Track IV: Religion & Science
Track IV Coordinator: Wesley Wildman
Affiliated Track Faculty
This interdisciplinary program pursues religious studies in relation to the physical, biological, medical, and psychological sciences. Students will develop skills in relevant scientific methods and gain knowledge in the history and philosophy of science and the philosophy of religion. They will also engage the core literature of one of several specializations: (i) religion and science dialogue; (ii) history and philosophy of science and religion interactions; (iii) scientific (bio-cultural, neurological, evolutionary) study of religion; (iv) spirituality, medicine, and health; or (v) psychology of religion.
Track-Specific Admission Requirements:
Students in the Religion and Science track should already have an MA and have strong background in (1) religious studies, or philosophy of religion, and (2) natural sciences, the psychological sciences, or philosophy and history of science. Further background in natural science, humanities, or social sciences is strongly encouraged, and required where relevant to a student’s proposed program of research.
Please note that this prerequisite is in addition to those outlined in the Admissions section of our website.
Track-Specific Course Requirements:
Students in the Religion and Science track are required to take Core Texts and Motifs of World Religions (RN 723-724) or suitable alternatives in order to demonstrate broad religious literacy. Students are also required to satisfy a science literacy requirement (normally the two semesters of STH TT871 and STH TT872 “Science Literacy and Scientific Boundary Questions”) and are encouraged to take the following, depending on their backgrounds and in consultation with the Advisor, as preparation for comprehensive examinations: (i) a philosophy of science course (e.g., CAS PH643 Philosophy of Mind, CAS PH665 Philosophy of Cognitive Science, CAS PH670 Philosophy of Physics, CAS PH677 Philosophy of the Social Sciences); (ii) a history of science course (e.g., GRS HI868 Science and American Culture, GRS HI869 Science and Christianity in Europe and North America Since 1500); and (iii) a philosophy or history of religion or theology course (e.g., GRS RN750 Philosophy of Religion, STH TT923 Philosophical Cosmology).
There are no specific course requirements but students should consult with their advisers about suitable courses.
Track-Specific Language & Research Competence Requirements:
Students in the Religion and Science track, as their second modern foreign language, will take an exam in a science skill (such as cognitive and neural modeling, ecological modeling, mathematics, computer programming, or statistics for empirical research) depending on the direction of research. Students in the Religion and Science track will also complete a 200-hour practicum in a relevant physical, biological, or psychological science setting to gain experience as (i) contributors to research, aiming at a publication, and (ii) interpreters and evaluators of research procedures in light of knowledge gained about philosophy and history of science.
There are no specific course requirements but students should consult with their advisers about suitable language and research skills.
Track-Specific Basic Structure of Qualifying Examinations:
Students will take five comprehensive examinations. The first covers Philosophy and History of Science, treating debates in philosophy of science and the history of science, with particular attention to the history of interactions between sciences and religions. The second covers Philosophy of Religion, treating major themes in the philosophical and theological study of religion; this exam can be customized to fit the specific focus of each student’s program. The third exam depends on the track specialization, as follows. For the specializations (i) religion and science dialogue and (ii) history and philosophy of science and religion interactions, the third exam is on the core literature of the religion and science field. For the specialization (iii) scientific (bio-cultural, neurological, evolutionary) study of religion, the third exam is on the core literature of the bio-cultural study of religion. For the specialization (iv) spirituality, medicine, and health, the third exam is on the core literature of spirituality, medicine, and health. For the specialization (v) psychology of religion, the third exam is on the core literature of psychology of religion. The fourth exam, a multidisciplinary specialty exam, is an analysis and discussion of the literature surrounding the student’s multidisciplinary research specialty. The exam focus and design must be approved in advance by the adviser and the entire Track 4 faculty by means of a one-page prospectus stating and justifying the topic, the readers, and the method of the examination. The fifth is a comprehensive oral exam focusing on the content of the previous four exams.