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Peter M. J. Hess, Ph.D.
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Peter M. J. Hess, Ph.D. is a San Francisco Bay Area theologian helping to promote dialogue at the interface between science and religion, particularly in the areas of evolutionary biology and climate change. He earned an M.A. from Oxford University and a Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley), and is co-author of Catholicism and Science (2008). He has taught on the adjunct faculties of a number of universities and is a fellow of the International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR) and of the American Scientific Affiliation.

Entries by Peter M. J. Hess, Ph.D.

Is Pope Francis Pro-life? The Perplexing Silence of Laudato Si' on Human Overpopulation

(4) Comments | Posted July 1, 2016 | 2:47 PM

A year after the highly anticipated publication of Laudato Si' I continue to ask myself, "Is Pope Francis really pro-life?" That was my first question on reading through his lengthy encyclical letter a year ago. The pope had a fantastic opportunity--from the most visible pulpit in the world--to address the...

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Wildfires, Angels and the Hand of God

(67) Comments | Posted September 18, 2015 | 3:26 PM

I am a survivor of this week's ongoing Valley Wildfire in Lake County, California, a beautiful place that my family has called home since 1935. My childhood house and another we owned were among the very first of over 1,000 structures to burn, most of them the homes of families....

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The Sun Revolves Around You? Narcissism on a Cosmic Scale

(33) Comments | Posted April 18, 2014 | 1:56 PM

The center of the universe might be closer than you think -- in fact, it might be right under your feet. A conservative Catholic crank, Robert Sungenis, is now resurrecting the long-discredited geocentric model in a bizarre movie called The Principle.

Geocentrism is the idea that the Earth...

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Hijacking the Ark: Do Creationists Own the "Noah" Story?

(24) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 3:17 PM

First published by the National Center for Science Education.

We humans are natural storytellers. For tens of thousands of years we have told and retold stories around campfires and in royal chambers and religious gatherings, in genres ranging from song to poetry, from performance to film. Many of...

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An Appreciation of Ian G. Barbour (1923-2013)

(3) Comments | Posted January 9, 2014 | 10:03 AM

First published by the National Center for Science Education.

All mankind is of one author and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language, and every chapter must be so translated... God's hand is...
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Science, Catholicism and the Papacy in the New Millennium

(143) Comments | Posted April 2, 2013 | 2:06 PM

Experiencing three popes inside of 10 years prompts reflection on continuity and change in one of the world's longest surviving institutions. From my perspective at the National Center for Science Education, it's interesting to consider papal involvement in science, especially with regard to contemporary issues of central importance, such as...

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Murder, Blasphemy and the Quest for a Truly Pro-life Ethic

(2) Comments | Posted December 25, 2012 | 11:33 AM

The politicking began, not surprisingly, as soon as the sirens faded in Newtown. Ardent appeals for stricter control on assault rifles were met by equally strident calls to arm classroom teachers. Some claims were preposterous, such as that of Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America, who said that "gun...

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Religion and the Reality of Climate Change

(75) Comments | Posted December 5, 2012 | 10:57 AM

Matthias Claudius penned some memorable lines in German two centuries ago that became in translation England's most popular harvest festival hymn:

We plough the fields, and scatter
the good seed on the land,
but it is fed and watered
by God's almighty...

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The Titanic, Climate Change and Avoidable Tragedies

(33) Comments | Posted May 21, 2012 | 12:02 PM

One of the most legendary maritime disasters was the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic. In a pivotal scene in James Cameron's 1997 film, master shipbuilder Thomas Andrews looks around the magnificent foyer of the grand staircase, swarming with frantic passengers. Rose Bukater asks how serious the situation is. Says...

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Creationism and Monkey Business in Tennessee

(436) Comments | Posted April 18, 2012 | 12:23 PM

I'm no kin to the monkey, no no no
The monkey's no kin to me, yeah yeah yeah
I don't know much about his ancestors
But mine didn't swing from a tree.

That's the first verse of a famous creationist ditty, "I'm No Kin to the Monkey,"...

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Rapture Interruptus: Bursting the Bubble of Apocalyptic Expectation

(429) Comments | Posted June 29, 2011 | 3:02 PM

The "day of rapture" predicted by Harold Camping for May 21 was greeted with fanfare and jollity by the unsaved, but it came and went without much incident. Fundamentalists shivered in anticipation, earthquakes struck in various parts of the world, and piles of unoccupied clothing mysteriously appeared here and there....

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