Report Preview: “Science and Religion”: the perils of misperception

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Since 2012, the research agency Ipsos/ MORI has been conducting surveys into, what they have dubbed, the perils of perception. This explores the difference between people’s perception of something and its reality. For example, people in the UK overestimate prison population, knife crime, and unemployment but underestimate the impact of climate change and the level of sexual harassment.

Ipsos/ MORI does not ask about people’s perception of science and religion, in part because there is no ‘reality’ figure, such as official measures of unemployment or prison population, to compare it against. Nevertheless, the data in this report suggest that this topic does suffer from the peril of misperception. More people think that there is a general antagonism between science and religion than feeling strongly about it themselves… Continue reading

Book Preview: Creation, Providence, and Evolution

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© RM Bancewicz

The Christian doctrine of creation has done much to shape the biological sciences that we study today…John Ray (1627– 1705), [was] a key Christian founder of the discipline of natural history that later came to be called biology…Ray taught some of the materials that later became his book [The Wisdom of God manifested in the Works of Creation] not in a lecture hall but in Trinity College chapel because he saw teaching science as an act of worship. John Ray declared that he had published his Ornithology for “the illustration of Gods glory, by exciting men to take notice of, and admire his infinite power and wisdom.”… Continue reading

Suffering: The Tree of Life, Job, and Jesus

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© Ruth Bancewicz

‘What is mankind that you are mindful of them,

a son of man that you care for him?

You made them a little lower than the angels;

you crowned them with glory and honour

and put everything under their feet.’

…But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while,

now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death,

so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

Hebrews 2: 6b-8a, 9

Nick Higgs is a marine biologist who studies the explosion of life that happens when a whale dies and its carcass sinks to the sea floor. As a Christian, his view of human suffering and death is formed both by his knowledge of how the created order works, and by his understanding of what Jesus did when he came to earth. Nick shared his perspective at a recent conference organised by Christians in Science, where he had been invited to give the Oliver Barclay lecture – an annual award for an young scientist – and I will share an abbreviated version of his thoughts here. Continue reading

Guest Post: The Wonderful Thing About Nature

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My kids love Winnie the Pooh. They love to parade around our flat and sing, “The wonderful thing about Tiggers is Tiggers are wonderful things. Their tops are made of rubber, their bottoms are made of springs!” It’s a song that Tigger the tiger sings in the Disney film Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. Tigger is explaining to Pooh Bear the things that make him so wonderful. All of the individual parts that make up Tigger are the things that make him so wonderful. Is this not also true when we look at nature? Continue reading

Book preview: Creation or Evolution – Do we have to choose?

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© Aureliy Movila, Freeimages.com

All Christians are, by definition, creationists. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament expresses this very clearly when he writes:

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:2)

We cannot come to know God personally by faith without also believing that he is Creator of all that exists. The Apostles’ Creed affirms: ‘I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth’, a declaration central to the beliefs of all mainstream denominations. So Christians are by definition those who believe in a creator God; they are creationists. Now of course there is the slight problem that in common usage the term ‘creationist’ is attached to a particular set of beliefs held by some Christians, as well as by some Muslims and Jews, and these beliefs relate to the particular way in which it is thought that God has created. For example, some creationists believe that the earth is 10,000 years old or less. Other creationists believe that the earth is very old, but that God has intervened in a miraculous way at various stages of creation, for example to bring about new species. Since words are defined by their usage, we have to accept that this is the kind of belief to which the word ‘creationist’ refers. But this should not mask the fact that in reality all Christians are creationists in a more basic sense – it is just that they vary in their views as to how God created. Continue reading

Supercooperators: Why we need each other to succeed

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Thanks Susann Mielke, the cooperative photographer who made this image freely available on Pixabay

The simple act of buying a coffee and a croissant in a coffee shop rests on a massive chain of cooperation dating back thousands of years. There was the growing and processing of raw materials, sourcing and supplying them, manufacturing products, setting up a business, training staff, and so on. Perhaps the most important links in this chain were the people who shared their knowledge about all those processes across the globe, and over many generations.

Humans are unusually cooperative, but other living organisms also play the same game. In Supercooperators: Evolution, Altruism and Human behaviour, or Why we need each other to succeed, the biological mathematician Martin Nowak, and his cooperating co-author the science journalist Roger Highfield, explain how this process works. Continue reading

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom

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For me as a biologist, evolutionary and developmental biology – evo devo for short – is one of the most wonderful, illuminating, useful areas of study. In the last few decades we have gone from guessing at how things might have evolved, to having some actual mechanisms of how organs, and even whole organisms, can change. As a Christian, I am interested in this subject first of all because it’s fascinating. Having been freed by Biblical Scholars from feeling that I need to read the Bible as a science book, I can now go and explore God’s world using the tools of science, thanking him for all the incredible things I find. Secondly, this knowledge is incredibly useful. The more we learn about how our bodies develop and grow, the more we can treat disease. Continue reading