Religion and science are often described as different paths toward truth. Many scholars interpret the claims of religion and science as referring to different spheres of meaning, with each realm characterized by distinctive methods, aims, and forms of discourse. Such distinctions, despite their cogency, are also problematic. Christianity, for example, appeals to both Revelation and nature, to both transcendence and immanence. And Western science raises important theoretical and empirical issues for religious beliefs about creation and redemption, as well as the meanings of, and relations between, nature and human nature.
This course will examine various models of the relations between religion and science developed in the recent scholarly literature. It will first focus on several historical points of conflict between science and religion - the shifts in worldview associated with Newton, Darwin, Freud, Einstein, and Heisenberg. Then, in light of participants' interests, it will assess elements of recent physical and biological science that pose challenges to the cogency of Western theism and traditional theological understandings of divine design and providential action.