Category Science and religion

The Star of Bethlehem: Lecture by Aaron Adair at Merrimack College

I was lucky enough to edit Aaron Adair’s superb book The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View which looks at the claims within the Gospel of Matthew concerning the Star of Bethlehem. Over the many hundreds of years, various people have advanced theories to explain the apparent phenomenon, to triple conjunctions of planets and stars to comets, from hypernovae to UFOs. Yes, UFOs. Aaron has started getting on the speaking circuit to talk about his favoured subject, and may even be compiling a book looking into the Bible and astronomy

Missing link in evolution of complex cells discovered

In light of the recent evolutionary discussions – a Creationist/evolutionist ding dong – over on this post, I thought I would choose one of dozens of evolutionary discoveries in the last few weeks alone to share with you. My question would be: how do deniers explain each and every one of these findings? Here it is:

In a new study, published in Nature this week, a research team led from Uppsala University in Sweden presents the discovery of a new microbe that represents a missing link in the evolution of complex life. The study provides a new understanding of how, billions of years ago, the complex cell types that comprise plants, fungi, but also animals and humans, evolved from simple microbes.

Scientists pledge to increase interference with the Church

Usually, you expect biting satire to come from The Onion, or Private Eye. this unexpected piece of genius comes from the Guardian in response to the meddling of churches and religious organisations recently to the proposed law changes to allow three-parent families relevant to mitochondrial donation. The church was deemed irresponsible for trying to sway politicians on the matter.

Guest post: a request about homosexuality and genetics

Here is a guest post from someone (a South American who wants to remain anonymous) who contacted me by email asking for help in dealing with the topic of homosexuality and genetics after he read my two posts on homosexuality and Christianity. It seems that there is a prominent Christian author pairing whose work seems to be a concerted effort to minimise the importance of genetic determinism in producing homosexuality. Over to the guest poster:

Have Yourself a SINful Little Holiday Season!

Despite the fact that most scientific skeptics do not find themselves formerly associated with a religion, this time of year tends to nonetheless bring out the giving spirit in many of us. Although Tom Flynn wouldn’t approve, many of us celebrate (in a secular fashion) Christmas, or Kwanza, or Festivus, or the Solstice, or Hanukkah, or just like to give presents because it’s fun.

Gould’s NOMA – a thorough analysis (part 1) revisited

This post will be split into two parts due to its length. This will allow any posters to be able to interact with certain points as we go. Regards, Andreas Schüler.

Can science and religion coexist in harmony ?

A favorite phrase of sophisticated theologians™ is – science tells us how and religion tells us why. But it is not only theologians who claim that there can be no conflict between properly understood science and religion because they deal with different questions. Many scientists, and not only religious ones, support this view as well.

Summary of the Star of Bethlehem Conference

I am flying back home now from the amazing conference on the Star of Bethlehem at the University of Groningen. It was quite the success of collecting experts and scheduling events, including a trip to the oldest working planetarium in the world. This was also my first academic conference in the area of history and biblical studies, and I was surrounded by scholars in Iranian studies, Jewish astrology, Latin literature, ancient science, and of course New Testament studies. And it looks like I did well among this august group. Heck, after my talk a few whispered to me that it seemed like I already answered all the questions about the subject!

Scientists discover that atheists might not exist, and that’s not a joke (plus rebuttal)

Metaphysical thought processes are more deeply wired than hitherto suspected

WHILE MILITANT ATHEISTS like Richard Dawkins may be convinced God doesn’t exist, God, if he is around, may be amused to find that atheists might not exist.

Cognitive scientists are becoming increasingly aware that a metaphysical outlook may be so deeply ingrained in human thought processes that it cannot be expunged.

On theists believing ridiculous, unscientific things, and Terror Management Theory

Over at another post of mine, we have been discussing whether religion can and should be destroyed. During that conversation, the idea came up that Christians, in all probability, hold more ridiculous beliefs which are unscientific in nature; and also arose the connected idea that Christians, in a generalistic sense, are not as good at doing science, because they have a higher propensity to give up searching for answers.

Christianity and science. Again.

Here is a quote that I posted on the Daily Telegraph (eek) in the UK which was reporting the letter it had received denouncing PM Cameron’s claim that we should be proud that we are a Christian nation. I will first post the comment I reacted to: