Category Archives: Science
Regarding tone, and often regarding contents, one of the more reasonable commenters on BioLogos is Chris Falter. He tries to at least listen to those who disagree with the TE/EC party line, and (with one exception which I will refrain from mentioning here, as it concerns a science other than evolutionary biology), he tends to engage constructively with critics of his views.
There’s an election campaign on at the moment here, and it’s amusing how, whatever questions politicans are asked in an interview, they’ll make sure they get one of their chosen manifesto slogans or buzzwords into the answer. It’s laughably transparent, but presumably it works because we are all depressingly gullible. For light relief, my wife and I relaxed over a wildlife documentary last evening.
Over at “the other place” I’ve been in conversation with Richard Wright about divine action, and one of his points, all too common in the science-faith discussion, is that science has increasingly shown nature to operate through natural causes (and hence the accusations of invoking the “God of the Gaps” in any consideration of design). So divine action is to be sought (at least in Richard’s rather more positive view, compared to some others) in answered prayer, biblical miracles and so on, but not in nature.
Carrying on the theme of biblical archaeology, Kenneth Kitchen’s book On the Reliability of the Old Testament takes a general overview of the “proto-historic” first 11 chapters of Genesis, but there have been some interesting developments since he wrote it that are worth considering, with regard both to the Flood and to the Eden narrative.
I like to keep tabs on Biblical archaeology from time to time, not only because I wanted to be an archaeologist till my Auntie Dorothy put me off by saying they spend all day down a hole, but because it’s fun to see 19th century mythology about the Bible writers slowly being eroded by a steady trickle of confirmatory evidence (by which you can tell that I’m not sympathetic to the archaeological “minimalists” of the last couple of decades).
A frequent theme in BioLogos writing is that Intelligent Design (ID) theory has contaminated the notion of divine design in nature, so much so that some Christians have shied away from even using the word “design.” One can find this notion expressed in remarks of Jim Stump, who wrote a whole column on “reclaiming” the language of design from the alleged damage it had received at the hands of ID people, and in comments by people like Brad Kramer and Casper Hesp. Casper’s latest remark along this line (in a reply to a new poster, Allison) is: “… the cultural baggage that is linked to the term “design” could be … Continue reading
As C P Snow observed in 1959, there indeed appear to be two cultures at work in our society, one striving for fresh insights into the world, and one bound in dogma and tradition. Let me tell you about two recent conversations that exemplify this sad state of affairs.
Yet another “unexpected” piece of news on evolution was carried by the Washington Post, though here’s a link to the version in The Independent. As you will see, it concerns the remarkable degree to which cephalopod mollusks like octopi recode their RNA for a number of important functions, including (as the relevant study shows) their nervous system. It appears that their proverbial intelligence is not in the genes, but in their editing (the article contrasts them with the Nautilus, a cephalopod that doesn’t recode, and doesn’t therefore predict election results, escape down pipes and so on).
Preston Garrison has been sending me a trickle of articles on structuralism since I did a piece (primarily) on the vertebrate pentadactyl limb, let’s see, nearly four years ago. He recently sent me a good Nature piece marking the centenary of D’Arcy Thompson’s book on the mathematical basis of form, On Growth and Form.
Jonathan Bartlett is an ID guy, but he has commented here, mainly because I mentioned favourably the conference he organised on Alternatives to Methodological Naturalism, which has now become a book that sounds well worth exploring. He recently did a podcast, available on YouTube, suggesting that the unifying theme behind the various disparate strands that make up what is called the “Extended Evoluionary Synthesis” is teleonomy.