SCI556, SCI556R: The Creation-Evolution Controversy
Instructor: Gordon Wilson
Summer Term 2019 (May 27-August 23; Residency July 22-26)
This course will engage with arguably the most important watershed issue facing us today. Its importance stems from the fact that where one settles on this controversy determines one’s worldview, which of course affects everything. We will read Darwin’s Origin of Species and discuss how its timing, content, and rhetorical style caused a major paradigm shift away from theistic views that were widely accepted during and at the end of the early modern period. These views had been articulated well by scholars like William Paley (Natural Theology) and Carolus Linnaeus (Systema Naturae, etc.). What is Darwinism and its modern makeovers? What is its appeal? What are the cultural repercussions? What are the compromises between Christianity and Darwinism and their inherent dangers? What are biblical and scientific reasons to reject naturalistic evolution and its Christian admixtures? Are we at the cusp of a paradigm shift?
Our other readings will cover the waterfront of topics as we interact with some of the best minds and arguments on various sides of this complex and nuanced controversy. In so doing we will strive to avoid misunderstandings and ill-informed straw-man arguments. The course will lay a biblical and scientific foundation, and then examine the broad spectrum of views on origins so we may more clearly assess them.
We will interact with the evidences and various interpretations and arguments regarding key topics in this debate, including the origin of life, irreducible complexity, created kinds and the natural limits to biological change, biological natural evil, the fossil record, and the age of the earth. We will also see how differing starting assumptions yields different conclusions even while looking at the same body of facts. Prompted by our class readings and discussions, students will write a paper on one facet of the creation-evolution controversy after researching more deeply both sides of the issue.