Dr Edward Epsen Iii

Dr Edward Epsen Iii
Dr Edward Epsen Iii
Dr Edward Epsen Iii

PhD (Upenn), PhD (Durham)

Research Fellow


KCG18 (King's College) Postal Address: School of Divinity, History and Philosophy,University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 3UB, United Kingdom


Edward Epsen is the Lord Gifford Fellow in Natural Theology at the University of Aberdeen. Prior to this appointment he was the Teaching Fellow in Systematic and Philosophical Theology at King's College London. He has also served as a research fellow with the project 'God and the Book of Nature: Building a Science-Engaged Theology', a £2.44 million international project based at the University of Edinburgh and funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

Ed's main publications include the books

From Laws to Liturgy: An Idealist Theology of Creation (Brill, 2020) and

Perceptual Consciousness

and the journal articles

'Banners of the Double Kingdom: How to Identify the Product of Creation and Its Order (International Journal of Systematic Theology, 2021),

'The Idealist View of Divine Action in Nature' (Zygon, 2020),

'Why God Had to Have an Immaculate Mother' (New Blackfriars, 2016),

'Eternity is a Present, Time is Its Unwrapping' (Heythrop Journal, 2010), and 

'Games with Zero-Knowledge Signaling' (Studia Logica, 2007).

Born in the desert highlands of Arizona, Ed studied mathematics and philosophy at Arizona State University, then completed a PhD in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania as a William Penn Fellow. He served as a part-time lecturer in philosophy for the University of Pennsylvania, Champlain College, and Colby-Sawyer College while also working as the founder and manager of Henwyn Farm, a social enterprise for land stewardship and animal husbandry in New England. Before joining King’s in 2017, he completed his doctorate in systematic theology at Durham University, supported by a scholarship from the Centre for Catholic Studies.     


Research Overview

I work in the fields of philosophy of religion and philosophical theology with specialties in religious ethics and the religion-science dialogue. 

I have conducted research on topics such as creation, providence, christology, ecclesiology, and the religious significance of our experience of time, beauty, and economic decisions. I have ongoing interests in the theology-science dialogue and its history and have produced research outputs concerned with philosophical issues of naturalism and physicalism and with theological issues surrounding divine action in nature. Looking ahead, I am interested in the conflict over non-epistemic values embodied in institutional science and technology programs on the one hand and the dissenting non-conformity of 'communities of conscience' on the other.   

I have supervised research on such different topics as omnipresence, providence in the theology of Karl Barth and homiletics of the Transfiguration.  

Research Areas

Research Specialisms

  • Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Theology
  • Mental Philosophy
  • Religion in Society

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Current Research

I am currently leading research on two projects. The first is ‘The Epistemology of Revelation: Sources and Channels’. This project brings together scholars working in contemporary Jewish philosophy, Islamic theology, and Christian theology with scholars in Second Temple Judaism and parabiblical literature. In partnership with the Department of Divinity and the Gifford Lectures we hosted a digital symposium where panel experts engaged the public.

The second project is 'Faith and Conscience in Intersecting Traditions' and consists of two phases. The first will result in a scholarly monograph, Knowing with Another: The Guiding Spirit of Conscience. It aims to provide an account of the experience of conscience as a religious phenomenon that integrates resources from biblical studies, history of religion, moral philosophy, and religious ethics to show both the ancient roots and enduring relevance of this phenomenon.

The first part of the book investigates how the biblical notion of ‘the heart’, as the epicenter of the relational dynamic between God and the human creature, is synthesized in the New Testament with notions from Second Temple literature and Greek philosophy to yield the theological concept of conscience as an ‘inner courtroom’ in which themes of witness, judgment, theodicy, and holiness are made psychologically specific. The second part of the book demonstrates the affinity of the biblical profile of conscience with a modern tradition of British moral philosophy known as ethical intuitionism. This school understands moral agents as having cognitive access to eternal truths about the fittingness relations between actions and circumstances in ways that match the phenomenology and religious significance of the biblical notion of conscience, often quite explicitly. The third part draws on the religious and ethical features of conscience to construct a proposal for how to negotiate the production and application of scientific research and technology among pluralistic communities that tend to be marginalized by their conscience-borne dissent.

The monograph will also serve as the platform for a second-phase of the project devoted to investigating protocols and procedures for the inclusion of 'communities of conscience' in the governance of information technologies, with a focus on finance applications. This will prioritize the development of new pathways for research co-production that partner experts in business, the social sciences, information sciences, and fintech with community action groups and leaders in the voluntary sector. We will target communities that are disproportionately sensitive - for both harm and benefit -  to the development of emerging data technologies. This category includes migrants, refugees, gypsy/travellers, and various indigenous communities. Due to their conscience-born decision to dissent from a conventional social program, such communities often possess a perspective with a distinct epistemic advantage. When included in the research production of innovative technology, this advantage can improve scientific output and the circumstances of these communities at the same time. Such inclusive provisions would help to establish a more equitable governance of research, not only in setting agendas and policy but in the production of knowledge and applications. 

Past Research

My early work as a graduate student was on the scope and limits of the expressive power of symbolic languages with respect to finite data structures. I retain an interest in the solutions to various problems in theoretical computer science.

My first publication was in the spirit of Robert Aumann's interactive epistemology. It showed how game theory can endogenously realize the phenomenon of a zero-knowledge proof, which is found in the study of interactive protocols in cryptography. The phenomenon is now well-known from its use in blockchain technology. Building on Aumann and Michael Maschler's analysis of repeated games of incomplete information, I show that there is a class of such games with the zero-knowledge property: one player can learn that the other is informed without ever learning the information the other knows.     

My philosophy dissertation at UPenn was on the subject of perceptual consciousness, an important topic in psychology, cognitive science, and philosophy of mind, It is available as a paperback.

Knowledge Exchange

The Social Epistemology of Revelation: Sources and Channels - A multinational digital symposium that brings together scholars of ancient Near Eastern religion, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in order to raise the profile of this emerging sub-discipline 

George Berkeley's Philosophy of Immaterialism


I am currently co-supervising (with Prof Tom Greggs) the following PhD candidates:

Marty Phillips, 'John Wesley's Doctrines of Sin and Sanctification'

Andy Nelson, 'Sola Gratia & Hyper-Grace'