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Seminar Religion 2: Religion and Science


Admission requirements

  • For regular students of the BA Religiewetenschappen: successful completion of Christianity: the Basics (or equivalent).

  • Students of the minor Religion in a changing world are eligible for this course.

  • This course is open to students with an academic interest in the subject matter, who succesfully completed Christianity: the Basics (or equivalent). Please, contact the Coordinator of Studies, if you are interested in taking this course, but do NOT fulfill the abovementioned requirement.


This seminar will confront students with basic topics and themes concerning science and religion. The emergence of a scientific worldview is often seen as one of the key characteristics of Western civilization. However, this process went hand in hand with a complicated and sometimes outright problematic relation with established religion. St. Augustine’s encouragement to study God’s Book of Nature, and Enlightenment fysico-theology in the spirit of Isaac Newton, deeply contrasts with the conflicts caused by the revolutionary new ideas of René Descartes, Benedictus Spinoza or Charles Darwin – to mention just a few examples. Starting with the pre-Christian era, students will be introduced to the evolution of concepts of God, nature and the natural sciences up till the present day. Moreover, a comparison will be drawn with developments in the Muslim world, India and China. Themes to be discussed include the construction of Noah’s Ark, the trials of Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei, discussions on thunder, lightning and comets, natural versus revealed religion. the meaning of fossils, and ‘intelligent design’.

Course objectives

This seminar will confront students with basic topics concerning the relationship between science and religion in a formative period of religious history. They will study the evolution of pre-modern and modern views of God and nature from the comparative perspective, both temporally and internationally. Furthermore, they will review current theories of secularization.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results, using relevant multimedia techniques
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning a subject in the field covered by the course
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:
1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to formulate a substantiated discourse and conclusion.


Timetable Religiewetenschappen Timetable Minor Religion in a changing world

Mode of instruction

Tutorials and supervised research.

Course Load

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars (2 hours per week x 13 weeks = 26 hours)

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature (2 hours per week x 13 weeks = 26 hours)

  • Time to write a paper (including reading/research) 88 hours

Assessment method

Weekly assignments and oral presentation: 35%
Final paper of approx. 4,000 words (excluding tables and bibliography): 65%

To complete the final mark, please note that the final mark for the course is established by 1.) determination of the weighted average combined with 2) the requirement that the endterm paper always be sufficient.


If the endterm paper were to be unsatisfactory, students will be given one opportunity to rewrite their paper.

Exam Review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.




Students are required to register through uSis

Reading list

  • J. H. Brooke, Science and Religion. Some historical Perspectives (Cambridge1991; Canto paperback 2014) capita selecta + add. literature

  • Additionally, the students will work through W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008


Prof.dr. H.G.M. (Eric) Jorink Dr. J.W. Buisman


This course will only be given if a minimum of 10 students will attend.