Category Archives: Science
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Let’s start with a really basic Christian truth: “No man comes to the Father except by me.” Or from another text, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Now one of the challenging things about the Christian narrative is why, if sin is so deadly and Christ’s work so necessary, the history of salvation seems to unfold so slowly.
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.
Genesis chapters 1-11 continue to intrigue because, for all their “under-determination” of meaning for us moderns, and their mythic style, they keep resonating with details of the most ancient human history. And so, quite apart from any theological reasons, I can’t go along with those who regard them as ahistorical, nor have much sympathy with the idea that they are purely late, exilic, additions – they wear their great antiquity prominently.
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:
There’s an interesting, and rather long, podcast here in which philosopher Lydia McGrew calls out New Testament scholars, as an entire guild, on what she perceives as systemic errors in their basic methodology, and particularly in the field of what is called “redaction criticism”. I have to say I agree with most of what she says, but there has also been a backlash from evangelical NT scholars contradicting her, partly on the basis of credentialism, ie that since she herself is not a trained New Testament scholar, she has no warrant to criticize those who are.
Whilst natural theology is a hot topic at The Hump, Eddie Robinson’s recent pieces here and here regarding the BioLogos thread mentioning natural theology, in connection with Lutheranism, prompted me to do a rapid, and of course, incomplete survey of the Church Fathers on this subject.
Over on BioLogos, George Murphy has responded to my previous post here on the Hump. As I have no posting privileges at BioLogos, I will have to engage Dr. Murphy from my position here. This is an awkward arrangement, but it will serve for the moment. I add, however, that Dr. Murphy is free to sign up here on the Hump as a commenter and respond directly, free of charge, to this post or to any others in the future; I’m sure that his interests sufficiently overlap with the Hump’s that he would be a valuable addition to not just this but other conversations here.
Over at BioLogos, Joshua Swamidass has started a new discussion, entitled “The Lutheran Option”. In it, Joshua makes the point that the Lutheran voice has rarely been heard in origins debates in the USA, and calls for a more balanced discussion in which characteristically Lutheran theological emphases are heard, alongside the more commonly heard Calvinist/Reformed and “Wesleyan” points of view.
You know that thing where you can claim to have all-but met someone because you met someone who has? In that way, I’ve met the Queen because my brother shook hands with her royal glove. Well, yesterday the wife and I met, in this indirect way, the celebrated David Attenborough – whose programmes I first watched back in in 1959 – via the intermediary of a new fossil Jurassic ichthyosaur, on which he has just had a documentary broadcast.