BIOLOGY 470: HISTORY & PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

INSTRUCTOR: DR. MICHAEL KUNZ
SPRING 2020


 

PART IV. Contemporary Issues:

(Tentative Schedule)

Major questions for this section: How have contemporary physics and astronomy challenged modern understandings of science? How can the philosophy of science help us analyze contemporary issues in evolution? How is contemporary science influencing our understanding of humanity? How can contemporary science be thoughtfully related to theistic understandings?

Mon. 4/6 Modern physics: Relativity Theory

  1. Readings:
    1. Barbour ch. 7 pp. 177-184
    2. DeWitt chs. 22 & 23
  2. Discussion: Is Einstein's theory of relativity a true revolution in physics or just an expansion of Newtonian physics?
  3. Topics
    1. Nova film: Einstein's Big Idea
    2. Special Relativity
    3. General Relativity
    4. Chaos Theory
    5. Non-linear compex systems and determinism
    6. Philosophical considerations
    7. Theological implications

Wed. 4/8 Modern physics: Quantum Theory

  1. Readings:
    1. Barbour ch. 7
    2. DeWitt chs. 24 - 28
  2. Discussion: How can the philosophy of science help us interpret quantum theory?
  3. Topics
    1. Waves, particles & the two-slit experiments
    2. Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
    3. Schroedinger's Cat
    4. EPR & Bell's Theorem
    5. Alternative philosophical interpretations of Quantum Theory
    6. Theological uses of complexity, determinacy & indeterminacy in nature

Fri. 4/10 GOOD FRIDAY HOLIDAY

Mon. 4/13 Current cosmology & Big Bang  Theory

  1. Readings:
    1. Barbour ch. 8
  2.    Discussion: Does modern "big bang" cosmology encourage or discourage belief in "creation" or God?
  3. Topics
    1. Monty Python's song The Meaning of Life: observations on the universe and our significance - found at http://www.care2.com/ecards/build/1/6043
    2. Scientific evidence for a "big bang"
    3. A short history of the universe.
    4. The big bang and the theology of creation

Wed. 4/15 Current cosmology & Design

  1. Readings:
    1. Barbour ch. 8
  2.    Discussion: Does current cosmology suggest a "designed" universe?
  3. Topics
    1. Contingent universal constants
    2. The anthropic principle & apparent design in the universe
    3. Contingency & determinism
    4. Multiple universe theories
    5. A new "Natural Theology" and Intelligent Design?

Fri. 4/17 Evolution, Intelligent Design & Creation

  1. Readings:
    1. Barbour ch. 9
  2. Discussion: Is there room for God in modern evolutionary theory?
  3. Topics:
    1. Origin of life theories
    2. Biological complexity and Intelligent Design theory
    3. Design, chance and theology
    4. Models of creation
    5. Artistic creator or engineering designer?
    6. Film Journey of the Universe (first half)

Mon. 4/20 Evolution, Intellegent Design & Creation (continued)

  1. Readings:
    1. Barbour ch. 9
  2. Discussion: Is there room for God in modern evolutionary theory?
  3. Topics:
    1. Film Journey of the Universe (second half)

 

Wed. 4/22 Human Nature and Human Values

  1. Readings:
    1. Barbour ch. 10
  2. Discussion: How are biblical and scientific understandings of human nature similar or different?
  3. Topics:
    1. Human origins: paleontology and genetics
    2. Differing Christian approaches to scientific understandings of human evolution
    3. Humanity, sociobiology & "the problem of altruism"
    4. The uniqueness of humanity

 

Fri. 4/24 Process Thought

  1. Readings:
    1. Barbour ch. 11
  2. Discussion: How have recent (20th century) scientific paradigms changed our view of nature?
  3. Topics:
    1. Traditional & contemporary views of nature
    2. Process thought
    3. Process theology
    4. Christian views of process thought

 

Mon. 4/27 Modern Science and Contemporary Theology

  1. Readings:
    1. Barbour  ch. 11
  2. Discussion: How can modern science and religion be integrated?
  3. Topics:
    1. Living the Questions film
    2. Film discussion
    3. tba

Wed. 4/29 God, Nature & Humanity in the 21st Century

  1. Readings:
    1. Barbour  ch. 12
  2. Discussion: How does God act in a universe understood to be governed by fixed laws of nature?
  3. Topics:
    1. Classical models of God's action in nature
    2. God of the Gaps
    3. God's action and natural processes
    4. Contemporary approaches to God's action in nature
    5. What is the role of humanity in nature?

Fri. 5/1 Conclusions and Questions

  1. Discussion: What are your most siginificant insights gained from the history & philosophy of science? What are your most important unanswered questions?
  2. Topics:
    1. Shared discussion
    2. Course evaluation

Mon. 5/4 8:00-10:00 Final Exam