#Science Quotable: Pope Francis believes in evolution and the big bang…. WHA?????? #MindBlown

When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything — but that is not so. He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment.

God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life. Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.

Therefore the scientist, and above all the Christian scientist, must adopt the approach of posing questions regarding the future of humanity and of the earth, and, of being free and responsible, helping to prepare it and preserve it, to eliminate risks to the environment of both a natural and human nature. But, at the same time, the scientist must be motivated by the confidence that nature hides, in her evolutionary mechanisms, potentialities for intelligence and freedom to discover and realize, to achieve the development that is in the plan of the creator.

Pope Francis at a plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Wow…. this is something I never thought I would write or post about…. Can’t wait to see what all the anti-evolution Christians have to say about this.

Nature video explaining how fish grown on land can ‘learn’ to walk #plasticity

Around 400 million years ago, fish left the water and started to evolve into land-loving creatures. But how did the transition happen? A new and unusual experiment could shed some light on the kinds of changes that enabled fins to become limbs. Researchers took a fish species known to be able to walk on its fins from time to time, and raised it on land. Watch the fish promenade in this Nature Video.

More info in news article here.

England may have just lost the football match, but they’re scoring big time in science education!

Sorry for that world cup loss against Uruguay (shoutout to Rooney with his first World Cup Goal!), but in the world of science education, England has accomplished a major win!

Teaching “creationism” as an evidence-based theory is banned in all public (or free) schools across the UK.  More details and a nice summary of the implications (and what this means for the U.S.) can be found here.

I will most definitely take a World Cup loss for USA if that means a similar policy push for banning creationism in public schools across the country!

Science and Society: an observation

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” ~Isaac Asimov

As mentioned earlier, I have spent the past few days at ComSciCon, and a theme that really resonated with me is the notion that society DOESN’T actually have an issue with scientists; we DO trust scientists.  However, when it comes down to “controversial” issues like global warming or evolution, it’s not a matter of trusting scientists, but a matter of VALUES.

Rick Fienberg put it nicely, “When science is controversial, it’s not because of the science, but because of the implications (religion, economics, etc).”

Let me break it down.  Science is not something one “believes” in.  One believes in things like the tooth fairy or God.  Science, on the other hand, is evidence-based and factual.  Data either support an idea or contradict it.  And an overwhelming amount of research (check out the Yale Cultural Cognition Project) shows that society AGREES with this. AGREES with scientific results.  We trust scientists, we really do.

Then WHY so much outrage, controversy, and media outrage over some issues that the scientific community AND society agree are real and serious??  Like global warming, evolution, vaccination, and stem cell research to name a few… Turns out, as a society, we don’t doubt the credibility of the research or the results, but we have a hard time changing our VALUES.  For example:

  • If one has been raised on the bible, believing the world and humanity was created 10,000 years ago by the grace of God, despite the evidence and facts supporting that the earth was actually formed 4.5 billion years ago and that we evolved from monkey-anscestors over millions of years, despite all of that evidence-based research, one may have a hard time being OKAY with it.  Not because of the facts and data, but because that overturns their belief-system and compromises their values.
  • Or, if one is employed for an oil company, one cannot deny that oil spills, the oil refining process, and resulting emissions are NOT good for the environment, but THIS is how one makes their living and supports their families.  Despite the evidence and scientific support arguing against oil production, supporting policy that jeopardizes this industry, contradicts that life-style choice, and again, one has a hard time being OKAY with that.

So, perhaps when one argues, “I don’t believe in evolution,” what they really mean is, “I understand that science supports evolution, but this goes against my lifestyle and beliefs, so I’m going to ignore it.”  We are not misinformed or totally irrational; we just don’t like our values, beliefs, or life-style choices disputed.  And now we’ve come full circle.  Science gathers knowledge faster than society gains wisdom.

Don’t worry! There are new ideas and methods to try and tackle this disconnect, but for that, you will have to wait for another blog post!!

Science: 5 things to take away from Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson

 degrasse

Salon published a terrific piece by Sarah Gray on the 5 most important takeaway messages from Cosmos: a space-time odyssey with Neil DeGrasse Tyson (article here). And they are right on point… as you would expect. These 5 points describe the status of science and science debate in the public sphere and I couldn’t have summarized them better. So I won’t. See article for more in-depth explanation on each point.

1) It’s okay to not know all of the answers:

2) Climate change is happening, and it’s man-made:

3) Evolution: How did we get here?

4) The danger of ignoring science, or following special-interest science

5) Discovery starts with an open mind and the scientific method

Gallup Poll looking at creationism vs evolution

Gallup
A Gallup Poll shows that 42% of Americans believe God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence against this idea (specifically the 10,000 years part). Interestingly, this number has not changed much over the last decade or so. However, when you look at the other viewpoints for human origins, the percentage of people that believe a completely secular view (evolution with no God involvement) has doubled. Not surprisingly, the viewpoints are related to age and education of respondents.

People that take the writings in the Bible literally will certainly always have problems connecting science with their beliefs. However, there is plenty of room for parallels between the science and religious viewpoints.

“The percentage of the U.S. population choosing the creationist perspective as closest to their own view has fluctuated in a narrow range between 40% and 47% since the question’s inception. There is little indication of a sustained downward trend in the proportion of the U.S. population who hold a creationist view of human origins. At the same time, the percentage of Americans who adhere to a strict secularist viewpoint — that humans evolved over time, with God having no part in this process — has doubled since 1999.”

Dinosaurs are cool, and prove the bible is right?

http://io9.com/creation-museum-to-display-dinosaur-that-proves-biblica-1580562413

Image

While evolutionists use dinosaurs more than anything to promote their worldview, especially to young students, our museum uses dinosaurs to help tell the account of history according to the Bible. This remarkable allosaur is a great addition to our dinosaur exhibits.”

Nicknamed “Ebenezer,” this Allosaurus met his end during Noah’s Flood about 4,300 years ago. Our researchers say, ”He likely tried to flee the violently rising waters surging over the land where he lived, and he was finally swept away and rapidly buried beneath tons of water-borne sediment, explaining the practically undisturbed arrangement of so many of his smaller bones. Ultimately he and every air-breathing animal not on the Ark with Noah died (Genesis 7:22). Biblical history gives us a context for this dinosaur’s death and preservation in what’s called the ‘Jurassic’ portion of the fossil record.”

 

For context of the opposing viewpoint.

http://paleobiology.si.edu/dinosaurs/info/everything/evo_1.html