James Orr


James Orr PhotoDr Orr holds a PhD and MPhil in Philosophy of Religion from St. John’s College, Cambridge, and a Double First in Classics from Balliol College, Oxford.

His research spans topics and thinkers in both the continental and analytic traditions of philosophical theology.  On the continental side, he has examined theological critiques of secular currents in phenomenology and existentialism, especially as these emerge in the writings of the Jewish-born philosopher and Carmelite spiritual writer, Edith Stein.  On the analytic side, his doctoral work explores philosophical puzzles that laws of nature present and proposes a new constructive solution to these difficulties within a theistic metaphysical framework.

His current work engages recent attempts to formulate a coherent account of value.  What is it to claim that some feature of the natural world possesses intrinsic value?  In the context of intergenerational justice, what is the most plausible way of thinking about future value?  What are the salient distinctions between secular and theistic approaches to value?  The research analyses deep and varied disagreements among theologians and philosophers on these central questions with a view to developing an account of value that adequately addresses them.

Dr Orr is Director of Trinity Forum Oxford and Trinity Forum Cambridge, organisations that host speakers from a wide variety of intellectual backgrounds to examine questions at the intersection of philosophy, theology, ethics, and public life.  He is a Visiting Lecturer at St. Paul’s Theological Centre and St. Mellitus College and a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s advisory group, the Lambeth Partnership.  Before entering academic life, he trained and worked for four years in corporate finance law at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.


  1. ‘The Fullness of Life: Death, Finitude, and Life-Philosophy in Edith Stein’s Critique of the Early Heidegger,’ Heythrop Journal 55 (2014), 565-75
  2. ‘Being and Timelessness: Edith Stein’s Theological Critique of Heideggerian Temporality,’ Modern Theology 30 (2014), 114-31
  3. ‘Heidegger’s Critique of Aquinas on Truth: A Critical Assessment,’ New Blackfriars 95 (2014), 43-56
  4. ‘Edith Stein’s Critique of Sociality in the Early Heidegger,’ Neue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie 55/3 (2013), 379-96


  1. John Hughes, ed., The Unknown God: Responses to the New Atheists (London: SCM Press, 2013), Science and Christian Belief (forthcoming, September 2015) (invited)
  2. Stephen Bullivant and Michael Ruse, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Atheism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), Religious Studies (2015) (invited)
  3. James Mumford, Ethics at the Beginning of Life: A Phenomenological Critique (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), Modern Theology 31/2 (2015)
  4. Anthony Meredith S.J., Christian Philosophy in the Early Church (London and New York: T&T Clark, 2012), Heythrop Journal 55(5) (forthcoming, 2015) (invited)
  5. Russell Re Manning (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), Expository Times 125 (2014), 333-35 (invited)
  6. Oswald Bayer, “A Contemporary in Dissent”: Johann Georg Hamann as a Radical Enlightener (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012), Modern Theology 29(1) (2013), 187-89 (invited)


  1. Prof. Tim Crane, University of Cambridge, ‘The Return of Mental Substance? Aristotelian Developments in the Metaphysics of Mind,’ “Philosophy Meets Theology: A Symposium,” 9 May 2013
  2. Prof. Brian Leftow, University of Oxford, ‘Does God Have Obligations?’ “D” Society, Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge, 24 November 2012
  3. Prof. Yujin Nagasawa, University of Birmingham, ‘Modal Panentheism,’ “D” Society, Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge, 23 February 2012
  4. Prof. Richard Swinburne, University of Oxford, ‘Can Neuroscience Reduce Intentions to Brain Events?’ “D” Society, Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge, 14 October 2011
  5. Prof. Tim Crane, University of Cambridge, ‘Materialism and the Mind-Body Problem,’ “D” Society, Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge, 28 November 2010

Public Debates

  1. “Does God Exist?” with John Harris, Cambridge Humanist Association, 15 October 2013
  2. “Religion for Atheists?” with Alain de Botton, Premier Radio, 11 February 2012
  3. “Is Theology Bulls**t?” with Stephen Law, Premier Radio, 17 December 2011

Public Talks

  1. ‘Divine Lawmaking: Defenders and Discontents,’ Old Bishop’s Palace, Ely Cathedral, 28 November 2013
  2. ‘Resurrection: Hoax or History?’ Student Union, Anglia Ruskin University, 8 March 2013
  3. ‘Logical Empiricism & Bodily Resurrection,’ Christian Heritage, The Round Church, Cambridge, 4 March 2013
  4. ‘The Problem of Evil & Innocent Suffering,’ Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge, 14 January 2011
  5. ‘The Problem of Religious Pluralism,’ Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge, 21 January 2011
  6. ‘The Historicity of the New Testament Documents,’ Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge,  28 January 2011
  7. ‘The Fullness of Life: Death, Finitude & Life-Philosophy in Stein’s Critique of Heidegger,’ Kraków, Poland, 4 July 2011
  8. ‘Ingot We Trust: God, Greed & The Great Recession,’ St. Paul’s Church, Howell Hill, Surrey, 7 March 2010
  9. ‘Creation Crunch: Theological and Philosophical Perspectives on Climate Change,’ Friday Forum, St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn, London, 28 January 2010
  10. ‘The Smiling Secret: Auden’s Journey to Faith,’ Friday Forum, St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn, London, 14 November 2009
  11. ‘Glimpsing the Person: Christianity & Human Dignity,’ Friday Forum, St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn, London, 9 May 2009
  12. ‘Reason, Theism, and Naturalism,’ Friday Forum, St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn, London, 22 November 2008
  13. ‘Does Religion Poison Everything? Response to Hitchens,’ Friday Forum, St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn, London, 9 June 2008
  14. ‘Debunking Dawkins,’ HTB Students, Holy Trinity Brompton, London, 3 June 2008
  15. ‘Myths of Violence: Sacred vs. Secular,’ Friday Forum, St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn, London, 15 March 2007

Contact Details

Christ Church
Oxford OX1 1DP
United Kingdom

+44 1865 276 150