[asa] Course on history of ID at Rutgers

From: Ted Davis <TDavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Tue May 26 2009 - 15:23:18 EDT

I was recently sent the following information, about a course to be taught
at Rutgers this fall. I have not been able to verify the details from the
web site of the Rutgers English dept, but the information appears authentic
and is obviously not slanderous, so I am copying it here as a point of
interest and information.

Prof Jackson's web site is
http://english.rutgers.edu/faculty/profiles/jackson.html

Ted

****

Professor Gregory Jackson
Seminar: The Anglo-American Enlightenment (350:629)

Tuesdays - 9:50am to 12:50pm
Bishop House, Room 211

In this course we're going to take an extended look at the origins of
"intelligent design," a phrase coined not in our own time but in the
context of the debates over science and religion in the eighteenth
century. Far from believing that the two were irreconcilable, many of
the Enlightenment's influential thinkers worked tirelessly to integrate
the material and spiritual worlds into a grand design that accounted
both for the occult and the increasing importance of Newtonian physics
and the natural sciences. We will range through the works of writers
such as Ralph Cudworth, Jonathan Edwards, Cotton Mather, George
Berkeley, David Hume, John Taylor, Anthony Collins, and Daniel Whitby.
In so doing, we will explore emergent theologies that incorporated
natural philosophy and empiricism ("evidential Christianity"), including
Jonathan Mayhew's Seven Sermons, which articulated the rationalized
"theology of virtue"; Samuel Webster's Winter Evening's Conversation
Upon the Doctrine of Original Sin (1757); Hume on miracles; and Joseph
Priestly's Early Opinions of Jesus Christ (1789) and The History of the
Corruptions of Christianity (1782), a book Thomas Jefferson deemed
essential reading. We will also read Edwards's posthumous Dissertation
Concerning the End for Which God Created the World (1755) and The Nature
of True Virtue (1755), works that summarized orthodox Christians'
anxiety about the over rationalization of the Protestant theological
tradition. We will link this historical exploration of design theory to
contemporary concerns with science and religion as antithetical
categories.

While taking place within a transatlantic context, these debates
comprised a particularly important dimension of the American
Enlightenment's special interest in Deism and secular humanism. We'll
contextualize this venture in the century before, in Bacon, Hobbes, and
Locke, concerning ourselves largely with epistemology. Because the 1692
Salem witch trials provide an apt synecdoche of the evidentiary crisis
marking the onset of the American Enlightenment, we'll examine the
conflicting metaphysics, ontologies, and epistemologies that continued
to promulgate an atavistic worldview on the one hand, and augur secular
modernity on the other. And finally under full steam, we will examine
the importation of neo-stoicism and Baconian empiricism to the colonies,
filtered through Scottish Common Sense Realism- key philosophical
underpinnings of Enlightenment debates over natural religion and the
religion of nature. Expect to read all or parts of Samuel Clarke's
Natural Religion (1705); Francis Hutcheson, System of Moral Philosophy;
Thomas Reid's Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common
Sense (1764); and Dugald Steward's Elements of the Philosophy of the
Human Mind. These classic texts of the Scottish and American
Enlightenment illuminate the epistemological convergences that have come
to characterize our secular modernity.

***Students interested in taking this course should contact Professor
Greg Jackson directly at greg.jackson@rutgers.edu***

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Received on Tue May 26 15:24:02 2009

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