Science and Spirituality (SYGN498)

Galaxy  Labyrinth  Orbitals

Instructor: Roel Snieder, with Harold Pratt, Cynthia James, Daniel Burns, Dena Samuels, and Larry Katzenmeier
Credits: 3
Day/times of offering: Thursdays 6-9 PM, Spring 2019
Course capacity: minimum of 15 students, a maximum of 30 students
For more information: rsnieder@mines.edu


Class description: The education at Mines focuses on the development and application of science and engineering, but leaves little space for the big spiritual questions that arise in most of us. In this class we explore the interface of science and spirituality, and we will study questions such as the following. How did how our worldview change in history? Is the universe a mindless machine? What does quantum mechanics teach us about this? What is the connection between mind and matter? (Does mind matter? Does matter mind?) Why can humans be devils or saints? What are the roles of rational thinking and intuition? This eclectic class is a true exploration in the sense that most questions above cannot be tackled as a science or engineering problem; instead we will dive in deep together. The class can be used as a substitution for a 400-level McBride elective, unless it was taken earlier as HNRS445.

Class topics (subject to change):


Comments from students who took the class earlier

"When I first signed up for the class, I figured it would either be "way out there" or all about science disproving spirituality. Dr. Snieder did a wonderful job in letting us explore our own journeys by providing a vast array of material while staying very respective of everyone's personal spirituality. The assignments proved very engaging, as for the first time in a while, the assignment asked what we thought, not what the professor expected to hear. I thoroughly enjoyed the class, readings, assignments, guest speakers, professor, and classmates, and would highly recommend the class be taught again, whether in McBride or outside." (Shurraya Polunci)

"Roel's class on Science and Spirituality has been one of my favorites here at Mines. The class discussions and guest lecturers have facilitated investigations into topics that often feel taboo in the engineering setting. It's with open curiosity that we explored the many possible meanings of life in greater dimension. We did not work through tired philosophies as one might expect, but instead shared in a dialogue on mind-body relationships and read the works of contemporary philosophers and theorists. The class has moved me to see the world in a new way and I highly recommend it to anyone." (Makenzie Parumiha)

"If there was one class I would have never expected to take during my time at an engineering school, it would be a class on the interaction between science and spirituality. While I am a person of faith, I had largely decided to separate the two as I felt uncomfortable talking about it in a scientific environment. Taking this course was the first time I felt comfortable engaging in open dialogue about my faith with other classmates, while also learning a lot about the complex interactions that exist in between science and spirituality." (Kenneth Li)


"This class took me (and arguably every single student and teacher involved in the course) on a personal journey. By integrating experiences into each one of our classes, something meaningful was able to be taken out of each evening we spent together. I learned how to better recognize and manage my emotions. I learned that having a purpose can mean defining your own meaning. I learned that there is beauty to be appreciated everywhere. I learned that it is possible for a group of people to interact without the usual burden of ego. I learned that being an engineer enhances my spirituality rather than impedes it. The course’s impact on me cannot be expressed fully in words, and its value cannot be emphasized enough, especially in an environment like the Colorado School of Mines. I would recommend this course to anyone." (Ali Downard)