Evolution Basics: Endosymbiosis and the Origins of Mitochondria and Chloroplasts
The ability to use solar energy for energy conversion within the cell is obviously a great advantage to photosynthetic organisms. Interestingly, some animal lineages have developed quasi-endosymbiotic relationships that allow them to photosynthesize using captured chloroplasts. For example, various species of sea slugs are able to retain chloroplasts from the algae they feed on, distribute them within their own tissues, and thereafter use them for photosynthesis, freeing them from the need to ingest additional food for months at a time.
Evolution Basics: Parasitism, Mutualism and Cospeciation
Beyond the matching pattern of speciation, the divergence times for human and chimpanzee body lice agrees with the speciation times for their hosts. Human and chimpanzee body lice separated approximately 5.6 million years ago, which falls within the range of times estimated for the human / chimpanzee divergence…
Finding Hominids with Kimoya Kimeu
Kimeu and the other potential recruits weren’t sure what to make of the whole evolution thing. But after Louis explained to them how old these creatures were and showed them the kinds of primitive tools they used, Kimeu decided the bones did not belong to humans like humans today—or even their dead. These creatures were different from us and our recently departed ancestors, not at all like the living-dead.
Francis Collins by the Book
Considering my own stance on the satisfying harmony of science and faith, you might be surprised to find on my shelves nearly everything written by Richard Dawkins (including “The God Delusion”) and my late friend Christopher Hitchens (including “God Is Not Great”). One must dig deeply into opposing points of view in order to know whether your own position remains defensible. Iron sharpens iron.
Faith and Doubt: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Boyle’s faith was indeed his own, a product of thoughtful reflection as well as religious experience. “I am not a Christian, because it is the Religion of my Countrey, and my Friends,” he confessed at one point. “I admit no mans Opinions in the whole lump, and have not scrupled, on occasion, to own dissents from the generality of learned men, whether Philosophers or Divines: And when I choose to travel in the beaten Road, ’tis not because I find ’tis the Road, but because I judge ’tis the Way”
If Truth Be Known, Part 2
So what can we learn from observations regarding the Columbia Basin Basalts, the lava flows and the fossil organisms that we find in south-central Washington, north-central Oregon, and western Idaho? Specifically, how do our observations fit with the ideas of a recent creation, flood geology, and recent world-wide catastrophism as explanation for the geological structure and history of God’s Earth?
If Truth Be Known, Part 1
I recognize that there are legitimate differences among Christians in the interpretation of various passages of Scripture that refer to our material world, especially the creation narratives in Genesis chapters one and two. It is painful for me, however, to hear fellow Christians trying to support a particular theological belief with arguments and claims about our material world which I know to be incorrect or misleading.
Evolution Basics: Coevolution and Predator / Prey “Arms Races”
Moths that are merely using a warning sound to advertise their toxicity emit signals in a pattern that does not produce interference with bat echolocation, but Bertholdia emits ultrasonic bursts well suited for a “jamming” purpose. Recent work on these moths and their bat predators has teased apart a possible “warning” effect and a “jamming” effect by using bats familiar with the moths and actively pursuing them as prey.
Evolution Basics: Convergent Evolution and Deep Homology
One common misconception I encounter about evolution is that it is predominantly a random process – one that is mainly influenced by chance events. While we have already shown that evolution has a strongly non-random component (natural selection), this discussion of convergent evolution further demonstrates that evolution is repeatable in certain important ways.
Conversing With Our Children about Creation and Evolution
We are often offended that God should have to accomplish anything in steps, as though that made him less divine and all-powerful. But engaging a child can be a fruitful remedy for the biases that have been woven into the fabric of our thinking over time.
Faith, Science and Metaphors
How do metaphors impact the dialogue between faith and science? We might start by asking: what are the framing metaphors at work in the current debates? Even using the word “dialogue” here suggests an implicit metaphor that frames my approach to the relationship between faith and science. Imagine substituting “dialogue” with “war;” that would conjure a completely different metaphorical framework.
A Review of “Evolution vs. God” from Reasons to Believe
Its questionable treatment of science and scientists—with an attack mindset and a goal to make scientists look stupid—causes me to advise extreme caution. Bluntly, I see this video as counter to our evangelistic mission.
The Faith of a Great Scientist: Robert Boyle’s Religious Life, Attitudes, and Vocation, Part 1
Because of his many important contributions to science, Boyle is often described as “the father of chemistry and brother of the Earl of Cork,” to borrow an old witticism that is—quite wrongly—said to be the epitaph on his tombstone. What is absent from this popular image, however, is a deeper understanding of a deeply religious man who wrote as much about the nature of God as he did about the nature of air.
The Evolutionary Origins of Genetic Information, Part 4
…everything points towards DNA being the last arrival out of the 3 fundamental biomolecules: DNA, RNA and protein . DNA is made by complex, genetically encoded protein enzymes without a ribozyme in sight. The individual building-blocks of DNA (deoxynucleotides) are made by taking and modifying a nucleotide of RNA. Again, all this is exactly what we would expect if DNA evolved from RNA, after genetically encoded proteins had already entered the picture.
The Evolutionary Origins of Genetic Information, Part 3
It is true that at present, evolutionary science does not have a clear, detailed and well-accepted explanation for how the Central Dogma of molecular biology emerged. But does that mean it is time to embrace Intelligent Design as a better approach?
Evolution Basics: An Introduction to Homoplasy and Convergent Evolution
Homoplasies can be as simple as single DNA monomer changes (as in this example), or as complex as the independent reorganization of multiple systems with numerous genes and body parts to converge on a solution (as in the case for powered flight in birds and bats). In both cases, however, we can determine that they arose as independent events on separate lineages because these features do not fit onto the species tree as unique events.
Evolution Basics: Incomplete Lineage Sorting and Ancestral Population Sizes
Discordant gene trees are a window to the past that reveal the genetic diversity of an ancestral population – how many alleles it maintained for a given region of the genome. By comparing large sets of genome data from humans, chimpanzees and gorillas, it is possible to get an accurate estimate of population size for the (H,G,C) ancestral population (about 50,000 individuals).