Denné N. Reed
— Ph.D., Stony Brook University
- E-mail: email@example.com
T C 302 • Relig/Sci In Amer: Evol/Creatn
TTH 330pm-500pm MAI 220B
Starting with the late 17th century inquiries of Nicholas Steno, debate and discussion on the question of evolution raged in biology until the neo-Darwinian synthesis of the 1930’s established evolution by mutation, genetic drift, and natural selection as the consensus paradigm of modern biology and the organizing principle around which the discipline is based. The universal adherence to evolutionary principles in biology stands in stark contrast to popular perceptions, where only about half of the U.S. population accepts the basic tenants of evolution.
The goal of this course is to provide basic scientific and religious literacy in a single course that is team-taught by a physical anthropologist and a specialist in Biblical literature. We will examine the interplay between scientific and popular thought through the lens of the contemporary debate on evolution and human origins in the U.S. The course takes a broad look at how different religious traditions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and indigenous religions approach the question of origins, and how they interact with one another and with science. Through critical reading, civil discourse, and concise writing students explore the scientific basis of evolution; different definitions of science, religion and mythology; the debate on intelligent design; scientific and mythic cosmologies; the bases of epistemologies; the role of science and religion in morality and ethics; and contemporary politics surrounding science education.
Adler, M. J. & C. van Doren. 1972. How to Read a Book. New York: Touchstone.
Bagir, Z. A. 2005. Science and Religion in a Post-colonial World: Interfaith Perspectives. Adelaide: ATF.
Bowler, P. 2003. Evolution: The history of an idea. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press
Cunningham, M. K. 2007. God and Evolution: A Reader. New York: Routledge,
Dawkins, R. 2006. The God Delusion. New York: Bantam.
Doniger, W. 1999. The Implied Spider: Politics and Theology in Myth. New York: Columbia Univ. Press
Ferngren, G. 2002. Science and Religion: A historical perspective. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press
Iqbal, M. 2007. Science and Islam. New York: Greenwood Press.
Kurtz, P. 2003. Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? New York: Prometheus.
Lincoln, B.1989. Discourse and the Construction of Society: Comparative studies of myth, ritual and classification. New York: Oxford.
Wallace, B. 2003. Buddhism & Science: Breaking new ground. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.
This course seeks to develop three important skills: 1) critical thinking and the ability to analyze written and spoken arguments, 2) the ability to share ideas through discourse rather than heated argument with the aim of reaching greater understanding for all participants rather than coercive persuasion to a particular point of view, 3) the ability to craft a laconic, well-reasoned essay.
In pursuit of these goals the coarse requires students to annotate assigned readings and to keep a written journal with short entries (ca. 150-200 words) of reading notes and discussion questions for each class session, along with a brief summary of the in-class discussion. Journals are graded and account for 40% of the total grade.
Each class discussion is led and moderated by one student with help from the instructors. In preparation to lead a class discussion students must prepare written summaries of the readings, along with a list of major and minor discussion questions. This critical reading assignment accounts for 10% of the student’s grade.
Drawing on the critical reading assignment and the class discussion, the student is expected to write a well-crafted short essay (ca. 1000-1200 words) on the topic that was discussed. This essay may draw upon points raised during the class discussion but must be more than a mere summary of the discussion. The essay should reflect the student’s position on the topic and also provide evidence and reasoned argument in support of that position. The essay is due one week after the student moderates the class. Critique on the essay is provided by the instructors, a revised version of the essay is submitted and accounts for 25% of the student’s grade.
Students will apply their writing skills to a final exam covering major topics that arise in the course. The final exam will count for the remaining 25% of the students’ grades.
About the Professors:
Denné Reed is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology who studies the influences of ecology and environment on hominin adapations and behavior. Denné conducts field work on human origins in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Morocco.
Steve Friesen is the Louise Farmer Boyer Chair in Biblical Studies, Department of Religious Studies. His area of research is Christian origins. His special interests include apocalyptic literature, and economic inequality in the early Roman Empire.