The Faith of Scientists

How do leading contemporary scientists relate their professional endeavors to religious faith? Some have faith in science and eschew religious faith, often vociferously. Others prefer to keep religious faith and the natural sciences isolated from one another. Some seek dialogue on issues at their boundaries, while others seek more intellectually satisfying and meaningful ways of expressing their faith informed by contemporary scientific findings. Some perceive that their quest for scientific knowledge about the world is fueled by their faith in God. Other approaches can be discerned in the burgeoning religion-science literature of the past two decades.

     This seminar introduces students to representative samples of several ways in which scientists are addressing their or others' religious faith. To establish a method for assessing their works, we examine one physicist-theologian's models for thinking about religious faith and the natural sciences, identify their distinguishing characteristics, and decide on the categories of information that will be reported on each scientist's text. We proceed in seminar fashion to apply these criteria when assessing works by various kinds of scientists, including an astrophysicist, a quantum physicist, an evolutionary biologist, a biochemist, and a neuropsychologist. The remainder of the seminar concentrates on student presentations of their research on a topic addressed by a scientist who is selected with my approval.

     Each student writes several short reflections on the assigned readings, co-leads class discussion on at least one assigned text, presents research findings on a scientist's religious faith, and writes a scholarly paper on an issue the scientist addresses in relation to his/her faith. 

     The syllabus and other pertinent course documents are available on D2L by the beginning of the first session. Contact Dr. Schaefer for further information.

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