£2.4 million grant to explore theologies of nature

Dr Mark Harris and Dr Sarah Lane Ritchie have won funding from the John Templeton Foundation for a major international research project, God and the Book of Nature.

The 33-month initiative, organised from the University of Edinburgh,  will build a network of theologians and philosophers of religion to form a wide-ranging collaborative engagement with the natural sciences.

Ten Research Fellows will be appointed across universities in the UK, USA and mainland Europe.

Dr Harris says:

“It is wonderful to hear that our grant proposal has been approved. We are delighted and very grateful to the John Templeton Foundation for their support.

“Our God and the Book of Nature project will start from existing work in science-engaged theology and aim towards building theologies of nature around three themes: God and Nature, Mind and Nature, and Naturalism(s) and Nature.”

Building on a strong track record

As well as Principal Investigators Dr Mark Harris and Dr Sarah Lane Ritchie from the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, participants include leading universities from the UK, mainland Europe and the United States.

Dr Harris continues:

“Each of our themes - God and Nature, Mind and Nature, and Naturalism(s) and Nature - will be addressed by at least two of the research groups within the network.

“We envisage up to 10 such groups, spread through European and American universities which have already demonstrated a strong track record in the science-engaged theology area.

“Each research group will consist of a tenure-track academic in theology or philosophy, and a postdoc who will develop theological links with specific empirical sciences; each group will collaborate with a relevant laboratory so that the postdoc can gain direct exposure to research activities in the empirical science.

“The network will meet annually as a whole, primarily in a special session of the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). It will also meet more regularly in small themed units, in order to maximise the cohesion of the network, and to ensure that the three themes inform our overall research vision.”

Core outputs

Core outputs of the network will include publications with leading scholarly journals and university presses, lectures, speaker meetings, workshops and sessions at AAR, which will include prominent scientists involved in the project.

About the John Templeton Foundation

Taking inspiration from the intellectual legacy of the late Wall Street financier and philanthropist Sir John Templeton, the John Templeton Foundation’s vision is one of infinite scientific and spiritual progress. The Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the deepest and most perplexing questions facing humankind. 


God and the Book of Nature

John Templeton Foundation

Dr Harris’s profile

Dr Ritchie’s profile

American Academy of Religion (AAR)