Final Session of Class:
Student Project Presentations and Panel Discussion
Purpose and process in science and theology: the history, science and theology of the design argument(s) and the idea of “teleology” in creation.
Instructor: Dr. Linda Eastwood, discussion leaders and guest lecturers
Course Description: The “design argument” – the idea that God designed the world – has a long history. It was taken for granted for centuries as part of natural theology. Currently, it is undergoing revived interest because of new ideas in cosmology: “cosmic fine tuning” and “the anthropic principle.” However, some forms of the design argument were (and remain) challenged by Darwinian evolution. “New atheists” (firmly aligned with materialism and scientism) assert that Darwinian evolution means that ideas of design and purpose are dead. “Intelligent design” advocates, fighting for the traditional idea of creation according to a specific plan, claim scientific arguments for “irreducible complexity” in biology. This suggests an irreconcilable conflict between theology and science, and yet theology, to be relevant in today’s world, needs to engage constructively the natural sciences. The concept of a more open teleology, guiding to a future not fully determined, has been developed in “open” and “process” theologies, has found allies in scientific ideas of “emergence” and “self-organization,” and may give new life to the religious sense of divine design in the created order. We will:
– Explore historical and current expressions of the design argument.
– Examine the responses of “new atheism” and “intelligent design.”
– Explore the science, the often unstated metaphysical assumptions, and the theological implications (especially for theodicy and for human freedom) of the various positions on “design.”
– Analyze and critique a variety of theological approaches to the design argument, and their implications for human behavior.