Professor Mark Harris Appointed to Andreas Idreos Professorship of Science and Religion

The Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford is delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Mark Harris to the esteemed Andreas Idreos Professorship of Science and Religion, in association with Harris Manchester College. With his exceptional expertise and profound understanding of the interplay between science and religion, Professor Harris is set to enrich the academic landscape and foster meaningful dialogue between these two realms. He will take up the post in October 2023. 

The Idreos Chair was founded in 1999 through a bequest by the late Dr Andreas Idreos, a medical doctor whose experiences as a Senior Staff Member of the World Health Organisation convinced him that the interaction of science and religion was a core part of promoting understanding between human beings. The Chair was previously held by John Hedley Brooke, Peter D. Harrison and Alister E. McGrath. The post is attached to a Professorial Fellowship at Harris Manchester College. 

Professor Harris is currently Professor of Natural Science and Theology at the University of Edinburgh. As a physicist working in a theological environment, he is as a theologian of science, interested in the complex ways that the natural sciences and religious beliefs relate to each other. 

Professor Harris is widely renowned for his remarkable contributions to the study of science and religion, having conducted extensive research and published numerous influential works on the subject. His multidisciplinary approach, spanning theology, philosophy, and the natural sciences, enables him to bridge gaps and facilitate dialogue among scholars, practitioners, and the wider public.

Active in physics for many years, Professor Harris is known (with Steve Bramwell of University College London) as the discoverer of 'spin ice' in 1997, currently a major research area in the physics of magnetism. A little after this original breakthrough, Professor Harris also discovered theology, and began to broaden his interests beyond magnetism into the Science and Religion area.  

His research interests include the relationship between the physical sciences and theology, and the impact of science on modern views of the Bible, especially in thinking on miracles, divine action, and the environmental crisis. He is currently working on a critical study of the theological reception of quantum mechanics.  

Outside his work at the University of Edinburgh, Professor Harris serves as President of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT). 

Professor Harris shared his excitement about joining the University of Oxford, stating: “I began my scientific career in Oxford; I re-invented myself as a theologian at Oxford. After 13 years away I am over the moon to be returning, for this unique mediatory role in the Andreas Idreos Chair in Science and Religion.” 

Professor William Wood, Chair of the Faculty of Theology and Religion, said: “I am simply delighted that Professor Harris will be our next Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion. He combines the practical experience of a working physicist with real theological depth and rigor. I know him to be a fantastic teacher, mentor, and scholar, and I look forward to working with him for many years.” 

For further information about the study of Science and Religion in our Faculty, see here.