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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 games of chance, led to the mathematical theory of probability (Andrey N. Kolmogorov; Chance). But we must distinguish the logical ( a priori) ¶ probability of throwing a six, namely 1/6, from its empirical ( a posteriori) probability, i.e. its actual frequency distribution, where it is by no means true that 1/6 of all throws will produce a six, and statistical probability, e.g. mortality rates or weather forecasts (v. Mises). The ability to provide an objective probability of a certain event depends on subjective knowledge of the relevant parameters, but this knowledge is never complete. Since we cannot be sure of the regularity of the world (D. Hume, problem of induction), formulations of natural laws (Natural…

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

Teleology

(3,738 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk | Hewlett, Martinez J. | Angehrn, Emil | Herms, Eilert
[German Version]

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 source of norms. R.H. Lotze developed the value concept in the mid-19th century, at a time when the upcoming natural sciences were increasingly challenging its claim to world interpretation. While Lotze relinquished the topics of “being,” of the indifferen…

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

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 comp…

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. Mathematic…

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 aspect of grammar. Classical grammar already made a distinction between the collocation of concrete morphemes and the analysis of their abstract syntactical usag…

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…

Materialism

(2,549 words)

Author(s): Figl, Johann | Hüttemann, Andreas | Evers, Dirk
[German Version] I. History of Religion – I…

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 co…

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 religions. But their significance can vary quite widely depending on how they are understood…

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 world as part of a cycle and the destruction of what exists as a necessary precondition of a new creation. This idea is encountered, for example, in Indian religion, but is also known in Greco-Roman antiquity (doctrine of the ages o…

Communications

(1,627 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk | Geissner, Hellmut K. | Fechtner, Kristian
[German Version] I. Theory – II. Ethics – III. Practical Theology I. Theor…

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 differentiation from which religion emerged with its own system of roles and organization, with a focus on specific functions. T. Parsons viewed religion as a balancing agency, which establishes a system of cultural legitimation on the plane of “ultimate reality” (Brandt). Thus it fulfills a subordinate function that comes into play when other mechanisms of equilibrium fail, especially cultural mechanisms. While cultural values acquire social and individual relevance through institutionalization and internalization, it is the task of religion to safeguard these processes of institutionalization and internalization authoritatively by sacralizing cultural values. Thus for Parsons the primary function of religion was legitimation. By contrast N. Luhmann, especially in his l…

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. …

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 …

Infinity

(1,645 words)

Author(s): Hühn, Lore | Evers, Dirk
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Philosophy of Religion – III. Dogmatics I. Philosophy Infinity is a key concept of ancient philosophy that combines a wide spectrum of meanings under the title ἄπειρον/ ápeiron: boundlessness and indeterminacy of the origins from which becoming emerged, that is, the fundamental principle of the physical world and of its objects (Anaximander); the limitlessness, to be evaluated negatively, which stands in opposition to the positive delimitation effected by number or measure (Pythagoras); t…
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