Creationist Wisdom #858: Preacher Discovers Paley

Today’s letter-to-the-editor (it’s actually a column) appears in the Inland Empire Community News of Colton, California. It’s titled William Paley uses watch analogy to argue existence of God, intelligent design of universe, and the newspaper has a comments section.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we’ve got a preacher. It’s G. W. Abersold, an 87 year-old retired minister. We’ll give you a few excerpts from the rev’s letter (or column), enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

The name William Paley is not commonly known. However, in my opinion he is right there with Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton. His style is similar to the style of Jesus. Jesus used birds, lilies, coins, and sheep to illustrate truths. Paley used a watch – a timepiece.

Our readers are all familiar with William Paley’s watchmaker analogy — if something looks designed, then by golly it is designed. See also see David Hume’s rebuttal. There’s also the Curmudgeon’s rebuttal: Rethinking Paley’s Watchmaker Analogy.

Okay, back to the rev. He gives a lot of interesting information about Paley and then says:

By the way, Charles Darwin was a friend and supported Paley’s views.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Darwin was impressed by Paley in his younger years, but that Wikipedia article on the watchmaker argument also quotes Darwin’s autobiography, in which he said: “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.”

Skipping a bit, the rev tells us:

As previously mentioned, Charles Darwin was a contemporary and he endorsed Paley. So did Richard Dawkins, the famous evolutionary biologist. Particularly, he often praised Paley for his strong and logical belief in God as the supreme Designer. Even though Dawkins is an atheist and opposes creationism.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The rev gushes on and on, and at the end of his letter he says:

As a minister (Ret.) and a would-be theologian, I appreciate the William Paley analogy. I wish I had learned about the analogy seventy (70) years ago.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We assume the rev been a creationist all his life, and he just discovered Paley’s argument. He’s a happy man.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #858: Preacher Discovers Paley

  1. It took him 87 years to discover Paley. I hope he doesn’t need 87 more until he comes upon Hume.

  2. Theodore Lawry

    “Charles Darwin was a friend?” Paley died in 1805, Darwin was born in 1809. Did Paley’s ghost channel evolution to Darwin from beyond the grave?

  3. He signs with his degree Ph. D.

  4. Michael Fugate

    William Paley (1743 – 1805)
    David Hume (1711 – 1776)
    Hume’s first critique of the Design Argument was in “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding” (1748) and again in “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion” (1779).

    Paley was refuted before he wrote.

  5. There were many before Paley who wrote of the watchmaker analogy. For example, Voltaire (1694-1778).

  6. To make it clear: Voltaire was quite in favor of the watchmaker analogy.
    The watchmaker god became a popular signature doctrine of deism.

  7. I wish I had learned about the analogy seventy (70) years ago.
    I want to (2) thank him for (4) making it clear that it wouldn’t have helped him to (2) learn about Paley seventeen (17) or seventy one (71) years ago.

  8. Scientist

    The rev not only has a Ph.D. but the bio says he has been on 130 cruises. Now, that’s a qualification! One would think that a minister and “would-be theologian” would have heard of Paley early on.

  9. Michael Fugate

    Here’s his PhD:
    The preaching of Bishop Gerald Kennedy as definitive for effective pulpit communication
    Abersold, George William. Claremont School of Theology, 1965

    Kennedy was a Methodist bishop ordained in 1948.

  10. Scientist

    @Michael Fugate From that title, I see why he never heard of Paley; the cruises are indeed a better qualification. That’s the trouble with Ph.D.s in theology: there’s nothing new about god to write about, so candidates write about some other crap. No scholarship. Gives the Ph.D. a bad rap.

  11. If the Rev has been on 130 cruises, then it is pretty likely that he is one of those folk that give talks onboard cruise ships.

    One wonders if the Rev is also the author of “Words to think about” and “Words to make you laugh” (Amazon). FWIW, his profile at the “Community News” also claims (a ‘Ph.D. in two emphases: Behavioral Medicine and Humanistic Psychology’. I’ll leave it to @Michael Fugate to reconcile this with the actual title of his dissertation.

  12. Michael Fugate

    That is the only dissertation to show up in ProQuest’s Dissertations & Theses database. It fits with his age and location. The back of “Words to make you laugh” claims he has two PhDs and an MA. The book front lists MA, RelD and PhD. So who knows?

  13. @Michael Fugate You are quite right.

    The Rev is a dual Ph.D. (which is, I think, the unofficial definition of “someone with too much time on their hands”). His Ph.D. in Humanistic Psychology and Behavioral Medicine was conferred by Newport University in Irvine which is/was an unaccredited school – no doubt this explains the absence of dissertation records.

    Actually, the Rev has lived an interesting and varied life according to his profile in the Highland News. It is a pity that his recent excursion in Paley wasn’t accompanied by a bit more rigorous research. Regardless, here’s hoping that Paley and his watchmaker don’t make it into the Rev’s shipboard speaking topics.

  14. The comments section of the Rev’s article on Paley makes interesting reading. It would be fair to say that the Rev cops a pasting.