THREE SIGNIFICANT FEATURES OF "SCIENCE & RELIGION: Cosmos to Consciousness"
1. THE NATURE OF SCIENTIFIC AND RELIGIOUS THOUGHT This section will explore the different viewpoints, concepts, methods, and
traditions of science and religion. In antiquity, science had not separed from
the sacred. The Latin word scientia was applicable to any system of belief
characterized by rigor and certainty. It was common in the Middle Ages to refer
to theology as a science (scientia). The development of empirical science during
the Renaissance led to tension with traditional religion. We will explore
differences and similarities between science and religion as well as the roles
of models and paradigms. The religious doctrines or symbols of creation, contingency,
consummation, providence, revelation, and eschatology will be discussed in relation to science.
2. THE EVOLUTION OF THE COSMOS and CONSCIOUSNESS versus CREATION
The goal of this unit is to understand and to relate the different perspectives of
(1) the evolution of the cosmos from the "big bang" to complexity, life, & consciousness and
(2) the religious doctrines or symbols of creation, contingency, & eschatology.
Prof. Owen Gingerich"s video lecture, Modern Cosmogony & Biblical Creation, will examine the Anthropic
Principle together with theological and philosophical issues raised by "Big Bang" cosmology. Prof. Robert J. Russell's
essay, Cosmology from Alpha to Omega deals with creation ex nihilo (from nothing), the relation of dynamic chaos to
God's immanence, and the "omega point" or "end of the world." We will then discuss self-organization in the cosmos
and the evolution of life and consciousness. Prof. James Skehan's lecture, Evolution of the Earth through Time,
distinguishes between the geological origins of the earth and the religious story in Genesis, which deals with the
relationship between God, humans, and the world. The "Evolution of Evolution" began when Darwin's theory was
interpreted as the competitive "survival of the fittest." This is paradoxical to the modern understanding that complex
life emerged only 600 million years ago with the "Cambrian Explosion" made possible by cell cooperation .
It took 3 billion years for cells to discover this. Is the evolution of life due to chance or/and design?
Biologists have a difficult time agreeing on a definition of life. Complexity theory defines life as being "on the edge
between chaos and order." Theologian, Paul Tillich, describes life as the polarity of "dynamics and form.."
Theologian Philip Heffner describes "evolution as the creative process for the emanation of the universe and the
emergence of human freedom." 3. THE SCIENCE-RELIGION DIALOGUE
Astrochemist, Rev. Barbara Smith-Moran, will present a lecture
JACOB'S LADDER: Connecting Cosmology & Theology." This will summarize the biblical and medieval unity of
science and religion as well as Whitehead's and Cobb's "process theology." We will discuss the advantages and
limitations of different ways of relating science and religion: conflict, independence, dialogue, and integration.
The creativity of both scientific insight and religious revelation is a way of integrating science and religion.
Creative imagination connects scientific data to theory and religious experience to belief. Galileo's scientific creativity
led to conflict with the organized church. Yet his unwavering faith in his "God in Heaven" was a source of courage.
Einstein lived by a deep faith in the laws of nature: "I want to know what God thinks, the rest are details." He believed
in a non-personal God who did not interfere with natural events. Tillich answered Einstein' disbelief in a Personal God
by interpreting "God" as a "suprapersonal" symbol of an "I-Thou" (rather than an "I-It") relation.
Course Teaching Methods and Grades
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