L&S Curricular Connections

Big Ideas Courses

Letters and Science 121

Origins in Science and Religion

Philosophy and Values

This course explores the concepts of origins in science and religion and their cultural contexts and entanglements, from antiquity to the present. Popular culture tends to emphasize the conflict between science and religion on such issues, particularly in recent times, with respect to the origin of life and its evolution (including human evolution). We hold that science must acknowledge history, both the history of the natural world and the history of concepts about it, and that religion must deal with the changing knowledge of science, including issues of origins, causation, and teleology. Our guiding questions include: What are origins, and why do we want to know about them? How does this desire manifest itself in different ways of constructing and analyzing knowledge? What sorts of intellectual processes, standards, and tests can be applied to different concepts of origins? What happens when different notions of origins clash? How do we negotiate these clashes in today’s world?

Kevin Padian faculty profile
Kevin Padian (Integrative Biology)
Ron Hendel faculty profile
Ron Hendel (Near Eastern Studies)

Terms Offered

  • Spring 2019
  • Spring 2015
  • Spring 2013