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Origins News Roundup for September 17, 2014

Read about the death of Wolfhart Pannenberg, still debating creation and evolution, and a really big dinosaur discovery.

 

Series: Reviewing “Darwin’s Doubt” (9 entries)

 

Origins News Roundup for September 3, 2014

This week's news features volcanoes, skeletons, and stars, as well as a thought-provoking new book from InterVarsity press.

 

The Fossil Record of the Cambrian “Explosion”: Resolving 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. From the June 2014 issue of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith from the American Scientific Affiliation.

 

Series: Creation, Evolution, and the Over-Active Imagination (2 entries)

 

“The Language of God” Book Club – Chapter 4

Some people who brook no “god of the gaps” arguments anywhere else look to these three moments as more reasonable places to insert God into natural processes: God spoke matter/energy into existence, God made life out of lifeless matter, and God breathed a soul into human beings.

 

A Scientific Commentary on Genesis 7:11

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.

 

Where are the Transitional Fossils?

A common argument leveled against the theory of evolution is that scientists have not been able to produce transitional fossils that show the change of one species into another. In this podcast, we address a common misconception about what transitional fossils actually are.

 

Series: The Human Fossil Record (19 entries)

In this series, James Kidder provides an intriguing study on transitional fossils and the evolutionary history of modern humans. He begins by discussing the fossil record, explaining how new forms are classified. He then explains the physically distinguishing trait of humankind—bipedalism. From the discovery of Ardipithecus, the earliest known hominin, to the australopithecines, the most prolific hominin, Kidder focuses on the discovery, the anatomy, and the interpretation of these ancestral remains.

 

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.”

 

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: Genesis Through Ancient Eyes (5 entries)

In this talk, originally delivered at the BioLogos President's Circle meeting in October 2012, Dr. John Walton discusses the origin stories of Genesis 1-3, and why their focus on function and archetypes mean there is no Biblical narrative of material origins.

 

Series: Biblical and Scientific Shortcomings of Flood Geology (6 entries)

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.

 

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.

 

Hominids Lived Millions of Years Ago, but How Can We Tell? (Videocast)

This BioLogos videocast addresses the age of recently discovered hominid fossils and how scientists are able to obtain those dates.

 

The Fossil Record

There are two opposite errors which need to be countered about the fossil record: 1) that it is so incomplete as to be of no value in interpreting patterns and trends in the history of life, and 2) that it is so good that we should expect a relatively complete record of the details of evolutionary transitions within all or most lineages.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Caution! Design Arguments Ahead

Design arguments have been around forever and expressed in various ways. Most of them fall into what we call natural theology, which is the process of inferring something about the existence and nature of God by the inspection of nature.

 

Understanding Evolution: The Evolutionary Origins of Irreducible Complexity, Part 1

I will take some time to clarify exactly how Michael Behe, the biochemist and Intelligent Design (ID) proponent who has most extensively developed the "irreducible complexity" argument, uses the term.

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