Scruton - What is it for a Prayer to be Answered?

Additional Information

Category Lecture
Speakers Scruton, Roger
Year 2014

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Respondent: Raymond Tallis

Problems about special divine action trouble our understanding of prayer. Even if God hears our prayers, what can he do about them? Many prayers are for rectification of the past - 'Let it not be that she has drowned', e.g. the fervent prayers of the relatives of those on the Malaysian airliner come to mind. There seems to be a distinction between prayers relating to actions and resolutions of one's own, in which one calls for a strengthening of one's own will, and prayers addressed solely to the will of God. I explore the phenomenology of prayer, with a view to understanding just what 'the will of God' might mean in this context.

ROGER SCRUTON is currently visiting professor in the School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies at the University of St Andrews, and visiting professor in Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He is also a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington and a contributing editor to The New Atlantis. In 2010 he gave the Gifford Lectures in St Andrews under the title of ‘The Face of God’, which have been collected and published under the title The Face of God (Continuum, 2012). In 2011 he gave the Stanton Lectures in the Divinity School at the University of Cambridge. Prof. Scruton is a writer, philosopher and public commentator. He has specialised in aesthetics with particular attention to music and architecture. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a fellow of the British Academy. Among his other most recent books are Our Church: A Personal History of the Church of England (Atlantic, 2012), Beauty: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2009); The Uses of Pessimism (Atlantic Books, 2010), and Green Philosophy (Atlantic, 2012; published in the United States as How to Think Seriously about the Planet).

RAYMOND TALLIS, F. Med. Sci., F.R.C.P., F.R.S.A., is one of the world’s leading polymaths. He is a philosopher, poet, novelist, cultural critic and a retired medical physician and clinical neuroscientist. Specializing in geriatrics, Tallis served on several UK commissions on medical care of the aged and was an editor or major contributor to two key textbooks in the field, The Clinical Neurology of Old Age and Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. His philosophical work includes titles such as Unthinkable Thought: The enduring significance of Parmenides (2008); The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Fantastical Journey around Your Head (2008); Michelangelo's Finger: An Exploration of Everyday Transcendence (2010); Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity (2011); and In Defence of Wonder and Other Philosophical Reflections (2012).