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Science and Religion

Explore how science and religion are two crucial forces that helped shape Western civilization and continue to interact in our daily lives.
Science and Religion is rated 4.1 out of 5 by 171.
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good series! I find this course is pretty interesting and important to understand intersection of science and religion. This course mainly drawn from Christian theology and western science, and detailing the characters, stories and history. Professor is knowledgeable and easy-to-follow on the explanation. However, I feel there's missing details since impact of religions other than Chritianity not included. I know it was at a disclaimer that this course cannot cover other than Christian theology in 12 lectures, so that's that.
Date published: 2024-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intersesting and well presented There is so much in this course that was new thinking for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the professors humor and speaking technique in keeping me interested from beginning to the end of this course.
Date published: 2024-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good introduction to an important topic A good, balanced, introduction to the historical interplay between science and religion, highlighting the intricacies, complexities and nuances of such interaction. It stimulates the pursuit of deeper study of a topic that remains relevant in today's socio-political environment.
Date published: 2023-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Demystifying a Hot Topic Most negative reviews are either completely misunderstanding the attempts of these lectures, or simply putting words into Dr. Principe's mouth. This is NOT religious apologetics - where and when exactly does Principe defend any faith whatsoever? This is a great historical look into a hotly debatable topic that is sure to enlightened people, whether religious or nonreligious.
Date published: 2023-02-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Insidious pro-religious Agenda The lecturer espouses a bad faith position false equivalence between evidence based research and faith based superstition. Disappointed in Wondrium including this course and not the excellent more recent course on Human Evolution.
Date published: 2022-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good perspective on the topic Overall a fair, accurate, interesting and relevant coverage of the Science/Religion symbiosis.
Date published: 2022-09-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Are Science and Religion coequal and the same? Primary reason to listen/watch this course: to understand the (author's) argument that science and religion have no inherent conflict; any perceived conflict arises out of misunderstanding of religion and/or science or is due to individualistic bias. Primary reason to avoid this course: a somewhat arcane discussion leaves you cold OR you already have strong, immoveable beliefs regarding this topic and are looking for conformation bias (either for or against whatever your belief is). Let's get right to a critical point: in order to discuss whatever the relationship is between religion and science, the author assumes that religion is worthy of existence. For this author, that means that God exists, specifically, the Christian god. More specifically, God as specified by the Catholic Church. Religious concepts and philosophies given in the course frequently originate from individuals of early Christian history. These individuals, by necessity, were Roman Catholic, as that was the only significant Christian religion at that time. These individuals and their philosophies far predate what I would consider the advent of strong, modern science. By my analysis, the author utilizes somewhat tortured philosophical arguments for his thesis that religion and science have no inherent conflict. That is because science, just like religion, is simply based on faith alone, which makes religion and science coequal. Indeed, he seems to argue that one cannot exist without the other. For me, the author never clearly defines reason, nor science, as a modern concepts. He intermixes the concept of science with that of reason. "Reason," of course, has always existed since the advent of writing, and certainly existed at the time of the early Catholic philosophers quoted in the lectures; science, as I understand it, however, did not. I accept that science utilizes reason. I will accept the author's argument that the Roman Catholic religion also utilizes reason. But, as put forward in this series of lectures, I just don't see a compelling argument that reason and science are the same, which is the basis of the author's thesis that religion and science are coequal and dependent on each other. Nevertheless, this series is interesting and well presented. One does not have to agree with an author's thesis in order to learn something. I now understand an argument, the author's, that science and religion are coequal, even if I don't accept it as valid. The two lectures regarding Gallio's interactions with the Catholic Church are themselves worth the cost of this lecture series. The author is an excellent speaker; the series presents very well in an audio only format. While I can recommend this series as interesting and informative in relation to a very specific philosophical evaluation of religion and science, it does not cover the subject of science and religious interaction as an historical review, which is what I believe most people would think the subject would be (I did), based on the title. Therefore, only 3 stars.
Date published: 2022-07-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Logic He does a great job of comparing science and religion in a subjective way.
Date published: 2022-02-06
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Science and religion-two crucial forces that helped shape Western civilization and continue to interact in our daily lives. What is the nature of their relationship? When do they conflict? And how do they influence each other in their pursuits of knowledge and truth? Science and Religion, taught by award-winning Professor Lawrence M. Principe, answers these and other pointed questions about the historical sweep and epic interaction between faith and science. These lectures reveal a surprisingly cooperative dynamic in which theologians and natural scientists share methods, ideas, and aspirations. With its clear, historical perspective, this course will help you participate more effectively in a dialogue that is as immediate and thought-provoking today as it was hundreds of years ago.


Lawrence M. Principe

One of the best things about history, to my mind, is that it gives us a sense of perspective-a perspective that often reveals how strange and atypical our times are in relation to the past.


Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Lawrence M. Principe is Drew Professor of the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. Professor Principe earned a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.A. in Liberal Studies from the University of Delaware. He also holds two doctorates: a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a Ph.D. in the History of Science from Johns Hopkins University. In 1999, the Carnegie Foundation chose Professor Principe as the Maryland Professor of the Year, and in 1998 he received the Templeton Foundation's award for courses dealing with science and religion. Johns Hopkins has repeatedly recognized Professor Principe's teaching achievements. He has won its Distinguished Faculty Award, the Excellence in Teaching Award, and the George Owen Teaching Award. In 2004, Professor Principe was awarded the first Francis Bacon Prize by the California Institute of Technology, awarded to an outstanding scholar whose work has had substantial impact on the history of science, the history of technology, or historically-engaged philosophy of science. Professor Principe has published numerous papers and is the author or coauthor of three books, including The Aspiring Adept: Robert Boyle and His Alchemical Quest.

By This Professor

Science and Religion

01: Science and Religion

In this introductory lecture, we define the basic terms of the course, its content, methodology, and focus. This course deals with the interactions of Christianity with science in the Western world over a long time span. We look closely at the words science and religion to prepare for consistent discussions in subsequent lectures. We look at models for the interactions of science and religion, critique them, and provide pointers for engaging with the balance of the course.

34 min
The Warfare Thesis

02: The Warfare Thesis

We examine one form of historical relationship between science and religion—the warfare or conflict thesis. Advanced in the late 19th century by John William Draper and Andrew Dickson White, it has continued strong in popular thought to the present day. We create a catalogue of methodological errors and fallacies for all readers of history to guard against.

32 min
Faith and Reason—Scripture and Nature

03: Faith and Reason—Scripture and Nature

In this lecture, we confront some basic concepts in the science-religion question: What are legitimate means of acquiring sure knowledge, and where can we can obtain such knowledge? We examine approaches to means and sources in the Christian tradition, in St. Augustine's 5th-century writings, and more recently in the important 1998 papal encyclical Fides et ratio.

31 min
God and Nature—Miracles and Demons

04: God and Nature—Miracles and Demons

This lecture approaches the nature of causation and our ability to identify it accurately. A crucial point of contact between science and religion is the question of the extent of God's involvement: naturalistic explanations versus divine intervention. Views of the state of the spiritual world influence and form one's views toward the natural world and science.

30 min
Church, Copernicus, and Galileo

05: Church, Copernicus, and Galileo

We look at the "Galileo affair." Far from being a simple case of science versus religion, however, it is extremely complex and brings up a host of important philosophical, scientific, and other issues that must be understood in context.

30 min
Galileo’s Trial

06: Galileo’s Trial

This lecture examines the latter phase of the Galileo affair, presents explanations of the events, and looks at how these events have been used, abused, and re-examined to the present day. Of particular importance are the arguments made on both sides about the relative intellectual roles of science and faith and the levels of certainty we can have about each.

31 min
God the Watchmaker

07: God the Watchmaker

The 17th-century idea of a mechanical universe functioning like a great clockwork implied creative actions of a divine mechanist but simultaneously distanced him from creation. Natural philosophers had to deal with deep-seated fears over the new growth of irreligion, and atheism provided a new context. This lecture surveys some of the means used to address this idea by Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, and others.

31 min
Natural Theology and Arguments from Design

08: Natural Theology and Arguments from Design

Some authors have used the natural world to argue for the existence of the deity. This lecture examines the emergence and content of natural theology. Recently, intelligent design has appeared as a further step in the track of natural theology. This lecture looks at historical features of both approaches and their limitations.

31 min
Geology, Cosmology, and Biblical Chronology

09: Geology, Cosmology, and Biblical Chronology

How old is the Earth and the universe? This lecture looks at attempts to date the Earth, the hints that it is vastly older than the Bible implies, and the responses from religious figures to this dating. Historical "battle lines" between rival interpretations of both the Earth's and the universe's ages and origins do not map out on simple religion/science lines but, instead, reveal a more complex picture rooted largely in social and professional differences.

31 min
Darwin and Responses to Evolution

10: Darwin and Responses to Evolution

Like Galileo, Charles Darwin occupies a central position in discussions of science and religion. This lecture looks at Darwin's theory of evolution and its complex reception in context. Darwin's natural selection and common ancestry ideas provoked a range of responses from religious and scientific figures.

31 min
Fundamentalism and Creationism

11: Fundamentalism and Creationism

Despite acceptance of evolutionary ideas by naturalists and prominent theologians in 1900, those ideas have also marked the 20th century with strongest-ever science-religion conflict. This lecture looks at the 1925 Scopes Trial, a high point in the fundamentalist crusade against evolution, and the invention of creation science and flood geology. There's an analysis of the background and social foundations of American fundamentalism, a force that still plays an adversarial role with modern science.

31 min
Past, Present, and Future

12: Past, Present, and Future

In this concluding lecture, we survey the course and place our own times in historical context. No single description can aptly describe the complexity of science/religion interactions in Christianity over time. Most current clashes occur between extremists—religious and scientific fundamentalists. A historical perspective is the best way to transcend and defuse such clashes.

31 min