335X: Science and Religion
Dr. Ernest L. Simmons, Jr.
Office: Academy 210 and by appointment
Office Hours: MWF 2:00-3:00 TH 11:30-12:30
I. Course Description:
This course will address the similarities and differences in methodology between several of the natural as well as social sciences and religion. By focusing upon issues of interdisciplinary importance, the student is assisted in analyzing the interaction of different views and the presuppositions involved. The working assumption of this course is that a constructive dialog and interaction between both science and religion is essential for addressing many of the significant concerns of our time if workable solutions are to be found.
II. Course Objectives:
The objectives of this course are:
a. To introduce students to the value of multi-disciplinary analysis and synthetic thought.
b. To address the different types of questions that science and religion ask so as to raise for discussion the assumptions and values implicit in any discipline and how these come
to influence the approach and results of that discipline.
c. To assist students in confronting the values and assumptions implicit in their own discipline and how they influence their own decision making and value assessment.
d. To discover the positive and constructive interactions that are possible between science and religion by exploring severalinterdisciplinary problems and issues.
III. Course Texts:
a. Eiseley, Loren. The Star Thrower (ST)
b. Barbour, Ian. Religion in an Age of Science (RAS)
c. Ferre, Frederick, Hellfire and Lightening Rods (HLR)
d. Hefner, Philip, The Human Factor (HF)
e. Library Reserve: Hill, William Fawcett. Learning Thru Discussion (LTD)
IV. Course Requirements:
a. Assigned readings and responsible participation in class discussion.
b. Two 5-7 page critical analysis papers on course reading assignments.
c. Class presentation and reflection paper for discussion of assigned reading for one class session, due at that session.
d. A major research paper (10-15 pages) dealing with an interdisciplinary topic of the student's own choosing in consultation with the instructor. A sentence outline and tentative bibliography of at least ten (10) entries for this paper will be due by midpoint in the course. Each paper must consist of two major sections of approximately equal length, the first dealing with research and the second with analysis.
e. Five preparation papers (1-2 pages) or discussion guides for class group discussion.
NOTE: The paper or guide for a given class session will be turned in at the end of
V. Grading: Total Possible - 750 points
a. Analysis papers - 200 points total (100 points each).
b. Class presentation - 100 points (50 points presentation; 50 points reflection paper).
c. Research paper - 300 points (50 points outline, 250 points final paper).
d. Class discussion guides and preparation papers - 150 points (30 points each).
VI. Course Due Dates:
The first analysis paper will be due on, 2 October the second on 6 November. The class presentation will occur during the semester based upon student signup. The sentence outline and bibliography will be due by 9 October, and the research paper is due 13 December. The preparation papers will occur during the semester and at least one week's notice will be given before a paper is due.
Assignments are due on time and normally there will be some reduction in grade for late papers or exams. Exceptions to this rule will be granted in special cases such as illness or a death in the immediate family, but arrangements for late assignments should be made prior to the due date if at all possible. In fairness to the majority of the class, assignments over one day late are subject to a serious reduction of one-half grade level per class day and after one week may not be accepted.
VII. Format of the Preparation Paper:
The 'cognitive map' found in William Fawcett Hill's Learning Thru Discussion provides the basic outline for working out a preparation paper (on reserve in the Library). These papers will follow either the following format or a one page "Discussion Preparation Guide" form passed out in class. Both will be used during the course.
Pick out MAJOR concepts and terms (Not "DICTIONARY" terms) you are not totally certain about, but try to spell out what you think they mean in the context of the reading.
2. CENTRAL POINT:
Summarize what you understand to be the central point of the reading.
Try to pinpoint what you understand to be the major subtopics that the author touches upon in the pursuit of the central point. Under each appropriate subtopic note the questions you have.
In what ways does this reading touch upon other areas of knowledge that you have?
Are there points of integration with other insights, fact, or observations you have already encountered? Do you see pertinent implications?
Evaluate the reading by asking yourself both general questions (such as those suggested below) and questions directly related to the reading assignment. These specific evaluations might have to do with the way the author sees an issue, the point of view, the relevance of what he/she touches upon to the contemporary situations as you see it and the like. Examples of general questions which can be brought to bear on individual readings might include:
What have I learned that I did not understand before?
In what way(s) does this affect my attitudes as well as my understanding?
At what point does the author's argument break down? Seem beside the point?
What kind of response does the author's argument elicit in me?
VIII. Purpose and Criteria for Expository Analysis Papers:
A. Purpose: The expository analysis paper is intended to assist
you in doing two things: first, to be able to clearly and concisely
summarize the argument of an author, and second, to critique and
evaluate that argument in terms of its clarity, coherence and relevance.
The primary purpose of the paper is to facilitate engagement with the author
beyond the sheer accumulation of information. Accordingly, the primary
emphasis is upon critique and analysis and not upon summary of the author's
1. Article: Select a scholarly article from the library dealing with a topic covered in one of the course texts. Please consult the Religion Index to find a suitable article listed by either subject or author.
2. Thesis: State the thesis of your paper in one sentence in the opening paragraph of the paper. It should indicate what you think about the article or the point you want to make about the article as a whole.
3. Summary: Summarize the author's argument in one - two pages. It is imperative that one understand the position one is to critique before one begins the critique. To do this concisely not only indicates a grasp of the position to be critiqued but also an ability to cut away the excess argumentation so as to get to the heart of the argument and its supporting evidence.
4. Analysis: Analyze the content (not form) of the authorís argument in four to five pages in light of the following three criteria:
a) Clarity. This refers to the distinctness and intelligibility
of the author's agument.
Is it focused so as to be understandable and intelligible?
b) Coherence. This refers to the basic integration of the main points of the argument. Are they all interrelated and necessary such that each follows from or requires the others?
c) Relevance. This refers to the accountability of the argument to human experience. Does the author address real human needs and issues? Does the argument help resolve any serious social or personal human problem?
C. Suggested Resources:
1. Journals - The best place to look for journal articles on your topic is in Religion
Index One, located in Case Number 3 in the reference section of the library. It
indexes every article in religion printed in the world in a given year, bound in two
year volumes. You then need to look under the subject heading for your topic and it
will give you various journal articles (abbreviations are explained in the front). Our
library has most of the major journals published in English, you can check the
printouts to confirm if we have a given journal and year. Some suggested journals
are: Dialog, Word and World, Journal of the American Academy of Religion,
Journal of Biblical Literature, Interpretation, Journal of Religion, Theology
Today, Union Seminary Quarterly Review, Journal of Christian Ethics, Church
History, Christian Century, Christianity Today, Christianity and Crisis,
Sojourners and ZYGON: Journal of Science and Religion.
Some additional indexes that may be of use are: Humanities Index, Biography
Index, Historical Abstracts, Religious and Theological Abstracts, and
2. Reference Works - These also would be found in the reference section of the
library. Some main ones are: The Encyclopedia of Religion, The New Catholic
Encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, The Oxford Dictionary of the
Christian Church, Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia of World Biography.
D. Evaluation: You will be evaluated in light of the following criteria:
1. Analysis 50%
2. Summary 20%
3. Thesis 10%
4. Creativity 10%
5. Form (style, spelling, grammar) 10%
It is expected that the paper will be between five and seven [5-7] pages in length
and employ correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Please proofread your papers
before you turn them in! The paper must also be typed, double-spaced and contain
your name and campus address.
NOTE: Plagiarism consists in presenting the writings or ideas of another as your
own. If you are in doubt always indicate the reference or source.
Plagiarism constitutes grounds for immediate failure of the paper.
IX. Class Presentation: Purpose, Procedure and Evaluation
The purpose of class presentations is to accomplish several things. First of all, to
stimulate class discussion by providing a prepared response to the course reading
for a given class session. Second, to give the entire class a chance to benefit from
your reflection. Third, to give the student some additional experience in formal
classroom presentation and discussion.
1. Topic: Sign up with one other student to present discussion reflection on a given
class session. This will be done the second week of class on a class sign up sheet.
2. Preparation: working as a team, formulate the issues and questions that you
would like to present for class discussion during the thirty minute period of
the class presentation. Each student should take approximately one third of the
3. Presentation: Each student is to come with a three-four (3-4) page prepared
reflection paper on the class material for the evening which is to form the basis for
their 10 minute presentation. This paper is to be typed and turned in at the end of
the class session for which it is prepared. The presentation and paper should
a. Issues: Two or three major issues the student wants to raise from the material,
b. Reflection: The Student's own thoughts about those issues, e.g., why
important, problematic, etc.
c. Questions: Several very specific discussion questions which the student would
like the class to address.
4. Discussion: After the presentation the class will divide into three small groups
and each presenter will then take responsiblity for one of the group discussions.
General class discussion will then follow as time permits.
C. Evaluation: The presentation and paper are worth a total of 100 points as an
individual grade for each presenter, 50 points each.
Presentation and Paper Criteria:
Conciseness of topic and presentation 20%
Clarity of summary 20%
Comprehension of subject matter 20%
Critique of issues and methods involved 20%
Communication of material and information 20%
X. Purpose and Criteria for Research Papers:
Purpose: The purpose of these research papers is to assist you in doing two things: first, to focus a large body of material by producing a concise and accurate summary and second, to critically evaluate and assess the material you have studied. Accordingly, the paper will be graded in these two areas and not purely upon the length of the descriptive summary material alone. It is the intention of this assignment that the evaluative part of the paper is of equal significance and should be of approximately the same length as the
descriptive part, that is, five to seven pages for each part.
A.-Summary: In the first part, you are asked to indicate in a concise way:
1) your thesis and the major topic under consideration.
2) major questions, issues, persons, events, and concerns which come into significant
relation to the topic.
3) any crucial definitions and explanations of terms should also be given.Focus your material and yet also be accurate regarding the topic and not distort it.
B.-Analysis: In the second part of the paper, you are asked to enter into engagement and
dialog with your topic:
1) What points do you find helpful? Where do you agree and disagree?
2) How significant do you find the issues raised by the topic? Has the topic forced you to
re-evaluate or re-think any particular issues,and if so, which ones, and in what way?
3) Of what practical relevance do you find the topic?
4) How does it relate to any issues, problems, etc., in your particular field of concentration
5) What personal relevance, if any, has the topic had for you?
C. Your paper should display:
1) clear organization and development--the hypothesis you wish to demonstrate, the thesis
you wish to establish or the problem you want to solve should be clearly stated at the
2) in addition, this thesis should be followed by supporting evidence.
3) the analysis should employ the criteria of clarity, coherence and relevance.
a) "Clarity" refers to the distinctness and intelligibility of your topic. Is it focused
sufficiently to be understandable and manageable?
b) "Coherence" refers to the basic integration of the main points of your paper. Are they
all interrelated and necessary such that each follows from or requires the others?
c) "Relevance" refers to the accountability of your topic or thesis for human experience.
Is it relevant so that it speaks to real human needs and issues?
Form (style, spelling, grammar) 10%
Thesis statement 10%
Comprehensiveness and clarity (summary) 30%
Coherence and relevance (analysis) 30%
Use of sources and documentation 10%
It is expected that the paper will be between ten and fifteen pages in length and employ correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Please proofread your papers before you turn them in!! The paper must also be typed, double-spaced and contain your name and campus address. The papers are due by class time of the assigned day and may be turned in earlier to the Religion Department office.
NOTE: Plagiarism consists in presenting the writings or ideas of another as your own. If you are in doubt, always indicate the reference or source. Plagiarism will result in the immediate failure of the paper.
XI. Course Outline:
UNIT AND TOPIC READINGS APPROX. DATES
I. Introduction to Science Video Sept. 4
and Religion - The Star Thrower
A. Nature and Autobiography ST, Part I Sept. 11
B. Science and Humanism ST, Part III
No Class - Faith, Reason and World Affairs Symposium - Sept. 18
II. Religion in an Age of Science
A. Religion and the Methods RAS, Chs. 1-3 Sept. 25
B. Religion and the Theories RAS, Chs. 4-6 Oct. 2
of Science Dr. Mark Gealy - Physics Dept.
C. Philosophical and RAS, Chs. 7-9 Oct. 9
Theological Reflection Betsy Nielsen and Eric Heyer
No Class Midsemester Break Oct. 16
III. Hellfire and Lightening Rods
A. Technology and Religion HLR, Chs1-7 Oct. 23
Science and Ultimate Belief Marc Wilson, David Leom, & Lori Haak
B. Myths and Modernity HLR, Chs. 8-11 Oct. 30
Dr. Carrie Osterberg - Chemistry Dept.
C. Multi-Mythic Organicism HLR, Chs. 12-16 Nov. 6
Deb Harstad and Malinda LaBonte
IV. The Human Factor
A. The Theoretical Perspective HF, Chs. 1-2 Nov. 13
Nature HF, Chs. 3-5
Jenny Johnson, Alison Meyer, & Patty Anderson
No Class - Research Paper Research Nov. 20
B. Freedom and Determinism HF, Chs. 6-8 Nov. 27
Dr. Carol Pratt - Biology Dept.
C. Culture HF, Chs. 9-12 Dec. 4
Jenna Perez, Erik Johnson, & Erick Felsch
D. Theological Connections HF, Chs. 13-15 Dec. 11
Kristi Kragtorp, Randele Kanning, & Lorne Holland
Research Paper Due - Dec. 13
XII. Academic Integrity:
Students are expected to be guided by the highest expressions of academic integrity in completing course requirements. These expectations are set forth in Academic Integrity at Concordia College. Students who show a disregard for academic integrity and are detected should expect to be penalized by receiving failing grades (in such cases make-up is not possible). Each violation of academic integrity will be reported to the Academic Deanís Office and the offender will be placed on probationary status for one year.
Violations of academic integrity include cheating, plagiarism, falsification, facilitating othersí violations and impeding. These violations are fully defined in Academic Integrity at Concordia College, pp. 11-13 and should be carefully studied.
These definitions were developed in a North American cultural context. Other cultures define forms of academic dishonesty differently. International students studying at Concordia, however, are expected to be guided by North American norms of academic integrity. Any student who is unclear about the application of these norms in the completion of a particular assignment should consult the course instructor.
XII. A Select Bibliography on Science and Religion