Natural Theology Background

Natural Theology Background

Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity was published in 1802. The English clergyman William Paley wrote this work about philosophy of religion, which presents his arguments of natural theology that argue for the existence of God.

Natural Theology was written in the context of the natural theology tradition. In earlier centuries, theologians such as John Ray and William Derham, as well as philosophers of classical times such as Cicero, argued for the existence and goodness of God from the general well-being of living things and the physical world.

Paley's Natural Theology is an extended argument, that are based around a sequence of examples: finding a watch, the eye compared to the telescope, the finely adapted mechanical structures of animals. Paley contends that all of those factors conclude in the existence of an intelligent Creator. The last chapters of the work are more theological as they assert that the extent of God’s operations reflect on the many attributes of God. Another conclusion Paley draws is that because the designs (presumably made by God) seen in nature are beneficial and good, God must also be good.

Paley’s work was republished many times and is still being printed. Creationists continue to refer to this and cite it in their arguments. Furthermore, Charles Darwin took the arguments of Natural Theology seriously, and many evolutionary biologists such as Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins still refer to and debate Paley's book to respond to similar, modern ideas.

Update this section!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.

Update this section

After you claim a section you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.