Category Archives: Politics and sociology
A thread over at Peaceful Science started with the claim that postmodernism is atheistic, and developed into a free discussion as imprecise as is the definition of postmodernism, appropriately and inevitably, given what it is about. Someone’s mention of “classical thinking” reminded me of this quote by C S Lewis:
When I was writing my forthcoming (promises, promises) book, God’s Good Earth, I added a disclaimer in the introduction that I was not going to attempt the kind of theodicy (following Leibniz) that is so often used to argue that the world itself must be evil through human sin, or through the autonomy granted by God to a demiurgic Nature.
On Thursday I drove two hundred miles across England to attend a meeting on Christian approaches to origins – only to find the meeting had been cancelled and the organisers forgot to tell me.
Genesis 1:28 says: “Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” I recently mentioned a book I’d read called Silent Fields, which documents how the wildlife of Britain has been systematically wiped out over the last five hundred years, leaving a number of species extinct, many more in an endangered state, and much of the rest depleted.
I left off last time by mentioning that the “time honoured status of natural selection,” which habitually appears as the basis of evolution’s incontrovertibility in discussions, is in fact a historical myth. It’s an easily documented one, too. My source in this piece is principally the Wikipedia entry on “The eclipse of Darwinism,” which nicely summarizes the authoritative history by Peter Bowler.
Uncertainty – the Soul of Modeling, Probability & Statistics by William Briggs (Springer, 2016). The world really does need a book on the philosophy behind probability, and this is it.
Last night Channel 4 aired the documentary on the genome sequencing and facial reconstruction of Cheddar Man, the 8,000BCE mesolithic skeleton discovered in Gough’s Cave in Cheddar Gorge a century ago. It was interesting and well done, though of course the “Hey Presto” effect of unveiling the reconstruction was lost because his photo has been splashed over every newspaper and TV channel for the last fortnight.
The revelation that senior figures from the major relief charity Oxfam, whose income is £400m annually, engaged in prostitution and possibly the abuse of minors whilst doing relief work after the Haiti earthquake, has shocked the nation. That’s especially so as it emerges just how many other major charities have experienced the same, and largely winked at it, over recent years. Some in the know speak of deliberate infiltration of the charity industry (sic) by abusers.
The conversation on BioLogos about the implications of Lenski’s E. coli experiment continued, between Richard Buggs and Joshua Swamidass, after I wrote my piece on it here. It turns out that, after discussion, they agreed that, in contradiction of my conclusion, the situation with respect to human genetics is less unpredictable, rather than more, as I suggested there, because of the highly mutable nature of bacteria in comparison to mammals. Lenski therefore seems to have been dropped from the discussion as irrelevant. As Joshua writes, “Retractions are good”!
Over at post 449 of 462 on the BioLogos debate between Dennis Venema (BioLogos staff member) and Richard Buggs (chief researcher in Plant Health at Kew Botanical Gardens) on population genetics predictions about early man, Richard replied to, I think, my only previous contribution on the thread. In that post I had ventured a concern I addressed in more detail in a post here: