Several courses in the Master of Divinity curriculum will undergo revision to raise awareness of the relevance of science and increase the competency of future religious leaders who can integrate knowledge and understanding of science into the public discourse of the faith communities they will lead.
- Biblical Studies: Genesis
As this course explores Genesis using a range of methodologies contemporary sciences, such as: archaeology, paleontology, geology, evolutionary biology, and other empirical resources for earth history have been included. Furthermore, students are asked to critically examine recent creationist claims concerning the age of the earth, the evolution of the human species, and the evidence for a historical worldwide flood.
Also, this course explores how humans embody “the image of God,” drawing on recent scientific and philosophical views on the nature of consciousness, including animal consciousness and the cosmos as consciousness.
This course now includes a trip to the National Museum of Natural History (the Smithsonian) in Washington, DC and/or a trip to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. There will also be guest lecturers from the biology and physics department.
- Biblical Studies: Myths of Creation
This course explores a variety of ancient and “primitive” mythological texts concerned with the origins of the cosmos, the gods, and humanity using selections from Hindu, Buddhist, Native American, Babylonian, Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek, Persian, and Norse mythology, which are studied within their respective cultures and in comparison to each other. Attention is given to various anthropological and psychological theories of myth and literary methods of myth analysis. Students also explore the creative reinterpretation of the Biblical images of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Consideration is also given to the survival of myth in the postmodern world and the relationship of the mythological imagination to scientific explanations of universal origins.
A new section has been added to this course on recent scientific understandings of cosmology, cosmogony, and the evolution of human life with a goal of fostering students’ appreciation for the results of scientific research into the nature of the universe, the history of the earth, and the development of human life. There will also be guest lecturers from the biology and physics department.
- Historical Studies: History of Christianity II
This course explores representative issues in the history of the church from the 17th to the 21st centuries with special attention given to the rise of “modernism” and “postmodernism,” exploring their impact on philosophy, theology, ecclesiology, and politics. New questions of science and religion have been introduced as important loci through which to consider how modernity/postmodernity have shaped the history of the church.
- Historical Studies: Scopes Trial, Darwinism & Anti-Evolution in American Religion
This course discusses the evolution and anti-evolution debate in modern America. It utilizes the Scopes Trial of 1925 as a case study for examining the debate. The purpose of this course is to help students understand scientific illiteracy in the church not only as a problem for the wider society but also as a problem that threatens the church and its credibility in the age of science.
- Theological Studies: Foundations of Christian Ethics
Through this course students explore fundamental questions about the nature of morality, including the relationship between God and morality, the nature of moral knowledge and moral motivation, the source and scope of moral responsibility, the meaning of moral terms, and the nature of moral judgements. This course now introduces contemporary scientific studies from evolutionary psychology, sociobiology, and neuroscience on attachment, emotion, parenting, moral cognition, moral motivation, and sexuality with the goal of exploring ways in which Christian ethics may contribute to a naturalistic ethical outlook. Furthermore, this course will help students recognize the importance of scientific facts as an “explanatory” basis for moral beliefs, while distinguishing them from the “justifying” grounds of moral beliefs. There will be guest lecturers from the biology and psychology departments and a field trip to the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM).
- Theological Studies: Philosophy of Human Nature
This course explores human nature using philosophical, theological, and scientific approaches. Through this course students will consider how developments in cognitive and life sciences contribute to our understanding of human nature, while also probing the philosophical and theological questions about personal identity, free will, consciousness, the mind-body relation, and immortality.
There will also be guest lecturers from the biology and psychology departments and a field trip to the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM).
- Theological Studies: Neuroethics
This course introduces students to central philosophical and ethical issues in neuroethics. In this course we explore two main areas of neuroethics: the neuroscience of ethics and the ethics of neuroscience. The neuroscience of ethics re-examines traditional philosophical ideas and issues through the lens of cognitive science, seeking to ground ethics on empirical science. The ethics of neuroscience investigates the ethical implications of the application of neuroscience and neurotechnology in medicine, law, and religion.
Photo: Ken Glaser/Corbis (National Geographic)