Gifford Lectures


The Gifford Lectures (/ˈɡɪfərd/) are an annual series of lectures which were established in 1887 by the will of Adam Gifford, Lord Gifford. 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. The lectures are given at several Scottish universities: University of St Andrews, University of Glasgow, University of Aberdeen and University of Edinburgh.

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[1]) 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".[2] 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.[3]

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.

The first woman appointed was Hannah Arendt who presented in Aberdeen between 1972 and 1974.[4]

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

List of lecturesEdit


  • 1888-91 E.B. Tylor The Natural History of 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 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, 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



St AndrewsEdit

Support from Templeton Religion TrustEdit

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. ^ "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. 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.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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...
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ "Herbert Butterfield". The Gifford Lectures. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  7. ^ Gifford Lectures website entry; retrieved: 2013-08-04 Archived 2013-09-23 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Kahan, D. "The Gifford Lectures". The Gifford Lectures. Retrieved 31 January 2022. Andrew Lang - The Making of Religion - 1889 to 1890 University of St. Andrews
  9. ^ "Norm and Action". The Gifford Lectures. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  10. ^ "Gifford Lecture Series - Books". 21 June 2008. Archived from the original on 21 June 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  11. ^ "Gifford lectures 2021". The St Andrews Gifford Lectures. 2021-09-16. Retrieved 2021-10-28.


  • 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 linksEdit

  • Gifford Lectures Online presents full text of many series.