tapestry in the mind of this devout believer
and in the pattern that he conceived he discerned the signature of the Weaver.
But all too often we are called to witness a terrible dastardly act,
of a beautiful theory brutally murdered by an ugly little fact.
If all of life and its processes bespeak a divine designer's art,
how, then, oh, how, we dare to ask, does God
explain the reeking fart?
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