What do exoplanets, four-billion-year-old life, Fermi’s paradox and zero-one laws of probability theory have to do with each other? Quite a bit, actually. Let us review these developments, one by one:
New exoplanet discoveries
Depiction of the seven exoplanets of the TRAPPIST-1 system. Courtesy NASA.
On 22 February 2017, a consortium of NASA and European
Continue reading Exoplanets, 4 billion-year-old life, Fermi’s paradox and zero-one laws
Recently several books written by prominent authors have been published that attack religious belief as a pernicious delusion. The four most prominent authors are Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens [Dawkins2006; Dennett2006; Harris2006; Hitchens2007]. Along this line, physicist Victor J. Stenger, in his book God: The Failed Hypothesis and other writings,
Continue reading Christmas 2016: Benefits of a charitable life
Foster in Contact, saying “They should have sent a poet”
Earlier this year, Kentucky governor Matt Bevin declared that state colleges and universities should educate more electrical engineers and fewer French literature majors: “All the people in the world that want to study French literature can do so, they are just not going
Continue reading Why science needs the humanities
How fast can evolution operate?
A common arguments against evolution raised by creationist and intelligent design writers is that no significant changes have ever been observed by humans in biological species, so evolution must be regarded only as a “theory.” In a previous Blog, we mentioned how this argument is refuted by recent research results,
Continue reading Bacteria adapt to antibiotics before your eyes
Creationists often argue that evolution is “only a theory” [Miller2008]. This claim of course confuses the vernacular meaning of “theory” (a half-baked conjecture that has not been seriously tested) with the scientific meaning of “theory” (a solid, falsifiable hypothesis that has led to a rich literature of quantitative, empirical science). Behind the creationists’ comment is
Continue reading How fast can evolution operate?
In Williamstown, Kentucky, a full-scale reproduction of Noah’s ark is now open to the public. Claimed to be the largest all-wood structure in the world, it is 155 m (510 ft) long, 26 m (85 ft) wide, and 16 m (51 ft) high, closely corresponding to the biblical dimensions, given in Genesis 6:15, namely
Continue reading Are Noah’s ark and flood literal scientific facts?
The 2004 “hobbit” discovery and controversy
In 2004 the scientific world was startled by the announcement of the discovery of Homo floresiensis, more commonly known as the “hobbit” due to its diminutive size, on the island of Flores in the Indian Ocean north of Australia. Remarkably, this specimen lived until as recently as 66,000 years
Continue reading Are the “hobbits” a separate prehuman species?
Creationists often argue that evolution is “just a theory,” since we don’t see it in action today — it is “hypothesized” to have occurred, but scientists have no proof. Intelligent design writers acknowledge that evolution might occur “within kinds,” but question whether it can occur beyond the limits of a “kind” (which probably means
Continue reading The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria: Evolution before our eyes
There is one fundamental sense in which science can be seen to be partners with religion: the “idea of progress.” Robert Nisbet defines the idea of progress as the notion that mankind has advanced in the past, from barbarism and ignorance, is now advancing, and will continue to advance through the foreseeable future [Nisbet1980,
Continue reading Would modern science have developed without the monotheistic tradition?
In his book The God Delusion Dawkins proposes that a belief in God is an accidental by-product of evolution, a “mis-firing of something useful” [Dawkins2006, pg. 188]. Elsewhere he has written that a belief in God is somehow a “virus of the mind.”
Peter Turchin in the role of religion in world history
Continue reading Is religion a pernicious delusion in world history?