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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index P > William Paley Quotes

William Paley
(1743 - 1805)

British natural theologian.

Science Quotes by William Paley (7 quotes)

Animal enjoyments are infinitely diversified.
— William Paley
In The Works of William Paley (1838), Vol. 1, 170.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Animal Behavior (9)  |  Diversify (2)  |  Enjoyment (27)  |  Infinitely (8)

In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer, that, for any thing I knew to the contrary, it had lain there for ever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to shew the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be enquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that, for any thing I knew, the watch might have always been there.
— William Paley
Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature (1802), 1-2.
Science quotes on:  |  Always (7)  |  Answer (201)  |  Cross (9)  |  Enquiry (75)  |  Finding (30)  |  Foot (39)  |  Ground (63)  |  Heath (4)  |  Lie (80)  |  Pitch (7)  |  Place (111)  |  Possibility (96)  |  Stone (57)  |  Supposition (33)  |  Watch (39)

It is a happy world after all. The air, the earth, the water teem with delighted existence. In a spring noon, or a summer evening, on whichever side I turn my eyes, myriads of happy beings crowd upon my view. “The insect youth are on the wing.” Swarms of new-born flies are trying their pinions in the air. Their sportive motions, their wanton mazes, their gratuitous activity testify their joy and the exultation they feel in their lately discovered faculties … The whole winged insect tribe, it is probable, are equally intent upon their proper employments, and under every variety of constitution, gratified, and perhaps equally gratified, by the offices which the author of their nature has assigned to them.
— William Paley
Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of The Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature (1802), 490-1.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (97)  |  Air (151)  |  Assignment (10)  |  Author (39)  |  Being (39)  |  Constitution (26)  |  Crowd (12)  |  Delight (51)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Earth (487)  |  Employment (22)  |  Equality (21)  |  Evening (12)  |  Existence (254)  |  Exultation (4)  |  Eye (159)  |  Faculty (36)  |  Feeling (79)  |  Fly (65)  |  Gratification (14)  |  Happy (22)  |  Insect (57)  |  Intent (5)  |  Joy (61)  |  Lateness (4)  |  Maze (9)  |  Motion (127)  |  Myriad (18)  |  Nature (1029)  |  New-born (2)  |  Noon (6)  |  Office (14)  |  Probability (83)  |  Properness (2)  |  Side (36)  |  Sport (9)  |  Spring (47)  |  Summer (26)  |  Swarm (11)  |  Teeming (2)  |  Testament (4)  |  Tribe (10)  |  Try (103)  |  Variety (53)  |  View (115)  |  Water (244)  |  Whole (122)  |  Wing (36)  |  World (667)  |  Youth (57)

Neither cookery nor chymistry [has] been able to make milk out of grass.
— William Paley
In The Works of William Paley (1838), Vol. 1, 105.
Science quotes on:  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Cookery (5)  |  Grass (30)  |  Milk (12)

No anatomist ever discovered a system of organization, calculated to produce pain and disease; or, in explaining the parts of the human body, ever said, this is to irritate; this is to inflame; this duct is to convey the gravel to the kidneys; this gland to secrete the humour which forms the gout: if by chance he come at a part of which he knows not the use, the most he can say is, that it is useless; no one ever suspects that it is put there to incommode, to annoy, or torment.
— William Paley
The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy (1785), Vol. 1, 79.
Science quotes on:  |  Anatomist (14)  |  Annoyance (3)  |  Calculation (67)  |  Chance (122)  |  Conveyance (2)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Disease (257)  |  Duct (2)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Formation (54)  |  Gland (7)  |  Gout (5)  |  Gravel (3)  |  Human Body (30)  |  Humour (101)  |  Irritation (2)  |  Kidney (13)  |  Organization (79)  |  Pain (82)  |  Part (146)  |  Production (105)  |  Secretion (4)  |  Suspicion (25)  |  System (141)  |  Torment (13)  |  Uselessness (21)

There cannot be design without a designer; contrivance without a contriver; order without choice; arrangement, without any thing capable of arranging; subserviency and relation to a purpose; means suitable to an end, and executing their office in accomplishing that end, without the end ever having been contemplated, or the means accommodated to it. Arrangement, disposition of parts, subserviency of means to an end, relation of instruments to use, imply the preference of intelligence and mind.
— William Paley
Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of The Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature (1802), 12.
Science quotes on:  |  Accomplishment (57)  |  Arrangement (45)  |  Choice (64)  |  Contrivance (9)  |  Contriver (2)  |  Design (92)  |  Designer (6)  |  Disposition (14)  |  End (141)  |  Execution (9)  |  Implication (14)  |  Instrument (73)  |  Intelligence (138)  |  Means (109)  |  Mind (544)  |  Office (14)  |  Order (167)  |  Part (146)  |  Preference (18)  |  Purpose (138)  |  Relation (96)  |  Subservience (3)  |  Suitability (11)

Who can refute a sneer?
— William Paley
The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy (1785), Vol. 2, 114.
Science quotes on:  |  Refutation (10)  |  Sneer (3)



Quotes by others about William Paley (1)

The science of the geologist seems destined to exert a marked influence on that of the natural theologian... Not only—to borrow from Paley's illustration—does it enable him to argue on the old grounds, from the contrivance exhibited in the watch found on the moor, that the watch could not have lain upon the moor for ever; but it establishes further, on different and more direct evidence, that there was a time when absolutely the watch was not there; nay, further, so to speak, that there was a previous time in which no watches existed at all, but only water-clocks; yet further, that there was at time in which there we not even water-clocks, but only sun-dials; and further, an earlier time still in which sun-dials were not, nor an measurers of time of any kind.
Lecture to the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution, 'Geology in its Bearings on the Two Theologies, Part 1', collected in The Testimony of the Rocks: or, Geology in Its Bearings on the Two Theologies, Natural and Revealed (1857), 211.
Science quotes on:  |  Clock (26)  |  Contrivance (9)  |  Destiny (26)  |  Era (14)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Geologist (42)  |  Influence (110)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Theologian (14)  |  Time (439)  |  Watch (39)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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