Discipleship in all of life: Putting faith and science in the blender

3278764814_4d666f44ee_o-crop
Cropped from Morning Prayers by Don Christner. Flickr. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

How much does the natural world feature in the average Christian’s relationship with God? Church leaders often speak about ‘discipleship’, meaning the process of learning what it is to be a Christian and putting that knowledge into practice. The question is, are discipleship and our experience of the created order – trees, water, rocks and stars – held in separate watertight boxes, or are they blended Continue reading

Learning From the Past: Intelligence, creativity and risk in evolutionary processes

What is intelligence? The ability to process information or respond to signals? The use of language, music or mathematics? One measure of whether something is intelligent is if it can use past experience to direct future behaviour in a helpful direction. This is something I often attempt, with varying levels of success! In recent years, a number of researchers have been asking whether evolutionary processes can also do this. Continue reading

Guest Post: Suffering and the Grace of God

9195512403_d9a74aabe9_o
Secuencia de AND by Pablo Gonzalez. Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Most weeks in my work as an immunologist, I am faced with the reality of our evolutionary origins. Someone will give a talk, describing the function of this or that receptor in humans and – in passing – will mention that the same receptor is seen in bacteria. Or (hoorah!) we find that an antibody, created to identify a protein in rats, nicely targets the same protein in human cells. Or an online search to identify a human DNA sequence ends up with a piece of armadillo DNA as the closest match (yes that did happen!)

1024px-Tree_of_life_SVG.svg
Tree of life By Ivica Letunic: Iletunic. Retraced by Mariana Ruiz Villarreal: LadyofHats [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
But as a Christian, I am troubled by Darwinian evolution. What does it say of the character of God? Continue reading

God’s Universal Orchestra: Tuning in with shrimp, mountains and stars

8464998978_29a69462ed_b
Rainbow Gate by Christos Tsoumplekas. Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Bible says that all creation praises God, but our human-centred view might make us call this into question. How can non-human beings and even inanimate elements of creation praise their maker? How are we to understand Continue reading

Guest Post: The Intricacy of the Ear

8915491422_c61070d915_h
Sound wave by betmari. Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Music, whispers, phone calls, the alarm clock, the cry of a baby – the ear mediates our auditory interactions with the world. The things we hear may make us laugh or cry, enhance a film or make a subtle point without words, cheer us up or soothe an angry mood. The interpretation of sound and what it means to us is the responsibility of the brain, but the pathway that takes Continue reading

Guest Post: The Creator of the Seas and all that is in them

If Whales Could Fly by Christopher Michel – Flickr – License: Creative Commons 2.0
If Whales Could Fly by Christopher Michel – Flickr – License: Creative Commons 2.0

It is easy to forget that we human beings are not the be all and end all of God’s magnificent creation. From one perspective we are simply creatures in it. From another perspective we are unique in his creation in being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). However, both the beauty and abundance of marine life and the biblical passages concerned with the sea show that Continue reading

Guest Post: Unexpected Conversations

MRI scan of a caterpillar immediately before making a chrysalis. Copyright, Gavin Merrifield GEMRIC 2015
MRI scan of a caterpillar immediately before making a chrysalis. Copyright, Gavin Merrifield GEMRIC 2015

Despite the uncertainties that come with being a scientist today I count myself to be in a very privileged position. Currently I use Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to study various fish, spiders and caterpillars. This unusual combination of research always ensures that there is something new to see whenever I scan a new subject. My lab was the first to see a spider’s heart beating – amazing stuff! Continue reading