REL 281 Spring 2015 Religion and Science

In the last few years the deniers of religion such as Dennett and Dawkins have forcefully argued that recent scientific developments show the degree to which religion is irrelevant to a modern understanding of what it means to be human. Atran and Boyer have made a similar case, arguing that recent progresses in our understanding of human cognition demonstrate that religion is a purely natural phenomenon that has little if any value for human development. Theologians such as Haught and Polkinghorne have rejected these views, arguing that a proper understanding of scientific developments such as evolution and quantum mechanics suggests religiously relevant views of the universe and our place therein. This course considers these competing perspectives while offering critical reflections on the views and categories involved in these controversies. We also examine the works of reflective naturalists such as Bellah and Herrstein, who argue that far from showing the irrelevance of religious ideas and practices, the new mind and life sciences suggest a much more nuanced view according to which religion is both grounded in the natural world and central to the development of human culture. Hence, it cannot be easily discounted as irrelevant to a scientifically informed understanding of what it means to be human.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: full attendance and participation, two essays
Additional Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
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Prerequisites: none
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
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Enrollment Limit: 18
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Class Number: 3749
CLASSES ATTR INSTRUCTORS TIMES CLASS NUMBER
REL 281 - 01 (S) SEM Religion and Science Division 2: Social Studies Georges B. Dreyfus
M 7:00 PM-9:40 PM 3749
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