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Saturday Science Links: October 25, 2014

In science news this week, read about magical nose cells, 45,000 year old thigh bones, and the weirdest looking dinosaur ever.

 

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.”

 

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".

 

Series: Recent Discoveries in Astronomy (4 entries)

In this excerpt from the book Delight in Creation: Scientists Share Their Work with the Church, astronomer Deborah Haarsma shares her excitement about recent findings about our universe from a Christian perspective.

 

What is the Higgs Boson?

At a press conference on July 4, 2012, and with 99.99994% confidence (5 sigma), CERN announced the discovery of a particle consistent with that of a Higgs boson (a.k.a. “the God particle”). This is very exciting for elementary particle physicists. But what is the Higgs particle, and what is its meaning?

 

Naming 'the God Particle'

The discovery of the Higgs boson would certainly be a breakthrough for particle physics and cosmology, but would such a finding also radically redefine theology’s understanding of God or challenge the existence of such a deity? Is there actually any theological or religious significance in Higgs physics at all?

 

Series: The Wonder of the Universe (3 entries)

BioLogos is pleased to share excerpts from Karl Giberson’s book The Wonder of the Universe: Hints of God in a Fine-Tuned World. It presents a two-part argument: in the first section Giberson outlines the history of our understanding of the universe, emphasizing the reliability of our knowledge of its properties and its history. In particular he outlines the remarkable evidence of design. In part two of the book, however, he discusses the complexities of drawing inferences from the design of the universe, cautioning against arguments that fine-tuning of the universe proves the existence of God.

 

Series: Universe and Multiverse (6 entries)

Baylor University Physicist Gerald Cleaver describes the changing state of our understanding of the cosmos and suggests ways that Christians can make theological sense of a theoretical Multiverse.

 

Series: Science as an Instrument of Worship (6 entries)

In this brief series (taken from a 2009 paper), Jennifer Wiseman uses an excerpt from the famous hymn “How Great Thou Art,” to explain why the study of God’s creation can lead Christ’s followers into meaningful worship and overcome the obstacles which impede true praise. Creation as encountered through our senses is pondered by our minds, which flows into wonder-filled songs from the soul. She further explains how knowledge of creation will help Christians to address the moral dilemmas of science, and she encourages all to see the process of scientific inquiry as a means to discover God’s truth.

 

Possibilities and Second Chances

In today’s video, Dr. Rick Colling states that evolution is not merely the imposition of death and destruction and survival of the fittest. Rather, it is about second chances.

 

Series: Understanding Evolution: Is There “Junk” in Your Genome? (5 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 on “junk DNA”, we explore how genomics can be employed to test for non-functional sequences by comparing sequences between related organisms.

 

Where is the Genetic Evidence for Evolution?

The discovery of DNA has revolutionized our understanding of common descent, particularly in the past few decades. Mutated genes spread through populations over generations, leading to evolutionary change. In this podcast, we look at several examples of genetic evidence for evolution.

 

God's Use of Time

I find that when many Christians think about the way God created our universe, they often bring a static expectation similar to what we bring to an ordinary statue. It’s as if we assume the physical realm were merely a rigid three-dimensional sculpture, immovable with time.

 

Series: John Polkinghorne on Natural Theology (5 entries)

Polkinghorne discusses the origins and aims of natural theology in this series. It does not offer truth, but rather a “best explanation” for the world, answering primarily meta-questions. Two such questions asked by Polkinghorne are, “Why is science possible at all?” and “What makes the universe so special?” To explore the answers, he looks at the ability of human minds to penetrate mysteries of the natural world as well as the fine-tuning of the universe necessary to produce the fruitfulness of life.

 

Series: Evidences for Evolution (7 entries)

This technical series, co-written by Darrel Falk and David Kerk, looks into the evidence for evolution in order to dispel doubts that people may have about this well-supported theory. They look at three things specifically: the separate methods which reveal of the age of the earth, the unfolding history of whale evolution, and finally the common trends of heart development in vertebrates.

 

Series: Signature in the Pseudogenes (3 entries)

This brief series explains the significance of pseudogenes. Darrel Falk and Dennis Venema demonstrate how the theory of common descent provides a fine framework in which to interpret the existence of these once-functional genes. They also discuss the relationship of various primates and other mammals based on shared pseudogenes. The evidence in support of evolutionary theory, they argue, is compelling when examining the rich history disclosed in the DNA of every organism.

 

Signature in the Synteny

In some ways, comparing the DNA sequence between related organisms is like reading alternative history novels. The hypothesis of common ancestry between similar organisms makes a very straightforward prediction about their genomes...

 

Crabby Christians or Nebulous Data?

Scientists who confront Bible-believing Christians with the physical evidence of theologically-challenging views like old-earth geology or common ancestry are usually incredulous when their well-crafted and well-supported arguments fall on deaf ears. How can something so obvious to one person be so easily dismissed by another?

 

Evidence for Evolution in the Mouths of Birds

A friend tells me the most important task for The BioLogos Forum is to present evidence of evolution in ways people without a biology background can understand.

 

How are the ages of the Earth and universe calculated?

Many independent measurements have established that the Earth and the universe are billions of years old. Geologists have found annual layers in glaciers that can be counted back 740,000 years. Using the known rate of change in radio-active elements (radiometric dating), some Earth rocks have been shown to be billions of years old, while the oldest solar system rocks are dated at 4.6 billion years. Astronomers use the distance to galaxies and the speed of light to calculate that the light has been traveling for billions of years. The expansion of the universe gives an age for the universe as a whole: 13.7 billion years old.
(Updated April 16, 2012)

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