Guest Post: Artistic Molecules

rainbow freeimages Pawel JagodzinskiThis week as I was demonstrating “Messy Church Does Science”, I extracted someone’s DNA using salt water, washing-up liquid and methylated spirits.  At the boundary between these substances, a white substance forms that can be drawn out into a thin glistening thread made up of millions of stands of DNA – the twisted double helix.  That form itself is a wonderful example of the artistry that arises from a chaotic mix of chemical elements.  Yet perhaps true artistry is seen in the emergence of life that DNA shapes in all its diversity and beauty across millions of years. Continue reading

Interview: Purpose and Pleasure – Exploring Addiction Science

FreeImages.com/Dean Smith
FreeImages.com/Dean Smith

What is the interface between ideas of purpose of science, and in faith – or life in general? This was one of the main topics of conversation during my interview with Alan Gijsbers. I wanted to find out whether medical professionals have a similar sense of wonder or spirituality to some laboratory scientists. Although the challenges are very different in medicine, I found that Alan shared the same combination of curiosity, questioning, and connection with deeper issues that is so important for many other researchers. Continue reading

The Emergence of Human Consciousness

© Leandro Cavinatto, http://www.sxc.hu

Why do we ascribe dignity and moral worth to human beings? At least part of the reason is because we can see beyond our physical makeup to qualities such as consciousness and the ability to make decisions. We are fantastically complicated biological systems, but we are more than our molecules: we are persons, and our conscious experiences are wonderfully real.

Last week the philosopher Tim O’Connor spoke at the Faraday Institute on The Emergence of Human Persons. Emergence is a fascinating area of research, and a controversial one. Although emergence is a philosophical argument, it has important implications for science.

O’Connor began his seminar by explaining where the idea of emergence came from. Continue reading