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 ‘Science and Philosophy’, is the first of three related courses in our Philosophy, Science and Religion Online series. The first launch is now closed to enrolments. We will launch a new version of the course in July 2018. The course will address four themes each presented by guest lecturers:
1. Are Science and Religion in conflict? (Professor Michael Murray, Franklin & Marshall)
2. Neuroscience and Free Will (Professor Al Mele, Florida State)
3. Creationism and Evolutionary Biology--Science or Pseudo-science? (Dr. Mark Harris and Dr. David de Pomerai, University of Edinburgh)
4. Do Scientific claims constitute absolute truths? (Professor Martin Kusch, University of Vienna)
The second and third courses in the Philosophy, Science and Religion series are ‘Philosophy and Religion’ and ‘Religion and Science’. They may be taken in any order and completing all three courses will give you a broader understanding of this fascinating topic. Look for:
• Philosophy, Science and Religion II: Philosophy and Religion
• Philosophy, Science and Religion III: Religion and Science
Check out our trailer to hear more: https://youtu.be/OifqTI5VKek
You can also follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/EdiPhilOnline and you can follow the hashtag #psrmooc
Philosophy, Science and Religion: Introduction and Overview In this module, course instructors Dr Orestis Palermos and Dr Adam Carter provide a short introduction and overview of the key themes that will be discussed in the ‘Science and Philosophy’ course. Some background to the research question concerning the status of scientific claims is offered as well as an overview of some of the central philosophical issues concerning the relationship between science and religion, and creationism and evolutionary biology.
Do Scientific Claims Constitute Absolute Truths? Guest lecturer: Professor Martin Kusch. This module will focus on a central challenge for scientific knowledge: Are there any scientific claims that are absolutely true, or are they all true relative to the system of thought that generated them? If we accept the latter, does this also hold true of any claims we might make, including within the domains of philosophy and religion?
Are Science and Religion in Conflict? Guest lecturer: Dr Michael Murray. Are science and religion compatible with one another? Are they incompatible? What do these questions even mean, and how do we go about answering them? Philosophical tools are helpful to make progress with these very important questions. In this module, Dr Michael Murray offers a philosophical analysis of the complex and easily misunderstood issue of the relationship between science and religion.
Creationism and Evolutionary Biology—Science or Pseudo-Science? Guest lecturer: Professor Conor Cunningham. This module examines the scientific status of evolutionary biology. What may count as a scientific theory? Is evolutionary biology scientific? Is it likely to change in the future? Approaching these questions from a philosophical perspective can help clarify the ongoing debate between evolutionary biology and religion.
Dr J Adam Carter, Dr Orestis Palermos, Dr Mark Harris and Professor Duncan Pritchard
The course raised many interesting questions concerning the nature and limits of scientific explanation. The hard problem of consciousness, for example, indicates to all but the most fanatical reductionists that a strong version of materialism is not tenable. However, saying that there is more to human understanding than scientific explanation alone does not mean that the door is now open to all sorts of ancient belief systems, including religions. The hard problem of consciousness does not reinstate astrology. So I was disappointed that discussion of the limits of science seemed to pave the way for referring to the Bible as some sort of special authority. The claims of religion - that there is a being in charge of the universe, that humans have an after-life and that the Bible is true, etc - were not subjected to the same kind of tough analysis as the claims of science. I began to feel that the course was biased in favour of religion.