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Remember that the Rolex argument is built on what I called an analogy. This is critical to understanding both the argument and the objections to it.

Analogy works like this:

A:B :: C:D -- A is to B as C is to D. In the relationship, we see that A and B have a certain relationship. We assert that there is enough similarity between B and D, that is, between two complex states of affairs, to warrant the assertion that C must also be like A.

For example,  when we see a dog and lizard  that have leashes attached, and seem well and happy, that since both are animals, both are leashed and both are well and happy, that, if we know that the dog has a loving and careful owner, we can assume reasonably that the lizard also has such an owner, even if we never see that owner.


More gruemsomely, when an experienced homicide detective sees a body with certain characteristics, even though there is no eivdence of foul play to the civilian's eye, he will suspect that there has been foul play, and therefore a murderer, because there is enough similarity between this body and four or five others he has seen with exactly, or roughly exactly, the same characteristics, to lead him to suspect that this body was also produced by an act of murder.

The key here is that situations have enough important features in common to lead us to think that they must have been produced by similar causes.

But there are two obvious limitations to such arguments. First, whgenever we find analogies or likenesses we will also, inevitably, find balancing disanalogies or unlikenesses, and we have to determine through experience and trial and error whether the likenesses are more important than the unlikenesses. But this requires a lot of experience and many cases, and, in the case of asserting that the universe has a maker, for example, we do not have enough experience with multiple universes to judge whether this one has the kind of characteristics that one can reasonably associate with a made and planned universe.


Second, likenesses are not identities, so that the best we can get from this kind of argument is a likelihood that there is a divine designer. This will never be conclusively established by ther argument from analogy. At best the existence of a caring God will be a high probability but never a certainty.


To return to the issue of degree of likeness. Above, I cited one problem. We do not have enough experience of universes being planned to know whether this one was.

But on a more mundane level, we can also point to a good many disanalogies between this universe and a Rolex. The Rolex has almost nothing that extraneous or extra. As I look at the "Rolex" Oster Perpetual on my left wrist, I see an assemblage of beautifully fitted parts that fit together tightly to produce a single effect -- telling really accurate time for as long as I move the watch enough to wind it. (This Rolex is self-winding rather than battery-operated, which means that it winds itself as my wrist moves. If I leave it sitting for a day or two it will run down and need to be reset.)

But the world is not nearly as neat and fitted as my watch. Trees have random branches and leaves; the streets are filled with heavyset, poorly dressed people, some of whom are disturbingly loud or muddled or slow or all manner of other things that detract from their character as representative human beings. In this world people do stupid, impuslive cruel things; accidents happen; species go extinct because of industrial waste and runoff and human greed; there are catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis and disease. The world just does not seem much like a Rolex sometimes.

And even if I keep believng that the world is orderly enough to warrant the idea that it is designed by a God, I can also, from the evidence of that world, conjecture that this designing God has some unsettling problems. Maybe, as David Hume the British philosopher wrote in his Dialogues on Natural Religion, God is a newbie making his first world, or an old and half-demented God making his last one; maybe God is a committee, or lazy and careless, or psychotic, or just a guy making a living by popping out worlds. All these interpretations are relatively consistent with the evidence of sloppiness, cruelty, waste and unearned suffering one finds in this very unRolex-like world.

The key is, as soon as you use analogy, you introduce the possibility of disanalogy and we see where that can lead.

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