AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 112 Astronomy Teaching Through Humanities
Poster, Wednesday, January 12, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[112.08] Teaching Critical Thinking through a course on Science and Religion

H. L. Shipman, J. J. Jordan (U. of Delaware)

The relationship between science and religion is, according to the public debate, rather stormy. It doesn’t have to be this way. Since 1998, an astronomer (Shipman) and a philosopher (Jordan) have team-taught a course with a more constructive approach. This course has a recognized role in the University’s General Education program and in the philosophy major. As overall course goals, we hope that our students will be able to:

• exhibit critical thinking skills in being able to tell the difference between good arguments and bad arguments in this area

• recognize that the relationship between science and religion is not necessarily an antagonistic one.

We accomplish these goals by focusing the course on four major issues, namely:

• Does Big Bang Cosmology leave room for a Creator?

• Can a rational person believe in miracle reports?

• In the light of modern science, what does it mean to be human?

• Can a theist, someone who believes in God, rationally accept the scientific theory of biological evolution?

We have evidence in the course to evaluate student progress towards our goals. Student responses to a pre- and post-testing methodology, where they responded to the same assignment at the beginning and at the end of the course, were classified as seeing the relationship between science and religion as confrontational, distinct, convergent, or transitional between distinct and convergent. Preliminary analysis of the student responses shows a significant shift away from a confrontational position and towards a more convergent position.

The development of this course was supported by the John Templeton Foundation’s Science and Religion course program. H.L.S.’s scholarly work integrating science research and science education research is supported by the National Science Foundation’s Distinguished Teaching Scholars Program. DUE-0306557),

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.udel.edu/physics/scen344/. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: harrys@udel.edu

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