Paley, William, 1743–1805, English theologian. Ordained in 1767, he lectured on moral philosophy at Christ's College, Cambridge. Made a prebendary of the cathedral church of Carlisle (1780), he became archdeacon of the diocese (1782), and chancellor (1785), the year he published Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy. He wrote Horae Paulinae (1790), in proof that the New Testament is not
a cunningly devised fable,and A View of the Evidences of Christianity (1794), for which he is celebrated. Natural Theology; or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity (1802) achieved great popularity. In 1825 a complete edition of his writings was published by his son, Edmund Paley.
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