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Rowan_WilliamsPhoto credit: Marcin Mazur

As Dr. Rowan Williams steps down as Archbishop of Canterbury it worth drawing attention to his reflections and contributions to Science and Faith interactions/issues during his time as Archbishop.  The Archbishop of Canterbury website is very good and contains a database of all Rowan Williams’ sermons, talks, interviews, publications etc during his time in the job.  There really is a wealth of useful material here.  Helpfully the contributions have been tagged according to category and so we can pull up all those that relate to Science, see link below:

http://rowanwilliams.archbishopofcanterbury.org/tags.php?action=view&id=209

Rowan Williams’ dialogue with Richard Dawkins can be found here, but for me the highlight is this excellent lecture and the question and answer session that followed.  Much to ponder, here are some quotes:

“Scientific research seeks to identify the causes of particular phenomena and clusters of phenomena, including of course that remarkable cluster of phenomena which is the observable universe as we now know it. Faith states, not as a matter of explanation but as matter of trust, that any form of energy whatsoever, at any stage of the history of the universe, depends upon the free initiative of God.

“religious faith can and ought to support and encourage science: science as a practice, with an impressive morality and spirituality, a commendation of attention and humility, the setting aside of self very frequently in the context of addressing the most painful vulnerabilities of the human world; a practice that trains selfless, even contemplative approaches to the world.”

Note that materials related to Rowan Williams are now stored on an archive site as Justin Webly takes over as Archbishop.

Dr. Rowan Williams (104th Archbishop of Canterbury)

Justin Welby (soon to be (current!) Archbishop of Canterbury)

Late, I know, for some reason was never published two years ago!!!

Best Films: Argo, Intouchables, Skyfall

Best TV Series: Call the Midwife, The Bridge, Sherlock (season 2)

Best Music: (Haven’t got to listen to as much music this year as I normally do) Lonerism by Tame Impala, An Awesome wave by Alt-J,

Major Events: New job as Assistant Professor at Trinity Western University, buying a house,

Best Drink: Ten Fidy by Oscar Blues

A large ice island has broken off the Petermann Glacier in northern Greenland.

NASA satellite image (MODIS).

This iceberg is about twice the size of Manhattan but approximately half the size of the previous recent break-off in 2010 (blog post here).  Unlike the 2010 event the current ice has broke off further up glacier and marks a retreat of the calving front of the glacier.  The crack and rift that led to this break off has been known and observed for some time and so this event was expected in this regards.  However, the question is still being asked as to how unusual these large calving events are and whether they were caused by climate change.  Certainly we can say that these changes have not been seen for at least a 150 years (see previous post and this discussion article).  However, we can’t say for certain that these two massive calving event are a direct result of climate change.  An interesting discussion on these questions is provided in this BBC article.

The Guardian has a little interactive page where you can watch the iceberg break off in context (click here).

Glaciologist Tim Creyts provides an insightful radio interview here.

This blog post gathers together recent data and information on University Professor salaries in North America.  I happen to have just accepted an Assistant Professor position at Trinity Western University in British Columbia, Canada which (unfortunately for me) has the lowest salaries in all of Canada.  I was aware of this before I got the job and choose to work here for reasons outside of pay.  However, it is a slight consolation to know that academics in Canada on average are the best paid in the world (taking into account cost of living differences).  This according to a new book

Paying the Professoriate: A Global Comparison of Compensation and Contracts

more details and a global league table can be found in this New York Times article on the book.

All sorts of useful data on University (teaching/academic) salaries in the United States including averages by discipline, career stage, region, and type/size of University can be accessed through The Chronicle of Higher Education:

http://chronicle.com/article/faculty-salaries-data-2012/131431#id=144050

For full-time teachers at Canadian Universities 201o-2011 statistics (mean, median, 10th and 90th percentile, maximum and minimum) for each rank at every University in Canada is provided in a report by Statistics Canada:

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-595-m/81-595-m2012097-eng.pdf

If you want to be really nosy, in British Columbia, you can find out the pay of the highest paid public employers (those who earn over ~$75,000 CAD), including individual professors at the public universities.  Search the database (data currently from fiscal year 2010/2011) compiled by the Vancouver Sun:

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/public-sector-salaries/basic.html

I’ve read the first book and am looking forward to reading the next two.  I thought the film was excellent, really well done, especially the scene leading up to the entrance into the arena which was extraordinary gripping.  The book and the film are so good in that they challenge long after you’ve finished.  In many ways the world of the hunger games resembles exploitation happening today in our own world.  I’m left with a lingering realization of my own compliance and everyday acceptance of the injustices in our world.

If your interested in some of these provoking themes check out the following links:

Julia Clawson has written what sounds like an excellent commentary on the hunger games trilogy.  The book (currently only an e-book) is called The Hunger Games and the Gospel: Bread, Circuses, and the Kingdom of God.   Homebrewed Christinity interviewed her on their Theology Nerd Throwdown podcast – well worth a listen, here’s the link.

Jesus in ‘The Hunger Games’ a magazine article in Christianity Today

A few weeks ago I posted on a stunning video capturing computer simulated ocean current patterns.  Today I’m posting on surface wind flow patterns over the contiguous United States.  Both show the visual beauty of these large-scale fluid flow patterns.  You have to follow this link to view live moving imagery which is based on near-term surface wind forecasts.  Do check out the moving fields, but shown below are some snap shots showing some of the patterns that get generated.

http://hint.fm/wind/gallery/

Well today sees Rick Santorum finally calling an end to his bid to become the Republican nomination for US president. I’ve been meaning to blog about his views on climate change for a while so hear goes.  Santorum went further than all the Republican candidates who ran for the presidental nomination, the vast majority have stated that the science on climate change is unsettled.  However, Satorum goes further and says climate change is “an absolute travesty of scientific research …”.  Indeed he has called Obama’s theology phony and not based on the bible because he sides with radical environmentalists!  For reporting on this Bible-tinged climate change denial see this article.

Unfortunately the Christian theology of “dominion” has and still is contributing to environmental degradation.  You can read my own views on the use of dominion in Genesis 1 here.  The Bible actually says is that the Earth is not ours to use and misuse as we please, but

“The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Psalm 24:1)

According to recent polls evangelical Christians are the least likely to agree that humans play a role in climate change and also the most likely to indicate that there is no scientific proof that climate change exists.  Yet, some scientists and Christians are suggesting that this has nothing to do with theology, and more to do with political science.  Environmental issues are often seen as liberal agenda items and many conservative information sources present climate change as a theory rather than scientific fact.  A recent study stated that views were strongly partisan, with 78% of Democrats believing in climate change and only 47% of Republicans.  Although, I have heard of a study that shows that the carbon footprints of Democrats and Republicans are no different, in other words whatever you believe people are not doing anything about it! Incidentally I also heard that this is true of climate scientist themselves who have the highest carbon footprints of any discipline.

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