Get started with custom lists to organize and share courses.

Sign up

Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Philosophy, Science and Religion: Religion and Science

University of Edinburgh via Coursera

13 Reviews 170 students interested
  • Provider Coursera
  • Subject Philosophy
  • Cost Free Online Course (Audit)
  • Session Upcoming
  • Language English
  • Certificate Paid Certificate Available
  • Effort 2-3 hours a week
  • Start Date
  • Duration 6 weeks long
  • Learn more about MOOCs

Taken this course? Share your experience with other students. Write review


Sign up to Coursera courses for free Learn how

Philosophy, Science and Religion mark three of the most fundamental modes of thinking about the world and our place in it. Are these modes incompatible? Put another way: is the intellectually responsible thing to do to ‘pick sides’ and identify with one of these approaches at the exclusion of others? Or, are they complementary or mutually supportive? As is typical of questions of such magnitude, the devil is in the details. For example, it is important to work out what is really distinctive about each of these ways of inquiring about the world. In order to gain some clarity here, we’ll be investigating what some of the current leading thinkers in philosophy, science and religion are actually doing.

This course, entitled ‘Religion and Science’, is the third of three related courses in our Philosophy, Science and Religion Online series. The course will address five themes, each presented by an expert in the area.

1. Science, Religion, and the Origin of the Universe (Professor Tim Maudlin, NYU )
2. Buddhism and Science (Professor Graham Priest, CUNY)
3. Evolution and Design (Dr Kevin Scharp, St Andrews)
4. Sin Suffering and Salvation: Evolutions Thorny Issues (Dr Bethany Sollereder, Oxford)
5. Human Uniqueness in Science, Theology, and Ethics (Professor David Clough, Chester)

The first and second courses in the Philosophy, Science and Religion series, 'Science and Philosophy' and 'Philosophy and Religion' were launched in 2017 and you can sign up to these at any time. It is not necessary to have completed these courses to follow this course. However, completing all three courses will give you a broader understanding of this fascinating topic. Look for:

• Philosophy, Science and Religion I: Science and Philosophy -
• Philosophy, Science and Religion II: Philosophy and Religion -

Upon successful completion of all three courses, students will:

(1) Understand the main parameters at stake in the current debate between science and religion.
(2) Have some familiarity with the relevant areas of science that feature in the debate—including cosmology, evolution, and the neurosciences—and will have begun to engage with them conceptually.
(3) Have encountered key philosophical approaches to the interface between science and religion, and will have had the opportunity to engage them in practice.
(4) Have embarked constructively in cross-disciplinary conversations.
(5) Have demonstrated an openness to personal growth through a commitment to dialogue across intellectual and spiritual boundaries.

You can also follow us on Twitter at and you can follow the hashtag #psrmooc


Introduction to the Course

Science, Religion and the Origins of the Universe
In this module Tim Maudlin, Professor of the Foundations of Physics at New York University (NYU) discusses stories and theories of the origins of the cosmos from the perspectives of various religions, philosophy, and Science. He then explains what our physics tells us and compares this to the origins stories.

In this module Graham Priest, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at City University of New York (CUNY) outlines the background and basic ideas of Buddhism. After considering whether Buddhism is compatible with science, he goes on to explain how some aspects of Buddhist thought are relevant to contemporary logic and science.

In this module Kevin Scharp, Reader in Philosophy at the University of St Andrews introduces one of the most common arguments for Intelligent Design and considers whether it is a genuine scientific competitor to, or can even be made compatible with, evolutionary theory. He then presents the Fine-Tuning Argument for the existence of God and its criticisms.

In this module Bethany Sollereder, Postdoctoral Fellow in Science and Religion at the University of Oxford considers questions that arise in Christian Theology as a result of accepting evolutionary theory.

In this module David Clough, Professor of Theological Ethics at Chester University investigates three ways in which the question of human uniqueness prompt questions at the interface of theology and science. It asks ‘Are we alone in the Universe?’, ‘Where did we come from?’ and ‘Are we just animals?’ before going on to consider the ethical implications of a theological approach that engages these questions seriously.

Taught by

Dr J Adam Carter, Dr Orestis Palermos, Dr Mark Harris, Dr Mog Stapleton and Professor Duncan Pritchard

Help Center

Most commonly asked questions about Coursera Coursera

Reviews for Coursera's Philosophy, Science and Religion: Religion and Science
3.8 Based on 13 reviews

  • 5 stars 31%
  • 4 stars 38%
  • 3 stars 15%
  • 2 star 8%
  • 1 star 8%

Did you take this course? Share your experience with other students.

Write a review
  • 1
3.0 8 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I learned many things through this course. The minor tachnical difficulty I had - when clicking on the right box in tests - was promptly corrected by support staff.

As for criticism - I will focus on one single subject: the lecture on No Self in Buddhism. The expression NoSelf is very confusing and it has incorrect implications. I have been studying Mahayana for over 30 years and can provide references that the concept of ANATTA means NO SOUL. The word Atta means Soul. This is the true concept of Buddhist rejection of a permanent fixed sense of personal soul or continuing self …
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
4.0 9 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I do not think this final part of the series of three courses was as good as the earlier two parts. My main criticism is the unbalanced choice of lecturers and their perspective. The lecturer on Buddhism was (I think) not a Buddhist but a Philosopher who had studied Buddhism. His presentation of the subject in relation to other philosophies was very good but he seemed to miss sone of the essential ideas of Buddhism as a method for living. The religious lecturers in the final parts were clearly Christians and spoke only from a Christian perspective. This ignored the fact that many other religio…
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
2.0 8 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
By far the weakest of the "Philosophy, Science and Religion" series of courses. The over-long Buddhism module was interesting in itself but I was mystified as to why, out of more than 10,000 plus religions currently being practiced worldwide, this one was chosen; a broader discussion of the dynamic nature of religion emergence, practice, fragmentation and collapse would have been much more interesting and relevant to the modern era.

The amount of attention given to pseudo-scientific fundamentalist Christian ideas such as creationism and intelligent design was also a mystery. Wh…
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
4.0 8 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I enjoyed the course but that is a little bit subjective perspective since I'm a PhD student of Philosophy with a special interest in the Philosophy of Religion and Eastern Philosophies. I was just lacking a little bit more perspective of other religions (e.g. hinduism (concerning vegetarianism and relationship towards the animals, also the relationship to human uniqueness and towards the extraterrestrial life), islam (I was quite surprised that there was no mention of extraordinary well relationship of islam to science and how that relationship is somehow compromised due to the rise of fanatism (true to every religion, not just islam)), judaism and others.) If it were up to me, I would even include an anthropological perspective on cooperation between the Amazonian shamans and various universities (concerning the pharmaceuticals and consciousness). Anyway, well done!
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
1.0 8 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
This was the most disappointing of the three courses. I had expected that the arguments from the previous two courses would be brought in to focus here but, unfortunately, the material presented was weak and marginal at best. If anyone from the Templeton Foundation ever bothers to read the conversation forums they might realise that it will require stronger arguments than this to persuade anyone that their particular form of Christianity has equal epistemological status to science.

Chris Morris
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
4.0 8 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Before I continue I should ask must I answer the test questions guided by already enthroned answers by teachers that know few or nothing about the Catholic point of view (Mayoritary in my country). I´m one of them so trolls from wherever, insulters, envious of any kind, and other Catholic foes, can minimize my contribution, take me down, or whatever in order to make me appear as a liar or a simple prater. So what´s Buddhism has to do here? Buddhism is not a religion. It´s a way to wander in the world, a kind of Philosophy or as much simply a case of applied Psychology. This pre-marked answers …
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 8 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Excellent. I am a PhD in the field, and I think it is an amazing course. I recommend it to anyone interested in debates around religion and science.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Hamish R
3.0 8 months ago
by Hamish completed this course.
I was somewhat disappointed with the way that religious "truth" appeared to be given an equivalent status to that of scientific investigation - particularly in the lectures given by Christian practitioners.

Further, If the course was meant to be an objective assessment of the relationship between science and religion then it should have specifically have covered Islam, whose scholars did much to further the advancement of science (compared to the attempt by clerics to retard it in Europe). Hinduism also would have been worth consideration. I did however enjoy the lectures on Buddhism but this may have been due to the more coherent approach of this tradition illustrated there..

I would also endorse the comments of other commentators that Coursera's current approach of tightly programming the forums is very off-putting and rather patronising. Having taken their courses for many years I much preferred the more open treatment previously adopted
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
4.0 4 months ago
A completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
One of the nice courses in Philosophy, exploring and exposing the learner to the confluence of Religion and Science. The lectures exposed a wide variety of topics that apparently are odds between religious faith and scientific rationalism. The topics range from Creation of the World (Creationism vs Evolutionary Theory), Our status in the Universe (Are we alone), Logic (Western vs Buddhist Logic), Status of humans in the created order (Human vs Animals), Suffering, etc.

My sincere thanks to the University of Edinburgh for putting such a course together, and to the fantastic selection of lecturers! I enjoyed the course tremendously, and look forward to other related areas of philosophy to explore.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Enjoyed the course. Felt the various elements of it might have been a little more connected. The link between Buddhism and Prof Clough's Christian-based invitation: "You may (are allowed) not to kill animals for food", for instance is clear enough but not pointed out. As a humanist atheist I wrote an essay saying I believed our grandchildren will be horrified that we killed animals, but that I am not yet ready to go down that road. Then I watched Clough's lecture on the subject on the subject and am finding denial much harder. So my conclusion is that what the course lacked in cohesion it made up in impact.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 3 weeks ago
Anonymous completed this course.
This is the third in a series of courses that explores the relationships between religion, philosophy and science. A wide range of experts take part in the delivery of the course material and it covers a wide range of topics where these three disciplines intersect. In an age where religion is so prevalent politically, where scientism and pseudoscience are at odds in social media and philosophy seems to have taken the back seat, this course provides a meaningful perspective for moving forward in the years ahead. I highly recommend it for just about anyone.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Jorge C
5.0 8 months ago
Jorge completed this course, spending 20 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
Tive a honra de fazer esse maravilhoso curso,o qual aprimorou meus conhecimentos,todos os professores são capacitados em ensinar em uma forma bastante compreensiva e acessível,apesar do alto nível de conhecimento ,foi me proporcionado a ter um conhecimento amplo sobre as religiões.

Espero continuar fazendo outros cursos nessa área e crescer e disponibilizar para transmitir essa real aprendizagem. OBRIGADO PROFESSORES.

Como fazer poderei receber o Certificado,pois, já conclui esse maravilhoso curso.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Greg D
4.0 8 months ago
Greg completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
This is the latest technology for those interested in learning about integration of real world religion where spirituality in whatever religion you may be involved with can be lifted up now.... IOW, the eschatology of my faith has been transformed. Good stuff!
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
  • 1

Class Central

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.

Sign up for free

Never stop learning Never Stop Learning!

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.