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Showing posts from May, 2016

About those Neandertal stone rings

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I've got a new post on Human Genesis discussing those stone rings in the Bruniquel Cave.

Neandertals Continue to Surprise in the South of France
Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com. If you enjoyed this article, please consider a contribution to Core Academy of Science. Thank you.

Lord, make me a better enemy

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A while back, I posted an article about the anthropology meeting that I attended in Atlanta, where I wrote this:
I suppose some might think that I should be more indignant because of all these evolutionists undermining the truth or some such, but I'm far more unsettled by fellow evangelical Christians promoting evolution than by non-Christians doing it.  They really should know better. Almost immediately, I got an email from a guy challenging me to explain what I meant and recommending that I check out the BioLogos website where I could learn more about Christian approaches to evolution.  This week, Jim Kidder posted a response on his blog, and he also took me to task for the very same phrase.  Jim wrote, "My initial reaction to this statement was to think that I had been insulted."  I must have hit a nerve.

I suppose I should apologize or defend myself, but as usual, I see bigger things here.  I didn't set out to insult anyone, but people took umbrage anyway.  The …

Registration for Origins 2016 is now available

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The annual conference of the Creation Biology and Creation Geology Societies will meet at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA on July 20-23, 2016.  That's just two months from now!  For more information on registration and tickets, visit the registration website:
http://origins2016.eventbrite.com
Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com. If you enjoyed this article, please consider a contribution to Core Academy of Science. Thank you.

Homo naledi feedback

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Now that folks have had some time to look over all those Homo naledi papers from JCTSB, I've started getting some feedback.  I thought it would be good to consolidate it all in one blog post.

Over on his blog Naturalis Historia, Joel Duff discussed the papers at length.  He's been pretty critical lately of AIG, to the point of drawing the ire of Ken Ham himself, but he's far less critical of our discussion of Homo naledi.  He still thinks young-age creationism is wrong, but he shows a surprising willingness to engage with creationist ideas.

The comment section is full of interesting ideas and questions.  A user going by the name "wowfunny251" had this to say:
Homo Naledi only presents a problem for YEC’s because of their view on “kinds”. If you allow a “kind” to be narrower, more like a species. It isn’t implausible that God created several species of extinct bipedal primates including Homo Naledi. That's actually ad hoc.  Instead of trying to interpret foss…

Homo naledi burial?

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In a new post at Human Genesis, I tackle the question of how all those Homo naledi bones ended up in the Rising Star Cave.  Did Homo naledi use the Dinaledi chamber as their graveyard?  Or did the bones get there some other way?  I tackle those questions and the recent critique by Aurore Val in my post.

What's my personal take?  As hard as it is for me to imagine people crawling so far and so deep into a cave just to bury their loved ones, I don't think any other explanation really explains all the data available to us.  I definitely think there are still questions about the burial hypothesis, but it's the best explanation so far.

I also think that my creationist perspective gives an advantage to the burial hypothesis.  Whereas it would be terribly (if not impossibly) difficult to imagine an animal crawling that far underground to bury dead individuals, humans have complex emotional and even religious motivations that animals do not.  If Homo naledi is human as I contend, …

Let's talk about Homo naledi

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It was a huge relief to launch Human Genesis and release the special issue of JCTSB!  I had been working on those projects since the day the Homo naledi papers were announced, and it was a lot more work than I expected (always is).  But I'm very happy with all of it.  Now at last I can start talking about Homo naledi, and that might be the biggest relief of all.

For those of you keeping score, here's where creationists stand on Homo naledi:

AIG's Mitchell and Menton think it's "most likely an ape," presumably based on how different it is from us (and other fossil forms that they also accept as human).ICR's Clarey thinks the bones are a combination of human and non-human bones.  He wrote, "The scientists built an imaginary creature from bones that likely come from both humans and non-humans."CMI's Peter Line took substantially longer to come to a conclusion than ICR or AIG, and he argued that it was probably a pathological form of human.GRI&#…

Human Genesis!

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Last fall, the publication of the Homo naledi discovery sparked an unpredictable journey for me.  I first began just doing my usual baraminology research, as I've done for countless other discoveries.  Then I began emailing with Kurt Wise about the discovery, after which I cajoled him into writing up his own creationist perspective based on the paleontology.  Then I discovered that someone else had done their own baraminology study and submitted it to the Creation Biology Society's journal.  The next thing I know, I was emailing just about everyone I knew to scare up a set of papers giving a creationist perspective on Homo naledi and human origins.

Today in a special issue of the Journal of Creation Theology and Science Series B Life Sciences, those papers have been published.  There are nine papers, and only three by me.  This set of papers is a bit unique, since it includes a paper by W. Gary Phillips describing his own "pastoral perspective" on discoveries like t…

Research Week: Projects at Core Academy

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I'm wrapping up my research week today with a short post on research projects ongoing at Core Academy.

First up, our trillium project.  Three years ago, when Roger Sanders and I launched Core Academy, we spent a lot of time exploring the woods in the southern Appalachians, and one day in May, we stumbled across a funny-looking trillium flower: It was all petals.  I was mildly intrigued by this, and I had not heard of such things before.  After reading up on the subject, it turns out that trilliums have lots of weird growth forms known, but none of them have been carefully characterized with modern technology.  In other words, we don't know exactly what causes trilliums to have weird flower forms.  The next year, we went back to check on it again, and we found it growing in the very same spot.  At that point, we recruited a student intern to work on the project (or she recruited us - it's kind of hard to tell sometimes), and she's been going at it full steam since then…

Research Week: Mysteries of the Channel Islands

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Off the coast of California, the Channel Islands are home to many unique and fascinating creatures.  Dwarf mammoth fossils have been found there, and I previously wrote about the local scrub jays, which is worth reading again:
Next, a recent article in Evolution from Langin et al. details the fascinating discovery of what we might call "speciation in progress" on Santa Cruz island.  Santa Cruz is home to a unique species of jay called the island scrub jay.  They're substantially bigger than mainland scrub jays in nearby California.  The typical explanation for unique island species (ever since Darwin) is that they diverged from their mainland cousins when they were cut off on the island from the mainland.  The isolation of the island is thought to be important to making new species.  If the island and mainland populations were able to mingle, then they presumably would not diverge into different species.  Except, with this research, we find that that doesn't always …

Research Week: Directed Mutations

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A long time ago (seven years to be precise), I wrote about an article by Jean Lightner on skin color variation, in which she proposed that "directed mutations" could account for nonrandom patterns of nucleotide differences that we observe in the present.  It was an interesting idea, and I like interesting ideas.  In my post, I was very favorable towards the concept.

Truth is: I was always a bit uneasy about the idea.  Just a bit.  I think there's a fine line in creationism between using creationist beliefs to think creatively about the world around us and being ad hoc and explaining away interesting trends.  I'm not always sure where that line is, and that's awkward.  I've always respected Lightner's proposal because it could be true, but deep down I wondered if it crossed the line into ad hoc speculation.

Then, things change.  An article last month in Genome Research described something kind of similar to what Lightner suggested.  Pinto et al. looked at…

Research Week: The Kuiper Belt

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It's Research Week here, and I'm highlighting some interesting and fun new research results that have been published lately.  When I started thinking about blogging about Pluto again, NASA and the New Horizons team released a new map of Pluto, and I got excited about making a little animation.  Then I started looking up information about Pluto and other Kuiper Belt objects, and my little animation started growing. The next thing you know, this video happened.



This video is especially iffy because I'm a biochemist reacting to some very unfamiliar science that I read about on the internet.  Now I did read pages from NASA and other scientists, so it's not like I'm just summarizing Wikipedia or some crackpot.  But I suspect I'll be getting some emails from astronomers and/or fellow creationists anyway.  My apologies for being a complete amateur, but I am an enthusiastic amateur!

Still, it was a lot of fun taking a break from my normal life and learning a little bit…

Research Week: The Wonder of it All

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Most of you know that I love research.  I love learning new things, and I get a huge charge out of discovering new things.  Being a scientist is a perfect job for me, because I get to discover new things pretty regularly.

This week, I'm kicking off a special week of blog posts celebrating the wonder of discovery.  Every morning I'll be posting a new article looking at some interesting new development in the world of science.  Some of them will have obvious creationist applications, and others will not.  These posts are all leading up to a big announcement next Monday morning, and I hope you'll stick around for that.

I think research is so wonderful because it is the Lord's work that I study.  In a sense, all research is "creation research," because the physical world that we study is the creation.  The world around us isn't just a passive, inert place for us to live.  God's creation is infused with His glory.  The universe declares His power and wisd…