Saturday Science Links: October 18, 2014
Collection of the best articles of the past several weeks on science (and faith) from around the web.
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: Surprised by Jack: C.S. Lewis on Mere Christianity, the Bible, and Evolutionary Science (4 entries)
In this five-part series, David Williams responds to the book The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society by John West and the Discovery Institute, showing that C.S. Lewis was a very complicated thinker whose views are hard to line up exactly with any camp in the current debates over the compatibility of Christian faith and evolutionary science.
Surveying George Murphy's Theology of the Cross
If God himself is willing to die, particularly in such a gruesome way, then perhaps we should at least consider the possibility of God allowing the death of other creatures, too. But would this really be compatible with what we know of God through Scripture?
Series: Behe, Lenski and the “Edge” of Evolution (5 entries)
In this series, we reexamine the claim made by Intelligent Design proponent Michael Behe to have found a limit to “Darwinian” evolution in light of recent results from the laboratory of Richard Lenski.
Willing to be Wrong
The debate is often not about evidence, but about making sure that others do not transgress our interpretive boundaries and insist that we're wrong. We've bitten from the tree of knowledge and we love its taste.
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".
Freedom and Grace in Tennessee
Towards the end of the last school year, the Tennessee legislature passed the Teacher Protection Academic Freedom Act, a law that became more popularly known as the “Monkey Bill.” I was doing research in a Tennessee high school biology classroom the morning that I learned that the bill had passed.
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.
Our desire to engage in gracious dialogue with fellow believers who reject biological evolution has been receiving increased attention in both the Christian and secular press. More importantly, we are being joined in this reconciling project by our brothers and sisters in Christ who have often been defined primarily as our “opponents”.
Series: Understanding Evolution: the Evolutionary Origins of Irreducible Complexity (6 entries)
One of the challenges for discussing evolution within evangelical Christian circles is that there is widespread confusion about how evolution actually works. In this installment, we examine evidence that proteins in irreducibly complex (IC) systems can form and refine new interactions through gradual mechanisms.
Fine-tuning and the “Fruitful Universe”
I ask the question, “Why is the universe so special?” Now scientists don’t like things to be special; we like things to be general, and our natural anticipation would have been that the universe is just a common specimen of what a universe might be like.
Teaching the Whole Controversy
Part of our goal at BioLogos is to demonstrate that we in the Christian community can and must think deeply, but also broadly, if we want to do justice to the complexity of biological life, but also to the complexity of our lives of faith.
Teaching Science in Tennessee
Last week, Tennessee legislators approved a bill on science education (the Teacher Protection Academic Freedom Act) that has stoked controversy around the country.
Is There “Junk” in Your Genome? Part 4
Now that we have covered significant ground with respect to what various classes of pseudogenes are and how they arise, we are now able to properly evaluate antievolutionary arguments put forward in an attempt to discredit these lines of evidence for evolution.
Series: He Who Has Ears (4 entries)
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.
Science is Empowering But Hard to Define
It is easy to be confused about what science is and what scientists do. In part, this is because scientists do so many different things in so many different ways.
Speciation and Incomplete Lineage Sorting
One consequence of speciation being a population event is that populations have genetic diversity – not all members of the population are genetically identical. For any particular gene, then, a population may have several slightly different forms present within it. These different forms are called alleles.
On Deciphering the Signature
The interesting thing about this is that Steve Meyer and I are probably really in almost the same exact position when it comes to our core beliefs. We differ primarily in one regard.