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Of Primates and Percentages: No, Humans Aren't 99 Percent Chimp

Certain ideas just won’t die, no matter how often and thoroughly they are debunked. Most of us have heard some scientist, journalist, teacher, or entertainer claim that “human beings and chimpanzees share 98-99% of our DNA.” That statistic is an example of what molecular biologist Jonathan Wells calls an “icon of evolution,” or Zombie Science. The often unstated implication of this undead statistic is that humans and chimps obviously evolved from a common ancestor, and that we are still, on a biological level, mostly the same.

What We Can Learn from the History of Lobotomies

In 1935, Portuguese neuroscientist Dr. Egas Moniz pioneered a new procedure to treat symptoms of psychiatric illness. Using a thin instrument, a surgeon could sever the delicate neural connections between the frontal lobe and other parts of the brain. The procedure resulted in significant changes to the patient’s behavior. Despite a mixed reception by the medical community, Moniz received a Nobel Prize in 1949.

In the ensuing decades, the practice of transorbital lobotomies was championed by American psychiatrist Dr. Walter Freeman. He operated on over 4,000 patients and remained a fierce advocate for the procedure long after it fell into disrepute. While some patients seemed to be cured of their psychiatric distress, the main effect of lobotomies was the dismantling of the patient’s personality. According to Freeman’s own numbers, about 73% of his patients remained hospitalized for life or “in a state of idle dependency.” Another 5% died during the operation. Recently in The Washington Postcolumnist Megan McArdle pointed to the history of lobotomies as a cautionary tale.

The Church's Lane Is the Whole Cosmos

A denominational leader asserted that the best thing the Church could do to handle the challenges of this cultural moment would be to "stay in its lane." That the so-called "culture wars" have been grueling, and the Church is primarily called to spread the Gospel.

Sex as Sacred: What a Twitter Maelstrom Reveals About Us

On Wednesday, the recently announced Keller Center for Cultural Apologetics at The Gospel Coalition published a book excerpt authored by Pastor Josh Butler. The article described a sacred vision of the physical union of a husband and wife, arguing that not only marriage but that physical intimacy within marriage is a type (or picture) of Christ and the Church. In the process, he used terms and imagery that, without additional context, seemed shockingly graphic. The article set off a Twitter maelstrom.

Discerning Divine Judgment

As squeamish as we are about identifying which calamities, diseases, and disasters are God’s judgments for which sin, throughout the Bible, prophets, apostles, and even Christ Himself speak of judgment owed and paid out for national sins. Sometimes His judgment is portrayed as an act; other times it is portrayed as turning us over to the natural consequences of bad ideas and behavior. Either way, biblically speaking, if there is no place for divine judgment in our theology, there is something unchristian about our worldview.

Painting and Counting Stars: The Saving Power of Beauty

Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky said that “Beauty will save the world.” Reflecting on those words in his 1970 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn asked, “What sort of a statement is that? … How could that be possible? When in bloodthirsty history did beauty ever save anyone from anything?”

When Mental Illness Goes Viral: Social Contagions Are Destroying Our Girls

Millions of girls with instant access to our culture’s most viral (and dangerous) behaviors and beliefs are currently manifesting the results. Their sicknesses are a clear sign that our society is sick. In order to treat them and us, we’ll have to admit how the disease spreads, admit the connection between mental illness and gender confusion, and keep them away from clinics and smartphone apps where the disease is celebrated.

ChatGPT, Consciousness, and the Human Mind

ChatGPT is, to borrow a phrase, “breaking the internet.” So far, what it has produced ranges from the impressive to the hilarious.  It is also forcing a series of existential crises. For example, teachers are scrambling to discern the work of their students from the work of compelling AI counterfeits. The tech industry now faces what The New York Times calls “an AI arms race,” as competitors like Google apply their own AI to search engines and ad generators. Technology has made searching for errors in code, sifting through mountains of data, and summarizing complex issues in a few paragraphs exponentially easier and more user-friendly.

Laws Shape How We Think about the World Around Us

If our intuitions do influence our moral decisions, even overriding our best intentions and our rationality, we’d do well to pay attention to what is shaping themWhat’s legally available (or not) shapes them, and not just because people don’t want to get in trouble. Laws create conditions, such as whether we have access to certain products and advertising. Laws make some financial incentives possible, but not others. They can also normalize or stigmatize behaviors. In other words, laws play a role in fostering the habits of a people, and people tend to be formed by their habits. Laws should not enable and should never incentivize bad habits. Good habits, on the other hand, also form our moral intuitions. 

Courageous Christian Leadership in Sierra Leone: Shodankeh Johnson

Every year, the Colson Center presents the William Wilberforce Award to a Christian leader who has made a lasting difference in their sphere of influence, demonstrating the same principled courage as British abolitionist William Wilberforce. This year, at the 2023 Colson Center National Conference, we look forward to honoring Shodankeh Johnson with the award. His work as a pastor, church planter, and reformer has brought transformation in his home country of Sierra Leone.