The Existence of God
R C, Penryn, pseud. [Richard Cope]
Short Fiction, Dialogue
Faith, Infidelity, Feeling, Natural Theology, Biblical Authority, Human Species, Reason, Instinct, Scientific Practitioners, Piety
Frances Woodley asks her father for 'some arguments in support of the important sentiment, that there is a God' so as to be 'armed against any suggestion to the contrary' (84–85). Her father quotes from Stephen Charnock the observation that 'Atheism has been very properly considered as a disease of the heart rather than of the head'. The atheist has 'lost his wisdom, and the right notion of God and divine things, which were communicated to man by the creation'. Mr Woodley offers as the 'first argument against the atheist' the manifestations of the being and attributes of God in the creation. (86) At this and other points, Frances relates his observations to biblical quotations. Quoting William Paley, Mr Woodley invokes the cosmological and teleological arguments. He reviews the natural world, and especially its 'produce', before finally considering the human species. He makes a particular argument from the design apparent in animal instinct and also argues from conscience and from 'the consent of all nations'. He observes: 'Although to an atheist, an appeal to the sacred Scriptures would be no proof, yet it must be confessed, that what is only inferred from a survey of the works of creation is there asserted'. This is 'sufficient for the humble Christian, whose faith removes every doubt'. They reflect on the vastness of God, and Mr Woodley observes that it is 'said of Sir Isaac Newton and Dr. Clarke, that they never mentioned the name of God, without a solemn pause' (89).
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
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