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Showing posts from December, 2011

Merry Christmas

You might not have noticed, but I've been blogging now for three years. In my first blog post, I wrote:
... some blogs are nothing more than opinionated (sometimes bigoted) outlets for people to spew their irrationality onto the internet. But some blogs aren't always bad, and there is some utility in them, the most obvious of which is keeping up with obscure news. That's what inspired me to start this blog. (Imagine that: blog hater to blogger in under a year. What's the world coming to?)Guess what? Not much has changed. I'm continually amazed at the ways my writing gets misinterpreted, eisegeted (is that a word?), warped, twisted, etc. I've certainly made a lot of people angry because of what I've written, and my enemy list is probably longer than it was.

On the other hand, I've made a lot of new friends thanks to this blog. I've always wanted this to be a haven from the cocksure arrogance that characterizes many people involved in the creation…

Bats and ebola

Ebola is a nasty disease. Sufferers endure a high fever and severe internal bleeding from every mucus membrane in the body. Depending on the strain, it can kill as many as 90% of its victims. A 2007 outbreak in the Congo killed 186 of 264 people who contracted the ebola virus (71%). The puzzle is how something so virulent manages to survive.

Think about it: Any disease-causing organism (called a pathogen) is completing some kind of life cycle in its host. That means that the pathogen is using the host as an environment to produce offspring (or for some pathogens to mature to a form that can produce offspring somewhere else). In some cases the host is actually required for the pathogen to complete its life cycle. So it's actually in the pathogen's best interest not to kill its host. Do that, and there won't be any baby pathogens. For pathogens that kill their hosts quickly, there must be some other place that the pathogen hides out when not causing disease. For e…

Moritz on the Adam/Eve debate

In the latest issue of Theology and Science, Joshua Moritz has a fascinating editorial on the Adam and Eve debate sparked (in part) by the papers published in PSCF. I found a lot in the editorial that I liked, as well as some things that were baffling and frustrating. But let's focus on the nice stuff, shall we? Here's his take on the state of the debate with regard to the notion of "literalism" or "concordism:"
...anyone who has followed the recent conversation/debate between Evangelical Christian and Conservative Reformed leaders and scholars on the question of human evolution and the historical Adam could not help but notice the ubiquitous - and often derisive - use of the terms "concordism" and "biblical literalism." According to the majority of scholars in this discussion, both "concordism" and "biblical literalism" are hermeneutical perspectives that are to be avoided at all costs.Ain't that the truth? I …

Testing common ancestry again

At last, the semester winds to a close here at Bryan! What a relief (as my students will no doubt attest). I have four more exams to give and grade, and then I'm done. That's a lot of grading in the next week, but I'm looking forward to getting back to research projects of great interest to me (especially my response to Senter). And in the next few weeks, I'll be cleaning out my backlog of "interesting things I ought to blog about."

Longtime readers might recall an interesting paper by Doug Theobald on "A Formal Test of the Theory of Universal Common Ancestry." In my assessment of the original paper, I expressed some doubts about his methodology, especially since there is no good model for "independent ancestry." Soon after, Koonin and Wolf published a response in which they dismissed Theobald's claims as a trivial consequence of sequence similarity. I initially reacted optimistically to this, but after giving it some thought, I…

Call for Abstracts - Seventh ICC

I was wondering if there was even going to be a seventh ICC, but apparently there is. I just got the call for abstracts from a colleague in California:
High quality papers for the Seventh International Conference on Creationism (ICC), August 4-7, 2013, Pittsburgh, PA are now invited for submission. In continuation of the Sixth ICC, the theme of the Seventh ICC is again Developing and Systematizing the Creation Model of Origins, making the Seventh ICC also a "working" conference.

The interested author should write a minimum 1000-2000 word Summary of his/her paper as a Microsoft Word document, categorize it according to the Area/Sub-Area classification below, and submit a copy no later than 31 January 2012 as an attached file to an email to the Editorial Board Chairman (icctechnicalreview@creationicc.org). Early submission is highly recommended.Wow. Two months to come up with abstracts. That's not a lot of time. I hope they get a decent turnout.

Read all the details at t…

Creepy crawly Friday

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This post is supposed to be pure fun.  Some of my faithful readers will not agree, since they don't like bugs or salamanders.  Consider yourself warned.

A recent press release from the St. Louis Zoo announced their success at captive breeding of hellbender salamanders (see the larvae at left, photo courtesy St. Louis Zoo).  Aren't they adorable!?  For those unfamiliar with hellbenders, they're the biggest salamanders on this continent.  They can grow up to two feet long.  The Ozark subspecies of hellbender has experienced a rapid decline in recent years, and the work at St. Louis is the first time hellbenders have been bred in captivity.  See the full press release for more details.

Meanwhile, from New Zealand comes the report of a living wetapunga, a giant grasshopper-looking bug native to Little Barrier Island, off the coast of the North Island.  Wetapungas have been in decline for some time due to rat predation, so it was kind of a big deal to find one still alive.  Che…