Naturalism and Agnosticism

  • James Ward
University of Aberdeen

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).

Science et religion dans la philosophie contemporaine

  • Emile Boutroux
1903 to 1905
University of Glasgow

Science and Religion in Contemporary Philosophy is among the few works of the French spiritualist Émile Boutroux available in an English translation. The volume explores the interchange between science and religion in what at the turn of the previous century was modern philosophy. Having dialogued with Comte, Spencer, Haeckel, Ritschl, and James, Boutroux argues in his conclusion that science and religion are indispensable facets of existence which perform different roles by describing distinct aspects of reality.

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.

The Domain of Natural Science

  • Ernest William Hobson
1920 to 1922
University of Aberdeen

Hobson’s series of twenty lectures are concerned with establishing how the relation between the complex of knowledge and ideas denoted by the term Natural Science ought to relate to the other factors of human experience with which religion and philosophy are concerned. Hobson first gives a general account of what is essentially involved in the scientific outlook, surveying its methods as a means to establishing its domain.

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.

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