Science in Christian Perspective
Biology Department The University of Michigan - Flint
Flint, Michigan 48503
From: JASA 33 (December 1981): 243-244.
In the l8th century the English theologian William Paley likened the Creation to an intricate watch and the Creator to the watchmaker. Here is a 20th century version of that analogy.
The watch was a very fine instrument indeed. At least that's what John tried to reassure himself after buying it on impulse that morning. It was not that he really questioned its quality, but for a poor college student, any purchase of that magnitude was hard to justify. His father nodded his head approvingly as he handed it back to John."It's the most beautiful watch I've ever seen," his father said.
The only inscription on the watch face was "Made by Wort," but in the box was a brochure that gave more information and which was signed, "Herr Wort." In the brochure Wort explained how he loved to make watches and how he loved people. He hoped that people everywhere would enjoy, appreciate, and take good care of his watches. He also mentioned that all the watches were made by him with very special care.
During the next several weeks, John's appreciation of the watch
increased, for it was not only beautiful, but also ran with the
highest precision and was very durable. Many other people in the
city purchased Wort watches and a good number of them along
with John and his father began to regard Wort as a very special
person. Their admiration of Wort was based on more than just his
ability to make fine watches, for in the brochure he presented a
view of life that gave it deep meaning and purpose. Soon those
committed to his teachings began to call themselves Wortists and
meet together periodically in Wort Clubs.
One day the following article appeared in the New York Times:
MYSTERY WATCHMAKER GAINS UNPRECEDENTED FOLLOWING
"Last month a shipment of watches arrived in New York City from Switzerland. Since then, the watches have been praised for their excellence, and the watchmakerphilosopher known as Wort has received a surprising degree of popular support. Wort himself remains quite a mystery, however. No one in the International Association of Watchmakers seems to know who he is, where in Switzerland he works, or how he is able to make watches of such superior quality."
On campus several weeks later a friend tossed on John's desk an
issue of Newsweek open to the science section. "Take a look at
this," He said. "Your Mr. Wort is amazing!"
The article read as follows:
"The location of the master watchmaker Wort has finally
been discovered in an alpine valley in Switzerland. For the
past few months the watches and teachings of Wort have
captured the admiration of people throughout the country.
This report will do little to diminish the interest in this
The watchmaker's shop was closed tightly when I arrived, but from inside came the unmistakable sound of machinery. Since no one would answer the door, I climbed onto some boxes to look through the only window in the building. In the room was a large machine, and Wort could be seen maintaining it and checking the dials. On the top were cone-shaped hoppers, along one side were a series of conveyer belts carrying various watch parts, and on one end complete watches would periodically leave the machine for packaging. Apparently Wort had built a machine that can take the individual watch parts and assemble them into a watch of very high quality."
"The recent discovery of the watchmaker shop of Herr Wort has further increased the public fascination with this brilliant man. During the past week, I apparently became the first reporter to meet Wort in person. As he was leaving the shop, I asked him who he was and why he made the watches. Without looking up he handed me the brochure that comes with the watches. When I pressed him further for some information on how the watches were made, he gave me a wry smile and glanced over his shoulder at his shop. It was clear that he was not going to answer that question directly, but he seemed almost to invite me to enter the shop for a closer look.
Inside the shop the watchmaking machine was truly awesome. It filled nearly the whole room and contained a multitude of moving parts and dials. Probably more out of frustration than curiosity, I climbed onto a chair to peer into the hoppers. Incredibly, the hoppers did not contain the assorted wheels and screws of a watch but a range of various pulverized metals and minerals. As I left the shop, I realized that I had witnessed one of the greatest engineering achievements in history."
When John and his father read the latest account, they laughed with delight. "It seems there is no end to the accomplishments of this man," John's father said.
Returning to campus on the bus later that day, John happened to sit among a group of particularly vocal non-wortists, who were discussing the recent news reports about the watches.
"I knew there had to be a machine making those watches," one said.
"Yes," laughed another, "just a machine-it's probably been
there all along. I guess we can finally throw out the myth of Wort
once and for all."
"I wonder who the guy was that the reporter spoke to."
"Probably just the delivery man," joked one. "Maybe the nice one who is sending us all the watches. He sure fooled that reporter. "
When John got home that evening and related this occurrence, his father shook his head sadly. "It's very unfortunate, but hardly surprising. "
"But how can they possibly believe that such a complex machine was not made by a person of superior intellegence?" said John.
"I'm sure I don't know. Sometimes I wonder if they really believe what they're saying. Anyway," continued his father, "tomorrow night we can forget about the incident and recognize Wort's accomplishment properly. Our Wort Club has called a special meeting to discuss the recent events. It should be a wonderful time."