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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Bruce W Hevly
HIST 310
Seattle Campus

Science and Religion in Historical Perspective

Scientific and religious ideas have been two of the major forces shaping our modern view of the world. Often regarded as being in conflict, they can equally well be seen as complementary and interdependent. Study of the relationship between scientific and religious ideas with focus on particular episodes of history from ancient to modern times.

Class description

Modern commentators have often portrayed science and religion as conflicting or, at best, complementary. Here we will undertake a series of week-long case studies, each looking at one episode in the history of this relationship. Case studies will include: Augustine and the establishment of a handmaiden metaphor for relationships between philosophy and religion; natural philosophy and Islamic intellectual life; the condemnation of 1277 and its consequences for medieval mechanics; Victorian natural theology and arguments from design; Protestantism and the rise of modern science; quantum theory, relativity and its religious interpreters in the early twentieth century.

Student learning goals

Gain familiarity with a basic narrative of the interactions between science and religion.

Gain a sense of how these took different forms in different historical contexts.

Practice making arguments and interpreting primary and secondary sources in essays.

Learn skills associated with participation in the seminar format.

Practice reading other historian's arguments critically.

General method of instruction

See below.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites; general background in European history of history of science may be helpful.

Class assignments and grading

Each two-hour class meeting will include lectures and discussions based on assigned readings. There will be a weekly paper assignment.

Preparation for and participation in class discussion; assessments of five, four to five page essays, each revised after comments by instructor.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Bruce W Hevly
Date: 05/06/2010