Worlding the World: Creation Myths from Ancient Greece to the Multiverse|
Spring 2020 not offered
This course will focus on two questions that have thwarted and enthralled scientists, philosophers, and theologians for millennia: Where have we come from? and Where are we going? By reading ancient Greek and early Christian sources alongside contemporary astrophysicists, we will witness the reconfigured resurrection of some very old debates about the creation and unmaking of the world. Is the universe eternal, or was it created? Is it finite or infinite? Destructible or indestructible? Linear or cyclical? And is ours the only universe, or are there others?
The semester will be divided into four sections. The first will explore the dominant, or "inflationary," version of the big bang hypothesis in relation to the Christian doctrine of creation. The second will consider the possibility that the whole universe might be a negligible part of a vast "multiverse" in conversation with the early Greek atomists, who posited an extra-cosmic space teeming with other worlds. The third will explore contemporary cyclical cosmologies--that is, theories that posit a rebirth of the cosmos out of its fiery destruction--in relation to early Stoic philosophy and cross-cultural cyclic mythologies. The fourth will explore quantum cosmologies, in which the universe fragments into parallel branches each time a particle "decides" upon a position. We will examine these varied cosmologies of multiplicity, not with a view toward adjudicating among them, but toward pointing out their mythic and ontological genealogies and consequences.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CSCT)(RELI)(SISP)(SISP-Reli Conc)(SISP-ScieDblMjr)
Excerpts from Nicholas of Casa, Giordano Bruno, Immanuel Kant, Isabella Sterges
Eliade, MYTH OF THE ETERNAL RETURN
Edward Adams, GRAECO-ROMAN AND ANCIENT JEWISH COSMOLOGY
David E. Hahm, THE ORIGINS OF STOIC COSMOLOGY
Steven J. Dick, PLURALITY OF WORLDS: THE ORIGINS OF THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE DEBATE FROM DEMOCRITUS TO KANT
Max Tegmark, PARALLEL UNIVERSES
John Gribbin, IN SEARCH OF THE MULTIVERSE
Paul Steinhardt & Neil Turok, ENDLESS UNIVERSE
Brian Greene, THE FABRIC OF THE COSMOS
Steven Weinberg, THE FIRST THREE MINUTES
Lucretius, THE NATURE OF THINGS
Elaine Pagels, THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS
Alex Vilenkin, MANY WORLDS IN ONE
Michel Serres, GENESIS
|Examination and Assignments: |
Eight 1-2 page papers, one final presentation, one final 20-page paper.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
This course fulfills the "Thematic Approach" OR "Method & Theory" requirement for the Religion major.
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