WILLISTON -- Are certain areas of human life beyond the reach of science? Can religion provide answers or insights for the environmental movement? How do science and religion reconcile the evolution debates?
These and other questions will be explored in a new course this fall at Saint Michael's College called Science and Religion, to be taught by Dr. James Byrne, professor of religious studies, and Dr. Doug Green, professor of biology.
One of Dr. Byrnes principle interests is Faith in the Postmodern Age, and one of Dr. Green's major research interests is evolutionary biology. Thus, these scholars will raise difficult questions that feed the 21st century dialogue between, as Dr. Byrne puts it, religious worldviews and the achievements of modern science.
Professor Byrne, author of three books, most recently God: Thoughts in an Age of Uncertainty, indicates the course will explore the limits of the scientific method. For instance, are there areas of human life beyond the methods of science? What is humanitys relationship to the natural world? How can the great religious traditions enhance the environmental movement? How best can we understand the evolution debates? How do we explain the astonishing fact of a universe that gives rise to intelligent life? And so forth.
Professor Byrne recently received a grant from the Templeton Foundation, which funds progress towards research or discoveries of spiritual realities, that enabled him to attend a major conference in Mexico in January 2007. He earned two degrees from Gregorian University, Rome, in theology, and a doctorate from the University of Dublin, Trinity College, with a dissertation on the theological implications of the postmodern crisis of continuity.
Professor Green earned his bachelors degree in biology from Stanford, a masters in biology from Princeton, a masters in computer science from Worcester Polytechnic, and a doctorate in biology from Princeton. His current interests are in the evolutionary development of higher plants and in bioinformatics. He is doing research funded by a grant from the Vermont Genetics Network examining the genetic structure of forests and the spatial patterns of reproduction for individual trees. Results from this work could provide the foundation for studies of environmental impact on genetic patterns in the forest, and other areas.
The Science and Religion course, already nearly fully enrolled, will host several additional Saint Michaels faculty speakers who have volunteered to help teach the course, according to Professor Byrne.
Saint Michaels College, founded in 1904 by the Society of St. Edmund and headed by President John J. Neuhauser, has been identified by U. S. News & World Report for 17 consecutive years as one of the top15 Masters Universities in the North. A liberal arts, residential, Catholic college located in the Burlington area of Vermont, Saint Michaels was recently invited to sponsor a chapter of the prestigious academic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa, on campus. Saint Michaels has 2,000 full-time undergraduate students, and some 500 graduate students and 200 international students. The College was named by Newsweek magazine a Hidden Treasure, one of 30 colleges recommended most frequently by guidance counselors for being schools that deserve more national recognition. Saint Michaels is included in Princeton Reviews The Best 366 Colleges: 2008 Edition.