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Origins News Round-Up for May 28, 2014

This weeks in Origins news: studies of a skeleton uncovered in 2007 provide clues about rapid human evolution in the Americas, our climate and Christian stewardship, a few BioLogos folks give interviews, and some cool links to miscellaneous finds.

 

The Believing Primate

The Believing Primate aims to describe and discuss the scientific accounts of religion as well as to assess their implications. -Amazon

 

Evolution and Ethics

Evolution and Ethics examines the burning questions of human morality from the standpoint of Christian thought and contemporary biology, asking where the two perspectives diverge and where they may complement one another. -Amazon

 

Neanderthals, humans and interbreeding: old bones, new evidence

For Evangelicals interested in the evolutionary history of our species, the results of a new study are a “smoking gun” for human/Neanderthal interbreeding.

 

What Americans Think and Feel about Evolution

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.

 

Humanity as and in Creation

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.

 

Does Evolution Compromise Human Morality?

Once we have a scientific hypothesis for how something exists, it is tempting to make the philosophical inference that this is also why it exists.

 

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 (4 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.

 

Being Human (Infographic)

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.

 

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 is the genetic evidence for human evolution?

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.

 

How does original sin fit with evolutionary history?

Original sin often refers simply to the current state of humanity, in that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Evolution does not raise questions about our current state of sinfulness. It does, however, raise questions about how and when the first sin occurred, and how this fallen state was transmitted to all people. The sciences of evolution and archaeology can provide some insight into these questions but are not equipped to answer them. These questions are theological, and over the centuries the church has considered many possible answers. Some of these options are consistent with the scientific evidence currently available.

 

Dead Bones with a Living Message

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.

 

Series: Understanding Evolution (4 entries)

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.

 

The Source of Human Value

In this video, physicist Ard Louis describes that our value and purpose do not come from whether or not we were created by an evolutionary mechanism. Evolution may tell us something about how we were created, but it is not the source of our worth.

 

Was Humanity Inevitable?

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.

 

NPR’S Adam and Eve Story

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.

 

Series: Genetics, Theology, and Adam as a Historical Person (9 entries)

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.”

 

Made in the Image of God: Theological Implications of Human Genomics

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?

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