Gifford Lectures

The Gifford Lectures are an annual series of lectures which were established by the will of Adam Lord Gifford (died 1887). They were established to "promote and diffuse the study of natural theology in the widest sense of the term — in other words, the knowledge of God." A Gifford lectures appointment is one of the most prestigious honors in Scottish academia. The lectures are given at several Scottish universities: University of St Andrews, University of Glasgow, University of Aberdeen and University of Edinburgh. They are normally presented as a series over an academic year and given with the intent that the edited content be published in book form. A number of these works have become classics in the fields of theology or philosophy and the relationship between religion and science.

Notable lectures


  • 1896–98 James Ward Naturalism and Agnosticism
  • 1898–00 Josiah Royce The World and the Individual
  • 1904–06 James Adam The Religious Teachers of Greece
  • 1907–08 Hans Driesch The Science and Philosophy of the Organism
  • 1911–13 Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison The Idea of God in the light of Recent Philosophy
  • 1914–15 William Ritchie Sorley Moral Values and the Idea of God
  • 1927–28 Alfred North Whitehead Process and Reality
  • 1930–32 Etienne Gilson The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy
  • 1936–38 Karl Barth The Knowledge of God and the Service of God according to the Teaching of the Reformation
  • 1939–40 Arthur Darby Nock Hellenistic Religion - The Two Phases
  • 1949–50 Gabriel Marcel The Mystery of Being ISBN 1-890318-85-X, Faith and Reality ISBN 1-890318-86-8
  • 1951–52 Michael Polanyi Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy, ISBN 0-226-67288-3
  • 1953–54 Paul Tillich Systematic Theology (3 vols.): ISBN 0-226-80337-6, ISBN 0-226-80338-4, ISBN 0-226-80339-2
  • 1963, 1965 Alister Hardy The Living Stream, The Divine Flame
  • 1965–1967 Raymond Aron La Conscience historique dans la pensée et dans l'action
  • 1973 Hannah Arendt Life of the Mind
  • 1982–84 Richard Swinburne The Evolution of the Soul, ISBN 0-19-823698-0
  • 1984–85 Freeman Dyson Infinite In All Directions, ISBN 0-06-072889-2
  • 1989–91 Ian Barbour Religion in an Age of Science, ISBN 0-06-060383-6
  • 1992–93 Jaroslav Pelikan Christianity and Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter With Hellenism, ISBN 0-300-06255-9
  • 1994–95 John W. Rogerson Faith and Criticism in the Work of William Robertson Smith, 1846-1894
  • 1994–95 M. A. Stewart New Light and Enlightenment
  • 1994–95 Peter Jones Science and Religion before and after Hume
  • 1994–95 James H. Burns The Order of Nature
  • 1994–95 Alexander Broadie The Shadow of Scotus
  • 1997–98 Russell Stannard The God Experiment
  • 2000–01 John S. Habgood The Concept of Nature
  • 2003–04 John Haldane Mind, Soul and Deity
  • 2003 Eleonore Stump Wandering in the Darkness
  • 2007 Stephen Pattison Seeing Things: Deepening Relations with Visual Artefacts, ISBN 978-0-334-04149-8
  • 2009 Alister McGrath A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology, ISBN 978-0-664-23310-5
  • 2012 Sarah Coakley Sacrifice Regained: Evolution, Cooperation and God
  • 2014 David N. Livingstone Dealing with Darwin: Place, Politics and Rhetoric in Religious Engagements with Evolution
  • 2018 N.T. Wright Discerning the Dawn: History, Eschatology and New Creation



St Andrews


  1. ^ "2012-13 Gifford Lecture". Professor Steven Pinker: "The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity". University of Edinburgh College of Humanities and Social Science website. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Gifford Lectures website entry; retrieved: 2013-08-04 Archived 2013-09-23 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ “Norm and Action” online.
  5. ^ “The Varieties of Goodness” online.
  • Stanley Jaki, Lord Gifford and His Lectures: A Centenary Retrospect (1987). Scottish Academic Press, ISBN 0-7073-0465-2.
  • Larry Witham, The Measure of God: Our Century-Long Struggle to Reconcile Science & Religion (2005), HarperSanFrancisco hardcover: ISBN 0-06-059191-9; reprinted as The Measure of God: History's Greatest Minds Wrestle with Reconciling Science and Religion (2006), paperback: ISBN 0-06-085833-8.

External links

Adam Gifford, Lord Gifford

Adam Gifford, Lord Gifford FRSE (; 29 February 1820 Edinburgh – 20 January 1887) was a Scottish advocate and judge. He was the founder of the Gifford Lectures.


Adevism (from the Sanskrit term deva, on the analogy of atheism) is a term introduced by Friedrich Max Müller to imply the denial of gods, in particular, the legendary gods of Hinduism. Müller used it in the Gifford Lectures in connection with the Vedanta philosophy, for the correlative of ignorance or nescience. In modern contexts it is rarely found, though it is sometimes used to represent a disbelief in any gods, contrasted with a specific disbelief in the Judaeo-Christian deity (God). Adevism is not to be confused with atheism, which is the denial of a god or gods. Adevism is used extremely infrequently in writing, probably because of the much used term atheism.

Bernard Bosanquet (philosopher)

Bernard Bosanquet, FBA (; 14 June 1848 – 8 February 1923) was a British philosopher and political theorist, and an influential figure on matters of political and social policy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work influenced but was later subject to criticism by many thinkers, notably Bertrand Russell, John Dewey and William James. Bernard was the husband of Charity Organisation Society leader Helen Bosanquet.

Charles Gore

Charles Gore (1853–1932) was the Bishop of Oxford. He was one of the most influential Anglican theologians of the 19th century, helping reconcile the church to some aspects of biblical criticism and scientific discovery, while remaining Catholic in his interpretation of the faith and sacraments. Also known for his social action, Gore became an Anglican bishop and founded the monastic Community of the Resurrection as well as co-founded the Christian Social Union. He was the chaplain to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.

David Tracy

David Tracy (b. January 6 1939) is an American theologian and Catholic priest. He is Andrew Thomas Greeley and Grace McNichols Greeley Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Catholic Studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Hans Driesch

Hans Adolf Eduard Driesch (28 October 1867 – 17 April 1941) was a German biologist and philosopher from Bad Kreuznach. He is most noted for his early experimental work in embryology and for his neo-vitalist philosophy of entelechy. He has also been credited with performing the first artificial 'cloning' of an animal in the 1880s, although this claim is dependent on how one defines cloning.

Holmes Rolston III

Holmes Rolston III (born November 19, 1932) is a philosopher who is University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Colorado State University. He is best known for his contributions to environmental ethics and the relationship between science and religion. Among other honors, Rolston won the 2003 Templeton Prize, awarded by Prince Philip in Buckingham Palace. He gave the Gifford Lectures, University of Edinburgh, 1997–1998. He also serves on the Advisory Council of METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence).

The Darwinian model is used to define the main thematic concepts in Rolston's philosophy and, in greater depth, the general trend of his thinking.

Infinite in All Directions

Infinite In All Directions (1988) is a book on a wide range of subjects, including history, philosophy, research, technology, the origin of life and eschatology, by theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson. The book is based on the author's Gifford Lectures delivered in Aberdeen in 1985. Infinite in All Directions can roughly be summarized as a treatise on the universe and humanity's role and its responsibilities.

John Locke Lectures

The John Locke Lectures are a series of annual lectures in philosophy given at the University of Oxford. They are one of the world's most prestigious academic lecture series, comparable to the Gifford Lectures given in Scottish universities. They were established in 1950 by the bequest of Henry Wilde.

The first lecture series was offered to Ludwig Wittgenstein, who eventually declined. According to his biographers, he felt uncomfortable giving formal lectures where the audience would not be asking or answering questions.

Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski

Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski (born 1946) is an American philosopher. She is a George Lynn Cross Research Professor, and Kingfisher College Chair of the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at the University of Oklahoma. She writes in the areas of epistemology, philosophy of religion, and virtue theory. She was (2015-2016) president of the American Philosophical Association Central Division, and gave the Gifford Lectures at the University of Saint Andrews in the fall of 2015. She is past president of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, and past president of the Society of Christian Philosophers. She was a 2011-2012 Guggenheim Fellow.

List of Nobel laureates affiliated with the University of Edinburgh

This list of Nobel laureates affiliated with the University of Edinburgh includes academic staff and researchers as well as graduates and non-graduate former students of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, who were bestowed with the Nobel Prize and the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

As of 2017, 23 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with the University. They have been affiliated as students, researchers, administrators and professors, and they have won Nobel Prizes in all categories.

It does not include those whose only affiliation with the university is (i) giving the Gifford Lectures (e.g. Niels Bohr, who gave the lecture entitled Causality and Complementarity: Epistemological Lessons of Studies in Atomic Physics in 1949) or (ii) the conferral of an honorary degree (e.g. August Krogh).

Lynne Rudder Baker

Lynne Rudder Baker (February 14, 1944 – December 24, 2017) was an American philosopher and author. At the time of her death she was a Distinguished Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She was a native of Atlanta. She got her Ph.D. in 1972 from Vanderbilt University after beginning her graduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University in 1967.

She was a fellow of the National Humanities Center (1983–1984) and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (1988–1989). She joined the faculty of UMass Amherst in 1989. She is the author of several books, notably Saving Belief: A Critique of Physicalism (1987), Explaining Attitudes: A Practical Approach to the Mind (1995), Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View (2000), and The Metaphysics of Everyday Life: An Essay in Practical Realism (2007). Along with several other scholars, Baker delivered the 2001 Gifford Lectures in Natural Theology at the University of Glasgow, published as The Nature and Limits of Human Understanding (ed. Anthony Sanford, T & T Clark, 2003). She was a member of the Amherst Grace Episcopal Church. Baker died of heart disease on December 24, 2017 in Amherst, Massachusetts, aged 73.

Max Müller

Friedrich Max Müller (German: [ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈmaks ˈmʏlɐ]; 6 December 1823 – 28 October 1900), generally known as Max Müller, was a German-born philologist and Orientalist, who lived and studied in Britain for most of his life. He was one of the founders of the western academic field of Indian studies and the discipline of comparative religion. Müller wrote both scholarly and popular works on the subject of Indology. The Sacred Books of the East, a 50-volume set of English translations, was prepared under his direction. He also promoted the idea of a Turanian family of languages.

Michael C. Rea

Michael C. Rea is an analytic philosopher and, since 2017, John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He specializes in metaphysics and philosophy of religion and has competence in epistemology and applied ethics as well. He is currently writing a book on divine hiddenness, in which he appeals to quantifier pluralism and argues that God cannot be quantified over by humans (although God can quantify over Himself). Also, he is scheduled to give the 2017 Gifford Lectures, where he will also talk about divine hiddenness.

Simon Somerville Laurie

Prof Simon Somerville Laurie FRSE LLD (13 November, 1829 – 2 March, 1909) was a Scottish educator. He became Bell Professor of Education at Edinburgh University in 1876. He campaigned energetically and successfully for better teacher training in Scotland.

Laurie also wrote extensively on philosophy, giving the Gifford Lectures in 1905–6.

The Mystery of Being

The Mystery of Being (French: Le Mystère de l'être) is a two-volume book of existential philosophy by Gabriel Marcel. The two volumes are, "Reflection and Mystery" and "Faith and Reality". First published in 1951, the book is a collection of Gifford Lectures given by Marcel while at the University of Aberdeen between 1949 and 1950.

The Varieties of Religious Experience

The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature is a book by Harvard University psychologist and philosopher William James. It comprises his edited Gifford Lectures on natural theology, which were delivered at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1901 and 1902. The lectures concerned the nature of religion and the neglect of science in the academic study of religion.

Soon after its publication, Varieties entered the Western canon of psychology and philosophy and has remained in print for over a century.

James later developed his philosophy of pragmatism. There are many overlapping ideas in Varieties and his 1907 book, Pragmatism.

The Varieties of Scientific Experience

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God is a book collecting transcribed talks on the subject of natural theology that astronomer Carl Sagan delivered in 1985 at the University of Glasgow as part of the Gifford Lectures. The book was first published posthumously in 2006, 10 years after his death. The title is a reference to The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James.

The book was edited by Ann Druyan, who also provided an introduction section. The sixth chapter, The God Hypothesis, was later reprinted in Christopher Hitchens' anthology The Portable Atheist.

Wentzel van Huyssteen

J. Wentzel van Huyssteen was a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1992-2014. His official position was the James I. McCord Professor of Theology and Science. Born in South Africa, he was ordained as part of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa. He received his MA in philosophy from the Stellenbosch University in South Africa, and his PhD in philosophical theology from the Free University of Amsterdam. His areas of expertise are theology and science as well as religion and scientific epistemology. He is currently on the editorial board for the American Journal of Theology and Philosophy, the Nederduits Gereformeerde Teologiese Tydskrif, and the Journal of Theology and Science, and is coeditor of the Science and Religion Series (Ashgate Press). In 2004 he was selected to deliver the esteemed Gifford Lectures, in which he presented his work titled “Alone in the World? Science and Theology on Human Uniqueness.”

van Huysteen has also worked on cooperation with archaeologists, and has published an article on the development of self in Çatal Höyük.

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