Must Write

Just a holding post – McGilchrist’s latest has kinda brought a long and winding agenda to a culmination.

Firstly, I said it in my previous TMWT summary post, The world-view forming is really what has been called Natural Theology since William Paley gave a name to the interminable God vs Science debates, as old as the history of philosophy itself. In trying to give meaning to conceptions of values & virtues, the good, the sacred, even the spiritual or divine within a world more comfortably understood in terms of the kind of reason we now easily call science, words may fail us. Typically writers with a “natural” outlook end up with a sacred naturalism or natural theology. Whatever Paley’s own motivations and arguments in terms of the existence of God, theology is a perfectly good word for the question, if not the answer. But a theology, where whatever word we choose to encompass these conceptions of the good, God or not, we’re not talking about some supernatural agent – by our chosen definition of nature, a natural theology, a sacred naturalism. Let’s call a spade a spade, and at least not dodge the question.

The reason for capturing that thought above is two-fold. Partly because the penny dropped about why so many of the best publications in this area started out as Gifford Lectures (Hannah Arendt, William James, Charles Taylor, Alfred North Whitehead, Arthur Eddington, Michael Gazzaniga, Sean Carroll, Steven Pinker to name a few). The Gifford Lectures continue to this day, with Natural Theology as their explicit subject area.

Secondly, because scientific advice regarding the sanctity of life is ever topical in our times of Covid. I need to contrast the two positions in this Twitter exchange with Prof Whitty discussing his own ethical issues with scientific advice and the WHO (a draft from almost exactly a year ago). One politician and two scientists.

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