As students explore the biosciences, they may wonder how their religious identity intersects with scientific discoveries: Does affirming scientific facts compromise religious beliefs? Does religion explain scientific findings? How can they navigate these domains constructively?
We suggest that conflict is not inevitable, rather integrating both modes of knowledge is possible and can shape discovery-oriented and stable professional identities. Posing Big Questions allows for engaging these two bodies of knowledge, eliminates blind spots and ill-informed controversy, engenders innovative solutions, and enhances capacities for generating new knowledge.
To enhance Muslim students' awareness and abilities to address the relationships between bioscience and theology, a team of theologians, scientists and educators will craft a seminar series focused on five Big Questions related to the human being: its origin, its nature, its capacities, its malleability and its uniqueness. Lesson plans will identify overlap and tension, as well as strategies for resolution, between bioscientific and theological views. The series will be piloted with Muslim high school students in Chicago and pre-medical students at the International Islamic University in Malaysia. Thereafter teaching modules tailored for Muslim high school/college instructors will be created based on formal evaluation of the programs. These will be disseminated via professional development workshops and a website. Finally, podcasts and articles will introduce wider audiences to religion and science discourses over the human being.
Through its conduct and deliverables, our project will (i) increase public awareness of the relationships between bioscientific and Islamic theological views on the human being, (ii) enhance Muslim student and educator capacities to address perceived tensions at this interface, and (iii) increase their intention and preparedness to pursue further inquiry at this intersection.