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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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Series: Biblical and Scientific Shortcomings of Flood Geology (6 entries)

Gregg Davidson and Ken Wolgemuth seek to remove the stumbling block of the Genesis flood in this four part series. Though many believe in an ancient world-wide flood, the evidence given does not hold up to geological scrutiny, but points rather to something regional instead. It is their hope that Christians will not walk away from faith in Christ simply because a global flood is not supported by science. Looking at natural phenomena like the Grand Canyon, salt beds, and fossil deposits, they reveal reasons for these deposits and structures while showing that their origin did not stem from a violent flood that covered the planet.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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".

 

The Galileo Affair: Emblematic or Exceptional?

On the morning of June 22, 1633 in the hall of the convent of Santa Maria sopra Minvera in Rome, Galileo Galilei knelt before the Lord-Cardinal Inquisitors-General and publicly abjured his false opinion that the sun was the motionless center of the universe.

 

Series: From the Dust (13 entries)

In this series, Ryan Pettey offers several clips from his powerful documentary "From the Dust". This feature-length film is divided up into various sections, each of which wrestles with the difficult problems that arise when reconciling Scripture with the theory of evolution. A light of hope dawns on the science-faith conversation, however, as scientists and theologians engage in honest dialogue about tough issues such as the interpretation of Genesis, the nature of the Fall, and the idea of random design. Their profound insights are sure to enlighten all minds, raise deeper questions, and provoke new thought.

 

The (Lack Of) Conflict Between Science and Religion in College Students

Media-hungry atheist, creationist and religious fundamentalist provocateurs have dominated the science and religion narrative for the past decade. A recently published large-scale survey of college students, however, finds that the call to arms has fallen on deaf ears.

 

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: 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.

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55 resources found (displaying 1-20)
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