Pamphlet 13: ‘The Watchmaker Reconsidered’, Carol Mac Cormack, 1988

Part 1 is entitled ‘Watchmakers sacred and profane’. MacCormack gives a history of the watchmaker metaphor from the ‘enchanted’ world of medieval times when God controlled and intervened in daily events, to the mechanistic age of science and technology where all can be explained through the laws of science. She ends with Richard Dawkins’ notion of ‘The Blind Watchmaker’ where life depends on ‘natural selection as a blind, unconscious automatic process which has no purpose in mind’.

In Part 2, ‘The Almighty Metaphor’, MacCormack traces the way metaphors for God come and go during the history of societies. She show that ‘the triumphalist, imperialist, patriarchal … God the father almighty’ is a cultural construct and that perhaps we need to move to a God who is ‘mother, lover and friend’. Furthermore, we need to see the world as ‘God’s body’ rather than ‘the king’s realm’.

In Part 3, ‘The Heart’s Greening’, MacCormack quotes from Hildegard of Bingen who uses the metaphor of a kite string which brings fire down to the child holding the kite: this fire greens the heart just like a tree gives sap to green its branches. MacCormack likens this to the Holy Spirit, which she sees as the aspect of the Trinity which is most real to Quaker Universalists. This spirit, this creative energy of God, permeates all levels of the interconnecting systems of the world. These systems are like the parts of a Russian doll: molecules, organisms, groups, social systems and ecosystems, the earth and the atmosphere, and the cosmos.

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