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ScienceIntro - Introduction and Goals What is Science and...

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Introduction and Goals What is Science and why should I care about it? In particular, how do we integrate it into a Christian liberal arts education? What are our goals? To try to get you to “think like scientists.” We want to help you understand the scientific mindset. To help you understand basic physical concepts – to allow you to be a better informed person so you can make better choices. Surveys have shown many Americans to be quite ignorant concerning scientific topics – for instance, the majority of people surveyed thought that boiling radioactive milk would make it safe to drink. This is not the case, and an accurate understanding of radioactivity would prevent this sort of error. The advent of the Internet provides additional opportunity for the rapid transmission of information — and of misinformation. To help you understand how your worldview — and that of your culture — has been influenced by scientific developments. Many historically, culturally and philosophically important ideas have come out of the sciences, and physics in particular. Our world view has been strongly influenced by concepts such as Newtonian mechanism, geological gradualism, relativity and quantum mechanics. Evangelical historian Herbert Butterfield says the following about the scientific revolution of the 16 th century. Since that revolution overturned the authority in science not only of the middle ages but of the ancient world — since it ended not only the in the eclipse of scholastic philosophy but in the destruction of Aristotelian physics — it outshines everything since the rise of Christianity and reduces the Renaissance and Reformation to the rank of mere episodes, mere internal displacements, within the system of medieval Christendom. Since it changed the character of men’s habitual mental operations even in the conduct of the non-material sciences, while transforming the whole diagram of the physical universe and the very texture of human life itself, it looms so large as the real origin both of the modern world and of the modern mentality that our customary periodisation of European history has become an anachronism and an encumbrance. In order to understand today’s society and choices we must have at least some understanding of the philosophical and scientific roots from which we’ve sprung. 1
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A Christian View How does an evangelical Christian view the physical world? It was created by God. (Gen 1 1 , Jn 1 1 - 2 , Col 1 15 - 17 , Rv 22 13 ). The created order depends upon upon God for its creation and its continued existence (Heb 1 3 ). In philosophical terms, it is contingent . It declares God’s glory (Ps 8, 19 1 - 2 ). It proclaims God’s nature (Rm 1 19 - 21 ). As we look at the material in this course, one of the purposes is to see God’s power and creativity expressed in the created universe.
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