Writing Religion Assignment #3: Researching Religion and Science

Our recent readings suggest that religion and science have had a tense relationship in recent years, especially in America, where there have been loud, public confrontations between scientists and some Christian groups over issues such as whether/how to teach evolution and/or intelligent design.  As the conflicts we witnessed in our last unit focused on how religion affects our notion of the “good,” this one adds the knotty question of how we determine “truth.”  How do religion and science approach the question of truth?  Are their approaches reconcilable, or are they necessarily at odds—and if they cannot be reconciled, which approach should we favor? Select one issue over which there has been some recent territorial conflict between the discursive authorities of science and religion: your choices might include (but are not limited to) the ethics of undertaking research into cloning or stem cells, the morality of providing access to abortions, or the logic of teaching evolution vs. creationism. In your essay, argue how we ought to mix religious and scientific discourse in our public discussions of that issue.

Audience: Pretend you have been hired by a general-interest magazine to present an essay to its well-educated, general readers about this subject

Format: 4-5 double-spaced pages, MLA style

Advice:  To compose this essay, you will use the following sources: 1) Two of our readings from class, to provide context for the religion-science conflict; 2) One scholarly source found via the library’s scholarly databases, to inform you of the facts on the matter; 3) Two opposed general-audience sources found via the library’s newspaper/magazine databases, to demonstrate the current popular version of the conflict over this particular issue. Do not: simply summarize the issue in question without making an argument; give your view on scientific practices without specific reference and citation to scholarly resources; ignore the opposing popular and theoretical views on this issue. Do: learn the basic facts regarding the issue; identify the key points of debate and structure your debate around them; apply the theories of our class readings so that you can argue about which of them appears to make the most sense.

Type: Develop an analytical argument using original research that includes both primary and secondary texts

Rationale: This assignment asks students to begin to develop an argument through original research, emphasizing the difference between scholarly and popular sources.

Pre-Draft Activities:

1. Using Different Types of Sources (see pre-draft activity 3.1)

2. Using Library Databases *to follow library session* (see pre-draft activity 3.2)

3. Evaluating Web Sources (see pre-draft activity 3.3)

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