nl en

Philosophy of Religion: Religion and the Natural Sciences


Admission requirements

Knowledge of philosophy, as acquired in a bachelor religious studies, is assumed. This seminar is obligatory for all students of the track ‘Religion, Science and Ethics: Philosophical Approaches’. Other students in the master programmes in religious studies or Islamic theology are welcome to participate.


There are many discussions on ‘religion and science’, some antagonistic (e.g. on evolution and intelligent design), others drawing on science to support religious convictions or practices (e.g. neuroscience and Buddhist meditation; cosmology and design arguments). The Oxford Handbook on Religion and Science provides a broad overview of the current state of the art in the Anglo-Saxon literature on ‘religion and science’, with essays on different religious traditions (including indigenous ways of life, religious naturalism, and atheism), on different disciplines (from cosmology to psychology), and on many of the major contended issues. In this course we will study some of these contributions, and seek to understand the underlying assumptions and criteria regarding science and religion.

Course objectives

Students will become familiar with major issues in contemporary debates on ‘religion and science’, and underlying assumptions about the nature of religion and the nature of science, and will be able to show their competence in a reasoned essay on issues raised in at least two different chapters of the Oxford Handbook on Religion and Science.



Mode of instruction

The seminar will meet once a week during the semester. Students will read in advance of each session, sometimes guided by specific questions or minor assignments. Students will report on literature, write brief reviews, lead class discussion, and write an essay on the relevance of the issues discussed for their area of specialization.

Assessment method

Minor assignments such as presentations, reviews and class discussions (40 %)
Essay (60 %)


Reading list

  • Ph. Clayton, Z. Simpson, eds., Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science. Oxford UP, 2006; pb 2008. ISBN 9780 1995 4365 6 (paperback)

  • W.B. Drees, Religion and Science in Context: A Guide to the Debates (Routledge, 2010); ISBN 978-0-415-55617-0 (paperback).


Via uSis.
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Students who follow the track ‘Religion, Science and Ethics’ are requested to contact Dr. H.W. Sneller or prof.dr. W.B. Drees timely (before the beginning of the semester) to discuss interests, competences, and plans. Those who participate in this course in the context of another track, are requested to send an e-mail to the instructor, prof.dr. W.B. Drees, and register in uSis.


This course will be taught in English except when all participants have a solid knowledge of Dutch. Papers will have to be written in English. If there are five participants or less, the course might be replaced by supervised reading and less meetings.