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 - https://www.coursera.org/learn/philosophy-science-religion-1
• Philosophy, Science and Religion II: Philosophy and Religion - https://www.coursera.org/learn/philosophy-science-religion-2
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 https://twitter.com/EdiPhilOnline 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.
BUDDHISM AND SCIENCE
-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.
EVOLUTION AND DESIGN
-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.
SIN, SUFFERING AND SALVATION: EVOLUTION’S THORNY ISSUES
-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.
HUMAN UNIQUENESS IN SCIENCE, THEOLOGY AND ETHICS
-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.
Dr J Adam Carter, Dr Orestis Palermos, Dr Mark Harris, Dr Mog Stapleton and Professor Duncan Pritchard
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...
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 - but it is basically about rejection of unchaneable soul which the individual can not replace or change - becoming thus like a fixed destiny. Buddhism is about freedom from sufferings and from attachment to fixed sense of personality or soul. So Buddhism teaches that a person is Body&Mind (not as in Hinduism : Body&Soul). The Mind can be reoriented and motivations renewed. Instead of fixed Soul the concept of cheangeabke Karma is introduced. Karma is the essence of ones tendencies and actions - it is the essence or mental energy of one’s actions but not a fixed spirit.
If you’d go to the discussions on that lecture you will find lot of confusion about NoSelf. We do have self. We have identity and uniqueness and the Buddha refers to his identity as “myself”. But again Self is not constant but dynamic.
For me this distinction was of foremost importance - it is one of 2 main differences between Hinduism and Buddhism. One is No Creator God (but eternal life of the universe) and the other is No Fixed Soul.
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...
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 religions (for example Hinduism)have a completely different perspective to that put forward. Buddhism is of course not a religion (no Gods). As these courses are intended for people throughout the world this Christian bias seemed to be a major error. A more general philosophic approach in the later parts could have been better. There are a few recent changes to the Coursera system that I dislike. Examples are the necessity to make comments in forums before you are allowed to see what others have said, and the fact that some boxes for commenting, like this one are not text boxes but character strings that make it unnecessarily difficult to edit input.
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...
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. What, if any, was the purpose of those lectures which attempted to somehow 'weave together' the findings of dynamic scientific inquiry and the static myths of ancient writings? None, as far as I could see. An exploration of which other religions are also attempting (or have attempted in the past) to embark on similar projects and to what end would also have been interesting.
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!
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 matter, enriched. It was interesting to get a peek...
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 matter, enriched. It was interesting to get a peek into the unfamiliar world of Buddhist philosophy, and to realize that in some ways it is much more reconcileable with modern science than mainstream western religions are. I regret not having been similarly exposed to the unique positions of Islam and Judaism on issues of cosmic origin, evolution, etc.
The one question quizzes were disappointing. Being invited to test your own comprehension of new material ought to be richer than that, I feel.
With one exception, I don't think I benefitted much from the peer reviews of my assignments, or from my own reviews of others'. I'd have preferred these exchanges to be better than fire-and-forget one shot salvoes they currently are, and for multi-participant discussions to have developed. Presumably, we, the students, are philosophically inclined, and curious about the issues the course has dealt with.
The written resources seem to be top-notch academic material, and although I was able to only skim through most of them, they are there for future deeper exploration of the subject matter.
The lectureres really delivered, one and all. It was a very pleasnt experience, learning from them, and you felt you were being treated without condenscension, as a fellow venturer into their field of expertise.
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.
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...
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 is what bothers me the most of it all. Of course I´m not going against anyone practicing those other religions but critically to myself I will always find this course lacking of that objectivity come from pre and post Lutheran Reform that was at the end what marked the most the current thinking in the West World. By the way all Faculty is doing their best to have an approach to universal way of thinking and I value their contribution as I miss a more European centric approach point of view. So thank you all haters, non believers, atheists and any kind to make me embrace even more my own beliefs.
First off, I'd like to thank all the professors participating in this course- sharing your knowledge for the masses. On a personal note, I have thoroughly enjoyed this course and it has given me precisely what I was aiming for within taking this course which was to broaden my views on certain topics....
First off, I'd like to thank all the professors participating in this course- sharing your knowledge for the masses. On a personal note, I have thoroughly enjoyed this course and it has given me precisely what I was aiming for within taking this course which was to broaden my views on certain topics. The section with Prof. Graham Priest on Buddhism was particularly new to me and it was engaging. With Prof. Tim Mauldin- he covered the more scientific accounts of the universe which was a personal favorite, I have always had a soft spot for physics and philosophy but it wasn't what I took in college and this provided me a way to still connect with it.
I'd like to thank Prof. Kevin Scharp, Bethanny Scholleder and David Clough as well for challenging my personal views. I enjoyed the two sides of arguments provided for Intelligent Design Theory and Evolutionary Theory.
The last parts of the course did feel very subjective to a particular religion and I was sort of hoping to learn the point of views of various religious beliefs. But otherwise, the course was great.
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
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.
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.
Definitely my favorite of the three PS+R series. The lecturers opened up fresh perspectives on issues I'd already read and thought about, and the material was at the right level for this module. Whereas the previous two varied between accessible overviews and specialist research, the balance was achieved here by a more judicious pairing of scholars with engaging examples and ideas. I felt this course raced by, compared to some of the previous two, and the content engages. The one proviso is that the Buddhist material ranges too far into advanced speculation and theory.
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.
In half a dozen instances I've found courses offered by the University of Edinburgh to be exceptionally enriching. This course is another example. Its lecturers are great communicators, treating their subjects comprehensively yet lightly. In each subject I was exposed to unexpected elements that I'd not encountered in other reading and that broadened my understanding and appreciation. I am grateful for the challenges of doing the coursework and for all the preparation by those at the university that goes into developing such stimulating online learning.
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.
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.
Definitely my favorite of the three PS+R series. The lecturers opened up fresh perspectives on issues I'd already read and thought about, and the material was at the right level for this module. Whereas the previous two varied between accessible overviews and specialist research, the balance was achieved here by a more judicious pairing of scholars with engaging examples and ideas. I felt this course raced by, compared to some of the previous two, and the content engages.
The course is very well developed and organized. The lecturers are very good and clear in their lectures notwithstanding the difficult topics touched upon. It is an excellent introduction to the various issues which arise in the understanding of the relationship between science and religion. Excellent!