Course set to explore religion vs. science debate

Peggy Revell

Religion, science, and how the two go together is the subject of a weekly course being offered at St. John’s Anglican Church here, which all are invited to attend.
“In the past, science and religion have been seen as enemies,” noted Fr. Wayne McIntosh of St. John’s.
“And I think the most positive thing [from the course] is we can be a scientist and yet we can still be religious,” he added.
The 12-week course begins tomorrow (Sept. 30) and will run every Thursday at 7 p.m. at St. John’s.
“It’s definitely university-calibre,” Fr. McIntosh said about the lectures, which are delivered by Lawrence Principe of Johns Hopkins University, a professor of the history of Science, Medicine, Technology, as well as Chemistry.
Among many things, the course will touch upon various historical points where science and religion have met—such as Galileo and Darwin—as well as look at God’s involvement in the universe, and different readings and interpretations of Biblical narratives.
“The course is not simplistic by any means, it’s university level, but it’s definitely attainable—so anybody would be able to take it,” added Fr. McIntosh, likening it to the type of introductory course that would be offered at a university.
“What we do is we listen to the lecture which is on DVD form,” he explained about the weekly meetings.
“It’s usually about a 20-minute long lecture, and then we break off for coffee and goodies.
“Then we reconvene where we have a discussion,” continued Fr. McIntosh, noting each participant receives a workbook with both discussion questions that the group follows, as well as lecture notes from each week.
“And we’ll have a discussion based on that lecture and everybody will have an opportunity to say, ‘Oh, I liked what he said’ or ‘I didn’t like what he said here’ [and so on].”
When it comes to science and religion, Fr. McIntosh pointed to how often people see evolution and creation as two totally different stories “at odds with each other.”
“But this is a way of sort of bringing the two together because there is a way of them existing together,” he stressed.
“We can understand scientific research, developments in the past few years, and we don’t have to throw out our faith just because we embrace it,” he explained.
“We can embrace the two, there is a way to harmonize the two—we can have a relationship with both our mind and our soul.”
People of all faiths are welcome to participate, whether they are church-goers or not.
“We are an open group, whereby all opinions are welcome and all faith groups are welcome,” Fr. McIntosh said. “In fact, we encourage [different perspectives].
“The more variety we have, the better it is for us,” he reasoned. “We encourage that variety.”
This is actually the third time a group has come together to go through a course, with last one being a year-long one on the history of Christianity from the first century to Constantine (325 AD).
“Last year’s course was an all-year course, and people just stuck with it,” Fr. McIntosh noted. “And then they wanted to do this science course.”
Because this course is shorter than last year’s, ending around December, participants also will be selecting the topic for the next course to follow, he added.
The cost for this course is $10, and no pre-registration is required.