A good deal of my job is spent staring at a computer screen. Because of that, I often stumble across articles related to my work at the intersection of science and Christianity. What better way to spend a few minutes on a Monday than reviewing some of these?!
The Naturalis Historia blog is written by Joel Duff, a biology professor at the University of Akron. He often digs into stories more deeply than the headlines. Two of his blog posts last week caught my attention. The Frequently Overlooked Geological Context of Hominid Fossils gives the story behind the story about the difficulty of humanoid fossil finds for young earth creationists. They typically seem concerned with whether or not a particular fossil is ape or human, but Duff shows the problem is much deeper than that. The “caves” where many of these are found in South Africa have geological features that just can’t be explained by flood geology. Duff writes:
Within a YEC context, where flood geology is used to explain present day geological phenomena, the presence of fossils in these rocks is a serious, probably insurmountable, problem. The YEC literature expends a lot of energy and page space on their web site to explaining away the intermediate features of these fossils, and while that effort is not especially convincing, their geological timeline for a fossil site such as Malapa is so far-fetched that ignoring the context of the fossil finds seems to be the only response.
Secondly, Duff alerts us to the fact that another creation museum is in the works. Answers in Genesis may be the most prominent of the Young Earth organizations, but they’re not the only one. The Institute for Creation Research was founded by Henry Morris (co-author of The Genesis Flood) and now is located in Dallas. Evidently they don’t think people in their part of the country should have to drive to the Cincinnati area to see exhibits with their brand of "scientific creationism", so they have announced plans to build the Dallas Museum of Science and Earth History. Duff’s article gives the financial background for this project in the context of AiG’s fundraising for essentially the same thing. Is there enough YEC money to go around?
The position we defend is called Evolutionary Creation. At its most basic, it makes two claims: 1) God is the creator; and 2) The science of evolution is the best scientific description we have for how life developed on earth. Under that banner, there is quite a bit of room for a diversity of opinions on various topics. We typically keep our discussions within the more narrow confines of Evangelicalism, because that’s how most of us self-identify and that’s where the most work needs to be done in showing the harmony between evolution and biblical faith. But most people in what is often called Progressive Christianity would accept those two claims too. James McGrath does a lot of blogging at Exploring our Matrix on the Progressive Christian Channel at Patheos. I stay up-to-date on Star Wars there, and I almost wish I’d gotten into Dr. Who because of his blog posts. He also regularly features topics of science and faith. Here’s a brief one from last week that’s like an iceberg: only a little showing on the surface, with a lot of mass beneath it. He says, “If you can’t see God at work in the world the way it really is, then your theology is a failure to begin with and needs to be scrapped.” Pete Enns is also put into the Progressive camp by most, and he’s the favorite whipping boy of many of our critics. His no-nonsense style of telling it like it is (or at least how he thinks it is) can be startling to people with more conservative sensibilities. Last week he gave a very nice personal reflection on his work of understanding Scripture in the context of what we know about the world through science, concluding with these words:
Searching for a meaningful theological appropriation of the Bible in view of evolution can bring us to examine more closely our theological assumptions and assertions rather than resting in them. And it seems to me this journey can bring us closer to God rather than further away.
Ruth Bancewicz is our Scottish friend who runs the Science and Belief blog. Last week she wrote an article about Wilson Poon, Professor of Condensed Matter Physics at Edinburgh University, called The Hiddenness of God: An Alternative to ‘Science and Religion’. “Poon’s view is that a God who is humble enough to allow himself to be killed is unlikely to feel the need to insert himself at every step in the organisation of the world.” But that does not mean that God cannot be found. “According to Wilson Poon, the best way to test the God hypothesis is by joining the worshipping community of Christians in the church.”
Finally, with the extra hour we had this weekend as Daylight Savings Time ended (shouldn’t it really be called “Daylight Shifting Time”?? It doesn’t really save any daylight, right?), I found myself reading this long-ish article on how time became universalized (shouldn’t it really be called “globalized”?? I doubt that time zones in other parts of the universe are set in reference to Greenwich Mean Time!). What we take for granted now had something of a tumultuous history. Since most of my clocks adjust themselves now, I miss the ceremony of physically going around and setting back the clocks and thinking how strange it is that we fiddle with time like this. Now that the World Series is over (shouldn’t it be called the “North American Series”?? Or maybe the United-States-Plus-One-Team-from-Canada Series?), I’ll have more time to devote to thinking about such things and tracking down interesting stories on the internet. Let me know if you find something worth pointing to.