At Axios: Why it matters: The bulk of the human genome is noncoding regions, some of which play an important role in how genes are expressed. New tools are allowing scientists to test exactly how these elements — once called “junk DNA” — work, which could lead to new drug targets.
Pultz: Empirical evidence (from the world of engineering) supports the assumption that complex functional systems like motors do not arise via random changes to already existing systems. Empirical evidence, even from biology itself, also supports the common knowledge that random changes to functional systems disturb, disrupt, or destroy function.
Generally, monotheism is favorable to a high level of organization, including complex theologies that don’t just morph a lot but are only changed with much deliberation or controversy. But did that state of affairs evolve so as to foster “cohesive unity,” as Harari suggests? Hard to say. Religion — especially propositional religion, like the monotheisms — can foster either unity or disunity. Monotheism has not been a force for unity in Northern Ireland or the Middle East.
Witt: “Critics of intelligent design will have a hard time maligning Thomas as a “creationist in a cheap tuxedo.” He isn’t religious and is a longtime member of the British Rationalist Association, a group known for religious skepticism.”
A reader sends this interseting clip from 2004 in which he spells out his views on “evolution, George Bush, religion in America versus Europe, the utility of belief irrespective of whether it’s true or not, the response to science within Muslim countries, and whether or not Stephen liked God and religion in a personal sense.
It’s not just theists who have problems with the multiverse. Sabine Hossenfelder explains her reservations.
Coppedge: The paper in Geophysical Research Letters by I.B. Smith et al., “A Solid Interpretation of Bright Radar Reflectors Under the Mars South Polar Ice” (GRL, 15 July 2021, DOI: 10.1029/2021GL093618) says that clay is a sufficient material to account for the observations. The water interpretation is problematic, because “the amount of dissolved salt and heat required to maintain liquid water at this location is difficult to reconcile with what we know about Mars.”
Life seems to have got started as soon as the planet cooled. Curiously, unlike bacteria, Archaea do not cause disease in humans.
The oldest type of religion was probably a form of naturalism. Non-naturalist religions are better accounted for by revelation.
Hossenfelder: The physicists who believe in this argue that unobservable universes are real because they are in their math. But just because you have math for something doesn’t mean it’s real. You can just assume it’s real, but this is unnecessary to describe what we observe and therefore unscientific.
Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor reflects on the fact that theories that attempt to show that the mind does not really exist clearly don’t work and never did.
Klinghoffer: I’m still reeling at the stupidity of whoever at Scientific American decided to give a green light to publishing an article, “Denial of Evolution Is a Form of White Supremacy,” by Allison Hopper. The absurdity of tarring critics of Darwinism with racism boggles the mind — given how Darwin’s own legacy, down to today’s Alt-Right, is so tied up with racial pseudo-science, viciously denigrating Africans, African-Americans, and others.
About that third comment above: There is no reason to put “scholarship” and “Nature Communications” in the same sentence if this “paper” is supposed to be an example of the type of thing it produces.
Conscience is a major aspect of our consciousness, one of the “first facts” of our embodiment in the world, thus part of the start-point for sound thinking. Hence, Cicero’s recognition that it was consensus even in his day that “[sound] conscience is a law”: Given word games that may crop up, let us note a Read More…
Readers may well remember biology teacher Bret Weinstein and his wife Heather Heying, a progressive teacher couple at Evergreen State College, early victims of the very Woke they had themselves encouraged, without realizing where it must end.