nl en

Seminar Religion 2: Religion and Science


Admission requirements

Christianity: the Basics (or equivalent) .


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

Mode of instruction

Tutorials and supervised research. Attendance and participation are mandatory. Classes may be missed no more than twice and only in exceptional circumstances (at the discretion of the conveners and only with prior notice). Absence without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam and a failing grade for the course.

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

  • Before being admitted to the assessment tests, students will have to do a practical exercise (e.g. an oral presentation) graded with satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Only students who have made a satisfactory presentation will be admitted to the assessment tests. However, practical exercises do not count to the final grade.

  • Weekly assignments (20%)

  • Endterm paper (4,000 words) (excluding tables and bibliography) (80%)

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 to be submitted within two weeks.

All deadlines need to be strictly kept.


Blackboard will be used. Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

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.