Expanded description: A common view of the history of the relationship of science and religion is as follows: Religion used to have the upper hand and used that to suppress or even imprison or put to death those trying to do scientific work. With the Enlightenment science started to become more entrenched, and religion had to find a refuge in less well-educated parts of society. Then in the age of Sputnik and beyond, science reigned supreme. While this view might have seemed at worst tolerably inaccurate as of 50 years ago, it does not do justice to the current relationship in the United States or elsewhere. We shall go beyond to look at the ways in which science and religion have been allies or competitors from earliest times to the present. The instructor will guide a conversation devoted to sorting out the ideas raised by the readings.
There are two texts students should have: John Hedley Brooke’s Science and Religion (Cambridge, 1990, but reprinted in 2014—as little as $16.08 new and $4.47 used on bookfinder.com), and Philip Kitcher’s Living with Darwin (Oxford, 2009—as little as $7.00 new and $5.06 used on bookfinder.com). All other materials will be supplied by the instructor either via email or in hard copy. Readings for each class total roughly 40-80 pages with one exception—we will discuss Kitcher in its entirety in the seventh week (208 short well-written pages) so students may want to start reading it ahead of time.
14 September: When Science was Religion and Vice Versa. Chapter 5 of Liba Chaya Taub’s Ptolemy’s Universe; Chapters 2-3 of Tamsyn Barton’s Ancient Astrology
21 September: Unequal Competition. Chapter 5 of Edward Grant’s God and Reason in the Middle Ages; Chapter 5 from Lynn Thorndike’s Michael Scot; and a short selection from Roger Bacon and the Sciences
28 September: Science as a Threat. Chapter 3 of Alberto Martinez’s Burned Alive; Chapter 2 of Brooke’s Science and Religion
5 October: God Said, “Let Newton Be.” Chapter 5 of Brooke’s Science and Religion;
Selections from Rob Iliffe’s Priest of Nature and the collection Leibniz on God and Religion (ed. Strickland)
12 October: Natural Theology and a Look Ahead. Chapter 6 of Brooke’s Science and Religion;
Selections from William Paley’s Natural Theology and Richard Dawkins’s The Blind Watchmaker
19 October: Responses to Darwin. Chapter 8 of Brooke’s Science and Religion; Chapter 4 of Ronald Numbers’s Science and Christianity in Pulpit and Pew; Selections from Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism
26 October: Living with Darwin. Philip Kitcher’s Living with Darwin
2 November: Circling Warily. Stephen Jay Gould’s Rocks of Ages, Chapter 2 or 4 (to be decided); Chapter 9 of Edward Larson’s and Michael Ruse’s On Faith and Science (Yale, 2017)