History And Philosophy Of Science | God and Nature: Between Science and Religious Traditions
X100 | 3002 | Zain Abidin

"Science and religion are opposites, like oil and water," writes a
reader of Newsweek, commenting on the magazine's cover story titled
"Science Finds God" (1998).  It might not be surprising that the story
attracted enormous response from its readers--scientists and
nonscientists, clergy and laity.  The centuries-old issue of "science
and religion" has, indeed, gained more importance as a public
discourse; at the same time, this illustration shows how the image of
"oil and water" (or even "war") seems to still be the dominant one to
charaterize the relation of science and religion.  The reality,
however, is more complex.  This course is a broad survey of various
contemporary approaches to the "science and religion" issue, which
have been explored by scientific and religious circles.  While
discussions of the issue are most extensively conducted in the Western
World, and mostly in the context of Christian tradition, this course
will review responses of other religious traditions too, especially
Islam, in which the debate about this time is very lively and has some
interesting contrasts and parallels with the one in Christian
tradition.  We will first take a look at the historical background of
the issues; the thoughts of major scientists such as Galileo, Newton,
Boyle, and Darwin will be introduced through selections of their own
writings.  We will then briefly review some basic methodological
approaches in stuying this issue and clarify some defining features of
science and religion.  Following this, there will be discussions of
certain scientific theories (in physics, cosmology, and biology) and
various religious responses to them.  Included here is a discussion of
the so-called religious/mystical views of scientists like Einstein,
Heisenberg, Schroedinger, as well as "anti-religion" views of
prominent scientists such as Dawkins and the Nobel Laureate Weinberg.
Assignments for the course will include writing weekly short summary
of the week's readings, and several writing assignments.  No
familiarity with any of the religious as well as scientific issues
addressed is presumed.  For additional information contact