Elections, wars, and plagues pale in importance aside the development of two philosophical trends: The rise of modern science and the development of contemporary religion. Together these movements have shaped the western world since the time of the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution. They are now reshaping the entire world beyond recognition even to your grandparents. Equally important these two movements have shaped and continue to shape each other.
This Topics course will focus on the century between 1840 and 1940, a time when science and religion vied with one another for the mind and hearts of the western world. You will be taken into the thick of the fray and asked to follow the struggles and accommodations between theories of biological evolution, and the ever changing Christian tradition. The weekly lectures will introduce you to some of the particulars of the interaction of these two movements and to how historians today interpret it.
You will be asked to read selections from the writings of the period. You will be asked to view many sides of the complex questions that were being debated. There will be weekly or biweekly discussion sections in which you will explore in smaller groups the issues presented in lectures and the reading selections. There will be section quizzes, an in-class and a final exam, which will cover this same material.
The most valuable experience, however, might well be the research paper you will be asked to write. In short, you will be asked to understand the ideas and concerns of an historical individual as he or she wrestled with some of the same issues you will face in class and the assigned readings. Since this may well be the first College paper you will write, you will receive guidance into the resources of the IU library system. You will learn the techniques of finding relevant material for you individual documents, and you will be given plenty of opportunity to develop your own interpretation of the material you discover. You will write several drafts before handing in the final paper.