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The success of reductionism as a method in the natural sciences has heavily influenced modern theology, much of which attempts to reduce theology to other disciplines. However, the past few decades in science have shown the limitations of reductionism and the importance of emergence. The properties of complex systems with many constituents cannot be understood solely in terms of the constituent components and their interactions. I illustrate emergent properties and concepts with specific examples from geometry, condensed matter physics, chemistry and molecular biology. Emergence leads to a stratification of reality which affirms that ontology determines epistemology. To show the significance of emergence for the dialogue between theology and the natural sciences parallels are drawn with the theology of Karl Barth. The approach here is distinctly different from most writing on emergence and theology which embraces ‘strong’ emergence (which most scientists consider speculative), an immanent God and does not engage with orthodox Christian theology. Aspects of Barth's theology which are particularly relevant include his view that theology is an autonomous discipline which is not reducible to anthropology or history, the irreducible character of revelation, and the emphasis that ontology determines epistemology.
Field experiments were conducted in Chile and western Canada to measure
short-distance (0 to 100 m) outcrossing from transgenic safflower
(Carthamus tinctorius L.) intended for plant molecular farming to non-transgenic commodity
safflower of the same variety. The transgenic safflower used as the pollen
source was transformed with a construct for seed-specific expression of a
high-value protein and constitutive expression of a gene conferring
resistance to the broad-spectrum herbicide glufosinate. Progeny of
non-transgenic plants grown in plots adjacent to the transgenic pollen
source were screened for glufosinate resistance to measure outcrossing
frequency. Outcrossing frequency differed among locations: values closest to
the transgenic pollen source (0 to 3 m) ranged from 0.48 to 1.67% and
rapidly declined to between 0.0024 to 0.03% at distances of 50 to 100 m.
At each location, outcrossing frequency was spatially heterogeneous,
indicating insects or wind moved pollen asymmetrically. A power analysis
assuming a binomial distribution and a range of alpha values (type 1 error)
was conducted to estimate an upper and lower confidence interval for the
probable transgenic seed frequency in each sample. This facilitated
interpretation when large numbers of seeds were screened from the
outcrossing experiments and no transgenic seeds were found. This study
should aid regulators and the plant molecular farming industry in developing
confinement strategies to mitigate pollen mediated gene flow from transgenic
to non-transgenic safflower.