Dr. K's Classes:

BIOL 496 Senior Seminar: Ethics in the Sciences






FALL 2000

PREPARED BY: Dr. Scott S. Kinnes

CONTACT INFO: Office: Wynn 08

Office Hours: T 8:30 am - 9:30 am/ Th 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Ext.: 3362

E-mail: skinnes@apu.edu

Webpage: www.apu.edu/~skinnes

COURSE: BIOL496 Senior Seminar: Ethics and the Sciences

PREREQUISITES: Students enrolling in this course must have:

a. senior standing,

b. completed the majority of courses in the God's Word and the Christian Response general studies category,

c. completed the majority of the course work in their major, and

d. taken any one of the following "Nature" courses:

BIOL111 General Biology I

CHEM201 General Chemistry I

PHYC201 Fund. of Physics or PHYC252 Gen. Physics

COURSE CONTENT: The course will cover the basics of worldviews, science, and ethics while delving deeper into the details of various ethical perspectives and their implications for science. Specific areas of science will also be explored from a Christian ethics viewpoint through lectures, a senior thesis and student oral presentations.

COURSE OBJECTIVE: Students should increase their understanding of their discipline as a whole, its relations to other disciplines, and the ethical viewpoints that people bring to the sciences. They should be able to research, develop and present educated Christian views on topics within the sciences.


Wright, R. 1989. Biology Through the Eyes of Faith. Harper and Row

Sire, J. 1997. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog. IVPress

Rae, S. and P. Cox. 1999. Bioethics: A Christian Approach in a Pluralistic Age. Eerdmans.

Pechenik. 2000. A Short Guide to Writing About Biology. Scott, Foresman and Co. (or similar text).

Selected Readings: see supplemental readings list on website:



A. Graded requirements:

10% Chart of Worldviews

10% Case Study Analysis

10% Articulation of Origins Viewpoint

40% Senior Thesis

10% Oral Presentation

10% PowerPoint Presentation

10% Discussion contributions

NOTE: All papers, write-ups and critiques must be double-spaced and typed on a computer by the student. Disks must accompany final thesis paper.

No student will receive a "C" or better course grade without achieving at least a 70% average on the senior thesis, oral presentation, and PowerPoint presentation The other requirements cannot increase this average of less than 70%.

B. Grading scale:

'A' = 100-92

'A-' = 91.9-90

'B+' = 89.9-88

'B' = 87.9-82

'B-' = 81.9-80

'C+' = 79.9-78

'C' = 77.9-72

'C-' = 71.9-70

` 'D+' = 69.9-68

'D' = 67.9-62

'D-' = 61.9-60

'F' = 59.9-0

C. Course Philosophy:

1. Attendance: School policy is that "excessive absences will affect (sic) the student's final grade" (Faculty Handbook). The first two lecture absences will be ignored. After that, however, each absence will lower your final grade by four points so that an extra three absences will lower your grade one full letter.

It is your responsibility to explain your absences and to obtain all information presented during your absence. Excused absences include illnesses verified by a doctor's note, occasional absence due to extra-curricular activities and a few others as determined by me. An attendance sheet will be passed around during class for you to sign your name if you are present. Anyone caught signing another person's name will receive an "F" for the course.

2. Tardies: Three tardies will constitute an unexcused absence. If you are tardy be sure to see me after class to be sure that you are not counted absent. Failure to do so by the end of the period will result in an unexcused absence!!

3. Late Papers, etc.: NO late papers, projects, etc. will be accepted. The due date will be given far in advance so you will have plenty of time to prepare for it. The material is due during that day's lecture period and not just prior to midnight of that day! No early presentations will be allowed.

4. Participation: Unlike other Kinnes courses you have taken this one will not be a lecture format. It will be a discussion format in which its success will depend on you coming prepared and participating in the discussion. Failure to come to class prepared and to participate in the discussions will not only affect your grade directly through the 10% Discussion Participation portion of the grade but also indirectly in my overall impression of you. Without your active participation this class will be a real drag and will not serve its purpose in helping polish your education and prepare you for the next phase in your life.

5. Cheating: As this is a senior-level course in ethics, if you are caught cheating on an assignment/paper, you will receive an "F" in the course. All cases of cheating will be reported to the Dean of Students. If you are in doubt of what constitutes cheating, please refer to the University's Student Handbook.



Sept. 7 Course and paper intro & expectations

Sept. 12 The Writing Process Pechenik; Website

Sept. 14 Science/Theology/Philosophy Wright 1-4; Sire 1

Sept. 19 Concept of Stewardship Wright 9

Sept. 21 Concept of Personhood Rae/Cox 4, 5, 6

*Thesis Topic Due*

Sept. 26 Conference Day: Discussion of Thesis Topic

Sept. 28 Conference Day: Discussion of Thesis Topic

Oct. 3 Worldviews Sire 2, 3

Oct. 5 Worldviews Sire 4, 5, 6

*Articulation of Origins Viewpoint*

Oct. 10 Worldviews Sire 7, 8, 9

Oct. 12 Origins Wright 5-8

Oct. 17 Bioethics Rae/Cox 1, 2

Oct. 19 Science and Ethics of Assisted Reproduction Rae/Cox 3, 4

*Rough Draft Due*

Oct. 24 Conference Day: Discussion of Rough Draft

Oct. 26 Conference Day: Discussion of Rough Draft

Oct. 31 Science and Ethics of Genetic Engineering Rae/Cox 3, Wright


Nov. 2 Science and Ethics of Cloning Rae/Cox 3

Nov. 7 Science and Ethics of Gender Reading list

Nov. 9 Science and Ethics of Patient Rights/Health Care Rae/Cox 4, 8

Nov. 14 Science and Ethics of Euthanasia Rae/Cox 3, 4, 7

Nov. 16 The Finer Points of PowerPoint Kinnes Website

Nov. 21 Science and Ethics of Ecology Wright 9, 12

*Case Study Analysis Due*

Nov. 23 Thanksgiving Vacation

Nov. 28 Oral Defenses

*All Papers Due*

Nov. 30 Oral Defenses

Dec. 5 Oral Defenses

Dec. 7 Oral Defenses

Exam Week Oral Defenses

*Worldview Chart Due*


PURPOSE: To allow the student to apply the principles of ethics and theology to an area of interest to them within the various scientific disciplines while furthering their scientific knowledge in that area.

OBJECTIVE: To write a paper on a scientific topic with distinctly theological and ethical connections and foundations, to present it in front of your colleagues supported by a PowerPoint presentation, and to defend it before your professor.


Paper: 20 pages minimum

Presentation: fifteen to twenty minutes

PowerPoint: supportive of entire presentation

Defense: the ability to answer questions and to defend your position


Paper: college-level presentation

scientific content

theological/Biblical application

philosophical/ethical application

Presentation: according to the attached sheet

PowerPoint Presentation: according to the attached sheet

Defense: according to the ability to convince and support your



NOTE: The most important part of any project is the beginning. Whatever topic you select must lend itself to rigorous scientific examination and examination from a theological and ethical perspective. Failure to do either will affect your grade. Select your topic only after thorough review and research. See me for assistance.

Topic selection: On a first come, first selected basis but by Thursday, Sept. 21

Rough Draft: Thursday, Oct. 19

Paper: Tuesday, Nov. 28

Presentation: Weeks thirteen and fourteen and during finals week, on a first come,

first selected basis


PURPOSE: To give the student the opportunity to formalize their personal viewpoint of origins that explains and connects their Biblical and scientific understanding

OBJECTIVE: To write a coherent explanation of the student's viewpoint of how the cosmos and earth and its inhabitants, particularly humans, came to be.

REQUIREMENT: A two to three-page typed, double-spaced write-up explaining the student's viewpoint with sufficient Biblical and scientific support

GRADING: College level presentation; Biblical support; Scientific support; Cohesiveness of argument

DUE DATE: Thursday, Oct. 5


PURPOSE: To develop skills in critiquing a real-life situation within one's career in a constructive manner from a Christian perspective, based upon sound knowledge of the discipline as well as one's own faith.

OBJECTIVE: To read, analyze, and write-up one of the case studies in Rae and Cox's Bioethics.

REQUIREMENT: To write a two to three page analysis of any of the case studies.

GRADING: College-level presentation; Completeness of analysis; Quantity and quality of individual thought

DUE DATE: Tuesday, Nov. 21


PURPOSE: To develop skills in critiquing and analyzing major worldviews that you are likely to come into contact with in your future education and careers.

OBJECTIVE: To learn, analyze, and write-up each of the major worldviews presented in Sire's The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog.

REQUIREMENT: To complete the chart that will be provided to you covering the seven basic questions Sire believes are important to understanding and evaluating worldviews.

GRADING: College-level presentation; Completeness of critique; Quantity and quality of individual thought

DUE DATE: Exam week, during day of our last meeting