The Bridge Between Science & Theology
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
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,
thermodynamic computing, and information theory. Any of these topics
may be pursued further along with Dembski's agenda in later classes
depending on interest.
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,
This will conclude our history of naturalism. For the
remainder of the book, we will look at its projected downfall via
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
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
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