The watch on the heath : science and religion before Darwin Keith Thomson London : HarperCollins, 2005 Hardcover. First edition and printing. xiv, 314 p.,  p. of plates : ill ; 25 cm. Bibliography : p. 285-293. Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG
Observing life ever more closely, an extraordinary generation of English geologists, fossil hunters and naturalists were compelled to accept that their planet was older, more complicated, diverse and cruel than they had previously imagined. Questions about God and the Bible inevitably began to arise.
For these men, unlike for Darwin, science and religion could share a philosophical basis: a careful rational study of nature, instead of denying God, would confirm that life is, after all, the product of God’s unique creation. This belief became known as natural theology. Its greatest exponent was William Paley but the work of others such as John Ray, Robert Plot, William Whiston, Thomas Burnet, John Woodward, Erasmus Darwin and countless more writing between 1665 and 1800 gives us an extraordinary glimpse into minds at the forefront of an epic enquiry.
Taking his title from Paley’s famous analogy of a watch requiring a maker, therefore nature in all its intricacy having to be the creation of a supreme designer, Keith Thomson’s book brings to life their dilemmas, and is a winning portrayal of intellectuals struggling with their belief systems in an age of revolutionary science.