Students at Southern Adventist University consider the intersections of origins theories, issues surrounding interpretation of scientific data, and Christian faith. Through lectures and discussions, they explore the seeming conflict between science and religion.
Issues in Physical Science and Religion, Ken Caviness and Stephen Bauer
Textbook: Students select seven books from a list.
Students delve into issues of science, religion, and philosophy in Professor Caviness and Bauer's class. During class discussions, students explore questions and insights on worldview issues and the seeming conflict between science and religion.
“This is a thinking class,” says Caviness. “My job is to get students to think about what it means, and many keep thinking about the issues long after graduation.”
Exploring fundamental questions such as “How do you know what you know?” helps students discover their own world-views and where world-views fail. Students discuss the scientific method and realize that science doesn’t prove everything. Science is a successful model to explain some things, but there are limits of logic.
“Students must learn to think for themselves and to think critically, or else they are apt to be deceived,” says Caviness. “We talk these things out and think about the implications now, rather than ignore it and risk that later they’ll be unprepared to face some questions and may lose their faith.”
- Students read, write book reports, and present a philosophical topic.
- Students keep online journals about their homework, discussions, and thoughts related to the issues. Journals are shared among classmates as they grapple with ideas and topics.
Issues in Science and Society, Tim Trott
Textbook: Faith, Science, and Earth History, Leonard Brand
Issues in Science and Society is a philosophical study of modern natural science as it relates to origins, biotechnology, bioethics, and environmental responsibility.
From a creationist perspective, students explore the creation-evolution controversy and discuss the issues surrounding theistic evolution, progressive creation, and young-earth creation. Trott leads students to consider whether one can be intellectually honest and still believe in the Bible. Students evaluate the definitions of science and religion, and whether creation science can be considered “real science.”
- Origin of life, human evolution
- Fossils, flood, and biome succession
- Birth, abortion, euthanasia
- Genetic engineering and stem cells
Issues in Natural Science and Religion, Lucinda Hill
Textbook: Evolution, Douglas Futuyma
Theories of the Earth’s origins are debated in Southern’s Issues in Natural Science and Religion class. The class maintains a creationist viewpoint while exposing students to other ideas on origins that permeate the scientific world. Students learn about the Genesis creation, intelligent design, and evolution theories, while acquiring skills to critically evaluate scientific information.
Hill teaches from a university-level evolution textbook and points out how creationism differs and why she advocates short-creation theory.
Part of the coursework helps students learn to face new challenges to their belief systems through finding resources, conducting literature searches, and reasoning through the information collected.
- Readings and lecture
- Solving problems that surround the creation-evolution debate
- Project: presentation, bulletin board, or design a computer program