Instructors: György Geréby (Office hours TBA)
Karl Hall (Office hours: Mondays 14:30-15:30 and by appointment)
Time: Tuesdays, 10:50-12:30
Location: QS D-212
Course description: The course studies the relationship between science and religion from antiquity through the modern period. Are they incompatible, independent, compatible, or cooperative? How have they come to be seen as metaphysically distinct? We will survey various scholarly theses about this issue and examine the senses in which "science" could encompass the overlapping concerns of theology and natural philosophy in centuries past, and then turn our attention to the ways that science has become a form of knowledge that occasionally challenges religious doctrines. How did individuals of diverse scholarly communities and confessions read and write scientific texts and produce scientific knowledge? What were the specifically disciplinary challenges to religious belief as the concepts and institutions of science expanded? We will investigate these questions primarily with respect to the Western tradition, including the Hellenistic period, Christianity (Catholic, Protestant and eventually Orthodoxy), but with occasional comparisons to Islam.
Course goals: We aim to read and analyze texts that enable us to understand scientific and religious concepts in interaction. In studying the tropes of conflict, mutual isolation, and reconciliation, we will investigate the argumentative and rhetorical strategies of religious and scientific figures, and in the modern period, we will also see how the historical sciences themselves became participants in, and not just chroniclers of, these encounters.
Learning outcomes: Students will gain familiarity with Hellenistic, medieval and modern conceptions of science and religion, with the evolving bounds of knowledge in medieval and modern science, and with the methods, sources, leading figures, and institutional contexts that have informed the science-religion relationship.
Advanced certificates: May be applied to the Religious Studies advanced certificate.
Requirements and assessment: The grade is based on one class presentation [15%], two times serving as discussion leader [10% + 10%], a review essay [50%], and general class participation [15%].
Note on class presentations: For purposes of this course, a presentation is neither a formal mini-lecture nor a PowerPoint slide show, but rather an exercise in accountability. Whereas a discussion leader will only be responsible for assigned texts, the class presentation may require modest additional preparation. Decisions about scope will be determined by student interests in prior consultation with the instructors, but will likely be driven by a given session topic.
Review essay due December 20. Topic should be chosen in consultation with the instructors. Length: 8-9 pages double-spaced.
Regular attendance is mandatory in all classes. A student who misses more than two units (two 100-minute sessions) in any 2 or 4 credit class without a verified reason beyond the student's control must submit an 8-10 page paper assigned by the professor, which as a rule covers the material in the class missed. The paper is due no later than 3 weeks after the missed class.
Presentation: Fatma Nur + Robert
Discussion leaders: Darrah + Rebeka
Assigned reading:William Whiston, A New Theory of the Earth, From its Original, to the Consummation of all Things (1696) (and full text).
Margaret Jacobs, "Christianity and the Newtonian worldview," God and Nature (1986).
Isaac Newton, extract from the ‘General Scholium’ from the Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, vol. 2 (London, 1729).
Sir Isaac Newton, "Query 31" from OPTICKS: OR, A TREATISE OF THE Reflections, Refractions, Inflections and Colours OF LIGHT, 4th ed., corrected (London, 1730), 376-406 (abridged).
Frank Manuel, The Religion of Isaac Newton (1974).
Rob Iliffe, "The religion of Isaac Newton," The Cambridge Companion to Newton, 2d ed., 485-523.
Rob Iliffe, Priest of Nature: The Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton (2017).
Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs, The foundations of Newton's alchemy : or, "The hunting of the greene lyon" (1975).
Jed Z. Buchwald and Mordechai Feingold, Newton and the Origin of Civilization (2013).
David Kubrin, "Newton and the cyclical cosmos: Providence and the mechanical philosophy," Journal of the History of Ideas 28 (1967): 325-346.
(Click on image for larger version.)
The in-class PowerPoint slides are available through CEU OneDrive here.