Before Darwin: Reconciling God and Nature

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Yale University Press, 2005 - Philosophy - 314 pages
4 Reviews
For 200 years before the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, findings in the sciences of the earth and of nature threatened religious belief based on the literal truth of the Bible. This book traces out the multiple conflicts and accommodations within religion and the new sciences through the writings of such heroes of the English Enlightenment as David Hume, Robert Hooke, John Ray, Erasmus Darwin (Charles’ grandfather), Thomas Burnet, and William Whiston.Keith Thomson brings us back to a time when many powerful clerics were also noted scientific scholars and leading scientists were often believers. He celebrates the force and elegance of their prose along with the inventiveness of their arguments, their certitude, and their not infrequent humility and caution. Placing Charles Darwin’s work in the context of earlier writers on evolutionary theory, Thomson finds surprising and direct connections between the anti-evolutionary writings of natural theologians like William Paley and the arguments that Darwin employed to turn anti-evolutionist ideas upside-down. This is an illuminating chronicle of an important period in the history of ideas and one that casts interesting light on the anti-evolution/creationist controversies of our own time.
  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kant1066 - LibraryThing

When we think about the modern biological sciences, one name invariably pops into mind: Charles Darwin. Keith Thomson’s book, “Before Darwin: Reconciling God and Nature,” looks at the approximately ... Read full review

Review: Before Darwin: Reconciling God and Nature

User Review  - Marlene - Goodreads

This book deals with the earliest attempts to square science with religion, particularly as revealed in the Bible. What's fascinating is the similarity between the arguments being made then and the ones still being made today. Read full review

Contents

Charles Darwin and William Paley
1
An Age of Science An Age of Reason
21
Problems at Home
45
John Ray Founding Father
59
Difficulties with the Theory and the Argument Extended
83
Fossils and Time Dr Plots Dilemma
111
Sacred Theories
138
Unfinished Business Mountains and the Flood
174
Good and Evil Concerning the Mind of God
232
Paley Malthus and Darwin
245
The Beginning of the End
266
The Account of Creation in Genesis
281
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
283
BIBLIOGRAPHY
285
NOTES
295
INDEX
305

This is Atheism
197
Gosses Dilemma and Adams Navel
223

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About the author (2005)

Keith Thomson is professor emeritus of natural history, University of Oxford; senior research fellow, American Philosophical Society; and research associate, Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. He is the author of more than 200 scientific articles and 12 books, including The Common but Less Frequent Loon and Other Essays, published by Yale University Press.

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