The Bampton Lectures

The Bampton Lectures, founded by the will of the Revd John Bampton (1690-1751), first took place at the University Church in 1780. The original bequest specified that 'upon the first Tuesday in Easter Term, a Lecturer be yearly chosen by the Heads of Colleges only, and by no others, in the room adjoining to the Printing-House, between the hours of ten in the morning and two in the afternoon, to preach eight Divinity Lecture Sermons, the year following, at St. Mary's in Oxford, between the commencement of the last month in Lent Term, and the end of the third week in Act Term.'

The mode of delivery has changed over the years, and the eight lectures are now concentrated on a series of day conferences in Hilary and Trinity Terms. These prestigious lectures - sometimes courting controversy, always intellectually stimulating - have covered a range of theological subjects over the years. According to the original bequest, the 'Divinity Lecture Sermons shall be preached upon either of the following Subjects: to confirm and establish the Christian Faith, and to confute all heretics and schismatics; upon the divine authority of the holy Scriptures; upon the authority of the writings of the primitive Fathers, as to the faith and practice of the primitive Church; upon the Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; upon the Divinity of the Holy Ghost; upon the Articles of the Christian Faith, as comprehended in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds.'

These lectures are open to the public as well as members of the University. Information about the Bampton Lectures 2021 will be published shortly.

Rethinking Relations between Science and Religion
Peter Harrison

In 2019, the Bampton Lectures were given by Professor Peter Harrison, Australian Laureate Fellow and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland. Peter is a former Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford. He has written numerous books and articles on the historical and contemporary relations between science and religion. In 2011 he delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh, now published as The Territories of Science and Religion (2015). His most recent book is Narratives of Secularization (2017).

The relationship between science and religion is often thought of in terms of competing factual claims or ways of knowing - evolution vs creation, reason vs faith. But arguments along these lines are rarely persuasive. Peter Harrison argues that this is because the dialogue is an expression of commitments to implicit historical narratives about science and religion. The most common is the conflict narrative, which proposes an enduring historical conflict between science and religion. Less commonly remarked upon is a naturalism narrative, according to which there is nothing in the universe but physical forces and entities.

The lectures took place on 12th February and 19th February 2019. They were followed by seminars in the Old Library. The first seminar was on 'Evidence and Religious Belief' and the second seminar was on 'Divine Action in a Disenchanted World'.

Lecture 1 Supernatural Belief in a Secular Age

Lecture 2 Science and the Disenchantment of Nature

Lecture 3 Nature and the Idea of the Supernatural

Lecture 4 Religious Belief and the Myth of Scientific Naturalism