BIL 375 Seminar in Biology:
Humans, Religion and Evolution

Instructor: Dr. Dana Krempels

Prerequisites and Requirements
All students must already have successfully completed BIL 160 (Evolution and Biodiversity) or equivalent.

Required Reading:

The Scoop

Class meets every Monday from 2:30-3:20pm in Cox 166.

A list of weekly readings can be found below, arranged by date. All students are responsible for all readings. Attendance is mandatory, and is monitored by the topic sheets. If you don't turn in a topic sheet, you'll be considered absent. One half a grade is lost for every absence, but you are allowed ONE excused absence.

  • Each week, one or a pair of student presenter(s) will provide an overview and outline of the readings, as well as lead the discussion on the week's topic, keeping everyone involved in the discussion.


  • Each week, every student must turn in a completed topic form on the week's topic, due at the beginning of class. No late topic forms will be accepted. These are not graded, but they serve as an index of how well you have prepared for class.

  • Participation in seminar discussions is an important part of your grade. I will monitor each student's level of participation in discussions each week, and assign points accordingly.

  • All students taking BIL 375 with Dr. Krempels are expected to participate in discussion of the seminar topic during class. Attendance is mandatory, and an unexcused absence will result in loss of one half a grade.

  • The main part of your grade will be based on my evaluation of the seminar you lead in class. While assessment of a presentation always has some subjective component, I will keep things as objective as possible by using this SEMINAR EVALUATION RUBRIC. Please review the rubric and be aware of the different components as you create your presentation, so you'll be sure to focus your skills appropriately.

  • Each student will select one week's readings from the list below, and be the moderator/presenter for that week. This will be presented (usually in PowerPoint, but you may be creative and do something different, as long as it is effective and accurate) to the class as an introduction to the topic on the assigned date.



    Text Readings


    Jan 14 Introduction and Overview

    Assigning Seminar Leaders

    Start Reading Now

    Jan 21

    Dr. Martin Luther King Day

    Reading Week

    No class this week

    Jan 28

    Genes and the Making of Creatures

    The Selfish Gene, Ch 1 - 4

    Naiomi Gunaratne & Preetha Kamath

    Feb 4

    Genes in Control

    The Selfish Gene, Ch 5 - 7

    Madelen Diaz & Shannon Glenn

    Feb 11

    Organisms Interacting

    The Selfish Gene, Ch 8 - 10

    Christian Cox & Brady Williams

    Feb 18

    Memes and Genes

    The Selfish Gene, Ch 11 - 13

    Ryan Steinberg & Alison Mathysse

    Feb 25

    Making Gods

    The God Delusion, Ch 1 - 2

    Justine Fenner & Nicholas Avianto

    Mar 4

    The God Person: Yes or No?

    The God Delusion, Ch 3 - 4

    Rob Rankin & Rachel Monahan

    Mar 11

    Spring Break


    No class this week

    Mar 18

    Religion and Morality: Biological Roots
    The God Delusion, Ch 5 - 6

    Sean Bouza & Connor Berger

    Mar 25

    The "Good" Book: Is it?

    The God Delusion, Ch 7 - 8

    John Paul Tarangelo, Anastasia Skliros & Joshua Bitran

    Apr 1

    Escape from Religion?

    The God Delusion, Ch 9 - 10

    Willie Lee & Ana De Andreis

    Apr 8

    The Church as Organism: Evolutionary vs. Social Science Perspectives

    Darwin's Cathedral, Ch 1 - 3

    Lea Delosa & Christhian Barrios

    Apr 15

    Secular Utility of Religion: Historical and Modern

    Darwin's Cathedral, Ch 4 - 5

    Samantha Castagna

    Apr 22

    Forgiveness and Unity

    Darwin's Cathedral, Ch 6 - 7

    Marwan Alenezi & Hunter Starkey

    For Writing Credit (optional):

  • If you would like to receive writing credit for this course, you must request this no later than the second class meeting.

  • In order to receive writing credit, you must not only write a 4000-word (about 20 pages) about the chapters you cover in your seminar, but find at least TWO ADDITIONAL REFERENCES on the same or related topic from another scholarly source.

  • An outline of your paper is due no later than the fifth week of the semester, and should be sent to Dr. Krempels, in MS Word format,

  • Once the outline is approved, the student may begin writing the paper itself. A first draft is due (in electronic format via email) in Dr. Krempels' email box no later than the Wednesday before Spring Break.

  • Dr. Krempels will read and edit the paper and return it to the student with comments included in color. 

  • Deadline for the finished, revised paper is the date of the last class meeting SUBMITTED ELECTRONICALLY VIA EMAIL ATTACHMENT in MS Word format.

    Preparing for the paper:

  • Select your topic and note due dates for the various stages of the paper on your calendar!

  • Use textbooks and library resources to find at least two additional recent publication (preferably since 2000) on your topic from refereed journals or textbooks

  • Internet resources are acceptable ONLY if they are from a refereed journal web site, or from a reputable .edu or .gov site that is officially dedicated to the topic you have chosen. No .com, .org or .net sites are acceptable as references.

    Format for the paper:

  • Your paper should consist of a comprehensive review of the sources you have used to elucidate your topic. This may be in the form of a literature review, and should include your own impressions and analysis of the research on the topic, its repeatability, rigorousness, etc.

  • The paper should include

  • For writing credit, the paper must be at least 4000 words (approximately 20 pages, 12 point font, double-spaced).
  • The paper should be organized in logical sections that follow the outline you devise before you write it.
  • All cited sources must be listed in a Literature Cited section at the end of the paper.