‘The consciousness of knowing little, need not beget a distrust of that which he does not know.’
In Natural Theology William Paley set out to prove the existence of God from the evidence of the beauty and order of the natural world. Famously beginning by comparing the world to a watch, whose design is self-evident, he goes on to provide examples from biology, anatomy, and astronomy in order to demonstrate the intricacy and ingenuity of design that could only come from a wise and benevolent deity. Paley’s legalistic approach and skilful use of metaphor and analogy were hugely successful, and equally controversial. Charles Darwin, whose investigations led to very different conclusions in the Origin of Species, was greatly influenced by the book’s cumulative structure and accessible style.