Sunday, January 13, 2013

Professors Teach "God and Reason" Course at Waterloo

Reader HG points out that four professors at my university, the University of Waterloo, are teaching what is described as a "free not for credit course" at Waterloo, entitled "God and Reason".
It seems likely that this is not really an inquiry-driven enterprise, but more an evangelical one. Some evidence is that the poster says it is sponsored by "Power to Change Ministries", and the fact that there does not seem to be a single non-Christian or skeptic involved with the course. Probably students will be hearing a very one-sided presentation.

There is more detail here. I do hope the course is prepared with more care than this syllabus, which -- judging from the reference to "Shrum Science K building" which is at Simon Fraser, not Waterloo -- appears to have been copied wholesale from some evangelical boilerplate.

It would be great if some skeptical students could attend and blog about it.

19 comments:

Jeff Orchard said...

How embarrassing. This should not be called a course.

John said...

"The general argument throughout this course is that Christian faith is logical, reasonable and consistent with academic reasoning"

"The objective of the course is to provide students with a clear understanding of the logical foundations of the Christian faith."

Yeah, pure apologetic evangelism.

I'm sure the syllabus questions will be answered thusly:

[Week 1] Does God Exist? Yes, of course, the bible says so
[Week 2] Is the Bible Reliable? Yes, of course, god says so
[Week 3] Are Science and Faith in Conflict? No, in all cases of disagreement, science has got it wrong
[Week 4] How can a good God allow Evil & Suffering? Mysterious ways...ineffable...free will...shut up
[Week 6] Do We Still Need the Church? Yes, please give generously

John said...

Oops, hit "Post" too soon.

[Week 7] Who is Jesus? What About Other Religions? Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Light. All other religions really worship the devil.
[Week 8] Faith, What Difference Does It Make? Shut up and believe what you're told.
[Time allowing] Evolution or Creation? Where is the Evidence Pointing? All true evidence points to creation. We have tons of it. No, you can't see it.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Actually, I expect it will be very unlike that. I sat in on a course that Robert Mann taught once at Waterloo, and it's more stuff like the Kalam Cosmological Argument, Michael Behe, Dembski's claims about information, supposed concordance of the Big Bang with the biblical version, etc.

John said...

Oh. I see. Sophisticated apologetics.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Exactly.

tarobins said...

I was wondering if they had renamed another building on campus.

Para Dee said...

"Probably students will be hearing a very one-sided presentation."

Casey Luskin would gripe the same thing were there to be a panel of lecturers consisting of four evolutionists.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

And as we know, Casey Luskin is the model of honesty we should all strive to emulate.

Para Dee said...

I consider that a non-response.
Consider, instead of Luskin, an open-minded evolutionary biology student who is interested in hearing criticisms of evolutionary theory. He, too, would also gripe that the panel is presenting only one side.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Consider, instead of Luskin, an open-minded evolutionary biology student who is interested in hearing criticisms of evolutionary theory. He, too, would also gripe that the panel is presenting only one side.

I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were joking.

Please don't bring up the old "criticisms of evolutionary theory" canard. You are welcome to point to such criticisms in the peer-reviewed biological literature. Claims by ID hacks don't qualify.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

I should have added that if you attend a first course in evolutionary biology, the professor typically addresses the misplaced criticisms of evolutionary biology in the first few lectures. Little time is spent on it because the criticisms are so weak. There is only so much time for
foolishness in a science course.

Jeff Orchard said...

I registered for the course. I can't wait to start learning stuff.

ChuckFInale said...

I know me and a few other sceptics plan on going to as many lectures as we can stomach.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Jeff and Chuck: Please blog it if you can! And send me a link.

Narwhal said...

"I should have added that if you attend a first course in evolutionary biology, the professor typically addresses the misplaced criticisms of evolutionary biology in the first few lectures."

But evolutionary biology consists of thousands upon thousands of sub-theories, and so many of them are criticized from biologists within the field. Not "misplaced" at all. The ID guys like to gather these criticisms together to make a case against the whole theory, but that's their problem. The problem with all too many professors is, unfortunately, that they don't spend enough time talking about the individual valid criticisms. So things do get a bit one-sided.

Para Dee said...

"I should have added that if you attend a first course in evolutionary biology, the professor typically addresses the misplaced criticisms of evolutionary biology in the first few lectures"

And I'm sure he gives that side a fair shake.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Absolutely, Mr. Dee. Just like when we discuss geology, we might mention that people used to believe the earth was flat, and then we go on to real science.

Jeff Orchard said...

I just attended the first lecture, and blogged about it here.