William Paley (July 1743 – 25 May 1805) was an English clergyman, Christian apologist, philosopher, and utilitarian. He is best known for his natural theology exposition of the teleological argument for the existence of God in his work Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, which made use of the watchmaker analogy.
In other words : he considered the workings of the universe as a self contained machinery which needs an intelligent designer, but which designer might after designing and setting in motion, might retire from his work.
Atheists agree about the universe, they only tend to believe in blind watchmakers (a certain Richard Dawkins even called a book of his after this idea).
Did St Thomas Aquinas agree with Paley? And therefore with Dawkins, as far as the universe is concerned? No.
What does he say, in his own explanation, about the Seventh Day?
I answer that, The perfection of a thing is twofold, the first perfection and the second perfection. The 'first' perfection is that according to which a thing is substantially perfect, and this perfection is the form of the whole; which form results from the whole having its parts complete. But the 'second' perfection is the end, which is either an operation, as the end of the harpist is to play the harp; or something that is attained by an operation, as the end of the builder is the house that he makes by building. But the first perfection is the cause of the second, because the form is the principle of operation. Now the final perfection, which is the end of the whole universe, is the perfect beatitude of the Saints at the consummation of the world; and the first perfection is the completeness of the universe at its first founding, and this is what is ascribed to the seventh day.
Deism and Atheism are excluded, God is not just an explanation about the past, when He created so to speak a harp, but about the present, when He is so to speak playing the harp He created.
A harp is unlike a watch insofar as it needs a good player. St Thomas says the Universe is like a harp, I do not think he would surrender to Paley who thought it was just a clockwork, even if one needing a good designer. If that is what Paley thought, of course. But if he made the analogy of a watchmaker rather than of a harp making lutenist, who then becomes the harp player as well, he may have thought so. If so, I think he was wrong.
Hans Georg Lundahl
Prophet and Martyr
Apud Babylonem sancti Ezechielis Prophetae, qui, a Judice populi Israel, quod eum de cultu idolorum argueret, interfectus, in sepulcro Sem et Arphaxad, Abrahae progenitorum, sepultus est; ad quod sepulcrum, orationis causa, multi confluere consueverunt.