Showing posts from July, 2012

Origins 2012

I'd like to publicly thank the staff at Patrick Henry College for a very smooth conference.  I've heard a lot of good things about the conference from those who attended.  Next year's conference will be in Pittsburgh on August 2-4, in conjunction with the International Conference on Creationism . I'll be posting some thoughts on the conference over the next few weeks, because I'm very busy right now and that limits the time I can spend online. Also, if you're interested in a copy of the Shenandoah video we showed on the bus, drop me a line.  If there's enough interest, I'll see what I can do to make copies and offer them for sale. Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Origins 2012 abstracts published

The geology and biology abstracts for the Origins 2012 conference are now available at the JCTS  website: 2012 Creation Geology Society abstracts 2012 Creation Biology Society abstracts Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

It seems so small...

Beautiful video of images from the International Space Station, courtesy Knate Myers Photography : Where can I go from your Spirit?   Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn,   if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me,   your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me   and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you;   the night will shine like the day,   for darkness is as light to you. (Ps. 139:7-12) Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Origins 2012 Field Trip

I've been getting some questions about the field trip, so here are a few details:  We'll be on a charter bus for most of the day.  We should arrive at the park just before 10 am and leave the park around 3 pm.  There will be a few instructional stops before lunch, then we'll be at Big Meadows for at least 90 minutes.  Big Meadows has a very nice museum and visitor center, as well as hiking trails for short strolls through the woods.  You shouldn't have to do anything strenuous, unless you decide to do something crazy at Big Meadows. Be advised that some forecasters are calling for partly cloudy weather with a high of 100 degrees (that's 38 for you centigrade fans), so please dress appropriately.  We will provide a generous supply of water and Gatorade for the trip, but you should plan to bring your own sun block if you need it. The bus will load outside of the Barbara Hodel Center on the campus of Patrick Henry College beginning at 8 am.  That's the same bui

BioLogos and baraminology

BioLogos recently posted an interesting set of essays by Richard Hess on the meaning of the Hebrew term  mîn   ( Part 1 and Part 2 ), which many readers might recognize as relevant to issues of baraminology.  Or as the BioLogos editors put it: The baraminology Wood and others pursue as an alternative to evolution is predicated on taking Genesis to mean that God created (Hebrew bara ) such fixed species (Hebrew mîn ). Frankly, I think it's a really nice essay that everyone interested in creationist biology ought to read.  I endorse Dr. Hess's conclusions: Those attempting to draw any formal classification or biological significance from mîn are asking too much of a word that does not appear to serve that purpose.  I concur that  mîn  seems to be used equivalently to the colloquial "all kinds" or "every sort."  I know that many creationists have asserted otherwise  (most famously Frank Marsh), and I think they are mistaken. Does this therefore falsify

More information for Origins 2012

Information for all ticket holders:  Registration for the Origins 2012 conference will open at 12:30 pm on Wednesday, July 25.  Registration and check-in will take place in the Hodel Center.  If you are driving to the conference, here's a map with the Hodel Center marked with a green arrow: View Larger Map If you are flying to the conference, we need to know NOW if you would like a ride from the airport.  Please email me or Joe Francis to be included on the airport pickup schedule. Platinum ticket holders:   If you are staying in the dorms you must bring your own linens.  Pillows, sheets, and towels are not provided. Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

More sediba remains!

Evidently, there are more bones of Australopithecus sediba  sitting in a big rock at Lee Berger's lab in the University of Witwatersrand.  In an interesting twist, National Geographic is helping them set up a lab where the preparation of the new fossils will be streamed live on the internet.  It's kind of a neat gesture of open access.  Read all about it in the press release: New Au. sediba fossils discovered in rock Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Where am I going?

For about a year now, I've been experiencing a slowly growing discomfort with my own position in the creation/evolution debate.  I'm not wavering in my stance on creation, but I am growing uncomfortable with the way in which we Christians (especially evangelicals) are debating the issue.  Perhaps this dissatisfaction has been growing for more than a year now, but I think it's become increasingly difficult to ignore. Part of that discomfort is manifested in my essay for the Colossian Forum, What I would like to hear an evolutionary creationist say .  Now I've written a new essay called Surrender (which is accompanied by a blog post where you can leave comments).  It's probably best to read that essay before you continue this post. Some of you might have read that essay and concluded that I'm the biggest hypocrite in the world.  Here I am, talking smack about people selfishly wanting to win arguments when I'm one of the biggest critics out there.  I have

Evolution2012: Tuesday

On this final day of the conference, nothing really grabbed me.  I heard plenty of interesting talks and learned some new things, but nothing really stood out in my mind.  Except maybe why lizards have blue tails.  Naively, I assumed it was a secondary sexual characteristic, a little something to attract the ladies, but no, it actually appears to be mostly related to predators. Then there was Scott Edwards's talk.  Great science, but Beast Legends ?  I'm not sure what to think about that one.  On the one hand, I understand the desire to help the public understand science, but... Beast Legends?  Did I mention that his science was awesome?  As usual. So that was the conference.  I'm flying home tomorrow morning with lots of new ideas for research projects and collaborations.  But first I have a lot to do to get ready for Origins2012 .  I hope to see you there!    Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Evolution2012: Monday

I hope you'll indulge me as I geek out a bit about salamanders.  I used to work with them as an undergrad, and I still have a spot in my heart for the little guys.  Now I haven't really kept up with salamanders in any sort of professional way, but I talk about them in my classes, because they make such great examples of all sorts of evolutionary processes. Why gush about salamanders?  I started the day with three talks on the red-backed salamander Plethodon cinereus , and it was great.  One of those talks was from Andrew Kraemer from Iowa State who talked about one form of P. cinereus that appears to be a Batesian mimic of the red-spotted eft.  A Batesian mimic is a species that looks a lot like a different (model) species.  The model species is generally noxious, while the mimic is not.  So the Batesian mimic is trying to take advantage of the appearance of the model, which presumably reduces predation (since predators would avoid noxious prey).  In this system, the red-spo

Evolution2012: Reactions to arsenic life rebuttal

One of the things that's always bugged me about science journalism is the hype that's given to new discoveries but not to the work that comes after.  That's definitely not the case this time.  Check out all the news articles that flatly declare: NASA got the arsenic life claim wrong: Google News search Also, here's Carl Zimmer's live blog of Redfield's talk.  It was quite an evening. Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Evolution2012: Rosie Redfield

She was an absolute delight!  Where did the NASA scientists go wrong?  "Fall in love with your hypothesis, and then try to kill it." For those who don't know what I'm talking about, Redfield sort of led the charge against NASA's claim of finding a bacterium that can grow on arsenic instead of phosphorus.  Here's the post that started it all: Arsenic-associated bacteria (NASA's claims) You can read the full report of her results in her new Science  paper, which was just published an hour ago: Reaves et al.  2012. Absence of Detectable Arsenate in DNA from Arsenate-Grown GFAJ-1 Cells . Science  10.1126/science.1219861 You might also be interested in a paper that comes to similar conclusions: Erb et al. 2012. GFAJ-1 Is an Arsenate-Resistant, Phosphate-Dependent Organism . Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1218455 Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Evolution2012: Sunday

This morning's sessions were pretty interesting.  I attended a speciation session first, then phylogeography before lunch.  To me the most memorable talk of the morning was Diogo Silva's research on an emerging pathogen of coffee, Colletotrichum kahawae .  Currently, the pathogen infects arabica coffee in subsaharan Africa, and it hasn't spread (yet) to other continents.  Silva is trying to determine where it came from, and his results implicate a group of related Colletotrichum pathogens from other species, which suggests that Colletotrichum emerged in part by a host shift.  As a creationist I'm intrigued by the origin of pathogens and pathology, and this certainly adds to our understanding of that intriguing subject. I also quite enjoyed Luciano Beheregaray's presentation on Amazonian fish, which was extremely interesting and challenging.  He's found fish that occupy a flooded forest habitat (never the open river), but more importantly, there's pretty

Evolution2012: Saturday

Greetings from Ottawa!  I'm here for the annual evolution conference, which has been pretty fun so far.  I know some readers might find it hard to believe that a creationist would enjoy a big conference with hundreds of evolutionary biologists, but I am.  True, I'm not exactly "one of the boys," but I'm learning a lot, and I'm really enjoying Ottawa. For me one of the biggest delights of the conference are the talks I didn't know I would like.  I typically read through the program and pick out sessions I think I'll be interested in, but inevitably there are talks with cryptic titles of little interest to me that turn out to be great.  This morning, Graham Slater of UCLA surprised me with his talk "Robust regression and posterior predictive approaches to improve the fit of evolutionary models for quantitative traits."  I confess that that title did not appeal to me, but it was well worth it. Slater is attempting to evaluate "early bu

A Tale of Two Scientists: What Really Happened 'In the Beginning' | Christianity Today

I thought you might be interested in seeing this: A Tale of Two Scientists: What Really Happened 'In the Beginning' | Christianity Today Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

New CORE website

Just before I jet off to Ottawa for Evolution2012 , I wanted to let you know that we just finished revising the CORE website, complete with a kind of corny introductory video.  It's a simpler layout than the previous version, and in the coming weeks, we'll actually be adding new content.  (I know, it's unheard of!  This is the first really big makeover for our website in six years.)  Check out the revised site right here: Bryan College Center for Origins Research In the next few days, I'll be blogging my experiences at the evolution conference, so stay tuned for that. Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Origins 2012 full schedule and BONUS!

We've posted the full schedule for Origins 2012 at the CBS website .  Since we had fewer submissions this year, we decided to devote the extra time to extra presentations for the general conference.  Here are the bonus sessions: Catastrophic Plate Tectonics and the Geology of the Flood Kurt Wise Professor of Science, Truett-McConnell College A Creationist Perspective on Radiometric Dating Andrew Snelling Director of Research, Answers in Genesis Creation Biology for the Twenty-first Century Todd Wood Associate Professor of Science, Bryan College Jerusalem Earthquake of 33 AD: Finding Bible Earthquakes in Laminated Dead Sea Sediment Steve Austin Adjunct Professor of Geology, Cedarville University These presentations will take place on Friday evening beginning at 6:30 pm.  After the presentations, there will be a special Q&A with the speakers.  These bonus presentations are available to everyone signed up for the conference, including those who purchased bronze ti