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A Public Conversation on Depression, Hope & Healing, Pleasant Hill, CA

1/25/2017 » 1/27/2017
Salk Symposium on Biological Complexity, La Jolla, CA

“Relevance Theory and Divine Accommodation in Genesis 1,” Wheaton, IL

“The Penultimate Curiosity: How science swims in the slipstream of ultimate questions,” Bristol, UK

“The Big Questions: Richard Dawkins versus C. S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life,” Houston, TX

CWIS: Christian Women in Science
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Dr. Nola Stephens on Linguistics and Faith

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Thursday, January 8, 2015


Here is a wonderful podcast in which Dr. Nola Stephens speaks about language and faith. In the beginning was the Word ... the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

She expresses her enthusiasm about her discipline: "a linguist gets to study how words work." 


Here is a wonderful podcastin which Dr. Stephens speaks about language and faith. In the beginning was the Word - The Word became flesh and dwelt among us... She expresses her enthusiasm about her discipline: "a linguist gets to study how words work." 

Tags:  Dr. Nola Stephens  Linguistics 

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Solving the Ainu Mystery

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Monday, December 29, 2014



Ainu elder with his wife, pet bear, and a Japanese visitor, circa 1930


Alice C. Linsley

For many years I have been pursuing the evidence of a connection between the Annu of the ancient Upper Nile Valley and the Ainu of Hokkaido and Okinawa. With the help of a Canadian Ainu informant additional pieces of the puzzle were produced. Now I feel confident to share the results of this anthropological investigation into the mysterious Ainu. 

I thank ASA member David Wilcox for his contribution to this article.


May the Lord bless us in the New Year!

Alice C. Linsley


Tags:  Biblical Anthropology  David Wilcox 

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More Notes from Ms Frizzle

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Friday, December 19, 2014


Karen E. McReynolds


Today I went to the National Science Teachers Association annual conference on the West Coast.  I went with a student of mine who aspires to be a middle school science teacher.  She was a big reason for my going – it’s always fun to introduce someone to something that you know they will love, and that was the case today with Maddie.  So many booths of science toys to play with! So many people who are just as happy being science geeks as Maddie and I are! It’s an atmosphere of fun and learning for teachers, encouraging and supporting them in their efforts to create atmospheres of fun and learning for their students, regardless of age.  No one but a biology instructor would get excited over winning the door prizes Carolina Biological was offering today, such as a live tarantula or a bucket of fetal pigs – but there was genuine enthusiasm there when such prizes were awarded.  Love it.

“Fun and learning” seems oversimplified in describing what I hope for the students in my classes, and yet this is indeed a legitimate component of my goal.  This illustrates the dilemma I face, working exclusively with students who are not science majors and maybe don’t even like science at all.  (Maddie is a happy exception.)  Convincing them that biology or earth science are worth their time and attention can be an uphill battle, so part of the point of my courses is to demonstrate the amazement and joy of discovering the natural world.  Along with that, however, they need to understand what science is and how it works.  They need to know mitosis and Mendel, weather and Wegener, and so much more.  I walk a fine line, balancing between cheerleader and drill sergeant. 

The most effective way to walk this line seems to be on field trips.  Field trips meet both my goals at the same time.  They offer the “wow” factor of experiencing God’s bountiful creation up close and in the real world, and they provide a vast outdoor laboratory where students can make for themselves the connections with what they are seeing and what we have discussed in class.   Walking among the completely chaotic rubble of a three thousand year old landslide after looking up and seeing the slumped depression in the hillside teaches them more than reviewing landslide types in lecture.  The same is true for types of plant growth.  Terms like apical meristem and cambium layer mean a lot more when a student is counting the rings on the stump they just sat on to eat their lunch, and admiring the bright soft yellowy green of this year’s brand new growth. 

My Ms. Frizzle nature – pun intended! – delights in field trips.  The NSTA conference is a field trip workshop, a laboratory containing pieces and components and schemes for those, like me, who assemble field trips.  I get to select the appropriate pieces and assemble the puzzle of the whole, and then I pray for safety and successful reading from the Book of Nature.  The Author of that book loves to see it read, and He writes His story well.  Because of Him, the whole of the field trip is greater than the sum of its parts. 


Related: Notes from Ms. Frizzle (1); Notes from Ms. Frizzle (2)


Tags:  Karen McReynolds 

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Religion among UK Biologists

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Saturday, November 22, 2014


By Ruth Bancewicz

2% of biologists in the UK are female, with an average age of 37, and 47% are not from the UK. Not many labs keep a stock of funky pink lab coats, but the cartoon here is a reminder that the iconic picture of a Caucasian male (preferably with a mop of white fuzzy hair) is no longer representative of the average lab worker.

On the other hand, when sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund and her collaborators surveyed the population of British biologists, they found that gender, age, rank and institution seem to have no effect on whether a person is likely to feel a sense of religious belonging.* Some of the preliminary findings of this survey were presented at the Faraday Institute’s Uses and Abuses of Biology workshop in September, and it’s worth reading the full paper, co-authored with Christopher Scheilte.

Ecklund’s earlier study on religion among scientists in the US showed that there are a significant number of scientists who describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’ (see earlier blogs). In the UK this group does not seem to exist. Perhaps, suggested Ecklund, the Church of England is so widely accepted as a cultural institution that people do not feel the need to distance themselves from religion.**

Read it all here.

Tags:  Biology  Ruth Bancewicz 

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The Sea and Scripture

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Monday, November 17, 2014


Ruth Bancewicz


When he came to Faraday in October 2012, Meric Srokosz brought Biblical scholar Dr Rebecca Watson on board, and together they have been looking at ‘the sea in Scripture’. Their aim is to study the Biblical material on the oceans in order to develop a theology of the sea, and think about how Christians should treat the ocean, the creatures living in it and the resources it contains.

One of the things Rebecca has looked at in this study is the great fear and vulnerability that the Old Testament writers felt in relation to the sea. Here were forces over which they had no control, and they relied on God to protect them. There was also a sense that trying to completely master the sea is an act of pride against God – that we are most at home on land, and can’t fully ‘own’ the sea.


© Bschwehn,


© Bschwehn,


More positively, there was a feeling of wonder and awe in some passages, and an appreciation that the great dangerous beasts in the sea could be a source of pride and enjoyment to God, even though they seemed to offer nothing useful to humankind. Job and the Psalms are great examples of this, with ‘Leviathan’ frolicking in the waves[1]. Finally, some of the biblical writers saw the fish in the sea as a finite resource that needs protection.[2]

Having lived in ships for months as a time, Meric can identify with the Biblical writers’ sense of vulnerability and awe. “You realise how big the world is and how puny human beings are… Scientifically we know a lot more, but it’s [still] beyond our control… When you’re stuck in a force eleven storm in a rather small research ship in the middle of the North Atlantic and there’s not much help around, you get an impression of the majesty of creation, the scariness of some of it, the force of the waves and the winds … and then you see a pod of pilot whales swimming around, and they appear to be enjoying themselves, body surfing down the front of breaking waves!”

Read it all here.


Tags:  Meric Srokosz  Rebecca Watson  Ruth Bancewicz 

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Notes From Ms. Frizzle (2)

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Thursday, November 6, 2014


View photo in message 

Close Encounter with a Bimac


By Karen E. McReynolds




It had been a glorious day.  Our whale watch excursion in the morning was exhilarating and yielded enough migrating gray whales to satisfy.  After a picnic lunch on the wharf, we drove a little further down the Monterey peninsula to placid Pacific Grove, home of migratory monarch butterflies as well as fabulous tide pools.  It was not the season for butterflies, but tide pool creatures are impervious to terrestrial seasons; they remain year round, so off we went to see what we could discover.  All of these natural treasures were new to my non-major general biology students, and they were easy to impress this day: perfect weather, great creatures of the deeper sea, and now smaller creatures of the rocky shore.


I had selected a date that offered us a minus tide in the afternoon, and the tide pool creatures were abundant.  As our time drew to a close, I gathered all the students together so we could compare notes and assemble our organism count for the tide pools.  In reviewing the list of hoped-for organisms that I had prepared ahead of time, I noticed that there were a few that we had not seen.  This wasn’t surprising – after all, it’s not the Discovery Channel, as I frequently remind students – but it was still a bit disappointing.  Secretive habits, camouflage, and nocturnal preferences successfully hide some creatures from curious humans quite effectively.  One of these was the Two-Spotted Octopus, Octopus bimaculoides, referred to in marine biologist’s slang as a bimac.  This is not a rare denizen of the rocky shores along the eastern Pacific, but they hide well and prefer darkness, so they are not easily observed.   I had only seen one of these on one previous tide pool trip, and it was a fleeting glimpse: a small cephalopod, immediately zipping out of view and into a crevice in the rock underwater, where it steadfastly remained.  On this day, however, we had indeed seen a good variety of organisms, so our time at the tide pools had still been valuable. 


Within seconds of my comment lamenting the absence of a Two-Spot, one student blurted out, “There’s an octopus!” And lo and behold, we all looked down at the small pool he was standing in front of, and there was indeed a slithery octopus, heading to the deepest edge of the tide pool to hide.  Impulsively, the student poked at the general direction of the creature with the point of his pencil, and then the fun began.  This octopus, unlike the shy specimen I had seen on a previous trip, was apparently an extrovert.  He or she scuttled across the tide pool, shooting a stream of dark brownish ink as it went, and headed up toward the surface at the opposite end of the pool.  When it got there, it ascended the rock surface with no hesitation and climbed right out of the water.  I can only describe its terrestrial mode of movement as “schlooping,” a word I admittedly made up on the spot, but it seemed to suit the creature well.  The octopus schlooped up the rock out of the pool and across a bed of barnacles, skirted a clump of greenish algae, and crossed a fair amount of red-brown rock before it descended into another more satisfactory tide pool.  As it moved over each different background, its color changed instantly so that it always matched its surroundings.  Its total journey out of the water, as witnessed by a class of gaping students and their equally astonished instructor, was about five feet.  It disappeared into the depths of its new tide pool residence shortly after its arrival and didn’t make any further appearance.


What a show! This creature of the not-so-deep gave us a tiny glimpse of creation that none of us had experienced before.  And what perfect timing.  The Psalmist says, “Yonder is the sea, great and wide; creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.” (Psalm 103:25)  None of those students will ever think of “creeping things” in the same way. 


Thus, we learn the value of field trips.  Textbooks and lab assignments are not the only materials that come to life once we leave the classroom.  Nature provides illustrations of scripture as well: in this case, a small, schlooping thing, rainbowing its colors as it scuttled through our lives.   


Related reading: Notes From Ms. Frizzle (1)

Tags:  biology  Karen McReynolds 

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Forgotten Female Programmers

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


If your image of a computer programmer is a young man, there's a good reason: It's true. Recently, many big tech companies revealed how few of their female employees worked in programming and technical jobs. Google had some of the highest rates: 17 percent of its technical staff is female.

It wasn't always this way. Decades ago, it was women who pioneered computer programming — but too often, that's a part of history that even the smartest people don't know.

I took a trip to ground zero for today's computer revolution, Stanford University, and randomly asked over a dozen students if they knew who were the first computer programmers. Almost none knew.

"I'm in computer science," says a slightly embarrassed Stephanie Pham. "This is so sad."

A few students, like Cheng Dao Fan, get close. "It's a woman, probably," she says searching her mind for a name. "It's not necessarily [an] electronic computer. I think it's more like a mechanic computer."

She's thinking of Ada Lovelace, also known as the Countess of Lovelace, born in 1815. Walter Isaacson begins his new book, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, with her story.

Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was the daughter of poet Lord Byron. The computer language ADA was named after her in recognition of her pioneering work with Charles Babbage.

Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was the daughter of poet Lord Byron. The computer language ADA was named after her in recognition of her pioneering work with Charles Babbage.

"Ada Lovelace is Lord Byron's child, and her mother, Lady Byron, did not want her to turn out to be like her father, a romantic poet," says Isaacson. So Lady Byron "had her tutored almost exclusively in mathematics as if that were an antidote to being poetic."


Read it all here.


Tags:  Ada Lovelace  computers 

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Notes From Ms. Frizzle (1)

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Tuesday, October 14, 2014



Hello readers.  I’m Karen McReynolds, a professor of science at Hope International University in sunny Orange County, California. Hope is a small Christian university, so small that I should really say “the” professor of science.  (Well, we do have a couple of adjuncts this semester.)  We offer upper division courses only through our contract program with the Cal State campus across the street, so my full time responsibility here is science for the non-major student  meeting general education requirements.  I teach biology, environmental science and earth science – quite a broad spectrum for the college level. I like the variety of courses though. My childhood home in rural central California nurtured in me a love for birds and sky and wetlands, framed by the distant Sierra Nevada. Our parents wisely let us kids roam, and even encouraged me by supplying my own Peterson’s Field Guide to Western Birds, the adult version, when I was eight. Now I do my best to encourage my students to marvel, as I do, at God’s Second Book: the Book of Nature.

I like to tell the students the first day of class that my role model is Ms. Frizzle.  It’s always good for a laugh.  I hope to share with you occasionally some reflections on nature, teaching, and the intersection of the two, in the indefatigable spirit of Ms. Frizzle.  

Some years ago, my husband, my father and I were working as a team on a biological survey of a large property in the northern Sierra Nevada.  This was rather like having our cake and eating it too.  For three seasons in a row, our teaching schedules permitted several weeks in the summer at 6400 feet, making observations and collecting data on natural history while the heat of the San Joaquin Valley passed us right on by.  We found time to jump in the lake at the end of each day, and slept outside on tent platforms under the wide open, star-laden sky each night. 

One afternoon I took a path that was new to me and came across the remains of a fawn nestled in a hollow of pine duff.  More accurately, it was a fragment of the remains of a fawn: most of the rib cage, a bit of the spine, and the right foreleg of a very small deer.  It must have been out in the woods for a while, because the bones were nearly white and free of flesh.  The tiny hoof at the end of the leg was graceful and dainty, quite miniature in comparison to the numerous hoof prints of mule deer I had seen through the weeks of this project.  It had clearly been dragged in from somewhere else, as there was no sign of any of the rest of the body, but the way it was settled in its spot so tidily suggested that it had seen some seasons pass in that location.  The doe that returned to her baby’s ill-chosen hiding spot had made her fateful discovery some time ago. 

 .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

I am a rather clunky woman, heavy of foot and inclined to drop things.  Perhaps in accordance with this, I frequently need to be whacked over the head by something before I will notice it.  I have developed reasonably astute observation skills after years of field experiences and practice, but it has taken intentional effort and is not my default character.  Perhaps this is why my discovery delighted me more than it made me sad.  It made me realize that if such a delicate specimen could remain, there is hope that I too might leave something behind that could speak of life in the midst of death.

There isn’t much about me that is delicate.  That is not a word I would think to apply to myself and indeed it is an adjective I seldom use at all.  It certainly would not seem to be an appropriate term to describe skeletal remains.  But nature subsists on inappropriate truth.  In all its grisly detail, the evidence I encountered that day of the early death of a young deer was indeed quite strikingly beautiful and delicate.   


Tags:  Karen McReynolds 

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The Faith vs. Science Mentality

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Sunday, September 21, 2014


Embracing Science
Let’s put the faith vs. science mentality to rest

While there certainly are arenas in which the interaction between faith and science may be difficult to parse out, those experiences of tension certainly don't mean science must be rejected as a matter of faith.

By Kelli B. Trujillo

If you were to listen to the views espoused by some of today's foremost "new atheists," you'd quickly draw a conclusion: We humans don't need religion, faith, or "God" any more. Science has answered(or is answering or someday will answer) our questions. Faith—akin to belief in a made-up fairy tale—has no place in a life of honest, logical scientific inquiry.

And if you were to listen to the views perpetuated by some Christians, you'd quickly draw another conclusion: we Christians ought not trust science or its conclusions or, for that matter, most scientists. The Bible, rather than science, answers our questions. Wherever they appear to be in conflict, faith trumps science every time. Science—which is just secular humanism in disguise, after all—has no place in a life of true, devoted Christian faith.

But is this really the case? Are faith and science mutually exclusive—archenemies, locked in a centuries-long battle for truth? Ought people of faith stay away from the sciences and view scientific findings with suspicion (at best) or utter disbelief (at worst)?

Read it all here.

Tags:  Kelli B. Trujillo 

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What a Wonderful World

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Tuesday, September 9, 2014


What a Wonderful World
How science leads us toward -not away from -our Creator
By Dr. Christa Koval with Amy Simpson
You are fearfully and wonderfully made! With more than 100 known elements in the universe, you are made of only 4. Your body is 96 percent oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen. And most other organisms share these elements with us. Isn't it amazing that such complexity and variety exist among living things as the result of combining only four elements in different ways?

Our bodies are just one mind-blowing element of God's impressive creation, all of which points directly to our Creator and teaches us about him. Hundreds of years of scientific discovery have revealed astounding depths of knowledge about our world, and yet in many ways we're still only just beginning to explore. Scientific exploration draws us toward a deeper appreciation of the unfathomable being who could create so much complexity—it moves us toward a deeper sense of awe and worship.

Consider plant life, for example. Plants use three of the elements found in our own bodies (oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen), plus the energy of sunlight to produce larger compounds. This process of photosynthesis is complicated and understanding it earned Melvin Calvin a Nobel Prize in 1961. But it wasn't until 1988, after 27 long years of additional research, that scientists understood the structure of RuBisCO, the enzyme required to initiate photosynthesis and the most abundant protein on earth (plants produce about 40 million tons per year). RuBisCO consists of a mind-boggling 37,792 atoms put together in a three-dimensional structure that will function only if every atom is in position. Our existence depends on this delicate balance.


Read it all here.


Tags:  Amy Simpson  Christa Koval 

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