A report on William Paley

Portrait by George Romney
Title Page of William Paley's Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, 1802
Three churchmen: John Wesley, William Paley, and Beilby Porteus. A posthumous engraving.

English clergyman, Christian apologist, philosopher, and utilitarian.

- William Paley
Portrait by George Romney

24 related topics with Alpha

Overall

Plato and Aristotle, depicted here in The School of Athens, both developed philosophical arguments addressing the universe's apparent order (logos)

Teleological argument

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Argument for the existence of God or, more generally, that complex functionality in the natural world which looks designed is evidence of an intelligent creator.

Argument for the existence of God or, more generally, that complex functionality in the natural world which looks designed is evidence of an intelligent creator.

Plato and Aristotle, depicted here in The School of Athens, both developed philosophical arguments addressing the universe's apparent order (logos)
The fifth of Thomas Aquinas' proofs of God's existence was based on teleology
William Paley popularized the "watchmaker analogy" used by earlier natural theologians, making it a famous teleological argument.
David Hume outlined his criticisms of the teleological argument in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.
Voltaire argued that, at best, the teleological argument could only indicate the existence of a powerful, but not necessarily all-powerful or all-knowing, intelligence.

Later, William Paley, in his 1802 Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity published a prominent presentation of the design argument with his version of the watchmaker analogy and the first use of the phrase "argument from design".

William Paley

Watchmaker analogy

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Teleological argument which states, by way of an analogy, that a design implies a designer, especially intelligent design by an intelligent designer, i.e. a creator deity.

Teleological argument which states, by way of an analogy, that a design implies a designer, especially intelligent design by an intelligent designer, i.e. a creator deity.

William Paley
Charles Darwin in 1880
Richard Dawkins

The watchmaker analogy was given by William Paley in his 1802 book Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity.

Darwin, c. undefined 1854, when he was preparing On the Origin of Species for publication

Charles Darwin

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English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to evolutionary biology.

English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to evolutionary biology.

Darwin, c. undefined 1854, when he was preparing On the Origin of Species for publication
A chalk drawing of the seven-year-old Darwin in 1816, with a potted plant, by Ellen Sharples
Bicentennial portrait by Anthony Smith of Darwin as a student, in the courtyard at Christ's College, Cambridge where he had rooms.
The round-the-world voyage of the Beagle, 1831–1836
Darwin (right) on the Beagle's deck at Bahía Blanca in Argentina, with fossils; caricature by Augustus Earle, the initial ship's artist.
As HMS Beagle surveyed the coasts of South America, Darwin theorised about geology and the extinction of giant mammals. Watercolour by the ship's artist Conrad Martens, who replaced Augustus Earle, in Tierra del Fuego.
While still a young man, Darwin joined the scientific elite. Portrait by George Richmond.
In mid-July 1837 Darwin started his "B" notebook on Transmutation of Species, and on page 36 wrote "I think" above his first evolutionary tree.
Darwin chose to marry his cousin, Emma Wedgwood.
Darwin in 1842 with his eldest son, William Erasmus Darwin
Darwin's "sandwalk" at Down House was his usual "Thinking Path".
Darwin aged 46 in 1855, by then working towards publication of his theory of natural selection. He wrote to Joseph Hooker about this portrait, "if I really have as bad an expression, as my photograph gives me, how I can have one single friend is surprising."
During the Darwin family's 1868 holiday in her Isle of Wight cottage, Julia Margaret Cameron took portraits showing the bushy beard Darwin grew between 1862 and 1866.
An 1871 caricature following publication of The Descent of Man was typical of many showing Darwin with an ape body, identifying him in popular culture as the leading author of evolutionary theory.
By 1878, an increasingly famous Darwin had suffered years of illness.
The adjoining tombs of John Herschel and Charles Darwin in the nave of Westminster Abbey, London
In 1881 Darwin was an eminent figure, still working on his contributions to evolutionary thought that had an enormous effect on many fields of science. Copy of a portrait by John Collier in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
Unveiling of the Darwin Statue at the former Shrewsbury School building in 1897
In 1851 Darwin was devastated when his daughter Annie died. By then his faith in Christianity had dwindled, and he had stopped going to church.
A caricature of Darwin from a 1871 Vanity Fair
Statue of Darwin in the Natural History Museum, London

When his own exams drew near, Darwin applied himself to his studies and was delighted by the language and logic of William Paley's Evidences of Christianity (1795).

Title Page of first American edition

Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity

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Title Page of first American edition
The first page of Natural Theology, introducing Paley's version of the watchmaker analogy
Red crossbill skull and jaw anatomy from William Yarrell's A History of British Birds; the crossbill's beak is cited by Paley as being well-suited to its function.
Paley mentions the ovipositors of insects such as ichneumons, able to lay eggs deep in wood.
The Scottish philosopher David Hume, portrayed here by Allan Ramsay in 1766, criticised arguments from design; he did not live to see Paley's book.
In the late 1830s, Charles Darwin re-read Paley's book.

Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity is an 1802 work of Christian apologetics and philosophy of religion by the English clergyman William Paley (1743–1805).

William Paley, publisher of Natural Theology

Natural theology

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Type of theology that seeks to provide arguments for the existence of a deity based on reason and ordinary experience of nature.

Type of theology that seeks to provide arguments for the existence of a deity based on reason and ordinary experience of nature.

William Paley, publisher of Natural Theology
Title page of Natural Theology by William Paley

William Paley, an important influence on Charles Darwin, gave a well-known rendition of the teleological argument for God.

John Law (bishop)

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English mathematician and clergyman who began his career as a Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, and went on to become chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and Church of Ireland bishop of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh (1782–1787), Killala and Achonry (1787–1795), and finally of Elphin (1795–1810).

English mathematician and clergyman who began his career as a Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, and went on to become chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and Church of Ireland bishop of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh (1782–1787), Killala and Achonry (1787–1795), and finally of Elphin (1795–1810).

He was a lifelong friend and correspondent of the philosopher William Paley.

Modern Utilitarianism by Thomas Rawson Birks 1874

Utilitarianism

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Family of normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals.

Family of normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals.

Modern Utilitarianism by Thomas Rawson Birks 1874
Jeremy Bentham
Peter Singer

Gay's theological utilitarianism was developed and popularized by William Paley.

First Court, Christ's College

Christ's College, Cambridge

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Constituent college of the University of Cambridge.

Constituent college of the University of Cambridge.

First Court, Christ's College
Lady Margaret Beaufort, Christ's College Library
The chapel, with a viewing window from the Master's Lodge
The Great Gate of Christ's College
Christ's College Boat Club's boathouse on the River Cam
Master's Lodge, First Court
Charles Darwin's Rooms, First Court
Christ's College Cambridge, Dining Hall, Back
Fellows' Garden, showing rear of Fellows' Building
Third Court: Memorial and Stevenson Buildings
New Court: Lasdun Building, known as "The Typewriter"
Darwin Garden, New Court, w. Darwin statue by Anthony Smith
John Milton
Sir John Finch
Sir Thomas Baines
Frederick Cornwallis
Beilby Porteus
William Paley
Charles Darwin
Jagdish Chandra Bose
Jan Smuts
Louis Mountbatten
J. Robert Oppenheimer
Sir Martin Evans
Simon Schama
Rowan Williams
Jasmine Birtles
Michael Liebreich
Sacha Baron Cohen
John Oliver

Some of the college's other famous alumni include former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, theologian William Paley, historian Simon Schama, South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts, Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma, medical doctor, scientist, and diplomat Davidson Nicol, and comedians John Oliver, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Andy Parsons.

Edmund Law, by George Romney, 1781

Edmund Law

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Priest in the Church of England.

Priest in the Church of England.

Edmund Law, by George Romney, 1781
Arms of Edmund Law, Bishop of Carlisle: Argent, on a bend between two cocks gules three mullets of the field
Law was buried in Carlisle cathedral
Memorial in Carlisle Cathedral by Thomas Banks
Law was an ardent disciple of John Locke.

His friend and biographer, William Paley, declares that Law regarded his elevation as a satisfactory proof that decent freedom of inquiry was not discouraged.

First edition cover

The Blind Watchmaker

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1986 book by Richard Dawkins, in which the author presents an explanation of, and argument for, the theory of evolution by means of natural selection.

1986 book by Richard Dawkins, in which the author presents an explanation of, and argument for, the theory of evolution by means of natural selection.

First edition cover
"Biomorph" that randomly evolves following changes of several numeric "genes", determining its shape. The gene values are given as bars on the top.

In his choice of the title for this book, Dawkins refers to the watchmaker analogy made famous by William Paley in his 1802 book Natural Theology.