Remember how in Jurassic Park they found amber that had preserved mosquitoes with dinosaur blood? Zircons can do something similar. Zircons are minerals that form from molten rock and preserve elements of their original environment. Geochemists from UCLA found pure graphite specks in a zircon that is dated by uranium-lead ratios to be 4.1 billion years old. The scientists say, “nobody has offered a plausible alternative explanation for graphite of non-biological origin into a zircon." That means this is pretty impressive evidence for life on earth 4.1 billion years ago—some 300 million years earlier than evidence previously suggested.
There was a review of the second volume of Richard Dawkins’ autobiography in the Washington Post. The reviewer, Jacob Lupfer, thinks Dawkins is trying to project a kinder, gentler version of his militant atheism. The main evidence he cites comes not from the book, but from his treatment of Ben Carson and Francis Collins at a public event in Washington. Of course Dawkins has no time for Carson’s denial of evolution and doesn’t speak too kindly of him. But then he goes on with:
“Collins, on the other hand, is an evangelical who directs the National Institutes of Health. A theistic evolutionist, he sees no conflict between faith and science. When given the chance to attack Collins in his Washington talk, Dawkins demurred. Notably, Collins befriended Dawkins’ associate, Christopher Hitchens, near the end of his life and delivered a moving eulogy at his funeral.”
The author Marilynne Robinson has made a name for herself with her fantastic novels Gilead, Home, and Lila. She is unapologetic about her Christian faith and has a knack for seeing and describing the sacramental character of ordinary life. But she has also turned her gaze and pen toward scientism, claiming it to vastly over-reach and ignore most of what makes life as a human worth living. In this vein she wrote Absence of Mind in 2011 and now is set to publish another book this week, The Givenness of Things. A long excerpt from it was published at the Nation last week under the title, Humanism, Science, and the Radical Expansion of the Possible. In this work, Robinson is frustrated with the reductionistic tendencies of neuroscience, saying:
"So while inquiries into the substance of reality reveal further subtleties, idioms of relation that are utterly new to our understanding [she’s talking about quantum physics], neuroscience tells us that the most complex object we know of, the human brain, can be explained sufficiently in terms of the activation of “packets of neurons,” which evolution has provided the organism in service to homeostasis."
A couple of weeks ago I posted 10 Misconceptions about Evolution on the blog. It was received pretty well by most people I heard from, but the folks at Answers in Genesis didn’t like it too much. One of their freelance writers responded with an article, Misconceptions about Creation, saying that all my article did was show my own misconceptions about biblical creation—as though all the misconceptions I cited were directed at AiG. They weren’t the only ones to say that I was using strawman arguments in my post; there were several people in the the comments section of our site charging that too. So let me set the record straight: every one of the misconceptions I listed were taken from real people arguing against evolution. I never claimed these were good arguments—just things “people” are confused about. The fact that AiG doesn’t hold to some of them doesn’t make those strawman arguments (unless I had claimed to be arguing against them specifically). I actually think there are some good arguments against evolution (note that for philosophers, “good argument” doesn’t necessarily mean we accept them!). But I stand by my claim that these 10 are not them.
Finally, I was intrigued to see my old title here at BioLogs—Content Manager—come in at #21 on the list of jobs with the best “work life - balance” as reported by the Glassdoor blog. Granted, it was no civil engineer (#12) or substitute teacher (#5) on this count, and since it was my second job, it might not be fair for me to judge how much time it left for family. Now I’m down to one job, and even though my current title of Senior Editor doesn’t appear on the list, I’m incredibly blessed to have it.