Faculty Profile

James Byrne, PhD

Professor of Religious Studies

Ph.D. University of Dublin (Trinity College)
S.T.L. Gregorian University, Rome
S.T.B. Gregorian University, Rome

I hold undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in theology from the Gregorian University (Rome) and a Ph.D. in philosophical theology from the University of Dublin (Trinity College). I did my postdoctoral work at the University of Tubingen (Germany). I have also taught at universities in Ireland and the United Kingdom. I value the opportunities at Saint Michael's to work closely with students on research projects and senior theses.

Areas of Expertise:

Religion in the Context of Modern Thought and Culture, The Enlightenment, Science and Religion, Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion, Christian Theology

Courses I Teach:

  • Religion: Theory and Method
  • Science and Religion
  • World Christianity
  • Christianity: Past and Present

My scholarship and research focus on the interaction of religion with modern culture and thought; my present research is on issues in science and religion, but I am also interested in modern secular philosophy, literature, and the visual arts.

My books include God: Thoughts in An Age of Uncertainty (2001) and Religion and the Enlightenment: From Descartes to Kant (1997). I have published articles in academic journals such as Zygon and Faith and Philosophy plus many encyclopedia entries and book reviews. I am currently working on a book on the science and religion debates.

  • Before coming to Saint Michael's, I was Chair of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Saint Mary's University College (London).
  • I am a former external examiner at the University of Oxford and have been a regular review consultant for academic publishers.
  • In 2006 I was the recipient of a STARS grant from the Center for Theology and The Natural Sciences (CTNS).
  • I am a member of the American Academy of Religion and the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology.

Life Off Campus:

I live in Burlington with my wife Cecilia, an interior designer, and our young son Ronan. I enjoy walking, biking, tennis, and cooking food from around the world for family and friends. I love Vermont but also travel when I can, especially to cities with good art galleries. I am a sports fan and when younger I played the Irish sport "hurling," the world's fastest field game, which I still follow avidly on Irish radio via the internet.

James Byrne, professor of religious studies, presented a paper, "Pascal contra Descartes: Reason, Faith, and Emotion at the Dawn of Modern Science,” in early May at the 15th European Conference on Science and Theology in Assisi, Italy. Jim is a member of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology.
(posted August 2014)

James Byrne, professor and chair of religious studies, recently (February 2014) evaluated an $80,000 grant proposal on the German Enlightenment for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. (March 2014)

James M. Byrne, professor of religious studies and department chair, has an entry on "Deism" forthcoming in Volume 6 of The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (Berlin: deGruyter, 2013).

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