When the Senatus Academicus of the University of Edinburgh did me the honour of appointing me as Gifford Lecturer in Natural Theology for the session 1970–71 I felt specially grateful for the stimulus which this gave me to return for a brief period to the branch of theology in which I had produced my first serious academic work twenty-seven years before. Since my book He Who Is and its sequel Existence and Analogy appeared in 1943 and 1949 respectively I had become more and more absorbed in questions of dogmatic theology, though the philosophical aspects of Christian theism had never ceased to interest me, as was indicated by the publication of my small work Words and Images in 1957. Now, however, I have been given the welcome opportunity of making a fresh survey of the field of natural theology and the present volume embodies its results. Even within the ample time provided for a Gifford Lecturer some selection was inevitable; I therefore decided to devote a large proportion of it to the discussion of certain recent work, such as that of the transcendental Thomists, which is not as widely known as it deserves to be in English-speaking philosophical and theological circles. My chief desire, however, has been to vindicate, against the generally positivist attitude of Anglo-Saxon philosophy in recent years, a fundamentally and unashamedly metaphysical approach to theism. In pursuing this aim some reference to my earlier work was inevitable, but I have tried to keep it to a minimum; for there is little merit in mere repetition. The ten main chapters of this book contain, apart from some passages in chapter three which were omitted through limitations of time, the lectures as actually delivered, and in preparing them for publication I have retained the conversational form. Certain material which, either on grounds of length or because it fell outside the limits proper to natural theology, was not delivered orally I have included as Appendices. Some repetitions have been allowed to remain. In the text and footnotes I have mentioned the dates of books referred to only when it seemed relevant to the argument to do so; the dates of all will, however, be found in the Bibliography.
Most of chapter eight appeared as a review-article and a review in the Downside Review, most of appendix one as a review in The Thomist, most of appendix three as an article in the Church Quarterly Review and appendix four as an article in the American Church Quarterly, for consent to reproduce these I am grateful to the editors and publishers of the journals concerned.
Finally, I must express my gratitude to the University of Edinburgh for electing me to the Lectureship, to the many friends in Edinburgh who made my visits so fruitful and delightful, to the Council of King's College, London, for granting me the necessary leave of absence, and to Miss Patricia V. Connor for the care and patience with which she typed my manuscript.
E. L. M.
King's College, London