1: Overview & Significance of Origins Science Ideas
2: Cosmology and Timelines
3: Origin of Life
4: Origin of Body-plan level biodiversity
5: Origin of Man, Mind, Morals, etc.
6: Origins Science in Society
Saturday, June 12, 2010
SYNOPSIS: Providing an independent, community-based open-access critical survey seminar/course on origins science that summarises major points and perspectives, presents alternatives and provides a balancing overview. This, so that participants will be able to analyse and discuss the decisive scientific facts, theories, ideas, issues and alternatives on origins in an informed, objective critically aware way. Thus, they will be better equipped to draw balanced conclusions, do further studies and act as responsibly informed citizens in light of their findings
Course Overview (this page)
G] General level overview:
OVERVIEW: Ever since scientists began to investigate origins in the 1700's and 1800's science has been a key part of how we try to learn the truth about ourselves, how we came to be and our place in our world, “from hydrogen to humans.”
Origins science is therefore a highly important field of study and research, albeit one hampered by the fact that we cannot directly observe the deep past of origins. As a result, our explanations of origins are not as open to empirical test and warrant as those of operational sciences such as the chemistry of DNA and other life- molecules or the physics of planetary motion.
In recent decades, however, some educators, public policy advocates -- and, most importantly, some scientists -- through adopting methodological naturalism, have thought and taught that origins science can only work properly if it is understood as a search for “natural causes.” That is, they hold that origins science theories “must” fit in with the view that undirected blindly mechanical forces of nature and chance circumstances acting on matter and energy in one form or another, triggered purposeless changes and developments across time, from hydrogen to humans.
But, this embeds a crucial mistake. As, we can instead allow the evidence to speak for itself, creating a more objective approach.
For instance, routinely, we can directly see functionally specified complex information at work, and its known cause. Indeed, we commonly encounter: (a) natural causes tracing to forces of chance and necessity, and (b) ART-ificial (i.e. intelligent) causes tracing to the action of purposeful agents. Moreover, (c) both leave observable and distinct empirical traces that we may therefore study and distinguish using scientific methods. Most crucially, (d) we directly and consistently observe that functionally specific complex organisation and associated information come from intelligence. Such functionally specific complex information [[FSCI for short] is therefore a routinely observed sign of intelligent causes.
That is, we have identified a plausible empirically reliable sign of intelligence; one that can be tested through observation and so is plainly amenable to scientific study, with direct implications for origins studies. Moreover, we see many similar signs in cases such as: (i) the origin of cell-based life that is based on information-rich macromolecules, or (ii) of the origin of body-plan level biodiversity, or (iii) that of a cosmos that seems to be fine-tuned in many ways to accommodate such life. An objective approach to origins science should therefore teach students to consider the issues and alternatives in light of the significance of such signs; before drawing conclusions. Thus, we need a fresh, independent approach to origins science and science education.
Going further, in the name of science, methodological naturalism often lends credibility to materialistic secularist humanism as a de facto, functional equivalent to a religion backed by state power on law, education and many other aspects of our public square. This means that – if we are to be responsible -- we will also have to address the significance of different philosophies and theories of origins in the context of societal implications: origins science in society.
As a result, this independent origins science course – bearing in mind various perspectives and controversies -- will seek to clarify and discuss the decisive scientific facts, theories, ideas, issues and alternatives on origins, regarding:
1] Overview and significance of origins Science ideas and issues – Origins Science as the scientifically informed study and reconstruction of our “roots,” from hydrogen to humans. Thus, its inextricable connections to worldview level issues and scientific methods issues.
2] Cosmological origins -- setting the stage for cell-based life, through reconstructed origins of the apparently fine-tuned, functionally organised cosmos; galaxies and stars, and solar systems origins; associated modelling of the past of the cosmos and questions on dating and timelines.
3] The origin of life -- classical and current views on Origin of Life, in light of the origination of complex functionally specific information required to create self-replicating, cell based life.
4] The origin of biodiversity -- Major historic and current views on, theories of, and models for the origin of body plan level biodiversity; issues over chance, necessity and design, and alternatives.
5] Origin of mind – the nature and roots of mind, with associated issues on the significance of morality.
6] Origins Science in Society -- Implications of alternative views on origins of the cosmos, of life and of man for morality, policy, law and society.