Aku Visala Wins the 2010 ESSSAT Research Prize

The European Society for the Study of Science and Theology has awarded its biannual ESSSAT Research Prize to Aku Visala for his philosophical analysis of cognitive theories of religion, “Religion Explained?” (his doctoral thesis at the University of Helsinki).
As ESSSAT explains its decision:

Cognitive theories of religion draw on the analysis of our evolved cognitive faculties in order to understand religion. The jury found that Visala deals with a major current development of substantial complexity. His writing displays a strong grasp of relevant literature, also from neighboring fields. The work engages the issues in a mature way, coming up with well considered criticisms of others and an analysis of his own. Last but not least, the work is well written and focused.

The prize will be presented to Visala, now a visiting fellow at the Centre for Anthropology and Mind at the University of Oxford, at the 13th European Conference on Science and Theology in Edinburgh from April 7 to 11.

Grandeur in This View of Life

Congratulations to the winners of New Scientist‘s Sampling Darwin contest, which asked readers to incorporate the last sentence of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species into a new work of art. That picture above? An ink drawing by Richard Amm. Here’s the list of things to look for:

Embryo development diagram
“There is grandeur” sentence
Gravitation equation
Darwin branching drawing
Abiogenesis (chemicals to bacteria)
Words “I think”
Dinosaur with wings.
Peas in a pod
Artist’s Name
Lots of different finch beaks
Drake equation
DNA double helix x2

Endless Forms Most Beautiful

The winning picture from the Darwin photographic competition, a small tree frog posing on some lichen captured by Simon Roberts.

Congratulations, Francis Collins

sci_index Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, has been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Collins is an evangelical Christian who favors theistic evolution and embryonic stem cell research. He shares how he found harmony between his scientific and religious worldviews in his best-selling book The Language of God, and before joining the NIH he launched a foundation to address the country’s culture war between science and faith.

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