Well it’s a new year and my one New Year’s Resolution was to revive this into a living and breathing blog again. So let’s start the new year with a discussion on my first Nature paper, well actually it’s Nature Physics, but that’s extra cool for a biologist. Right? This would be a huge . . . → Read More: Shall we discuss my story Démodé before computers do it for us?
I’ve been too busy of late to write any science posts, but here is a little science fiction piece of mine that was just published today. The title probably leaves you with questions, but first, for your convenience, let me translate the the title. In English the title is: How the mother of . . . → Read More: How the Mother of Vampiro Rojo de Santanás Died at the Hand of the Ethicless Thing
There seems to be a temptation to borrow Christian fundamentalist creationist ideas and literature and twist it into a muddle that LDS theology should embrace. As if taking things from middle ages theologies and slapping it onto the restoration was a good idea. Evolution is one of the most powerful ideas to enter into human knowledge from a scientific perspective since Newton and earlier. Here is a podcast in which I explore reasons why I think evolution fits beautifully into Mormonism and its novel ideas of an embodied god and eternal progression. Reading creationist literature to learn about evolution is like reading 19th Century anti-Mormon literature to find out about the LDS Church: It’s outdated, wrong, and frankly so juvenilely lacking any scientific merit that you have to be fairly scientifically uniformed to be taken in by it.
Continue reading Why evolution matters to LDS Theology
So to begin. Assume that the story that science tells is tout court correct. That humans evolved from apelike ancestors and have existed as a species for roughly two-hundred thousand years and became behaviorally modern about fifty-thousand years ago. They have been living and dying for almost eight-thousand generations.
Dying. What do I mean by that? Actually, it can mean a lot of things. For example, it can mean the cessation of living. Scripturally it can also mean a number of things. Paul’s letter to Romans is a great place to start. No I take that back, Jim Faulconer’s book on Romans is a great place to start. Look at the attached photo It shows the index entries for ‘death’ in his book on Romans giving a short peek into the way Paul uses the word. Continue reading Death, the Fall, and Darwin: Roman Legions of Death, Part 2 of 7
This is being posted semi-concurrently at BCC (Posted there about a week earlier than here).
‘There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore!’ snarled Voldemort.
‘You are quite wrong.’ said Dumbledore . . .
—————– Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. p. 718
One of the key challenges in defining a post-Darwinian LDS theology is that of the Fall. The Fall is considered one of the foundational pillars of Mormon doctrine (as Bruce R. McConkie has often argued). This because the Fall is what provides the backdrop for the necessity of the Atonement, another foundational LDS doctrinal pillar. Continue reading Death, the Fall, and Darwin: A More Harmonious Reading, Part 1 of 7
President Monson’s son weighed in on the debate about introducing wolves back into Utah with one of the most insightful articles written on the subject. It ends with this:
As Latter-day Saints, we are doctrinally obligated to preserve the Lord’s creations. Encouraging wolves to resume their ecological role in Utah is not the only way we can demonstrate our commitment to living things, but to today’s ecologically sophisticated world, it would be one of the most demonstrative and courageous.
This may be one to share with your legislature friends. Here is the link.
Continue reading Clark Monson on Wolves
In silence I’ve watched the splashes of opinion on Facebook and among blogs on gun control. Mostly because I see the issue framed in such complexity that I knew I could not put up a comment with enough depth to capture what I feel. I felt sorrow and devastation at the horrific shooting in Newtown. I found it unbelievable and still can’t get my head around the loss of so many innocents. I’ve shed tears almost at every mention. Continue reading On guns
There seems to be a mistake people make about the way that BYU science departments function and should be taught. There is a myth spreading through dark corners of the internet that BYU should keep religion and science separate the way secular universities do. It takes a strange and perverted form in the voices found among those benighted dogmatists who guard the boarders of pure doctrine, as they perceive it. They claim because science is to held as suspicious or inimical to faith that scientists should not try to reconcile conflicts between the two. Actually at BYU we have been instructed, à la Brigham Young, to, “not even teach the mathematics tables without the Spirit of the Lord.” In fact, each year, two questions appear on the forms that students evaluate faculty on for each class every semester:
Has your testimony been strengthened?
And how well did the instructor integrate the gospel in the subject?
(For all my classes my rates are 7 to 7.4 out of 8, with the university and department average ranging form 6.2-6.6, so I am significantly above average! Who’da thunk it.)
Continue reading How I teach the ways of science at the Y
Spoilers. Lots of them. If you plan to see this movie don’t read this post. Really. This is a movie worth seening if you like riotous movies and are willing to forgive of lots of trip-ups that really don’t make sense. I’m a fan of lots of Scifi TV and have grown tolerant of wacky writers running roughshod over both commonsense and basic science. The film is stunningly filmed, exciting, and wonderfully acted. In particular, Noomi Rapace, even without her Dragon Tattoos, was nearly perfect. So worth seeing, if you are willing to set aside much.
Continue reading Prometheus: A biologist’s review (Spoilers aplenty)
It is fun to watch an actual scientific controversy unfold. The fake ones like climate change denial or intelligent design, which are orchestrated for political purposes or reasons of ideology, draw scientists in because the public has been cajoled into buying bad (or non-) science by modern hucksters and charlatans. Not really fun or interesting, but necessary I suppose. No, the real deal, the full blown genuine real scientific argument is so much more exciting. Not only do you get the full of drama of the faked stuff: personality, egos, careers be made and broken, insults, posturing, and all the accoutrements of human disagreement. But you get the stuff of science: data analysis and reanalysis, experiments and field studies, new theory and new looks at old theory, and battles fought where science is done—in the peer reviewed literature. And you don’t know how its going to end! It’s not clear who is going to win. And what the outcome will hinge on is not who pays for the most advertising, or which side owns a news corp. But on the facts mam’ nothing but the facts. Continue reading Watch a real scientific controversy