Saturday Science Links: October 18, 2014
Collection of the best articles of the past several weeks on science (and faith) from around the web.
Although committed to the principle of sola Scriptura, Calvin recognized that the Bible would have been written in terms its original recipients would have understood. Calvin inherited the medieval cosmology of his time, a way of viewing the world heavily influenced by Greek thought and one which was about to receive shocks from astronomers such as Copernicus and Galileo. But not just yet.
Gregg Davidson and Ken Wolgemuth seek to remove the stumbling block of the Genesis flood in this four part series. Though many believe in an ancient world-wide flood, the evidence given does not hold up to geological scrutiny, but points rather to something regional instead. It is their hope that Christians will not walk away from faith in Christ simply because a global flood is not supported by science. Looking at natural phenomena like the Grand Canyon, salt beds, and fossil deposits, they reveal reasons for these deposits and structures while showing that their origin did not stem from a violent flood that covered the planet.
Scholar and musician Jeff Warren addresses the questions of how music is meaningful, and where that meaning resides, by looking at the popular ideas that musical meaning is entirely subjective to the listener and that the meaning of music can be universal. He also explores the recent trend of attempting to explain music via neuroscience. Finally, he looks into the reasons why music continues to play such a critical role in the worshiping life of the Church.
Pete Shaw highlights the story of Noah to explore how the story would have been understood in ancient times and from there he goes on to explore how we might consider it today.
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was the foremost Christian scholar of the High Middle Ages and is today regarded as a "doctor" of the Catholic Church. No, Aquinas was not a materialist neuroscientist, but he understood the intimate interdependence of mind and body.
Cain was a “logical” candidate of sorts because his act was the only truly wicked act recorded in the chapters preceding the flood story. Cain’s murder of Abel, therefore, was understood not just an isolated wicked act, but a crucial factor in God’s decision to destroy the world in a deluge. One clear example is from the apocryphal book Wisdom of Solomon 10:3-4.
As an evolutionary biologist I am fascinated by the emergence of cognitive abilities that make us so distinctive from other living species. There are, however, risks in making up evolutionary "just-so" stories to explain the origins of complex human beliefs.
Atrahasis is important to biblical scholars because of it similarity to Genesis 2-9. Both stories share a similar storyline: creation, population growth and rebellion, flood. They also share some important details within that storyline.
The three part series, written by Paul Seely, explores the scientific validity of the Flood in Genesis. He offers the approximate date of the flood according to Scripture, and then looks at various lines of evidence that contradict the idea of a global flood at that time. In light of other Mesopotamian flood stories, scholars conclude that the flood was local at best. In the end, he suggests that this story primarily reveals theological truths from a limited scientific understanding of natural events.
When we read Genesis 1.1: "in the beginning God created the heavens and earth" we picture the origin of the atmosphere, space, solar systems, and galaxies. But in Genesis 1 "earth" does not mean the planet Earth.