Ward's lecture series (Naturalism and Agnosticism) seeks to defend an adequate basis for theistic inquiry in light of certain assumptions made by science that would preclude such an inquiry's possibility. Naturalism has a tendency to favour materialism. Where naturalism takes agnosticism for its ally (something it must do if its doctrines are not to remain dogma) and is, thereby, forced to choose between spiritualism and materialism, it opts for the materialist terminology (albeit for practical purposes in the progression of scientific enquiry). However, materialism cannot stand up to the strain of analysis in light of the relation between organic and inorganic elements of nature. The dualism of matter and mind is untenable on any materialist account and this is most notably displayed in light of reflections upon experience. The elimination of dogma that the agnostic attitude (scepticism) presents us with leaves us with a neutral monism. However, if confidence is placed in the materialist understanding, the result is error. Idealism (spiritualistic monism), Ward argues, is the ‘one stable position’ in light of preceding concerns and the arguments in its defence see fit to open the door for the possibility of theistic inquiry and, thereby, for a rational theology.
Naturalism and Agnosticism, vol. 1
Naturalism and Agnosticism is concerned to examine the presuppositions of popular science and its foreclosing of theistic inquiries. Ultimately it culminates in a defence of idealism (spiritualistic monism), which Ward holds, is required for any kind of exposition of theism. The first volume is concerned with the ‘real principles’ of natural science, and is devoted to the discussions of the Mechanical Theory and the Theory of Evolution.
Naturalism and Agnosticism, 2 vol.
These lectures are, not surprisingly, dated even in their most innocuous assumptions; for instance, in the very limits of the term “modern science”. Despite such obvious and unavoidable marks of the time, however, their value within their time is the reason why these lectures still hold such sway in philosophical discussion and debate.
- Jon Cameron, University of Aberdeen