SOURCE: Templeton Foundation Press

August 09, 2005 10:00 ET

Prestigious Scholarly Lecture Material Available for First Time Through Searchable Database in Electronic Format

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, PA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- August 9, 2005 -- Some of the world's foremost thinking in natural theology is now available in an easily accessible repository. The Gifford Lectures online database,, will be formally launched by Templeton Foundation Press during the Edinburgh Book Festival on August 15, 2005. The site will contain a comprehensive record of the highly regarded Gifford Lectures.

The Gifford Lectures, established by bequest of the jurist Adam Lord Gifford (1820-1887), have been delivered at the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and St. Andrews, almost every year since 1888. The lectures were established to address questions related to natural theology, i.e., understanding God by light of reason rather than revelation. They have been given by scholars, writers, and scientists with diverse perspectives and intellectual interests. Among the renowned lecturers are William James, John Dewey, Albert Schweitzer, Karl Barth, and Stanley Jaki.

To date, there have been 212 Gifford lectures; 208 books based on those lectures were subsequently published. The Web site will contain the full text of most of these books, some of which have long been out of print. While all the material on the site is free of charge, measures are in place to safeguard intellectual property, working with the permission of the original publisher.

The conception of a Web site archiving the content of The Gifford Lectures originated one year ago with Charles L. Harper Jr., D.Phil., Senior Vice President of the John Templeton Foundation. "The field of natural theology has benefited greatly from the scholarly stature of the Gifford lectures," he noted. "The Scottish universities have been exemplary stewards for Lord Gifford, hosting a broad cross-section of scholars from such fields as religion, philosophy, physics, and history, and contributing to the advancement of philosophical and theological thought. With today's technology, the work resulting from these lectures could be made available to a global audience."

In response to Dr. Harper's vision, Templeton Foundation Press, the publications arm of the Foundation, applied for and received a grant to create and manage a Gifford lectures Web site. "This Web site is designed to make the entire collection of books resulting from Gifford lectures available in one location," explains Joanna Hill, Executive Director and Publisher of Templeton Foundation Press. "The lectures can be searched through keywords identified across the volumes, making it possible to see how various authors have differed in their thinking and how viewpoints on natural theology have risen and evolved over the years."

The Web site opens to the public on August 15 with the complete text of 48 of the 208 volumes that have currently resulted from the Gifford lectures; one-third of the summaries of those 208 books; and almost half of the biographies of the 212 lecturers. Under the direction of Larry Pullen, Gifford Lectures project manager, 160 additional books will be scanned and added to the site over the next couple of years, bringing it up to the most current lectures. The plan is to continually update the site with the addition of all publications that result from future Gifford lectures. The Gifford Lectures Web site also contains a biography of Adam Lord Gifford, a copy of his will bequeathing money to each of the four major Scottish universities to hold the lectures, a brief description of natural theology, an introduction to each of the four universities, and news about upcoming Gifford-related events.

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