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Beware Evolutionary 'Just-so' Stories About Religious Belief

As an evolutionary biologist I am fascinated by the emergence of cognitive abilities that make us so distinctive from other living species. There are, however, risks in making up evolutionary "just-so" stories to explain the origins of complex human beliefs.

 

Series: Reviewing “Darwin’s Doubt” (9 entries)

 

Are We Genetically Predisposed to Believe in God?

This entry was originally posted on February 13, 2010. While the question of evolutionary predisposition toward religious belief may be challenging, Christians need not see it as threatening. In fact, this is actually a Pauline notion that is explored in Romans 1, where Paul claims that it is in mankind’s nature to “know God”.

 

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”.

 

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.

 

Made in the Image of God: Human Values and Genomics

Genes and physiology are seen as something different from "us" and "our mind," and they seem to be controlling us, so we can't even change our mind. Humans are presented as pawns of their biology, puppets dancing to the tune of their genetic masters.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Series: Divine Action in the World (5 entries)

In this talk, Professor Plantinga addresses the fact that many contemporary thinkers—including many theologians—believe that God cannot perform miracles, providentially guide history, or interact in the lives of people, as these activities would be contrary to science. Plantinga, on the other hand, makes the case that this popular view is mistaken; excluding divine action in the world is not a central feature of natural science itself, but a philosophical or theological preference that has been added on to science (and can just as readily be removed). Plantinga concludes that it is completely logical to accept the miracles of the Bible and support contemporary science.

 

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.

 

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?

 

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.

 

Series: He Who Has Ears (4 entries)

Scholar and musician Jeff Warren addresses the questions of how music is meaningful, and where that meaning resides, by looking at the popular ideas that musical meaning is entirely subjective to the listener and that the meaning of music can be universal. He also explores the recent trend of attempting to explain music via neuroscience. Finally, he looks into the reasons why music continues to play such a critical role in the worshiping life of the Church.

 

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.

 

Let's Not Surrender Science to the Secular World!

As much as I sympathize with Giberson and Stephens, I am concerned that one of their central assumptions—that there is a divide between ‘secular knowledge’ and Christian—essentially undermines their very pursuit of a middle ground where the two can be ‘integrated’.

 

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.

 

Evolution: Is God Just Playing Dice?

With his standard panache, the late Harvard paleontologist Stephen J. Gould argued strenuously that evolution had no inherent directionality. We are mere accidents; a "tiny twig on an improbable branch of a contingent limb on a fortunate tree".

 

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.

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