The prestigious Gifford Lectureships were established by Adam Lord Gifford (1820–1887), a senator of the College of Justice in Scotland. The purpose of Lord Gifford's bequest to the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, St. Andrews and Aberdeen was to sponsor lectures to “promote and diffuse the study of Natural Theology in the widest sense of the term—in other words, the knowledge of God”.
Since the first lecture in 1888, Gifford Lecturers have been recognized as pre-eminent thinkers in their respective fields. Among the many gifted lecturers are Hannah Arendt, Noam Chomsky, Stanley Hauerwas, William James, Jean-Luc Marion, Iris Murdoch, Roger Scruton, Eleonore Stump, Charles Taylor, Alfred North Whitehead, and Rowan Williams.
The online Gifford Lectures database presents a comprehensive collection of books derived from the Gifford Lectures. In addition to the books, the Web site contains a biography of each lecturer and a summary of the lecture or book. The Web site also contains a biography of Adam Lord Gifford, a copy of his will bequeathing money to 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 forthcoming Gifford-related events.