The Meaning of Life through Science and Spirituality

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Fall 2017 quarter

Taught by

comparative religion
square yu
marine science

The search for scientific and social understanding has been the subject of political, spiritual and ethical conflicts for millennia. These conflicts are now, more than ever, struggles for power and control.

Climate change, peace, and social justice: these topics straddle multiple realms of thought and escape simplification. The natural sciences and spiritual traditions share an underlying fascination with creating coherent pictures of reality, attempting to understand, at the most basic levels, what makes the world tick. Although they use very different methods for seeking that understanding, they both seek to make visible what is usually unseen. But these similarities of purpose are often obscured by dramatic disagreements between some scientists and some religious people.

In this program, we will explore the concept of reason as seen from the perspectives of scientific and spiritual traditions. Many people think there are deep disagreements between the teachings of religions and the teachings of modern science. For example, how should we think about the claims of evolutionary theory, fundamentalist religious movements, and the so-called New Atheist movement? We will inquire as to whether there are rational principles that can decide these competing claims. How do social and cultural forces shape modern science? Can religion be rational? Can science be irrational? Students will gain knowledge in philosophy, religious studies, science, and current affairs through lecture, seminar, and workshops.

We will visit some local tribal communities and learn about the deep spiritual connections these communities have to the land and the plant and animal life found there.

Program Details

Fields of Study

philosophy philosophy of science religious studies

Preparatory For

philosophy, philosophy of science, and religious studies


Fall Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Monday, September 25 at 9:30am (Sem II A1105)

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning


$10 for entrance fees and supplies.


2017-09-08Fee reduced (from $140 to $10).
2017-06-19This program now accepts enrollment of all class levels (Fr-Sr).
2017-05-18This course is now open to sophomores
2017-05-16New fall opportunity added.