Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: Philosophy, Science and Religion 2: Life and Mind (online) (THET11046)

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 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.
Course description Academic Description:
This course (along with its sister course, Philosophy, Science and Religion 1: The Physical World) 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.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
1. Darwin and Design
2. Philosophical Problems in Evolutionary Biology
3. The Problem of Evil
4. Theistic Evolution and Natural Evil
5. The Cognitive Science of Religion
6. Consciousness and the Soul
7. What is a Human?
8. Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence and Incarnation
9. The End of the World
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
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 13/01/2025
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 10, Summative Assessment Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 144 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 70 %, Practical Exam 30 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Participation and reflections in discussion boards - 15%
Presentation of 10 minutes - 15%
Final essay - 70%
Feedback Formative feedback will be continuous, through regular access to faculty and teaching assistants.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. 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.
  2. Demonstrate strong analytical skills and philosophical acumen in approaching debates between science and theology.
  3. Engage critically with key textual sources in the field.
  4. Engage constructively in cross-disciplinary conversations.
  5. Demonstrate an openness to personal growth through a commitment to dialogue across intellectual and cultural boundaries.
Reading List
Alexander, Denis R., and Ronald L. Numbers, eds. Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Barrett, Justin L. Cognitive Science, Religion, and Theology: From Human Minds to Divine Minds. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton, 2011.

Beebe, James R. 'Logical Problem of Evil.' In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by James Fieser and Bradley Dowden, 2005.

Boudry, Maarten, and Johan Braeckman. 'Immunizing Strategies and Epistemic Defense Mechanisms.' Philosophia 39.1 (2011): 145:161.

Boyer, Pascal. Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origin of Religious Thought. New York: Basic Books, 2001.

Brooke, John Hedley. 'Science and the Fortunes of Natural Theology: Some Historical Perspectives.' Zygon 24.1 (March 1989): 3:22.

Conway Morris, Simon. Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Crowe, Michael J. The Extraterrestrial Life Debate, 1750-1900. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1999.

Dilley, Steve. 'Charles Darwin's Use of Theology in the Origin of Species.' British Journal for the History of Science 45.1 (March 2012): 29-56.

Dougherty, Trent. 'Skeptical Theism.' In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 2013.

Ellis, George F. R., ed. The Far-Future Universe: Eschatology from a Cosmic Perspective. Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press, 2002.

Fry, Iris. The Emergence of Life on Earth: A Historical and Scientific Overview. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000.

Gelinas, Luke. 'The Problem of Natural Evil I: General Theistic Replies.' Philosophy Compass 4.3 (2009a): 533-559.

Gelinas, Luke. 'The Problem of Natural Evil II: Hybrid Replies.' Philosophy Compass 4.3 (2009b): 560-574.

George, Marie I. 'ET Meets Jesus Christ: A Hostile Encounter between Science and Religion?' Logos 10.2 (Spring 2007): 69-94.

Hick, John. The New Frontier of Religion and Science: Religious Experience, Neuroscience, and the Transcendent. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Jeeves, Malcolm, and Warren S. Brown. Neuroscience, Psychology, and Religion: Illusion Delusion, and Realities about Human Nature. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton, 2009.

Koonin, Eugene V. The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2012.

McBrayer, Justin P. 'Skeptical Theism.' In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by James Fieser and Bradley Dowden, 2010a.

McBrayer, Justin P. 'Skeptical Theism.' Philosophy Compass 5.7 (2010b): 611-623.

McNamara, Patrick. The Neuroscience of Religious Experience. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Miller, Kenneth R. Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution. New York: HarperCollins, 1999.

Moltmann, Jürgen. Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology. Translated by James W. Leitch. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.

Musacchio, José M. Contradictions: Neuroscience and Religion. New York: Springer, 2012.

Nagel, Thomas. 'Public Education and Intelligent Design.' Philosophy & Public Affairs 36.2 (Spring 2008): 187-205.

Nelson, Paul A. 'The Role of Theology in Current Evolutionary Reasoning.' Biology and Philosophy 11.4 (1996): 493-517.

Polkinghorne, John C. The God of Hope and the End of the World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002.

Polkinghorne, John C., and Michael Welker, eds. The End of the World and the Ends of God: Science and Theology on Eschatology. Theology for the Twenty-First Century. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2000.

Ratzsch, Del. Nature, Design, and Science: The Status of Design in Natural Science. SUNY Series in Philosophy and Biology. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001.

Scadding, Steven R. "Do 'Vestigial Organs' Provide Evidence for Evolution?" Evolutionary Theory 5.3 (May 1981): 173-176.

Sedley, David N. Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity. Sather Classical Lectures. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

Sober, Elliott. 'What Is Wrong with Intelligent Design?' Quarterly Review of Biology 82.1 (March 2007): 3-8.

Sober, Elliott. Evidence and Evolution: The Logic behind the Science. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Tooley, Michael. 'The Problem of Evil.' In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta, 2013.

Trakakis, Nick. 'Evidential Problem of Evil, The.' In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by James Fieser and Bradley Dowden, 2005.

van Slyke, James A. The Cognitive Science of Religion. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011.

Visala, Aku. Naturalism, Theism, and the Cognitive Study of Religion: Religion Explained? Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011.

Wilks, Ian. 'Skeptical Theism and Empirical Unfalsifiability.' Faith and Philosophy 26.1 (January 2009): 64-76.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and 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-ordinate 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)
Additional Class Delivery Information Priority for this course will be given to online MSc/Dip/Cert Philosophy, Science and Religion students. Students on any other programme must obtain permission to enrol from the Programme Director.
Keywordsphilosophy,science,religion,evolutionary biology,problem of evil,cognitive science of religion
Course organiserDr Bethany Sollereder
Course secretaryMs Amy MacKinnon
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information