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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Undergraduate Course: Science and Christian Theology: Historical and Theological Perspectives (DIVI10029)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores the reasons for the perceived antagonism between the disciplines of natural science and Christian theology from the time of Galileo, and considers a number of theological responses to this antagonism.
Course description Academic Description:
This level 10 course explores the history of the relationship between the natural sciences and Christian theology, beginning with the time of Galileo, and proceeding to the modern day. Along with some of the famous inflammatory debates there will be an opportunity to study the ways that science and theology have engaged in constructive dialogue, and have even learnt from each other. The course is available to all Honours level undergraduate students in the School of Divinity (including visiting students), and also students in the College of Humanities and Social Science. The course complements THET10011 Theology and Contemporary Science, which runs in alternate years to this one.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
Science and religion are often said to be in 'conflict' with each other. The course will begin by exploring the strengths and weaknesses of this 'conflict' hypothesis, and will offer alternative models for understanding the relationship. From there, the course will chart the development of the natural sciences from the early modern period to the modern day, and the part played by Christian theology in this development. Important historical figures such as Galileo, Newton, and Darwin will form key points of focus, but the course will also examine the influence of particular subjects such as evolutionary biology, genetics, and psychology on theology. The course will also cover some of the distinctive ways in which religious believers have responded to the development of science, for instance in creationism and Intelligent Design.

Student Learning Experience Information:
The course is taught by means of eleven classes, each of which includes core content presented by one of the course teachers, a student presentation, and opportunity for class discussion. Most classes will require a schedule of reading to be carried out in advance. Student will give short assessed presentations as part of each class, and they will be encouraged to take part in class discussion. Through participation in the classes, and through the written work and the examination included in the assessment schedule, students will demonstrate their achievement of the intended learning outcomes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Science and Christian Theology: Historical and Theological Perspectives 3/4 (THET10010)
Other requirements Students who have previously taken the following course MUST NOT enroll: Science and Christian Theology: Historical and Theological Perspectives 3/4 (THET10010)
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Divinity/Religious Studies courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the ways in which the natural sciences have challenged traditional theological thinking, through a respectful understanding of the science involved.
  2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the ways in which theologians, historically and in the present day, have responded to that challenge.
  3. Develop an awareness of the historical evolution of the science and religion dialogue.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to deliver a presentation for a seminar and to engage in constructive dialogue across a range of disciplinary backgrounds.
Reading List
John Hedley Brooke, Science and Religion: Some historical perspectives (Cambridge: Canto Classics 2014) offers a valuable introduction to many of the topics considered in this course.

This course uses Resource Lists: to see the latest reading list for the course go to and search for the course title.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Analytical ability and the capacity to formulate questions and solve problems
- Writing skills, including clear expression and citing relevant evidence
- Ability to engage critically with the meaning of documents and recognise that meanings may be multiple
- Ability to identify and critically reflect critically on presuppositions
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserRevdr Michael Fuller
Tel: (0131 6)50 8963
Course secretaryMs Amy MacKinnon
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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