Neuroscience, Evolution, and Theology

This course, taught by Scott C. Alexander at Catholic Theological Union, introduces students to the story of what has always been and what will continue to be the critically important relationship between science and theology. It will proceed by constructing a narrative arc comprised of the following six elements: 1) an examination of the history of holistic approaches to “truth” (beginning specifically with the shared kalam tradition of medieval Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) through a focus on the power dynamics of epistemological paradigms and the complex relationship between concepts of “reason” and “revelation” in these paradigms from the medieval period to the post-modern era; 2) an exploration of the challenges posed by leading edge scientific (especially neurological) research into human behavior to traditional religious metaphysics of human personhood and the theological underpinnings of key legal concepts such as mitigated free will; 3) a review of what recent neuroscientific research reveals about the nature of punishment, the biological effects of poverty and the implications of this research for theologies of criminal and social justice; 4) a review of what neuroscience teaches us about us/theming as a basic human behavior and what the implications of this knowledge might be for theologies of “otherness” and “othering”; 5) a brief inquiry into the theological implications of psychiatric research into individual identity formation teaches us about group identity formation and especially the difference between adaptive and maladaptive models of leadership in group identity formation and maintenance; and finally 6) what an accounting for the neuroscience of human behavior tells us about the telos of theological education in the early 21st century CE.

  • Course Categories: General Theology
  • Science Topics: Neuroscience, Brain, & Mind
  • Seminaries: Catholic Theological Union
  • Syllabus: Neuroscience, Evolution, and Theology
  • Tags:
    neuroscience, behavioral sciences, free will, personhood, social justice, criminal justice

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In furtherance of the AAAS mission of advancing science in service to society, AAAS|DoSER’s role in the Science for Seminaries project is to support efforts to integrate science into seminary education. AAAS|DoSER does not advise on or endorse the theological content of the participating seminaries.