Theology and the Natural Sciences
Next Offered in Fall 2011
This third-level undergraduate course has been designed to enable students to become informed about ways in which the disciplines of theology and the natural sciences have been perceived in relation to one another and to discern constructive approaches to issues at their boundaries that respect their distinctive data, methods, scopes and limitations. Toward this end, students will critically assess: (1) the history of the Christian religion-science relationship; (2) various ways of thinking about the relationship between theology and the natural sciences today; (3) current theories of cosmology, chaos theory and complexity science, evolutionary and molecular biology, and neuroscience and psychology to discern their implications for theological discourse; (4) some theological and philosophical reflections on the relevance contemporary scientific findings have for the doctrines of creation and providence, anthropology, the human soul, free will, religious experience, and eschatology; and, (5) essays by Pope John Paul II on the role of the Church in our scientific era and on Christianity and evolution. Marquette faculty from the departments of Physics, Biology, Health Sciences and Mathematics illumine through lectures in class the scientific findings and theories addressed in the assigned readings. Videos and on-line web resources are consulted for diverse insights on pertinent issues.
In addition to careful reading of assigned texts and close listening to lectures given by visiting scientists, students are encouraged to engage in informed and probing discussions in small groups and in full-class debates on the issues. Each student also chooses one from among several contemporary texts, works with a limited number of other students in making a presentation on that text to the class, and individually writes a 5-7 page reflective research paper on a particular topic covered in the text with my approval.