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Calendar

9/3/2014 » 9/7/2014
Wonders of Science, Marshalltown, IA

9/5/2014 » 9/6/2014
“Truth for a New Generation,” Spartanburg, SC

9/19/2014
Human Sexuality Conference, Bartlesville, OK

9/19/2014
“Darwin, Dawkins and the Divine: Why is biology at the heart of the New Atheism?,” Cambridge, UK

9/21/2014
“Science & Faith: Are They Really in Conflict?,” simulcast multiple locations

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CWIS: Christian Women in Science
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Laughter is Good Medicine

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Friday, February 07, 2014

Laughter

By Ruth Bancewicz



Photo by Uschi Hering, http://www.sxc.hu/

What makes you laugh uncontrollably? Sick humour? Children saying funny things? Your own attempts to master a dance move? Some of the most memorable chuckles for me have been caused by typos in emails (either my own or other people’s) that resulted in somewhat inappropriate – but thankfully very obviously wrong – meanings.

This week, Revd Dr Joanna Collicutt, Karl Jaspers Lecturer in Psychology and Spirituality at Ripon College Cuddesdon, spoke at the Faraday Institute on ‘A Merry Heart Doeth Good Like a Medicine: Humour, religion and wellbeing’.

A number of clinical studies have been carried out on humour and physical wellbeing, and like research on religion and health, the results of these studies vary widely. For religion, the overall trend is towards better health among people who have religious beliefs and practices, but the same is not true for humour. So while people who are sick tend to feel better when they laugh, their symptoms may not be affected.

There are of course many different types of humour, and they all have different effects. The appropriate sort of humour can be a coping mechanism to help in difficult situations. Bad jokes can break friendships, but laughing to build bonds among colleagues or friends is healthy – building self esteem and protecting against depression. Humour that keeps your friends laughing and you feeling good about yourself can be very healthy, but it can also be a way of ignoring problems. Some people manage to use self-deprecating humour in a positive way, but others are self-defeating.

In the past, humour was seen as a vice, possibly because it can often be subversive, but now it is generally seen as a character strength. Humour helps us to handle incongruous situations and make sense of things, recognise our own stupidity without condemning ourselves, or let off steam. Humour can, on the other hand, be used to devalue things or people, or exert superiority. Wit is generally thought to be the most clever sort of humour, but can also be the most damaging. For example, in Jane Austen’s novel Emma the heroine has to learn to control her wit and not hurt people with it.

Surprisingly (to me), laughter is more often mentioned negatively than positively in the Bible. Cynical humour is connected to ignoring, disbelieving or disobeying God. But does the fact that Jesus and others are not mentioned laughing mean they didn’t enjoy a joke? The Bible only records those events that were most important for the reader to learn from (so it doesn’t mention dinosaurs at all, and there are very few mentions of breakfast, toilets and shoes). My experiences of the Middle East have been full of smiles and laughter, and I expect the disciples’ gatherings were the same.

Humour involves a lack of inhibition, which can be a very good thing if our inhibitions are stopping us receiving from God. Prophets often have a subversive message, which can be particularly important at the renewal phase of religions. If humour helps us to disengage from unhelpful dogma and be open to a new realisation of what is most true and important, we should welcome that. Finally, absurdity can get a point home – and Jesus did use this sort of illustration in his teaching (e.g. The camel and the needle).

So we laugh because we realise things are true. We laugh in surprise when people challenge received wisdom. We laugh because the supposedly serious is made absurd. We laugh because if we didn’t we’d cry – when we are coping with adversity. And most important of all we laugh in delight, enjoying the present moment. I didn’t expect to laugh so much in a seminar, but it seems that humour is an important part of both faith and academia.

Reprinted with permission from Science and Belief

Tags:  Joanna Collicutt  Ruth Bancewicz 

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Christian women in STEM are not to be labeled

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Emily Sturgess on Labels

How does a scientist define themselves when their work isn’t their primary identity? This month’s guest post is from Emily Sturgess, a biologist who has found a niche in Oxford.

It took me a while to realise that when you introduce yourself to someone you don’t have to define yourself with a single label. As if the supplies in the stationery cupboard were rationed, I felt for a long time that I was allowed only one label to stick on myself to describe what I do. I am the Development Officer for Christians in Science, so I spend a lot of time with people who describe themselves as ‘scientists’. That makes a lot of sense: they actively participate in scientific research, are employed by science departments in universities, and think ‘scientifically’. It is their profession, and the label is wholly applicable.

All the same, I have always been slightly uneasy about declaring myself a scientist. Aside from the fact that due to an archaic honours system I actually have a BA not a BSc, I do have undergraduate and masters degrees in science subjects (Biological Sciences, and Species Identification, respectively), but I’m still not convinced. Logically, some of this could stem from the fact that I am not actually employed in research. In reality, it’s probably because I don’t want to commit to a single label until people see that ‘scientist’ encompasses so many traits!
I certainly was not the classic ‘born scientist’, but I fell in love with biology as a teenager and pursued it as far as I could. My masters was no strategic career move – I just really wanted to learn to identify plants, animals, and shockingly to all including myself, moss. Honestly, there’s no beauty quite like watching a desiccated moss sample being revived with a few drops of water. The cells dry up when you keep them as herbarium specimens, but that makes them almost impossible to identify because the shapes of the tiny leaves are distorted. If you drop water onto the specimen, however, even if it has been dried and hidden away for years, by what seems some wonderful magic the leaves spring back to life, unfurling under the microscope before your eyes.

So when I speak to other biologists, I also am a biologist. But when I speak to other writers I am a blogger; when I speak to students I am a student leader; when I speak to someone who needs something organising I am an administrator…and through all of those things I am also a Christian, following Jesus whole-heartedly, and hoping that will impact those around me.

So what do you do with an identity that seemingly isn’t tied up in one field, but flits happily between several? Which label are you allowed to wear, when in some ways you’re a scientist but in other ways you’re not? Thankfully for me, I am lucky enough to have found a job that allows me to be a scientist and a Christian, at the same time as everything else.

Working for Christians in Science has been a big release for me, because I love and understand the subject matter and am hungry to know more about almost every aspect of the science-faith dialogue. My role also allows me to be creative and administrative, and gives me time – which I wouldn’t have if I was actively involved in research – to get things done practically for the organisation. Being able to resource so many research scientists, students, teachers, and others, in their walk with God is a real privilege.

It is always humbling to see God taking the eclectic strands of our lives that had previously been wisping all over the place, and weaving them together. It is encouraging that God sees our whole selves – all the facets of our being that he prompts us to invest in – and finds ways to work them together. It always reminds me how much wiser he is than me! He sees our science and our faith and knows how to bring them together. But he sees all the other elements too: our leadership skills, pastoral hearts, discernment, creativity, logical thinking, and everything else that we consider gifts and skills but perhaps haven’t quite known what we are meant to do with them in our professional lives.

As Ruth has blogged before, there is a great call for creativity in science. I believe that there is also a place in science for all our other gifts: being wise when we give advice to others, gracious in our set-backs, and discerning and pastoral in the staff-room. We don’t have to be given a role that specifies those things in the job description to work them into our professional lives.

So for me, defining who I am and what I do was never just a case of how I brought my science and my belief together. More than that, it has been about how I am able to bring all of myself together: in my pursuit of science, in my pursuit of fulfilment, and most importantly in my pursuit of God – covered in as many labels as possible.

Emily Sturgess blogs sporadically at http://love-laugh-photograph.blogspot.co.uk, and is based in Oxford.

Reproduced with permission from Science and Belief.

Tags:  biology  Emily Sturgess  STEM 

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Tim Stafford on Science Education for Christian Children

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Sunday, February 02, 2014
Tim Stafford

 Our Children Should Not Have to Choose Between Science and Faith

Posted: 01/24/2014 

Girls And Science

For decades, belief in evolution has skewed along faith lines, with evangelical Christians as doubters on one side and agnostics and atheists as believers on the other. Now, according to a poll released by the Pew Research Center, the divide is skewed by politics as well. Republicans have become significantly less likely than Democrats to believe in evolution (43 percent vs. 67 percent). Just what we need: the thoughtfulness and delicacy of polarized politics added to the rancor already present.

I've been talking to people on both sides while publicizing a book, The Adam Quest: Eleven Scientists Who Held on to a Strong Faith While Wrestling With the Mystery of Human Origins. I'm struck, in these conversations, that neither side can believe that any thinking person could possibly believe what the other claims to believe. For them, their opponents' ideas for or against evolution must be a product of some form of hysteria or myopia or some conspiracy to either maintain a medieval worldview or destroy religion.

Read it all here.


Tags:  faith. evolution 

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This Is What Inspires Girls in STEM

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Friday, January 24, 2014

 Editor's Note: This post is part of a series produced by HuffPost's Girls In STEM Mentorship Program. Join the community as we discuss issues affecting women in science, technology, engineering and math.



By Gina Ryder

"What inspires you?”

A question like that brings to mind clichés more fitting at a beauty pageant. Yet when you ask a STEM girl, the responses might well cause you to straighten up and pay attention.

The Huffington Post posed this question to the applicants of our Girls In STEM Mentorship Program. More than 1,000 young women responded to our call-outs last December, and amid all the different names, ages, locations, career motivations and educational backgrounds, we were blown away by the deep purpose each applicant found in her studies and future career.

So in celebration of International Day of the Girl Child and the quest to empower young women everywhere, we've compiled some of our favorite responses to this question in the following list. Hopefully they inspire you like they've inspired us.



What inspires you? What inspires your pursuit of STEM?

"Seeing my work impact a person's life, no matter how small the action. I know my thoughts can transform into action." - Phyllis, 21, Aspiring pharmacist

"I find the the research towards finding an AIDS vaccine fascinating." - Taryn, 14, Aspiring Orthopaedic/Neurological surgeon

"My whole life, all I ever dreamed about when growing up is to help somebody in a powerful way. I want to make lives better or help move society forward to a future with less misunderstandings and ignorance. Women have been doing this throughout history, and if I could do something just half as good as them, I would be more than satisfied." - Florencia, 20, Interested in a career in health physics


Read it all here.


Tags:  STEM 

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CWIS and ASA: A Place to Connect

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lynn Billman

President CWIS


Do you want to get acquainted with other Christian Women in Science in your area? Would you like to connect with other ASA-CWIS supporters in your state? Would you like to connect with other Christian women chemists, astronomers, or physicists? 

As a professor at a Christian college, would you like to know other Christian women professors near you?  Well, you can do all that and more by searching the ASA Membership Directory at the ASA website. 

The ASA Membership Directory is for members only and only appears when you sign in. It is not public information and this is the membership data the search engine depends on. So, if you are not receiving information from ASA or CWIS it may be that your addresses are not current. Check out the Membership Directory and update your ASA profile.

The search fields I find most useful are:

Name – to find one person

Location (i.e., State) – to find who is in my state

Profession – to find someone in the clergy, medical, government research,  and other professions.

Discipline – to find people in biology, astronomy, engineering, or other areas


After you decide how these search elements may be helpful to you, you have a choice of searching the entire ASA membership list, or you may search "Affiliate:  Christian Women in Science.”  Checking CWIS will help you find others who have signed up as members of our ASA group, thereby demonstrating their interest and commitment to the challenges faced by Christian women in STEM. 

While you’re at it, check out the ASA website in general. You’ll find a lot of interesting information – major science headlines, God and Nature magazine, information on the upcoming ASA annual conference (July 2014 in Ontario), and loads of great articles, blog posts, news feeds, etc., on science and Christianity.  Check it out today!  And use the ASA Membership Directory to find other CWIS members in your area.

 


Tags:  CWIS  Lynn Billman 

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Gender Gap in Biblical Archaeology

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Thursday, January 16, 2014

 BAR helps reveal Biblical archaeology’s gender gap

Biblical Archaeology Review’s annual dig issue has long directed readers to excavation opportunities in Israel and beyond. To help readers decide which dig is for them, we provide a list of sites, together with the dates of the excavation seasons and the name of each dig’s director.

Jennie Ebeling, associate professor of archaeology at the University of Evansville in Indiana, however, used our 2011 list of dig opportunities for a different purpose: to highlight the growing gender gap between male and female archaeologists in Biblical archaeology.

In an article for The Bible and Interpretation Web site (www.bibleinterp.com), Ebeling found that only six of the 22 excavations listed for Israel for the summer of 2011 were either directed or codirected by women, including famous female archaeologists like Jodi Magness and Suzanne Richard. The gender gap among dig directors held steady when she added the handful of other excavations listed on the Web sites of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) and the Archaeological Institute of America. Ebeling also found that fewer than a third of the licenses granted by the Israel Antiquities Authority for 2011 were issued to female archaeologists.

"[A dig’s] director provides the ‘face’—and often, in our field, the personality—of a dig,” wrote Ebeling. "The [statistics suggest] that there are many fewer female than male ‘faces’ representing the field of Syro-Palestinian archaeology.”

Given that Biblical archaeology has such a strong tradition of famous female archaeologists, from Kathleen Kenyon to Trude Dothan, why, asks Ebeling, are so few famous female archaeologists now at the forefront of the field?

From surveys she conducted with both men and women who direct excavations in Israel, Ebeling found that while many believe starting a family or having children can often delay a woman’s archaeological career, such factors alone cannot account for the relatively small number of women who lead excavations.

Many archaeologists believe pervasive and longstanding cultural factors within the discipline are to blame. Despite the pioneering achievements of famous female archaeologists such as Kenyon and Dothan—and others like Ruth Amiran and Claire Epstein, as well as current directors like Sharon Zuckerman and Jodi Magness—Biblical archaeology, particularly in Israel, has long been dominated by male dig directors, while women have frequently been "shuffled off into specialist studies,” like pottery and small finds analysis. And even though female dig directors and codirectors, including Jodi Magness at Huqoq and Eilat Mazar at the City of David, are now more common, Ebeling notes that almost all of the "big digs” focusing on major Biblical sites—Ashkelon, Megiddo, Gezer, Rehov and others—are still run primarily by men.

Others point to an academic and professional environment, both in Israel and the U.S., that tends to favor men over women. Despite the fact that women tend to outnumber men in archaeology graduate programs, far fewer women ultimately complete their programs and earn Ph.Ds. As a result, women fill just over a third of the tenure or tenure-track faculty positions in institutes and departments of archaeology at major Israeli universities; Ebeling says a similar number likely exists for U.S. institutions. And even though women regularly deliver 40 percent of the papers at ASOR’s annual conference, and also serve on the body’s board of trustees and numerous committees, the organization has never elected a female president in its 110-year history.

So will there be more female dig directors on Biblical Archaeology Review’s 2012 list of dig opportunities? Probably not. Ebeling’s survey found that many archaeologists, both male and female, believe that the gender gap in Biblical archaeology has widened in the past 25 years and will only continue to grow.


Tags:  Archaeology  gender gap 

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Objectivity lacking among secular scientists?

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Tuesday, January 07, 2014

 

"If ideas are just patterns of nerve impulses, then how can one say that any idea (including the idea of materialism itself) is superior to any other? One pattern of nerve impulses cannot be truer or less true than another pattern, any more than a toothache can be truer or less true than another toothache.”--Stephen M. Barr (From here.)

 

The following article is posted to stimulate conversation. The failure of the writer to define terms like "creationist" and "tradition" is problematic and provides a clue as to why many doubt journalistic claims on science. People often fail to distinguish popular science and true science and do not detect ideological bias. At the end of the blog post are links to articles that I believe provide balance to Adam Frank's perspective. -- Alice C. Linsley

 

The Age of Denial: Our society no longer values the integrity of scientific fact

New York Times

By ADAM FRANK

August 21, 2013


ROCHESTER — IN 1982, polls showed that 44 percent of Americans believed God had created human beings in their present form. Thirty years later, the fraction of the population who are creationists is 46 percent.


In 1989, when "climate change” had just entered the public lexicon, 63 percent of Americans understood it was a problem. Almost 25 years later, that proportion is actually a bit lower, at 58 percent.


The timeline of these polls defines my career in science. In 1982 I was an undergraduate physics major. In 1989 I was a graduate student. My dream was that, in a quarter-century, I would be a professor of astrophysics, introducing a new generation of students to the powerful yet delicate craft of scientific research.


This is not a world the scientists I trained with would recognize. Many of them served on the Manhattan Project. Afterward, they helped create the technologies that drove America’s postwar prosperity. In that era of the mid-20th century, politicians were expected to support science financially but otherwise leave it alone. The disaster of Lysenkoism, in which Communist ideology distorted scientific truth and all but destroyed Russian biological science, was still a fresh memory.


Read it all here.

Related reading: Kansas Bill Calling for Objectivity in Science FailsScientists Against ScientismThe Trouble with ScientismScientism's Irrational Attack on Religion

Tags:  science education 

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Bronwen Todd: Future Astronomer?

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Thursday, January 02, 2014



Hi.


My name is Bronwen. I am seven years old. I am a girl. I would like to be a Space Scientist when I grow up. I am interested in this because I am in love with science! I love science because it is very interesting and awesome. I would like to explore outer space so I can discover and name some planets.  I wonder how many planets are not named yet. I bet 100’000’000’000! Well, probably more.


I would like to learn how fast the earth moves. I want to learn if oxygen can be made in space. I know that the universe is super large and that it is still expanding like a balloon that you blow up.


Another reason that I think it is important to study space is because we can learn about the history of the universe.


My family loves science too. We read science books, watch science shows, and even tell science stories. I was talking about this report earlier to my family and they told me I should write this down.


I hope that some girls my age will read this and get interested in science.



Bronwen Todd


Tags:  astronomy 

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Something about STEM drives women out

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Friday, December 27, 2013
Updated: Saturday, December 21, 2013

 Nov 20, 2013 by Bill Steele

(Phys.org) —Just when the nation has a need for more workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, research at Cornell and the University of Texas, Austin, finds that women have often found those fields inhospitable, and left for other kinds of jobs.

In the first study to compare women in STEM with other professional women, Sharon Sassler, professor of policy analysis and management, and colleagues found that women in STEM fields have been more likely to move out of their field of specialty than other professional women, especially early in their careers; few women in either group completely leave the labor force. Their report, "What's So Special About STEM?" will appear in the December issue of the journal Social Forces.


Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-11-stem-women.html#jCp


Tags:  STEM 

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Merry Christmas!

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Updated: Saturday, December 21, 2013

                                      The CWIS Board wishes all readers a blessed Christmas.

            May it be filled with joy in knowing that Christ our Savior has come among us and loves us. Hallelujah!


  

 


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