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'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. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
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).