The creation of man, as envisaged by the Bible, isn’t as obviously biological as is often assumed, which is important if one wants to take a “science and faith” approach that doesn’t lapse into mere scientism. Take, as a limiting case, the Christian who, according to both Jesus in John’s gospel and Paul, is a “new creation”. As far as I know, every man or woman who has ever been a Christian was born by generation in the usual biological way, and if one accepts evolution has ape ancestors – none of which has any bearing on the process of their new creation whatsoever, which is of the Spirit. Continue reading
“Adam” means “man” in Hebrew (as “human” rather than “male individual”), and quite apart from the deliberate wordplay in Genesis it is generally believed to have some kind of etymological link in Hebrew with “adamah“, meaning “red” and hence “red (=fertile and tilled) soil”. This would not be far-fetched, since our own English word “human” appears to derive from a Proto-Indoeuropean (PIE) root meaning “earth”, thus distinguishing men from the gods of heaven.
One question for the “genealogical Adam” hypothesis of my last post, in which Adam is an historical figure and universal common ancestor, but not the first man, is how he gets to take the word for all humanity as his name. Is this not evidence that he is an allegorical figure, rather than a real person? Continue reading
Despite modern denials, original sin (known in the East as “ancestral sin”) has been assumed by all major branches of Christianity down the ages. I wrote on its affirmation by Irenaeus in the 2nd century here (against many modern writers who pin it all on Augustine two centuries later).
I was collecting some tools from our stable (no longer used for horses) and noticed, not for the first time, a hornet buzzing about there. A careful examination confirmed my suspicion that there was a nest hiding in the corner of the ceiling. I decided that with several grandchildren due to be tromping about in there this month, disturbing a few hundred of these of these not especially aggressive, but certainly large and well-armed creatures was not to be entertained. So I confess I terminated their natural history with an insecticide. Continue reading
… but nothing at all to do with the book of that name by George Gurdjieff. Science Daily has an article about an interesting recent paper on genes and disease, that in effect sounds the death knoll for the genetic model of disease and opens a potential can of extremely hungry worms for biology as a whole. Continue reading
For most of my life I’ve tried to avoid the idea of Jesus as a moral teacher, both because of the gospel of grace and forgiveness versus moralistic self-help, and because of my awareness of C S Lewis’s famous argument in Mere Christianity:
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.
That title is, of course, a gross exaggeration or indeed a calumny (but hey, it sounds good!): cladistics is a tool that is useful according to how it is used. But a major 2009 paper on the evolution of birds addresses some pitfalls in its common use, and points out that:
Cladistics should be treated not as a way to test phylogenetic hypotheses but as an exploratory method, useful, if handled sensitively, for comparing and evaluating hypotheses.
fun∙ction: from Latin fungor, (a) I perform, execute, administer, discharge; (b) I complete, finish. Continue reading
I was listening to Bob Dylan’s Talking World War III Blues in the car last week. Those who were of responsible age back in 1963 may remember it’s about Dylan recounting his dream of being the only one alive after a nuclear war to a psychiatrist, who eventually interrupts him saying he’s been having the same dream, only he was the only one left alive (“I didn’t see you around”). It goes on:
A lot of time passed and now it seems
Everybody’s having them dreams
One of those arguments that seems intuitively wrong, but is hard actually to refute, is the claim that the probability of something that comes to exist in nature, particularly something that seems designed, is impossible to calculate. The fact that something exists, they say, makes its probability 100%, and so it cannot be judged unlikely in advance. Thinking mathematically, since any set of values is as rare as any other, for example in the case of parameters in cosmic fine tuning or the DNA sequence of some astonishing creature, there’s really nothing to wonder about in their existence, as opposed to anything else existing instead. Continue reading