Design and Providence: Robert Boyle and the Newtonian Ideology
Natural theology is a prominent aspect of Britain’s science history. The standard historical narrative tells us that, at the turn of the 17th century, the Newtonians Richard Bentley and Samuel Clarke reintroduced the cosmic argument from design, ignoring Rober Boyle’s warnings that cosmic arguments are too uncertain. In this paper I show that this narrative is incorrect. Instead, the real change is that the Newtonians emphasized special providence over intelligent design, which was more easily proven from cosmology than from biology. However, biology continued to play an important role in their arguments. Therefore, one should not speak of a conflict between biological and cosmic arguments.
Faculteit der Filosofie, Theologie en Religiewetenschappen