Philosophy, Science and Religion

Explore contemporary debates at the intersection of Philosophy, Science and Religion

About the course

How should we think about the relation between science and religion? This course, created by the University of Edinburgh's Philosophy and Divinity Departments, surveys several topics within the contemporary science-religion field, with a special focus on philosophical approaches. The aim is to introduce learners to the many subtleties of engaging science with religion and to some of the biggest questions facing humankind: Is scientific knowledge the absolute truth? Is evolutionary biology more scientific than creationism? What makes us religious, according to neuroscience? Could science and religion be compatible in the way they perceive the origin of the Universe? What are the ethical dimensions of the science-religion debate?

The course is delivered online through Coursera, so students can progress through the course at their own pace. It is open to all, and no formal qualifications are required to enrol and complete the course.

The course will be released in three self-contained parts.

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Part 1: Science and Philosophy

  • The nature and limits of scientific knowledge
  • Implications of scientific knowledge for philosophy and religion

Part 1: Science and Philosophy

Part 2: Philosophy and Religion

Launches 28th August 2017

  • The nature of religious disagreement
  • Comparing religious and scientific fundamentalism

Part 2: Philosophy and Religion

Part 3: Religion and Science

  • Can eastern religions can give insight into the study of minds?
  • Social and political consequences of the public debate between science and religion

Available Winter 2017


Part 1: Science and Philosophy

Adam Carter and Orestis Palermos: Introduction to the course

Martin Kusch: Relativism

Michael Murray: Science and religion

Conor Cunningham: Pseudo-science and religion

Orestis Palermos: Creationism and Evolutionary Biology

Part 2: Philosophy and Religion

Sarah Lane Ritchie: Brain and Belief: Neuroscience and Religion

John Evans: Social Science of Religion and Science

John Greco: Religious Disagreement

John Schellenberg: The Hiddenness Argument and the Contribution of Philosophy

Rik Peels: Scientific Fundamentalism

Mark Alfano: Epistemic Virtues and Vices

Philosophy, Science and Religion for Everyone book cover


Philosophy, Science and Religion for Everyone

Learning objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, learners will:

  • Understand the main parameters at stake in the current debate between science and religion.
  • Have some familiarity with the relevant areas of science that feature in the debate—including cosmology, evolution, and the neurosciences—and will have begun to engage with them conceptually.
  • Have encountered key philosophical approaches to the interface between science and religion, and will have had the opportunity to engage them in practice;
  • Have embarked constructively in cross-disciplinary conversations;
  • Have demonstrated an openness to personal growth through a commitment to dialogue across intellectual and spiritual boundaries.


Professor Duncan Pritchard

Dr Mark Harris

Dr S. Orestis Palermos

Dr Mog Stapleton

Dr J. Adam Carter

Dr James Collin

Related courses

Online MSc programme

A new online masters programme in Philosophy, Science and Religion launches September 2017.

MSc Philosophy, Science and Religion