Evolution and Morality

Errors, Evolution, and Ethics

Every week during the school year, I get a newsletter from my former high school. It’s a Christian school, with a conservative Baptist principal, so the content is almost always something with which I now disagree. I generally skim through it to see what diatribe he’s on this week (it’s virtually always about the importance of Christian education…how unexpected!). But the newsletter from a couple weeks ago (Sept. 30) was about bullying in particular. The topic was sparked as a result of the recent tragic news of the suicide of an 11-year-old boy. But instead of pointing the blame at the bullies themselves, possible neglectful attitudes of school teachers and staff, or the social stigma surrounding persons with disabilities (the boy had muscular dystrophy), my former principal decided to pinpoint a different cause. I’ll let him explain:Continue Reading

Demon and goat

Strange Spirits: The Demons All around Us

I was raised in a conservative evangelical household. The denomination in which I grew up, Pentecostalism, takes the Bible to be literal truth. But the Bible was written thousands of years ago, before there was any systematic scientific understanding of the world. Thus, a literalist Christian holds to a belief system based on a book written in the Iron Age. This has led to the perpetuation of beliefs which have no place in the modern world (ones that have absolutely no scientific credibility). One of those beliefs is a literal acceptance of demons and other spirits.Continue Reading

Primordial Soup

The Origins of Life

Science · · 2 comments

When someone states that they do not believe in God, often one of the first questions in response is, “Then how did life get here?” Of course, “God did it” is not a good explanation for, well, much of anything, because it does not actually provide any details about the process it claims to explain. Regardless of this, however, it is still a valid question to ask: Without invoking a God, is there a reasonable explanation for how life arose from non-life? This is where the field of abiogenesis comes in.Continue Reading

The Null Hypothesis

Religion, Science · · 12 comments

One of the most accurate ways to describe my religious beliefs (or lack thereof) is by way of a concept known as the “null hypothesis”. Like most atheists, I do not claim that I know God does not exist. I merely claim that there is not enough evidence to justify belief in God. And the best way to illustrate this claim is through the null hypothesis. This is a statistical concept that is used for hypothesis testing in science. Because statistics is not a strong point for many people, I will try to explain it using a minimum of stats jargon; however, some will be required, and I will try to explain what each term means the best that I can. I really feel that this is an important concept to understand when one is trying to assess evidence claims (which happens to us all the time). So hang on for the ride!Continue Reading

Consciousness

All About the Brain (Part 3)

Psychology, Science · · 2 comments

In Part 1 I discussed the physical structures of the brain, as well as a couple of the functions that it performs. In Part 2, I traced through the evolutionary development of the brain, from simple to complex. Now, in this final article, I’d like to talk about those things that we think of as making us “truly human.”Continue Reading

Animal brains

All About the Brain (Part 2)

In Part 1 of the series, I discussed some of the basic structures and functions of the brain. Obviously there was much in that article that I did not cover, but for this next article I’d like to discuss how the brain might have developed through evolutionary processes. I’m going to use some of the things we learned in Part 1 to make my argument here. But let’s first talk just a little bit about evolution in general.Continue Reading

Brain

All About the Brain (Part 1)

Psychology, Science · · 2 comments

If there’s one thing that fascinates me most, it’s the brain. How such a drab pinkish-grey organ can achieve so much—the perception and interpretation of everything around us—is amazing. And as an aspiring psychologist soon to complete my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and (hopefully) go on to graduate school, I happen to think that there is much we can learn about the brain. But of course, because the brain is a complex organ that even scientists do not fully understand yet, many people know very little about how it functions. In addition, the brain is sometimes used as the “magic bullet” of intelligent design. Some say, “The brain is too complex to have evolved by chance!” Others claim, “Science cannot explain consciousness, which suggests that it is a non-physical process that can only be explained by the existence of a soul.” Truly, the brain is shrouded in mystery, which allows for all manner of conjectures about what its “ultimate purpose” is.Continue Reading