Peter Harrison (historian)

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Peter Harrison

Peter Harrison FAHA (born 1955) is an Australian Laureate Fellow and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland.


Peter Harrison holds a DLitt from the University of Oxford, a PhD from the University of Queensland, and master's degrees from Yale and Oxford. He began his academic career at Bond University on Australia’s Gold Coast, where for a number of years he was Professor of History and Philosophy. In 2006 he was elected Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford.[1] During his time at Oxford he was Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre and a Fellow of Harris Manchester College. In 2011 he assumed directorship of the Centre of the History of European Discourses at the University of Queensland. He became the inaugural director of UQ's Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in July 2015. A Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, he was a recipient of a Centenary Medal in 2003. He was the 2011 Gifford Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh[2] and is a Senior Research Fellow in the Ian Ramsey Centre at Oxford. In 2014 he was awarded an Australian Laureate Fellowship to conduct a five-year research project exploring Science and Secularization.[3] In 2015, The Territories of Science and Religion was named winner of the Aldersgate Prize.[4]


Harrison is best known for a number of influential writings on religion and the origins of modern science. He has argued that changing approaches to the interpretation of the Bible had a significant impact on the development of modern science. He has also suggested that the biblical story of the Fall played a key role in the development of experimental science. His earlier work traces changing conceptions of religion in the West. Harrison contends that the idea of religions as sets of beliefs and practices emerged for the first time in the seventeenth century.

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