Science at Peace with Religion? − Creating a Dialogue between the Dialogues
Principal Supervisors

Dr. Ho Wai Ming
(Office of University General Education)
Dr. Julie C.L. Chiu
(Office of University General Education)
Dr. Pang Kam Moon
(Office of University General Education)
Dr. Wong Wing Hung
(Office of University General Education)


1 year and 11 months

Approved Budget

HK $100,000

  • Abstract
  • Brief write-up
  • Video Report


The General Education Foundation courses In Dialogue with Nature (Nature) and In Dialogue with Humanity (Humanity) have since 2012 offered much treasured opportunities for students to study classic texts on humanity and nature. While being well received, the two courses’ connection with each other can be strengthened for further development of a multicultural, cross-disciplinary vision among students. This project aims to establish a dialogue between the Dialogues and across cultures to deepen students’ reflection with the classics.

The Nature syllabus includes Newton and Darwin, the former with a mathematical model to explain the working of the universe, and the latter, a theory of evolution to account for the advance of species. In Humanity, students read that God created the world and everything in it, and human beings are distinct and purposeful creations of God. Students taking both courses are therefore presented with two drastically different views on the origin of the world and on humans’ place in it. The next question to ask is: Must science and religion be at odds? This is a question of global significance.

Creating a dialogue between religion and science will free students from narrow antithetical thinking. The project aims to foster reflection on the likely compatibility between the two, guiding students to examine a diversity of views from “giants” in Western science, contemporary religious leaders, Judeo-Christian theologians, and Chinese and German philosophers. Students will be inspired to rethink personal stance on faith and reason as approaches to truth and meaning-making in life, and to review the tension between their disciplinary and spiritual identities.

Online lectures will be developed to cover: (1) Newton’s and Darwin’s theories beyond those discussed in Nature, including their views on God and religion; (2) the Judeo-Christian interpretation of creation and views of science; and (3) Kant’s idea of God and faith in contrast with Confucius’ refusal to talk about transcendence. These lectures will be supplemented by interactive exercises and further readings on the topics.

The above deliverables will form the basis of extended tutorial discussion on Bible and Confucius (for Humanity) and on Darwin or Newton (for Nature). Kant will be introduced to add new impulses to the intellectual dialogue. Students will be encouraged to write a reflection in lieu of one of the regular assignments required by the courses.

Brief write-up

Project objectives

Since 2012, all undergraduate students of CUHK have to take the two GEF courses In Dialogue with Humanity and In Dialogue of Nature. They read the Bible in the one course, and Darwin and Newton in the other. The project aims to provide a platform for students to reflect on reason and faith, on the meaning of world and of life.

Activities, process and outcomes, and deliverables and evaluation

Interactive lectures with online study questions on Darwin’s evolutionism and creationism, on Newton’s universe and God’s creation in the Genesis, on Immanuel Kant’s critical evaluation of the proofs of God’s existence, as well as on Kant’s moral proof of God and Confucius’ attitudes towards divinity have been created. Together, these lectures widen students’ horizon in thinking about science and religion, freeing them from stereotyped contrasts. Newton believed in God, and the Biblical account of creation may be compatible with modern science. Kant criticized our intellectual attempts to prove that God exists, but in our moral behavior he found a new foundation for faith. On the other hand, morality is the centre of Confucius’ teachings, and yet he declined to talk about gods and divinities. Apart from interactive lectures, questions are provided for further discussion and reflection. On top of these, a short entry-exit psychological test has been developed to check students’ possible change of attitude towards science and religion after going through the course materials.

The interactive features will be open to all students who attend or have attended the GEF courses. Though created as flipped-class learning activities, they can easily be adapted for classroom teaching and discussion. The project team hopes that students not only attend the two Dialogues as mandatory courses, they can create a dialogue between religion and science, nature and divine.

Dissemination, diffusion, impact and sharing of good practices

The project was introduced in the “Teaching and Learning Innovation EXPO 2018”, and in the “2018 International Conference on General Education and/or overseas international conference” organized by the Office of University General Education, CUHK. Team members plan to attend other local and international conferences to disseminate the practices of interactive learning-platform design, and to exchange views on the subject matter and pedagogy of the project with local and international GE communities.

Video Report

Please click the following link for viewing the report.