The Idea of God in the Light of Recent Philosophy

  • Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison
1911 to 1913
University of Aberdeen

The principal purpose of these lectures is to examine critically the true significance of Enlightenment philosophy and 19th century biology for Christian theism. A discussion of Kant's attempt to found religious belief on moral experience leads to an exploration of the foundations of the Idealist philosophy of Hegel and his successors, and to its rival — positivistic naturalism.

Evolutionary biology has liberating insights for both theology and philosophy, provided the theory of evolution is understood correctly. Ironically, this proper understanding shows Christianity's moral rival — ethical humanism — to be anti-scientific.

Further reflection on the deficiencies of positivism confirms the cogency of Absolute Idealism, which is not to be confused with pan-psychism, mentalism or “subjective” idealism. The mistakes of some Idealist philosophers have to be corrected, however, chief among them the tendency of Idealist philosophy to deny reality to “finite selves.” Once amended, Idealism gives us reason to abandon the conception of God as a superhuman Creator in favour of creation conceived as an evolutionary “process,” and also provides a more satisfactory answer to the traditional problem of evil.

God and Personality

  • Clement Charles Julian Webb
1917 to 1919
University of Aberdeen

In God and Personality and Divine Personality, Webb examines ideas of personality and persons and their relation to broadly theistic conceptions of God. Volume 1 begins with a brief historical sketch of philosophical conceptions of personality. Webb then discusses problems in conceiving of personality as involving rationality in individuals, given that ‘rationality’ is often seen as opposed to the ‘personal’ in the sense that a feature of the ‘personal’ is a certain sort of arbitrariness, and that ‘personal’ considerations are not universally applicable. He then begins leading towards a conception of God as personal insofar as worshippers can enter into personal relations with him, starting with criticisms of attempts to finitize God. Continuing his positive account, he explores related issues such as that of God’s relation to finite entities in terms of creation, the problem of sin and perfection and religious experience as a foundation for theology. The second volume explores the notion of personality in ‘man’ in light of the conclusions drawn in the first volume, and how the ‘divine personality’ figures in spheres of human activity such as the economic, scientific, aesthetic, moral, political and religious lives. He then criticizes Naturalism and Absolute Idealism, bringing in considerations regarding the value of persons and concluding with a consideration of personal immortality.

Mind and Deity

  • John Laird
1939 to 1940
University of Glasgow

'Mind and Deity' is the second course of Gifford Lectures offered by John Laird, the first being his 1939 'Theism and Cosmology'. In this, his 1940 series, Laird explores metaphysics and theism, wrestling in particular with issues relating to belief in a personal God, Divine Providence and the nature of mind and value.

The Relevance of Science

  • Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker
1959 to 1961
University of Glasgow

In The Relevance of Science, Weizsäcker engaged in a dialogue with intellectuals more than with the specialists in the fields he discusses. He diagnoses the ambivalence of the scientific civilization in place at the time the lectures were given.

He also aims to present practical solutions to problems raised in his theoretical work.

First, he presents an account of history from a philosophical standpoint. Then he outlines his own philosophical ideas as a basis for further discussion. He discusses the history of Western thought by examining the history of nature, seeing his lectures not primarily as giving rise to practical advice but as helping to develop our consciousness.

Benedikt Bock
University of Glasgow

Creation and the Spirit of God

  • Jürgen Moltmann
1984 to 1985
University of Edinburgh

Jürgen Moltmann seeks to articulate a doctrine of creation for humanity that centers upon God’s creating and sustaining activity within the world. Recent ecological destruction illustrates clearly the impact humanity has upon the world, and Moltmann advocates that humanity’s understanding of God’s relationship with the world must be understood to clarify an ecological doctrine of creation that nurtures life and the created world.

Subscribe to RSS - Creation