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 (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews) on the topic of Natural Theology. 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.

Gifford 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.