Showing posts from March, 2011

More on the AIG homeschool convention story

Great Homeschool Conventions issued a statement on the AIG disinvitation, which you can read in PDF form here. Their main point seems to be Ham's attitude:
Dr. Ham was removed for his spirit not for his message. As an invited guest, Dr. Ham’s spirit toward our convention was unkind.  Dr. Ham’s spirit toward our attendees was not gracious.  Dr. Ham’s spirit toward other speakers was unprofessional. In short, a proud, ungrateful and divisive spirit was projected from Dr. Ham. Regardless of the message, Dr. Ham's approach sullied the atmosphere of the convention.(I should point out that Ham does not have an earned doctorate.) Since they got CMI's Jonathan Sarfati to substitute for Ham, it seems their claims about Ham's young-age creationist message are quite genuine.

And here's Ham's son Nathan Ham reacting in a blog post called Free love Christians:
Some Christians today are like the hippies of 50 years ago who used the word "love" to justify their forn…

AIG kicked out of homeschool conventions?

Yesterday there was a big to-do when AIG publicly rebuked Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc. for "disinviting" them from the Great Homeschool Conventions in Cincinnati and Philadelphia. You can read AIG's version at their website, and you can read P.Z. Myers's gleeful reaction at his blog. In AIG's article, they specifically accuse noted young-age creationist Jay Wile of "personal attacks" against Ken Ham, and they also accuse Susan Wise Bauer and John Stonestreet of supporting those attacks. This seems to have been precipitated in part by a blog post written by Wile, which you can read here.

Something tells me I should stay out of this, but ... I know John Stonestreet personally; he used to work here at Bryan College. I don't think of him as making wild accusations or being overly divisive. He's certainly not a "censor" or holding a "double standard" as AIG claims. If he has concerns, they are worth listening to. And…

Kind of busy this week

I'm kind of busy this week, but if you're in the neighborhood, check out the Henning Museum Art Show:

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

Quick note on Science

I'm going to be busy today, but I did want to point out two interesting articles in this week's Science. First, Woods et al. report on selection for evolvability in E. coli. For those of us interested in selection and what it can do, that's a very interesting article to note.

Next, Brown et al. have a fairly comprehensive report on the origin of C4 photosynthesis, a topic I've been interested in since my undergrad days. Check out the abstract:
C4 photosynthesis allows increased photosynthetic efficiency because carbon dioxide (CO2) is concentrated around the key enzyme RuBisCO. Leaves of C4 plants exhibit modified biochemistry, cell biology, and leaf development, but despite this complexity, C4 photosynthesis has evolved independently in at least 45 lineages of plants. We found that two independent lineages of C4 plant, whose last common ancestor predates the divergence of monocotyledons and dicotyledons about 180 million years ago, show conserved mechanisms controll…

The tsunami in Galapagos

In addition to the staggering devastation in Japan, the Galapagos Islands also experienced some damage from the tsunami. From an email from the Galapagos Conservancy:
The arrival of the waves in Galapagos (estimated at nearly 6 feet in Santa Cruz) coincided with high tide and caused significant damage to several coastlines and infrastructure in low lying areas. Fortunately, a tsunami alert was issued early Friday morning and most residents relocated to the highlands. There was no loss of human life, and the damage in Galapagos cannot be compared to the devastation and loss suffered in Japan, for whom we grieve.

The Charles Darwin Research Station did suffer serious damage; the Marine Science labs flooded with several feet of water. Despite emergency preparation, waves completely destroyed a concrete pump house and broke massive wooden doors, flooding laboratories, workshops, and storage facilities, scattering furniture and equipment as far as 650 feet away.

Staff and volunteers are har…

Dino-birds in journal club

Speaking of Phil Senter, this afternoon I'll be discussing both dino-bird baraminology and my experience publishing my work in Journal of Evolutionary Biology in CORE's origins journal club. For anyone in the area, these meetings are completely free, and we welcome anyone who wants to stop by. You'll find us in Mercer Hall 132 (right next to the museum) at 5:00.

(The regularly scheduled discussion with Paul Boling has been moved to March 29.)

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

Walter Fitch

I just found out that Walter Fitch died last week. Here's the link to the announcement posted on Panda's Thumb. On that page, read not only the announcement but the second comment from Joe Felsenstein reflecting on Fitch's influence.

Fitch was definitely a pioneer in molecular evolution. In addition to the contributions that Felsenstein noted, he's also the author of one of the most significant conceptual arguments for the common ancestry of proteins (which  has 765 citations according to Google Scholar):

Fitch. 1970. Distinguishing homologous from analogous proteins. Syst Zool 19:99-113.

Part of his argument depended on the tree-like branching pattern you could obtain from protein sequences, and part of the argument rested on correspondence of the protein-derived phylogenetic tree with the fossil record. It's still a compelling argument that creationists would be wise to study very carefully.

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

Using science to serve

ASA's God and Nature online magazine has a great article on Walter Bradley's research on coconut husks:

How coconuts can combat poverty

He's trying to come up with new applications for what is presently just leftovers from coconut farming. He hopes to triple the income of poor coconut farmers in developing nations. This is a terrific example of using research to continue Jesus' ministry to the poor.

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

Origins 2011 registration is open

Registration for Origins 2011, the annual joint meeting of the Creation Biology Society and the Creation Geology Society, is now available at the CBS website (scroll past the Call for Abstracts, which are due April 30).

This year, our conference chair is Marcus Ross, and he wants us to know about several extras available in addition to our regular meeting:
Pre-Meeting Geology Field Trip
Date: Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In addition to our society meetings, the CGS will host a pre-meeting field trip of the geology of the Black Hills. This will be a day-long trip with van transportation, and we will visit a number of prominent geologic features and locations in the Black Hills, including Precambrian basement rocks, the Great Unconformity, vast marine deposits, and more. Here’s a great opportunity to see some beautiful geology up-close, and have a great time of discussion with trip leaders and fellow participants. Cost includes transportation, a boxed lunch, snacks, and drinks.


Did animals eat meat before the Flood?

Of course they did. That seems like an obvious answer. After all, I don't imagine T. rex sitting down to a salad every day. But sometimes the most obvious things are also kind of challenging to document. I knew the evidence was out there in museums and scientific literature, and I've long thought we needed a good review of the evidence that animals ate meat before the Flood.

What kind of evidence could we expect? How about bones with tooth marks on them? Even better: bones with tooth damage that has healed, indicating that there was some kind of attack while the animal was still alive. You could also look at stomach contents or even coprolite (fossil feces) contents. This stuff is known to most paleontologists, but putting together a single review of such evidence might not be all that interesting to those who don't believe that at least some fossils were deposited in the global Flood. (I could be wrong about that since I'm not really a paleontologist.)

So whe…

Yet another helpful paper from Phil Senter

Longtime readers will recall Phil Senter's recent stream of papers directly addressing creationist claims. First there was the intermediacy of Australopithecus, then baraminology in dinosaurs and birds (and my response), and then the necessity of vestigiality in creationism. Now Paul Garner's blog points out that he's got yet another paper out tackling a creationist claim, and one that I've long been curious about: dinosaur petroglyphs. These are supposedly rock art made by pre-modern Native Americans that resemble dinosaurs. Could Native Americans have co-existed with dinosaurs?

Probably not, says Senter and his co-author Sally Cole. Check Paul's blog for a full summary of the paper, or just read it yourself. It's free [PDF].

Senter and Cole. 2011. "Dinosaur" petroglyphs at Kachina Bridge site, Natural Bridges National Monument, southeastern Utah: not dinosaurs after all. Palaeontologia Electronica 14(1);2A:5p.

Feedback? Email me at toddchar…

Life from outer space?

Evidently, over the weekend, while I was taking my usual break from the internet, there was a big to-do about a paper allegedly showing microfossils in a meteorite. I'm actually surprised this story has gained any traction at all, since NASA didn't even bother with a press release (and as we know from the arseno-DNA event, they aren't shy about press releases). But there still seems to be buzz about this, so I thought I'd comment. Actually, I'm just going to recommend a couple of blog links which summarize my reactions rather well:

Has life been found in a meteorite? - Bad Astronomy
Is this claim of bacteria in a meteorite any better than the 1996 one? - RRresearch

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

Origins 2011 Call for Abstracts

The formal call for abstracts for Origins 2011, the CBS/CGS joint conference, is available at the CBS website. Here's the full text:

Origins 2011: Call for AbstractsThe summer conference of the Creation Biology and Creation Geology Societies will be held at South Canyon Baptist Church in Rapid City, South Dakota on July 27-29, 2011.  We invite abstract submissions relevant to the life and earth sciences and the issue of origins.  Submissions must offer positive, constructive interpretations or criticisms.  All abstracts will be reviewed by an editor and at least one other specialist.  Submissions will be judged on scientific merit, adherence to the guidelines, and relevance to creationism.


Abstracts should not be longer than 700 words. Examples of published abstracts can be found in the Conference Proceedings issues of theOccasional Papers of the BSG.Abstracts may include references (which are counted in the 700 word limit).Abstracts must include a complete summary of the…

Where do worms come from?

Those interested in the evolution of annelid worms (like earthworms) should check out a new paper in this week's Nature by Struck et al. They examined a huge dataset of proteins from 34 different worms, and they came up with a pretty well-supported phylogeny. When I learned about the segmented worms in high school (back in "the old days"), I learned that they were divided into the oligochaetes, polychaetes, and hirudineans (leeches). This new phylogeny recognizes two major divisions: the Sedentaria and Errantia. The traditional leech/oligochaete groups are nested within the Sedentaria, and the polychaetes are spread out in both divisions.

And if you don't care about worm phylogeny, I will waste no more of your time with this post. Thanks for reading this far and tolerating my random interests.

Struck et al. 2011. Phylogenomic analyses unravel annelid evolution. Nature 471:95-98.

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