Posts from the ‘science’ Category

Evolution and theism: a debate debrief

I’m writing this post as a debrief of a recent debate that I had on Facebook with a theist, on evolution and it’s consequences for theistic/atheistic views of the universe. I have blogged on this topic (reviewing written works) on a couple of occasions before: here and here. I think the debate I had was instructive so I thought I’d leave a record of it. Read more…


Daily New Testament Quotes 2: healing power shoots out of Jesus through his clothes.

So, the New Testamant doesn’t just contain some outrageously stupid statements, but also is full of faintly embarrassing ones. These embarrasing statements make it necessary to retain some large degree of cognitive dissonance if one is also to treat the books as somehow holy or deserving of credibility. Here’s a memorable one:

During the height of Jesus’ miracle tour of Judea, the desperate, sick, hopeless, awestruck and just plain gullible followed him everywhere hoping for action. In Mark 5, we hear the story of a  woman who had been “bleeding for 12 years”. She thinks she will be cured if she touches his cloak. She does so, and her bleeding “immediately stopped”. In verse 30 we learn how this happened:

” At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned round in the crowd and asked “Who touched my clothes?””.

I remember hearing this story many times in church, and always looked around to see if other people were as embarrassed by it as I was. There’s something about the “power going out” from Jesus through his clothes that makes it totally lack credibility. What is this power, we might ask? It’s something physical we can detect.  Perhaps it was electricity, or The Force. How are his clothes a conductor of this power? Why does Jesus know it was his clothers in general, but not his cloak in particular? Plainly, all his clothes have this conducting power, not just his cloak. Jesus plainly also has an internal healing-power meter and can monitor the drain on this power in real time.  This also suggests that the power can be depleted, and Jesus’ power will stop if used up. Why didn’t Jesus leave us all with some of his special clothes? Or give us the secret of his healing power? Oh wait, he did! Because later on he says “Daughter, your faith has healed you”. There we have it then: the clothes also knew that she was faithful, and the power somehow detected this even though Jesus himself was not conscious of it. The physics of this is quite interesting. I’m especially interested by the faith-detecting clothes. Catching peoples’ eyes in church, I frequently remember the looks I received in return that seemed to say “Yes, I know this is silly, but showing it isn’t the done thing”. Quite. Mark 5:30 you have to read it to believe it.

Biodiversity tracks Temperature over Time

Last month, my highest profile article for some years came out, on the long term relationship between global temperature and the fossil record. It received quite a bit of press attention. I wrote a popular piece in The Conversation describing my view of its significance.

There was good press coverage by TIME and The Guardian. Nature covered it too, and included some harsher, but fair, comments.

A number of other websites took up the press release, giving it decent worldwide coverage. Some of these had comedy value.

There were also minor mentions in the scottish press, thanks to my scottish co-authors; in the Scotsman and Herald.

On November 5th, the article was recommended by faculty of 1000.

Access the recommendation on F1000 Prime



Why creationists shouldn’t be allowed to run schools, and why restricting Creationism to RE is still unacceptable.

In recent days the government has announced that it has approved three creationist-run free schools. One of these intends to teach creationism in science classes as scientific theory, and two want to teach it in RE. Here I am going to outline very briefly, why this shouldn’t be supported by the government.

Read more…

London adventures

We took the kids to London for the first time last weekend, and had a hectic time.

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Why I have a problem with Jesus.

  1. If you think that the existence of Jesus matters, then there isn’t sufficient evidence to conclude that Jesus existed.
  2. The Jesus portrayed in the Gospels was weird, and certainly not worth worshipping. Read more…

Inspirational Edinburgh

Lots and lots of blogging events to catch up on….apologies since March and April have been manic. On 9th-11th March I see we had a long weekend in Edinburgh. Here are some highlights. Read more…