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.
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.
Evolution, the Enlightenment, and Worldviews
In this video conversation, N.T. Wright discusses how the Enlightenment worldview -- which clearly separates God from the world -- has impacted our view of Scripture, and why cleaning the "spectacles" through which we view the world can help us see both Scripture and the world more clearly.
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 (20 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.
Can Science Ever Know Enough?
To say something is poetic is not to declare it ultimately untrue, futile and meaningless—it is to say it is more profound and meaningful and true than many other modes of expression.
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 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.
Are You There God? It's Us, Scientists (Infographic)
The BioLogos Forum is pleased to present this infographic about religious belief among scientists. The graphic uses data from the Pew Research Center, Rice University, and quotations from scientists assembled in a recent Huffington Post article.
What is Scientism?
Scientism is a rather strange word, but for reasons that we shall see, a useful one. Though this term has been coined rather recently, it is associated with many other “isms” with long and turbulent histories: materialism, naturalism, reductionism, empiricism, and positivism.
Jefferson’s Bible and the Tears of Christ
Predictably, "Jesus Wept" did not make it into the Jefferson Bible. John 11 was cut out entirely, falling onto the floor of his Monticello home and discarded, along with Martha's confession.
Series: What Scientists Do (7 entries)
Steve Benner, a Distinguished Fellow of The Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Fla., looks at what the role of a scientist should be. Benner looks specifically at "falsifiability", the acceptance of uncertainty, and the place of the scientist in public discourse.
Evidences for Evolution, Part 2b: The Whales’ Tale
If evolution is true, whales are related to the even-toed hoofed mammals, and there should be transitional fossil forms dating from about 45 to 50 million years ago.
New Limbs from Old Fins, Part 2: Comparative Anatomy
Critics of evolution sometimes portray the theory as an untestable historical conjecture, depicting it as fundamentally different from experimental science in the lab. But the hunt for the earliest tetrapods was an effort to test a hypothesis that had generated a prediction.
Series: Reviewing "Why Evolution is True" (6 entries)
In this three part series, Robert C. Bishop provides a helpful review for Evangelicals of the book Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. He first debunks many outdated ideas and myths about the theory of evolution and its implications. He then goes on to critique Coyne’s conclusions about God as a “bad designer.” He further addresses how Christianity and science overlap as well as how to have a meaningful discussion between two individuals with radically different views.
Series: The Cambrian "Explosion", Transitional Forms, and the Tree of Life (8 entries)
Many evolutionary critics have identified the Cambrian Explosion as a stumbling block to the theory of evolution, arguing that the “expected transitions between major invertebrate phyla are absent, and that the suddenness of their appearance in the fossil record demonstrates that evolutionary explanations are not viable.” Keith Miller argues that the Cambrian Explosion is not so problematic as these opponents claim after all.
Series: Hutchinson on Atheism (7 entries)
Ian Hutchinson draws a sharp line between science and scientism. Scientism holds that all truth emerges from scientific study and explanation. Hutchinson, however, disagrees as he points to science’s inability to establish truth about, for example, the events that have occurred in humanity’s history on earth. He specifically engages Richard Dawkins assertions (from the book The God Delusion) that God is a scientific hypothesis that has been essentially disproved by science and that evolution explains religion as nothing more than a natural phenomenon.
Engaging Today's Militant Atheist Arguments
In this paper, MIT professor Ian Hutchinson addresses the question of how to engage arguments put forward by the New Atheists. In doing so, he offers a critique of scientism, the assumption that scientific knowledge is all the real knowledge there is.