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?
Frauds in scientific research
From time to time, the scientific community is rocked by cases of scientific fraud. Needless to say, such incidents do not help instill confidence in the public mind that is already predisposed to be skeptical of inconvenient scientific findings. Some notable cases include: (a) a series of papers in nanoelectronics by
Continue reading How likely is it that scientists are engaged in a conspiracy?
New evidence for life on earth 4.1 billion years ago
In a report released 19 Oct 2015 (see also this New Scientist report and the original technical article), geochemists at UCLA announced evidence that life very likely existed 4.1 billion years ago, which is at least 300 million years earlier than the previous research consensus.
Continue reading Life existed on earth 4.1 billion years ago
Sample skeleton found by Berger and his associates at the Homo Naledi site
In September 2015, a research team led by Lee Burger, who discovered the Australopithecus sediba fossils in 2010, announced that they have uncovered a treasure-trove of fossils from a new hominin species, which they have named “Homo naledi.” To date they
Continue reading New prehuman species “Homo naledi” found in South Africa
In their criticisms of the creationism and intelligent design movements, particularly in legal cases, scientists and others are quick to point out (correctly!) that these movements are inherently religious. For example, in the 2005 legal case “Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District,” where parents challenged the Dover Area School District’s decision to require intelligent
Continue reading Is science based on secular humanism?
Both traditional creationists and intelligent design scholars have invoked probability arguments in criticisms of biological evolution. They argue that certain features of biology are so fantastically improbable that they could never have been produced by a purely natural, “random” process, even assuming the billions of years of history asserted by geologists and astronomers. They
Continue reading Does probability refute the theory of evolution?
A central tenet of creationism is that the earth (or even the entire universe) was created over a very short period of time, either six literal days or at most 6000 years, and that this creation was completed about 4000 BCE (see Creationism). Needless to say, this worldview is in utter disagreement with the
Continue reading Is God a Great Deceiver? Creationism’s ultimate folly
Redwood Regional Park, near Oakland, California
How old is the earth and its fossil layers? According to geologists, the earth is 4.56 billion years old, and the fossil layers, which document the proliferation of living species through the eons, are millions of years old.
Yet a 2014 Gallup poll found that 42% of
Continue reading Young-earth creationism and the forest fallacy
In a 2012 interview, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a U.S. presidential candidate for 2016, was asked “How old do you think the Earth is?” He responded, somewhat coyly: “Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that.” Keep in mind that
Continue reading How certain are scientists that the earth is many millions of years old?
Creationist and and intelligent design writers frequently emphasize “gaps” in the fossil record, and, in particular, claim that there are “missing links” in the human family tree between “apes” and humans. So what are the facts here? Is there indeed an unbridgeable “gap” between apes and humans?
Hardly. To appreciate how far the study
Continue reading Are there “missing links” in the human family tree?