Turning Points in Natural Theology from Bacon to Darwin: The Way of the Argument from Design

Hardcover | August 21, 2012

byStuart Peterfreund

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The last three decades have witnessed a heated debate of the merits of intelligent design (ID) as a way to understand a number of observable natural phenomena. The present dispute has its roots in a much older discussion: that of natural theology, which has always had as its goal the discernment of design(s) attributable to God in the natural world. Despite its ongoing relevance, natural theology does not have a coherent scholarly history. Turning Points in Natural Theology from Bacon to Darwin deftly fills that gap, analysing the argument of design during the period from Francis Bacon (1561-1626) to Charles Darwin (1809-82), with a specific focus on those moments at which the rhetorical terms changed significantly.

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The last three decades have witnessed a heated debate of the merits of intelligent design (ID) as a way to understand a number of observable natural phenomena. The present dispute has its roots in a much older discussion: that of natural theology, which has always had as its goal the discernment of design(s) attributable to God in the ...

Stuart Peterfreund is a professor of English at Northeastern University. He is the author of William Blake in a Newtonian World: Argument as Art Argument as Science, Shelley among Others: The Play of the Intertext and the Idea of Language and the editor of the collection Literature and Science: Theory and Practice.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:212 pages, 8.88 × 5.7 × 0.71 inPublished:August 21, 2012Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230108849

ISBN - 13:9780230108844

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Table of Contents

An Argument about the Argument from Design * Natural Theology, Leading up to Bacon * Getting Back to the Garden and the Temple: Bacon, the Design of the Creature, Deferral, and Instauration * Leaving Bacon Behind: Robert Boyle's Legacy and the Mechanization of Natural Theology * The Second Moses Reconsidered, or, Back to Bacon and Beyond: Mosaic Natural Theology in the Age of Newton * Systems within Systems: From Newton to Paley * From Paley to Darwin: The Design of the Macrosystem * Intelligent Design?

Editorial Reviews

"This interesting and original book, a volume in the 'Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters' series, traces key moments in the emergence of natural theology, a meta-scientific philosophy of religion that argues for divine attributes and their relationship to the natural world, including the history of life on Earth and the extinction and evolution of species over time. Focusing on the historical from the early 17th century and philosopher Francis Bacon, through the 19th century and naturalist Charles Darwin, Peterfreund (English, Northeastern Univ.) considers the British meta-scientific discourse community, examining how advocates of natural theology's understanding of systems and design offer a means of tracing the evolving debate on the merits of "intelligent design" (attributions of design to God) in relation to select observable natural phenomena. In five chapters, the author provides a historically situated chronology of rhetorical contributions, highlighting connections among major figures, along the trajectory of natural theology writings and emerging theories of intelligent design - as articulated by Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, Sir Isaac Newton, William Paley, and Charles Darwin. Readers with an interest in natural theology, creationism debates, and intersections of philosophy, religion, and principles of science will likely find this informative book of interest. Summing Up: Recommended." - Choice "In this thought-provoking and nuanced study, Peterfreund tracks the changes that the argument from design underwent during the period from Bacon to Darwin. In situating different conceptual metaphors of design in their historical, philosophical, and scientific contexts, Peterfreund makes significant contributions to the interdisciplinary science studies." - Robert Markley, W.D. and Sara E. Trowbridge Professor, University of Illinois