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Title page for ETD etd-03272008-122314


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Barnes, Boyd
URN etd-03272008-122314
Title Natural Theology and Natural History in Darwin's Time: Design, Direction, Superintendence and Uniformity in British Thought, 1818-1876
Degree PhD
Department Religion
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
James Hudnut-Beumler Committee Chair
Dale A. Johnson Committee Member
Eugene A. TeSelle Committee Member
James P. Byrd Committee Member
Richard F. Haglund Committee Member
Keywords
  • catastrophism
  • science
  • religion
  • Britain
  • nineteenth century
  • design arguments
Date of Defense 2008-03-25
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
RELIGION

NATURAL THEOLOGY AND NATURAL HISTORY IN DARWIN’S TIME: DESIGN, DIRECTION, SUPERINTENDENCE AND UNIFORMITY IN BRITISH THOUGHT, 1818-1876

BOYD BARNES

Dissertation under the direction of Professor Dale A. Johnson

Nineteenth-century British natural theology and design arguments are studied in relation to contemporaneous geological and biological science. Close attention is given to the logical and evidential relationships of theological superintendence and the uniformity of nature as rival explanations for the evidently progressive direction of the history of the earth. The public and religious significance of the evidence for a theological superintendence of geological history is discussed, with special attention given to the science and natural theology of William Buckland, Adam Sedgwick, William Whewell and Baden Powell. Other works of natural theology, published in the 1830s and controversially significant although less overtly scientific, are more briefly considered. The increasingly scientific and decreasingly religious character assumed by natural theology over the course of an extended public controversy between superintendential and developmental explanations of natural history is then discussed, with special attention to Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, Thomas Henry Huxley, Asa Gray and Alfred Russel Wallace. Other natural theologies of the same period are more briefly considered. The conclusion is reached, that nineteenth-century natural theology in Britain, having partly originated as a significant theological discourse in public religion that was founded upon a gloss of geological science, reached its historical term as the largely private and deeply scientific discourse of a relative few Darwinian men of science. Darwinism, therefore, may be appropriately considered a late episode in the history of natural theology, in addition to its significance for the history of science.

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