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Chapter 8
The Watchmaker

Delphi had never seen a watch before.  Clockwork wasn’t invented until the seventeenth century, so she would have to wait two thousand years before seeing one.  But we know that’s what it is.  To Delphi it was just a very strange lump of metal, making a quiet, regular ticking sound.  She stared at the strange contraption in her hands, watching it as one of the pointy bits inside rhythmically ticked round.  She had no idea what it was for.

“What’s this then?”

She ran her fingers around the edge of it until she felt a tiny gap and so she gently eased it apart with a fingernail.  Inside the strange object were lots of tiny wheels, all spinning and connecting in perfect time.  She carefully clicked it back together again.  It was one of the most wonderful things she had ever seen.

She found herself looking round.  Surely, someone must have made this?  It seemed far too complicated, far too made, to have grown there by itself.  Even if it wasn’t real, someone must have invented at least the idea of it to put into her head.

“Can I keep this?” she asked, into the air.  Then she realised this probably wasn’t the most important question.  She tried again.

“This must have been made,” she said.  “Therefore… there must be a maker!  So come on out!”

Where do you go when you need help?  Delphi’s dad has been captured, the adults are pretending to be emperors and teapots, and there is a good chance she is still dreaming.  But surely the gods can help?  When Delphi enters the Parthenon and finds a forest inside, she knows it can’t be real – however when she discovers an unfamiliar, ticking contraption she decides that someone must have made it.  And if that’s true for the watch…  Delphi takes on William Paley in this moving and thought-provoking story about whether you can prove that gods exist – or whether it is something you can never truly know.


Big Questions:

  • Does the watch have to have a creator?

  • Can you prove that a god exists?

  • Do we need a god to explain nature, or could it all have created itself?


Skills focus:

  • asking evaluative questions

  • using ‘therefore’ to explain the logical consequences of an idea

  • using a logical structure to express an idea


Lesson Overview

This story is based around William Paley’s argument for the existence of God, and explores questions about whether this can ever be proved.  In this story, Delphi is thinking about the Greek gods, so offers a slightly distanced way of discussing these issues – however, you can adapt this lesson to the cultural background of your children and overall curriculum.  Delphi effectively has a dialogue with herself in this chapter, and leaves the answer open to interpretation.  In terms of learning, children make the next step in using logic, identifying and using philosophical arguments which are constructed from premises and logical conclusions.  There are also several opportunities for more extended written responses, and this lesson could link into a school’s wider Religious Education provision.

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