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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.

 

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”.

 

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!

 

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.

 

Series: David Lack and Darwin's Finches (4 entries)

Not only are evolution and biblical faith compatible, but committed Christians have been at the forefront of evolutionary science ever since Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859. This series looks at David Lack, an ornithologist and devout Christian who contributed greatly to the understanding of Darwin's finches.

 

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?

 

Series: Randomness and God’s Governance (5 entries)

In this three-part series from Pruim’s chapter in the book Delight in Creation: Scientists Share Their Work with the Church, mathematician Randall Pruim explains what scientists and mathematicians mean when they speak of something being “random”. He also addresses God's use of apparent randomness in creation as a part of his sovereign rule.

 

Series: Universe and Multiverse (6 entries)

Baylor University Physicist Gerald Cleaver describes the changing state of our understanding of the cosmos and suggests ways that Christians can make theological sense of a theoretical Multiverse.

 

Series: Science as an Instrument of Worship (6 entries)

In this brief series (taken from a 2009 paper), Jennifer Wiseman uses an excerpt from the famous hymn “How Great Thou Art,” to explain why the study of God’s creation can lead Christ’s followers into meaningful worship and overcome the obstacles which impede true praise. Creation as encountered through our senses is pondered by our minds, which flows into wonder-filled songs from the soul. She further explains how knowledge of creation will help Christians to address the moral dilemmas of science, and she encourages all to see the process of scientific inquiry as a means to discover God’s truth.

 

Evolution: Is God Just Playing Dice?

With his standard panache, the late Harvard paleontologist Stephen J. Gould argued strenuously that evolution had no inherent directionality. We are mere accidents; a "tiny twig on an improbable branch of a contingent limb on a fortunate tree".

 

God's Use of Time

I find that when many Christians think about the way God created our universe, they often bring a static expectation similar to what we bring to an ordinary statue. It’s as if we assume the physical realm were merely a rigid three-dimensional sculpture, immovable with time.

 

Series: Reviewing "Why Evolution is True" (6 entries)

In this three part series, Robert C. Bishop provides a helpful review for Evangelicals of the book Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. He first debunks many outdated ideas and myths about the theory of evolution and its implications. He then goes on to critique Coyne’s conclusions about God as a “bad designer.” He further addresses how Christianity and science overlap as well as how to have a meaningful discussion between two individuals with radically different views.

 

Series: John Polkinghorne on Natural Theology (5 entries)

Polkinghorne discusses the origins and aims of natural theology in this series. It does not offer truth, but rather a “best explanation” for the world, answering primarily meta-questions. Two such questions asked by Polkinghorne are, “Why is science possible at all?” and “What makes the universe so special?” To explore the answers, he looks at the ability of human minds to penetrate mysteries of the natural world as well as the fine-tuning of the universe necessary to produce the fruitfulness of life.

 

Uncertainty is Uncomfortable

Scientists become fairly comfortable with a certain level of uncertainty within scientific data, notes Kathryn Applegate, but that is not the case for most people, especially where faith is concerned

 

Crabby Christians or Nebulous Data?

Scientists who confront Bible-believing Christians with the physical evidence of theologically-challenging views like old-earth geology or common ancestry are usually incredulous when their well-crafted and well-supported arguments fall on deaf ears. How can something so obvious to one person be so easily dismissed by another?

 

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.

 

Randomness and Evolution: Is There Room for God? (Videocast)

This BioLogos videocast addresses the idea of randomness as a part of natural selection, and whether it challenges the possibility of God using the evolutionary process as a means of creation.

 

The Transit of Venus

Today we have a chance to witness a special moment in history as Venus transits across the disk of the Sun for people across the world to see. Not only is this process of discovery exciting for natural science, but it has profound theological ramifications as well.

 

Series: The Wonder of the Universe (3 entries)

BioLogos is pleased to share excerpts from Karl Giberson’s book The Wonder of the Universe: Hints of God in a Fine-Tuned World. It presents a two-part argument: in the first section Giberson outlines the history of our understanding of the universe, emphasizing the reliability of our knowledge of its properties and its history. In particular he outlines the remarkable evidence of design. In part two of the book, however, he discusses the complexities of drawing inferences from the design of the universe, cautioning against arguments that fine-tuning of the universe proves the existence of God.

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