Past Lectureships 1923-1998
Dwight E. Terry Lectureship Dwight E. Terry Lectureship Dwight E. Terry Lectureship Yale University Dwight E. Terry Lectureship


Secular Humanism

Philosophy professor Philip Kitcher delivered a series of four lectures on secular humanism in March 2013.

Kitcher, who was born in London in 1947, received his B.A. from Cambridge University and his Ph.D. from Princeton. He has taught at several American universities and is currently John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia. 

He is the author of books on topics ranging from the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of biology, the growth of science, the role of science in society, Wagner's  Ring and Joyce's Finnegans Wake(more)



Jefferson and Darwin: Science and Religion in Troubled Times

Keith S. Thomson delivered a series of four Terry lectures, "Jefferson and Darwin: Science and Religion in Troubled Times," in October and December 2012.

In the last 300 years, science and religion, however construed, have diverged so much as almost no longer to be recognizable to each other, according to Thomson, a biologist and an historian of science. In his first two lectures Thomson examined the interplay between science and religion in the 18th and 19th centuries, principally in the lives and thoughts of two familiar, but very different intellectual giants, Thomas Jefferson and Charles Darwin. (more)



Cosmic Society: The New Universe and the Human Future

Full of dark matter collapsing the galaxies into being and dark energy accelerating them apart, the evolving universe, according to 2009-10 Terry lecturers Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams, has turned out to be wildly more interesting than the image of an empty space scattered with celestial objects. To the extent that people around the world accept scientific reality, they argue, we have grounds for agreement for the first time on a shared creation story based on modern cosmology and biology. (more)



Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self

Marilynne Robinson, who teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, is author of the novel Gilead, which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, and Housekeeping, which won the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Award for First Fiction, as well as the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award from the Academy of American Arts and Letters. Housekeeping was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Her third novel, Home, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. (more)



The Scientific Buddha: Past, Present, Future

Donald Lopez is Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan and chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. He has written extensively on aspects of religions of Asia, and his books include Prisoners of Shangi-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West; The Story of Buddhism; and Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed. Professor Lopez also serves as chair of the Michigan Society of Fellows. (more)


Faith and Fundamentalism: Is Belief in Richard Dawkins Necessary for Salvation?

Terry Eagleton, John Edward Taylor Professor of English Literature at the University of Manchester, has been a Fellow of four Oxford and Cambridge colleges and has held the Thomas Warton Chair of English Literature at the University of Oxford. Professor Eagleton has authored scores of studies of literary, cultural, and political criticism and written plays for both stage and television in Britain and Ireland, as well as a screenplay for Derek Jarman’s film Wittgenstein. Terry Eagleton is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Mr. Eagleton’s book based upon his Terry lectures, Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate, is available from Yale University Press. (more)

Islam, Science, and the Challenge of History

Ahmad Dallal is Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies and Chair of the Arabic and Islamic Studies Department of Georgetown University. Professor Dallal has taught at Stanford University (2000-3), Yale University (1994-2000), and Smith College (1990-4), having earned a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Columbia University and a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering from the American University of Beirut. His academic training and research cover the history of the disciplines of learning in Muslim societies, including both the exact and the traditional sciences, as well as modern and early modern Islamic thought and movements. His books and articles are focused on the history of science, Islamic revivalist thought, and Islamic law. He is currently finishing a book-length comparative study of 18th century Islamic reform entitled Islam without Europe, Traditions of Reform in Eighteen Century Islamic Thought. Professor Dallal arrived in New Haven from Morocco, having completed a year-long research sabbatical. (more)


Natural Reflections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion

Barbara Herrnstein Smith is Braxton Craven Professor of Comparative Literature and English and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Science and Cultural Theory at Duke University. She also holds the position of Distinguished Professor of English at Brown University. (more)

After initially training in biology, experimental psychology, and philosophy at City College in New York, Smith attended Brandeis University, where she received her doctorate in English and American Literature. Before joining the faculty at Duke in 1987, she taught at Bennington College and at the University of Pennsylvania, where she held the position of University Professor. Her current teaching and research focus on twentieth century reconceptions of knowledge and science, contemporary accounts of language and cognition, the relations between the sciences and the humanities, and the naturalistic tradition in the study of religion.

Professor Smith has authored and edited a number of books and articles on language, literature, and critical theory, including Poetic Closure: A Study of How Poems End (1968), On the Margins of Discourse: The Relation of Literature to Language (1978), and Contingencies of Value: Alternative Perspectives for Critical Theory (1988). Her most recent books are Belief and Resistance: Dynamics of Contemporary Intellectual Controversy (1997) and Scandalous Knowledge: Science, Truth and the Human (2006).

She is a past president of the Modern Language Association and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2001, she was named an honorary fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science "for distinguished contributions to…a common scientific and humanistic understanding of knowledge and its advancement."

Professor Smith's book based on her Terry lectures, Natural Reflections, is available from Yale University Press.


Natural Reflections:
Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion

October 17, 2006

The New Naturalism I:  Cognitive Machinery

 Video Stream

October 19, 2006

The New Naturalism II:  Evolutionary Riddles

Video Stream

October 24, 2006

Deep Readings:  The New Natural Theology

Video Stream

October 26, 2006

Reflections:  Science and Religion, Natural and Unnatural

Video Stream


The Religion and Science Debate:  Why Does It Continue?

The Dwight H. Terry Lectureship celebrated its 100th anniversary with a two-day conference entitled “The Religion and Science Debate: Why Does It Continue?” Public Broadcasting System journalist Margaret Warner moderated the closing panel of the two-day symposium, a schedule of which appears below. Streamed videos are available for each session.

A book based on the conference, The Religion and Science Debate: Why Does It Continue? is available from Yale University Press.

Thursday, September 14, 2 pm

"No Contradictions Here:  Science, Religion, and the Culture of All Reasonable Possibilities"

Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University

Robert Wuthnow has conducted path-breaking research on diverse facets of American religion, including economics, politics, arts, and psychology.

To view streamed video of this lecture, click here

Thursday, September 14, 4 pm

"Religion vs. Science?  From the White House to Classroom"

Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics, Professor of  Astronomy, and Director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics, Case Western Reserve University

Lawrence Krauss is a theoretical physicist with wide research interests, including the interface between elementary particle physics and cosmology, where his studies include the early universe, the nature of dark matter, general relativity, and neutrino astrophysics. He is the author of several bestselling books, including The Physics of Star Trek.

To view streamed video of this lecture, click here

Friday, September 15, 9 am

"Science and Religion:  Why Does the Debate Continue?"

John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame

Alvin Plantinga is a contemporary American philosopher known for his work in epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion.

To view streamed video of this lecture, click here

Friday, September 15, 11 am

"Darwin, God, and Dover:  What the Collapse of 'Intelligent Design' Means for Science and for Faith in America"

Professor of Biology, Brown University

Kenneth R. Miller is a biologist who attempts to reconcile evolutionary theory with Christianity. He was an expert witness in the 2005 Dover, PA, lawsuit challenging a school board mandate to incorporate intelligent design into the curriculum.

To view streamed video of this lecture, click here

Friday, September 15, 2 pm

"Aggressors, Victims, and Peacemakers:  Historical Actors in the Drama of Science and Religion"

Hilldale and William Coleman Professor of the History of Science and Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ronald Numbers has written or edited more than two dozen books, including The Creationists, Darwinism Comes to America, and Disseminating Darwinism: The Role of Place, Race, Religion and Gender.

To view streamed video of this lecture, click here

Friday, September 15, 4 pm

Panel discussion

Senior Correspondent, "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer"

Margaret Warner is a career journalist who spent ten years at Newsweek magazine before joining "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" in 1993.

To view streamed video of this lecture, click here


Evolution for Everyone
David Sloan Wilson is Professor of Biological Sciences with a joint appointment in Anthropology at Binghamton University (State University of New York). He is also director of EvoS, a program founded in 2003 that seeks to make evolutionary theory part of the common discourse for all subjects relevant to human affairs and the natural world. (more)


Writing in Circles: Ring Composition as a Creative Stimulus
Mary Douglas has been one of the world’s leading intellectuals for fifty years. Her work as a cultural anthropologist, springing first from fieldwork in the Belgian Congo from 1949 to 1950, earned her early fame. Two of her books in particular, Purity and Danger (1966) and Natural Symbols (1970), are true classics, studied by generations of scholars and graduate students. (more)


Exorcism and Enlightenment: Johann Joseph Gassner and the Demons of 18th-Century Germany
H. C. Erik Midelfort is the C. Julian Bishko Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1970. He has also taught at Stanford, Bern, Stuttgart, and Harvard Universities, and most recently was Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College, Oxford, England. (more)


From Biology to Ethics: An Evolutionist's View of Human Nature
Francisco J. Ayala—geneticist, evolutionary biologist, and philosopher of science—is one of the leading thinkers of our day. As society is confronted increasingly by the onrush of genomic research the ethical and moral implications of which have only barely begun to be perceived, he has elucidated the evolutionary transition from primates to humans with compelling insight. (more)


One World: The Ethics and Politics of Globalization
Peter Singer is among the most influential and most controversial moral philosophers alive. Positing a utilitarian view, he has helped shape debates worldwide concerning animal rights and the ethical dilemmas posed by new medical technologies that blur the boundaries between life and death. He has also made significant contributions to debate about international economic justice, in which he has long been interested. (more)


The Empirical Stance
Bas C. van Fraassen joined Princeton University’s Department of Philosophy in 1982. His interests include philosophy of science (especially subjects related to probability theory and to the foundations of physics), philosophical logic, and empiricism. (more)