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Pope Francis to Explore Climate’s Effect on World’s Poor

On Thursday, Francis will release his first major teaching letter, known as an encyclical, on the theme of the environment and the poor. Given the pope’s widespread popularity, and his penchant for speaking out on major global issues, the encyclical is being treated as a milestone that could place the Roman Catholic Church at the forefront of a new coalition of religion and science. Francis, the first pope from the…

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Gods and Truths for Other Inhabited Worlds

A star appeared in the East. Following it, so the biblical story goes, three Magi urged on by a nervous King Herod arrived at a stable in Bethlehem and discovered the news that many of us celebrate with bells, lights and too much sugar and alcohol every year at this time: The son of God had come to die for our sins. Peace on earth and good will to men…

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Pope gives Church a little nudge toward science

Delivering an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope Francis continued his habit of making provocative, seemingly progressive statements. The pontiff appeared to endorse the theory of the Big Bang and told the gathering at the Vatican that there was no contradiction between believing in God as well as the prevailing scientific theories regarding the expansion of our universe. “When we read about creation in Genesis, we run the…

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Seeking Stars, Finding Creationism

Hawaii Tribune-Herald, via Associated Press Galileo knew he would have the Church to contend with after he aimed his telescope at the skies over Padua and found mountains on the moon and more moons orbiting Jupiter — and saw that the Milky Way was made from “congeries of innumerable stars.” The old order was overturned, and dogma began to give way to science. But there is still far to go.…

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Is science the new faith?

This is the 12th and last in a series of interviews about religion that I am conducting for The Stone. The interviewee for this installment is Daniel Garber, a professor of philosophy at Princeton University, specializing in philosophy and science in the period of Galileo and Newton. In a week or two, I’ll conclude with a wrap-up column on the series. Gary Gutting: In the 17th century most philosophers were…

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Politics and religion influence opinions more than facts

Polls relating to publicly controversial scientific issues often trigger a great wailing and gnashing of teeth from science advocates. When large proportions of a population seem poorly informed about evolution, climate change, or genetically modified foods, the usual response is to bemoan the state of science literacy. It can seem obvious that many people don’t understand the science of evolution, for example—or the scientific method, generally—and that opinions would change…

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Cosmos kerfluffle #1: Bruno and science v. religion

Giordano Bruno, as animated in Cosmos. (Image courtesy of Fox) My recent post questioning the Giordano Bruno segment in the first episode of the new Cosmos has attracted a gratifying amount of attention, both on this site and elsewhere around the web. It has also prompted a heartfelt reply from Steven Soter, a resident research associate at the American Museum of Natural history and Cosmos‘s co-writer (along with Ann Druyan).…

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Neil deGrasse Tyson: Making science communication look easy

Neil deGrasse Tyson may be America’s best-known and most influential science communicator — the obvious successor to the mantle held by Carl Sagan in the 1980s and early 90s (indeed, Dr. Sagan tried to recruit Tyson to do his undergraduate studies at Columbia where Sagan was a professor, but Tyson opted for Harvard instead). Now the director of the Hayden Planetarium at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, Dr.…

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