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Showing posts from March, 2009

CELD Update

I'm still working on the BSG conference, but in the meantime, we just finished a big overhaul of CELD. The journal contents should be up to date for most of the creationist titles, and the new search engine now supports phrase searching (with quotation marks) and simple operators like AND, OR, and NOT. The new search engine is a lot more sophisticated than the old one, so it should be much easier to find what you're looking for.

What's CELD? It's the Creation-Evolution Literature Database. It's like a PubMed or Proquest for creationism. You can search for article references based on words used in the title or 'abstract.' (For articles that don't have abstracts, we just use the first paragraph or the first sentence for really short things.) Today, CELD contains 22,440 articles with about 40% linked directly to full-text content at publishers' websites. The articles come from the major creationist publications, like CRSQ, Origins (GRI and BCS),…

Change to 2009 BSG/geology conference

I can now confirm that the summer BSG/geology conference will not be held at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary after all. We're working on a new venue also in Louisville, and I hope to have registration ready by the end of this week (or early next week at the very latest). The conference will consist of the joint meeting of the BSG and creation geology group followed by the "Genesis Kinds: Creationism and the Origin of Species" presentations.

Meanwhile, I hope to see a lot of abstracts for the conference. I think Roger Sanders said that we got about 3 or 4 already, and the deadline is coming up next week. Here's the Call for Abstracts. Hmmmm... I guess I better write my abstract, eh?

Hope to see you there!

So that's how they do that...

Porcupine babies are fluffy

It doesn't answer all my porcupine reproduction questions, but it's good to know.

Reading: The New Creationism

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I have a confession to make: I don't read many creationist books. I guess the simplest reason is that most books are aimed at the lay reader and don't say much I haven't heard before. My "to be read" shelf is populated with a mix of historical works (creationist and otherwise) and books of direct relevance to my research, especially books on genomics or history of science.

Occasionally, a creationist book comes out that is particularly popular and that I will be asked about (which forces me to read it). Better still are those rare works that I actually want to read. Paul Garner's The New Creationism falls in the latter category. I've known Paul since the 2003 ICC, and I've had the privilege of working with him on the Genesis Kinds book and his compilation book Christian Perspectives on the Origin of Species. Paul consulted me along the way during the preparation of New Creationism, at first about how it should be structured and written and later …

What does homoplasy mean?

Nature's got another feathered dinosaur report, but this time it's an ornithischian. I guess I shouldn't say it's "feathered," since it's really not. The authors describe it as a "dinosaur with filamentous integumentary structures" that they suspect are like protofeathers.

Zheng X-T, You H-L, Xu X, and Dong Z-M. 2009. An Early Cretaceous heterodontosaurid dinosaur with filammentous integumentary structures. Nature458:333-336.

What makes this special is that it's an ornithischian. The famous protofeathered and feathered dinosaurs are theropods, which makes evolutionary sense, if the theropods are the closest relatives to birds. But theropods are saurischians. This new dinosaur Tianyulong, is from a completely different group of dinosaurs that is not supposed to be closely related to birds. If Tianyulong has protofeathers, then it makes the evolution of feathers complicated. I can think of three possible evolutionary interpretations.
Tia…

From the Library: July 1925 New York Times

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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.

Well, it's heritage week here at Bryan College, since tomorrow (March 19) is William Jennings Bryan's birthday. I thought it would be a good time to highlight these bound New York Times volumes from the CORE library. As you know (or should know), July 1925 was the month of the Scopes trial here at the courthouse, the month Bryan died, and the month that the "William Jennings Bryan Memorial University" (Bryan College) was devised. (Notice the lack of Clarence Darrow College. Not that I'm rubbing it in or anything.)

These old newspapers have more of a novelty value than anything else. For example, while the Scopes trial was going on, you could buy a new Chevrolet for less than $1500, rent a furnished apartment overlooking Central Park for $175 a month, or see Doulas Fairbanks in Do…

Designed to Kill

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Anyone who knows me at all knows that I break down creationist biology into five main components: design, natural evil, systematics, speciation, and biogeography. I figure these are the five most basic components of pretty much any question about origins, and until we have a good handle on all five, answering specific questions will always be extremely tentative. I've decided to start posting some ideas about these five components from time to time. Perhaps you'll find that helpful, and maybe one of you will give me some helpful feedback.

Today, I was thinking about the origin of predators, animals that hunt and kill for their food. It's easy to fall into a sort of superficial confidence about predation. Look at bears, for example. There you have a baramin with species that will eat just about anything, and if you include the giant panda, then you have an obligate herbivore. It would be easy to say that predators are merely predators because of behavior. At the Fall…

Christian Perspectives on the Origin of Species

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Savvy readers are probably wondering, "What happened to CORE Issues volume 4???" Production delays, but that's over and the penultimate issue is now available to order from Wipf and Stock for only $17.60.

What's the topic? This volume is a little different: It's a compilation of Christian writings on the question of the origin of species, edited by my BCM buddy Paul Garner. Here's the table of contents:
Francesco Redi, from Experiments on the Generation of Insects, 1668.Carolus Linnaeus, "De Peloria" (a new English translation), 1744.William Herbert, "On crosses and hybrid intermixtures in vegetables," from Amaryllidaceae, 1837.Louis Agassiz, "Geographical distribution of animals," 1850.Asa Gray, Review of Origin, 1860.Fleeming Jenkin, from Review of Origin, 1867.St. George Jackson Mivart, from Chapter 11 from Genesis of Species, 1871.Erich Wasmann, from Chapter 9 of Modern Biology and the Theory of Evolution Third English editi…

His ways are not my ways

I've been pondering our relationship to other Christians lately, since the "War and Peace" symposium elicited some interesting and challenging questions to me personally. When it came to me and Steve Matheson, the questions basically boil down to, "How can you, an avowed creationist, get along with someone who so firmly believes in evolution?" (Not only that, but he's really into baseball, and I don't care about baseball at all. Differences abound!)

So if getting along with an "evolutionary creationist" is frowned on, how should I treat other Christians who deeply disagree with me? Well, that's a difficult question. Certainly fellow Christians deserve some kind of respect or - dare I say - Christian love. On the other hand, what do we do with Christians who take doctrinal positions that we perceive to be silly or even dangerous? I wish I knew.

As I meditate on this problem, my mind returns to this passage in Mark:
He appointed the Twel…

Humans naturally creationist?

This is too funny:

Humans may be primed to believe in creation

It's a funny piece, at least to me. Two psychologists at Boston University basically tested people to see if they agree with teleological statements, and guess what? They do. Imagine that! It's almost like someone designed us that way. Here's my favorite quote:

"What her work suggests is that the creationist side has a huge leg up early on because it fits our natural tendencies," says Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University. "It has implications for why most people on earth are creationists, I think."
Yeah, that's a cryin' shame!

Here's an example of one of their teleological statements: "Rocks are jagged so animals can scratch themselves." Agreeing with that sounds kind of silly, doesn't it? How about this one: "The earth has an ozone layer in order to protect it from UV rays." Now that doesn't sound so silly does it? And if you do believe t…

"War and Peace" recap

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Despite the best efforts of various airlines to delay our speakers, our symposium "War and Peace: 150 Years of Christian Encounters with Darwin" went quite well. In our first session in Friday chapel, I gave a brief overview of the life and influence of Charles Darwin. Using the built-in camera on my laptop to project a live image, I illustrated the talk with the fingerpuppet, which was a BIG hit.



After lunch, speakers Jon Roberts, Steve Matheson, and I toured some of the local sites associated with the Scopes trial. Here are Steve Matheson and I posing where it all began: the failed Cumberland Coal and Iron Company. (Yes, I did go hiking in my suit, and yes, I did feel kind of silly for doing it.)



The opening session in the evening by Jon Roberts gave us an excellent overview of the American Protestant response to evolution, based in part on his book Darwinism and the Divine in America (which makes a great gift).

Saturday morning began with Ted Davis's really interesti…