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Showing posts from February, 2009

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I've been busy lately, taking time out after that Darwin blog-a-thon. I've been working on my Wasmann paper for the symposium this weekend, reading Desmond and Moore's Darwin's Sacred Cause, making arrangements to attend the big SSB/SSE/ASN conference this summer, and basically trying (successfully) to keep the blog from running my life.

The Wasmann project has been a lot of fun, particularly observing how different ideologies used Wasmann's arguments for their own purposes. Basically, Wasmann was open to the possibility of evolution as God's mechanism of creation and believed that the Bible could not be used to inform natural science. Sounds like a theistic evolutionist, right? But Wasmann was also unconvinced that evolution proceeded from a single common ancestor and instead argued for the permanence of "natural species," which in one passage he speculated could be as big as a phylum. He also rejected human evolution based on lack of evidence. …

War and Peace: 150 Years of Christian Encounters with Darwin

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Are you tired of hearing about Darwin by now? I am too, so let's talk about what happened after Darwin. On February 27-28 (just two weeks from now), the Bryan Institute for Critical Thought and Practice is sponsoring a seminar entitled War and Peace: 150 Years of Christian Encounters with Darwin. The purpose of the seminar is to take a look at the ways various Christians have reacted to evolution in the past. This is not any kind of creationist conference. In fact, I'm the token creationist speaking, and I'm not even speaking about creationism. Instead, the purpose of this conference is to look into the history of Christians who reject and accept evolution (and one who did both). Hopefully, we might just learn something.

Our speakers are Jon Roberts (Boston University), Ted Davis (Messiah College), Steve Matheson (Calvin College), and me. Jon Roberts will be presenting an overview of the American Protestant reactions to Origin of Species, drawn from his excellent bo…

Reading: Charles Darwin: The Story of the Man and his Theories of Evolution

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OK, technically I'm not actually reading this book and probably never will read it all the way through. But it's a neat book anyway, I wanted to tell you about it. It's a coffee table book that contains 27 reproductions of Darwin artifacts. Here's the slipcover and book, together with a copy of the B notebook page with Darwin's first tree diagram and facsimile pages from the Sketch of 1842, the first complete outline of his species theory.



This is a reproduction of a famous passage from Darwin's diary, where he explains how he came up with the idea of the evolution of species.



Here's the original at Darwin Online, complete with transcription. Each item also has the manuscript catalogue number, so it's easy to track down information on the original.



This is a great item for any teachers who ever have the opportunity to teach about Darwin or evolution. With these reproduction items, you can show your students firsthand how evolution developed in the min…

From the Library: Darwin's Confession

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For those just joining us, "From the Library" spotlights interesting items in the library of the Center for Origins Research at Bryan College. For past entries, click here.

A funny thing about collectors: We tend to get really excited over really weird things. I'm not talking about casual collectors, the kind that pick up a collectible spoon or keychain when on vacation. I'm talking about diehard collectors, obsessive, completist whackos who would gladly give up food or electricity for a month or two if only they could acquire that last item for their collection. If you've ever said something like, "You spent how much??? On that thing?!" then you probably know one of these collectors.

I am such a collector, and as I said, we tend to get really excited over strange things. So it was that I found myself digging through about two dozen big boxes of books donated to the college by one of the trustees. They were old theology and Bible study books, and I…

Darwin's Big Idea

Way back when I started this blog, I decided not to write ponderously long entries, since I always hate those on other blogs and never read them. I'm making an exception for this, and I hope it's worth your time.

About a year ago, when we planned the Genesis Kinds conference, I thought it would be a good idea to leave some time to see the Darwin exhibit at the Natural History Museum. I knew that most of our speakers would be very interested in the NHM (who wouldn't?), and I suspected the Darwin exhibit would be well worth seeing.

Photography was forbidden in the exhibit itself, but when the exhibit was at the American Museum of Natural History, a certain Colin Purrington took photos anyway and posted them over at Flickr. His pics give you a general sense of what the exhibit looked like.

The exhibit began with materials related to the Beagle, including an elaborate Galapagos diorama, complete with specimens of boobies, iguanas, and tortoises. As you wind past various docum…

Darwin and Accommodation

Darwin mania continues here at CORE! Well, maybe not, but I am about to post a string of Darwin-related items. Before I do that and fuel the rumors of my closeted evolution-ism, I wanted to clarify my overall thoughts about Darwin. Unlike 99% (or 99.99%) of creationism, I don't think Darwin is to blame for much of our present predicament. By "present predicament," I mean the widespread belief that the Bible does not contain valid or true information (except for some moral truth). I think it's a "predicament" because I do think that the Bible can be a source of reliable information, and I think that the church (and science and culture) suffers for failing to recognize that. I don't want to be too specific on how we suffer, because I'm not entirely sure how it manifests itself. I think society's been wrong so long that I have trouble imagining what being "right" would be like.

If you've read my Answers magazine article Evolutio…

The Billboard

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Check out what our friends at the Freedom from Religion Foundation did for us here in Rhea County:



At first I thought, "Oh brother, how silly is that? It's worse than a finger puppet." Then I noticed the billboard next to it:



Hmmmmm....... Mental illness? Maybe you should cut back on praising Darwin.

Genesis Kinds England, Conclusion

Well, 4000 miles and nine Cadbury eggs later, I'm back in the good old USA. I think the Genesis Kinds conference was quite successful (despite some problems), and I do want to thank everyone who contributed to its success. Here's a brief recap of the posts from England:

Day 1: Westminster Abbey and Hunterian Museum
Day 2: Conference morning
Day 2: Conference evening
Day 3: Cambridge
Day 4: Natural History Museum

Now we just have to do it again in July! For those interested in that conference, we'll have registration available hopefully by March. Meanwhile, remember the BSG call for abstracts, and you might want to order a copy of the book from Wipf and Stock (remember, if you're planning to come to the conference, you'll get a copy of the book with your registration).

Now I've got three weeks before the next conference. I guess I should finish my paper...

Genesis Kinds England, Day 4

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Today, we visited the Natural History Museum in part to see the Darwin exhibit, "Darwin's Big Idea." I have a lot of thoughts about that exhibit, and I'm going to put those in a separate post. Otherwise here's a few shots of our day.


The main hall was crowded when we got there, but it was probably twice as crowded in the afternoon. Notice in the back where the statue of Sir Richard Owen used to preside over the museum he founded, now Darwin sits holding court. Owen would be ticked!


One of these is an important historical artifact in the history of comparative anatomy. One is not. Choose wisely.


Here's all the Darwin swag I bought at the Darwin giftstore. There's a doll, jigsaw puzzle, shirt, commemorative coin, keychain, fridge magnet, a book of reproductions of important Darwin-related manuscripts, and a Darwin finger puppet. It's a mix of fun things and somewhat disturbing items (a doll?). (We have many plans for the finger puppet.)


I decided t…

Genesis Kinds England, Day 3

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For Friday, we scheduled a walking tour of Darwin sites in Cambridge. Then it snowed, and snowed, and snowed some more. Joe Francis and I loved every minute of it. It was like being home in Michigan, very invigorating. The snowball fight didn't come out so well (I can't aim very well - ask Kurt about it).



Our first stop was the Boots pharmacy, where Darwin had rooms before he moved into Christ College. You can tell we were a bit chilly.



We decided to spend most of our time inside, where it was not snowing so hard. Here we are at the Sedgwick Museum, looking at Devonian plants.



This little shot I got at the Museum of Zoology. You know how rhino horns are made of keratin like hair? 'Tis true.

Genesis Kinds England, Day 2 Evening

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The formal presentations concluded today, and I think we delivered a fairly good conference. I haven't talked to a lot of the people here, but they seemed to have enjoyed what we did. Here are some photos of the sessions.

Paul Garner presenting his paper on the history of speciation in creationism:


Ken Turner delivered his paper on the meaning and theological significance of min:


Roger Sanders discussed speciation on islands after the Flood:


Here I am presenting my best case for discontinuity (which turns out could be much better, and I'm looking forward to advancing the research):


Kurt Wise presenting his Post-Flood Continuity Criterion, which turns out to be even more fascinating than the preview he gave at BSG last year:


Joe Francis advanced creationist understanding of symbiosis and speciation:


Here's my favorite picture. After dinner we had a little Q&A in the Oak Room, where microbiologist Joe Francis explained the nuances of cholera, while Bible scholar Ken Turner s…

Genesis Kinds England, Day 2 Morning

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It's a chilly morning here at the High Leigh Conference Center, but we're off to an excellent start. Paul Garner opened our conference with a very interesting overview of the history of species and Christianity (even I learned some things). Ken Turner then followed with an interesting discussion of the Hebrew term min and its uses and misuses in the creation/evolution debate. Up next is Roger Sanders and his creationist take on island speciation. I'll be back later today with another update.

Genesis Kinds England, Day 1

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It's a miracle! Despite all the nasty weather in London, we all made it to London on time and in one piece. Not only that, but it was a beautiful day in London. We stopped by Westminster Abbey for a photo (see below - click to enlarge), and then we spent some time at the Hunterian Museum. I really enjoyed the Hunterian, not just for the history but the design of the museum. They basically have the same eclectic collection as the Henning Museum but it looks much better. I got some good ideas for future renovations.

Online creationist history

Those who've read my Answers magazine articles or other work might have noticed that I frequently refer to the work of early creationists of the twentieth century, especially the Seventh-day Adventists Harold Clark, George McCready Price, and Frank Lewis Marsh. I familiarized myself with their works first through books, and later through their magazine articles. A few years back, I spent every Thursday for an entire semester at the library at Southern Adventist University going through their denominational magazines issue by issue, copying every article that had anything to do with creationism. That was a lot of work, but I think it paid off handsomely. Yes, I have a lot of less-than-helpful antievolution articles, but there are also some historically important gems, too.

I recently found out that this kind of research is going to be a whole lot easier. The SDA church has an online archive, containing scans of their major magazines (the biggest ones for creationism were Review…