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Evolution Basics: At the Frontiers of Evolution, Part 4: Contingency vs. Convergence

Given that both contingency and convergence seem to be significant factors in evolutionary history, it is only natural for scientists to wonder which force has the upper hand. Is evolution primarily contingent, with convergence playing only a minor role? Or is evolution largely a convergent phenomenon, where contingent factors have little overall influence?

 

Origins News Roundup for August 20, 2014

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.

 

God as Process Engineer: Creator, Sustainer, Reedemer, and Provider

From a Judeo-Christian perspective, all of these curiosities dovetail into a profoundly meaningful explanation: Being made in God’s image helps to explain our creative and investigative skills, particularly when we consider that God has specially engineered this universe to reveal himself to human beings.

 

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.

 

“The Language of God” Book Club–Chapter 5

Does Collins show that Evangelicals have turned the corner on the scandal Noll brought to light, or does the continued resistance of the majority of Evangelicals to Collins’s work (about 75% reject human evolution) show that we as a collective group still do not take the life of the mind seriously?

 

To Tame the World: What terrifies us about reality pushes us toward its Creator.

We can understand why man, modern man in particular, would like to mop the floors and bleach the walls. We might not be able to tame reality, but we can tame our perception of reality. We intellectualize in order to feel in control.

 

The Father of Intelligent Design

“There was no better way, in Boyle’s opinion, to ‘give us so great a Wonder and Veneration’ for God’s wisdom, than ‘by Knowing and Considering the Admirable Contrivance of the Particular Productions of that Immense Wisdom,’ by which he mainly meant the exquisitely fashioned parts of animals both great and small.”

 

The Challenge of Cosmology

The idea that the story we know is only the very beginning raises a new question in place of Feynman’s objection that Christianity is provincial. Is it presumptuous to claim that in such a grand universe, possibly with intelligent life arising in many places, the redemption and transformation of the entire cosmos starts here, on our pale blue dot?

 

Stochastic Grace

I was raised in a household of atheists. My parents were card-carrying members of the American Communist Party, and therefore the atheism in my household was quite close to the militant anti-theism of the so-called “new atheists”.

 

Belief in God in an Age of Science: John Polkinghorne, Part One

The world is not full of items stamped “made by God”—the Creator is more subtle than that—but there are two locations where general hints of the divine presence might be expected to be seen most clearly. One is the vast cosmos itself, with its fifteen-billion-year history of evolving development following the big bang. The other is the “thinking reed” of humanity, so insignificant in physical scale but, as Pascal said, superior to all the stars because it alone knows them and itself.

 

Series: Understanding Randomness (5 entries)

In this series, Kathryn Applegate addresses the concern that randomness implies the absence of God's activity and involvement in the natural world. She begins by clearing up some common misconceptions about the concept of "randomness", and later focuses on the mechanisms of the immune system to demonstrate that God works through random processes to preserve life. Far from being an indication of a "godless" universe, one might conclude that randomness is one of God’s favorite mechanisms for creating and sustaining life!

 

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: Made in the Image of God: The Theological Implications of Human Genomics (4 entries)

This series by Denis Alexander reflects on advancements in genomics as well as their theological implications. He focuses on the relatedness of hominin genomes, arguing that this does not interfere with the image of God in humans. The image of God depends more on the capacity for relationship and covenant, not on a list of particular physical qualities. He then discusses why the recent studies of genomics provide “no grounds for genetic determinism.”

 

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?

 

Biblical and Scientific Shortcomings of Flood Geology, Part 3

We find no compelling evidence that the earth’s geological features can be explained by a global Flood. Here we consider three lines of evidence: global salt deposits, the order of deposition of sediment layers in the Grand Canyon, and the sequence of fossils in geological strata.

 

The Randomness Project

It is not uncommon to hear voices proclaiming that biology and physics have shown us that—at fundamental levels—nature is random, hence meaningless, purposeless, and without a creator. But how might God work providentially through indeterminate processes? The John Templeton Foundation has provided a generous grant of $1.69 million to support a new research initiative on the theme of Randomness and Divine providence.

 

David Lack: Evolutionary Biologist and Devout Christian

Charles Darwin’s personal struggles and ultimate rejection of Christianity are well documented, and people are eager to link his loss of faith to his evolutionary theory. David Lack, on the other hand, began his scientific career as an agnostic, but shortly after publishing his famous book on the evolution of "Darwin's finches", he converted to Christianity.

 

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.

 

What Does It Mean to Be Human? A Response to Bruce Little, Part 2

Trinitarian theology and the image of God are important, non-essentialist resources to help us think about the distinct place of humanity in creation.

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