PHI1007 : Faith, Reason and the Cosmos

  • Module Leader(s): Dr Gerard McCartan
  • Owning School: Chemical Eng & Advanced Materials
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To explore the interrelation of the long established cultural, philosophical and religious interpretations of the cosmos and the advances in our knowledge of the Universe made in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Original Summary:
This interdisciplinary module draws on material from mythical, Christian, philosophical and cosmological backgrounds to explore our perception of the physical reality that surrounds and nurtures us.

Outline Of Syllabus

Creation, as conceived in the ancient world. The view from Babylon. The view from Egypt.
Genesis and the interpretation of Augustine. Hermeneutics.

When did the world begin? The view from the bible. Noah's flood.

Reason prevails. Thomas Aquinas and the five ways. The relationship between faith and reason.

Conflicting Evidence Ussher and the biblical interpretation of the time of creation.
The view from Sicily. Buffon and the hot start. Hutton and the rocks of ages.
Darwin and the life of the world. Is creationism dead? The flood found?

Creation, as seen through the eyes of enlightenment. Creation in a formless Universe.
Kant and Laplace. Creation of the solar system. Grasping the primeval material.

How the Universe began- 21st century style. The birth of the Universe - creation out of nothing?
Is the conflict solved?

A sense of purpose The search for meaning in the cosmos.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion101:0010:00Preparation and completion of essay
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture141:0014:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study701:0070:00Review lecture material and prepare for small group teaching.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The material in the module is drawn from a wide range of topics and the significance of the material is seen through the interplay of the various aspects. The lectures deliver the essential information and provide a nucleus of ideas to base further private study of the recommended reading references. Seminars offer opportunities for students to test their own understanding through debate about the issues raised in the module.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A1002000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Assessed report of 2,000 words.

The concepts presented in the module require considerable evaluation by the student. The most appropriate way to approach this is through a written account. The two formative class essays provide the opportunity to consolidate their understanding of the material uninhibited by the need for significant assessment. The summative long essay tests knowledge and understanding of the module material and the ability to present issues and to make a reasoned judgement of those issues.

Reading Lists


Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.