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Abraham's DiceChance and Providence in the Monotheistic Traditions$
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Karl W. Giberson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190277154

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190277154.001.0001

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Chance and Providence in the Thought of William Paley

Chance and Providence in the Thought of William Paley

(p.240) 12 Chance and Providence in the Thought of William Paley
Abraham's Dice

Alister E. McGrath

Oxford University Press

The influential popular writer William Paley articulated his attitude toward chance and disorder in his landmark work Natural Theology, published in 1802. This work shaped many early nineteenth-century attitudes toward biology and teleology, and significantly influenced the reception of Darwin’s ideas. Paley takes a strongly negative attitude toward the idea of chance. To understand him, his ideas must be set against the views of the early 1700s, when the enterprise of natural theology emphasized the orderliness of the world, which “chance” appeared to subvert. Paley was part of the process of cultural solidification, which rendered the later acceptance of indeterminism more problematic.

Keywords:   William Paley, natural theology, design argument, Darwin, purpose, creation, natural order

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