Science and Religion Issues in Higher Education
Recent cases of confusion of scientific knowledge and religious beliefs have rocked the Arab educational landscape, illustrating the need to address the relation between Science and Religion in the educational arena. Indeed, science professors are often faced with religion-infused questions raised by students in relation to the material that they teach (e.g. astronomy/cosmology, evolutionary biology). What is to be done then? Simply telling students that their beliefs are wrong (as in the case of creationism) or that religion-based ideas are not to be brought into the science classroom, is not a constructive and satisfactory educational approach. At the same time, allowing the confusion between science and religion that currently suffuses the Arab-Islamic cultural landscape to move into the classroom is dangerous and unacceptable.
In the first part of this essay, I describe the current situation and highlight the educational problems that arise from improperly relating science and religion. In the second part, I review a few pedagogical solutions that have been proposed to this problem: presenting Stephen J. Gould’s NOMA (Non-Overlapping Magisteria) view of science and religion to students; designing ‘bridge courses’, where topics at the intersection of science and religion (e.g. origins topics and ethics issues) are addressed in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary ways; etc. I then suggest a “harmonization” approach that differs from the above approaches and which, I believe, helps resolve the tension between science and Religion both at the philosophical level and in the educational arena.
KeywordsHigher education Science and Religion Pedagogy Non-Overlapping Magisteria
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