Course Syllabus

IDS2935Quest 1: God, Humanity, and Evolution


Contact Dr. Edelmann

Jonathan Edelmann

Jonathan Edelmann, PhD



Department of Religion, Anderson Hall, Room 106

Office Hours M,W 9:00-11:30 am

My research is on Asian religions and philosophy, and on the intersection of Religion and Science. My interest began with undergraduate with courses on Buddhism, Hinduism and the philosophy and the history of science, and with graduate courses on evolution and religion, the Sanskrit language and Indian philosophy. Since then I have been fascinated by the relationships between science, religion and philosophy.

I am excited to share some of the newest research on these topics with a focus on how religious thinkers across the globe responded to Charles Darwin. I look forward to highlighting university resources to help your investigations. This course is student-centric, wherein you can discover new ways of thinking.

Please contact me if you have any concerns, questions, or suggestions for improvement. I am here to support your progress as best I can.


Brahim Afrit ( and Brady McCartney (

God, Humanity, and Evolution: How do the natural sciences inform our views on what it means to be alive and how do they chart a new future for natural life and artificial intelligence?This course explores how portrayals of the biological world in science, religion, and philosophy provide us with a diverse range of understandings. You will learn to think creatively and constructively about the relationships between evolutionary biology, and the many intellectual disciplines with which it intersects. Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory reshaped religion, philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and culture. This course focuses on some philosophical and religious responses to Darwin across and between religious and philosophical disciplines. It will set evolutionary theory within the larger history of science and religion, and examine theoretical models for understanding the relationships between science and religion. A. F. Whitehead said, “When we consider what religion is for mankind, and what science is, it is no exaggeration to say that the future course of history depends upon the decision of this generation as to the relations between them.” Although Whitehead said this nearly 100 years ago, it remains true today and will most likely be true in the the intellectual landscape of the 21st century.

Humanities (H) courses provide instruction in the history, key themes, principles, terminology, and theory or methodologies used within a humanities discipline or the humanities in general. Students will learn to identify and to analyze the key elements, biases and influences that shape thought. These courses emphasize clear and effective analysis and approach issues and problems from multiple perspectives.

Quest 1 Nature and Culture Description: Who are we in relation to the natural world? How have humans understood their role in the natural world and their responsibility to it? How do portrayals of nature reflect our values or self-understanding? A study of the ways in which humans see themselves and their place in the natural world. Topics may include conceptions of nature; how representations of the natural world have been used to express important values; humans in contrast to animals; human interventions in the landscape and the values that guide such designs; development, sustainability, and conservation; what religious traditions and texts have to say about humanity’s place in the natural world; and nature as a site for physically or spiritually healthy or harmful experiences. 

Class Meetings


Monday, Wednesday 12:50-1:40 pm (online)


Thursday (R) 12:50 PM-1:40 PM, R 3:00 PM-3:50 PM, R 4:05 PM-4:55 PM

Friday (F) 12:50 PM-1:40 PM, F 1:55 PM-2:45 PM, F 3:00 PM-3:50 PM

Required and Recommended Texts

All required texts are provided within the course website.


  • Elements of Style, W Strunk and E.B. White, 1999
  • Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives, John H Brooke, 1991

Materials and Supplies Fees: n/a.

All students will need access to a computer, the internet, and the university network to complete this course. Basic knowledge of word processing is also required. Each Module page and assignment can be accessed either from the Home page, the Modules view, or by clicking the Next button below (which will take you to the next item in the sequence).

Course Requirements

List of Graded Work


Description and Deadline



12 Weekly Papers



Weekly Papers should provide an analytic description of the author's argument,(s) and your evaluation of it. Papers should be submitted before 5:00 pm on Friday of Weeks 2-6, Weeks 10-15.

100-200 words

(this does not count towards WR)

300 in total, or 25 points each

Paper One, Analytic, Due Week Nine

This paper should analyze an essential question(s) from Weeks One to Seven. Students should use MLA or a related style.

1000 words (this does count towards WR)


Paper Two, Connection,

Due Week Fifteen

This paper should provide a critical reflection on your intellectual, personal, and/or professional perspective on an essential question(s) in the topics from Weeks Nine and Fifteen. Students should use MLA or a related style.

1000 words (this does count towards WR)


Mid Term Examination

Revise and resubmit Weekly Papers 1-6 before Friday 5 pm in Week Nine

Six Papers of 100-200 words each (this does not count towards your WR)


Final Examination

Revise and resubmit Weekly Papers 1-6 before Friday 5 pm in Week Sixteen

Six Papers of 100-200 words each (this does not count towards your WR)






 (Links to an external site.)


Writing Assessment Rubric

Information on University of Florida’s Writing Studio is here:





Papers exhibit at least some evidence of ideas that respond to the topic with complexity, critically evaluating and synthesizing sources, and provide at least an adequate discussion with basic understanding of sources.

Papers either include a central idea(s) that is unclear or off-topic or provide only minimal or inadequate discussion of ideas. Papers may also lack sufficient or appropriate sources.


Documents and paragraphs exhibit at least some identifiable structure for topics, including a clear thesis statement but may require readers to work to follow progression of ideas.

Documents and paragraphs lack clearly identifiable organization, may lack any coherent sense of logic in associating and organizing ideas, and may also lack transitions and coherence to guide the reader.


Documents use persuasive and confident presentation of ideas, strongly supported with evidence. At the weak end of the Satisfactory range, documents may provide only generalized discussion of ideas or may provide adequate discussion but rely on weak support for arguments.

Documents make only weak generalizations, providing little or no support, as in summaries or narratives that fail to provide critical analysis.


Documents use a writing style with word choice appropriate to the context, genre, and discipline. Sentences should display complexity and logical sentence structure. At a minimum, documents will display a less precise use of vocabulary and an uneven use of sentence structure or a writing style that occasionally veers away from word choice or tone appropriate to the context, genre, and discipline.

Documents rely on word usage that is inappropriate for the context, genre, or discipline. Sentences may be overly long or short with awkward construction. Documents may also use words incorrectly.


Papers will feature correct or error-free presentation of ideas. At the weak end of the Satisfactory range, papers may contain some spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors that remain unobtrusive so they do not muddy the paper’s argument or points.

Papers contain so many mechanical or grammatical errors that they impede the reader’s understanding or severely undermine the writer’s credibility.

  • The Writing Requirement (WR) ensures students both maintain their fluency in writing and use writing as a tool to facilitate learning.
  • The instructor will evaluate and provide feedback, on all of the student's written assignments with respect to grammar, punctuation, clarity, coherence, and organization.
  • WR Course grades have two components. To receive writing requirement credit, a student must receive a grade of C or higher and a satisfactory completion of the writing component of the course."

Weekly Schedule

Grade Scale

For information on how UF assigns grade points, visit: (Links to an external site.)


94 – 100% of possible points



74 – 76%


90 – 93%



70 – 73%


87 – 89%



67 – 69%


84 – 86%



64 – 66%


80 – 83%



60 – 63%


77 – 79%




Course Policies

IDS 2935, Quest 1, Nature and Culture, God, Humanity, and Evolution, Humanities (H), Writing Requirement (WR) 2000 (E2)

The official source of rules and regulations for UF students is the Undergraduate Catalog (Links to an external site.) and Graduate Catalog (Links to an external site.). Quick links to other information have also been provided below.


  • Academic honesty is important to the learning process.
  • Please learn about citing your written work at a website like this (Links to an external site.) or feel free to ask me about any questions  you have.
  • Try to learn about the process of academic writing from the assigned Readings and take time to reflect in an open manner with the views of your peers.

Please Note:

Our class sessions may be audio-visually recorded for students in the class to refer back and for enrolled students who are unable to attend live. Students who participate with their camera engaged or utilize a profile image are agreeing to have their video or image recorded.  If you are unwilling to consent to have your profile or video image recorded, be sure to keep your camera off and do not use a profile image. Likewise, students who un-mute during class and participate orally are agreeing to have their voice recorded.  If you are not willing to consent to have your voice recorded during class, you will need to keep your mute button activated and communicate exclusively using the "chat" feature, which allows students to type questions and comments live. The chat will not be recorded or shared. As in all courses, unauthorized recording and unauthorized sharing of recorded materials by students or any other party is prohibited.

Students  are  allowed  to  record  video  or  audio  of  class  lectures.  However,  the  purposes for  which  these  recordings  may  be  used  are  strictly  controlled.   The  only  allowable purposes  are  (1)  for  personal  educational  use,  (2)  in  connection  with  a  complaint  to  the university,  or  (3)  as  evidence  in,  or  in  preparation  for,  a  criminal  or  civil  proceeding.   All other  purposes  are  prohibited.   Specifically,  students  may  not  publish  recorded  lectures without  the  written  consent  of  the  instructor.

Contact and Feedback

Quest and the humanities require a open, civil, safe, and brave space wherein ideas are exchanged freely among students and faculty. I encourage this kind of discussion and we can learn from one another about this as the course progresses. I have talked to students about civil discourse here.

  • I expect students to be on-time for stated meetings and to submit work on time.
  • I look forward to learning about your intellectual interests and goals!

You can provide feedback on this course through the following channels:

  • UF Faculty Evaluations that will be available near the conclusion of the semester
  • Informal feedback
  • Talk to your advisor

Counseling Resources

Students experiencing either health or personal problems that interfere with their general well-being are encouraged to seek assistance through the university’s health care and counseling centers. Resources are also available on campus for students who wish to explore their career options.

You can also check out the UF Resources page for the many university resources, services, and support that are available to you.

 Image Credit

Image of Angel Live Oak from UF IFAS Extension