In the first Gifford Lectures to be delivered at the University of Edinburgh, Stirling discusses the following two questions: What is Natural Theology? Are there proofs of God’s existence? He traces ‘arguments from Design’, referencing Anaxagoras, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, various Christian and Eastern philosophers from the Middle Ages, and the writings of David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and Charles Darwin. Stirling argues that the ‘order’ we find in nature implies a designing mind.
Natural theology is typically described as a revelation-free, reason-informed theology, and is most often associated with proofs for the existence of God.
For Lord Gifford, who established the Gifford Lectures to investiage natural theology in the widest sense of the term, natural theology includes the knowledge of God, the knowledge of God’s nature and attributes, and the relationship of humans and the world to God, as well as the nature and foundation of ethics or morals.