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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Field Notes

Why the Discovery Institute's John West Is Wrong and Misleading
Peter Hess: West's views are a skewed Cliff Notes version of the serious academic work surrounding faith and evolution—mostly wrong, mostly missing the important points, a repackaging of old ideas and a parroting of discredited arguments. I have taught graduate classes in theology, and if a student turned in something like West's essay on the issue of faith and evolution, it would merit him a D-. ("On Faith," Newsweek/The Washington Post)

Can Faith and Science Both Bring Majesty to the World
Keir Martin: For those debating the role of faith in public life, this sense that life is either more or less enchanted or wonderful with or without religion becomes something of a political resource to be fought over and used as a weapon against one's opponents. And this sense of enchantment feeds into wider claims about the ways in which it is possible to find meaning or value in worlds that often look devoid of any moral compass. (guardian.co.uk)

Reconstructing the First Forms of Life
In the last few years, four surprising advances have renewed confidence that a terrestrial explanation for life’s origins will eventually emerge. (Nicholas Wade, The New York Times)

Vatican Could Become First Carbon-Neutral Sovereignty
Mark Hopkins, director of the United Nations Foundation's energy policy program, said that prior to his June 12 visit to Vatican City he had no idea the tiny city-state was involved in so many "significant projects" aimed at reducing its own carbon footprint. (Carol Giatz, Catholics News Service)

New Report Finds "No Evidence" of Gene for Depression
Why do some people sail happily through life whereas others are brought low by its slings and arrows? A 2003 study offered an answer: a gene variant that made some people more susceptible to depression. The work was hailed as a prime example of how someone's life experiences could activate their genes. But a new analysis of the 2003 study and many that came after it calls the link into question. (Constance Holden, ScienceNOW Daily News)

How Ingrained Are Our Bias and Prejudice Toward Other Groups?
Would a threat like the one depicted in a typical sci-fi Armageddon picture really bring people together, or would tribes and nations keep at each other's throats even in the presence of a common enemy? (JamilZaki, The Huffington Post)

PBS Votes to Ban New Religious Shows
The Public Broadcasting Service agreed yesterday to ban its member stations from airing new religious TV programs, but permitted the handful of stations that already carry "sectarian" shows to continue doing so. (Paul Farhi, The Washington Post)