Sunday, October 29, 2006

God, Under a Microscope: Review of 'The language of God' (+ Audio)

A Washington Post book review of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins (Amazon UK | US).

Williamstown, Massachusetts:

He opened the session by improvising on hymns at the piano and concluded it by accompanying a singalong on the guitar. In between, he delivered a compelling account of his unlikely conversion from atheism to evangelical Christianity.

The lanky, amiable personality wasn't a traveling revivalist but one of the world's leading biologists.

Francis S. Collins (biography) led the international Human Genome Project that mapped the 3.1 billion chemical base pairs in humanity's DNA. He now directs the U.S. government program on applying that information to medical treatments.

He has also emerged as an advocate for faith and its compatibility with science.

The 56-year-old Collins discussed the clash of science and religion last weekend during a conference at Williams College sponsored by the C.S. Lewis Foundation. The writings of the English literature scholar were instrumental in Collins's conversion.

Continued at "Biologist Preaches That Religion and Science Can Coexist"
Listen to Francis Collins discuss his book on NPR's 'Talk of the Nation'. The other Guest is Owen Gingerich, author of God's Universe (UK | US). [Audio]

Read a 4 page excerpt from The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins (UK | US).

Books on 'Science and Religion' from the Science and Evolution Bookshop: UK | US

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Darwin on the Right - Why Christians and conservatives should accept evolution

A Scientific American article by Michael Shermer:

According to a 2005 Pew Research Center poll, 70 percent of evangelical Christians believe that living beings have always existed in their present form, compared with 32 percent of Protestants and 31 percent of Catholics. Politically, 60 percent of Republicans are creationists, whereas only 11 percent accept evolution, compared with 29 percent of Democrats who are creationists and 44 percent who accept evolution. A 2005 Harris Poll found that 63 percent of liberals but only 37 percent of conservatives believe that humans and apes have a common ancestry. What these figures confirm for us is that there are religious and political reasons for rejecting evolution. Can one be a conservative Christian and a Darwinian? Yes. Here's how...
Michael Shermer is author of "Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design" (Amazon UK | US)

See "The joys of life without God (Interview)"

[Creationism, ID, Religion]

Richard Dawkins and Nobel Prize Winners on 'Science Friday' (Webcast)

Online archived audio webcast of NPR's 'Science Friday' aired on the 6th October 2006:
October 6, 2006: Hour One: 2006 Nobel Prizes

This week, the winners of the 2006 Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine were announced. Physicists George Smoot (homepage) and John Mather (homepage) won the prize in physics for their work in analyzing the cosmic microwave background radiation, work that helped to support theories about the Big Bang. Andrew Fire (homepage) and Craig Mello (homepage) won the prize in Medicine or Physiology for for their discovery of RNA interference - gene silencing by double-stranded RNA. And Roger Kornberg (homepage) won the prize in Chemistry for his work in DNA transcription, the process by which information stored in the genes is copied, and then transferred to the parts of cells that produce proteins. (more info)

October 6, 2006: Hour Two: Richard Dawkins / Salmon Farming

In his new book "The God Delusion" (Amazon UK | US) evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins says fundamentalist religion "subverts science and saps the intellect." Join guest host Joe Palca in this hour of Science Friday for a chat with Dawkins on religion, the teaching of evolution and creationism in science class, and his call for atheists to "out" themselves.

Plus, does fish farming harm wild salmon populations? A new study suggests it might, tying parasitic sea lice infestations from farmed salmon to declines of wild salmon populations in Europe and Canada."We counted sea lice on more than 14 thousand juvenile salmon migrating past fish farms, and conducted mortality experiments with more than 3 thousand fish," explained Martin Krkosek, one of the authors of the report, describing how the study was performed. (more info)

[Podcast, Evolution, Prize, Intelligent Design, ID]

A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature (Book)

Synopsis of "A meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature" (Amazon UK | US):

In this groundbreaking book, Wiker and Witt show that nature offers all of the challenges and surprises, all of the mystery and elegance, we associate with design and, further, with artistic genius. They begin in Shakespeare and range through the fine-tuning of the laws of physics, the Periodic Table of Elements, the artistry of ordinary substances like carbon and water, the intricacy of biological organisms, and the drama of scientific exploration itself. In contrast to contemporary claims that the world is ultimately meaningless, Wiker and Witt reveal a cosmos charged with both meaning and purpose.

From "Reviews and Endorsements": "A Meaningful World is simply the best book I've seen on the purposeful design of nature. In sparkling prose Benjamin Wiker and Jonathan Witt teach us how to recognize genius, first in Shakespeare's plays and then in nature. From principles of geometry to details of the periodic table, the authors portray the depth, elegance, clarity and pure cleverness of a universe designed to nurture the intelligent life that one day would discover that design. A Meaningful World recovers lost purpose not only for science, but for all scholarly disciplines." - Michael J. Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box (Amazon UK | US)

Read the Prologue and Chapter One (pdf files)

"An (audio) interview with Jonathan Witt" is in the playlist of "'Intelligent Design The Future' - Weekly Web/Podcasts from the Discovery Institute" (21nd entry from the end of the list: scroll down and subtract 22 from the number of the final entry - this is the easiest way to do it because the number of entries increases weekly*). [Evolution, Review, ID, Podcast]

* Update: I've sent an email asking if the numbering system can be reversed: At the moment all the podcast numbers change when a new show is added. Reversing the system would mean the numbers stay the same with a new number being permanently assigned to each new show as it appears.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The End of Eden: Gaia and James Lovelock (Washington Post)

...Sulfurous musings are not Lovelock's characteristic style; he's no Book of Revelation apocalyptic. In his 88th year, he remains one of the world's most inventive scientists, an Englishman of humor and erudition, with an oenophile's taste for delicious controversy. Four decades ago, his discovery that ozone-destroying chemicals were piling up in the atmosphere started the world's governments down a path toward repair. Not long after that, Lovelock proposed the theory known as Gaia, which holds that Earth acts like a living organism, a self-regulating system balanced to allow life to flourish.

Biologists dismissed this as heresy, running counter to Darwin's theory of evolution. Today one could reasonably argue that Gaia theory has transformed scientific understanding of the Earth.

Now Lovelock has turned his attention to global warming, writing "The Revenge of Gaia: Earth's Climate Crisis and the Fate of Humanity" (Currently appearing on the 'Featured Books' page of the Evolution Book Store: UK | US - or go directly to the Amazon book webpage: UK | US). [Washington Post]
See "Gaia and accelerated climate change (ABC Australia Audio)" (posted earlier today).