Subject: Science

Intelligent Design and Creationism

Christians believe in the divinity, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Atheists examine, test and accept the facts of natural phenomena. Intelligent Design/Creationism will be shortened to ID/C in this lecture. They are combined because Intelligent Design is an attempt by proponents of Creationism to shed its association with religion and wear the cloak of science. What is ID/C? How does it define itself? What are ID/C’S stated goals and objectives? What scientific principals does it use in its approach to solving the many phenomena found in nature? What methods does it use to communicate its many ideas? Does ID/C have a history or has it freshly emerged? When you Google search the subject Intelligent Design on the web 43,400,000 results are obtained. At the bottom of the first search page, 8 sub categories list over 4500 titles each. On Amazon.com can be found 10,205 books offering support for ID/C,

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Evolution and Creationism

This lecture continues the discussion of the war between science and religion, the subject this time centering on evolution versus creationism and how that struggle has developed in the United States. I would like to briefly go over some of the tenets of the theory of evolution and then a few of its practical applications for the present day. Biology, particularly evolutionary biology, is one of atheism’s touchstones. The publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859 opened the way for the adoption of scientific naturalism. It has changed modern man’s worldview, exchanging, for many people, the belief in a deity for an understanding that living things are the end result of chemical laws, natural selection and random variation. Evolution Here are the basic tenets of evolution: A species is a population of organisms that interbreeds and has fertile offspring. Living organisms have descended with modifications from species that lived

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Evolution Overview

In 2005, the champions of evolution waged yet another battle against the continuously evolving creationist movement.  The stage this time was in Dover, Pennsylvania, where the local school board voted to institute the policy of reading aloud a disclaimer in ninth grade science classes that evolution was a theory and not a fact, that gaps existed in the theory for which there was no evidence, and that On Pandas and People, a text from the intelligent design faction, was an alternative text to read.  Parents brought a lawsuit against the school district, and with the aid of the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Pepper Hamilton Law Firm, a major trial was commenced that would help determine the state of science in United States public schools. The lawsuit argued that the school district’s policy was unconstitutional, and after a (biblical) forty day trial, Judge John E.

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Physics, Cosmology, and Astronomy

Physics is the branch of science that applies scientific methodologies to understand the most fundamental principles of nature: matter and energy and how they interact.  A brief description of the scientific method is in order here.  Science manages ideas about our world with theories, hypotheses, and observation.  Predictions are tested by experiment and observation.  Any theory strong enough to make verifiable predictions can be tested.  If the predictions are correct, the theory survives.   Laws of physics do not control, command, nor restrict how nature behaves. Astronomy is the study of everything outside the earth and the planetary aspects of the earth.  Cosmologists study the universe at the largest scale, such as the earth’s structure, formation, future. Astrophysics and cosmology are the application of scientific method and theories to the study of stellar structure, evolution, and the origin of the solar system. Astronomy and cosmology are the two branches of science

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Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Paleontology, and Geology

Biology, particularly evolutionary biology, is one of atheism’s touchstones. The publication of Darwin’s On The Origins of Species in 1859 opened the way for the adoption of scientific naturalism.  It has changed modern man’s worldview, exchanging the belief in a deity for an understanding that living things are the end result of chemical laws, natural selection and random variation. Here are the basic tenets of evolution: A species is a population of organisms that interbreeds and has fertile offspring. Living organisms have descended with modifications from species that lived before them. Natural selection explains how this evolution has happened: More organisms are produced than can survive because of limited resources. Organisms struggle for the necessities of life; there is competition for resources. Individuals within a population vary in their traits; some of these traits are heritable- passed on to offspring. Some variants are better adapted to survive and reproduce under local conditions

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Anthropology

This lecture is heavily indebted to Stewart Guthrie’s inimitable essay “Anthropological Theories of Religion” 2007.  The Atheist Scholar has quoted from it extensively, particularly in reference to theories of religion, the history of the anthropological approach to religion and the rise of the new cognitivists in the present day. See the bibliography below. The question of how religion began in human societies has been a problematical one since the rise of cultural anthropological studies shortly after Darwin.  There are two points of especial concern.  The first is the lack of agreement among anthropologists about the definition of religion. The second is whether or not to engage in cross-cultural comparison, which has been a fairly standard practice.  Many anthropologists in the field today study each culture as an individual entity, which some scholars see as a positive innovation and others find too narrow.  For the purposes of this Preface, a broad

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The Conflict between Science and Religion

My lecture will be divided into two parts- the first part will be a general discussion concerning the history and nature of the conflict between science and religion.  The second part will be a more focused look at the divide between evolution and the varieties of creationism which have risen to dispute it since the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859.  I would like to preface this lecture by saying that I will be concentrating on affirming that there is a genuine conflict between science and religion, both historically and in the present day.  John Hedley Brooke, a formidable scholar of science and religion, has led the way for some contemporary scholars to focus on what they call the “complex” relationship between the two subjects. They seek to mitigate the true story of what they call “the conflict narrative,” trying to reduce the struggle between science and religion to

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Neuroscience

Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system.  This process advanced during the last part of the 20th Century, due to revolutions in molecular biology, electrophysiology, and computational neuroscience. We now understand the processes of a single neuron but not how networks of neurons produce complex cognitions and behaviors.[1]  It is important to keep in mind that the split of psychiatry and neurology came about in the early 20th Century.  Psychiatry studied subjective experience and the mind, while neurology focused on the physical brain.  Then came the explosion of technology that allowed us to visualize the brain.  Functional MRI and position-emission tomography (PET) scans permitted us, for the first time, to see how the brain worked, and where it was active or inactive as it performed such tasks as speech, memory, complex thinking, body movement, sex and dreaming.[2]  Scientists get closer to seeing how the brain works in near death, out of

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