Evolution, God and Gaia

Module titleEvolution, God and Gaia
Module codeTHE2152
Academic year2019/0
Credits30
Module staff

Professor Christopher Southgate (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks

11

Number students taking module (anticipated)

10

Description - summary of the module content

Module description

You will be introduced to evolutionary theory since the early 19th Century and the challenges posed for Christian theology. In particular you will look at the development of evolution theory of intelligent design from the early debate pre-Darwin, through the contributions of Charles Darwin and beyond. You will consider it alongside the Gaia Hypothesis, that the Earth is a self-regulating complex evolving system able to maintain a stable, constant condition of properties to sustain life. You will explore in detail arguments in relation to the suffering of non-human creatures, and the character and behaviour of human beings. In particular you will use these theories to debate the implications for environmental ethics.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module will:

  • engage you with the development and character of evolutionary theory since the early 19th Century, and with the challenges that theory has posed for Christian theology
  • explore in detail acute points of challenge re: the suffering of non-human creatures, and the character and behaviour of human beings
  • apply these explorations to a consideration of the prospects for the future of complex life, and the ethical implications that follow from that

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate, with limited guidance, a knowledge and understanding of evolutionary theory as it has developed since the time of Darwin and Lamarck
  • 2. Demonstrate, with limited guidance, a knowledge and understanding of the challenges evolutionary theory has posed for Christian theology
  • 3. Demonstrate, with limited guidance, a knowledge and understanding of evolutionary and theological understandings of the nature and calling of human beings
  • 4. Demonstrate, with limited guidance, a knowledge and understanding of how such insights affect approaches to the current environmental crisis

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Demonstrate, with limited guidance, detailed comprehension of and engagement with the richness of the dialogue between evolutionary theory and Christian theology in some of its varied forms
  • 6. State clearly, discuss and, with limited guidance, demonstrate detailed comprehension of some historical and contemporary expressions of this dialogue
  • 7. Demonstrate awareness of and careful assessment of aspects of theological and scientific contributions to debate in the public arena about truth and ethics
  • 8. Make careful use of a core method of study: evaluation of the different character of two different disciplines, and sensitive application of this evaluation to understanding the dialogue between the disciplines

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Undertake guided work within broad guidelines
  • 10. Demonstrate consistency and rigour in method and argument
  • 11. Find and use on-line materials with some guidance
  • 12. Communicate clearly in written and oral forms
  • 13. Participate appropriately in a learning group

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

  • Evolution before Darwin, and Darwin’s distinctive contribution
  • The early debate between Darwinism and theology
  • The contemporary debate between neo-Darwinism and theological understandings, including the proposal of intelligent design
  • The problem of the suffering of non-human creatures
  • Religion as a virus of the mind, the challenge of evolutionary psychology
  • The Gaia Hypothesis and its implications for the future of complex life, and for environmental ethics

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad
222780

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching2211 x 2 hour lectures
Guided independent study278Private study

Assessment

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Analysis piece of pre-reading set from seminars500 words1-12Brief written feedback
Seminar presentation10 minutes1-13Oral feedback as required

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams
10000

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Analyses of seminar pre-reading201000 words1-13Written and oral
Analysis of a primary text in the subject area (from a prescribed selection of texts) 201000 words1-13Written and oral
Essay on a topic negotiated with instructor604000 words1-13Written and oral

Re-assessment

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Analyses of seminar pre-readingAnalyses of seminar pre-reading1-13Referral/Deferral period
Analysis of a primary text in the subject area (from a prescribed selection of texts) Analysis of a primary text in the subject area (from a prescribed selection of texts) 1-13Referral/Deferral period
Essay on a topic negotiated with instructorEssay on a topic negotiated with instructor1-13Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Resources

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

You are required to purchase

  • God, Humanity and the Cosmos ed. C. Southgate (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 3rd edn 2011)

Recommended texts:

  • Brooke, J.H. Science and Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991)
  • Haught, J. God After Darwin (Oxford: Westview Press, 2000)
  • Lovelock, J. The Revenge of Gaia (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2006)
  • Peters, T and Hewlett, M. Evolution from Creation to New Creation (Nashville, Tn.: Abingdon Press, 2003)
  • Ruse, M. Can a Darwinian be a Christian? (Cambridge: CUP, 2001)
  • Southgate, C., The Groaning of Creation (Louisville: WJK, 2008)
  • Wilson, E.O. The Future of Life (London: Little, Brown, 2002)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Credit value30
Module ECTS

15

Module pre-requisites

None

Module co-requisites

None

NQF level (module)

5

Available as distance learning?

No

Origin date

28/02/2012

Last revision date

18/04/2019