Origins News Roundup for August 20, 2014
From science and religion blogs: quantum uncertainty and God, the remarkable fact that we have come to understand our place in the created order, and the role of theology in making wise choices about the use of technology.
BioLogos Basics Video #4: How did God create the ingredients for life?
God could have created a fertile planet miraculously in an instant, but when we look carefully at the physical evidence, it appears that the earth has a longer history as part of the universe.
Series: Creation, Evolution, and the Over-Active Imagination (2 entries)
“The Language of God” Book Club – Chapter 4
Some people who brook no “god of the gaps” arguments anywhere else look to these three moments as more reasonable places to insert God into natural processes: God spoke matter/energy into existence, God made life out of lifeless matter, and God breathed a soul into human beings.
Multiple Lines of Evidence for an Old Universe
Astronomers have many different methods for measuring the age of various objects in the universe, and they all support ages of billions of years, not thousands. Even if the assumptions of one or two methods were faulty, it is highly unlikely that all of the methods would be affected.
Evolution Basics: Darwin’s Early Observations on Biogeography
For Darwin, both of these observations (that oceanic islands lacked terrestrial mammals, and that endemic species on islands were most similar to a species on the closest mainland) had the same explanation: his hypothesis that endemic, oceanic species were the modified descendants of a colonizing species from the nearest continent.
Series: Searching for Motivated Belief (12 entries)
Over the next few months, with permission from Yale University Press, BioLogos will offer edited versions of chapters from John Polkinghorne's best books, Belief in God in an Age of Science and Theology in the Context of Science, in order to help readers delve more deeply into some of his most important ideas.
Evolution and Christian Faith Grantees Announced
Congratulations to the 37 winners of the Evolution & Christian Faith (ECF) grants competition! ECF is a new BioLogos program designed to support projects and network-building among scholars, church leaders, and parachurch organizations.
Where are the Transitional Fossils?
A common argument leveled against the theory of evolution is that scientists have not been able to produce transitional fossils that show the change of one species into another. In this podcast, we address a common misconception about what transitional fossils actually are.
Series: Science and the Bible (22 entries)
This ongoing series written by historian Ted Davis begins with a brief synopsis of his personal background, and then goes on to reveal his passion for debunking “the now-common view that the history of science and Christianity is one of ongoing, inevitable conflict.”
Series: Decoding ENCODE (8 entries)
The BioLogos Foundation explains to the findings of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project and responds to the claims that its discoveries challenge the theory of evolution, especially regarding so-called "junk DNA".
Series: Recent Discoveries in Astronomy (4 entries)
In this excerpt from the book Delight in Creation: Scientists Share Their Work with the Church, astronomer Deborah Haarsma shares her excitement about recent findings about our universe from a Christian perspective.
Denisovans, Humans and the Chromosome 2 Fusion
The Denisovans, an extinct hominid group that interbred with modern humans, made the news again lately with the publication of a more detailed study of their genome. One of the many interesting findings was that the Denisovans share the same chromosome 2 fusion that modern humans have.
Series: Asa Gray and Charles Darwin Discuss Evolution and Design (5 entries)
Many Christians believe that they face a painful choice-- either life was designed by God or it is an evolutionary product of natural selection. Charles Darwin himself believed in this dichotomy, and people ever since have felt the need to "choose sides". However, looking back at history, we find that one of Darwin's chief scientific colleagues, Asa Gray, did not share this perspective. In this three-part essay, part 1 charts the relationship of Asa Gray and Charles Darwin. Part 2 describes Darwin's struggle with the problem of natural evil and design in nature, and part 3 explores how Asa Gray was able to embrace evolution without rejecting the idea of design.
David Lack and Darwin’s Finches
Considering the immense popularity of "Darwin's finches", it is quite surprising to learn that Charles Darwin himself had very little to say about them. In fact, it was actually David Lack, one century later, who conducted the critical research that immortalized the finches in biology textbooks and popular lore.
Series: The Human Fossil Record (19 entries)
In this series, James Kidder provides an intriguing study on transitional fossils and the evolutionary history of modern humans. He begins by discussing the fossil record, explaining how new forms are classified. He then explains the physically distinguishing trait of humankind—bipedalism. From the discovery of Ardipithecus, the earliest known hominin, to the australopithecines, the most prolific hominin, Kidder focuses on the discovery, the anatomy, and the interpretation of these ancestral remains.
The Fossil Record
There are two opposite errors which need to be countered about the fossil record: 1) that it is so incomplete as to be of no value in interpreting patterns and trends in the history of life, and 2) that it is so good that we should expect a relatively complete record of the details of evolutionary transitions within all or most lineages.
What is the Higgs Boson?
At a press conference on July 4, 2012, and with 99.99994% confidence (5 sigma), CERN announced the discovery of a particle consistent with that of a Higgs boson (a.k.a. “the God particle”). This is very exciting for elementary particle physicists. But what is the Higgs particle, and what is its meaning?
Naming 'the God Particle'
The discovery of the Higgs boson would certainly be a breakthrough for particle physics and cosmology, but would such a finding also radically redefine theology’s understanding of God or challenge the existence of such a deity? Is there actually any theological or religious significance in Higgs physics at all?