Religion and Science

Religion and Science


In General



Origin, Development, and Evolutionary Theories

William Paley, Natural Theology, and the Argument from Design

In General

Medicus. “Credulity, A Disease of Volition.” New Harmony Gazette, 1:48 (Aug. 23, 1826): 378-79. Medicus concludes that the cure for the disease of credulity is “to increase our knowledge of the laws of nature, and our habit of comparing whatever ideas are presented to us with those known laws, and thus to counteract the fallacies of our senses, emancipate ourselves from the false impressions which we have imbibed in our infancy, and set the faculty of reason above that of imagination.”

Robert L. Jennings. “On Natural Philosophy.” The Correspondent, 3:4-5 (Feb. 16-23, 1828): 55-59, 75-78.Defining natural philosophy as “the consideration of the powers and properties of natural bodies, and their actions on one another,” Jennings begins his lecture with the following syllogism: “The study of natural philosophy dispels ignorance and superstition. The Christian religion is based on ignorance and superstition: therefore, the increasing study of natural philosophy will eventually destroy the Christian religion.”

A letter to the editor from “P.” Ohio Watchman, 1:5 (May 23, 1835): 1-2. The author commences his letter, “That the advancement of science has been greatly, if not principally instrumental in the amelioration of the condition of man, few if any at this day, will venture to deny. That a nation is prosperous, powerful and happy in proportion to its progress in science; and weak and wretched in proportion to its lack of scientific knowledge, can hardly admit of doubt. Yet, have not those sciences to which we are so deeply indebted, struggled into birth almost by miracle, in opposition to that spirit of intolerance and monkish superstition which by fraud or force, would usurp the scepter of reason and banish all freedom of thought from the face of the earth?”

“The Physical Sciences a Little at Variance with the Letter of the Bible.” The Beacon, 2:47 (Sept. 29, 1838): 372. Reprinted from The Church, the author informs that, “Physiology and Comparative Anatomy will not tolerate the literal idea of a supernatural conception and a virgin birth of a son, nor of a resurrection to life of the really dead, nor of bodily ascension through the earth’s atmosphere, nor of fasting forty days, nor of bodily walking upon water without artificial means, nor of an anatomical God, Devil, Angel, or Spirit.”

G.V. “Science, Morals, and Religion.” The Beacon, 2:52 (Nov. 10, 1838): 409-10. Vale begins, “The man of science and of genius sometimes looks through nature up to nature’s God, and becomes religious in his own conceit; thus, Lord Bacon, Sir Isaac Newton, Shakespeare and Burns, were religious in their way; that is, they acknowledged and reverenced (the peculiarity of religion) a superior power to man, as manifested in the wisdom and beneficence displayed in the world: yet such are despised by the man of genuine religion, in the sense of the religious world. The real orthodox man regards the world as an abortion, or monster, begotten in mistake and brought forth in corruption; the dwelling place of a degraded being, naturally depraved, and influenced by the Devil.”

G.V. “Science and Assumed Revelation.” The Beacon, 3:21 (Apr. 6, 1839): 161-62. Vale begins, “Every nation has had a popular religion, with which to amuse and dupe the vulgar. This from necessity has always been at variance with science, and the educated of every age have always excused themselves from belief. It is curious to observe in our own day the wreathings and contortions of revelation to suit the several discoveries in nature which science is daily exposing to the people in so palpable a manner, that in spite of the politeness of writers and lecturers in their endeavors to reconcile the two, the most unpalatable truths become gradually indisputable, and revelation yields step by step, in the most decent order she can assume, before the light of science.” To illustrate his position, Vale provides an extract from Buckland’s Geology.

O. “Scripture, New Interpretations, Science.” The Beacon (New Series), 3:35 (July 16, 1842): 276-77. The author contends, “Had God ever made a revelation to man, it would have been so intelligible and universal that all men, even the wayfaring man, though a fool, could have read and understood it; and we should be under no necessity to seek new interpretations to force it to coincide with known facts in nature, for there would be an harmonious agreement between revelation and nature, and all would be as perfect as God himself is perfect; and the developments of science would receive from revelation their best proof and support.”

J.A.P. “The Clergy vs. Science.” The Beacon (Third Series), 1:24 (Apr. 29, 1843): 185-87. The author notes that “Nature has not said anything of Jesus Christ, nor of devils, nor of angels, nor of anybody that is not a material body, nor of any influences which are not material both as to their origin and their effects; and accordingly, just in proportion as researches in nature have advanced, immaterial beings and influences have receded, and particularly in proportion as the scalpel has been used, the conviction (the perception it may rather be called) has obtained that life, health, disease, death, intellect, character, belief- everything about man is physical, and as necessarily subject to the laws of cause and effect as any of the more gross results in nature.”

Orson S. Murray. “The Age of the World.” Murray’s Review, 182 (Mar. 1855): 81-82.  Reprinted from Scientific American, the article identifies attempts to reconcile the biblical account of creation with current scientific understanding. Murray comments, “If the writer of the Bible fable had been a man of science, but especially if he had been a god of science, he would have written facts instead of fictions; he would have used intelligible language; he would have spoken so as to be understood” and concludes, “The time is hastening on, and is not far distant, when no one caring to be thought sincere and honest, will have the effrontery to make pretensions to scientific knowledge, and at the same time profess to believe in the divine authenticity of the Bible stories.”

“The Age of the World.” The Boston Investigator, 1296 (Mar. 26, 1856): 2. Citing a Christian editor’s assertion that the world is only 5,856 years old, the editor remarks, “How a man, who ever heard of the science of astronomy, or ever looked into a book that taught it, could make such an absurd statement, it is difficult to imagine, unless he is one of those fanatics whose zeal is without knowledge, and whose devotion to Bible tradition completely blinds his judgment in regard to fact.”

O.S. Murray. “The Christian Religion Against Science.” The Boston Investigator, 1372 (Sept. 9, 1857): 2. Murray observes, “It really appears to me a sufficient condemnation of any system of religion, that it puts men in such fear as to deter them from investigations- frightening them from the road which leads to knowledge, to the greater truths of nature, the highest and deepest sources of rational enjoyment.”

“Natural Science and Revealed Religion.” The Boston Investigator, 1376 (Oct. 7, 1857): 4. Reprinted from the American Liberalist. The author argues, “If then revealed religion be a true and infallible doctrine, it must be susceptible of demonstration.- no one can believe without evidence- and as revealed religion is said to be of the utmost importance to mankind, the evidence should be of the clearest and most incontrovertible kind; if such evidence cannot be produced, and we are required to accept faith instead of evidence, it is equivalent to a demand to surrender the use and functions of our senses and discard reason.”

“Natural Phenomena – Religious Belief.” The Boston Investigator, 1418 (July 28, 1858): 2. Seaver observes, “The almost universal propensity to refer natural facts, of which the proximate cause is unknown, to supernatural interposition, will never be subdued so long as the pernicious notion of “design” continues in force.”

  “Joseph Barker’s Farwell Letter.” The Boston Investigator, 1496-97 (Jan. 25- Feb. 1, 1860): 315, 323. Barker remarks, “Some contend that false theologies and religions should not be assailed directly, but undermined only by the diffusion of natural science. They are ever applauding those who build up, and disparaging those who pull down. I am not disposed to undervalue the indirect efforts against religious error. Science is all irreligious, thoroughly irreligious, and cannot spread without abating the evil of religion. . . . But it should be understood, that many dare not read, and if they read, dare not believe, a scientific book, till their faith in theology, the known antagonist of science, has been shaken. Theology keeps the door of the mind, and will not allow science to enter. Show those people a palpable contradiction, or a manifest falsehood, in the Bible, and the door is at once opened for science.”

Tamar Davis. “Letters on Chemistry.” The Boston Investigator, 1567-69, 1571-80 (June 5-19, July 3- Sept. 4, 1861): 51, 57, 65, 81, 89, 97, 105, 113, 121, 129, 137, 145, 153.

T.D. “Letters on the Physiology of Plants.” The Boston Investigator, 1592-97 (Nov. 27, 1861- Jan. 1, 1862): 225-26, 233, 241, 249, 257, 265.


G.V. “Astronomy. Dr. [Dionysius] Lardner at Niblo’s.” The Beacon (New Series), 3:4 (Dec. 11, 1841): 25-26. Reporting on Lardner’s lecture, Vale notes, “He asserted that it was agreeable to the laws of matter that the planets should revolve about the sun, and the satellites about their primaries; but that it was not a law of matter that these planets should turn on their axes, and therefore he inferred an interfering power to bless us with day and night.” Vale adds, “By introducing the power of deity, where the laws of nature or of matter are sufficient, we make of a great God, a little one: just as our forefathers thought that God thundered in the clouds, that he hurled his bolt and his lightening, and stirred up every storm.”

“Astronomy and Revelation.” The Beacon (Third Series), 2:5 (Dec. 16, 1843): 33-34. The author observes, “Now, from the present state of astronomical knowledge, and from the deep research that has been made into Nature and her laws, we have moral convictions and demonstrable proofs, that all cosmogonies are but the idle fictions of the human brain, and all tales about heaven and hell as definite places, are from the same source.”

“Another Planet.” The Regenerator, 70 (Nov. 30, 1846): 273-74. In reporting La Verrier’s discovery of Neptune, Murray asks, “If the useful, refining, elevating, and ennobling discoveries, in arts and sciences . . . . are not matters of revelation, but man’s inventions and discoveries . . . . what are the works of religion’s god, compared with the works of man?”

William Chilton. “Influence of Lord Rosse’s Telescope on Theology.” Age of Reason, 4:6 (Mar. 15, 1850): 81-85. Reprinted from The Reasoner. Discussing how deep into space Rosse’s telescope has reached, Chilton encourages, “Reader! Try to frame some idea of these distances and periods. You are certain to fail- but try! It will expand your mind- it will make you feel the magnitude of the material universe, and the consequent immensity of the power of the being, whether material or immaterial, who should be competent to the creation and government of it. It will correct your self esteem, and show you the insignificance of human works and pursuits when compared with the merest fraction of nature which this telescope has brought to light.”

John T. Williams. “Religion and Astronomy.” The Boston Investigator, 1456 (Apr. 20, 1859): 1. Williams begins, “It is somewhat strange to see to what shifts, speculations, calculations, &c., religionists are driven to, to support their tottering fabric, mathematically, astronomically, geologically; but as extreme cases require extreme measures, they must do something to make a show, “to gull the mob and keep them under.””


On the Connection between Geology and the Pentateuch: in a letter to Professor Silliman, from Thomas Cooper, M.D.” The Boston Investigator, 112-118 (May 17- June 28, 1833).

“Wreathings of Superstition under the Discoveries of Science.” The Beacon (New Series), 2:13 (Feb. 13, 1841): 97-100. Remarks and extracts as reported for the New York Herald on Dr. John Griscom’s lecture entitled “An Exposition of the Connection between the discoveries of modern geology, and the account given by the Bible of the creation of the World.”

W.S. “Geology and Theology.” The Beacon (New Series), 2:19 (Mar. 27, 1841): 146-47. Having recently read the lectures of Griscom and the writings of Buckland, the author remarks, “I say then that learned lecturers who would attempt to make us believe that the science of geology proves the truth of the Mosaic account of the creation, are compelled to distort the account from its plain construction, in such a manner as nothing can justify; and no one who reflects can belief but that the continuance of such a course can only lessen them in the estimation of men of common sense, and hasten the downfall of a faith founded on such palpable absurdities.”

“Mr. Lyell’s . . . . Lecture[s] on Geology,”[1] The Beacon (New Series), 3:20-21 (Apr. 2-9, 1842): 154-57, 161-62. Reprinted from the New York Herald, reports on Lyell’s lectures delivered at the New York Lyceum in the Broadway Tabernacle.

“Bennett’s Remarks. New and important movement in philosophy and religion – Lyell’s Geological Lectures upheaving the Christian and Hebrew Scriptures.” The Beacon (New Series), 3:20 (Apr. 2, 1842): 157-58. The author contends, “Heretofore, Professor Silliman of New Haven, Professor Griscom of this city, and others have attempted to give lectures on the same wonderful science, but their facts were meager, their views narrow, their deductions incomplete, and their influence of little or no account. Prof. Lyell, of London, is the great chief and master spirit of the new geological philosophy of the age that is to revolutionize men’s opinions in historical religion as much as the great Luther did in political religion.”

“Genesis and Geology- The Bible Against Philosophy, Facts, and Fossils.” Age of Reason, 4:6 (Mar. 15, 1850): 88-90. Eckler writes that, “Geology discards all authority. It calls upon the votaries to penetrate the bowels of the earth- to lay bare the hidden secrets of nature- to rely upon the evidence of their own senses- to investigate and judge for themselves” and later points out that “The common interpretation of the Bible assumes that, before the fall of man, death did not exist among the inferior animals; but geology teaches us in unmistakable language, that ages anterior to the human race, myriads of brute animals suffered painful deaths.”

“Phreno-Geology.” The Boston Investigator, 1022-23 (Dec. 25, 1850 – Jan. 1, 1851). The editor concludes, “The science of phreno-geology we regard as a future fixed fact, and it will yet receive a development that shall cast faith and its illusions beyond the farthest land of dreams. Every attempt to reconcile faith with science is a new illustration that the two are utterly and irretrievably irreconcilable; and day by day, science ushers in new stars in the firmament of wisdom while the twinkling meteors of faith are disappearing with the rapidity of shooting stars.”

Vindex. “The Religion of Geology.” The Boston Investigator, 1061-92 (Sept. 24- Apr. 28, 1852). The author reviews Edward Hitchcock’s The Religion of Geology and Its Connected Sciences.

Celsus. “Geology and the Pentateuch.” The Boston Investigator, 1408 (May 19, 1858): 4. An address delivered before the Cincinnati Sunday Institute. Celsus presents the various ways in which theologians have attempted to explain or harmonize the bible with geological science. According to Celsus, theologians first contended that Genesis was merely an allegory, then to deny that the facts of geology were facts, then that the fossil remains of animals and vegetables were originally created just as we find them, and finally to attempt to make the statements of the bible conform to the facts of geology.

Eboracum. “The Testimony of the Rocks.” The Boston Investigator, 1773-74, 1777, 1780-81, 1791-94, 1803, 1806-09, 1811, 1813 (June 7-14, July 5, 26- Aug. 2, Oct. 11- Nov.1, 1865; Jan. 3, 24-Feb 14, 28, Mar. 14, 1866): 33-34, 41, 65, 89, 97, 177, 185, 193, 201, 273, 297, 305, 313, 321, 337, 353. This series of articles is a review of Hugh Miller’s efforts to reconcile scripture with geology.

A.B. “Geology and Religion.” The Boston Investigator, 1782 (Aug. 9, 1865): 105-06. The author briefly comments on Edward Hitchcock’s attempt to reconcile geology and the scriptures.

Origin, Development, and Evolutionary Theories

“Links in Nature.” The Beacon, 1:38 (July 22, 1837): 339-40. Reprinted from Disseminator, the author begins, “The signs of resemblance among animals as described as links in creation, as such, are worthy of our notice. In examining these links, it would appear that Nature has pursued a great and universal plan in producing a system of animal organization, rising gradually from the most simple to the most complex. So obvious has this principle been, that some writers have not scrupled to allege that Man,  who occupies the highest rank in creation, has sprung from the lowest atom, and by a series of progressions has arrived at what he now is. But this is mere idle fancy.”

Montgarnier. “Nature’s Law of Development.” The Boston Investigator, 779, 781-84, 787, 789, 791 (Apr. 29, May 13- June 3, July 24, Aug. 8, 22, 1846). Montgarnier reviews Robert Chamber’s Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation and its Sequel. Montgarnier writes, “Here, in the volume under notice, and its sequel, are developed the principles of a theory which shall yet prove the true Iconoclast of the nineteenth century, and shall grind to an impalpable powder the theological idols of the Mosaic chronologists.”

Knox. “Vestiges of Creation.” The Regnerator, 73 (Jan. 11, 1847): 328-29. Knox criticizes the author for attempting to accommodate recent geological discoveries with the Bible and writes, “The fact is, all attempts to unite science and theology are fruitless. You may shake them and shake them, but give them rest and the light oil of theology will float on top.”

William Webb. “Priestcraft Against Knowledge.” The Renegerator, 74 (Jan. 25, 1847): 342-43. Webb attacks Rev. George B. Cheever’s introduction to “Vestiges of Creation” for its biblical literalism.

Knox. “Vestiges of Creation.” The Rengenerator, 80 (April 19, 1847): 20-21. Knox examines the author’s presentation of the development theory and concludes, “We here learn why it is that the Reverends have set up their bark at this author, and why they have such horror against the science of Geology with other sciences. It sweeps off at once the Bible creation, it shows that miserable fable not consonant with the observations of nature.”

“Men with Tails.” Age of Reason, 3:7 (Oct. 15, 1849): 105-06. This is an extract from a scientific report to the French Academy by Col. Du Couret concerning a caudated race, the Ghilanes, encountered in the interior of Africa.

“The Ghilanes.” Age of Reason, 3:7 (Oct. 15, 1849): 112-13. The editor concludes, “If Christians assert that this caudated race are a degenerate scion of the Adamic stock, how will they reply to those skeptical writers who advocate the theory of regular gradation, which supposes that distinct races have successfully arisen? If on the other hand they affirm that different races were created in the beginning, they directly contradict the “inspired word,” and open the door to heresy and unbelief. For the sake of Christianity, therefore, our pious friends are compelled to claim kindred with this curious race – and we will not dispute their claim. The subject is really very annoying, very vexatious, and very funny. What a pity that “the truths of inspiration” should be called in question, because a few negroes exist with short, flexible-tails!”

“The Unity of the Human Race – Black Jews, &c.” Age of Reason, 4:3 (Feb. 1, 1850): 40-41. Eckler exclaims, “The striking contrast between the more elevated specimens of the Caucasian race and the sooty, degraded inhabitants of Africa, is in itself a sufficient refutation of the Mosaic history. The influence of food, of habits, or of climate, falls infinitely short of accounting for the physical and consequently mental differences which exist between the different races; and none but those whose minds are warped by prejudice and fanaticism will contend for a common origin. But this doctrine- the doctrine of the unity of the human race- is distinctly taught in the “holy bible,” and therefore those who venerate this book feel called upon to demonstrate its truth.”

Geo. A. Hammett. “Reply to Mr. Perkins.” The Boston Investigator, 991 (May 22, 1850): 2. Hammett argues there are only three theories of change: there has been a succession of changes having a beginning, there has been a succession of changes having no beginning, and change exists merely in appearance, and no real change is possible. Hammett points out that only one of these theories can be true and argues that none requires us to suppose the existence of a Deity.

“Prof. Agassiz on the Origin of the Human Race.” Age of Reason, 5:1 (July 1, 1850): 8-9. Eckler observes, “Every new truth, every new discovery must fight the battle for victory with those antiquated and obsolete records of Jewish superstition. . . . and although science ever triumphs over error, and the unchangeable word of God is constantly undergoing corrections and amendments, yet the priests seem incapable of learning by experience, or they would at once resign the battle with philosophy, instead of stubbornly yielding inch by inch as they are now compelled to do.”

“Smyth on the Unity of the Human Race.” Age of Reason, 5:3 (Aug. 1, 1850): 40-41. Reviewing the case made by Rev. Thomas Smyth in defense of the mosaic account of the common origin of humans, Eckler writes, “we must confess that we lack terms to express the contempt we feel for the advocates of a religious system of slavery, who declare that mankind by their common origin are placed on a social equality, and then turn round and assert that the master and slave “are united to each other in mutually beneficial relations” – and further still, that these relations “restrain both from licentious, immoral, and cruel purposes.” Oh, Christianity! Where is thy blush of conscious shame? Where, oh! Where is the lowest point of thy degradation?”

George B. Smith. “Miracle vs. Law.” The Boston Investigator, 1400 (Mar. 24, 1858): 1. Smith notes, “A power of adaptation is seen to exist in the mutations of matter, essentially as one of its properties.”

G.A. Hammett. “A New Demonstration of Atheism.” The Boston Investigator, 1403 (Apr. 14, 1858): 1. Hammett presents, “My first position is, that no system of regular, complex adaptation resembling those that we see around us could have existed from eternity.”

Herbert Spencer. “The Development Hypothesis.” The Boston Investigator, 1440 (Dec. 29, 1858): 4. Spencer asks, “Which then is the most rational hypothesis? That of special creations which has neither a fact to support it nor is even definitely conceivable; or that of modification, which is not only definitely conceivable, but is countenanced by the habitudes of every existing organism?”

Eboracum. “Hugh Miller’s “Footprints of the Creator,” Versus “Vestiges of Creation.”” The Boston Investigator, 1561, 1565, 1571, 1576 (Apr. 24, May 22, July 3, Aug. 7, 1861): 1-2, 34, 83, 122. The author pledges to show that, contrary to Miller’s contentions, “the facts of geology as set forth by Murchison, and Lyell; the facts of Zoology as set forth by Professors Darwin, Draper, Huxley, and Wallace; and of Botany as set forth by Professors Hooker, and Asa Gray” support rather than subvert the Development Theory as put forth in Vestiges of a Natural History of Creation, i.e., “that there has been but one creation, of which all objects that have since existed are but modifications.”

F.A. Herwig. “Formation of Plants.” The Boston Investigator, 1452 (Mar. 23, 1859): 1. Herwig begins by asking, “Is it not more beautifully demonstrated, in the everyday walks of life, and everyday’s proceedings, that the world has been created gradually- in what space of time, it is not for me to tell- than that it sprung into existence in six days?”

“Interesting Scientific Theory. Darwin’s New Book.” The Boston Investigator, 1499 (Feb. 15, 1860): 341. Brief review of the Origin of Species; reprinted from the N.Y. Evening Post. The author comments, “Darwin does not seem to believe in species at all, and hardly in genera; he thinks Nature works up very distinct varieties by natural selection from a common stock. His facts are overwhelming and most curious. How simple when you see it, and yet how grand is the law!”

O.H. “Origin of Organization.” The Boston Investigator, 1523 (Aug. 1, 1860): 117. Identifying five answers that may be given to the question, “how did we begin?,” the author remarks, “Those who adopt Darwin’s theory of variations from one organization, do not lessen the difficulty, because the main question, of how did the first organization originate remains untouched.”

Eboracum. “On Materialism and Spiritualism, and the [Zoological][2] Relations of Man with the Lower Animals.” The Boston Investigator, 1592 (Nov. 27, 1861): 227. The author surveys recent scientific research to assess whether or not “men are created specifically and miraculously distinct from apes or beasts” and whether the difference between man and ape is merely that of degree.

Eboracum. “Is a Species a “Fixed Eternal Form?”” The Boston Investigator, 1601(Jan. 29, 1862): 297. The author observes that, “The mutability of species is now becoming the dominant idea with some of the eminent zoologists and physiologists; the tendency of modern science is to show that a unity of life pervades the animal world . . . . and that throughout this whole chain of being it is impossible to fix a limit by which we could separate the chain, and affirm that one part is destined to enjoy an immortal, independent, conscious life forever, and that the life of the other part will perish with the death of the body.”

Eboracum. “Toes and Brain.” The Boston Investigator, 1654 (Feb. 18, 1863): 329. The author reports that Thomas Huxley “believes that man is not the result of a special creation by a Deity, but that he is the modified descendant of some other mammal, probably from some of the anthropoid apes . . . . This avowal the clergy affirm to be tantamount to avowing a belief that there is no more evidence of man possessing a mind or soul separate from the body, than there is of monkeys possessing such an entity. Mr. Huxley is courageous in the interest of science, and though he does not discuss the question of Deity, and the Immortality of the Soul, he must expect that such expositions of Nature’s laws as he puts forth, or helps to sustain, must give some destructive blows to superstition.”

Eboracum. “Once a Spider Always a Spider.” The Boston Investigator, 1669-70 (June 10-17, 1863): 33, 41. The author concludes, that “there is evidence that Nature does not “hold inviolate the stamp,” which Agassiz says God has “set upon his creatures.” It is more likely that all the variety of organic beings are deviations from some primordial form or cell, than that the fiat of a Creator, from time to time, commands some elementary atoms to flash into living tissues, for the purpose of making a horse or an ass to differ from each other.”

“The Creation of the World.” The Boston Investigator, 1701-02 (Jan. 20-27, 1864): 292, 300. The editor remarks, “It must be perfectly clear, we think that any idea of the creation of infinite Nature is an absurdity. As long as the universe is considered as a certain determinate quantity of matter, there does appear a probability, nay, there seems at first a necessity for supposing a beginning, a premium mobile, and a sustaining power for this beautiful arrangement of worlds which we find so incomprehensibly solitary in infinite space. But where is the possibility of a contriver, a creator, for infinite activity? All is time, space, matter- no beginning, no end.”

John Chappellsmith. “Darwin’s Origin of the Species.” The Boston Investigator, 1706 (Feb. 24, 1864): 331. Reviewing Origin of the Species, Chappelsmith remarks, “Previous to the publication of this book three years ago, the standard treatises on botany, zoology, physiology, and geology, dogmatically forced on us the idea that one species, or kind, of animal or plant could never be changed into another species, and that, as different species have appeared in succession at distant intervals of time, the necessity for some creative and superintending power was affirmed to be inevitable. Darwin’s book destroys these grand assumptions. . . .”

William Paley, Natural Theology and the Argument from Design

“The Study of Man.” The March of Mind, 1:9 (Sept. 13, 1828): 141-43. The author observes, “Take wood from the forest, or stone from the quarry and you can build ten thousand varieties of houses, shops, factories, &c, in as many different forms, and for as many different uses. Thus matter, under a law of intelligence, is taken in its natural forms, and made to assume those so various by art. This operation is analogous to that, by which matter under its own laws, which are superior to any intellect yet known, assumes so many millions of forms as are found around us.”

E.L. Jr. “Creation-Deity.” The Correspondent, 4:13 (Oct. 18, 1828): 213-15. The author poses a challenge to the paper’s correspondents, “When they can demonstrate to me, that anything created made itself, and that a thing evidently designed, was produced by an undesigning cause, I may be induced to give up the idea of the world, and the things therein, having been created by an intelligent being.”

Q.X. “Creation-Deity.” The Correspondent, 4:14 (Oct. 25, 1828): 229. The author responds to E.L.’s challenge by asking “where is the utility or the necessity of resorting to another incomprehensible object, to explain the nature or origin of one which we already have staring us in the face, and which our intellects are confessedly unable to grasp? How much nearer do we approach the accomplishment of our desire, to understand the mystery of this world’s existence, by supposing another still greater mystery?”

Clytus. “Creation-Deity.” The Correspondent, 4:15 (Nov. 1, 1828): 248-49. Replying to EL, the author remarks “I think it quite as philosophical to suppose that the universe and its order could exist from eternity to eternity without a Creator, as for your “intelligent being,” or uncreated cause, to exist without a prior cause.”

E.L. Jr. “Creation-Deity.” The Correspondent, 4:20 (Dec. 6, 1828): 325-26. The author reveals, “I pretend not to say what God is, nor in what manner he exists or operates; but my senses, my philosophy, will not allow me to say that undesigning and unthinking, blind, inert matter, produced the wonderful pieces of mechanism- the wonderful effects which are constantly looking us in the face.” The author also asks Clythus, “Did the first male and female of the human family exist from all eternity?”

X. “Creation-Deity.” The Correspondent, 4:21 (Dec. 13, 1828): 348-49. In response to E.L. Jr., the author argues that “man is a natural being, composed of part of the four elements, which we have no reason to believe ever had a beginning, or can ever have an end. As we rationally conclude that the four elements have always existed, and knowing that man is a modified part of these elements, proceeded from them, and is sustained by them, and at his death is again diffused amongst them, it irresistibly follows that our species must also have always existed as part of the great family of nature.”

E.M. “Creation-Deity.” The Correspondent, 4:22 (Dec. 20, 1828): 357-60. The author contends that “human beings must have been, and are now produced according to some invariable laws- that however they may have been, or are produced, (even supposing they were created) the transformation from inanimate, to animate matter, the act by which they became living souls, must have taken place then, and ever since then, in precisely the same manner; that the vital principle must have been evolved, acquired, or communicated in the same way- “that the human family possess the power of propagating their species will not be questioned;”-but, that this fact necessarily supposes the existence of an omnipotent creator is denied- it is only a proof of the aptitude of material substances to generate organized beings.”

Clytus. “Creation-Deity.” The Correspondent, 4:22 (Dec. 20, 1828): 360-61. The author asks, “shall we perplex ourselves with a maze of conjectures about a supernatural agency, still more inexplicable than the difficulty we desire to solve? . . . . Must we believe because we do not know?”

E.L. Jr. “Creation-Deity.” The Correspondent, 4:25 (Jan. 10, 1829): 409-11. In reply to X, the author writes, “I have never denied that man is material; but have supposed that nothing but an intelligent and designing cause could form the elements into man. It appears to me an absurdity, and a gross one . . . . to suppose that the elements, in the absence of an intelligent principle, should produce so astonishing an animal as man. It is demonstrated to us that every human being that has ever existed, (excepting the first pair) must have been produced by generation- a process that could not have been gone into previous to the existence of a pair of the species. If this pair were produced by accident, by nothing, without an intelligent cause, as X. supposes, why are they not in this day produced in the same manner?”

Fulmen. “Paley’s Argument of the Watch Answered.” The Boston Investigator, 425 (May 15, 1839): 1. Fulmen asks, “And if every effect must have a cause, as Paley has said in order to support his argument of the existence of the Deity, reasoning from analogy, must not this great author of his have an author? . . . Where are we to stop in this unnatural flight of the imagination? . . . We are dropping what Paley calls an absurdity to embrace a greater.”

Henry Field and William West. “Deism.” and “Reply.” The Boston Investigator, 498, 500, 502, 507, 514 (Nov. 11, 25, Dec. 9, 1840; Jan. 13, Mar. 3, 1841). In this exchange Field offers the argument from design and West the refutation.

H.W. Tuller. “Paley’s Theology Alias Humbug.” The Boston Investigator, 936 (May 2, 1849): 1. The author, “a boy who has scarcely attended school three years in his whole life,” observes that “before the conclusion that spiritual immateriality contrived the organism of man and produced the harmony of parts, must it not be shown how and in what manner immateriality or nonentity works upon materiality . . . . before the above conclusion can be drawn? And if this connecting link- the premises, be neglected, is not the conclusion forced, premature, abortive? In logic can the propositions and the premises be left unnoticed and the bare assertion produce the conclusion?”

W.J. Boden. “Adaptation – Design.” The Boston Investigator, 978 (Feb. 20, 1850): 1. Boden asks, “If matter is eternal, which is a more rational idea than that it was called into existence by an eternal first cause, what use would we have for such an independent power in accounting for all the phenomena of Nature? Is not matter endowed with the property of acting upon matter, and reacting in such a manner as to produce all the changes and harmony of Nature which we behold?”

“Nature and Design.” The Boston Investigator, 1119 (Nov. 3, 1852): 2. The editor notes, “The difficulty . . . . with all Christians when arguing for a Designer of Nature, is, the idea that Nature is devoid of the inherent power to produce her own phenomena. This is the petition principii, the mere begging of the question. Nature, or the material universe, possesses all the intelligence there is in the universe, more or less; but that there is any other intelligence except what proceeds from organic matter, is the real matter in dispute, and is what remains for Christians to prove.”

Yankee-Creole. “To Mr. G.A. Hammett.” The Boston Investigator, 1234 (Jan. 17, 1855): 1. The author asks Hammett a series of questions including, “What is the difference between the intelligence exhibited in the mechanism of a steam engine and that exhibited in the mechanism of the universe? Do they not both use light, heat, electricity, gravitation, &c., and why do you admit that intelligence is necessary in one case as a designing cause and not in the other? Do the rules of logic change or differ in the two cases?”

G.A. Hammett. “Reply to Yankee-Creole.” The Boston Investigator, 1236 (Jan. 31, 1855): 1. Hammett responds, “The works of nature differ from a steam engine, because, in those works, the influence of supposed design is derived from adaptation alone, whereas, with regard to the steam engine, we reason not only from its regular adaptation, but from the difference between the engine and works of nature, and from our experience that men are capable of forming machines.”

I. Salyards. “A Supreme Intelligent Cause.” The Boston Investigator, 1237 (Feb. 7, 1855): 1.

G.A. Hammett. “Reply to Mr. Salyards.” The Boston Investigator, 1241 (Mar. 7, 1855): 1. Hammett concludes his refutation of Salyards by stating that, “the non-mechanical principles of order, harmony, and adaptation have been always in existence; and that these principles, existing eternally in unintelligent matter, were the causes from which the present visible universe arose.”

Yankee-Creole. “To Dr. G.A. Hammett.” The Boston Investigator, 1243-46, 1259 (Mar. 21-Apr. 11, July 11, 1855).

J. Salyards. “Misconceptions.” The Boston Investigator, 1248-49 (Apr. 25- May 2, 1855).

G.A. Hammett. “Reply to Yankee-Creole” and “To Yankee-Creole.” The Boston Investigator, 1248-51 (Apr. 25- May 16, 1855). Hammett points out, “You quote the principle that we should not assume more causes than are sufficient to account for an effect, and you maintain that it favors your doctrine; but I conceive that quite the contrary is the fact, for since an eternal first cause possessing regular adaptation without intelligence is sufficient to account for the formation of the universe, it follows that to maintain that the first cause possesses not only adaptation but intelligence is to assume more causes than are required.”

Celsus. “Christian Argument from Design.” The Boston Investigator, 1250-51 (May 9-16, 1855). The author examines the argument from design in support of the Christian dogma that the universe was created out of nothing.

G.A. Hammett. “Reply to Mr. Salyards. The Boston Investigator, 1255-58 (June 13-July 4, 1855).

Celsus. “Formation of the Universe.” The Boston Investigator, 1256 (June 20, 1855): 1-2. The author remarks, “no atheist with whose writings I am acquainted anywhere asserts that the formation of the universe requires no intelligence. All that they deny is, that the universe was formed at all, and they call upon “bigoted theists” to prove their assertion that the universe was formed. When theists shall demonstrate that the universe was “formed” or created by a word out of nothing, and that there was an eternity of time anterior to the existence of boundless space and the infinite number of worlds which revolve throughout its immensity, then, but not till then, will atheists be willing to “grant” that the “formation” of the universe, like the formation of the watch; required intelligence.”

Lewis R. Edwards. “Origin of the Universe and of Animated Tribes.” The Boston Investigator, 1257 (June 27, 1855): 1. Edwards contends that geology demonstrates that our earth had a beginning, that “the first germs of life . . . . were produced by an electro-chemical process,” and “that there has not been one break in this developmental chain since its first commencement.”

Yankee-Creole. “To Celsus.” The Boston Investigator, 1262-63 (Aug. 1-8, 1855). The author asks Celsus, “What else is the atheistical argument about the “impossibility of the universe being formed at all,” but the quintessence of metaphysics?”

Celsus. “Universal Causes.” The Boston Investigator, 1264 (Aug. 15, 1855): 1.

Celsus. “Theism and Atheism – Reply to Yankee-Creole.” The Boston Investigator, 1266-67 (Aug. 29-Sept. 5, 1855). Celsus states, “The great question between Atheism and Theism is, whether the universe, with all its infinitude of matter, laws, and phenomena, had a beginning and was created. Formed, or sprang from nothing, or existed from all past eternity, without creation, and without design, and will continue to exist through all future duration, without change and without control?”

Yankee-Creole. “Universal Intelligence, &c.” The Boston Investigator, 1271 (Oct. 3, 1855): 1.

Remarker. “Natural Theology Exposed.” The Boston Investigator, 1699-1703 (Jan. 6- Feb. 3, 1864): 273, 281-82, 289, 297, 305. The author critically examines Lord Brougham’s Discourse on Natural Theology and Paley’s Natural Theology.


[1] Account of Lyell’s second and third lectures on geology.

[2] Eboracum. “Is a Species a “Fixed Eternal Form?”” 1601 (Jan. 29, 1862): 297. The original title incorrectly read, “Theological” rather than “Zoological.”