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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: Science and Scripture (online) (THET11050)

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
SummaryThe course will explore important points of contact between the science-religion debate and the Christian Bible, including trends in the interpretation of creation and miracle stories, and in fundamentalist belief such as creationism. The aim is to develop a critical awareness of methods of scriptural interpretation, and of how they have been influenced by modern science.
Course description Academic Description:
Scientific explanations for the big miracle stories of the Bible exert a powerful pull on the popular imagination, as is easily demonstrated by googling 'Noah science or 'Moses Red Sea', and seeing the wide diversity of articles, blogs and discussion threads which are retrieved, many of which involve a great deal of scientific and historical speculation. Moreover, the rise of science has gone hand-in-hand with an increase in fundamentalist readings. The debate about young-earth creationism takes place largely on scientific terms, about issues such as the age of the earth and the rightness or wrongness of Darwin's theory of evolution, but the underlying issue is really the theological status of Scripture, and how we ought to read it. In all of this, the development of modern science has been a crucial influence on how the biblical text is read. This course explores some of the ways in which the core biblical texts of creation and miracle have been understood and interpreted by natural scientists and biblical scholars in modern times.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
Religious understandings of creation form the central subject of interest in this course, but other key narratives of faith which have been examined by scientists - Noah's flood, the Exodus, and the Resurrection - will also feature. An important aim of the course will be to develop an appreciation of hermeneutics - the science of interpretation - and to this end the widespread phenomenon known as Creationism will also feature in the course, especially in the guise of 'flood geology'.

A typical outline of the topics covered is as follows:
Week 1: Hermeneutics: the 'science' of reading
Week 2: Genesis 1
Week 3: Genesis 2-3
Week 4: Creation after Genesis
Week 5: Creation in the New Testament
Week 6: Natural evil, catastrophes, and 'plagues'
Week 7: The 'Sea Event'
Week 8: Miracle
Week 9: The Resurrection of Jesus
Week 10: Young-earth creationism
Week 11: Noah's flood

Student Learning Experience Information:
The course is taught by means of eleven sessions, each of which includes core online lecture content presented by one of the course teachers, and opportunity for online class discussion. Except for the very first session, each session will require a schedule of reading to be carried out in advance. Students are expected to engage critically and creatively 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. Establish a sound awareness of how the science and religion dialogue has impacted upon biblical interpretation.
  2. Show a deeper understanding of the scriptural texts underlying much of the current science-religion dialogue, and will have surveyed the scope of biblical scholarship on key scriptural texts, and will have engaged critically with those texts.
  3. Develop thorough working knowledge of the available hermeneutical tools in biblical studies, especially those which seek in some way to reveal 'what really happened' behind the text, and including creationism and fundamentalism.
  4. Engage in constructive and critical online debate with peers across a range of disciplinary backgrounds.
Reading List
Margaret Barker, Creation: A Biblical Vision for the Environment (T&T Clark, 2010).

William Brown, The Seven Pillars of Creation: The Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder (OUP, 2010).

Terence E. Fretheim, God and World in the Old Testament (Abingdon, 2005).

Mark Harris, The Nature of Creation: Examining the Bible and Science (Routledge, 2013).

David Horrell, The Bible and the Environment: Towards a Critical Ecological Biblical Theology (Equinox, 2010).

Susan Gillingham, One Bible Many Voices: Different Approaches to Biblical Studies (SPCK, 1998).

Nathan MacDonald et al. (eds.), Genesis and Christian Theology (Eerdmans, 2012).

Robert Morgan with John Barton, Biblical Interpretation (OUP, 1988).

Andrew Torrance and Tom McCall, eds., Knowing Creation: Perspectives From Theology, Philosophy, and Science (Zondervan, 2017).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and 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)
KeywordsScience,religion,science and religion,Bible,biblical studies,creation,miracle,fundamentalism
Course organiser Course secretaryMrs Suzanne Strath
Tel: (0131 6)517000
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