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What scientific evidence do we have about the first humans?

In recent decades, scientists have discovered more about the beginnings of humanity. The fossil record shows a gradual transition over 5 million years ago from chimpanzee-size creatures to hominids with larger brains who walked on two legs. Later hominids used fire and stone tools and had brains as large as modern humans. Fossils of homo sapiens in east Africa date back nearly 200,000 years. Humans developed hearths for fire, stone points for spears and arrows, and cave paintings by 30,000 years ago. By 10,000 years ago, humans had spread throughout the globe. Genetic studies support the same picture. Humans share more DNA with chimpanzees than with any other animal, suggesting that humans and chimps share a relatively recent common ancestor. Also, the same defective genes appear in both humans and chimps, at the same locations in the genome—an observation difficult to explain except by common ancestry. Genetics also tells us that the human population today descended from more than two people. Evolution happens not to individuals but to populations, and the amount of genetic diversity in the gene pool today suggests that the human population was never smaller than several thousand individuals. Yet all humans, of all races, are descended from this group. Humanity is one family.

 

Engaging Today's Militant Atheist Arguments

In this paper, MIT professor Ian Hutchinson addresses the question of how to engage arguments put forward by the New Atheists. In doing so, he offers a critique of scientism, the assumption that scientific knowledge is all the real knowledge there is.

 

How Does the BioLogos Model Need to Address Concerns About Science?

Many barriers to the acceptance of the BioLogos model by evangelical Christians arise from popular misconceptions about the nature of science and its relationship to God's action in our world.

 

The Cambrian 'Explosion', Transitional Forms, and the Tree of Life

Geologist Keith Miller examines the "Cambrian Explosion", a period of rapid evolutionary diversification approximately 575 million years ago, and whether it poses a challenge to evolutionary theory.

 

What Scientists Do

In this scholarly essay, Steve Benner, a Distinguished Fellow of The Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Fla., looks at what the role of a scientist should be. Benner looks specifically at "falsifiability", the acceptance of uncertainty, and the place of the scientist in public discourse.

 

Accommodationist and Proud of It

Science and religion scholar Michael Ruse gives a personal account of his experiences as an author and public speaker on the compatibility of Christianity and biological evolution.

 

Scientific Fundamentalism and its Cultural Impact

Giberson's essay makes the case that scientific fundamentalists are not merely arguing for the supremacy of science but also presenting science as a quasi-religious replacement. The agenda of the "New Atheists" is not merely to refute mainstream religion but to replace it. Unfortunately, the scientific community is poorly represented by these aggressive public figures.

 

Does the Cambrian Explosion pose a challenge to evolution?

The “Cambrian Explosion” refers to the appearance in the fossil record of most major animal body plans about 543 million years ago. The new fossils appear in an interval of 20 million years or less. On evolutionary time scales, 20 million years is a rapid burst that appears to be inconsistent with the gradual pace of evolutionary change. However, rapid changes like this appear at other times in the fossil record, often following times of major extinction. The Cambrian Explosion does present a number of interesting and important research questions. It does not, however, challenge the fundamental correctness of the central thesis of evolution.

 

How could humans have evolved and still be created in the "Image of God"?

The meaning of the “image of God” has been debated for centuries in the church. A common view is that the image of God refers to the human abilities that separate us from the animals. However, scientists have found that abilities like communication and rationality are also present in animals on a basic level. Plus, theologians do not see the image of God as human abilities. Some theologians see the image of God as our capacity for a relationship with God. Other theologians see it as our commission to represent God’s kingdom on earth. Both of these theological positions are consistent with scientific evidence. Whether God created humanity through a miracle or through evolution, God gave us our spiritual capacities and calls us to bear his image.
(Updated June 25, 2012)

 

What does the fossil record show?

Fossils provide a unique view into the history of life by showing the forms and features of life in the past. Fossils tell us how species have changed across long periods of the Earth’s history. For instance, in 1998, scientists found a fossil showing an animal at the transition from sea creature to land creature. This tetrapod had a hand-like fin, confirming a prediction of evolutionary biology. Though the fossil record does not include every plant and animal that ever lived, it provides substantial evidence for the common descent of life via evolution. The fossil record is a remarkable gift for the study of nature.

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