College of Humanities and Social Science

Professor Peter Harrison

Peter Harrison of Oxford University delivered a Series of Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 2010-2011.

Professor Peter Harrison

Event details

Lecture Series Theme: Science, Religion and Modernity

Dates: 14, 15, 17, 21, 22, 24 February 2011, 5.30pm

Venue: St Cecilia's Hall, Niddry Street, Cowgate, Edinburgh

These lectures are free but ticketed.

Biography

Peter Harrison will deliver a Series of Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 2010-2011. These lectures are on the way in which religious concerns have shaped the study of nature over the past 2000 years, with a particular focus on the changing boundaries of science and religion. He is Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University, having previously been Professor of History and Philosophy at Bond University, Australia.

Professor Harrison's work intersects with two previous Edinburgh Gifford Lecture Series: Mary Midgley's Science and Salvation, and James Barr's The Garden of Eden and the Hope of Immortality.

Lectures overview

This lecture series will offer a revised history of science-religion interactions in the West. It will consider the way in which religious concerns have shaped the study of nature over the past 2000 years, with a particular focus on the changing boundaries of science and religion.

It will be argued that these two ideas—science and religion—are distinctively Western and modern, that they are mutually interdependent, and that a recognition of their history will help revise our understanding of their present relations.

1: The Territories of Science and Religion

Professor Peter Harrison lectures on the only relatively recent separation of 'religion' from the secular aspects of society and particularly from the natural sciences

2: The Cosmos and the Religious Quest

Professor Peter Harrison lectures on the study of nature as 'natural philosophy' and an exercise in moral and spiritual formation in Western Christianity in the Middle Ages

3: The Disenchantment of the World

Professor Peter Harrison lectures on the reduction in the symbolic religious significance of nature in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the consequences of this disenchantment for religious and philosophical practices

4: Fallen Knowledge

Professor Peter Harrison lectures on how the doctrine of the Fall resulted in the rise of experimental science and the attempt to master the physical world rather than the self

5: Science and Progress

Professor Peter Harrison lectures on the place of the scientific revolution in the larger context of Christian history, and how this resulted in the eventual displacement of religion by science

6: Religion and the Future of Science

Professor Peter Harrison lectures on the growing public disillusionment with the scientific enterprise and the opportunities this presents to reconnect the study of nature with its formerly prominent moral and religious values