This course explores the respective limits of science, religion and philosophy.
To what extent can and does science threaten religious belief? Is the supernatural off-limits to science? Are those, like Richard Dawkins, who think science can potentially show that there is no God guilty of scientism – of supposing that science can answer every legitimate question? Are science and religion ‘non-overlapping magisteria’, as Stephen J. Gould claimed, with science focussed on the age of rocks and religion on the rock of ages? Can religious claims be laboratory tested, or empirically falsified? Or is this to misunderstand the nature of religious belief?
We also consider: if science and observation provide our only window on to reality, what room is left for philosophy, exactly? Can philosophical reflection reveal fundamental truths about the universe? If so, how? And if not, then what do philosophers do, exactly? Is philosophy ultimately a huge waste of time, as several prominent scientists suggested?