In Natural Theology William Paley set out to prove the existence of God from the evidence of the beauty and order of the natural world. This edition reprints the original text of 1802, and sets the book in the context of the theological, philosophical, and scientific debates of the nineteenth century. - ;'The consciousness of knowing little, need not beget a distrust of that which he does not know.' In Natural Theology William Paley set out to prove the existence of God from the evidence of the beauty and order of the natural world. Famously beginning by comparing the world to a watch, whose design is self-evident, he goes on to provide examples from biology, anatomy, and astronomy in order to demonstrate the intricacy and ingenuity of design that could only come from a wise and benevolent deity. Paley's legalistic approach and skilful use of metaphor and analogy were hugely successful, and equally controversial. Charles Darwin, whose investigations led to very different conclusions in the Origin of Species, was greatly influenced by the book's cumulative structure and accessible style. This edition reprints the original text of 1802, and sets the book in the context of the theological, philosophical, and scientific debates of the nineteenth century. - ;This is an astonishing book, made all the more accessible by some excellent modern footnotes - John Habgood, Church TImes
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
An attempt, using the known scientific discoveries as of the end of the eighteenth century, to demonstrate how the complexity of the natural world demonstrates that it was the creation of a Creator. Paley's book is most famous for its opening and prevailing image-- the watch. Any who would find a watch, even if he knew nothing else, would understand from its inner working that it had an origin in a creative power. Paley attempts to show that such is the case for the natural world. Most of the book is devoted to descriptions of various features of the natural world that demonstrate design. One striking thing about the book is just how much more we understand about the natural world since the beginning of the 1800s. Most of what is written, beyond any scientific misunderstandings that do not change any of the arguments, would be agreed upon scientific explanation to this day. The challenge involves the interpretations that Paley provides for the origin of the creatures. Although written long before Darwin's treatise on origin by evolution by natural selection, the book casts light on the real issue in the disputation. The actual scientific evidence is not the issue-- the model into which the evidence is understood and interpreted is the issue. Models have their failings. If one is interested in the history of natural theology, or the backdrop to the scientific disputations of the 19th and 20th centuries, this is a great place to go.
Review: Natural TheologyUser Review - Manny - Goodreads
My name is William Paley; I was born into this world in 1743, and I departed it in 1805. How I come to be writing these lines on your website, I am not at liberty to relate; but I have now been a ... Read full review
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