letter from the editors
by Sy Garte, Editor-in-Chief
As the new Editor-in-Chief, I am pleased to present this Spring 2018 issue of God and Nature to the ASA community. Managing Editor Ciara Reyes and I worked hard to maintain the very high standard set by the previous Editor-in-Chief, Emily Ruppel Herrington, for the past six years. I should start by thanking Emily for all of her support, encouragement, and instruction, and for helping to make this transition (the first for G&N) as smooth as it has been.
I have appointed an Editorial Advisory Board to give me advice and suggestions as I move into the Editor-in-Chief role. A list of the members of this Board is now included in the About G&N page.
You may notice a few small changes in the magazine format. We have decided to modify the custom of labelling alternate issues as “Special” and “General”. All G&N issues are special! In the past, the special issues usually contained additional material not related to the theme, and that will continue. Instead of a special issue theme, every issue will have a “focus topic,” and essays related to that topic will be at the top of the Contents, with other essays following.
There is a new page on Author Guidelines. We encourage all those submitting material to read this page prior to submission. We plan to continue the popular G&N tradition of including poetry, artwork, and as many photos (and photo essays) as we can.
We are now also welcoming comments on anything in this (or previous issues) in the form of Letters to the Editor, which can be posted directly in the same issue as the piece commented on (with replies, when appropriate).
The focus topic for the next (Summer 2018) issue is “Judgment and Peer Review,” and we welcome submissions on this topic, as well as any material related to Christian faith and science. We will provide more information on this focus topic in a call for submissions in the near future.
Finally, I would like to thank all the authors and artists whose work appears here, as well as the many who submitted material that could not fit into this issue. All accepted submissions will eventually be published, so keep submitting your good work to God and Nature.
by Ciara Reyes, Managing Editor
Spring is here. The transitional period between winter and summer characterized by moderate temperature, and the emergence of new life was always expected but was nonetheless difficult to imagine in the throes of winter. Even so, freeze warnings and spring storms make it difficult to accept the fact that Spring has arrived.
Spring reminds me, as a biologist, that death is a necessary part of life - it sustains life by making room for new life, and promotes life by giving back to the natural environment via the recycling of an organism’s molecular constituents (atoms of carbon, hydrogen etc.). Molecular parts are broken down, recombined and rearranged, and then reintroduced into the natural environment - a sort of molecular reincarnation. Even at the cellular level, cell death (apoptosis) is a necessary part of sustaining the life an organism, promoting its health and survival.
Not all of what is perceived as death in nature, is death. Some organisms may appear dead, but are only in a temporary state of hibernation and dormancy - and still there are organisms like the hardy water bear (tardigrade) that are virtually indestructible, having survived the harsh conditions of outer space, deprivation of water and food - seemingly incapable of death as we know it. However, death in its most tragic form, reminds us of the fragility of life, when the permanency of death is realized in the case of the extinction of a species or the loss of a close relative or friend - in moments like these, we grieve.
About This Issue
There is a large body of literature on the two related topics of chance and design, and how they interweave so many different areas of science and Christian faith. The five essays exploring this topic cover both general and specific approaches to the topic, ranging from quantum mechanics to evolutionary biology.
The five essays that are not on the focus topic cover neuroscience, the wonder of species diversity on the Galapagos Islands, and an intriguing analogy of Christ as a metaphorical “sunscreen” for humankind. We are pleased to feature two essays in this issue by students – Daniel Dorman, and Benjamin Blanchard. One of our goals is to increase participation by younger and student members of ASA, and our Managing Editor, Ciara Reyes has been quite active in this area.
In this issue we also have a moving eulogy to our late, beloved Walt Hearn, written by none other than Walt Hearn himself! Composed shortly before his death, this piece, which will bring a tear to your eye as well as a smile to your face, is introduced by Randy Isaac, who knew and loved Walt, as did so many other ASA members.
For the past two years, retired engineer Mike Clifford from the UK has written a piece in every issue of God and Nature. Mike has agreed to turn this into a regular column called “Across the Pond,” and this issue marks his formal debut as a columnist.
Finally, we have a fascinating series of photographs of original artwork, to help exercise the right side of your brain, after all the reading you will be doing.
As you read this issue, may you be as encouraged, enlightened and challenged by the content, as much as we have been. Enjoy, think and participate; your feedback is always welcome.
The Editors would like to thank Aniko Albert for help and suggestions in putting this issue together.
Sy Garte earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry and BS in Chemistry from the City University of New York. He has been a Professor of Public Health and Environmental Health Sciences at New York University, Rutgers University, and the University of Pittsburgh. He recently retired from a senior administrative position at the Center for Scientific Review at the NIH.
Sy is the author of four books, over 200 scientific publications, and articles in Perspectives in Science and Christian Faith (PSCF), God and Nature and The BioLogos Forum.
Sy is Vice President of the Washington DC Chapter of the ASA. His blog is www.thebookofworks.com.
Ciara Reyes is a scientist, singer-songwriter and freelance writer, who joined the God & Nature staff in June 2017 as Managing Editor. She has a Ph.D. in Cellular & Molecular Biology from the University of Michigan.