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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

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4.4 rating, based on 50 reviews

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
  • 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.
  • 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
    The course has been designed very carefully and the section of the course in which Buddhism and Quantum physics have been discussed has been very enriching. I would recommend that some aspects of eastern religions are also discussed alongside of christianity .
  • Anonymous
    Really enjoyed this course. I had different points of view and convergences between my faith and science, even though I'm totally okay with not finding a specific answers to my questions, I value how this course helped me balance and organize my beliefs. Thanks.
  • Anonymous
    Great course! I feel I have learned not in-depth but a lot about the subject matter. From now on I have to keep taking further courses and read all the material -which is a lot- on all the philosophy related materials.
  • 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
    Excellent course and excellent series! I am recently retired from a career in science, and i finally have the time to consider deeply the theoretical underpinnings of how I have made my living.
  • Anonymous
    Well explained by experienced faculties, It expands the horizon of looking in to religion and relating it to the science
  • Anonymous
    Fantastic series from the university of Edinburgh. I finished all three courses and I would do it all again and again.
  • Anonymous
    A course that helps us broaden the perspective on religion and science with very interesting philosophical arguments.
  • Anonymous
    Wow it waz helpfull.and very important instrument for every like.i hope it will be prosper in future

  • 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.

    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.

    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...
  • 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
    Excellent course, enjoyed different perspectives especially on eastern religions. Surprised the Bible seemed to be taken at face value. Surely today we know better. The contradictions and inconsistencies are to numerous to mention here. This course certainly is stimulating and thought provoking. Would like to see discussion on God and Time included somewhere, to address questions like is God inside or outside of time, if he created time and is outside of time then how could God answer your prayers ?
  • 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...

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