“Well, I Thought I Might Learn Something:” Going Beyond the Limits of Science

Byron McCane – Wofford College


I’d like for us to give some thoughtful consideration to the fact that in every “complex, capacious, and unsolved problem of civic consequence” there are elements “where science doesn’t help us decide what to do.” I bring up this topic because I want to suggest some practical ways for us to recognize and understand the limits of science, so that we can transcend them. In each of the SENCER courses with which I have been involved, arriving at the limits of the science has been not the end, but the beginning. The most important learning has taken place when we have arrived at the boundary of what the science could tell us, and then kept going. In every case, crossing that horizon has been the gateway to discovery.

Topics of Interest to the SENCER Community

Discusses facets of interdisciplinary faculty collaborations at a liberal arts college that can be applied to any college or university

  • Life-long learning is not just the ideal to impart to students, but also for faculty.
  • Interdisciplinary discussions help to break down common misconceptions about a given discipline or topic.
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations hold challenges, but are extremely rewarding when they encourage students to explore the limits of disciplines and to integrate knowledge about a given topic.

Provides an example of a SENCER approach in the context of teaching and encouraging students to engage with controversial topics

Full Report

“Well, I Thought I Might Learn Something:” Going Beyond the Limits of Science

Download (PDF, 30KB)

About the Author

Byron McCane
Wofford College

Byron R. McCane is Albert C. Outler Professor of Religion and chair of the department of religion at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC, where he teaches courses on ancient religions, the Bible, and theories of religion. Educated at the University of Illinois (BA) and Duke University (PhD), he has also taught at Duke, Washington & Lee, and Converse College. An experienced field archaeologist, Byron has excavated in Israel at Zippori, Khirbet Qana, and Yotvata, and in Rome in the Forum Romanum. He is author of Roll Back the Stone: Death and Burial in the World of Jesus (Trinity, 2003), and his most recent article, “Simply Irresistible: Augustus, Herod, and the Empire,” was published this year in the Journal of Biblical Literature. He has appeared in documentaries on the History Channel, National Geographic, and the Discovery Channel. He is married to Ellen S. Goldey, also a professor at Wofford College. His lifelong ambition (as yet unrealized) is to play third base for the Cincinnati Reds.