Saturday Science Links: October 25, 2014
In science news this week, read about magical nose cells, 45,000 year old thigh bones, and the weirdest looking dinosaur ever.
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.
The new Gallup survey shows in broad strokes the challenge we face. But more nuanced surveys find that only 8% of Americans are convinced creationists whose beliefs are dear to them, and only 4% are convinced atheistic evolutionists whose beliefs are dear to them. The vast majority of Americans are not sure of their position and are open to a conversation.
Christian theology asserts that humans are spiritual creatures, a unity of body and spirit or “soul,” integrated, not reducible downwards to mere matter or upwards to mere spirit.
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.
The BioLogos Forum is pleased to present this infographic about the current anthropological understanding of human evolution, which takes into account research into both physiological and cultural developments among our ancient ancestors.
This BioLogos videocast addresses the age of recently discovered hominid fossils and how scientists are able to obtain those dates.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
In this video, Pääbo covers a lot of ground, noting several lines of genetic evidence for the evolution of modern humans from earlier hominids in Africa, as well as for the interbreeding between early humans and Neanderthals.
This blog series by Dennis Venema undertakes the task of clarifying numerous aspects of evolution that often become misconstrued by Christians. He first discusses the idea of speciation in a population over time, later applying it to the speciation process that occurred among hominids (human ancestors) which led to modern humans. He continues to support this idea by exploring so called “Mitochondrial Eve,”“Y Chromosome Adam” and other compositional clues of the human genome.
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.
If the tape was rewound and evolution started over from scratch, Conway Morris says, the evolutionary details would be different, but the end result would be similar: a species characterized by intelligence and complex civilization.
All science can say is that there was never a time when only two people existed on the earth: it is silent on whether or not God began a special relationship with a historical couple at some point in the past. This subtle but extremely important point was missed entirely in the NPR story.
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.
Denis Alexander begins this five part series by discussing both what a model is and whether it is appropriate to use one when building a bridge between scientific truths and theological truths. Providing evolutionary facts about the origins of humans as well as discussing the origin and meaning of Adam in Genesis, he constructs what he calls a Retelling model and a Homo divinus model. Both approaches, he concludes, “suggest that human evolution per se is irrelevant to the theological understanding of humankind made in the image of God.”
The tenth anniversary of the human genome has been marked by some striking new genetic insights into human evolution and diversity. Do these new discoveries have any significance for the dialogue between science and religion?