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Showing posts from September, 2012

Galileo's telescope now available

Some of you might remember a few weeks ago, I mentioned an essay by James K.A. Smith in Christianity Today, titled "What Galileo's Telescope Can't See."  Here are my original comments:

Galileo's Telescope

Now, the essay is available at CT's website:

What Galileo's Telescope Can't See

Check it out.  It's a good essay, but it's not getting much buzz right now, which is a shame.

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

Origins 2012 summary

Over at Paul Garner's blog, Stephen Lloyd has a nice summary of the Origins 2012 conference:

Origins 2012

Check it out!

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

Predatory publishers

For the past several years, I've been getting these weird emails from conference organizers that wanted me to speak.  Almost invariably these were held in China or India, with vague titles like "International Conference on Science and Technology."  Often, they would address me by my full name and invite me to speak on my latest paper, which often led to really odd results:  "We think your paper 'Using creation science to demonstrate evolution' would make a great talk for our conference."  Really?  You want me to talk about that of all things?  The whole thing seemed a little skeevy to me.

Turns out I'm not alone.  This week's Nature has an eye-opening and disturbing essay from Jeffrey Beall called "Predatory publishers are corrupting open access."  First a bit of review for those who aren't up on journal publishing.  Traditionally, journal publishers pay for journals through subscriptions and advertisement (much like magazine publi…

Interesting recent science that's not ENCODE

While people are still frothing over ENCODE, I thought I would draw some attention to some other significant works that you might fancy.

Remember that Denisovan genome?  The Siberian fossil finger bone that turned out to have a really different genome from any Homo species we'd seen before?  Well, now there's a new Denisovan genome that's even more accurate. Analysis of this new genome sequence basically reinforces the findings from the draft genome.  They estimate that modern humans from Papua New Guinea derive about 6% of their genetic alleles from ancestral interbreeding with Denisovans.  They also note significantly fewer Denisovan alleles on the X chromosome, which might suggest a one-way gene flow from Denisovan males into the ancestral Papuans.  It might also suggest some kind of hybrid incompatibility or selection or population substructure.  The authors also suggest that the Denisovans had a smaller population size than modern humans due to the frequency of non-sy…

What would convince me? Part 1

I got a really interesting question from a reader the other day, and it got the old brain moving.  The question was basically if someone could show that evolution and Christian theology were indeed compatible, would that be enough to convince me that evolution was correct?  My gut reaction was, no, that would not be enough, and then I had to figure out why.

Here's the thing.  There are lots of critics out there who call me a fideist, which I understand to be a derogatory term for someone who might look down on reason or science in favor of faith.  Given some of the things I've written in the past about evolution and creation, I can see how people might think I'm a fideist, but really, I think it's a pretty silly conclusion.  Why would a fideist be a scientist at all?  If I really thought science was so inferior, why bother?  Because it's a fun game?  No, that's lame.  There are much better games in this world.  Scrabble, for instance.  Next time you hear someon…

Everyone's excited about ENCODE

So how about that ENCODE?  Seems like it's the talk of the town right now in the world of creation/evolution.  According to the Nature paper, there's some biochemical function to about 80% of the genome, or to put it as they do in the abstract:
These data enabled us to assign biochemical functions for 80% of the genome, in particular outside of the well-studied protein-coding regions. There's a lot of excited press coverage about these findings:

Encode study debunks 'junk DNA' theory
Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From 'Junk,' Play Crucial Role
Gigantic New Study Changes Everything We Knew About Human Genes

(I should note that last headline is an especially large pile of horse manure. Human genes are still made of DNA, right? Check. DNA is organized into chromosomes? Check. They still have the sequences the Human Genome Project determined? Check. There's still about twenty thousand human protein coding genes? Check. So this gigantic new study offers imp…

Fall journal club schedule available now

Every semester the Center for Origins Research organizes a discussion group/journal club to talk about the latest publications in the faith/science arena, especially as they pertain to the creation/evolution debate.  This semester's schedule is now available at the CORE website.  Everyone is welcome.

Fall 2012 journal club schedule

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

Galileo's telescope

James K.A. Smith has an essay in the latest Christianity Today that is well worth the read.  I can't find it yet on the CT website, so I'll briefly summarize for those who don't have access to the print version.

The basic objective of the article (as I see it) is to explore the applicability of the "Galilean analogy" to the modern creation/evolution controversy.  You've probably heard this analogy as much as I have.  Back in Galileo's day, the church was worried about cosmological evidence threatening scriptural interpretations that placed the earth at the center of the universe.  Today, the church is worried about evolution threatening scriptural interpretations of human uniqueness and a historical Fall.  In Galileo's day, the church acted in an alarmist and reactionary way by defending scriptural interpretations that shouldn't have been defended.  I think you can put two and two together to figure out the lesson for today's creation/evolutio…