• General

    The Universe Pushes Back

    I guess this is a response to the claim I sometimes read that “We choose our beliefs”. I think there’s some truth in that, but would supplement it: “We choose our beliefs… but the universe pushes back”. What do I mean by that? Perhaps an analogy that I owe to…

  • General

    I Am Large

    Never fear, not another weight-loss post (which my Facebook friends have seen from me ad nauseum)! My title is drawn from a line I love: Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes. Walt Whitman People on Facebook and Twitter have mentioned…

  • General

    A Range of Possibilities

    Returning to the creationism well one more time, and then I really will leave it alone and talk about something else for a while! Human groups around the world have a wide range of different creation and origin stories for Earth and life. For the purposes of this, I’ll only…

  • General

    Science and Authority

    Every couple of months this year I’ve written a short piece on the relationship between science and religious faith for a site called ‘Adventist Today’. (Searching my name in the search bar in the page will easily bring up all of the pieces published so far.) The most recent has…

  • General

    Complexity – irreducible and otherwise

    This is the final post in this short series. It is the 12th, and a dozen seems like a reasonable tally. The sequence, as a set, is meant to allow someone who encounters a particular claim or meme to quickly access a clear, accurate response, written for a smart non-specialist.…

  • General

    Transitional fossils

    In a way, this is more of a philosophical post than a paleontological one. From slightly different perspectives, either there are many ‘transitional fossils’, or there is no such thing. And both those views are consistent with the fossil record! I’ve certainly said “There’s no such thing as a transitional…

  • General

    Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam

    Recent discoveries in genetics have led to the publication of some interesting work that has suggested that all currently living human beings can be traced back to a single human female on the order of 120,000 to 150,000 years ago. In the 1980s this individual was dubbed ‘Mitochondrial Eve’. Similarly,…

  • General

    2019 Nobel Prize in Physics

    Something a little different today. I thought I’d share a video, rather than a block of text. Depending on your interest level, there’s a sub-2 minute version and a roughly 13 minute version. If you watch the latter, you’ll see that one of the affordances of video over text is…

  • General

    Probability and evolution

    There are a range of arguments against evolution that rely on the notion that it is inherently so improbable as to be impossible. They date right back to William Paley, who published his ‘watchmaker argument’ in 1802, predating Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ by more than 50 years. Essentially, this is…

  • General

    Four Forces of the Universe

    (This piece is a bit of a digression from the recent focus on evolution and its discontents, and moves back closer to my own comfort zone in physics. It is also at a high school physics level – the water gets much deeper than I’ve presented here very quickly, but…

  • General

    Radiometric dating and deep time

    If you haven’t yet read the Radiocarbon dating post, and if you’re not already au fait with the elements of half-lives and radiometric dating, it’s probably worth clicking on the link and reading that post first, then coming back to this one. Radiocarbon dating can only take us back on…

  • General

    Radiocarbon dating

    A friend, in a discussion of the age of the Earth, recently said “I remember a study where there were some bones that were known to be only a few years old but they were carbon dated as being 8 or 9,000 years old”. It helps to illustrate the problem:…

  • General

    Facts, Theories and Laws

    (This piece is slightly modified from one originally published on the Adventist Today web page – apologies to those who have already ready it in other fora. More brand new words tomorrow!) “Evolution is a fact” is something we tend to hear from one side in debates about origins. I’d…

  • Religion - Science Stuff

    Evolution and entropy

    The claim is sometimes made that entropy, or the laws of thermodynamics, prohibit the possibility of evolution. The laws of thermodynamics can be stated in a number of ways in words, and more precisely in equations, but here is one way of stating them: Energy cannot be created or destroyed…