Postgraduate Course: Philosophy, Science and Religion 1: The Physical World (Online) (PHIL11160)
|School||School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
|Course type||Online Distance Learning
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course will introduce students, at an advanced level, to key contemporary questions and debates in the intersection of science and religion. It provides the necessary background for graduate work in these areas.
Please note auditing is not allowed on this course. Students must only take for credit.
This course (along with its sister course, 'Philosophy, Science and Religion 2: Life and Mind') will explore the big contemporary issues in the debate between science and religion, and the ways in which philosophy has mediated. Some of the most challenging contemporary areas of modern science will feature, but specialised prior knowledge will not be assumed. Quantum mechanics, relativity, cosmology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, human origins and the search for extraterrestrial existence will feature, along with the big issues for religious belief: the problem of evil, miracles, the theologies of creation and providence. All of these will form the backdrop to this exploration of one of the most far-reaching intellectual debates of modern times.
Much of course 1 will be taken up with in-depth study of the idea of 'reality'. Not only will this foster a good understanding of the relevant debates in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of religion, it will involve understanding the different accounts of the beginnings (and end) of the universe. This will set the scene for course 2, which will also focus on the issue of 'reality', but from the perspective of embodied life, and the importance of 'mind'. The aim is to foster an in-depth philosophical understanding of the role of religious belief in modern scientific practice, and of the challenge of science to religious orthodoxies.
1. Philosophies, Sciences, and Religions
2. Physics and Reality: Classical or Quantum?
3. Philosophy and Reality
4. Time and Reality: A Brief Philosophy
5. The Christian Doctrine of Creation
6. 'In the Beginning': Big Bang Cosmology
7. The Anthropic Principle
8. Natural Law and Divine Action
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1)
|Course Start Date
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 10,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10,
Summative Assessment Hours 4,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Courses will primarily be assessed through the submission of an essay of no more than 2500 words on a topic set by the course organiser. This will account for 85% of the student's course mark. The remaining 15% of the final course mark will be determined by the student's successful participation in the on-line activities associated with the course, such as the completion of on-line quizzes or making a certain number of relevant postings on the course discussion board.
||Formative feedback will be continuous, through regular access to faculty and teaching assistants.
Students have the opportunity to submit a formative essay by week 6 deadline on Turnitin via Learn. The essay cannot be draft of summative essay but it can be on the same topic.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- demonstrate a good understanding of the key areas in the current science-religion interface (including cosmology, evolution, and the neurosciences)and will be able to engage with them philosophically.
- demonstrate strong analytical skills and philosophical acumen in approaching debates between science and theology.
- engage critically with key textual sources in the field.
- engage constructively in cross-disciplinary conversations.
- demonstrate an openness to personal growth through a commitment to dialogue across intellectual and cultural boundaries.
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Brooke, John Hedley, and Ronald L. Numbers, eds. Science and Religion around the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Brown, Colin. Miracles and the Critical Mind. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984.
Collins, Robin. 'The Teleological Argument: An Exploration of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe.' In The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, 202-281. Chichester, UK, and Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
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Craig, William Lane, and Quentin Smith. Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology. Oxford: Clarendon, 1993.
Craig, William Lane. Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity. Philosophical Studies 84. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, and Boston: Kluwer Academic, 2001.
Curd, Martin, and Jan A. Cover, eds. Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues. New York and London: W. W. Norton, 1998.
Dawes, Gregory W. Theism and Explanation. Routledge Studies in the Philosophy of Religion 6. New York: Routledge, 2009.
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Earman, John. Hume's Abject Failure: The Argument against Miracles. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Edelmann, Jonathan B. 2012. 'The Role of Hindu Theology in the Religion and Science Dialogue.' Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 47: 624-642.
Gilkey, Langdon B. 'Cosmology, Ontology, and the Travail of Biblical Language.' Journal of Religion 41.3 (July 1961): 194-205.
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Heyd, Michael. 'Be Sober and Reasonable': The Critique of Enthusiasm in the Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries. Brill's Studies in Intellectual History 63. Leiden, The Netherlands, and New York: E. J. Brill, 1995.
Holder, Rodney D. God, the Multiverse, and Everything: Modern Cosmology and the Argument from Design. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004.
Ho'ava, Petr. 'Quantum Gravity at a Lifshitz Point.' Physical Review D 79.8 (April 2009): 084008.
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Isham, Chris J., and John C. Polkinghorne. 'The Debate over the Block Universe.' In Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action. 2d ed. Edited by Robert John Russell, Nancey C. Murphy, and Chris J. Isham, 139-147. Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action 1. Berkeley, CA: Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, 1996.
Jinpa, Thupten. 2010. 'Buddhism and Science: How Far Can the Dialogue Proceed?' Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 45: 871-882.
Kragh, Helge S. Entropic Creation: Religious Contexts of Thermodynamics and Cosmology. Science, Technology, and Culture, 1700-1945. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2008.
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Lopez, Donald S. 2008. Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
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Pitts, J. Brian. 'Some Thoughts on Relativity and the Flow of Time: Einstein's Equations Given Absolute Simultaneity.' Chronos: The Annual Proceedings of the Philosophy of Time Society 6 (2003-2004): 1-21.
Pitts, J. Brian. 'Why the Big Bang Singularity Does Not Help the Kalam Cosmological Argument for Theism.' British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59.4 (December 2008): 675-708.
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Ratanakul, Pinit. 2002. 'Buddhism and Science: Allies or Enemies?' Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 37: 115-120.
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Saunders, Nicholas. Divine Action and Modern Science. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
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Sorabji, Richard. Time, Creation and the Continuum: Theories in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
Stanford, P. Kyle. Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History, and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Stenmark, Mikael. How to Relate Science and Religion: A Multidimensional Model. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004.
Wilcox, John T. 'A Question from Physics for Certain Theists.' Journal of Religion 41.4 (October 1961): 293-300.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||Students will acquire and enhance the following main graduate attributes:
- The ability to read and understand scientific, theological and philosophical texts relevant to issues in science and religion and to engage critically with them.
- The ability to engage in constructive discussion with peers and across disciplinary boundaries.
- The ability to engage philosophically with key areas in the current science-religion interface to show strong analytical skills and philosophical acumen in approaching these debates.
- The ability to engage in independent research.
Students will acquire and enhance the following transferable skills:
- General analytical skills (the ability to construct, reconstruct, recognise and critically assess arguments and evidence).
- Organisational skills (the ability to manage time, to complete a large-scale and complex project)
- Team and group work (the ability to co÷rdinate work with others to constructive ends, and to engage in collegial discussion and debate with others).
- General research skills (the ability to find, recognise and organise information relevant to a project, and to assess the import of it).
- Critical thinking (the ability to select and evaluate relevant data in texts).
Students will acquire and enhance the following professional skills:
- The ability to reconstruct and assess philosophical and theological arguments using the tools of logic and relevant evidence.
- The ability to understand relevant scientific texts, data and research methods.
- The ability to formulate a research goal (of an essay, or dissertation) and to complete a project including large-scale complex projects on time.
- The ability to identify and use the methods and resources necessary for a given project.
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||Priority for this course will be given to online Philosophy, Science and Religion students. Students on any other programme must obtain permission to enroll from Dr Alasdair Richmond as Programme Director.
|Course organiser||Dr Sarah Ritchie
Tel: (0131 6) 50 8903
|Course secretary||Ms Becky Verdon
Tel: (0131 6)50 3860