Friday, June 26, 2009

The intersection of science, religion

     When philosophy teachers ask students to listen to the little voice in their heads, they’re usually speaking figuratively. Not Robert Snyder. The WSU instructor’s new fall online course will use podcasts to explore the intersection of science and religion.
     The podcasts (audio played through an iPod or similar device) will consist of lectures from top physics instructors. “I am a scholar of religion and philosophy, not a scientist,” Snyder said. “I am using podcasts of scientists to provide that expertise.”
     Philosophy 413, Mind of God and Book of Nature, also uses old-fashioned textbooks, but “podcasts provide a different type of delivery for students with different learning styles,” he said. “I want to find and use as many different delivery styles as there are learning styles.”
     More... Snyder was born in Bavaria, and came to the United States at age 2. He graduated from the University of Texas, Austin, with a major in history and a minor in philosophy. After earning his B.A., he tried a variety of jobs, becoming a construction worker, a monk, and a junior high school teacher. Eventually, he enrolled in the California Institute of Integral Studies, where he earned a master of arts in philosophy and religion, then a doctorate in religion and Asian philosophies.
     He taught philosophy at the University of Idaho, and biomedical ethics at Lewis and Clark State College, before coming to WSU as the director of development for the WSU Museum of Art. After four years of fund-raising, he returned to teaching and joined the philosophy department.
Snyder looks back to his undergrad years when talking about the new online course.
     “One reason I am excited about this class is that I was a biology major for the first two years of my undergraduate studies. I studied biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and other sciences,” he said. “This is an opportunity to incorporate contemporary developments in the sciences with philosophy.”
     The interdisciplinary course will also tap into theology, history, sociology and psychology. But a crucial part of the learning experience won’t come from podcasts, books, or videos. Snyder believes those who pursue wisdom also have wisdom to offer from their own lives and experiences. “We will endeavor to enable one another to have a good understanding of the world,” he said.

     If you have iTunes software, you can check out a podcast for yourself. Here’s a link to Science and Religion: Probably Not What You Think.

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