Showing posts from November, 2010

More details on that AIG park

It's called Ark Encounter, it has a website, and you can read a host of articles and see a picture at this site.

Apparently the governor of Kentucky will be making the announcement tomorrow along with reps from Answers in Genesis.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Anti-evolution essay at CFSI

My latest essay from CFSI has been published. This time I tackle the question of antievolutionism vs. creationism. I've written about this before, and this new essay is a slightly different take. Read all about it:

Creationism and the anti-evolution movement

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Not Noah's Ark update

Remember that Noah's Ark discovery by Noah's Ark Ministries International that isn't really Noah's Ark? I've mentioned this quite a bit back in April when the announcement was made (hereherehere, and here), and based on their alleged evidence for the Ark, I firmly rejected their claims. Recently, Randall Price, a professor at Liberty University and critic of the NAMI "discovery," has published his formal criticism in a newsletter, which you can read for yourself at his website (or go straight to the PDF). The verdict is not good. The evidence they present supports their conclusion that this was a hoax, and some of their evidence even implicates NAMI as willing partners in this hoax. In other words, it's an outright fraud.

Creationists making honest mistakes is one thing, but fraud is just depressing.  It is good to know the details though, and we can thank Randall Price and Don Patton for that.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail…

AIG to open amusement park?

Rumors are flying that AIG is getting ready to begin development on an amusement park as an extension to their Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. Read all about it (which is to say not much about it):

Noah’s park: $150M project eyed in Kentucky (Cincinnati Business Courier)
Theme park planned for N.Ky.? (Kentucky Post)
In Praise of The Creation Museum’s Noah’s Ark Amusement Park (Death and Taxes)

Apparently, there's supposed to be an official announcement at the end of this month.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Testing universal common ancestry?

There's a new paper in Biology Direct from Koonin and Wolf that aims to refute Theobald's assertion that he's formally tested the hypothesis of common ancestry (see his Nature paper for details). Here's my original assessment of Theobald's paper:
In the end, I think Theobald has actually shown that different proteins (that are not significantly similar) are more likely to have different origins than to have a common origin. He has tested the hypothesis of universal common ancestry of all proteins. ...we may infer that protein similarity is the result of common ancestry because protein similarities form a single, sensible tree. Just like Theobald showed that protein evolution models that include all similar proteins on a single tree are preferred to those that put them on separate trees.Now Koonin and Wolf say basically what I said: Theobald did not test common ancestry independently of significant sequence similarity. Instead,
Alignments of statistically similar bu…

Geocentrism clarifications

So apparently there are some geocentrists out there who are dissatisfied with my portrayal of their recent conference (parts one, two, three, four, and five). I've been getting emails. I guess I asked for it by posting my impressions in a public arena where they can't leave comments (see how sneaky I am?). So in the interest of fairness, let me offer a few clarifications.

First, I got a long email from Bennett, who said this about his ALFA challenge:
ALFA: Not an experiment, but a model to be tested against experiments. Find one that destroys ALFA.Sorry about that. My mistake.

Then I got a couple messages from an email address that I found out belongs to Sungenis's company. I assume they must have come from Sungenis. The first email was ostensibly Sungenis's reply to my assessment of his talk, and the second was a response ostensibly from Salza. Regarding my understanding of the objective of his presentation on Galileo, Sungenis clarified:
I specifically stated th…

Schneider's Aesthetic Supralapsarianism

This week, I'm discussing a series of articles on human origins from the September issue of PSCF (see parts one, two, three, and four). Yesterday's post on Harlow's paper drew some comments. Several folks emailed thanks and encouragement, but one person was seriously dissatisfied with my treatment of Harlow. I can certainly see his point. Though I alluded to unsatisfactory (in my opinion) arguments in Harlow's paper, I only discussed the most obvious: where Cain got his wife. So let me clarify before we go on to today's paper: I found most (not all) of Harlow's arguments to be old, and more importantly, there are reasonable answers in conservative Bible commentaries and creationist literature to almost everything in his article. I didn't think it was worth my time to rehash these answers to his rehashed arguments, and I still don't.

Today's article is Schneider's Recent Genetic Science and Christian Theology on Human Origins: An "Aest…

Harlow's After Adam

This week, I'm discussing a series of articles on human origins from the September issue of PSCF (see parts one, two, and three). Today's article is Daniel C. Harlow's After Adam: Reading Genesis in an Age of Evolutionary Science. This is the first biblical/theological article in the series to openly advocate a strictly literary interpretation of Adam and Eve.

I can't say I was the least surprised by anything in the article, and I found it totally unconvincing for that. This is basically a summary of standard liberal biblical scholarship. Indeed, Harlow seems to be quite open about that:
...the view of the majority of contemporary biblical scholars, theologians, and Christians working in the sciences, a view that is largely unknown in evangelical circles: Adam and Eve are strictly literary figures - characters in a divinely inspired story about the imagined past that intends to teach primarily theological, not historical, truths about God, creation, and humanity.Why …

Venema's Genesis and the Genome

This week, I'm discussing a series of articles on human origins from the
September issue of PSCF (see parts one and two). Today's article is Dennis Venema's Genesis and the Genome: Genomics Evidence for Human-Ape Common Ancestry and Ancestral Hominid Population Sizes. This is the only scientific entry in the series (the other three are biblical/theological papers), and the first to specifically advocate an evolutionary creation perspective.

The bulk of the article was spent discussing the similarity between human and animal genomes, especially focusing on similarities that indicate that humans and animals share a common ancestor. I'm sure some of my readers are hoping for an answer to this part of his presentation, but I'm going to disappoint those readers. I've addressed very similar issues (not exactly the same) in my 2006 chimp genome paper. Since that paper, my assessment of the issue has not changed, and despite my explanation that common design is (…

Collins's Adam and Eve as Historical People

PSCF's recent series on human origins begins with C. John Collins's paper Adam and Eve as Historical People, and Why It Matters. As I read, I realized that Collins and I would probably disagree on a lot of things - a LOT of things. But I still tremendously enjoyed his paper.

I could go through and summarize the whole paper, but since you can read it for yourself at the link above, that would be superfluous. Instead, let me highlight some points of agreement.

First, I found his distinction between history and literalism extremely helpful and important. He summarizes,
...we should think of "history" less as a literary genre (another word that has multiple, and unregulated, meanings), and more as a way of referring to events. That is, if we say that something is (or is not) historical, we are describing, not the kind of literature it is, but the way it talks about (or does not talk about) real events.That really crystallizes some ideas that have been floating around…

Human origins in PSCF

I'm extremely late with this series, but better late than never. The September issue of the American Scientific Affiliation's journal Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith published a series of articles on human origins. Of the four, only one addressed the issue from a scientific perspective, and only one (a different one) tried to defend a literal Adam and Eve from Scripture. I found the articles challenging, a bit maddening at times, but always enlightening.

In an editorial introducing the issue, PSCF editor Arie Leegwater confessed,
I have often hoped that I could keep these matters at a studied distance, because, in my opinion, there are many other pressing and important issues which the Christian community needs to address....And yet, reading through the biblical and theological articles by C. John Collins, Daniel C. Harlow, and John R. Schneider, I was struck by how profoundly fundamental their ideas were. These aren't just some sort of side issues, like …

Hanging out with the Geocentrists, Part 5

This will be the last of my posts describing the First Annual Catholic Conference on Geocentrism (see also parts one, two, three, and four). I've debated with myself all week about how this post should be written. On the one hand, it's very tempting to launch into personal attacks and mockery, which would be undeniably popular and therefore increase my blog traffic. It would also be really easy to write that way (e.g., a donation card distributed at the conference solicited funds for "an off-Broadway theatrical play" to "promote the Galileo Was Wrong teaching to the world"). But I don't see that it would accomplish much for the Church or for Christ. So I'm going to write this as if I were giving the geocentrists constructive criticism. I personally suspect that they're completely, utterly, and unnecessarily wrong, but I know they're absolutely convinced they're right, so I guess maybe if they actually take my advice, at the very le…

Hanging out with the Geocentrists, Part 4

Gerardus Bouw. Maybe that name means nothing to you, but it sure does ring a bell for me. Bouw has been around for many years in creationism, trying to promote modern geocentrism. He wrote the book A Geocentricity Primer, versions of which have shown up unsolicited in my mailbox over the years. I have to confess: I never actually read any edition of his book, so this commentary will be based strictly on what he said at "Galileo was Wrong; the Church was Right," the first annual catholic conference on geocentrism. (I should also note that Bouw is not Catholic. As far as I can tell from his website, he's a KJV-only Baptist.) Since Bouw has an actual Ph.D. in astronomy, I had high hopes that he would help me understand precisely how the geocentrists think the universe works. I'll let you judge how well that worked out.

The first word from Bouw came during the first Q&A session. During the Q&A, Robert Sungenis went around the room with a microphone allowi…

Hanging out with the Geocentrists, Part 3

For those visiting for the first time, this is part 3 of my ongoing summary of the recent "First Annual Catholic Conference on Geocentrism," held on November 6, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana (part 1 and part 2). I preface this with the disclosure that I am neither Catholic nor geocentrist, so consider my comments accordingly.

I've already covered some of the science talks, and there's one more science talk I want to present, which I'm saving for last. First, I want to cover the two historical talks. The first was a talk by E. Michael Jones, who actually has a Wikipedia page. In the program, he was described as "Catholic scholar and writer, specializing in historical analysis." The title of his presentation was "English Ideology, Newton & the Exploitation of Science."

The argument goes something like this: We know that Darwin was inspired by the economics of his day, since he took the inspiration for natural selection from Malthus. So t…

Hanging out with the Geocentrists, Part 2

For those just tuning in, I went to the Galileo was Wrong conference, AKA the First (and I emphasize First) Annual Catholic Conference on Geocentrism. I am neither Catholic nor geocentrist, but I figured it would be worth my time to hear what these guys had to say. Last time I mentioned my dissatisfaction with the theological perspective offered by John Salza, so let's get into the science this time.

Engineer Mark Wyatt opened the science part of the conference with his talk "Introduction to the Mechanics of Geocentrism." This was where he explained the neo-Tychonian perspective, and made a distinction between a geocentric universe and a geostationary one. That was an interesting idea. He argued that the universe doesn't have to be perfectly geocentric only that the earth is very near the center. The key to him was that the earth does not move. According to Wyatt, the whole universe "rotates" around the earth every day, which is "kinematically e…

Hanging out with the Geocentrists, Part 1

So I went to that Galileo was Wrong conference. Despite their best efforts, I remain unconvinced that geocentrism is necessary, much less the truth about the universe. Big surprise, huh? Here's part one of my report.

The conference must have drawn about 100 people in attendance. Some had traveled a long way to be there. There were folks from Mexico, El Salvador, and Puerto Rico. Judging by the way some of them respond to the talks, there were a fair number of geocentric enthusiasts in the audience. Others seemed to be taking more of a wait and see attitude, open to the idea of geocentrism but not convinced. Others seemed outright skeptical. After lunch, a group of students from Notre Dame showed up. They didn't openly heckle the speakers (good for them), but they did cheer after one speaker was prevented from finishing when time ran out. In the hall, I overheard one student comment, "Did you HEAR what that guy said?" I couldn't tell if she was talkin…

ASA Call for Abstracts

Some of you might be interested in this, but I'll be in Rapid City that weekend for the annual BSG/CGS conference.

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS American Scientific Affiliation 66th Annual Meeting North Central College, Naperville, IL July 29-August 1, 2011
Science-Faith Synergy: Glorifying God and Serving Humankind “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7, NIV
The  Call for Papers is available now as well as a slideshow for the meeting and student scholarship applications.
Abstracts must be submitted online before January 15, 2011.
Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Massive random update

I've got a lot of junk on my computer's desktop that I have been intending to blog about, and I'm getting tired of the clutter. So today is "Fall Cleaning" day!

First up is a report from Lavoué et al. on extreme morphological stasis in African butterfly fish. This is sort of the inverse of adaptive radiation, where the morphology of a closely-related group of critters diverges rapidly. In the case of the African butterfly fish, they're all classed in the same species, but the mitochondrial DNA of fish from the Niger basin are 15% different from fish in the Congo basin. So they've diverged genetically quite a lot, but their appearance has hardly changed at all.

Lavoué et al. 2010. Remarkable morphological stasis in an extant vertebrate despite tens of millions of years of divergence. Proc R Soc B doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.1639.

Next comes a report from Light et al. on the phylogeny of sucking lice. The only reason I'm interested in this is because of a…

The appearance of age that wouldn't die!

I've struck a nerve again on this appearance of age issue. A reader writes,
I can understand these explanations being uninteresting from a scientific perspective, and perhaps even an excuse for not doing the hard work of looking for a scientific explanation. What I don’t understand is arguing against them as a matter of principle. In other words, I don’t see how we can avoid mature creation in a creationist model, and so we should be careful about dismissing it out of hand. You seem to be arguing against it as a matter of principle, but maybe that’s just an appearance.To clarify, I agree 100%. There are biblical reasons to believe that the creation had some sort of maturity to it. The command to "be fruitful and multiply" would be lost on sexually immature organisms. In fact, I would go further and contend that it's impossible to create something that's intended to be self-perpetuating without creating with some kind of implied history.

What I have a problem wi…