William Buckland and Nineteenth Century Natural Theology
In the 1830s, prominent British physicians and geologists authored eight volumes of the Bridgewater Treatises, commissioned by the will of the Earl of Bridgewater to illustrate “the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God in the Works of Creation.” The well-known surgeon Charles Bell contributed The Hand : Its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as Evincing Design (1833).
The Rev. William Buckland, Reader in Geology at Oxford, who wrote the Bridgewater Treatise on geology, was the most eminent advocate of Flood geology in the early nineteenth century. His natural theology was very different from John Ray’s. The Flood corresponded to the last of a series of lengthy geological eras separated by catastrophes. As evidence for design, Buckland showed that fossil animals had been well adapted to their environments. Much of the phenomena that Buckland and others attributed to a great flood is now explained by the Ice Age.