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.
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.
Reviewing “Darwin’s Doubt”: Ralph Stearley
While it is true that Goodwin and others believe that their discoveries pose a major challenge to neo-Darwinian orthodoxy, this does not cause them to abandon their belief that the history of life can be explained as the outcome of biological processes!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.