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RELS225 Science, Religion and Knowledge

Are science and religion in conflict? Beginning with this question, the nature of religion and science and the differing conceptions of knowledge found in scientific and religious communities are examined.

Are science and religion in conflict? The idea that religion and science are in conflict was popular in the nineteenth century. It has recently been revived by the 'new atheists', writers such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. But is it true? What is the relation between science and religion? Are they really at war? The paper invites students to answer this question by offering an analysis of the differing conceptions of knowledge to be found in scientific and religious communities.

Paper title Science, Religion and Knowledge
Paper code RELS225
Subject Religious Studies
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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36 points
RELS 325
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology

Professor Greg Dawes:

Teaching staff

Lecturer: Professor Greg Dawes

Paper Structure

The paper has six parts:

  • Part One: The Warfare Thesis
  • Part Two: Science and Religion
  • Part Three: Creationism as Case
  • Part Four: Locating the Conflict
  • Part Five: Norms and Knowledge
  • Part Six: Science as a Religion
Teaching Arrangements

There will be three classes each week, with one devoted to tutorial-style discussion.

A coursebook has been developed for this paper.
Course outline
View sample course outline for RELS 225
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Critical thinking.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to
  • Describe the nineteenth-century conflict thesis and the recent responses to it
  • Offer a careful analysis of the various uses of the terms 'science' and 'religion'
  • Describe the various dimensions of religion and the debates regarding the scope of science
  • Analyse the conception of knowledge that is dominant in religious communities

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system