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University of Edinburgh

Philosophy, Science and Religion: Religion and Science

University of Edinburgh via Coursera


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.

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  • 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


4.4 rating, based on 60 Class Central reviews

4.6 rating at Coursera based on 168 ratings

Start your review of Philosophy, Science and Religion: Religion and Science

  • Anonymous

    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....
  • Anonymous
    Well balanced lectures with religious concepts and scientific approaches, It has explained very clearly about the limitations of religious understandings and interpretational concepts and at the same time the science and it's assumptions to explain the theories of evolution. However I liked the concepts: Intelligent design and irreducible complexity concepts, which added new dimension to my belief systems
  • Profile image for In-Ho Keum
    In-Ho Keum
    Following the first and second courses, this course provides an excellent opportunity to encounter up-to-date global issues and associated arguments with them. I am already waiting for the updated versions of this and other two courses. After this course, I am happy to be able to answer the question of God existence, which has grown in my mind from my Childhood, among others.
  • Anonymous
    This was a great course as one where the students show clear evidence of learning. The lesson in Philosophy, Science and Religion thought you significant areas for improvement and your view on alots of things. and how we respond to the lesson and what and what peoples view.
  • Anonymous
    The class was good, really enjoyed it. Though it may have been nice to have some notes of the class so that I can annotate on them while listening to the class simultaneously, but otherwise, the classes were great. Thank you very much for them.
  • Anonymous
    If one is interested in the interrelationships between philosophy, science, and religion, I suggest the three-part series, of which this is the third. The series is introductory, but I found the range of material and diverse views informative.
  • Anonymous
    ¡Great course! The course addresses many fundamental and interesting issues and they are explained in an excellent way by the teachers. A pleasure to have taken it. Greetings from Mexico.
  • Anonymous

    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...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    The course met my expectations of being intellectually stimulated, and of having my knowledge and understanding of the interplay between the scientific methods of exploring the world and of explaining it, and of the religious views of the same subject...
  • Anonymous
    I am very happy that I have done this interesting course, i learn a lot about Philosophy science and religions things that I didn’t know but I discover it thorough this course. All professors been very helpful and they show as very interesting things...
  • Anonymous

    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...
  • Anonymous

    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...
  • Anonymous
    Great course with greater impact to explore the world of truth and connectivity among inter-conflict disciplines of philosophy, science, and religion.

    God bless the instructors for their immense contribution in the clarity of these inter-conflict disciplines.

  • A Kumaran

    A Kumaran 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.
  • Anonymous
    It's an amazing course. In religion it gives an insight into many religions like Buddhism and Christianity and raises questions about science and philosophy. Place of man in cosmos, theory of evolution, genesis, intelligent intervention, existence of extra terrestrial life, unique position of man and whether there are common ground in interplay of religion, logic and science. I strongly recommend this course to people of all fields of study for the fascinating insights one can get.
  • Anonymous

    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.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Excellent course! The contents cover the main points of difficulty in the relationship between traditional Christian belief and contemporary science. teachers don't shy away from really serious problems, giving good presentations of problems. Nor do they...
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    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
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    1.The course is taught by lecturers from different universities 2. Objective and unobtrusive presentation of materials and personal position of the lecturer is excellent .3. I have already completed three of your courses and I notice an amazing ethical component to students, thank you.4. The course is up-to-date, this is evident from links to feature films and books. 5. I don't speak English,but even with a translator, most of the material is understandable. Thank you to everyone who is involved in the work of this course.

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