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Showing posts from October, 2012

Latest on Human/Neandertal hybrids

You probably recall the interesting evidence of hybridization between humans and Neandertals initially discovered when a (very) rough draft of the Neandertal genome was published.  I believe this evidence of hybridization has significant consequences for the Christian debate over origins, especially for those who believe that Adam and Eve were Homo sapiens, to the exclusion of other species.  If you took that position, you now have four basic options:

1. Deny that humans and Neandertals are separate species, which strikes me as possible but quite difficult given the morphological, developmental, and genetic differences between the two.
2. Abandon your insistence that humans are only one species and allow for human speciation (either within a human "created kind" or as macroevolution from non-human ancestors).
3. Maintain your belief in a single human species separate from Neandertals by affirming the possibility of offspring from bestiality, a position that I critiqued in a …

Who were Adam and Eve?

I've hinted for a while that I've been cooking up some exciting projects, and here at last is one of them.  During the 2011 Origins conference in South Dakota, my compatriots and I talked about how to improve our online journal JCTSB.  One of the ideas we kicked around was having theme issues, which we've already begun working on.  The current issue focuses on biological change, and we issued a Symbiosis and Relationship call for papers (due January 31, 2013).  Another idea we had was to devote an issue to reviews of an important book, preferably with a response from the author.  That's what I have for you today.

Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?
As most of you know, Jack Collins of Covenant Seminary published a book in 2011 called Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? Who They Were and Why You Should Care.  I previously blogged about the paper on which this book was based right here.  When I read the book, I thought it was a really significant contribution to the current discuss…

Sunday school again

I've gotten several requests that the Sunday school class I'm teaching be made available somehow to the general public.  I'm actually surprised by how many people are asking for this, but I actually already had plans in mind for what I was going to do with this.  First of all, the course will indeed be recorded.  The footage of the course will be edited into a new online course that I'm designing for Bryan College.  I wasn't really ready to announce the online course, but people have been asking, so there you go.  The online course won't be exactly the same as the Sunday school (no tests), but it will cover a lot of the same conceptual territory.

That is all.

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

Cool science

You've probably seen this already, but it's still cool.  A giant gigapixel composite image of our local galaxy.  I haven't been successful at seeing the zoomable version yet, but I suspect it's because of all the traffic.

VISTA gigapixel mosaic of the central parts of the Milky Way

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

Selam and australopith mosaics

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Interesting news in the latest Science for those of us interested in hominin fossils.  It's been widely acknowledged among evolutionists and creationists alike that the australopiths represent a kind of mosaic form, with upper bodies that resemble modern apes and lower bodies that are much more human-like.  Thus, they appear to have had a unique form of locomotion, with legs clearly adapted to walking around on two feet (like us) but arms potentially more suited to climbing in trees.  In my estimation, that makes for a curious sort of intermediate form.  Rather than having intermediate features, we instead see features that resemble one or another modern form mixed together in the same organism.  I don't know if that's really counterintuitive under an evolutionary model, but it's certainly curious.

Back in 2006, Alemseged et al. announced the discovery of a juvenile Australopithecus afarensis skeleton, the same species as the famous Lucy fossil.  The new fossil came fr…

Sunday School class

This is actually happening:

New Sunday School Class: Creation!  Evolution!  Can a Christian believe in evolution?  Can a rational person believe in creation?  Whether you’re deeply invested in the creation/evolution war, annoyed with all the fuss, or just mystified, the debate over our origins has much to teach us about the Bible, doctrine, and faith.  Beginning November 4, Todd Wood will lead a study of creation that will inform, challenge, and maybe even irritate you.  Through it all, we’ll be reminded to trust God’s sovereignty even when we don’t understand (which is most of the time anyway). Westminster Presbyterian Church 1161 Hiwassee Highway Dayton, TN  37321 11:00 am
I have a plan and an outline for the class, but I don't know how long it will take to get through it.  Probably some time around March.  I think.  Don't hold me to that.

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

ENCODE in Deseret News

I got quoted by a reporter for the Deseret News (of all things) on my thoughts about ENCODE.  Here's the article:

ENCODE's 'junk DNA' findings renew debate about creation, evolution

I especially enjoyed some of the comments.  They were very creative, especially the one that said that quoting me was not "serious journalism."  I guess I belong on the funny pages.

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

What Dennis Venema wants to hear from young-earth creationists

I'm supposed to be writing a test for Thursday, but I just read Dennis Venema's new essay for the Colossian Forum, and it's got me all riled up (in a good way).  It's called What I Would Like to Hear a Young Earth Creationist Say, and it's fascinating.  You should read it now before you read the rest of this.  I've got a lot of ideas bouncing around in my head right now, and I think it will take some time to sort them all out.  In the mean time, here are a few thoughts:

1.  I also know that look.  I get it any time I express disagreement with some vociferous, creationist luminary.  That look is not just for evolutionary creationists, and I think that makes it very, very important to understanding how the public perceives the creation/evolution debate, and therefore how we can help them to find a better understanding.

2.  Dennis's advocacy of evolution makes me uncomfortable, but we have a lot in common.  Most obviously, we have Jesus, and Jesus is a lot to …

Florida collecting trip

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Roger and I had a great time in Florida over fall break, collecting insects and plants at Bryan College's 1300 acre tract of land down there.


This is one of the several creek crossings on the property.  Since the property is former logging land, there are passable roads throughout the entire acreage.  There are also a few impassable roads that I found out about the hard way.  Fortunately, we only had to call for rescue once.


The butterfly is a gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanillae).


Roger sampling the vegetation along the aforementioned creek.


One of my favorite discoveries of the week, the parasitic flower called "nodding nixie" AKA Apteria aphylla.  There was a large patch of them alongside one of the creeks.


Armadillo tracks were everywhere!


We collected at least 50 species of plants and at least as many bugs.  We'll be working on processing these specimens, and we might put them on display in the Henning Museum.  Stay tuned for more information on that.

Feedback? E…

CORE does science!

I'm off tomorrow with my CORE colleague Roger Sanders for a week of field work in northern Florida.  We'll be poking around a 1200-acre plot of land recently donated to the college.  Our primary purpose is to survey the plants and collect specimens for the Henning Museum, but I'm keeping my eyes open for anything interesting (carnivorous plants, rare reptiles, amphibians, that sort of thing).  We'll also assess the property's suitability as a future field or experiment station.  That's right, ladies and gentlemen, CORE scientists will be engaging in good, old-fashioned exploratory research.  It should be a blast!  I don't know how much internet access we'll have, but if I have the time, I'll post some photos during the week.

If you think of it, please pray for us that we'll find something really worthwhile.

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

Biochemistry tour de force in Nature

As a graduate student, I was very interested in the way one-dimensional sequences of amino acids related to the three-dimensional structure of proteins (which  are made of one-dimensional sequences of amino acids).  I was especially interested in what consequences would result from changes in the amino acid sequence (naturally-occurring or otherwise).  Back then, one of my dream projects that was technically unfeasible was to take a protein sequence and artificially alter every position to every possible amino acid.  I wanted to have a comprehensive view of what amino acid substitutions would do to the structure (and subsequently the function) of proteins.

That was then.  Now, with so much high throughput technology, such dream projects can actually be accomplished.  So my hat's off to McLaughlin et al., authors of a new study published in Nature that managed to accomplish that very project.  For the protein, they picked a small one called PSD95pdz3, which binds to other proteins …

Among the Creationists book review

The folks at The Colossian  Forum are fast!  We just finished editing my book review yesterday, and bam!  It's already posted:

Among the Creationists: Dispatches from the Anti-Evolutionist Front Line

I could tell you about the book review, but you can just go read it for yourself.  Be warned: It's a long review.  The book hit a lot of different nerves with me, and that made for a lot of things I wanted to say about it.

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

I'm still here

Some folks might be wondering what happened to me, but I'm still here.  Oddly enough, I've been kind of busy with some writing projects lately.  I say that's odd because I just finished up one of my biggest summers for writing projects, and I thought I was going to get a breather.  Instead, here I am finishing a review essay, re-writing a commentary on functionalism, revising a research article, and working on some editing projects.  I also just finished writing a grant proposal.  Here I thought that I was going to get a break from writing when I submitted my response to Senter.  'Twas not to be, I guess.  (By the way, that Senter paper has now been declined without review by four different journals.  FYI.)

I really wanted to get back to the next installment of my What would convince me series, but that might take a bit of time.  I have it all laid out in my mind, but finding time to write it down has not been as easy as I thought.

For the time being, I did want to giv…