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Evolution Basics: At the Frontiers of Evolution, Part 4: Contingency vs. Convergence

Given that both contingency and convergence seem to be significant factors in evolutionary history, it is only natural for scientists to wonder which force has the upper hand. Is evolution primarily contingent, with convergence playing only a minor role? Or is evolution largely a convergent phenomenon, where contingent factors have little overall influence?

 

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.

 

God as Process Engineer: Creator, Sustainer, Reedemer, and Provider

From a Judeo-Christian perspective, all of these curiosities dovetail into a profoundly meaningful explanation: Being made in God’s image helps to explain our creative and investigative skills, particularly when we consider that God has specially engineered this universe to reveal himself to human beings.

 

No Place Like Home: An interview with ECF grantee Seung-Hwan Kim

Everyone is so worried about success and getting this or that honorable diploma—the people here are smart and understand many complex things perfectly—but it’s a long distance from the head to the heart.

 

“The Language of God” Book Club–Chapter 5

Does Collins show that Evangelicals have turned the corner on the scandal Noll brought to light, or does the continued resistance of the majority of Evangelicals to Collins’s work (about 75% reject human evolution) show that we as a collective group still do not take the life of the mind seriously?

 

John Ortberg Sermon: Does Science Disprove Faith?

All of you who do science, all of you who teach or research or you’re involved in engineering or medicine or education, or biology or chemistry or physics—you are doing a noble thing. You are thinking God’s thoughts after him. … You are obeying God’s command given way back in Genesis to exercise dominion, to learn about, to be curious and discover and steward the earth.

 

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 19

The Psalmist is saying that when we walk outside and look up, the heavens are telling us two things about God: they tell us about his glory, and they tell us about what his hands can do.

 

To Tame the World: What terrifies us about reality pushes us toward its Creator.

We can understand why man, modern man in particular, would like to mop the floors and bleach the walls. We might not be able to tame reality, but we can tame our perception of reality. We intellectualize in order to feel in control.

 

The Father of Intelligent Design

“There was no better way, in Boyle’s opinion, to ‘give us so great a Wonder and Veneration’ for God’s wisdom, than ‘by Knowing and Considering the Admirable Contrivance of the Particular Productions of that Immense Wisdom,’ by which he mainly meant the exquisitely fashioned parts of animals both great and small.”

 

Series: Excerpts from “Evolving: Evangelicals Reflect on Evolution” (13 entries)

We need to hear stories from others who have wrestled with evolution and Christian faith. What arguments made them change their views on science? How did they hold fast to their relationship with God? The essays in this series will eventually comprise a book, provisionally titled, “Evolving: Evangelicals Reflect on Evolution.”

 

The Challenge of Cosmology

The idea that the story we know is only the very beginning raises a new question in place of Feynman’s objection that Christianity is provincial. Is it presumptuous to claim that in such a grand universe, possibly with intelligent life arising in many places, the redemption and transformation of the entire cosmos starts here, on our pale blue dot?

 

Stochastic Grace

I was raised in a household of atheists. My parents were card-carrying members of the American Communist Party, and therefore the atheism in my household was quite close to the militant anti-theism of the so-called “new atheists”.

 

Belief in God in an Age of Science: John Polkinghorne, Part One

The world is not full of items stamped “made by God”—the Creator is more subtle than that—but there are two locations where general hints of the divine presence might be expected to be seen most clearly. One is the vast cosmos itself, with its fifteen-billion-year history of evolving development following the big bang. The other is the “thinking reed” of humanity, so insignificant in physical scale but, as Pascal said, superior to all the stars because it alone knows them and itself.

 

Series: Understanding Randomness (5 entries)

In this series, Kathryn Applegate addresses the concern that randomness implies the absence of God's activity and involvement in the natural world. She begins by clearing up some common misconceptions about the concept of "randomness", and later focuses on the mechanisms of the immune system to demonstrate that God works through random processes to preserve life. Far from being an indication of a "godless" universe, one might conclude that randomness is one of God’s favorite mechanisms for creating and sustaining life!

 

Hydrology of the Bow River

There’s a word beneath the water, and the Bow River belongs to God. Have you been listening?

 

Series: Made in the Image of God: The Theological Implications of Human Genomics (4 entries)

This series by Denis Alexander reflects on advancements in genomics as well as their theological implications. He focuses on the relatedness of hominin genomes, arguing that this does not interfere with the image of God in humans. The image of God depends more on the capacity for relationship and covenant, not on a list of particular physical qualities. He then discusses why the recent studies of genomics provide “no grounds for genetic determinism.”

 

Off with Their Heads

The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. “Off with his head!” she said, without even looking round

 

Scientists Tell Their Stories: George Murphy

During his seminary education, Dr. Murphy also gained a deeper understanding of Luther’s theology of the cross, and he realized that it’s really the best way to approach the science and theology dialogue.

 

The Randomness Project

It is not uncommon to hear voices proclaiming that biology and physics have shown us that—at fundamental levels—nature is random, hence meaningless, purposeless, and without a creator. But how might God work providentially through indeterminate processes? The John Templeton Foundation has provided a generous grant of $1.69 million to support a new research initiative on the theme of Randomness and Divine providence.

 

A Pastor's Approach to Science

Since the sermon is the main component used to build the congregation’s collective approach to understanding how the church relates to the world, I want to take a few moments to lay out what has worked in my preaching and what has not when it comes to science, and more specifically, the subject of evolution.

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