Philosophy and Theology

  • James Hutchison Stirling
University of Edinburgh

James Hutchison Stirling published Philosophy and Theology in 1890. It is a compilation of the 20 Gifford lectures he delivered as the first Gifford Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. These lectures discuss the questions: What is Natural Theology?

Natural Theology

  • George Gabriel Stokes
1891 to 1893
University of Edinburgh

Delivered over the course of 1891 and 1893, George Gabriel Stokes's Gifford Lectures focused on the question of Divine Design, which he defined as God's Will and creation itself. Stokes contrasts Design with materialism, which posits that all life and all inorganic phenomena are caused by natural laws, and nothing more. Stokes rebuts that view by arguing a materialistic conception of the universe cannot explain why certain natural laws exist, such as the law of gravitation. It can only describe the phenomena we observe in the form of mathematical theories.

Natural Religion and Christian Theology

  • Charles Earle Raven
1950 to 1952
University of Edinburgh

Taking as his first premise that man’s attitude to nature is intimately connected with and powerfully influences his conception of God, an examination of man’s attitude towards nature is therefore a prerequisite in any study of religion. In the first series of lectures, Raven examines man’s attitude toward nature from the time of the early Church to the present.

Heidi Poon
University of Edinburgh

The Nature and Limits of Human Understanding

  • Brian Hebblethwaite
  • George Lakoff
  • Lynne Rudder Baker
  • Michael Ruse
  • Philip Johnson-Laird
University of Glasgow

The 2001 Gifford Lectures commemorate the 550th anniversary of the founding of the University of Glasgow in 1451. In two lectures each, five scholars from various disciplines examine The Nature and Limits of Human Understanding. In Part I, cognitive psychologist Philip Johnson-Laird discusses the relationship between language and understanding. In Part II, linguist George Lakoff explores the mind-body relationship and the shaping influence of embodiment on thought, arguing for a new philosophy of ‘embodied realism’.

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