Darwin and Religion

Spring 2012 with H. Allen Orr

  Charles Darwin, Diagram of Divergence of
        Taxa

Part of Darwin's “Diagram of Divergence of Taxa”, the only diagram in On The Origin of Species. For the full diagram see here.

Details

Course CodeLocation Times
PHL 256210 Lattimore HallMondays and Wednesdays, 12:30pm to 1:45pm

Instructors

NameRoleEmailOfficeConsultation Times
H. Allen OrrProfessorallen.orr@rochester.edu342 Hutchison HallWednesdays 3:30pm–4:30pm
Brad WeslakeProfessorbradley.weslake@rochester.edu519 Lattimore HallThursdays 4pm–5pm

Overview

This is a course on the interaction of science and religion, focusing, though not exclusively, on the historical background to and reception of The Origin of Species. The course will involve equal parts science, history, and philosophy. We will consider topics including the rise of modern science in Judeo-Christian culture, historical attitudes toward biblical literalism, and the challenges posed to religious culture in Europe and America by science, especially the appearance of Darwinism. We will also discuss Darwin's own evolving scientific, philosophical, and religious views and the relevance of Darwinism to ongoing debates over the relationship between science and religion. The course will be very reading-intensive and involve classroom discussion. It is required that students have taken a class in (and ideally be intending to major in) either Philosophy, Religion and Classics, or one of the natural sciences. Instructor permission is required; please contact Professor Weslake.

Announcements

Assessment

Requirements:

The final grade will be determined as follows:

Class participation: 25%
Reading Summaries: 10%
First Research Paper: 25%
Second Research Paper: 40%

Due dates:

First Paper: Wednesday 7 March
Second Paper: Sunday 6 May
Reading Summaries: At the beginning of the first class for each section, with no exceptions

Textbooks

The following textbooks are required. They have not been ordered into the bookstore; please order copies from the links below:

Brooke, John Hedley. 1991. Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. [AddAll]

Harrison, Peter. 1998. The Bible, Protestantism, and the Rise of Natural Science, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. [AddAll]

Darwin, Charles. 2008. Evolutionary Writings: Including the Autobiographies, James A. Secord (Ed), Oxford University Press, Oxford. [AddAll]

Research

Books placed on reserve can be seen here. Online video and audio resources can be seen here. A research guide on the history of science and religion, which will be updated as the course progresses, can be downloaded here [PDF]. For research assistance, students are encouraged to consult either with us or with Eileen Daly, philosophy subject librarian, who maintains a useful set of resources here.

Schedule

Meeting One (Wednesday 18 January)
Introductory discussion

I. Historiography: Conflict and Harmony

Meeting Two (Monday 23 January) and Meeting Three (Wednesday 25 January)

Overviews

Primary Reading

Secondary Reading

II. The Scientific Revolution

Meeting Four (Monday 30 January) and Meeting Five (Wednesday 1 February)

Overviews

Primary Reading

Secondary Reading

III. The Mechanical Philosophy and The Foster Thesis

No Class Monday 6 February
Meeting Six (Wednesday 8 February) and Meeting Seven (Monday 13 February)

Primary Reading

Secondary Reading

IV. Protestantism and Science: The Harrison Thesis

Meeting Eight (Wednesday 15 February), Meeting Nine (Monday 20 February) and Meeting Ten (Wednesday 22 February)

Primary Reading

Secondary Reading

V. The Enlightenment and the Rise of Secular Culture

Meeting Eleven (Monday 27 February) and Meeting Twelve (Wednesday 29 February)

Primary Reading

Secondary Reading

VI. Natural Theology and Design Arguments before Darwin

Meeting Thirteen (Monday 5 March), Meeting Fourteen (Wednesday 7 March) and Meeting Fifteen (Monday 19 March)

Lectures: Design Arguments Old and New (Weslake)

Overviews

Primary Reading

Secondary Reading

Focus on Sections 2.1–2.13.

VII. Darwin: The Theory

Meeting Sixteen (Wednesday 21 March) and Meeting Seventeen (Monday 26 March)

Lectures: Evolutionary Theory Old and New (Orr)

Primary Reading (Darwin)

VIII. Darwin: The Person

Meeting Eighteen (Wednesday 28 March) and Meeting Nineteen (Monday 2 April)

Overviews

Primary Reading

Secondary Reading

IX. Darwin: The Reception

Meeting Twenty (Wednesday 4 April)

Primary Reading

Secondary Reading

X. Darwin: Evolution, Naturalism and Chance I

Meeting Twenty One (Monday 9 April) and Meeting Twenty Two (Wednesday 11 April)

Primary Reading

Secondary Reading

XI. Darwin: Evolution, Naturalism and Chance II

Meeting Twenty Three (Monday 16 April) and Meeting Twenty Four (Wednesday 18 April) and Meeting Twenty Five (Thursday 19 April, Morey 504 at 4pm–6pm)

Reading Schedule

XII. Darwin: Evolutionary Debunking Arguments

Meeting Twenty Six (Monday 23 April) and Meeting Twenty Seven (Wednesday 25 April) and Meeting Twenty Eight (Monday 30 April)

Overviews

Primary Reading

Secondary Reading

XIII. Darwin: One Hundred and Fifty Years Later

Meeting Twenty Nine (Wednesday 2 May)

Primary Reading

Secondary Reading

Updated: 29 April 2012