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Science-Engaged Analytic Theology - PHI00072M

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. David Worsley
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

This module uses the concepts, views, and arguments of analytic philosophy to clarify philosophical problems raised at the intersection of science and theology, and to offer solutions to those problems, and to evaluate those solutions.

The module is co-taught by Professor Tom McLeish, Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Department of Physics.

 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2021-22

Module aims

Subject content

  • to apply contemporary analytic philosophy to work at the intersection of science and theology in order (i) to explicate ways in which science and theology can engage with each other, (ii) to identify the philosophical problems those interactions could give rise to, (iii) to identify solutions to those problems, and (iv) to evaluate those solutions.

Academic and graduate skills

  • to develop students' abilities to apply philosophical tools and techniques within an interdisciplinary setting in order to advance understanding of intellectual problems;

  • to provide a grounding for independent research in science-engaged analytic theology.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • display an in-depth and systematic understanding of some key topics in science-engaged theology, including in the history of thought, with a grasp of the forefront of current research in the area, providing a solid grounding for further independent research on related topics;

  • analyse complex areas of knowledge, displaying critical awareness; synthesise information and ideas from a variety of sources at the forefront of the discipline; evaluate research critically; and show originality in the discussion and application of ideas from the philosophical literature in developing their own arguments.

  • Students should show the ability to work autonomously and self critically on an extended essay that goes beyond the core framework that is provided in seminars.

Module content

This module recognises a welcome current awakening from the late-modern ‘blind-spot’ of belief in either a fundamental incompatibility (neo-atheism) or complete dissociation (Barthian) between science and theology. Theologians with strong scientific credentials (e.g. McGrath) have contributed to a fresh discourse on how science informs a much broader theological palette than mere apologetics. Analytical philosophers (e.g. Plantinga) have taken the possibilities offered by theism increasingly seriously over the last 20 years. Historians of science (e.g. Harrison) have pointed out that very different framings of science and theology in the past, rather than being locked there, may rather offer resources for future thinking. Theologians with little or no previous interest in science are engaging very seriously with it now (e.g. Millbank, Williams) and engaging seriously with practising scientists (McLeish). As a response to this, philanthropic and other research funding organisations (e.g. Templeton Foundation) have created strategic programmes in support of research between philosophy, science and theology. This module aims to equip students to navigate this literature and its ideas. Because of the highly interdisciplinary scope of the topic, the module will also develop interdisciplinary skills and build natural links to other modules.

 

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay 4000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

Formative Work

  • The 1,500-word formative essay is due on Friday, Week 7 of the Spring Term.
  • The 1 side of A4 essay plan is due on on Monday, Week 10 of the Spring Term.

Summative Work

  • The 4,000-word summative essay is due on Monday, Week 1 of the Summer Term.

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay 4000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive feedback on the 1500-word essay and the essay plan within two weeks of submission.

Students will receive feedback on the 4000-word summative assessment four weeks after they submit it. 

Indicative reading

Baker, L. R. (2013) Naturalism and the First-Person Perspective (Oxford University Press)

Barrett, J. (2011) Cognitive Science, Religion, and Theology: From Human Minds to Divine Minds (Templeton Press)

Blum, J. Ed. (2018) The Question of Methodological Naturalism (Brill)

Clayton, P. Ed. (2008) Oxford Handbook to Religion and Science (Oxford University Press)

Dixon, T., Cantor, G., and Pumfrey, S. Eds. (2010) Science and Religion: New Historical Perspectives (Cambridge University Press)

Harrison, P. (2009) The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science (Cambridge University Press)

Harrison, P. (2010) The Cambridge Companion to Science and Religion (Cambridge University Press)

Harrison, P. (2015) The Territories of Science and Religion (University of Chicago Press)

Harrison, P. (2019) Science Without God?: Rethinking the History of Scientific Naturalism (Oxford University Press)

Harrison P. and Millbank J. Eds. (2021) After Science and Religion (Cambridge University Press)

Jeeves, M. & Brown, W. (2009) Neuroscience, Psychology, and Religion: Illusions, Delusions, and Realities about Human Nature (Templeton Press)

McGrath, A. (2019) The Territories of Human Reason: Science and Theology in an Age of Multiple Rationalities (Oxford University Press)

McGrath, A. (2020) Science and Religion: A New Introduction (Wiley-Blackwell)

McLeish, T. (2017) Faith and Wisdom in Science (Oxford University Press)

Miller, C. (2013) Moral Character: An Empirical Theory (Oxford University Press)

Miller, C. (2014) Character and Moral Psychology (Oxford University Press)

Plantinga, A. (2011) Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (Oxford University Press)

Rea, M. C. (2004) World Without Design: The Ontological Consequences of Naturalism (Oxford University Press)

Ritchie, S. J. (2019) Divine Action and the Human Mind (Cambridge University Press)

Stump, J. B. & Padgett, A. G. Eds. (2012) The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity (Blackwell)

Southgate, C. (2008) The Groaning of Creation. God, Evolution and the Problem of Evil (John Knox Press)

Visala, A. (2011) Naturalism, Theism, and the Cognitive Study of Religion: Religion Explained? (Ashgate)



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.