Life, the Universe, and Everything

HON 398 – Dr. Stephen Wagener

Modes of Inquiry: Textual Analysis, Scientific and Mathematical Analysis, Historical, Social and Cultural Analysis

Course Description:

Humanity has produced many narratives describing the beginning, the workings, and the ending of the universe. Many of these stories are told with great beauty. Not the least beautiful are the explanations of modern science on the formation of the universe, the accretion of our solar system, and the appearance of life. Why and how did the universe form? Where and how did life appear in our solar system? What sorts of places should we explore for life? What is life?

In addition and in contrast to the scientific narrative, we will discuss how humanity has explained the appearance of the universe and the appearance of life. Why do we find cultural myths so satisfying? Is science equally satisfying? How do we see this through modern speculative literature? Do our stories inform our science?