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Friday, July 3, 2009

Field Notes

Vatican Official Says Catholic Church Can Learn From Science—and History With Galileo
At a news conference presenting a new volume of documents on the Galileo case, Monsignor Sergio Pagano, head of the Vatican's secret archives, said today's Church and Vatican officials can learn from past mistakes and shed their diffidence toward science. "Can this teach us something today? I certainly think so," he said, in a rare display of self-criticism for the Vatican. "We should be careful, when we read the Sacred Scriptures and have to deal with scientific questions, to not make the same mistake now that was made then," he said. (Philip Pullella, Reuters)

Potential For Life on Mars
The findings of NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, announced throughout the mission, are now detailed in a set of four papers in Friday's issue of the journal Science. They are the first to describe the northernmost reaches of the Red Planet and shed light on the history of water on Mars, as well as the planet's potential habitability. (Andrea Thompson, Space.com)

Has God Been Exiled From Judaism?

Rabbi Yaakov Menken: I think all three of these factors—a reluctance to highlight divisions, ambiguity about religion, and a reluctance of the educated class to express religious feelings—combine to explain why Jews outside the Orthodox community are apt to avoid mention of G-d, His Word, and our religion. (In Good Faith, The Baltimore Sun)

Faiths Compete to Convert Atheists on Turkish TV Show

Penitents Compete will bring together an Islamic imam, a Jewish rabbi, a Buddhist monk, and a Greek Orthodox priest seeking to convert the atheists. The prize for any converted contestants is an expenses-paid pilgrimage to a holy site of their chosen faith. But the producers say the show will also help contestants "find serenity" and raise awareness of the faiths. (BBC News)

The Tangled Bank

Carl Zimmer: My publisher has been sending out copies of The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution to some leading biologists for possible endorsements when it comes out in October. Here’s what we’re hearing back so far. (The Loom, Discover)