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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: Theology of Science (online) (DIVI11048)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course aims to build a theologically-informed view of the modern scientific enterprise and its impact on contemporary areas of debate in Christian theology, such as creation, divine action, eschatology, and human identity/purpose. The course is designed to complement the two core courses of the Philosophy, Science, Religion programme (PSR1: The Physical World, and PSR2: Life and Mind), but it is also available as a stand-alone option to students enrolled on other programmes.
Course description Academic Description:
The course focuses on contemporary theological questions in the science-and-religion field, and includes in-depth critical attention to some of the most characteristic key theologians working in the area. The course is largely based within the context of Christian theology, but other religious traditions may be included as appropriate. The course looks at the nature and shape of the scientific disciplines from a theistic perspective - including the vexed area of 'scientific method' - and examines theological answers to debates around the unity and disunity of the sciences. This will allow for detailed models of the relationship between the sciences and theology to be built. Attention will also be given to important areas of Christian doctrine that are relevant to the scientific enterprise, such as creation, providence, Christology and eschatology.

Outline Content:
The course is broken up into three main parts. The first attempts to answer the question of, 'What is theology of science?' by looking at the nature of the contemporary scientific landscape and the ways in which Christian theology and religious perspectives have influenced its historical evolution, as well as ways in which theism may illuminate its open questions now. For instance, debates about the boundary between science and metaphysics (in the multiverse hypothesis) clarify the relationship between philosophy, science, and religion. Important areas of Christian doctrine appear in passing in the first part of the course (especially creation, eschatology and Christology), but the second part of the course looks in detail at specific areas. One particular area of interest is that of divine action, perhaps the single-most significant and enduring theological question raised by the modern sciences, namely is it still possible to affirm the doctrine of providence in light of scientific perspectives on creation and eschatology? The third part of the course takes the themes of the first two parts further by looking at the thought of specific theological thinkers and 'scientist-theologians' in depth, including some of the following: Pannenberg, Moltmann, Murphy, Eddington, Coulson, Coakley, Peacocke and Polkinghorne.

Student Learning Experience:
The course is taught by means of eleven online modules, each of which includes core content presented by one of the course teachers, and opportunity for online class discussion. Except for the very first module, each week requires a schedule of reading to be carried out in advance. Students are expected to engage critically with the reading, and to contribute to online discussion.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
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 understanding of key areas of debate in contemporary Science and Religion and their theological implications.
  2. Engage critically with key textual sources in the field, and with cross-disciplinary conversations.
  3. Develop an awareness of the particular contexts of the contemporary interactions between the sciences and Christian theology.
  4. Demonstrate an ability to engage in dialogue and debate with others across a range of disciplinary backgrounds.
  5. Demonstrate critical skills and theological acumen in written and oral contributions.
Reading List
¿ Alan Chalmers, What is this thing called Science? (Hackett, 2013)
¿ Philip Clayton and Zachary Simpson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science (OUP, 2006)
¿ Greg Cootsona, Negotiating Science and Religion in America: Past, Present, and Future (Routledge, 2020)
¿ Mark Harris and Duncan Pritchard (eds.), Philosophy, Science, and Religion for Everyone (Routledge, 2017)
¿ Peter Harrison (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Science and Religion, Harrison, ed. (CUP, 2010)
¿ Samir Okasha, Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2002)
¿ Bethany Sollereder and Alister McGrath, eds., Emerging Voices in Science and Religion: Contributions by Young Women (Routledge, 2022).
¿ Christopher Southgate (ed.), God, Humanity and the Cosmos (T&T Clark, 2011)
¿ J. B. Stump and Alan G. Padgett (eds.) The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity (Blackwell, 2012)
¿ J. B. Stump, Science and Christianity: An Introduction to the Issues (Wiley Blackwell, 2017)
¿ Wayne Viney and William Douglas Woody, Neglected Perspectives on Science and Religion: Historical and Contemporary Relations (Routledge, 2017)
¿ Keith Ward, The Big Questions in Science and Religion (Templeton, 2008)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will acquire and enhance the following main graduate attributes:
- The ability to read and understand philosophical, religious and scientific 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)
- The ability to engage with close reading of texts, both critically and creatively.
- Organisational skills (the ability to manage time, to complete a large-scale and complex project)
- Team and group work (the ability to coordinate 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.
- To present complex ideas in different formats.
- 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.
KeywordsScience and religion,theology of science,creation,divine action,theological anthropology
Course organiser Course secretaryMs Amy MacKinnon
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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