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The Divine Flame 1963–1965

Alister Clavering Hardy


Table of Contents


Sir Alister Hardy’s Gifford lectures, published in two volumes under the titles of The Living Stream and The Divine Flame, attempt as never before to set Lord Gifford’s vision in motion. Hardy sets out to deliver a series of lectures that will put theology on a properly scientific foundation. His first set of lectures are concerned with establishing that science and theology are not, as is commonly thought, wholly opposed to one another but, rather, intimately connected. Hardy demonstrates this through a broadly biological discussion that paves the way for an examination of man and his religious behaviour and experiences as part of a natural history. The Divine is not conceived as anything anthropocentric, but rather as an extrasensory higher power lying beyond the individual self and with which man has stood/stands in personal relation. Natural theology is not rational theology but theism as derived from the empirical study of nature. Hardy makes a case for the former contention (non-anthropocentric Deity) in The Living Stream, while in The Divine Flame he develops the notion with an examination of the nature of human experiences of God and the evidences for such experiences. The series appeals to theology to become more natural, identifying a need for an experimental faith, grounded in science, which will revolutionise theology and rejuvenate civilization—a reaction toward materialism, which Hardy conceives as a qualitative threat to future generations. He does not purport to be constructing a natural theology based on science so much as laying the foundations upon which such a theology may be built.
Jon Cameron
University of Aberdeen
KEY WORDS: Natural theology, Divinity, Evolutionary biology, Evolutionary theory, Evolution, Natural selection, Telepathy, Primitive society, Religious experience, Experimental faith

Publication Data

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Templeton Press