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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

HIST 3751: Science and Religion

Students consider the popular contemporary belief that science and religion are necessarily hostile towards each other and discover a nuanced dynamic between the two endeavours. From its roots in Ancient Greece through to the Twentieth Century, science has advanced in the milieu of Western European religious beliefs and organizations, and students study this evolving relationship in order the develop a richer understanding of the relationship between these overlapping fields of knowledge. Students explore specific instances of perceived conflicts between science and religion, such as the Galileo Affair and the Scopes Monkey Trial. Whilst infamous, students examine that more common are cases of scientists like Newton, Faraday and others whose religious faith were crucial to their scientific discoveries.

Learning outcomes

  • Analyze the historical "conflicts" between science and religion as well as the harmonious moments between them.
  • Explain the problems of biblical literalism in fields of evolution and cosmology.
  • Explain the impact of philosophical naturalism in the historical field of science and religion.
  • Investigate and articulate key aspects of the relationship between the metaphysical assumptions of religion and science.
  • Examine and formulate perspectives on current historio-graphical developments on subjects such Copernicus, Galileo and Darwin.

Course topics

Module 1: Course Introduction

Module 2: Aristotle and Aristotelianism and Early Christian Attitudes toward Nature

Module 3: Medieval Latin Christendom and Islam

Module 4: The Copernican Revolution and Galileo Galilei

Module 5: Early Modern Protestantism, Isaac Newton and Natural Theology

Module 6: Research Project

Module 7: Cosmogonies, Geology and Paleontology

Module 8: Natural History, Charles Darwin and Evolution

Module 9: The Bible and Science, Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism, and The Scopes Trial

Module 10: Asian Traditions and Atheism

Module 11: Physics and Modern Cosmologies

Module 12: American Psychology and Neuroscience and the Human Person

Required text and materials

The following material is required for this course:

  1. Gary B. Ferngren, ed. (2017). Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: 9781421421728


Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, you are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in-person approved Testing Centre. Please contact with any questions about this.

To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory exam.

Quiz 1 (Lessons 1 to 5) 10%
Quiz 2 (Lessons 6 to 11) 10%
Assignment 1: Reading Reflections A 10%
Assignment 2: Reading Reflections B 10%
Assignment 3: Interpretative Essay 10%
Assignment 4: Major Research Project 30%
Final Exam (mandatory) 20%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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