and virtual Wunderkammerns



Training Research Pioneers at the Frontiers of Biology
The THRESHOLD PROGRAM was a five-year pilot project in biological research-oriented curriculum based in the Division of Biology in conjunction with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Students in the junior year began a series of special classes which provided superior preparation for careers in biological research, medicine, and allied fields. In this program students will



Science begins and ends in wonder.
This continuing inquiry tracks and interprets recent theoretical and applied thinking about teaching and learning as it relates to science and the relationship of science to other elements of the liberal arts curriculum. It also examines the importance of (1) providing students with "threshold" courses that introduce them to science and its role in society in general and their chosen discipline in particular, and (2) engendering a dialogue between disciplines united by their interest in creative problem solving. The questions addressed by science and the answers obtained represent only a fragment of the human enterprise, but it is a fragment which has transformed the world and our ways of thinking about it. To clarify the manner in which this fragment fits into the human endeavor our first concerns should be with the motives and methods of SCIENCE, regarded as a human endeavor: an open system of inquiry. Because science is represented, at least in part, in all other areas of the curriculum, most of which have adapted to the unique nature of the problems they have evolved to solve, these concerns are interdisciplinary and their pursuit is likely to engender a fruitful mutual understanding of humanistic and scientific approaches as well as nurturing talent so informed.

Dreams represent the Machinery of Narrative.
The Biology of Dreams Project explores the proposition that dreams (like Marcuse's (1953) belief about phantasy) link the deepest layers of the unconscious --in my view, basic biology-- with one of the highest products of consciousness --shared narrative.

My interest in dreams and narrative are yoked together because I believe that the insights of one can inform the other. Narrative may be the supreme expression of the human capacity for ordering experience as we explore the possibilities and boundaries of our relationships with our environments and with each other. Narrative knowing may serve our personal needs but also community and without it we become (as Aristotle holds) as like beasts or gods. Dreams are like narrative in that they are more pure (in their absence of intentionality) and transparent (like phantasy, immune to the Reality Principle), although manifest dreams are transformed in accordance with needs to repress or constrain. Like Plato (in The Republic) "In all of us, even in the good men, there is a lawless wild-beast nature, which peers out in sleep."


The Centaur embodies our physical, spiritual, and intellectual strengths --and weaknesses
In the Jack Reese Galleria of the great Hodges Library of the University of Tennessee the art and artifacts of THE CENTAUR EXCAVATION AT VOLOS has found a permanent home. This reconstruction of a Centaurian burial site was assembled by Professor William Willers of the University of Wisconsin in the mid-1980s before being moved to the University of Tennessee. This controversial reconstruction has -as intended-- provided the catalyst for countless discussions about (for example) biological possibilities, mythological realities, cultural transmission, psycho-dynamic representations, and occasionally the possibility of an elaborate hoax. As the embodiment of the ideal integration of physical, spiritual, and intellectual strengths, the Centaur is a prominent candidate for University mascot.

Science (and religion) begin and end in wonder.
Exploring the spiritual dimensions of the scientific enterprise, the common origins and goals of science and religion, and science as both a cause and consequence of spiritual development. Related websites.

Resources for reviewing the relations between SCIENCE and the SPIRIT

"The War Between Science and Religion: Sibling Rivalry and Reconciliation"
SCIENCE and RELIGION sometimes seem to be at war with one another. They appear to compete for the "truth." As a scientist and teacher --if not as a Unitarian-- the real or perceived “truth” is a central concern of mine: as a teacher I have found that some “truths” are stepping stones to others (are these “lower and higher” truths?); as a scientist I'm perpetually concerned with the validity of data (perceived truth?); Seeking spiritual growth in a community of like-minded colleagues I reflect frequently on the "validity" of my beliefs. (12/8/96)

"The Higher Truth"
In speaking of the ancient Greek legends, the Roman mythographer Sallust said, "These things never were, but always are." Or become: as Wm James put it, "Truth happens to an idea. It becomes true, is made true by events. Its verity is in fact an event, a process: the process namely of its verifying itself, its veri-fication. Its validity is the process of its valid-ation." And truth unifies: it is here where art and science fuse: "When truth is sought by the most gifted investigators and creators, apparent gaps between art and science disappear. Havelock Ellis indicates that 'we have to recognize that the true man of science is an artist...' And art is an activity (the products of which are "artifacts"); In the end, Truth may be more appropriately regarded as a verb than a noun. (11/27/94)
"Dreams: The War Between Truth and Reality"
Dreams are passages; few of us think to dwell upon the doorways we pass through, but great architects knew better: like the proscenium arch of the theatre, like a picture's frame, they demarcate boundaries and focus our attention. It that way they are much like prayer. They set a boundary between what we are accustomed to --our everyday waking reality with its vast repertoire of expectations built by years of experience-- and what transcends the possibilities of that mundane reality. For many of us, our dreams are our ART FORM: This is because dreams do that one essential thing that all art must do: Dreams, like art and like prayer, can focus our attention, open our inner eyes, and provide us with fresh perceptions of the world --the universe- - and thereby recreates the world for us --indeed they can recreate us! (12/1/91)
ADULT Religious Education Syllabi
Altered States: The Psychobiology of the Spirit
Nature and Spirit
Science and Religion as Ways of Knowing
Catching the Thread of Your Spirituality