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JAMA Revisited
March 7, 2017

The Natural Imperfections of the Body and the Limitations of Science

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2017 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.

JAMA. 2017;317(9):978. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0012

Originally Published March 3, 1917 | JAMA. 1917;689:714.

It is not uncommon to find persons who are confronted with some problem pertaining to the needs of the body making references to “nature,” or human instincts, or physiologic habits in explanation of the mysteries of our living organism. The author of one of the once familiar Bridgewater treatises, in which the discoveries of science were considered with reference to “natural theology,” wisely remarked that “man not only sees means directed to certain ends; but ends accomplished by means, which he is totally unable to understand. He also sees, everywhere, things, the nature, and the end of which are utterly beyond his comprehension; and respecting which, he is obliged to content himself with simply inferring the existence of design.”1