John Witte Jr gets 2022 Gifford Lectures underway

A leading specialist in legal history, human rights, religious freedom, marriage and family law, and law and religion will deliver the opening 2022 Gifford Lecture at the University of Aberdeen.

John Witte Jr will deliver the first of a thought-provoking series which brings a unique perspective to fundamental questions in philosophy and religion.

The series was established in 1885 thanks to a bequest in the will of the jurist Adam Lord Gifford. He left £80,000 to the four ancient Scottish universities (Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, and St. Andrews) to establish of a recurring series of lectures dealing with the topic of natural theology.

Since 1888, the Gifford Lectures have been considered among the world’s most prestigious academic forums on religion, philosophy, and theology. Previous Gifford Lecturers represent an array of disciplines and include some of the greatest minds of the past century—including Hannah Arendt, Noam Chomsky, William James, Reinhold Niebuhr, Charles Taylor, Karl Barth, Iris Murdoch and Carl Sagan.

Witte, Jr is Woodruff University Professor, McDonald Distinguished Professor, and Director of the Law and Religion Center at Emory University.

A leading scholar of legal history, human rights, family law, and law and religion, he has published 275 articles and 33 books, most recently Church, State, and Family: Reconciling Traditional Teachings and Modern Liberties (Cambridge 2019). His writings have appeared in fifteen languages, and he has delivered more than 350 public lectures worldwide. He has directed 15 major international projects on democracy, human rights, and religious liberty; marriage, family, and children; and law and Christianity.

His lecture will be followed on October 18 by Robert McCauley on ‘Religions on their Cognitive Kin’ and then Lisa Sideris on November 8 will consider ‘Unnatural Theology in the Anthropocene’.

Next is Tim Whitmarsh on ‘Religion and Ancient Mediterranean Thought’  (November 15) and John Dupré will conclude the series with ‘A Brief History of Form’ on November 29.

Dr Edward Espen, Lord Gifford Fellow in natural Theology at the University of Aberdeen said: “We are delighted to welcome John Witte Jr to present the first of the Gifford Lectures series for 2022.

“This lecture series is an exhibition of the way religious phenomena and commitments are tied to other domains of human inquiry.

“It is particularly pleasing to see this long-established lecture series return to our campus as we enjoy it once again in its traditional format.”

The first University of Aberdeen Gifford Lecture with John Witte Jr will take place on Tuesday October 4 in n King’s College, Room KCF7, and following lectures in the King’s College Conference Centre

All lectures are free and open to the public. Each lecture starts at 6.00pm and runs until 7.15pm.