1. Contact Information
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Course Description and Credit Hours
  4. Required Texts
  5. Course Objectives
  6. Student Learning Outcomes
  7. Other Course Materials
  8. Outline Of Topics
  9. Exams and Assignments
  10. Grading Policy
  11. Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework
  12. Attendance Policy
  13. Notification of Changes
  14. Custom Sections
  15. Statements on Academic Misconduct
  16. Statement On Disability Accommodations
  17. Severe Weather Protocol
  18. Pregnant Student Accommodations
  19. Religious Observances
  20. UAct Statement

Religion and Science

REL 120-001Spring 2018 | 3 Credit Hours

Recitation or Discussion

Contact Information

UA Campus Directory:


UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:

No prereqs found

Course Description

Course Description and Credit Hours

This course is a broad, interdisciplinary introduction to the ways in which “science” and “religion” have been defined.

This course examines topics in the history of biblical interpretation as well as some of the religious conflicts that contributed to the rise of modern science to better understand contemporary American attitudes about the relation between religion and science.

Required Texts

Required Texts from UA Supply Store:

Course Objectives

1)       To learn to think critically and historically about social and cultural phenomena.

2)       To gain perspective on contemporary American debates about religion and science.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Distinguish different approaches to religious texts (including different kinds of literalism).

  • Explain some of the ways religious disputes produced modern science.

  • Better understand contemporary rhetoric about science (especially evolution).

Other Course Materials


Outline of Topics

Reading Assignments

  1. Ancient and Medieval Christian Biblical Interpretation

1)       Origen— De Principis, IV, ch. 1: 1-23; Cassian— Collationes, XIV, 8. (Jan. 16)

2)       Augustine— Confessions, V: 14, VI: 4; Augustine— On Christian Doctrine, Bk. I: 1-4, 22, 31-33, 39, 40, Bk. II: 1-16, 18, 28, 40-42, Bk. III: 1-5, 9-13, 15-18, 22-29. (Jan. 18)

3)       Augustine— On The Literal Interpretation of Genesis, Bk. I: 1, 2, 5, 9, 17, 19-21, Bk. II: 8-9, Bk. IV: 2, 22-31, Bk. V: 23, BK. VI: 5, 6, 11. (Jan. 23)

4)       Aquinas— Summa Theologiae, I. q. I a. 9-10, I. q. 74. (Jan. 25)

5)       Luther— “Concerning the Letter and the Spirit.” (Jan. 30)

6)       Luther— “Preface to the New Testament;” “Preface to the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans;” “Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude;” “Preface to the Revelation of St. John;” “Preface to the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews.” (Feb. 1)

  1. Science and the Bible: Nature, Miracles, and Modernity

7)       Galileo— “Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina.” (Feb. 6)

8)       Pascal—Provincial Letters, Letter VI (Feb. 8)

9)       Logic, or The Art of Thinking, Part IV, chs. 13, 14, 15. (Feb. 13, 15)

10)   Locke—An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Part IV, chs. 15, 16, 18, 19. (Feb. 20, 22)

11)   Hume—“Of Miracles.” (Mar. 1, 6)

III.               Protestant Fundamentalism and Evolution in America

12)   Darwin— Origin of Species, chs. 3, 4, Conclusion. (Mar. 8, 20)

13)   White— History of the Warfare of Science With Theology in Christendom, ch. 1, part IV. (Mar. 22)

14)   Orr— “Science and Christian Faith;” Wright— “The Passing of Evolution;” Johnson— “Fallacies of the Higher Criticism;” Gray— “Inspiration of the Bible;” Fosdick—“Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” (Mar. 27, 29, Apr. 3)

15)    “Clarence Darrow Questions William Jennings Bryan” and “Closing Statement of William Jennings Bryan” from Scopes v. State. (Apr. 5, 10, 12, 17)

16)    Marsden— “The Evangelical Love Affair with Enlightenment Science” and “Why Creation Science?” (Apr. 19, 24)


  • I expect you to bring the assigned reading to class. Please do not access the text from your iphone.

  • Responsibility for the success of our discussions rests on your shoulders. If you are not willing to ask questions or converse with one another, the discussions will fail.

  • You are responsible for announcements I make in class.

  • I use Blackboard as a file distribution system only. If you need to reach me, do not message me through Blackboard.  I will not see it.

  • You must bring a bluebook to the exams.

  • I have no attendance policy. From experience I know you will regret missing class come exam time

Exams and Assignments

An in-class midterm exam (Feb. 27). You will be asked to “identify” five quotations out of twelve taken from the readings.  You should have no difficulty recognizing the sources of the quotations.  Prepare to explain the import, ideas, and circumstances pertinent to each quotation as fully as you can.  In grading your responses I will look to see how much information you convey (the more the better).  This exercise is your opportunity to display what you have learned from the readings and from class.  You must bring a bluebook to the exam.  If you must miss the exam for a legitimate reason, you may take the exam at a time of mutual convenience. (25%)

One 4-page paper, hard copy due 3:30 PM April 27 in my mailbox in 212 Manly Hall. No electronic submissions.  I penalize late submissions ½ letter grade per day. You must compose your own paper topic in consultation with me.  The papers are your opportunity to argue for a position and/or apply some of the theoretical concepts to a new case.  You should feel free to argue for a position with which (you believe) I disagree.  Disagreement with me will NOT affect your grade (as long as you take account of the ideas and arguments we have studied).  I will grade the papers on a) the quality of your argument, and b) the quality of your prose.  If you do not feel confident in your ability to write this kind of paper, you should seek help from me during office hours.  (40%)

A final exam scheduled by the registrar (May 3, 8:00-10:30). I do not have authority to reschedule your exam in case of a conflict.  The final consists of two parts.  The first is identical to the midterm, except the quotations will be drawn (exclusively) from the texts that follow the midterm.  The second part will ask you to choose one essay topic from three choices.  These topics will force you to discuss texts and topics from the first half of the course in relation to texts and topics from the second half.  I grade the essays on two criteria: 1) how well-informed the response, and 2) how well-argued the response.  You must bring a bluebook to the exam. (25%)

Five very short exercises to help you improve your prose. I have put “Writing Well: An Incomplete Set of Guidelines” on Blackboard for you to use as a reference text.  I will announce the assignment in class.  They are due in my mailbox in 212 Manley Hall on Jan. 24, Feb. 7, Feb. 21, March 28, and April 11.  You will receive a check or check minus. (2% each)     

Grading Policy

See Assignments.

Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework

Discuss with instructor in advance.

Attendance Policy

I have no attendance policy.

Notification of Changes

The instructor will make every effort to follow the guidelines of this syllabus as listed; however, the instructor reserves the right to amend this document as the need arises. In such instances, the instructor will notify students in class and/or via email and will endeavor to provide reasonable time for students to adjust to any changes.

Statement on Academic Misconduct

Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the official Academic Misconduct Policy provided in the Online Catalog.

Statement On Disability Accommodations

Contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as detailed in the Online Catalog.

Severe Weather Protocol

Please see the latest Severe Weather Guidelines in the Online Catalog.

Pregnant Student Accommodations

Title IX protects against discrimination related to pregnancy or parental status. If you are pregnant and will need accommodations for this class, please review the University’s FAQs on the UAct website.

Religious Observances

Under the Guidelines for Religious Holiday Observances, students should notify the instructor in writing or via email during the first two weeks of the semester of their intention to be absent from class for religious observance. The instructor will work to provide reasonable opportunity to complete academic responsibilities as long as that does not interfere with the academic integrity of the course. See full guidelines at Religious Holiday Observances Guidelines.

UAct Statement

The University of Alabama is committed to an ethical, inclusive community defined by respect and civility.  The UAct website (www.ua.edu/uact)  provides extensive information on how to report or obtain assistance with a variety of issues, including issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, sexual violence or other Title IX violations, illegal discrimination, harassment, hate or bias incidents, child abuse or neglect, hazing, threat assessment, retaliation, and ethical violations or fraud.