Gifford Lectures
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  What’s New

2014 Gifford Lecture Series: University of Edinburgh

What is Caesar’s? Adjudicating Faith in Modern Constitutional Democracies to be held on Monday 19 May 2014. [More…]

2014 Gifford Lecture Series: University of Glasgow

Givenness and Revelation begins Tuesday 20 May 2014. [More…]

YouTube Channel

Gifford Lectures now has a YouTube Channel! [More…]

Links

A new Gifford Lectures page for St. Andrews. [More…]

Eight Books Based on Gifford Lectures

Eight books derived from the Gifford lectures are available. [More…]

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  Overview

History of the Gifford Lectures

The educator and historian Jacques Barzun described the Gifford Lectures as virtuoso performances and “the highest honor in a philosopher's career.” For over a hundred years the Gifford Lecture series has been one of the foremost lecture series dealing with religion, science and philosophy. In his 1885 will the jurist Adam Lord Gifford, convinced that true, felt knowledge of God when acted upon generated human well-being and progress, bequeathed £80,000 to the four Scottish universities (Universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, and St. Andrews) for the establishment of a series of lectures dealing with the topic of natural religion. In dealing with their particular area of interest and expertise, lecturers are to discuss natural theology as a science, that is, “without reference to or reliance upon any supposed special exceptional or so-called miraculous revelation.” The lectures began in 1888 and, with the exception of the years during World War II, 1942-1945, have been delivered continuously since that time. Presenters were to be appointed for a period of two years and could be reappointed for two additional periods of two years each, but for no more than six years in a given city. In this manner the subject was to be examined and promoted by different minds. [More...]

What is Natural Theology?

Traditionally natural theology is the term used for the attempt to prove the existence of God and divine purpose through observation of nature and the use of human reason. Seen in a more positive light natural theology is the part of theology that does not depend on revelation. To the extent “revealed theology,” which presupposes that God and divine purposes are not open to human understanding, is engaged at all by natural theology it is to address the issue of the probability that revealed theology can be reconciled with reason. During the 17th and 18th centuries attempts were made to establish a “natural religion” to which people might assent and thereby ameliorate harsh charges and actions against doubters of revealed religion. The classic work arguing for a rational derivation of divine purpose is William Paley's Natural Theology (1802), but the rational arguments for the existence of divine reason at work in the world can be found as early as the writings of Plato (c.427-347). [More...]

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