Professor Peter Harrison

Director & Professorial Res Fellow

Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Affiliate Academic

School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+61 7 334 69494


Peter Harrison was educated at the University of Queensland and Yale University. In 2011 he moved to Queensland from the University of Oxford where he was the Idreos Professor of Science and Religion. At Oxford he was a member of the Faculties of Theology and History, a Fellow of Harris Manchester College, and Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre where he continues to hold a Senior Research Fellowship. He has published extensively on the philosophical, scientific and religious thought of the early modern period, and is interested in secularization theory and historical and contemporary relations between science and religion. He has been a Visiting Fellow at Oxford, Yale, and Princeton, is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, a founding member of the International Society for Science and Religion, and a corresponding member of the International Academy for the History of Science. In 2003, he recieved a Centenary Medal for 'service to Australian Society and the Humanities in the Study of Philosophy and Religion’. In 2011 he delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh. He was awarded a DLitt by the University of Oxford in 2013, and delivered the Bampton Lectures at Oxford in 2019. From 2015-20 has was an Australian Laureate Fellow.

His seven books include, most recently, Science with God: Rethinking the History of Scientific Naturalism (Oxford, 2019), co-edited with Jon Roberts, Narratives of Secularization (London, 2017), and The Territories of Science and Religion (Chicago, 2015), winnder of the Aldersgate Prize.

Research Interests

  • Intellectual History, Historical Relations between Science and Religion, History of Science, Religious History, History of Philosophy


  • Fellow of Australian Academy of the Humanities
  • Doctor of Letters, Oxf.
  • Master of Arts, Oxf.
  • Master of Arts, Yale University
  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Arts, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science, The University of Queensland


View all Publications



Book Chapter

  • Harrison, Peter (2019). Laws of God or Laws of Nature? : Natural Order in the Early Modern Period. Science Without God?. (pp. 58-76) edited by .Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oso/9780198834588.003.0004

  • Harrison, Peter (2017). Is science-religion conflict always a bad thing? Augustinian reflections on Christianity and Evolution. Evolution and the fall. (pp. 204-226) edited by William T. Cavanaugh and James K. A. Smith.Grand Rapids, MI, United States: Eerdmans.

  • Harrison, Peter (2016). Evolution, providence, and the problem of chance. Abraham's dice: chance and providence in the monotheistic traditions. (pp. 260-290) edited by Karl W. Giberson.New York, United States: Oxford University Press.

  • Harrison, Peter (2016). Protestantism and the making of modern science. Protestantism after 500 years. (pp. 98-120) edited by Thomas Albert Howard and Mark A. Noll.New York, United States: Oxford University Press.

  • Harrison, Peter (2016). Religion, innovation and secular modernity. Religion and Innovation: Antagonists or Partners?. (pp. 74-86) edited by Donald A. Yerxa.London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

  • Harrison, Peter (2016). Religion, scientific naturalism and historical progress. Religion and Innovation: Antagonists or Partners?. (pp. 87-99) edited by Donald A. Yerxa.London, United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Academic.

  • Harrison, Peter (2016). The Bible and the emerging scientific world view. The New Cambridge history of the Bible. (pp. 620-640) edited by Euan Cameron.Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CHO9781139048781.029

  • Harrison, Peter (2015). That religion has typically impeded the progress of science. Newton's apple and other myths about science. (pp. 195-201) edited by Ronald L. Numbers and Kostas Kampourakis.London, England: Harvard University Press. doi:10.4159/9780674089167-026

  • Harrison, Peter (2014). "Wissenschaft" und "Religion": Das Konstuieren der Grenzen. Theology and the Natural Sciences. (pp. 39-68) edited by Christian Tapp and Christof Breitsameter.Berlin, Germany: Walter De Gruyter. doi:10.1515/9783110318036.39

  • Harrison, Peter (2013). Laws of nature in seventeenth-century England: from Cambridge Platonism to Newtonianism. The Divine Order, the Human Order, and the Order of Nature: Historical Perspectives. (pp. 127-148) edited by Eric Watkins.New York, NY, United States: Oxford University Press.

  • Harrison, Peter (2012). Early modern science and the idea of moral progress. British abolitionism and the question of moral progress in history. (pp. 139-153) edited by Donald A. Yerxa.Columbia, SC, United States: University of South Carolina Press.

  • Harrison, Peter (2012). Laws of nature, moral order and the intelligibility of the cosmos. The astronomy revolution: 400 years of exploring the cosmos. (pp. 375-386) edited by Donald York, Owen Gingerich and Shuang-Nan Zhang.Boca Raton, FL, United States: CRC Press.

  • Harrison, Peter (2012). The 'Two Books'. The Lion Handbook of Science and Christianity. (pp. 57-58) edited by R. J. Berry.Oxford, United Kingdom: Lion Hudson.

  • Harrison, Peter (2012). The conflict thesis. The Lion Handbook of Science and Christianity. (pp. xx-xx) edited by Robert James Berry.Oxford, United Kingdom: Lion Hudson.

  • Harrison, Peter (2011). Adam Smith, natural theology, and the natural sciences. Adam Smith as theologian. (pp. 77-91) edited by Paul Oslington.New York, United States: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9780203816417

  • Harrison, Peter and Lindberg, David C. (2011). Early Christianity. Science and religion around the world. (pp. 67-91) edited by John Hedley Brooke and Ronald L. Numbers.Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

  • Harrison, Peter (2011). Introduction. Wrestling with nature: From omens to science. (pp. 1-7) edited by Peter Harrison, Ronald L. Numbers and Michael H. Shank.Chicago, IL, United States: University of Chicago Press.

  • Harrison, Peter (2011). Natural history. Wrestling with nature: From omens to science. (pp. 117-148) edited by Peter Harrison, Ronald L. Numbers and Michael H. Shank.Chicago, IL, United States: University of Chicago Press.

  • Harrison, Peter (2010). The cultural authority of natural history in early modern Europe. Biology and ideology: From Descartes to Dawkins. (pp. 11-35) edited by Denis R. Alexander and Ronald L. Numbers.Chicago, ILL, U.S.A.; London, U.K.: University of Chicago Press.

  • Harrison, Peter (2010). Theology and matter theory in the early modern period. Matter and meaning: Is matter sacred or profane?. (pp. 39-56) edited by Michael Fuller.Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K.: Cambridge Scholars.

  • Harrison, Peter (2010). ‘Science’ and ‘religion’: Constructing the boundaries. Science and Religion: New Historical Perspectives. (pp. 23-49) edited by . Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511676345.003

  • Harrison, Peter (2009). Herbert Butterfield and the scientific revolution : Reassessing the Butterfield thesis. Recent Themes in the History of Science and Religion. (pp. 65-72) edited by Donald A. Yerxa.Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press.

  • Harrison, Peter (2009). Hermeneutics and natural knowledge in the reformers. Nature and Scripture in the Abrahamic religions: Up to 1700. (pp. 341-362) edited by Jitse M. van der Meer, Scott Mandelbrote and Wim Janse.Leiden, Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill. doi:10.1163/ej.9789004171916.i-782.74

  • Harrison, Peter (2009). That Rene Descartes originated mind-body distinction. Galileo goes to jail : And other myths about science and religion. (pp. 107-114) edited by Ronald L. Numbers.Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

  • Harrison, Peter (2008). Hermeneutics and natural knowledge in the reformers. (pp. 341-362) edited by . Brill Academic Publishers.

  • Harrison. Peter (2008). The development of the concept of the laws of nature. Creation: Law and probability. (pp. 13-36) edited by Fraser Watts.Aldershot, England: Ashgate.

  • Harrison, Peter (2007). "The fashioned image of poetry or the regular instruction of philosophy?": Truth, utility, and the natural sciences in early modern England. Science, literature, and rhetoric in early modern England. (pp. 15-36) edited by Juliet Cummins and David Burchell.Aldershot, England: Ashgate.

  • Harrison, Peter (2007). Natural theology, deism, and early modern science. Science, religion, and society : An encyclopedia of history, culture, and controversy. (pp. 426-440) edited by Arri Eisen and Gary Laderman.New York , NY, U.S.A.: M E Sharpe.

  • Harrison, Peter (2007). Philosophy and the crisis of religion. The Cambridge companion to Renaissance philosophy. (pp. 234-249) edited by James Hankins.Cambridge (UK): Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CCOL052184648X.012

  • Harrison, Peter (2007). Reinterpreting nature in early modern Europe : Natural philosophy, biblical exegesis, and the contemplative life. The word and the world : Biblical exegesis and early modern science. (pp. 25-44) edited by Kevin Killeen and Peter J. Forshaw.New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Harrison, Peter (2006). Disjoining wisdom and knowledge : Science, theology, and the making of western modernity. Wisdom or knowledge? : Science, theology and cultural dynamics. (pp. 51-72) edited by Hubert Meisinger, Willem B. Drees and Zbigniew Liana.London: T & T Clark International.

  • Harrison, Peter (2006). Having dominion : Genesis and the mastery of nature. Environmental stewardship : Critical perspectives, past and present. (pp. 17-31) edited by R. J. Berry.London: T & T Clark International.

  • Harrison, Peter (2006). The 'Book of nature' and early modern science. The book of nature in early modern and modern history. (pp. 1-26) edited by Klaas van Berkel and Arie Johan Vanderjagt.Leuven, Belgium: Peeters.

  • Harrison, Peter (2006). The natural philosopher and the virtues. The philosopher in early modern Europe : The nature of a contested identity. (pp. 202-228) edited by Conal Condren, Stephen Gaukroger and Ian Hunter..Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Harrison, Peter (2005). Physico-theology and the mixed sciences : The role of theology in early modern natural philosophy. The science of nature in the seventeenth century. (pp. 165-183) edited by Peter R. Anstey and John A. Schuster.Dordrecht The Netherlands: Springer.

  • Harrison, Peter (2004). "Priests of the Most High God, with respect to the book of nature": The vocational identity of the early modern naturalist. Reading God's world: The scientific vocation. (pp. 55-80) edited by Angus Menuge.St Louis, MO, United States: Concordia Publishing.

  • Harrison, Peter (2004). Design. Europe 1450-1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. (pp. II, 132-134) edited by Jonathan Dewald.New York: Simon and Schuster.

  • Harrison, Peter (2004). Enthusiasm. Europe 1450-1789: Encyclopedia of the early modern world. (pp. 308-310) edited by Jonathan Dewald.New York, NY, United States: Scribners.

  • Harrison, Peter (2004). Morgan, Thomas (d 1743). Oxford dictionary of national biography. (pp. 147-149) edited by .Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/19239

  • Harrison, Peter (2004). Noah’s flood and the Western imagination. Flood: Essays across the current. (pp. 1-28) edited by Paul Thom.Lismore, NSW, Australia: Southern Cross University Press.

  • Harrison, Peter (2004). Reading vital signs: Animals and the experimental philosophy. Renaissance beasts: Of animals, humans, and other wonderful creatures. (pp. 186-207) edited by .Urbana, Ill, United States: University of Illinois Press.

  • Harrison, Peter (2004). Science. The encyclopedia of Protestantism. (pp. 1669-1675) edited by Hans J. Hillerbrand.New York, United States: Routledge.

  • Harrison, Peter (2004). Was Newton a voluntarist?. Newton and Newtonianism: New studies. (pp. 39-64) edited by J. E. Force and S. Hutton.Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

  • Harrison, Peter (2003). Science, Origins of. Encyclopedia of science and religion. (pp. 779-782) edited by J. Wentzel van Huyssteen.New York, United States: Macmillan Reference.

  • Harrison, Peter (2001). Scaling the Ladder of Being: Theology and Early Modern Theories of Evolution. Religion, Reason, and Nature in Early Modern Europe. (pp. 199-224) edited by R. Crocker.Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  • Harrison, P. D. (2000). The influence of Cartesian cosmology in England. Descartes' Natural Philosophy. (pp. 168-192) edited by .London: Routledge.

  • Harrison, Peter (1998). Reading the passions: The fall, the passions, and dominion over nature. The soft underbelly of reason: The passions in the seventeenth century. (pp. 49-78) edited by Stephen Gaukroger.London, United Kingdom: Routledge.

Journal Article

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision