About the Lecture Series

On August 21, 1885, Lord Gifford of Scotland signed his will. Contained in that will was a provision for a series of lectures to be held at each of the four Universities of Scotland. The topic was to be Natural Theology, or more specifically in the words of Lord Gifford himself ......

"I, having been for many years deeply and firmly convinced that the true knowledge of God, that is, of the Being, Nature, and Attributes of the Infinite, of the All, of the First and the Only Cause, that is, the One and Only Substance and Being, and the true and felt knowledge (not mere nominal knowledge) of the relations of man and of the universe to Him, and of the true foundations of all ethics and morals, being, I say, convinced that this knowledge, when really felt and acted on, is the means of man's highest well-being, and the security of his upward progress, I have resolved, from the 'residue' of my estate as aforesaid, to institute and found, in connection, if possible, with the Scottish Universities, lectureships or classes for the promotion of the study of said subjects, and for the teaching and diffusion of sound views regarding them, among the whole population of Scotland. …"

Thus began the series of lectures which still carry on to this day. Since their inception, the Gifford Lectures have become the foremost intellectual event in the matter of religion. Lectures are given in the universities at Edinburgh, St.Andrews, Glasgow and Aberdeen. The first lectures were given in 1888-89. The lecturers have included a prestigious and broad cross section of scholars from such fields as religion, philosophy, physics, and history, and have included scholars such as Etienne Gilson, Arthur Eddington, William Temple, Karl Barth, Steven Runciman, Hannah Arendt, Niels Bohr, Paul Tillich, William Ramsay and Sarah Coakley, to name just a few. The lectures are often published and achieve significant stature in the intellectual world.