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Religion and science


The module focuses on the history of the relationship between religion and science in the Medieval period (including Ptolemy), the Renaissance period (including Copernicus and Galileo), the Enlightenment period (including Newton), and the nineteenth century (including Darwin).

Topics covered

It looks into Contemporary and philosophical issues. Cosmology and the Anthropic Principle, quantum physics, Chaos Theory, Neo-Darwinism, genetic engineering, and cloning. The aims and processes of religion and science (including Popper and Kuhn), and the relationship between religion and science.

Learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of historical knowledge of importance in the relationship between science and religion;
  • Relate knowledge of recent of recent areas of importance in science to traditional theological concepts;
  • Identify and focus on key areas of discussion between theology and philosophy.
  • Conduct critical analyses of events, doctrines, theories and arguments in the relationship between religion and science;
  • Critically examine key issues (e.g. doctrine of creation, different models of God, the nature of scientific method) in relation to a range of doctrines, theories, interpretations and arguments.
  • Show an ability to assimilate and evaluate competing arguments;
  • Select and organise material from a range of primary and secondary sources;
  • Represent the views of others with fairness and integrity.


Three-hour examination.

Indicative reading list

  • Barbour, Ian G. Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues. (London: SCM, 1998) [ISBN 0–334–02721–7]
  • Davies, Paul. God and the New Physics. (London: Penguin, 1990) [ISBN 0–14–013462-X]
  • Grant, E. Planets, Stars and Orbs: The Medieval Cosmos 1200–1687. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994) [ISBN 0–521–43344–4]
  • Hawking, Stephen. A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. (London: Bantam, 1988) [ISBN 0–553–17521–1]
  • McGrath, Alister E. Science and Religion: An Introduction. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999) [ISBN 0–631–20842–9]
  • O’Hear, Anthony. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989) [ISBN 0–19–824813-X] Chs. 2, 5
  • Polkinghorne, John. Reason and Reality. (London: SPCK, 1991) [ISBN 0–281–04487–2]
  • Polkinghorne, John. Science and Theology: An Introduction. (London: SPCK, 1998) [ISBN 0–281–05176–3]
  • Thompson, Mel. Religion and Science. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2000) [ISBN 0–340–75771-X]