Friday, July 9, 2010

Clocks: 1685

Yea verily, the Creator of this beautiful World, who is the Master of this Clock-work, hath pointed us to and given us such a way, by means of which we may know when this Clockwork will have accomplished its Period, or when this World (which comprehends in it self all the Wheels of this Clock-work) will have wholly wrought out it self to its own perfection in one onely harmony, as well above as below, in order to the attaining of her proper exaltation and glorification.
--From The Paradoxal Discourses of F. M. Van Helmont--

When you hear people talk about how the world used to be viewed as a watch and God as a watch-maker, they always seem to describe the analogy condescendingly. Using the term "watch" makes it sound as if people had an unrealistic view of the size of the universe, like everything could fit in your pocket. But reading the analogy as it was used early on, with it's archaic language, use of the term "clocks" (so much bigger than watches!), and the idea that everything would eventually stop, seems a heck of a lot more religious to me.

2 comments:

Michael Haz said...

Timekeeping devices, whether clocks or watches, were the most complex devices known to man in 1685.

Little wonder that they were used (at least metaphorically) to explain that other complicated device - the universe.

El Pollo Real said...

Timekeeping devices, whether clocks or watches, were the most complex devices known to man in 1685.

Little wonder that they were used (at least metaphorically) to explain that other complicated device - the universe.


The universe (well the sunand other stars mainly) had been used to reckon time until synthetic watches came along. I think it natural to view the universe a gigantic natural timepiece.