Wise advice on Sunday School Teaching

From my friend Blair Hodges:

“Too often, the Sunday School teacher doesn’t have a sympathetic understanding of the place of science, philosophy, the arts, and history in the lives of young people, consequently, he depreciates, even belittles these branches of knowledge in his classes. In this way, often without realizing it, he creates . . . → Read More: Wise advice on Sunday School Teaching

Those who are suspicious of science are missing part of the restoration

Scientific literacy is falling in America. Part of the reason is that its value is being under-appreciated by a larger and larger segment of the population. Suspicions about evolution and climate change have created an atmosphere where two of science’s most strongly supported investigations are dismissed. To do that, you have to dismiss science itself. Really. Continue reading Those who are suspicious of science are missing part of the restoration

Life as Emergent Agential Systems: Tendencies Without Teleology

 So here is the whole thing. I sent his off  for review last week and had restructured it so completely that posting in the sensible pieces based on what went before was impossible. So this is the whole shebang. When you run across sections you have read before you can just skim and move on. This is very long for a post. Sorry. 

For those who don’t want to read this long, long paper in a nutshell the argument is:

A) Life has evolved in a completely Darwinian fashion. 

B) Even so their are strategies that evolution has stumbled upon over and over like the move to individuality and sociality which produces more individuation at higher levels. Other’s include the emergence of life imbedded in a context, changes the design space upon which it rests through influencing and restructuring that space in a constant back and forth between life and that design space. The result in genuine novelty.

C) Bergson, a French philosopher of the early 20th century, noticed that there were creative tendencies in evolution that life uses again and again despite the non-teleological direction of evolutionary change. 

D) This has implications for theology:

  1. The creation is ongoing.

  2. That the creation is unique, unpredicted, and surprising and worthy of preservation and protection. Life is not a set of predefined necessary forms.

  3. That emergence means that the universe is open ended and that surprises await in what evolves. 

 

For: What Is Life? Theology, Science, and Philosophy Conference

Krakow, Poland June 2011

Introduction

Biology has something relevant to say to theology and visa-versa (Cunningham 2010), and as a biologist I would like to hone in on some aspects of life that may gesture to perspectives that cross disciplinary lines. In particular I would like to draw on the work of Henri Bergson, long ignored in biology. However, he is growing in relevance as problems in understanding what life is and how it enfolds in an emergent universe become more pressing and more perplexing. Continue reading Life as Emergent Agential Systems: Tendencies Without Teleology

Mormonism and Evolution, Life as Emergent Agential Systems: My Presentation at the Krakow Theology Conference Part II

My talk at the Science and Religion Conference held in Krakow Poland, “What is Life? Theology, Science, and Philosophy” continued (Part I is found here) . . .

Life’s processes are often mischaracterized as a simple reductive scheme that misses some of life’s most astonishing features. Bergson criticized this as finalism in which the whole was given. This ‘whole’ can be seen in Philosopher Daniel Dennett idea of a design space. He uses it to argue for a deterministic universe, but the idea is that there are only so many possible combinations of DNA that produce viable ‘creatures.’ From a given starting point, the unfolding of different life forms, must wander around on this space, driven by local selection regimes, but the set is finite, and the steps must be small ones. Richard Dawkins uses the same notion in his view of ‘climbing mount improbable’ in which he demonstrates how evolution can completely explain the designed complexity of life on earth. They are right that evolution completely explains complexity, but the question that deserves some consideration is can we ask where the design space comes from? Of course that is in principle unanswerable from a scientific perspective.
Continue reading Mormonism and Evolution, Life as Emergent Agential Systems: My Presentation at the Krakow Theology Conference Part II

Mormonism and Evolution, Life as Emergent Agential Systems, and a Basia Bulat Concert

Where have I been? It’s been a while so I suppose some explanation is in order. I’ve been attending meetings! First I presented a paper at a Science and Religion Conference held in Krakow Poland, called “What is Life? Theology, Science, and Philosophy.” It was a theology meeting exploring questions about ‘Life’ from multiple religious perspectives. It was a blast hobnobbing with priests, monks, Jewish thinkers, Catholic theologians, and most fun of all, a stunningly bright contingent of LDS thinkers including Jacob Baker, Jim Faulconer, Ralph Handcock, Adam Miller, Joseph Spencer, and Justin White. I don’t think I’ve had more fun since I was a teenager (Which fun included a Basia Bulat concert in a small cafe in Krakow). Continue reading Mormonism and Evolution, Life as Emergent Agential Systems, and a Basia Bulat Concert

Guest blogging for Manuary at fMh

Check out my post at fMh for Manuary!

The implications of evolution for key LDS Doctrines: My SMPT paper part IV

Here are few pictures from my talk to show some of the evolutionary convergences I was talking about: Continue reading The implications of evolution for key LDS Doctrines: My SMPT paper part IV

The implications of evolution for key LDS Doctrines: My SMPT paper part III

Continuing . . .

Below are the points seem to cause some confusion and may need the most work in framing a detailed reconciliation. Here I sketch of where I think these pivot points lie. I’ll start where I feel there is little tension between science and our religion and that the hermeneutics of each seems not to pose any major difficulties in providing narratives that are comfortable lying side by side. Continue reading The implications of evolution for key LDS Doctrines: My SMPT paper part III

The implications of evolution for key LDS Doctrines: My SMPT paper part II

The relationship between Science and Theology

I begin with a controversial claim from Haught,

“For its part, theology can become reputable in an age of science only if it abandons any attempt to provide information of a scientific sort. It must allow that the Bible and other religious teaching cannot add anything to our store of scientific knowledge. However, scientists for their part must concede that evolutionary theory, or any other set of scientific ideas, cannot provide answers to religious or theological questions either.”

Continue reading The implications of evolution for key LDS Doctrines: My SMPT paper part II

The implications of evolution for key LDS Doctrines: My SMPT paper part I

So during the last month because of trips to Indonesia and Senegal and the SMPT conference, I’ve been rather inactive on my blog. Time to repent. The following is the text from my SMPT paper. It will be posted in four parts.

Just this week, researchers reported the results of the DNA analysis of a 40,000 year old finger fragment. It was a previously unknown species of human. It’s last common ancestor with humans and Neanderthals was over a million years ago. This forensic reconstruction and the skull going around are from Homo erectus, a hominin that lived about 1.5 million years ago. Our last common ancestor with the Neanderthals was about a half million years ago. Do such things have implications for Mormon Theology? Continue reading The implications of evolution for key LDS Doctrines: My SMPT paper part I