Advanced Seminar in Religion and Science – Fall 2015

Purpose and process in science and theology: the history, science and theology of the design argument(s) and the idea of “teleology” in creation

Rev. Dr. Linda Eastwood Monday Evenings 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM, September 14 through December 7, 2015 Room 201, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1100 East 55th Street, Chicago, IL 60615
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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.

Offered by the Zygon Center for Religion and Science, the Advanced Seminar in Religion and Science is designed as a research seminar for faculty and graduate students.  Course credit is available via registration through the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) or cross-registration through member schools of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS); the LSTC course number is CC/RHTH601 (McCormick student course number is T523).  For more information, please visit

Advanced Seminar Schedule - Fall 2015

September 7, 2015Does not meetLabor Day - No ClassNONE
September 14, 20156:30 - 9:30 pmPurpose and Process in Science and Theology: Historical and Contemporary ContextsRev. Dr. Linda Eastwood, Religion and Science, McCormick Theological Seminary
September 21, 20156:30 - 9:30 pmGod, Fine-tuning, and the Multiverse: A Short Philosophical IntroductionDr. Neil Manson, Philosophy, University of Mississippi
September 28, 20156:30 - 9:30 pmMan, the Goal of the Evolutionary Process in Darwin's Origin of SpeciesDr. Robert J. Richards, History and Philosophy of Science, University of Chicago
October 5, 20156:30 - 9:30 pmCreation: Evolution, Contingency, and Intentionality Dr. Gayle Woloschak, Molecular Biology, Northwestern University
October 12, 20156:30 - 9:30 pmAn Open and Relational Account of Providence, Love, and Design Dr. Tom Oord, Theology , Northwest Nazarene University
October 19, 20156:30 - 9:30 pmDivine Design: Some Theological Considerations Rev. Dr. Anna Case-Winters, Theology, McCormick Theological Seminary
October 26, 20156:30 - 9:30 pmIs Teleology a Four-Letter Word? Dr. Cynthia Crysdale, Theology and Ethics, University of the South
November 2, 20156:30 - 9:30 pmCosmic Direction and the Spirit: On Teleology and EschatologyDr. Amos Yong, Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary
November 9, 20156:30 - 9:30 pmGod in Process, World in Process: Constructive Theology and the New Engagement with the Sciences Dr. Phillip Clayton, Theology, Claremont School of Theology
November 16, 20156:30 - 9:30 pmStudent Book Presentation & Group Discussion Rev. Dr. Linda Eastwood, Religion and Science, McCormick Theological Seminary
November 23, 2015Does not meetNo Lectures (Thanksgiving Recess at LSTC)NONE
November 30, 20156:30 - 9:30 pmDesign Passes Through the Human Mind Dr. Philip Hefner, Theology, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago & Zygon Center
December 7, 20156:30 - 9:30 pmStudent Project Presentations and Panel DiscussionRev. Dr. Linda Eastwood, Religion and Science, McCormick Theological Seminary
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