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Natural Theology (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – June 15, 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This is an astonishing book, made all the more accessible by some excellent modern footnotes John Habgood, Church TImes

About the Author


Matthew D. Eddy is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and the University of Durham. David Knight has edited the British Journal for the History of Science and served as President of the British Society for the History of Science.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (June 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192805843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192805843
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,624,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Ronald H. Clark VINE VOICE on May 17, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This Oxford World's Classics edition of William Paley's (1743-1805) most famous work is a handy way to become acquainted with the theory of Natural Theology that played such a major role in Victorian intellectual circles--at least until Darwin published his "Origin of the Species" in 1859. This edition reproduces the text of the first edition published in 1802. Equally important, it contains a highly helpful introduction by editors Matthew D. Eddy and David Knight which places the book within the context of Victorian thought prior to Darwin. "Natural Theology is the practice of inferring the existence and wisdom of God from the order and beauty of the world," write the editors. Its most familiar version is Deism (or belief in a remote creator), which combines Newton's concept of physical laws with the idea of a clock--God creates the clock but allows it to function on its own. The editors explain the history of this idea prior to Paley, and how given the scepticism of individuals like Gibbon, Hume, Diderot and Voltaire, Natural Theology was pressed into service to fight off what were seen as attacks on Christianity. Paley's work was tremendously popular and read well into the 18th century. God is seen as benevolent and concerned with ensuring the happiness of the human race, such as by creating "pleasure" for example. Robert Chambers "Vestiges," the Bridgewater Treatises, and other key examples of Victorian grappling with these issues is discussed, and the stage is set for Darwin who wrote "Origins" 50 years or so after Paley's death (but had read him). In addition to this fine introduction, this edition contains a bibliography, chronology, and suggestions for further reading.Read more ›
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The forward by Doy Moyer is excellent and will be essential reading for those interested in natural theology or even those involved on either side of the current "intelligent design" crusade. The "argument from design" came from the pagans and was taken up by some Christians a thousand years later. Then especially after Newton it had a very popular but contested history, which is nicely sketched and introduced by Moyer in relatively few pages considering the long history and conceptual difficulties with natural theology. To read the text without context for it (which Moyer does assist) and without understanding why over time natural theology was rejected (which Moyer does not go much into) would be quite naive. And yet this was an immensely influential book in its day and helped stimulate Darwin to think deeply about the misleading appearance of design in biological nature and dissect out fatal problems with these old ideas.
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By Seth McLane on November 19, 2013
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A plain bound book in black. Perfect for anyone who enjoys a book as just a book. And an excellent read regardless of one's own views about creationism. Also in great condition. Worth the money and a great addition to one's own personal library.
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Ronald H. Clark, who reviewed this work before I did, was most eloquent and thorough in his summary. I will not attempt to recreate anything like it here but I will say that I endorse everything Mr. Clark said. In addition, this was a hugely important book, and very exciting, in that Paley was such an influential figure in Darwin's life. It was thrilling to be able to read one of the books that set Darwin to thinking about how humans came to be here (and how they did not come to be here). If you are a student of evolution, Natural Theology is a natural choice in reading material which will give you more insight into Darwin's mind, and the zeitgeist of the era in which he worked.
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Definitely a must for fans of William Paley or those curious about theology and philosophy. This is another book that was recommended to me by my philosophy professor and I have enjoyed reading it!
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