Further information on Spring 2019 courses


Richard Maus: Searching for Reality – Faith or Science


Course text and readings

Readings will be from the instructor’s book, Faith Enterprise, and assorted weekly handouts.  The book and the duplicated hand-outs will be distributed in class for a net fee of $5 for each student (which, added to the $50 tuition, makes a total registration fee of $55).


Expanded description

Richard Maus is a  “just the facts, ma’am” kind of guy. So, when he talks about religion and science, it’s quiet and reasoned. He begins with a review of the basic principles of faith, reasoning, and scholarship, ground rules that are then used to explore in greater depth such intriguing and complex topics as the characteristics of God, the (in)fallibility of the Bible, the evidence for evolution, the distinctions between being devout and behaving ethically and morally (“Morality does not require membership in anything,” he notes) and – intriguingly – what baseball can teach us about religion.

Changing its stance on dogma is difficult for any institution with deeply entrenched beliefs. (Consider the U-turn physicians had to undergo when it was determined that stomach ulcers were caused not by stress, but by the presence of a particular kind of bacteria.) Adjusting to that information took health professionals mere decades, however, thanks to clear-cut evidence. Religions typically lag much further behind science in their understanding of the universe – four hundred years in the case of Galileo and the Catholic Church and one hundred and fifty years and counting in the case of evolution.

This course examines Faith and Science as ways to attempt to gain knowledge of reality. Rational thought and evidence will be used, encouraged, and promoted throughout the course. 

There will be a short reading assignment each week and much class discussion.


Schedule of classes (subject to modification)

Class 1 introductions, orientation to course, expectations of students and instructor

Class 2 clarifies the differences between faith and science. This will provide a base for understanding the parts which follow. It will also help you understand topics such as “teach the controversy,” church-state separation, prayer in public school, and the history of science.

Class 3 not only explores religion as a church activity, but also examines its recent history, the origins of morality, and current trends. Explore evolution of religions.

Class 4 deals specifically with a popular world religion: Christianity. In it we will examine the characteristics of its God and what its God wants of us. How does evolution affect the Christian story? Is Christianity compatible with science?

Class 5 gets into the Bible, the foundation of Christianity. Is it believable? Does it make sense? Can it provide what it claims? Is it compatible with science?

Class 6 examines a particular Christian religion, Roman Catholicism. We examine how it has dealt with the problems in the Bible. How is it supported today?

Class 7 looks at an analogous socio-economic phenomenon that doesn’t involve a deity. Why?

Class 8 review, summarize, identify unanswered questions, suggest course improvements.