Religious Faith
and Scientific

About course

Weird Wild Web

Other Courses


News | Office Hours | Requirements | Course Texts | Bibliography


No news is good news.

Office Hours

Prof. Wegter-McNelly during Fall 2004: Tuesday and Thursday 1:30-2:30, Wednesday 9:30-10:30 in STH room 331.

Prof. Wildman during Fall 2004: Wednesday 10:00-11:00, 1:30-2:30 in STH room 335 (sign up for appointments using sheet on door).


The Science, Philosophy, and Religion Proseminar, as the name suggests, is intended especially for doctoral students specializing in science, philosophy, and religion. Other doctoral students and advanced masters students can seek the permission of the instructor to participate.

Classes will meet once a week on Wednesdays from 3:00-6:00. Each class will be conducted in the seminar discussion format. The primary readings for each week need to be completed by the class session. Careful reading of the required material is expected, to ensure that our discussions are fruitful and efficient.

One or two students will lead the class discussion on most occasions during the course. A summary of the assigned reading should be duplicated and distributed in class as a basis for discussion. This summary should aim to do three things:
1. compactly state the main theses of the reading, and outline the supporting arguments;
2. critically evaluate the reading; and
3. pose a couple of questions with which to begin the discussion. The questions may bear on internal interpretation of the reading, or on its relevance or importance to external issues (significant for either the author's or the reader's context).

The product of the seminar will be a 5,000-word research paper, due at the last class session in hard-copy form. The papers should critically interact with the seminar readings. The topics of the papers should be discussed with and approved by the instructor in advance, the papers should conform to the academic and literary standards of your primary discipline, and they are to be handed in at the last seminar meeting.

Grades will be assigned on the basis of the research paper (50%) and seminar participation, including written presentations, leadership, and involvement in discussion (50%). Criteria for excellence in papers, presentations, and participation will be discussed in the first meeting of the seminar.

Incompletes are not allowed—except when they are. Paperwork is necessary. Plagiarism is not allowed—ever. Check official documents for discussions of plagiarism.

Course Texts

The primary texts for the course are:

Barbour, Ian G. Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues. A revised and expanded edition of Religion in an Age of Science. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997. ISBN# 0060609389.

Richardson, W. Mark; and Wildman, Wesley J., eds. Religion and Science: History, Method, Dialogue. New York: Routledge, 1996. ISBN# 0415916674.

Other readings available at the BU Bookstore are:

Brooke, John Hedley. Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991. ISBN# 0521283744.

Dembski, William A.; Ruse, Michael; eds. Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA. Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN# 0521829496.

Keller, Evelyn Fox, and Helen E. Longino, eds. Feminism and Science. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. ISBN# 019875146X.

Laslett, Barbara, ed. Gender and Scientific Authority. Berkeley: University of Calfornia Press, 1996. ISBN# 0226469182.

Peacocke, Arthur. Theology for a Scientific Age: Being and Becoming-Natural, Divine and Human. Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1993; enlarged edition. ISBN# 0800627598.

Wallace, B. Alan. Choosing Reality: A Buddhist View of Physics and the Mind. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 1996. ISBN# 1559390638


Listed here are the other readings listed in the various seminar sessions.

Other Readings (on reserve in the STH Library or distributed in class)

Barbour, Ian G. Myths, Models and Paradigms: A Comparative Study in Science and Religion. New York: Harper & Row, 1974. “Conclusions,” 171-81.

Clayton, Philip. Explanation from Physics to Theology: An Essay in Rationality and Religion. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989. 18-22, 48-55.

Dupré, John. “Metaphysical Disorder and Scientific Disunity” in Galison and Stump (eds.) The Disunity of Science: Boundaries, Contexts, and Power. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1996: pp. 99-117.

Fine, A. “The Natural Ontological Attitude,” in Boyd, Richard, Philip Gasper, and J.D. Trout, The Philosophy of Science, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1991, pp. 261-277.

Garfield, Jay L. The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nāgārjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995, pp. 14-15, 18-22, 31-32, 48-51, 56-62, 67-83, 149-152, 159-177, 196-206, 245-257, 267-283, 293-359.

Gerhart, Mary and; Russell, Allan M. Metaphoric Process: The Creation of Scientific and Religious Understanding. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1984. Chs. 1, 5-7.

Haraway, Donna J. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991. 1-4, 183-201.

Kuhn, Thomas. “Objectivity, Value Judgment, and Theory Choice” in The Essential Tension: Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977, pp. 320-339.

Lakatos, Imre. “Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes” in Lakatos and Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1970, pp. 91-195.

Lakoff, George; Johnson, Mark. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books, 1999. Chs. 1-5.

Longino, Helen. “Objectivity and Values” in Science as Social Knowledge. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1990. Chapter 4, pp. 62-82.Kuhn, Thomas S. “Objectivity, value judgment, and theory choice”, an excerpt from the book, The Essential Tension.

MacCormac, E. A. Metaphor and Myth in Science and Religion. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1976. 135-57.

Murphy, Nancey. Theology in the Age of Scientific Reasoning. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990. Chs. 1-2, 5-6.

N­āgārjuna. Mūlamadhyamakakārikā: the Philosophy of the Middle Way; Sanskrit text, English translation, and annotation with introduction, David J. Kalupahana. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986.

Rothbart, D. Explaining the Growth of Scientific Knowledge: Metaphors, Models, and Meanings. Edwin Mellon Press, 1997. 3-19.

Other Readings: Stem Cell Research Controversies

Cole-Turner, Ron. “God and the Human Embryo: Religion Meets Research”, chapter in forthcoming book on Stem Cell Research Controversies.

Cole-Turner, Ron. “Principles and Politics: Beyond the Impasse Over the Embryo”, chapter in forthcoming book on Stem Cell Research Controversies.

National Institutes of Health. “Stem Cells: A Primer.” From, May, 2000.

Other Readings: Spirituality and Health Controversies

1. Letting Koenig have his say:

Koenig, Harold G. “Religion and Medicine I.” International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 30(4): 385-398, 2000.

Koenig, Harold G. “Religion and Medicine II.” International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 31(1): 97-109, 2001.

Koenig, Harold G. “Religion and Medicine III.” International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 31(2): 119-216, 2001.

Koenig, Harold G. “Religion and Medicine IV.” International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 31(3): 321-336, 2001.

2. Another perspective:

Sloan, Richard P.; Bagiella, Emilia; et al. “Should Physicians Prescribe Religious Activities?” New England Journal of Medicine 342: 1913-1916 (June 22, 2000).

Sloan, Richard P.; Bagiella, Emilia. “Claims About Religious Involvement and Health Outcomes.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine 24/1, 2002: 14-20.

3. A somewhat focused debate on the issues:

Sloan, Richard P.; Bagiella, Emilia; Powell, T. “Religion, Spirituality, and Medicine.” The Lancet 353 (Feb 20, 1999): 664-667.

Letters to the Editor on “Religion and Medicine” following Sloan article. The Lancet 353 (May 22, 1999).

Koenig Harold G.; et al., “Editorial: Religion, Spirituality, and Medicine: A Rebuttal to Skeptics.” International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 29(2): 123-131, 1999.

4. Recent review articles from both sides:

Lawrence, Raymond J. “The Witches’ Brew of Spirituality and Medicine.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine 2002, 24(1): 74-76.

Thoresen, Carl E.; Harris, Alex H. S. “Spirituality and Health: What’s the Evidence and What’s Needed?” Annals of Behavioral Medicine 2002, 24(1): 3-13.

Other Readings: Intelligent Design Controversies

1. Fundamental Intelligent Design works (for reference; see reading selections below):

Behe, Michael. Darwin’s Black Box. Free Press, 1998.

Behe, Michael. Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe. Ignatius Press, 2000.

Dembski, William A. The Design Inference. Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Dembski, William A. No Free Lunch. Rowman and Littlefield, 2002.

Dembski, William A.; Ruse, Michael; eds. Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Eldredge, Niles. The Triumph of Evolution and the Failure of Creationism. Owl Books, 2001.

Pennock, Robert T., Jr., ed. Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics. Bradford Books, 2001.

Pennock, Robert T., Jr., ed. The Tower of Babel. Bradford Books, 1999.

Ruse, Michael. Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? The Relationship Between Science and Religion. Cambridge University Press, 2000.

2. Basic Articles Introducing Intelligent Design

1. Dembski, William A. “Intelligent Design as a Theory of Information.” Presented to “Naturalism, Theism and the Scientific Enterprise: An Interdisciplinary Conference” at the University of Texas, Feb 20-23, 1997.

2. Behe, Michael J. “Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference.” March 1, 1998,

3. Dembski, William A. “Becoming a Disciplined Science: Prospects, Pitfalls, and Reality Check for ID.” Keynote address delivered at “Research and Progress in Intelligent Design” conference at Biola University, La Miranda, CA, Oct 25, 2002.

3. Article sequences, reviews, and essays from both sides:

1. “Intelligent Design,” in Natural History magazine, April 2002.

2. Holt, Jim. Review of Robert T. Pennock, Jr., Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics (MIT). In (April 14, 2002).

3a. Van Till, Howard J. “Does ‘Intelligent Design’ have a Chance? An Essay Review.” Zygon 34/4 (Dec 1999): 667-675.

3b. Nelson, Paul A. “Is ‘Intelligent Design’ Unavoidable—Even by Haward Van Till? A Response.” Zygon 34/4 (Dec 1999): 677-682.

4. Politics and Intelligent Design:

1a. National Center for Science Education, “Survey of Scientists Supports Evolution, Rejects ‘Intelligent Design’,” October 11, 2002 (

1b. National Center for Science Education, “Ohio Scientists Intelligent Design Poll,” by George Bishop, October 15, 2002 (

2a. Dembski, William. “Is Intelligent Design Testable?” Metaviews 004.2001.01.24 (

2b. Scott, Eugenie. “The Big Tent and the Camel’s Nose: Scott Replies to Dembski.” Metaviews 008.2001.02.22 (

2c. Dembski, William. “Teaching Intelligent Design.” Metaviews 010.2001.02.22 (

5. Major web sites carrying information and debates on intelligent design:

1. Discovery Institute: [Pro]

2. National Center for Science Education: [Con]

3. Metanexus: [Clearinghouse for discussion]

Other Readings: Controversies Surrounding Emergence and Human Nature

Bielfeldt, Dennis. “The Peril and Promise of Supervenience for the Science-Theology Discussion” in Gregersen, Drees and Gorman, eds., The Human Person in Science and Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000): 117-152.

Clayton, Philip. “Neuroscience, the Person, and God: An Emergentist Account,” in Robert John Russell, et al., eds., Neutoscience and the Person: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (Vatican City State: Vatican Observatory; Berkeley: CTNS, 1999): 181-214. (Also in Zygon, vol 35, No. 3: 613-652.)

Deacon, Terrence; Weber, B. “Levels of Emergent Phenomena”, an unpublished revision by Deacon of an article by Weber and Deacon published in Cybernetics and Human Knowing, 2000.

Murphy, Nancey. “Physicalism Without Reductionism: Toward a Scientifically, Philosophically, and Theologically Sound Portrait of Human Nature,” Zygon, vol. 34, No. 4: 551-571.

The information on this page is copyright ©1994-2010, Wesley Wildman (basic information here), unless otherwise noted. If you want to use ideas that you find here, please be careful to acknowledge this site as your source, and remember also to credit the original author of what you use, where that is applicable. If you want to use text or stories from these pages, please contact me at the feedback address for permission.