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Paley's Natural Theology Paperback – April 5, 2005

4 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Paperback, April 5, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

First published in 1803, this title should be on the shelf of anyone interested in the history of the origins controversy.

About the Author

JAMES PAXTON received a PhD at Queen's University in Kingston, and now teaches American history at Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He researches and writes on various aspects of First Nations' and British North American history. He divides his time between Toronto and Bethlehem. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Coachwhip Publications (April 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930585217
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930585218
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,271,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Paley's argument for a designer is relevant to any historical discussion on the origins debate. The Coachwhip Publications 2005 reprint edition (ISBN 1930585217) is inexpensive and contains an additional bibliography of more recent teleological arguments.
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Format: Hardcover
William Paley sure was an intelligent man. His reasoning was flawless and his knowledge ample (he knew a lot considering the knowledge of his time). Unfortunately , Paley lived before Darwin published "The origin of species" and like any other priest of his time (and the vast majority of the people in his time too) he believed God had nicely fix every little detail so he and all human kind would live in a perfectly "fit for human" world. He believed in the design of the "superior being" (God, of course) and he nicely explained it at the beginning of Natural Theology. This is a must to anyone interested in the evolution of evolutionary thought, and wants to know about one strong theological basis Victorians had opposing evolution.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good readable edition of Paley's classic work. It is not a scholarly edition, but is fine for anyone who wants to read this surprisingly sophisticated text in its entirety, or for students or scholars who simply need an affordable complete edition.

As to the work itself, natural theology is greeted with well-deserved ridicule by modern philosophers, but it is worthwhile to understand just what Paley was trying to accomplish and what contemporary intellectual trends and arguments he was responding to. Though his general line of argumentation is now solely the province of religious cranks, it was in his time a respectable attempt to understand natural philosophy and early modern science in light of the omnipresent religious mythology of the day. In offering his infamous "watchmaker" analogy, he was not (as today's creationists do) jumping to pre-determined conclusions by simple indulgence of his own incredulity, but rather making the point that actual observational evidence, as opposed to mere scripture, could be upheld as a standard of evaluation of theories about the natural world. He also found in this a basis for utilitarian - and thus rationalized - ethics. Given that religious dogma could not have been evaded in any real sense, this was a move toward evidence-based scientific theories and non-dogmatic ethics, and a contribution to the debate between natural philosophy and dogmatic religion - on the side of rationalism - that stands in ironic contrast to the use that is usually made of this work today.
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