Bentley, Richard (1662–1727)

Richard Bentley

Richard Bentley was an English theologian who strove to accommodate the dramatically enlarged cosmos of the late seventeenthth century within traditional religious doctrine. Upon this matter he corresponded with Isaac Newton. Bentley accepted the evolving consensus among astronomers that "every Fixt Star [is] of the same nature with our Sun; and each may very possibly have Planets about them ..." Moreover, he saw no theological barrier to these worlds being populated:


As the Earth was principally designed for the Being and Service and contemplation of Men; why may not all other Planets be created for the like uses, each for their own Inhabitants who have Life and Understanding?


He was adamant, however, that the physical extent of the universe did not diminish the unique relationship between mankind and God, insisting that "the soul of one virtuous man is of greater worth and excellency, than the sun and his planets, and all the stars in the world."