HPSC0022 – Science and Religion


I’m Bill MacLehose, I’m the instructor for
HPSC0022, which is Science and Religion. Science and Religion is a
module that addresses this long-standing idea that there’s a
conflict between these two things, that which we call science on the one hand, and
what we call religion on the other, and historically speaking, actually, that’s
not remotely the case. There’s quite a bit of complex interaction between the two.
You have figures who were very religious and very interested in the
scientific method. So what the module does is attempt to kind of
explore different moments at which that conflict, or lack thereof,
appears. Among the topics we’ll be looking at are the most famous issues of supposed conflict – that is to say the Galileo concerns over heliocentrism, and
the late 19th century debates over Darwin and evolution. We’ll also be
looking at the issues of the history of atheism, the history of religious and
scientific concerns in China, in Islam, we’ll look at medical healing
and the connections between medicine and religion as well as astronomy, astrology, cosmology and Darwinian theories. The assessment is an essay and an exam, a three-hour exam at the end of the year. There are no prerequisites for the module, I would assume that a student has an interest in
the subject. There is no reason to be of any particular faith – whether you are
deeply religious, or deeply agnostic or atheistic, it doesn’t really matter. This
is meant to explore these themes, not to criticize or comment. But I would expect
or would hope from a student is that they’re willing to pursue a topic in
terms of the essay, in terms of preparing for the module even, to look
independently and closely at different subjects.
We have seminar discussion groups, we discuss a bit in lecture as well, and I
would want students to be involved, both in writing essays and in class
discussion.




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