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, Dr Orestis Palermos provides a short introduction and overview of the key themes that will be discussed in the ‘Science and Philosophy’ course.
Neuroscience and Free Will
-In this module Professor Al Mele presents experiments that purport to show that there is no such thing as free will. He then presents three criticisms of this interpretation of the evidence.
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.
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?
Evolution and Creationism
-This module starts with Dr. Mark Harris presenting the history of creationist views and what is claimed about evolution by different creationist approaches. Professor David de Pomerai then goes on to explain what evolutionary biology is.
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.