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Gifford lecture links science and faith

Matters of faith can influence the most sceptical of scientists, a leading social scientist will argue at this year’s Gifford Lecture.

Professor Elaine Howard Ecklund will share insights from 12 years of empirical research to show that science and religion often overlap.  

Backed by surveys of 18,000 scientists and 900 interviews from four national and international studies, she will argue that even scientists who describe themselves as atheist may have a spiritual impulse.

Professor Ecklund will suggest the notion that the two principles are independent of each other – or in conflict – is a primarily western approach.

Renowned scientist

Professor Ecklund is Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences, Professor of Sociology and founding director of The Religion and Public Life Program at Rice University in Texas.

Her research uses social scientific methods to explore the public relationship between science and religion.

Most recently, she has studied how scientists in eight different national contexts understand religion and spirituality.

Distinguished lecture series

For 130 years, the Gifford Lectures have been delivered annually by a succession of esteemed international scholars.

They explore the links between nature and religion.

The lecture series was established under the will of Adam Lord Gifford (1820-1887), a Senator of the College of Justice at the University.

Previous speakers include former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams; the Chairperson of the United Nations Internal Justice Council, Catherine O’Regan and world-renowned psychologist Steven Pinker.

Related Links

Professor Elaine Howard Ecklund: Science and Religion in Global Public Life

Gifford Lectures – an overview