The week after next my first course in science and religion will begin. It’s a survey/topics-type course that is for 2 credits and is meeting on Wednesday nights for 3+ hours, which constrains the course design a bit but provides ample time for discussion, something that is necessary for a course like this. I spent this past weekend working heavily on the syllabus.
The content choice is mostly my own, although I did take suggestions from the many that responded to the prompt in a previous blog post. From those comments alone, and with the needed expansion on the topics we’re covering in this survey course, we’ve got another 2-3 courses up our sleeves. This will be great for my future hopes/plans of a science and religion minor or certificate program or something of the like. While the choice of content was primarily mine, I drew heavily upon friend Karl Giberson’s course in Science and Religion for ideas on assignments and grading. The students will keep track of their own thoughts and questions in a journal (I’ve given them some questions to ponder and guide them), have short, hopefully very EASY weekly quizzes (NO TESTS!), be required to participate in the discussion in some manner, and then write a conventional paper. Seems good.
It looks like we only have 7 meeting times (I had assumed 8), so I had to cut the last week, which I had planned on using for discussions on environmental ethics, stem cells, and enhancement/transhumanism. I suppose you have to cut something though. Here’s our schedule:
March 23: Knowledge, methods of knowing, science, and religion
March 30: Models for the interaction of science and religion
April 6: The Bible and its interpretation
April 13: Astronomy, physics, and creation
April 20: Evolution and creation
April 27: Genetics, neuroscience, and what it means to be human
May 4: Christian theology in light of science
Our main “textbooks” are Ian Barbour’s When Science Meets Religion, John Polkinghorne’s Science and Theology: An Introduction, and Darrel Falk’s Coming to Peace with Science, and we’ll hit about 2/3 of the chapters in these books. We’ll also be reading a chapter each from What Happened to the Soul, Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, The Big Questions: A Short Introduction to Philosophy, Tremper Longman III’s Reading the Bible with Heart and Mind (that reminds me, I need to review his new book…), John Polkinghorne’s Science and the Trinity, and John Walton’s Lost World of Genesis One, and then a handful of essays from the BioLogos Foundation (Peter Enns, George Murphy, Dennis Lamoureux, and Joseph Lam). It’s a healthy amount of reading, but I think it’s necessary for them if they’re going to get a satisfactory introduction and be able to have a decent discussion, taking into consideration where they’re coming from. I may cut one or two things here and there in the weeks prior as well. I don’t think that I’m sheltering them, but I’m not throwing them into the deep end too much either, especially with the way that I’ve grouped the readings.
What do y’all think? Thoughts, suggestions, criticisms…