Emeritus Professor Charles Villa-Vicencio, UCT, Rabbi Azila Reisenberger, UCT, Emeritus Professor Anwar Mall, UCT, Professor Deon Forster, Stellenbosch University

Contemporary existence is located at the interregnum between science and religion. This course introduces what is perhaps the last frontier between open-minded believers, atheists, agnostics, empirical scientists, sceptics, and disillusioned denizens, concerning the beginning, the purpose, and the end of life. A big ask.

The history and broad principles of three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) are noted, rather than debated, as a reference point between empirical science and the history of theistic belief systems.

The nexus between science and traditional religion raises questions concerning reported and existential experiences that are part of life. Can such experiences be reduced to the intersect between nerve cells and the molecules of the physical brain? How is this related to the human sense of mystery, spirituality, secular humanism, and open-ended agnosticism?

Individual and communal identity is largely a social construction, attributable to colleagues, mentors, interlocutors, critics, companions, priests, rabbis, imams and specific communities. The twenty-first century Western society, however, challenges existing religious constructs, with statistics showing that an increasing number of people in the United States and Europe do not have a formal religious attachment.

The science of belief suggests a divide between those who turn their backs on established religion and those who reject modern scientific insights. The alternative is to explore again the confluence between the ‘spirituality of science’ and the ‘science of spirituality’.


Lecture titles

1.  The modern dilemma: science and belief Professor Villa-Vicencio

2.  When Jesus became the Christ Professor Villa-Vicencio in discussion with Professor Deon Forster

3.  The knowledge of heaven Professor Villa-Vicencio in discussion with Dr Azila Talit Reisenberger

4.  Where science and culture meet Professor Villa-Vicencio in discussion with Professor Anwar Suleman Mall





DATE: Monday 10–Thursday 13 January
TIME: 3.00 pm
COURSE FEES: R300 (online)/R440 (in person)