Reductionism in Science: Order from Chaos or Order from Ideas?
Chicago, IL 60637
Stephen M. BarrUniversity of Delaware
Open to current university students and faculty. Lunch will be served.
Join us for a discussion with physicist Stephen Barr on his article from First Things on the philosophical assumptions behind a tendency toward reductionism in the natural sciences.
"This tendency to downgrade and diminish reflects a metaphysical prejudice that equates explanatory reduction with a grim slide down the ladder of being. Powerful explanatory schemes reveal things to be simpler than they appear. What simpler means in science is much discussed among philosophers—it is not at all a simple question. But to many materialists it seems to mean lower, cruder, and more trivial. By this way of thinking, the further we push toward a more basic understanding of things, the more we are immersed in meaningless, brutish bits of matter."
Stephen M. Barr is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware and Director of its Bartol Research Institute. He received his PhD from Princeton University and has held research positions at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington, and Brookhaven National Laboratory. Dr. Barr is a theoretical particle physicist whose research centers on “grand unified theories” and the cosmology of the early universe. He has written over 150 research papers, as well as the article on “Grand Unification” for the Encyclopedia of Physics. He has lectured widely on the relation of science and religion and is the author of Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, A Student’s Guide to Natural Science, and Science and Religion: The Myth of Conflict. Dr. Barr is the founding and current President of the Society of Catholic Scientists.