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Intelligent Design

The Bridge Between Science & Theology

Last updated Fri Nov 8 17:26:06 EST 2002

Have you ever struggled to understand what entropy is? Why do creationists say that evolution defies the "law of entropy"? What do evolutionists mean when they retort that the earth is "not a closed system"? In this course, we will examine the mathematical dual of entropy: information, or "specified complexity". We will read and discuss the book Intelligent_Design by William A. Dembski. Dembski argues that specified complexity is the result of choosing between alternatives, and is therefore how we recognize intelligence. This insight has implications for practical theology, "How can I recognize a genuine sign from God?", as well as the evolution debate. Don't worry, no advanced math is required.

Week 1 - Introduction

In the opening class, after introductions and paperwork, I will give a preview of things to come, and a brief introduction to the relation between intelligent choice, entropy, heat, memory, Maxwell's daemon, thermodynamic computing, and information theory. Any of these topics may be pursued further along with Dembski's agenda in later classes depending on interest.
A Painting of Maxwell's Daemon
Maxwell's Daemon

Part 1 - The History of the Descent to Naturalism

Week 2 - Recognizing a Genuine Sign

Before coming to class, please read Chapter 1

The purpose of the introduction was to show that science and theology, far from being isolated enquiries, are in fact intimately connected. For those who were not utterly fascinated by the brief overview of thermodynamics and information theory, Chapter 1 will be entirely different. We will use common sense, and Biblical and everyday examples to understand how to recognize true signs, from God, or any other intelligent being.

Week 3 - Miracles

Before coming to class, please read Chapter 2

The possibility of Divine intervention in the world is an essential Christian doctrine not shared by most world religions. This week, we will look at the kind of miracles which are not due to natural causes.

Week 4 - Natural Theology

Before coming to class, please read Chapter 3

Last time we examined the rise of naturalism - the theory that there is no choice, intelligence, meaning, or design apart from (perhaps) the initial creation of the Natural Universe. This time, we examine the fall of the last bastion of mainstream anti-naturalism in the 19th century, Natural Theology. This will conclude our history of naturalism. For the remainder of the book, we will look at its projected downfall via Intelligent Design.

Part 2 - A Theory of Design

Week 5 - The Cure for Naturalism

Before coming to class, please read Chapter 4

Having traced the rise of Naturalism, we now turn to its diagnosis and treatment. We look at how the Darwinist equivocates on the words "evolution", "creation", and "science".

Week 6 - Science and Design

Before coming to class, please read Chapter 5

This chapter makes the case that Empiricalism, not Naturalism is the key to the success of modern science. Now that design has an empirical basis for detection and measurement, it should be accepted as a valid form of scientific observation. Refusing to do so inhibits scientific inquiry when obviously designed systems are dismissed as "vestigial", rather than studied to discover their purpose.

Week 7 - Information Theory

Before coming to class, please read Chapter 6

The great myth of modern evolutionary biology is that information can be gotten on the cheap without recourse to intelligence. The truth is that in a closed system, information can only be destroyed - just as entropy can only increase. This week, we will examine how Mathemeticians look at information to see why.

Part 2 - The Bridge between Science and Theology

Week 8 - Science and Theology

Dembski argues that science and theology should be neither disjoint, nor in conflict, but offer mutual support where both are true via the logic of explanatory power.

Week 9 - Creation

Week 10 - Review

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