Monthly Archives: December 2014
According to materialism, the appearances of the world around us – its colours, sounds, forms and so on – are illusions produced only by our senses and our minds. All is really particles, waves or whatever inconceivable things those models actually are, to be represented best by mathematical equations. According to reductive materialism that illusion, in the end, extends even to our minds themselves. The scientific project, then, is to get behind these “illusions” to the “reality” behind it.
Carrying on my reading of an inherited set of Charles Dickens’ works over the weekend, I read an account in his travels of a walk up Mount Vesuvius. In itself, interesting enough. But there was a unique layer of meaning for me, since when I first ascended the volcano in 1968, an Italian guide got into conversation whilst I was waiting for the chair-lift (demolished now, sadly). He asked, “Do you like Charles Dickens? I have been reading Nicholas Nickleby. Is England really like that?”
This is just a small update on the issue of gradualism and the palaeontological record that I started in 2013. There I suggested that in a number of iconic species (chosen more or less at my whim, in fact) the fossil pattern shows a significant number of specimens of a small number of species, suggesting a stasis-saltation pattern rather than the expectations from the classic gradualism pattern of evolution, which would give a large number of species with very few representatives of each.
The ENCODE project became controversial last year when it suggested that 80%+ of the human genome is “functional”, meaning “transcribed”, meaning “let’s all argue about what we mean”. The argument continues to rage vituperously though, of course, there is no disagreement whatsoever about the consensus science (fortunately for BioLogos which is theologically wedded to the consensus), because science seems to be helpfully defined nowadays by what isn‘t in dispute at any particular time. But in truth the stage was set for upset back in 2007, when an ENCODE paper suggested a new definition for the gene that said: A gene is a union of genomic sequences encoding a coherent set of potentially … Continue reading
This story in The Independent caught my eye over the weekend. For our transatlantic readers, I should point out that fracking is as unpopular in the UK as GM crops, firstly because we’re so highly populated that it is perceived to be likely to affect back gardens rather than distant wildernesses, which we do not possess. But there was also an unfortunate incident in which a pilot project caused a small earthquake, which has shaken the public confidence more than the bedrock itself.
Still on arty-farty stuff, particularly uncritical Hump devotees may be interested to hear that my new album (in somewhat folk idiom), which has been slowly evolving since early summer, is finished and posted as a free stream or download on my main website here.