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. This new edition, which coincides with the bicentennial of Paley's death, reprints the original text of 1802, which was very influential in its day, and still controversial in ours as we see a resurgence in the debate between"intelligent design" and "creationism." The introduction explains how the book built on the early modern natural theology tradition and why it was so influential. The book also contains two appendixes on Paley's courses, an extended bibliography, and full notes offering further background on the key figures of the day.
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Matthew D. Eddy is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and the University of Durham and has recently held fellowships at the Dibner Institute (MIT), Harvard University, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin) and the University of Notre Dame's Erasmus Institute. He has just finished editing (with David M. Knight) Science and Beliefs: From Natural Philosophy to Natural Science, 1700-1900 (Ashgate,2005). 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. In 2003 he received the American Chemical Society's Edelstein Award for History of Chemistry.