There are a number of Keith Wards on the internet, and they are not all me. To identify myself, I propose to call myself ‘Professor Keith Ward’, as I think I am the only one of those.
As my CV shows, I have been an academic virtually all my working life, teaching philosophy, theology, and religious studies at various times. So I am an academic, with all the shortcomings that implies. I am interested in intellectual problems, in arguments and theories, and I largely depend on other people for finding out facts.
I am, by nature and conviction, an Idealist philosopher, somebody who believes in the supremacy of Spirit or Mind, and who thinks that the material universe is an expression or creation of a Supreme Mind. I see religions as very ambiguous but probably necessary ways of giving humans some awareness of this Supreme Mind. I am a Christian, and became a priest of the Church of England in 1972. But I have an interest in the many diverse ways in which humans have sought spiritual truth, and in trying to understand what these various paths may have to teach. I think the main task for religious believers today is to ensure that their beliefs are conducive to human flourishing and, so far as is possible, to the flourishing of all sentient beings; to relate ancient religious beliefs to the modern scientific world view; and to see their own faith in a truly global context.
That gives an idea of who I am, and explains why my books fall into three main classes – philosophy, religion, and Christian theology. Virtually all my books have been, rather selfishly, ways of working out what I believe, but they have also responded to particular situations which have in my view shown misunderstandings of the sort of philosophy and religion I adhere to – and those misunderstandings are legion, and growing (which is why I have written so many books)!
Recommended starting places
If you would like to read something by me, may I suggest the following:
By Faith and Reason: the Essential Keith Ward, ed. by Curtis Holtzen and Roberto Sirvent, (Darton, Longman, Todd; 2012)
This is a collection of 18 extracts from my published works, some not easily available, with one piece specially written for the book. I am immensely grateful to the editors for their care in putting together this survey, which gives a very good idea of the range of my work.
If you are interested in philosophical questions about God, written in an accessible and lightly humorous style, detailing changing philosophical views of God from the ancient Greeks to the modern secular West
‘God: a Guide for the Perplexed’ is my favourite.
If you are interested in the relationship between religion and modern science, then ‘The Big Questions in Science and Religion’ is a good start. ‘Pascal’s Fire’ is more of a defence of a religious view in a scientific context, focusing on Pascal’s question: is the God of the scientists the same as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? ‘God, Chance and Necessity’ is about the role of chance in a created world.
If you are interested in a philosopher’s take on the nature and place of religion, ‘The Case for Religion’ is the one to go for.
If you like a good fight, especially with Professor Richard Dawkins, then ‘Why There is Almost Certainly a God’ provides one, taking on the ‘New Atheists’.
If you want an Idealist take on the history of Western philosophy, try ‘The God Conclusion’, published as ‘God and the Philosophers‘ in the USA. It details the thoughts of Plato, Aquinas, Descartes, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche, and shows the importance of the idea of God in Western philosophical thought.
For a philosophical analysis of minds, brains, persons, and souls, and a defence of what I call ‘dual-aspect idealism’, see ‘More Than Matter’. It is meant to be a serious philosophy book, but is written in a non-technical and conversational style. It outlines various philosophical positions, like empiricism and materialism, and is in part a response to Gilbert Ryle’s influential book, ‘The Concept of Mind‘, which was an attack on mind-body dualism.
If you are interested in comparative religion, ‘Concepts of God’, earlier published as ‘Images of Eternity‘, is the one.
The five volume series (4 from OUP and the fifth from SCM Press) – Religion and Revelation; Religion and Creation; Religion and Human Nature; Religion and Community, and Religion and Human Fulfilment, is pretty academic in tone, but it is really the fullest exposition of my views on religion in general. It presents a systematic Christian theology in a global religious context, but it is also a study of five major religious traditions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism) from a very ecumenical viewpoint.
How do I think the Bible should be interpreted today? ‘What the Bible Really Teaches’ and ‘The Word of God?’ presents a biblically based exposition of Christian beliefs, from a non-fundamentalist standpoint .
‘Christianity: a Beginner’s Guide‘, ‘Christianity; a Guide for the Perplexed’ or ‘Re-Thinking Christianity’, are three books that also try to expound a rational Christian faith for the modern world. The first gives an account of the various ways the main Christian doctrines have been and still are interpreted. The second gives a very short account of my own take on Christian faith. And the third gives a fuller account of the developing history of Christianity, and where I think it should go next.
I have also written some books on morality. A very early one (my first major work) is Ethics and Christianity, in the Muirhead Library of Philosophy, published by Allen and Unwin. Kant is one of the most important moral philosophers, and in ‘The Development of Kant’s View of Ethics‘, I show how his thinking on ethics developed from his earliest to his last written works. My latest book is Morality, Autonomy, and God, from Oneworld Publications. They both discuss the relation between morality and religion, and outline a distinctively religious morality. Shorter books are: The Divine Image and The Rule of Love.
That’s enough to be going on with; it would be quite a marathon to read all my books, even for me. These are just suggestions about what you might read, depending on your interests.