The Gifford Lectures (/ˈɡɪfərd/) are an annual series of lectures which were established in 1887 by the will of Adam Gifford, Lord Gifford at the four ancient universities of Scotland: St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. Their purpose is 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 honours in Scottish academia.[1][2][3]

University calendars record that at the four Scottish universities, the Gifford Lectures are to be "public and popular, open not only to students of the university, but the whole community (for a tuition fee[4]) without matriculation. Besides a general audience, the Lecturer may form a special class of students for the study of the subject, which will be conducted in the usual way, and tested by examination and thesis, written and oral".[5] The lectures 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.

In 1889, those attending the Gifford Lectures at the University of St Andrews were described as "mixed" and included women as well as male undergraduates.[6] The first woman appointed was Hannah Arendt who presented in Aberdeen between 1972 and 1974.[7]

A comparable lecture series is the John Locke Lectures, which are delivered annually at the University of Oxford.

List of lectures


Year Speaker(s) Lecture(s)[8] ISBN
1889–91 E.B. Tylor The Natural History of Religion
1892–94 Andrew Martin Fairbairn The Philosophy of the Christian Religion
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
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 and Faith and Reality ISBN 1-890318-85-X
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
1963–65 Alister Hardy The Living Stream and The Divine Flame
1965–67 Raymond Aron La Conscience historique dans la pensée et dans l'action
1970–72 Arend Theordore van Leeuwen The Critique of Heaven and Earth
1972–74 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
M. A. Stewart New Light and Enlightenment
Peter Jones Science and Religion before and after Hume
James H. Burns The Order of Nature
Alexander Broadie The Shadow of Scotus
1997–98 Russell Stannard The God Experiment
2000–01 John S. Habgood The Concept of Nature
2003 Eleonore Stump Wandering in the Darkness
2003–04 John Haldane Mind, Soul and Deity
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 ISBN 978-1-421-41326-6
2016 Mona Siddiqui Struggle, Suffering and Hope: Explorations in Islamic and Christian Traditions ISBN 978-1-316-51854-0
2017 David Novak Athens and Jerusalem: God, Humans, and Nature ISBN 978-1-487-50617-9
2018 N. T. Wright Discerning the Dawn: History, Eschatology and New Creation, published as History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural Theology, 2019 ISBN 978-1-4813-0962-2
2022 John Dupré A Brief History of Form
Tim Whitmarsh Religion and Ancient Mediterranean Thought
Lisa Sideris Unnatural Theology in the Anthropocene
Robert McCauley Religions and their Cognitive Kin
John Witte Jr. A New Calvinist Reformation of Rights
2024 Miri Rubin The Feminine and the Religious Imagination
2025 Miroslav Volf TBC
2026 Catherine Pickstock TBC


Year Speaker(s) Lecture(s)[9] ISBN
1889–90 James Hutchison Stirling Philosophy and Theology
1891 George Gabriel Stokes Natural Theology
1892–94 Otto Pfleiderer Philosophy and Development of Religion
1896–98 Cornelis Tiele On the Elements of the Science of Religion ISBN 0-404-60480-3
1900–02 William James The Varieties of Religious Experience ISBN 0-679-64011-8
1909–10 William Warde Fowler The Religious Experience of the Roman People ISBN 0-8154-0372-0
1911–12 Bernard Bosanquet The Principle of Individuality and Value ISBN 0-527-10036-6
1913–14 Henri Bergson The Problem of Personality
1915–16 William Mitchell Ramsay Asianic Elements in Greek Civilization ISBN 0-89005-173-9
1919–21 George Stout Mind and Matter pub. 1931
1921–23 Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison Studies in the Philosophy of Religion ISBN 0-404-60474-9
1923–35 James George Frazer The Worship of Nature ISBN 1-56459-532-3
1926–27 Arthur Eddington The Nature of the Physical World ISBN 0-472-06015-5
1927–28 Alfred North Whitehead Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology ISBN 0-02-934570-7
1928–29 John Dewey The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action ISBN 1-4179-0845-9
1934–35 Albert Schweitzer The Problem of Natural Theology and Natural Ethics (unpublished)
1937–38 Charles Sherrington Man on His Nature ISBN 0-521-06436-8
1938–40 Reinhold Niebuhr The Nature and Destiny of Man: A Christian Interpretation ISBN 0-664-25709-7
1947–49 Christopher Dawson Vol. 1 Religion and Culture Vol. 2 Religion and the Rise of Western Culture (1950) ISBN 0-404-60498-6
ISBN 0-385-42110-9
1949–50 Niels Bohr Causality and Complementarity: Epistemological Lessons of Studies in Atomic Physics ISBN 1-881987-14-0
1950–52 Charles Earle Raven Natural Religion and Christian Theology
1952–53 Arnold J. Toynbee An Historian's Approach to Religion ISBN 0-19-215260-2
1954–55 Rudolf Bultmann History and Eschatology: The Presence of Eternity ISBN 0-8371-8123-2
1961–62 John Baillie The Sense of the Presence of God
1970–71 Eric Lionel Mascall The Openness of Being ISBN 0-232-51159-4
1973–74 Owen Chadwick The Secularisation of the European Mind in the 19th Century ISBN 0-521-39829-0
1974–76 Stanley Jaki The Road of Science and the Ways to God ISBN 0-226-39145-0
1978–79 Sir John Eccles The Human Mystery and The Human Psyche ISBN 0-387-09954-9
1979–80 Ninian Smart The Varieties of Religious Identity, published as Beyond Ideology: Religion and the Future of Western Civilisation ISBN 0-06-067402-4
1980–81 Seyyed Hossein Nasr Knowledge and the Sacred ISBN 0-7914-0177-4
1981–82 Iris Murdoch Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals ISBN 0-14-017232-7
1983–84 David Daiches God and the Poets ISBN 0-19-812825-8
1984–85 Jurgen Moltmann God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God ISBN 0-8006-2823-3
1985–86 Paul Ricoeur Oneself as another ISBN 0-226-71329-6
1986–87 John Hick An Interpretation of Religion ISBN 0-300-10668-8
1987–88 Alasdair MacIntyre Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry ISBN 0-7156-2337-0
1988–89 Raimon Panikkar Trinity and Theism ISBN 978-1-57075-855-3
1989–90 Mary Douglas Claims on God: published (much revised) as In the Wilderness ISBN 1-85075-444-6
1991–92 Annemarie Schimmel Deciphering the Signs of God: A Phenomenological Approach to Islam ISBN 978-0791419823
1992–93 Martha C. Nussbaum Upheavals of Thought: A Theory of the Emotions
1993–94 John Polkinghorne Science and Christian Belief: Theological Reflections of a Bottom-up Thinker ISBN 0-281-04714-6
1995–96 G. A. Cohen If you're an Egalitarian, how come you're so Rich? ISBN 0-674-00693-3
1996–97 Richard Sorabji Emotions and How to Cope with Them, published as Emotion and Peace of Mind: From Stoic Agitation to Christian Temptation ISBN 0-19-825005-3
1997–98 Holmes Rolston III Genes, Genesis and God ISBN 0-521-64674-X
1998–99 Charles Taylor Living in a Secular Age, published as A Secular Age ISBN 0-674-02676-4
1999–00 David Tracy This side of God
2000–01 Onora O'Neill Autonomy and Trust in Bioethics
2001–02 Mohammed Arkoun Inaugurating a Critique of Islamic Reason
2002–03 Michael Ignatieff The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror ISBN 0-691-11751-9
2003–04 J. Wentzel van Huyssteen Alone in the World? Human Uniqueness in Science and Theology ISBN 0-8028-3246-6
2004–05 Margaret Anstee
Stephen Toulmin
Noam Chomsky
Delivered a series of lectures dedicated to Edward Said who was scheduled to give the 2004–05 series before his death in 2003
2005–06 Jean Bethke Elshtain Sovereign God, Sovereign State, Sovereign Self
2006–07 Simon Conway Morris Darwin 's Compass: How Evolution Discovers the Song of Creation
Jonathan Riley-Smith The Crusades and Christianity
2007–08 Alexander Nehamas "Because it was he, because it was I": Friendship and Its Place in Life
2008 Robert M. Veatch Hipprocratic, Religious and Secular Medical Ethics: The Point of Conflict
2008–09 Diana Eck The Age of Pluralism [April–May 2009]
2009–10 Michael Gazzaniga Mental Life [October 2009]
Terry Eagleton The God Debate [March 2010]
2010–11 Peter Harrison Science, Religion and the Modern World, published as The Territories of Science and Religion ISBN 978-0226184487
Gordon Brown The Future of Jobs and Justice
2011–12 Lord Sutherland of Houndwood David Hume and Civil Society
Diarmaid MacCulloch Silence in Christian History: the witness of Holmes' Dog
Jim Al-Khalili Alan Turing: Legacy of a Code Breaker – one-off joint lecture between the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the School of Informatics
2012–13 Bruno Latour "Once Out of Nature" - Natural Religion as a Pleonasm
Steven Pinker The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity[10]
2013–14 Onora O'Neill From Toleration to Freedom of Expression
Rowan Williams Making representations: religious faith and the habits of language
Catherine O'Regan "What is Caesar's?" Adjudicating faith in modern constitutional democracies
2014–15 Jeremy Waldron One Another's Equals: The Basis of Human Equality
Helga Nowotny Beyond Innovation. Temporalities. Re-use. Emergence.
2015–16 Kathryn Tanner Christianity and the New Spirit of Capitalism
2016–17 Richard English Nationalism, Terrorism and Religion
Jeffrey Stout Religion Unbound: Ideals and Powers from Cicero to King
2017–18 Agustín Fuentes Why We Believe: evolution, making meaning, and the development of human natures
Elaine Howard Ecklund Science and Religion in Global Public Life
2018–19 Mary Beard The Ancient World and Us: From Fear and Loathing to Enlightenment and Ethics
2019–20 Michael Welker In God's Image: Anthropology
2020–21 David Hempton Networks, Nodes, and Nuclei in the History of Christianity, c. 1500-2020
2021–22 Susan Neiman Heroism for a Time of Victims
2022–23 John Dupré A Process Perspective on Human Life
2023–24 Cornel West A Jazz-soaked Philosophy for our Catastrophic Times: From Socrates to Coltrane
2024–25 Alexandra Walsham TBC
2025–26 Paula Fredriksen TBC


Year Speaker(s) Lecture(s)[11] ISBN
1888–92 Friedrich Max Müller 1888: Natural Religion Vol. 1 & 2; 1890: Physical Religion; 1891: Anthropological Religion: 1892: Theosophy or Psychological Religion
1892–96 John Caird The Fundamental Ideas of Christianity Vol. 1 & 2
1896–98 Alexander Balmain Bruce The Moral Order of the World and The Providential Order of the World
1900–02 Edward Caird The Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers
1914 Arthur Balfour Theism and Humanism ISBN 1-58742-005-8
1916–18 Samuel Alexander Space, Time, and Deity ISBN 0-7661-8701-2
ISBN 0-7661-8702-0
1922 Arthur Balfour Theism and Thought
1927–28 J. S. Haldane The Sciences and Philosophy ISBN 0-404-60479-X
1932–34 William Temple Nature, Man and God
1952–54 John Macmurray The Form of the Personal Vol.1 & 2: The Self as Agent and Persons in Relation ISBN 1-57392-337-0
ISBN 1-57392-625-6
1959 Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker The Relevance of Science
1965 Herbert Butterfield Historical Writing and Christian Beliefs and Human Beliefs and the Development of Historical Writing[12]
1970 Richard William Southern The Rise and Fall of the Medieval System of Religious Thought
1974-76 Basil Mitchell Morality, Religious and Secular
1981 Stephen R. L. Clark From Athens to Jerusalem
1985 Carl Sagan The Search for Who We Are ISBN 1-59420-107-2
1986 Donald M. MacKay Behind the Eye[13]
1988 Don Cupitt Nature and Culture
Richard Dawkins Worlds in Microcosm
1992 Mary Warnock Imagination and Understanding, published as Imagination and Time ISBN 0-631-19019-8
1993–94 Keith Ward Religion and Revelation ISBN 978-0-19-826375-3
1995–96 Geoffrey Cantor
John Hedley Brooke
Reconstructing Nature
1997–98 R. J. Berry Gods, Genes, Greens and Everything
1999–00 Ralph McInerny Characters in Search of Their Author
2001 Lynne Baker
Brian Hebblethwaite
Philip Johnson-Laird
George Lakoff
Michael Ruse
The Nature and Limits of Human Understanding
2003–04 Simon Blackburn Reason's Empire
2005 Lenn Goodman
Abdulaziz Sachedina
John E. Hare
Thou Shall Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself
2007–08 David Fergusson Religion and Its Recent Critics published as Faith and Its Critics: A Conversation ISBN 978-0-19-956938-0
2008–09 Charles Taylor The Necessity of Secularist Regimes
2009–10 Gianni Vattimo The End of Reality
2012 Vilayanur Ramachandran Body and Mind: Insights from Neuroscience
2014 Jean-Luc Marion Givenness and Revelation
2015 Perry Schmidt-Leukel Interreligious Theology: The Future Shape of Theology
2016 Sean M. Carroll The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself
2018 Judith Butler My Life, Your Life: Equality and the Philosophy of Non-Violence
2019 Kevin Hart Philosophia and Religions
Mark Pagel Wired for Culture: The Origins of the Human Social Mind, or Why Humans Occupied the World
2020 T.J. Clark Heaven on Earth: Painting and the Life to Come
2022 Manthia Diawara
Terri Geis
Towards a New Sacred
Jack Halberstam Collapse, Demolition, and the Queer Geographies and Unworlding: An Aesthetics of Collapse
2023 Mark Williams The Japanese Religious Melting Pot and the Significance of Christianity
Jean-Luc Marion
Kevin Hart
Revelation and Contemplation

St Andrews

Year Speaker(s) Lecture(s)[14] ISBN
1889–90 Andrew Lang The Making of Religion[15]
1890–92 Edward Caird The Evolution of Religion
1894–96 Lewis Campbell Religion in Greek Literature
1899–01 Rodolfo Lanciani New Tales of Old Rome
1902–04 Richard Haldane The Pathway to Reality ISBN 0-404-60459-5
1907–09 James Ward The Realm of Ends or Pluralism and Theism
1911–13 James George Frazer The Belief in Immortality
1914–16 J. A. Thomson The System of Animate Nature
1917–19 William Ralph Inge The Philosophy of Plotinus ISBN 1-59244-284-6
1919–20 Lewis Richard Farnell Greek Hero Cults and Ideas of Immortality
1921–22 C. Lloyd Morgan Emergent Evolution (1923) and Life, Mind, and Spirit (1925) ISBN 0-404-60468-4
1924–25 Lewis Richard Farnell The Attributes of God
1926–28 Alfred Edward Taylor The faith of a moralist, The Theological Implications of Morality; Natural Theology and the Positive Religions (1930)
1929–30 Charles Gore The Philosophy of the Good Life (1930)
1930–32 Robert Ranulph Marett Faith, Hope & Charity in Primitive Religion
1935–36 Hensley Henson Christian Morality
1936–37 Werner Jaeger The Theology of the Early Greek Philosophers (1936)
1937–38 William G. de Burgh From Morality to Religion
1938 Joseph Bidez Plato and the Orient
1939–40 Richard Kroner The Primacy of Faith
1946–48 Emil Brunner Christianity and Civilisation
1949–50 Herbert James Paton The Modern Predicament
1951–53 Brand Blanshard Reason, Belief and Goodness
1953–55 C. A. Campbell On Selfhood and Godhood
1955–56 Werner Heisenberg Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science ISBN 1-57392-694-9
1959–60 Georg Henrik von Wright Norm and Action (1963)[16] and The Varieties of Goodness (1963)[17]
1962–64 Henry Chadwick Authority in the Early Church
1964–66 John Findlay The Discipline of the Cave (1966), and The Transcendence of the Cave (1967) ISBN 978-0-04-111002-9
1967–69 Robert Charles Zaehner Concordant Discord. The Interdependence of Faiths.
1969–71 William Homan Thorpe Animal Nature and Human Nature
1972–73 Alfred Ayer The Central Questions of Philosophy ISBN 0-03-013116-2
1975–77 Reijer Hooykaas Fact, Faith and Fiction in the Development of Science
1977–78 David Stafford-Clark Myth, Magic and Denial
1979–80 Frederick Copleston Religion and the One: Philosophies East and West
1980–81 Gregory Vlastos Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher
1982–83 Donald Geoffrey Charlton New Images of the Natural, 1750-1800
1983–84 John Macquarrie In Search of Deity
1984–85 Adolf Grünbaum Psychoanalytic Theory and Science
1986–87 Antony Flew The Logic of Mortality
1988–89 Walter Burkert Tracks of Biology and the Creation of Sense
1990–91 Hilary Putnam Renewing Philosophy
1992–93 Arthur Peacocke Nature, God and Humanity
Roger Penrose The Question of Physical Reality
1995 Nicholas Wolterstorff Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology
1996–97 Michael Dummett Thought and Reality
1998–99 Robert Merrihew Adams God and Being
Marilyn McCord Adams The Coherence of Christology
2000–01 Stanley Hauerwas With the Grain of the Universe: The Church's Witness and Natural Theology ISBN 1-58743-016-9
2002 Peter van Inwagen The Problem of Evil ISBN 978-0-19-954397-7
2004–05 Alvin Plantinga Science and Religion: Conflict or Concord
2007 Martin Rees 21st Century Science: Cosmic Perspective and Terrestrial Challenges
2010 Roger Scruton The Face of God
2012 Denis Alexander Genes, Determinism and God
2015 Linda Zagzebski Exemplarist Virtue Theory published as Exemplarist Moral Theory ISBN 978-0-19-065584-6
2017 Michael Rea Though the Darkness Hide Thee: Seeking the Face of the Invisible God
2019 Mark Johnston Ontotheology as Antidote for Idolatry
2021 Oliver O'Donovan The Disappearance of Ethics[18]
2024 Clare Carlisle Transcendence for Beginners: Life Writing and Philosophy

Support from Templeton Religion Trust

Established at the behest of John Templeton, the Gifford Lectures website was designed to increase the strategic impact of the Gifford program. Developed and managed by Templeton Press through May 2021, the website is now managed through a grant from Templeton Religion Trust.


  1. ^ Long, Eugene Thomas (1988). "Lord Gifford and his Lectures: The First Year (1888-1889)". Studies in Scottish Literature. 23 (1).
  2. ^ Spurway, Neil (2013). "Gifford Lectures". Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-8265-8_471.
  3. ^ "HDS Dean Hempton to Deliver Prestigious Gifford Lectures". Harvard Divinity School. 29 September 2021.
  4. ^ "100 Years of Lectures on Natural Theology - Lord Adam Gifford's Will TRUST DISPOSITION and SETTLEMENT of the late Adam Gifford, sometime one of the Senators of the College of Justice, Scotland, dated 21st August 1885". The Gifford Lectures. 8 September 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2022. I [Lord Adam Gifford] suggest that the fee should be as small as is consistent with the due management of the lectureships, and the due appreciation of the lectures. Besides a general and popular audience, I advise that the lecturers also have a special class of students conducted in the usual way, and instructed by examination and thesis, written and oral.
  5. ^ The St. Andrews University Calendar for the Year 1922. University of St Andrews. 1922. p. 46. ...the lectures are to be public and popular, open not only to students of the university, but the whole community without matriculation...Besides a general audience, the Lecturer may form a special class of students for the study of the subject, which will be conducted in the usual way, and tested by examination and thesis, written and oral.
  6. ^ Hutchinson -Boyd, A. (1892). 25 Years At St Andrews. p. 324-26. Retrieved 14 February 2022. Our First Gifford Lecturer [at the University of St Andrews - Andrew Lang] - ...a large mixed audience, men and women, undergraduates and grown-ups and aged folk...
  7. ^ Addison, Sam (n.d.). "Home :: Lecturers & Authors :: Hannah Arendt". The Gifford Lectures. Retrieved 25 February 2021. Arendt, the first female Gifford Lecturer, delivered her lectures in Aberdeen between 1972 and 1974.
  8. ^ "The Gifford Lectures". University of Aberdeen.
  9. ^ "Gifford Lectures". University of Edinburgh.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ "The Glasgow Gifford Lectures". University of Glasgow.
  12. ^ "Herbert Butterfield". The Gifford Lectures. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  13. ^ Gifford Lectures website entry; retrieved: 2013-08-04 Archived 2013-09-23 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "The St Andrews Gifford Lectures". University of St Andrews.
  15. ^ Kahan, D. (18 August 2014). "The Gifford Lectures". The Gifford Lectures. Retrieved 31 January 2022. Andrew Lang - The Making of Religion - 1889 to 1890 University of St. Andrews
  16. ^ "Norm and Action". The Gifford Lectures. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  17. ^ "Gifford Lecture Series - Books". 21 June 2008. Archived from the original on 21 June 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  18. ^ "Gifford lectures 2021". The St Andrews Gifford Lectures. 2021-09-16. Retrieved 2021-10-28.