James Byrne 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
Christianity: Past and Present
Modern Christian Thought


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.

Awards & Recognition

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.

Recent News

James Byrne of the religious studies faculty this past fall semester was the focus of a feature in The Irish Times, a widely read Irish daily broadsheet newspaper and website launched as a paper in 1859, and published every day except Sundays in its recent era. In a feature called “Welcome to My Place,” which learns about the lives of Irish living abroad, Jim and his family were in the spotlight under a quote-headline concerning Vermont that read, “The four seasons are so distinct here. Fall is rightfully famous.” The article’s introduction to an interview with Jim’s wife Cecilia Redmond begins: “Cecilia Redmond and her husband James Byrne are both from Wexford and moved to Vermont after spending six years in London. James is a professor at St Michael’s College and Cecilia is an interior designer with her own business. Their son Ronan, 12, was born in Vermont. He considers himself Irish-American with the emphasis on the Irish, his mother says.”
(posted February 2020)

James Byrne, professor of religious studies faculty (and Honors Program Director) presented a paper, “The Multiverse as Physics and Metaphysics”, at the European Conference on Science and Theology, Lyon (France), April 17-22. James continues to be a peer-reviewer of articles submitted to Zygon, the primary academic journal in the field of science and religion. His most recent review was in May 2018. He also is completing his term as Director of the Honors Program, and was the recipient of the faculty award for service to the Honors Program.
(posted June 2018)

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).