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Probability

(716 words)

Author(s): Kober, Michael | Evers, Dirk | Gräb-Schmidt , Elisabeth
[German Version] I. Philosophy Objectively, probability is the measure of the chance that a particular event will take place (ontological probability); subjectively, it is the measure of the certainty or credibility of a statement (epistemic probability). The interest in ontological probability arising from decision theory, as in …

Creation

(11,110 words)

Author(s): Friedli, Richard | Janowski, Bernd | Herrmann, Klaus | Wischmeyer, Oda | Gunton, Colin E. | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Old Testament – III. Judaism – IV. New Testament – V. History of Theology – VI. Creation and Preservation – VII. Religious Education – VIII. Islam – IX. Science – X. Art History I. History of Religion 1. Fundamentals Life, nature, the environment, the passage of time – these are everyday experiences for any society. But reality also includes the danger that this world may be imperiled or perilous. Chaos and death are part …

Teleology

(3,738 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk | Hewlett, Martinez J. | Angehrn, Emil | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. The Concept The word teleologia was a neologism coined in 1728 by C. Wolff ( Philosophia rationalis sive logica, 1728, §85) to denote the domain of natural philosophy that explains things on the basis of their end (Gk τέλος/ télos, “end, goal”; Ends and means); it was soon borrowed by other languages. In substance, however, the concept had an extensive prehistory. In the work of Aristotle, examination of phenomena on the basi…

Value/Values

(5,528 words)

Author(s): Großheim, Michael | Heesch, Matthias | Evers, Dirk | Mokrosch, Reinhold | Würtenberger, Thomas
[German Version] I. Philosophy The philosophical value concept is the result of a hypostatization of value predicates that are assigned to objects or circumstances as signs of human esteem. By way of inference, the evaluative assessment gives rise to a value, which is in turn meant to serve as a sour…

Cybernetics

(1,190 words)

Author(s): Herzfeld, Noreen | Evers, Dirk | Seitz, Manfred
[German Version] I. Science – II. Ethics – III. Practical Theology I. Science Cybernetics denotes the science of the control and communication processes in machines and biological systems. Of particular interest for cybernetics are those systems that can regulate or organize themselves through feedback processes. Norbert Wiener coined the term cybernetics in 1947. It is the transliteration of the Greek κυβερνητική/ kybernētikḗ, “the helmsman's art.” Plato used this term both for the regulation of people and for the steering of a boat. To…

Emergence

(723 words)

Author(s): Hefner, Philip | Evers, Dirk | Leiner, Martin
[German Version] I. Theology and Science – II. Systematic Theology – III. Ethics I. Theology and Science Emergence (from Lat. emergere, “to arise”), an idea that describes the appearance of novel and higher forms, represents an alternative to mechanistic, vitalist (Vitalism and mechanism), reductionist, and preformationist explanations. Emergence claims that complex structur…

Natural Sciences

(7,736 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk | Berg, Christian | Murphy, Nancey | Ellis, George | Jackelén, Antje
[German Version] I. History 1. Antiquity. Although there is good reason to speak of natural science in the strict sense only with the dawn of the modern era, its roots actually go back to the beginnings of human history. Early scientific traditions arose from technical and practical knowledge acquired in dealing with nature, but they were also shaped by intellectual traditions that sought historical and mythological explanations for natural phenomena. Mathematics early on became a significant tool for…

Syntax

(345 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk
[German Version] (from Gk σύνταξις/ sýntaxis, “ordering together”) is a term used in linguistics for the system of rules of a natural language (I) governing the correct formation of clauses and sentences of that language from individual words. It is an…

Gaia Theories

(350 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk
[German Version] regard the earth as a self-regulating system that behaves like an organism. The British atmo-¶ spheric chemist, James E. Lovelock, justified this view in the 1960s. He pointed out that, in contrast to the inactive Mars, the earth, even viewed from outer space, already seems to be a “living” system because of its oxygen-rich atmosphere apart from its chemical balance. Its atmosphere, however, is a result of the process of respiration of earth's smallest living beings. Contrary to traditional Darw…

News Technology

(358 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk
[German Version] In the broadest sense, the term news (or communication) technology covers the total technology of producing, transmitting, and processing news, including the technology of control and regulation; in the strict sense, though, the term refers just to electronic communication technologies as tools for optimizing the transmission of tokens with the help of electronic signals. First the invention of the electric telegraph by Samuel F.B. Morse, then later the telephone enabled remote communication as an everyday phenomenon. The explosive development of broadcasting technology led to media of mass communication (Radio, Television, Mass media), which reaches ever-increasing portions of the world’s population. Further improvements in transmission capacity (satellites, fiber optics), establishment of new telecommunication networks (cell phones, the internet), and digitization of the corresponding technologies have increasingly brought communication technologies and data processing together, producing all the forms of information communication, acoustic, visual, and textual. The importance of data protection and encryption has grown apace. Today’s communication systems are increasingly taking the form of a network in which users communicate reciprocally as soon as they have established contact, going beyond simple point-to-point communication of data. Complex transactions like purchase of merchandise, money transfer, telecommuting, and teleconferencing have been made possible. Today’s forms of communications technology thus create the conditions necessary for a global community by supplying a comprehensive infrastructure through which economic, political, and cultural goods and information are accessible throughout the world, a development which clearly represents an ecumenical opportunity for the church. Whether and how economically impoverished or ideologically isolated societies gain access, how national and international law can be enforced, and how freedom of opinion is to be weighed against crime prevention are unresolved issues of a still embryonic ethics of modern information technology. Since Christian churches and organizations are constituted through communication, they naturally make use of this technology. The glut of information naturally raises the question how these institutions can bring their own profile into focus and find a form appropriate to their commission to preach the gospel in the face…

Miracle

(8,918 words)

Author(s): Neu, Rainer | Fabry, Heinz-Josef | Alkier, Stefan | Gregersen, Niels Henrik | Evers, Dirk | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Church History – V. Philosophy of Religion – VI. Fundamental Theology – VII. Dogmatics – VIII. Education and Practical Theology – IX. Judaism – X. Islamic Theology I. History of Religions Miracles are extraordinary, mystifying human experiences that cannot be explained by normal causes, which in many cases suggest the intervention of a deity or superhuman power. Miracles are found in all cultures and are among the traditions of almost all religi…

End of the World

(2,438 words)

Author(s): Winter, Franz | Zager, Werner | Zachhuber, Johannes | Evers, Dirk
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. Bible I. History of Religions The (potentially) imminent end of the world is taken up in many religious traditions, as is evident from the ¶ many graphic accounts of it. The term end of the world refers primarily to cosmological (“physical”) eschatology, as distinct from individual and collective eschatology (i.e. from the idea of a judgment of all or of each person individually). Some fundamental distinctions should be drawn. First, cyclically oriented models of explaining the end of the …

Communications

(1,627 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk | Geissner, Hellmut K. | Fechtner, Kristian
[German Version] I. Theory – II. Ethics – III. Practical Theology I. Theory “Communications” in the broadest sense encompasses the interdisciplinary study of communication in biological, technological, and social systems, insofar as it manifests itself as a purposeful exchange of information through a system of signs. The subject of study is ultimately the communication process as a whole, including both its mutually interacting components (communicator, medium, recipient) and …

Systems Theory

(3,570 words)

Author(s): Pollack, Detlef | Hesse, Heidrun | Herms, Eilert | Dinkel, Christoph | Evers, Dirk
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Systems theory considers religion one social system alongside others, like the economy, law (Law and Jurisprudence), politics, and education and analyzes it in terms of the function it discharges. The evolutionary approach of systems theory assumes that in primordial local communities the function of religion was nonspecific and was fulfilled in combination with other functions – military, economic, and familial. The transition to modern societies witnessed a dif…

Law/Natural Law

(1,619 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk
[German Version] I. Natural Science – II. Dogmatics – III. Ethics I. Natural Science The term “natural law” refers to a general norm of the order of nature that reveals regularities or causal relationships between the phenomena of a specific process area. A natural law has an explanatory and prognostic function, and thus constitutes the basis of calculated intervention in the processes it describes. In the natural sciences, a natural law is understood as the norm of a constant relationship between different classes of natural phenomena that can be depicte…

Natural Law/Law of Nature

(972 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk | Rudolph, Ulrich
[German Version] I. Science Natural laws express regular connections between natural phenomena, with the ideal aim of potential mathematical modeling. Depending on whether the connection is unconditionally valid, or merely describes probabilities, a distinction can be made between deterministic and statistical natural laws. In classical physics, all natural events are consistently determined by laws of causality; only epistemic chance in relation to the state of the observer’s knowledge is allowed (…

Necessity

(3,951 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Natural Sciences In the natural sciences, necessity usually appears as an implication of causal natural laws (Natural law/Law of nature), according to which by necessity an event A as a cause must be followed by an event B as its consequence. This necessity implied by laws of nature is not undisputed. Empiricism, which goes back to D. Hume, rejects the possibility of human insight into necessary causal connections, preferring to replace the concept of causal necessity with that of…

Field Theory

(1,046 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk | Lück, Helmut E.
[German Version] I. Classical Field Theory – II. Quantum Field Theory – III. Field Theory in the Social Sciences I. Classical Field Theory Field theories have an ancient forerunner in the Stoic theory of the pneuma; however, in the history of modern science they have their origin in the difficulties in applying the principles of discrete particles in Newtonian mechanics (I. Newton) to the behavior of deformable solid or liquid continua. In his writings on hydrodynamics, Leonhard Euler (1707–1783) was the first to b…

Annihilation

(939 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk | Thomas, Günter
[German Version] I. Philosophy of Religion – II. Dogmatics I. Philosophy of Religion The concept of annihilation has its roots in the scholastic theology of creation; it also belongs to the vocabulary of German mysticism, which speaks of the soul as being “reduced to nothing” in its union with God. In the first context, it addresses the problem of how a reversal of the creation process leading from existence to non-existence can be understood, and whether this can be ascribed to God alone (as the creator). Unlike mere corruptio, “annihilation” in scholastic theology …
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