Natural theology

Natural theology

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Natural theology is a branch of theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 based on reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

 and ordinary experience
Experience
Experience as a general concept comprises knowledge of or skill in or observation of some thing or some event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event....

. Thus it is distinguished from revealed theology (or revealed religion) which is based on scripture and religious experiences of various kinds; and also from transcendental theology
Transcendental theology
Transcendental theology is a term coined by Immanuel Kant to describe a method of discerning theological concepts. Kantdivided transcendental theology into "ontotheology" and "cosmotheology", both of which he also coined, "in order to distinguish between two competing types of 'transcendental...

, theology from a priori reasoning.

Marcus Terentius Varro
Marcus Terentius Varro
Marcus Terentius Varro was an ancient Roman scholar and writer. He is sometimes called Varro Reatinus to distinguish him from his younger contemporary Varro Atacinus.-Biography:...

 (116–27 BC) in his (lost) Antiquitates rerum humanarum et divinarum established a distinction of three kinds of theology: civil (political)
Political theology
Political theology or public theology is a branch of both political philosophy and practical theology that investigates the ways in which theological concepts or ways of thinking underlie political, social, economic and cultural discourses....

 (theologia civilis), natural (physical) (theologia naturalis) and mythical
Mythical theology
Mythical theology is one of three branches of theology established by the Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro in his lost work Antiquitates rerum humanarum et divinarum...

 (theologia mythica).
The theologians of civil theology are "the people", asking how the gods relate to daily life and the state (imperial cult
Imperial cult (Ancient Rome)
The Imperial cult of ancient Rome identified emperors and some members of their families with the divinely sanctioned authority of the Roman State...

). The theologians of natural theology are the philosophers
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, asking for the nature of the gods, and the theologians of mythical theology are the poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

s, crafting mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

. The terminology entered Stoic
STOIC
STOIC was a variant of Forth.It started out at the MIT and Harvard Biomedical Engineering Centre in Boston, and was written in the mid 1970s by Jonathan Sachs...

 tradition and is used by Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

.

Natural theology, thus, is that part of the philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion is a branch of philosophy concerned with questions regarding religion, including the nature and existence of God, the examination of religious experience, analysis of religious language and texts, and the relationship of religion and science...

 dealing with describing the nature of the gods, or, in monotheism
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

, arguing for or against attributes
Attributes of God
The Attributes of God in Christian theology are those characteristics of God revealed in the Bible.-Classification:Many Reformed theologians distinguish between the communicable attributes and the incommunicable attributes...

 or non-attributes
Negative theology
Apophatic theology —also known as negative theology or via negativa —is a theology that attempts to describe God, the Divine Good, by negation, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God...

 of God, and especially the existence of God
Existence of God
Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers, theologians, scientists, and others. In philosophical terms, arguments for and against the existence of God involve primarily the sub-disciplines of epistemology and ontology , but also of the theory of value, since...

, purely philosophically, that is, without recourse to any special or supposedly supernatural revelation
Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

. Physico-theology is the term for a theology based on the constitution of the natural world, especially derived from perceived elements of "design", which gave rise to the argument from design for the existence of God, beginning with the "fifth way" of the Summa Theologica
Summa Theologica
The Summa Theologiæ is the best-known work of Thomas Aquinas , and although unfinished, "one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature." It is intended as a manual for beginners in theology and a compendium of all of the main...

 by Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 (d. 1274).

Key proponents


Besides Zarathushtra's Gathas
Gathas
The Gathas are 17 hymns believed to have been composed by Zarathusthra himself. They are the most sacred texts of the Zoroastrian faith.-Structure and organization:...

, Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 gives the earliest surviving account of a "natural theology", around 360 BC, in his dialogue "Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

" he states "Now the whole Heaven, or Cosmos, ...we must first investigate concerning it that primary question which has to be investigated at the outset in every case,—namely, whether it has existed always, having no beginning of generation, or whether it has come into existence, having begun from some beginning". He continues in his Laws
Laws (dialogue)
The Laws is Plato's last and longest dialogue. The question asked at the beginning is not "What is law?" as one would expect. That is the question of the Minos...

 establishing the existence of the gods by rational argument, stating "...which lead to faith in the gods? ...One is our dogma about the soul...the other is our dogma concerning the ordering of the motion of the stars". Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 in his Metaphysics
Metaphysics (Aristotle)
Metaphysics is one of the principal works of Aristotle and the first major work of the branch of philosophy with the same name. The principal subject is "being qua being", or being understood as being. It examines what can be asserted about anything that exists just because of its existence and...

 argues for the existence of an "unmoved mover
Unmoved mover
The unmoved mover is a philosophical concept described by Aristotle as a primary cause or "mover" of all the motion in the universe. As is implicit in the name, the "unmoved mover" is not moved by any prior action...

", an argument taken up in medieval scholastics.

From the 8th century, the Mutazilite
Mu'tazili
' is an Islamic school of speculative theology that flourished in the cities of Basra and Baghdad, both in present-day Iraq, during the 8th–10th centuries. The adherents of the Mu'tazili school are best known for their having asserted that, because of the perfect unity and eternal nature of God,...

 school of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, compelled to defend their principles against the orthodox Islam of their day, looked for support in philosophy, and are among the first to pursue a rational Islamic theology
Islamic theology
Islamic theology is a branch of Islamic studies regarding the beliefs associated with the Islamic faith. Any religious belief system, or creed, can be considered an example of aqidah. However, this term has taken a significant technical usage in Islamic history and theology, denoting those...

, called Ilm-al-Kalam
Kalam
ʿIlm al-Kalām is the Islamic philosophical discipline of seeking theological principles through dialectic. Kalām in Islamic practice relates to the discipline of seeking theological knowledge through debate and argument. A scholar of kalām is referred to as a mutakallim...

 (scholastic theology
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

). The teleological argument
Teleological argument
A teleological or design argument is an a posteriori argument for the existence of God based on apparent design and purpose in the universe. The argument is based on an interpretation of teleology wherein purpose and intelligent design appear to exist in nature beyond the scope of any such human...

 was presented by the early Islamic philosophers
Early Islamic philosophy
Early Islamic philosophy or classical Islamic philosophy is a period of intense philosophical development beginning in the 2nd century AH of the Islamic calendar and lasting until the 6th century AH...

, Alkindus
Al-Kindi
' , known as "the Philosopher of the Arabs", was a Muslim Arab philosopher, mathematician, physician, and musician. Al-Kindi was the first of the Muslim peripatetic philosophers, and is unanimously hailed as the "father of Islamic or Arabic philosophy" for his synthesis, adaptation and promotion...

 and Averroes
Averroes
' , better known just as Ibn Rushd , and in European literature as Averroes , was a Muslim polymath; a master of Aristotelian philosophy, Islamic philosophy, Islamic theology, Maliki law and jurisprudence, logic, psychology, politics, Arabic music theory, and the sciences of medicine, astronomy,...

 (founder of Averroism
Averroism
Averroism is the term applied to either of two philosophical trends among scholastics in the late 13th century: the Arab philosopher Averroës or Ibn Rushd's interpretations of Aristotle and his reconciliation of Aristotelianism with Islamic faith; and the application of these ideas in the Latin...

), while Avicenna
Avicenna
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

 (founder of the Avicennism school of Islamic philosophy
Islamic philosophy
Islamic philosophy is a branch of Islamic studies. It is the continuous search for Hekma in the light of Islamic view of life, universe, ethics, society, and so on...

) presented both the cosmological argument
Cosmological argument
The cosmological argument is an argument for the existence of a First Cause to the universe, and by extension is often used as an argument for the existence of an "unconditioned" or "supreme" being, usually then identified as God...

 and ontological argument
Ontological argument
The ontological argument for the existence of God is an a priori argument for the existence of God. The ontological argument was first proposed by the eleventh-century monk Anselm of Canterbury, who defined God as the greatest possible being we can conceive...

 in The Book of Healing
The Book of Healing
The Book of Healing is a scientific and philosophical encyclopedia written by Abū Alī ibn Sīnā from Asfahana, near Bukhara in Greater Persia. Despite its English title, it is not in fact concerned with medicine...

 (1027).

Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 (c.1225–1274), wrote Summa Theologica
Summa Theologica
The Summa Theologiæ is the best-known work of Thomas Aquinas , and although unfinished, "one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature." It is intended as a manual for beginners in theology and a compendium of all of the main...

 and Summa Contra Gentiles
Summa contra Gentiles
The Summa contra Gentiles by St. Thomas Aquinas has traditionally been dated to 1264, though more recent scholarship places it towards the end of Thomas’ life, 1270-73 . The work has occasioned much debate as to its purpose, its intended audience and its relationship to his other works...

 which both present various versions of the Cosmological argument
Cosmological argument
The cosmological argument is an argument for the existence of a First Cause to the universe, and by extension is often used as an argument for the existence of an "unconditioned" or "supreme" being, usually then identified as God...

 and Teleological argument
Teleological argument
A teleological or design argument is an a posteriori argument for the existence of God based on apparent design and purpose in the universe. The argument is based on an interpretation of teleology wherein purpose and intelligent design appear to exist in nature beyond the scope of any such human...

, respectively. The Ontological argument
Ontological argument
The ontological argument for the existence of God is an a priori argument for the existence of God. The ontological argument was first proposed by the eleventh-century monk Anselm of Canterbury, who defined God as the greatest possible being we can conceive...

 is also presented, but rejected in favor of proofs dealing with cause and effect alone.

Thomas Barlow, Bishop of Lincoln wrote Execreitationes aliquot metaphysicae de Deo (1637) and spoke often of natural theology during the reign of Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

.

John Ray
John Ray
John Ray was an English naturalist, sometimes referred to as the father of English natural history. Until 1670, he wrote his name as John Wray. From then on, he used 'Ray', after "having ascertained that such had been the practice of his family before him".He published important works on botany,...

 (1627–1705) also known as John Wray, was an English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 naturalist, sometimes referred to as the father of English natural history
Natural history
Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

. He published important works on plants, animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

s, and natural theology.

William Derham
William Derham
William Derham was an English clergyman and natural philosopher. He produced the earliest, reasonably accurate estimate of the speed of sound.-Life:...

 (1657–1735), was a friend and disciple of John Ray. He continued Ray's tradition of natural theology in two of his own works, The Physico-Theology, published in 1713, and the Astro-Theology, 1714. These would later help influence the work of William Paley (see below).

In An Essay on the Principle of Population
An Essay on the Principle of Population
The book An Essay on the Principle of Population was first published anonymously in 1798 through J. Johnson . The author was soon identified as The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus. While it was not the first book on population, it has been acknowledged as the most influential work of its era...

, the first edition published in 1798, Thomas Malthus
Thomas Malthus
The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus FRS was an English scholar, influential in political economy and demography. Malthus popularized the economic theory of rent....

 ended with two chapters on natural theology and population. Malthus—a devout Christian—argued that revelation
Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

 would "damp the soaring wings of intellect", and thus never let "the difficulties and doubts of parts of the scripture" interfere with his work.

William Paley
William Paley
William Paley was a British Christian apologist, philosopher, and utilitarian. He is best known for his exposition of the teleological argument for the existence of God in his work Natural Theology, which made use of the watchmaker analogy .-Life:Paley was Born in Peterborough, England, and was...

 gave a well-known rendition of the teleological argument
Teleological argument
A teleological or design argument is an a posteriori argument for the existence of God based on apparent design and purpose in the universe. The argument is based on an interpretation of teleology wherein purpose and intelligent design appear to exist in nature beyond the scope of any such human...

 for God. In 1802 he published Natural Theology, or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity collected from the Appearances of Nature. In this he described the Watchmaker analogy
Watchmaker analogy
The watchmaker analogy, or watchmaker argument, is a teleological argument for the existence of God. By way of an analogy, the argument states that design implies a designer...

, for which he is probably best known. Searing criticisms of arguments like Paley's are found in David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

's posthumous Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion is a philosophical work written by the Scottish philosopher David Hume. Through dialogue, three fictional characters named Demea, Philo, and Cleanthes debate the nature of God's existence...

.

Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
Thomas "Tom" Paine was an English author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States...

 wrote the definitive book on the natural religion of Deism
Deism
Deism in religious philosophy is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of an all-powerful creator. According to deists, the creator does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the...

, The Age of Reason
The Age of Reason
The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology is a deistic pamphlet, written by eighteenth-century British radical and American revolutionary Thomas Paine, that criticizes institutionalized religion and challenges the legitimacy of the Bible, the central sacred text of...

 (1794–1807). In it he uses reason to establish a belief in Nature's Designer who man calls God. He also establishes the many instances that Christianity and Judaism require us to give up our God-given reason in order to accept their claims to revelation.

American education reformer and abolitionist, Horace Mann
Horace Mann
Horace Mann was an American education reformer, and a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1827 to 1833. He served in the Massachusetts Senate from 1834 to 1837. In 1848, after serving as Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education since its creation, he was...

 (1796–1859) taught political economy
Political economy
Political economy originally was the term for studying production, buying, and selling, and their relations with law, custom, and government, as well as with the distribution of national income and wealth, including through the budget process. Political economy originated in moral philosophy...

, intellectual and moral philosophy, and natural theology.

Professor of chemistry and natural history, Edward Hitchcock
Edward Hitchcock
Edward Hitchcock was a noted American geologist and the third President of Amherst College .-Life:...

 also studied and wrote on natural theology. He attempted to unify and reconcile science and religion, focusing on geology. His major work in this area was The Religion of Geology and its Connected Sciences (1851).

The Gifford Lectures
Gifford Lectures
The Gifford Lectures were established by the will of Adam Lord Gifford . They were established to "promote and diffuse the study of Natural Theology in the widest sense of the term — in other words, the knowledge of God." The term natural theology as used by Gifford means theology supported...

 are lectures established by the will of Adam Lord Gifford
Adam Gifford
Adam Gifford, Lord Gifford FRSE was a Scottish advocate and judge.He was a Radical in politics, and expected no appointment from Government, until he was made an advocate depute in 1861, under Palmerston; he prosecuted Jessie McLauchlan in the 1863 Sandyford murder case...

. They were established to "promote and diffuse the study of Natural Theology in the widest sense of the term—in other words, the knowledge of God." The term natural theology as used by Gifford means theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 supported by science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and not dependent on the miraculous.

The Bridgewater Treatises


Debates over the applicability of teleology to scientific questions came to a head in the nineteenth century, as Paley's
William Paley
William Paley was a British Christian apologist, philosopher, and utilitarian. He is best known for his exposition of the teleological argument for the existence of God in his work Natural Theology, which made use of the watchmaker analogy .-Life:Paley was Born in Peterborough, England, and was...

 argument about design came into conflict with radical new theories on the transmutation of species
Transmutation of species
Transmutation of species was a term used by Jean Baptiste Lamarck in 1809 for his theory that described the altering of one species into another, and the term is often used to describe 19th century evolutionary ideas that preceded Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection...

. In order to support the canonical scientific views at the time, which explored the natural world within Paley's
William Paley
William Paley was a British Christian apologist, philosopher, and utilitarian. He is best known for his exposition of the teleological argument for the existence of God in his work Natural Theology, which made use of the watchmaker analogy .-Life:Paley was Born in Peterborough, England, and was...

 framework of a divine designer, The Earl of Bridgewater, a gentleman naturalist, commissioned eight Bridgewater Treatises upon his deathbed to explore 'the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation.' They first appeared during the years 1833 to 1840, and afterwards in Bohn's Scientific Library. The treatises are:
  1. The Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Condition of Man, by Thomas Chalmers
    Thomas Chalmers
    Thomas Chalmers , Scottish mathematician, political economist, divine and a leader of the Free Church of Scotland, was born at Anstruther in Fife.-Overview:...

    , D. D.
  2. On The Adaptation of External Nature to the Physical Condition of Man, by John Kidd, M. D.
  3. Astronomy and General Physics considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Whewell
    William Whewell
    William Whewell was an English polymath, scientist, Anglican priest, philosopher, theologian, and historian of science. He was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.-Life and career:Whewell was born in Lancaster...

    , D. D.
  4. The hand, its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as evincing Design, by Sir Charles Bell
    Charles Bell
    Sir Charles Bell was a Scottish surgeon, anatomist, neurologist and philosophical theologian.His three older brothers included John Bell , also a noted surgeon and writer; and the advocate George Joseph Bell .-Life:...

    .
  5. Animal and Vegetable Physiology considered with reference to Natural Theology, by Peter Mark Roget.
  6. Geology and Mineralogy considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Buckland
    William Buckland
    The Very Rev. Dr William Buckland DD FRS was an English geologist, palaeontologist and Dean of Westminster, who wrote the first full account of a fossil dinosaur, which he named Megalosaurus...

    , D.D.
  7. The Habits and Instincts of Animals with reference to Natural Theology, by William Kirby.
  8. Chemistry, Meteorology, and the Function of Digestion, considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Prout
    William Prout
    William Prout FRS was an English chemist, physician, and natural theologian. He is remembered today mainly for what is called Prout's hypothesis.-Biography:...

    , M.D.


In response to the claim in Whewell's treatise that "We may thus, with the greatest propriety, deny to the mechanical philosophers and mathematicians of recent times any authority with regard to their views of the administration of the universe", Charles Babbage
Charles Babbage
Charles Babbage, FRS was an English mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer who originated the concept of a programmable computer...

 published what he called The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, A Fragment
Ninth Bridgewater Treatise
The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise was published by Charles Babbage in 1837 as a response to the eight Bridgewater Treatises that the Earl of Bridgewater, Francis Henry Egerton, 8th Earl, had funded and in particular with reference to a comment in one of them by William WhewellIt can be described as a...

. As his preface states, this volume was not part of that series, but rather his own reflections on the subject. He draws on his own work on calculating engines to consider God as a divine programmer setting complex laws underlying what we think of as miracles, rather than miraculously producing new species on a Creative whim. There was also a fragmentary supplement to this, posthumously published by Thomas Hill
Thomas Hill (clergyman)
-References:...

.

The works are of unequal merit; several of them took a high rank in apologetic literature, but they attracted considerable criticism. One notable critic of the Bridgewater Treatises was Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective...

, who wrote Criticism. Robert Knox
Robert Knox
Robert Knox was a Scottish surgeon, anatomist and zoologist. He was the most popular lecturer in anatomy in Edinburgh before his involvement in the Burke and Hare body-snatching case. This ruined his career, and a later move to London did not improve matters...

, an Edinburgh surgeon and leading advocate of radical morphology
Morphology (biology)
In biology, morphology is a branch of bioscience dealing with the study of the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features....

, referred to them as the "Bilgewater Treatises", to mock the "ultra-teleological school". Though memorable, this phrase overemphasises the influence of teleology in the series, at the expense of the idealism
Idealism
In philosophy, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing...

 of the likes of Kirby and Roget.

See also

  • Deism
    Deism
    Deism in religious philosophy is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of an all-powerful creator. According to deists, the creator does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the...

  • Epicureanism
    Epicureanism
    Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of Epicurus, founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. His materialism led him to a general attack on superstition and divine intervention. Following Aristippus—about whom...

  • Existence of God
    Existence of God
    Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers, theologians, scientists, and others. In philosophical terms, arguments for and against the existence of God involve primarily the sub-disciplines of epistemology and ontology , but also of the theory of value, since...

  • Teleological argument
    Teleological argument
    A teleological or design argument is an a posteriori argument for the existence of God based on apparent design and purpose in the universe. The argument is based on an interpretation of teleology wherein purpose and intelligent design appear to exist in nature beyond the scope of any such human...

  • Intelligent design
    Intelligent design
    Intelligent design is the proposition that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." It is a form of creationism and a contemporary adaptation of the traditional teleological argument for...

  • Natural history
    Natural history
    Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

  • Natural magic
    Natural magic
    Natural magic in the context of Renaissance magic is that part of the occult which deals with natural forces directly, as opposed to ceremonial magic, in particular goety and theurgy, which deals with the summoning of spirits...

  • Theistic evolution
    Theistic evolution
    Theistic evolution or evolutionary creation is a concept that asserts that classical religious teachings about God are compatible with the modern scientific understanding about biological evolution...


Further reading

  • A Bridgewater Treatise for the 21st Century. Science. (Vol 301, p. 1051, 22 August 2003). A review by Robert T. Pennock
    Robert T. Pennock
    Robert T. Pennock is a philosopher working on the Avida digital organism project at Michigan State University where he has been full professor since 2000. Pennock was a witness in the Kitzmiller v...

     of philosopher of science Michael Ruse
    Michael Ruse
    Michael Ruse is a philosopher of biology at Florida State University, and is well known for his work on the creationism/evolution controversy and the demarcation problem in science...

    's book Darwin & Design.
  • Babbage, C., The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise; Murray, 1837 (reissued by Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 2009; ISBN 9781108000000)
  • Bascom, John, Natural Theology (1880)
  • Bell, C., The Hand. Its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as Evincing Design; Bridgewater Treatises, W. Pickering, 1833 (reissued by Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 2009; ISBN 9781108000888)
  • Chalmers, T., On the Power Wisdom and Goodness of God. As Manifested in the Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Constitution of Man; Bridgewater Treatises, W. Pickering, 1834 (reissued by Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 2009; ISBN 9781108000727)
  • Connolly, Brendan, The Natural Religion, 2008; ISBN 978-0-9558313-0-0
  • Hauerwas, Stanley, With the Grain of the Universe: The Church's Witness and Natural Theology ISBN 1-58743-016-9
  • Kirby, W., On the Power Wisdom and Goodness of God. As Manifested in the Creation of Animals and in Their History, Habits and Instincts; Bridgewater Treatises, W. Pickering, 1835 (reissued by Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 2009; ISBN 9781108000734)
  • Paley, W., Natural Theology. Or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature; Bridgewater Treatises, Faulder, 1803 (reissued by Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 2009; ISBN 9781108003551)
  • Polkinghorne, J. and Oord, T.J., The Polkinghorne Reader] : Science, Faith, and the Search for Meaning (SPCK and Templeton Foundation Press, 2010) ISBN 1-59947-315-1 and ISBN 978-0-281-06053-5
  • Prout, W., Chemistry, Meteorology, and the Function of Digestion Considered with Reference to Natural Theology; Bridgewater Treatises, W. Pickering, 1834 (reissued by Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 2009; ISBN 9781108000666)
  • Roget, P.M., Animal and Vegetable Physiology. Considered with Reference to Natural Theology; Bridgewater Treatises, W. Pickering, 1834 (reissued by Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 2009; ISBN 9781108000086)
  • Whewell, W., Astronomy and General Physics Considered with Reference to Natural Theology; Bridgewater Treatises, W. Pickering, 1833 (reissued by Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 2009; ISBN 9781108000123)

External links

  • Apollos.ws A Christian site surveying arguments for the existence of God and responses to common arguments against.
  • Catholic Encyclopedia
    Catholic Encyclopedia
    The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

     article Bridgewater Treatises
  • Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion by David Hume
    David Hume
    David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

  • Babbage, Charles The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise 2nd edn. 1838, London: John Murray.


The Bridgewater Treatises
  1. The Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Condition of Man, by Thomas Chalmers
    Thomas Chalmers
    Thomas Chalmers , Scottish mathematician, political economist, divine and a leader of the Free Church of Scotland, was born at Anstruther in Fife.-Overview:...

    , D. D.
  2. On The Adaptation of External Nature to the Physical Condition of Man, by John Kidd, M. D.
  3. Astronomy and General Physics considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Whewell
    William Whewell
    William Whewell was an English polymath, scientist, Anglican priest, philosopher, theologian, and historian of science. He was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.-Life and career:Whewell was born in Lancaster...

    , D. D.
  4. The hand, its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as evincing Design, by Sir Charles Bell
    Charles Bell
    Sir Charles Bell was a Scottish surgeon, anatomist, neurologist and philosophical theologian.His three older brothers included John Bell , also a noted surgeon and writer; and the advocate George Joseph Bell .-Life:...

    .
  5. Animal and Vegetable Physiology, Considered with Reference to Natural Theology Animal and Vegetable Physiology considered with reference to Natural Theology, by Peter Mark Roget.
  6. Geology and Mineralogy considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Buckland
    William Buckland
    The Very Rev. Dr William Buckland DD FRS was an English geologist, palaeontologist and Dean of Westminster, who wrote the first full account of a fossil dinosaur, which he named Megalosaurus...

    , D.D.
  7. The Habits and Instincts of Animals with reference to Natural Theology, Vol. 2, by William Kirby.
  8. Chemistry, Meteorology, and the Function of Digestion, considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Prout
    William Prout
    William Prout FRS was an English chemist, physician, and natural theologian. He is remembered today mainly for what is called Prout's hypothesis.-Biography:...

    , M.D.