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Alex Zecevic | Unknowable Reality: Science, Mathematics, and Mystery
This lecture will address the way modern science portrays physical "reality", and will highlight some key differences between the current paradigm and the more intuitive (but ultimately incorrect) Newtonian world view. The fact that complex processes are characterized by a mix of order and irreducible uncertainty suggests that the notion of a Cosmic Mystery is not at odds with recent scientific discoveries (quite the contrary, in fact). This recognition opens the door to a constructive dialogue between science and religion, which is capable of transcending the simplistic arguments of religious fundamentalists and proponents of radical secularism.
Alex Zecevic is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at Santa Clara University, and the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. His technical research interests include graph theoretic decomposition algorithms, electric power systems, Boolean networks and the control of complex dynamic systems. He has published more than 40 papers in the leading journals in these fields, and some of his most important results are summarized in his book: Control of Complex Systems: Structural Constraints and Uncertainty (2010). Over the past 15 years, Dr. Zecevic has also done a considerable amount of work in the area of science and religion. He has recently published two books on this subject: Truth, Beauty and the Limits of Knowledge: A Path from Science to Religion (which is aimed at a broad audience), and The Unknowable and the Counterntuitive: The Surprising Insights of Modern Science (which provides an advanced treatment of technical topics such as chaos theory, metamathematics, quantum mechanics and relativity). In 2005, Dr. Zecevic developed a unique new course entitled: Chaos Theory, Metamathematics and the Limits of Knowledge: A Scientific Perspective on Religion. What makes this course unusual is the fact that it counts both as a technical elective for engineering students, and satisfies the third religious studies requirement in Santa Clara University’s Core Curriculum. This may well be the only religious studies course in the world that has differential equations as a prerequisite, and requires extensive programming and simulation.