the bible and modern astronomy

| April 25, 2015

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General: In this course, we have discussed the scientific theory for the formation of the Earth and Solar System, and we are now discussing the Big Bang theory for the formation of the (physical) Universe. These theories often seem to be at odds with religious views of the creation of the Universe by God. Are they necessarily in opposition?
In this short project, I want you to think about how religious and scientific views of the origin of the cosmos (physical universe) fit together, and to write a short report on this. All of you have some religious ideas, and most some religious upbringing. I think that this will provide a good opportunity for you to think about how to integrate your learning in various disciplines with your religious views. I will provide you with excerpts from two references on the subject, to stimulate your thinking.
The Bible and Modern Astronomy: In particular, I would prefer that we focus our attention and discussion on the biblical view of creation and how it compares with the theories of modern astronomy. In my view there are three basic views biblical Christians hold regarding the presentation in the Bible of astronomy and creation. I would summarize these three views as follows: (1) literal, (2) concordant (= harmony), and (3) figurative. To help us appreciate these three views, I have provided copies for you of some material from advocates of each of these views on the course Blackboard site.
Assignment: You are each to read the excerpts presenting two of the above viewpoints. Then you are to write a paper (a) summarizing the two views as presented by each author, and (b) explaining your own views on the interaction of the Bible and the theories and findings of modern astronomy. Specifically, for part (b) you should discuss how you view the two excerpts that you read. Does one provide a better argument in your opinion? In part (a) provide the names of each author and the text and which of the 3 views he advocates. The paper should be 500-600 words and written with a word processor.
Alternate: If you wish to write about this subject from a different point of view (for example, from a different religious perspective) and have alternate readings to propose, you must see me to work out a modification of this assignment. For example, a home page on the subject of Islam and Science can be found at: www.islamicity.com/science/. If you have an agnostic or atheistic point of view and wish to write about that, then you should find readings that discuss how the matter and energy in the universe originated, how natural laws came to be, and how these do or do not rule out a creator.

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