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Evolution Basics: Darwin’s Early Observations on Biogeography

For Darwin, both of these observations (that oceanic islands lacked terrestrial mammals, and that endemic species on islands were most similar to a species on the closest mainland) had the same explanation: his hypothesis that endemic, oceanic species were the modified descendants of a colonizing species from the nearest continent.

 

Evolution and Christian Faith Grantees Announced

Congratulations to the 37 winners of the Evolution & Christian Faith (ECF) grants competition! ECF is a new BioLogos program designed to support projects and network-building among scholars, church leaders, and parachurch organizations.

 

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: Harmonizing Science, Ethics, and Praxis (4 entries)

In this three-part series, Cal DeWitt offers insights and examples of why science and ethics must work together to help us make informed, practical decisions within our society. DeWitt’s science-ethics-praxis model provides a framework by which we can live more effectively as God’s stewards.

 

Series: To Serve and Preserve—Genesis 2 and the Human Calling (3 entries)

In this series, David Buller pays careful attention to the original language and cultural context of Genesis 2, revealing that our responsibility to care for creation is a sacred task given to us by God, not merely a modern secular activity. By taking Scripture seriously, we learn that we have a God-given mandate to be diligent stewards of His creation.

 

Katharine Hayhoe: Evangelical Christian, Climate Scientist

As an Evangelical and a scientist, Katharine Hayhoe is already a member of a rare breed. As a climate change researcher who is also married to an evangelical Christian pastor, she is nearly one of a kind.

 

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: 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".

 

Denisovans, Humans and the Chromosome 2 Fusion

The Denisovans, an extinct hominid group that interbred with modern humans, made the news again lately with the publication of a more detailed study of their genome. One of the many interesting findings was that the Denisovans share the same chromosome 2 fusion that modern humans have.

 

David Lack and Darwin’s Finches

Considering the immense popularity of "Darwin's finches", it is quite surprising to learn that Charles Darwin himself had very little to say about them. In fact, it was actually David Lack, one century later, who conducted the critical research that immortalized the finches in biology textbooks and popular lore.

 

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.

 

What evidence do we have for evolution besides fossils and genes?

Scientists have found multiple lines of evidence for evolution, not just one or two. These types of evidence are independent of each other, coming from sources as different as ancient fossils and modern genetics labs. Evidence also comes from comparing the anatomy of creatures living today. All creatures with four limbs (whether mammals, birds, or reptiles) have the same bone structure in each limb, pointing to their descent from a common ancestor. More evidence comes from biogeography. Isolated islands are missing common species found on the mainland, but are filled with many unique species that can be related by a common ancestor. Finally, evidence comes from embryonic development. As an embryo of a mammal grows, its heart develops through stages similar to fish, amphibians, and reptiles. God’s creation declares the history of life in many different ways. All these ways are pointing to a consistent picture of God creating through evolution.

 

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.

 

Being Fruitful

Many people use the words "dominion" and "subdue" as "unconditional permission to use the world as they please." I came to realize, like many, that such an interpretation is contradicted by the rest of the Bible.

 

For the Love of the World: John Stott and His Passion for Creation

Some criticized John for his theistic evolutionary position and even his appreciation for Darwin. But Stott saw no contradiction between his own commitment to the authority of Scripture and his openness to God’s use of evolution in His creative process.

 

Series: Understanding Evolution: Theory, Prediction and Converging Lines of Evidence (4 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 explore how evolution is a theory in the scientific sense, how it is supported by converging lines of evidence, and how it can make accurate predictions about the natural world, using whale evolution as an example.

 

Science as an Instrument of Worship, Part 3

Humanity faces tremendous moral dilemmas today, and science has relevance to most of them. As followers of Christ, we understand that our lives are entrusted to us for a short time, and that we will give an account for the things we do.

 

What is the genetic evidence for evolution?

Darwin developed his theory of evolution by looking at scientific evidence available in the mid-1800s. Since then, the whole field of genetics has developed, adding a powerful independent line of evidence in support of evolution. Genes show how the physical traits of living things are handed down and modified from one generation to the next. By comparing the DNA of many organisms, scientists can map the relationships between species. This map is in remarkable agreement with Darwin’s predictions. The structure of chromosomes and particular genetic sequences point to the conclusion not just of common design, but common descent as well.

 

Vox Balaenae

In 1967, biologists Roger Payne and Scott McVay discovered that humpback whales “sing” and published recordings of the whales’ complex vocalizations, after which “whale song” quickly entered the popular consciousness and helped propel the “save the whales” environmental movement forward.

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