Science and religion: conflicting forces?What can we learn from history?
|Period||1 + 2|
|Number of meetings||13 + excursion|
|Dates of all meetings||6, 13, 20, 27 September, 4, 11, 18 October 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 November, 6 and 13 December 2017
|Excursion||1 November 15.00-17.00 to Teyler's Museum in Haarlem|
|Location||VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam|
|Room||BelleVU building BV-0H38 (number 1091 at this map)|
Science and religion are nowadays often seen as conflicting forces. Many scientists adamantly insist that religious belief has no place in a scientific worldview and attitude, while some religious believers vigorously dispute the truth claims of science. Is there an inevitable opposition between the two? History can shed revealing light on this important issue.
The ‘conflict thesis’ about the relationship between science and religion actually did not emerge until the nineteenth century. During much of European history, educated people were rather convinced that the opposite of the conflict thesis was true. Science and religion were seen to go together harmoniously instead of essentially subverting and thwarting each other.
- How could this vision of harmony and concord prevail for such a long time?
- When and where did tensions between science and religion arise and how were they resolved?
- Why did the idea of a fundamental conflict between science and religion arise?
- How was this development related to the changing social roles of science, scientists, and religion in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries?
These questions form the leitmotif of this Honours course.
The main focus will be on the Christian religion, but attention will also be given to Islam.
The course consists of
- a series of meetings on key topics in the relationship between science and religion from the Late Middle Ages to the present, preceded by
- a general introduction, and concluded by
- oral presentations by students on a subject of their own choosing related to the question of the science-religion interface, which will form the basis for a written essay.
- an excursion to Teylers Museum in Haarlem including a lecture about Teylers museum and the theme of the course.
Schedule of meetings
|1||Wed 06 Sept||Introduction|
|2||Wed 13 Sept||Science and Religion in the "Dark Ages"
|3||Wed 20 Sept||Perspectives on Science and Islam in History|
|4||Wed 27 Sept||Law and Moral Theology until 1700|
|5||Wed 04 Oct||The Galilei Trial
|6||Wed 11 Oct||Newton and Religion|
|7||Wed 18 Oct||Geology and Genesis in the 18th and 19th Century|
|8||Wed 01 Nov||Excursion to Teylers Museum in Haarlem
|9||Wed 08 Nov
||Evolution Theory and Creationism in the 19th and 20th Centuries|
||Wed 15 Nov||Evolution and Christianity: The Contemporary Debate|
|11||Wed 22 Nov||Modern Physics and Christian Faith|
|12||Wed 29 Nov||Contemporary Views on Science and Islam|
|13||Wed 06 Dec||Presentation of Essays by Students|
|14||Wed 13 Dec||Presentation of Essays by Students|
Each meeting includes an introductory lecture (first hour) and a discussion based on selected readings and/or source material related to the question: what can we learn about the relationship between science and religion (second hour)? The excursion is scheduled for November 4 in the afternoon. In preparation for each class, students are requested to submit a thesis for discussion, related to the week’s readings/source materials.
Working formats and activities:
- Lectures and discussions (meetings 1-11); all students will study the readings and/or source materials in advance of the meetings and formulate points for discussion.
- Individual oral presentations by students, based on preliminary version of final essay (meetings 12 and 13)
- Individual final essay (3000-4000 words)
Readings and source materials will be made available through Blackboard
- Participation in discussions, including contributions on Blackboard (30%)
- Individual oral presentation (10%)
- Written essay (60 %)
Guidelines for the oral presentation and the written essay, and suggestions for topics will be made available on blackboard.