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Researcher Denies SETI Is a Religion

Apparently irritated by charges that SETI research is like a religion (see, for instance, the article by novelist Michael Crichton mentioned in our 12/27/2003 entry), David Darling of the SETI Institute has issued a response.  On Space.com, his title was direct: “Of Faith and Facts: Is SETI a Religion?”  The answer was a forthright NO […]

Deities for Atheists, or Atheism for Dummies?

Michael Shermer wrote a book review in Science entitled “Deities for Atheists.”1  The article reviewed George Basalla’s recent book, Civilized Life in the Universe: Scientists on Intelligent Extraterrestrials (Oxford, 2005).  Basalla (historian of science and technology, U of Delaware) contends that SETI is the continuation of an ancient religious quest.  If so, who are the […]

How Apemen Learned to Give Christmas Presents

For your Christmas amusement, some scientists think they have solved the evolution of gift giving.  In an announcement on EurekAlert called “Why we give: New study finds evidence of generosity among our early human ancestors,” the introduction states, “A groundbreaking new study examines the origins of holiday giving and finds that our early human ancestors […]

Catholic Astronomer Takes On the Pope, and Other ID Battles

Right after Pope Benedict XVI essentially affirmed intelligent design (11/10/2005), his court astronomer rejected it.  The Rev. George Coyne, Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, sounded like he was reading the NCSE playbook: “Intelligent design isn’t science even though it pretends to be…. If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be […]

Is Archaeology Like SETI, or is SETI Like Religion?

Archaeologists have their Rosetta Stone, but so far, SETI investigators have no artifacts.  Still, Douglas Vakoch wrote for Space.com, archaeologists and anthropologists can teach SETI researchers how to prepare for encountering “exotic cultures with strange languages.”     Vakoch recounted the interest in this angle at an anthropology conference last year: One of the best-attended […]

Does the Brain Produce the Mind – and Ethics?

Two contrasting views on the mind/body problem appeared in science journals recently.  In Nature this week,1 Paul Bloom (Yale) reviewed The Ethical Brain (Dana Press, 2005) by Michael S. Gazzaniga, a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics.  Bloom felt the need to clarify the difference between theological and evolutionary views on the source of […]

Evangelical Christians Split on How to Handle Evolution

A dismal picture of controversy dividing Christian brother against brother, with no resolution in sight, is painted by Paul Nussbaum in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  He says evangelical Christians are not monolithic in their opposition to evolution, but as divided as much of the rest of the nation.  He quotes a spokesperson for the American Scientific […]

Theologians Wrestle with God’s Role in Disasters

As international rescue efforts accelerate in the aftermath of last week’s tsunamis in Asia (see Caltech for the geological story, and Nature News for the earthquake’s affect on Earth’s rotation), commentators and theologians are beginning to ask the “why?” questions.  The liberal Archbishop of Canterbury is doubting the existence of God, according to the UK […]

Does Psychology Find Anything New Under the Skull?

Two recent psychological reports seem to either state the obvious or underscore teachings of old-time religion.  Coping:  EurekAlert tells about a University of Washington study that concluded, “Americans had strong need for spiritual support following 9/11 attacks.”  Strangely, Christians and Jews, who believed in forgiveness, seemed to do better than Muslims who believed in retaliation.  […]
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