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The programme is presented by Dr. David Goodman, Lecturer in History of Science. The programme looks at some of the ways in which natural philosophers from the seventeenth century sought evidence f...rom science to show the existence of God. The programme begins with the opposite view, summarised by Voltaire, that the world had come about by chance. We then look briefly at the philosophy of Epicurus which embodied this belief, We then move to the Argument from Design proper. We hear the words of Robert Boyle describing the chameleon, with specially shot VT. We move on to Robert Hooke and his work in the Micrographia on the eye of a fly, the foot of a fly and feathers, John Ray describes the hatching of birds, the migration of salmon, the camel and fossils. We hear Ray's explanation for the existence of harmful creatures such as insects. We move on to the eighteenth century and hear Diderot's affirmation of the Argument From Design, and his subsequent move to atheistic materialism. We see an experiment on a dead frog to show the phenomenon of muscular irritability, which seemed to support the idea of active properties in matter. Finally we move to the nineteenth century and the Bridgewater Treatises, with Charles Bell's work on the Hand.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: AMST283, Science and belief: from Copernicus to Darwin
Item code: AMST283; 05
First transmission date: 08-05-1974
Published: 1974
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:17
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Producer: Paul Kafno
Contributors: David Goodman; Harvey Hall; Reginald Jessup
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Design in nature; Diderot; Epicurus; Natural philosophy; Philosophy; Voltaire
Footage description: Opening shots show dice being shaken. Reg Jessup reads from Voltaire commenting on chance as the arbiter of the universe. David Goodman introduces the programme, in which extracts from several writers illustrate the argument from designs that if there's evidence of design in nature, a designer, i.e. God, must exist. The text of all the readings is printed in the Broadcast Notes. Second extract read by Harvey Hall, from Lucretius presents Epicurus' materialist philosophy. Bust of Epicurus. Next a description from the 17th century natural philosopher Robert Boyle, describing the chameleon in his 'Disquisition about the final causes of natural things'. Read by Stuart Doughty. Film of chameleon on twig. Goodman discusses the work of Robert Hooke on microscopy. Hall reads extracts from 'Micrographia' on feathers, and flies' feet and eyes. Illustrated with his drawings, and specially taken micrographs. Next extract from John Ray's 'Wisdom of God manifested on the works of the Creation'. Film of birds feeding their young. Engraving of camel. Goodman explains Ray's dilemma over fossils. Shots of fossils on revolving table. Further readings. Goodman next instances the monsters as an embarassnent for religious natural philosophers. Engravings from his early 17th century volumes (details in Broadcast Notes). A short quotation from Diderot in support of atheistic materialism, instancing a butterfly's wing - photograph. Goodman mentions the mid 18th century discovery of muscular irritability and demonstrates on a freshly dead frog muscle. Nevertheless the Argument from Design persists. Goodman mentions the Bridgewater Treatises of the 19th century, a series of books, one of which was Charles Bell's 'The Hand: its mechanism and vital endowments as evincing design'. Hall reads an extract from this. Shots of hand in motion. Goodman comments further on the book, which he shows, and sums up. Credits over bust of Epicurus.
Master spool number: 6HT/71305
Production number: 00525_3113
Videofinder number: 3353
Available to public: no