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Showing posts from March, 2015

Smoky Mountain Creation Retreat 2015

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I'm just back from Core Academy's Smoky Mountain Creation Retreat in Beech Mountain, NC.  Pictures from the weekend can be seen on our Facebook page.  The biggest surprise of the weekend was the four inches of snow that fell the night we got there.  Everyone got in and out safely, so the snow was just fun to watch.

I would love to tell you exactly what we talked about, but most of it was pre-published work in progress.  I talked a bit about Ian Barbour's religion/science taxonomy, and I got a lot of good feedback on my ideas.  That was very helpful.  Jud Davis talked about Hebrew cosmology and the "firmament," which was really exciting and frankly a little shocking.  I'm hoping to see more of this work in the very near future.  Marcus Ross reviewed a pair of contributions he's written for a new book project, and I was pleased to see how much work he had done to make his arguments as good and as modern as possible.  Finally, Lee Spencer was a good sport a…

Reader question: What was the immune system for?

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A while back, a reader asked me this interesting set of questions:
Did Adam and Eve need their immune system before the fall?  If they didn't, then was it pre-designed just for the post-fall world? Or was it created after the fall?  If they did need it, what for? Were there natural evils for which they needed immunity? Will there be these evils also after the resurrection? I don't know about after the resurrection, but I've thought a lot about before the Fall.  It's a lot more complicated than you might think, mostly because of our expectations.

Today we live in a world dominated by the germ theory of disease, which works very, very well.  The idea is that specific infectious diseases are caused by specific agents: microbes, bacteria, viruses, what the public calls "germs."  An example I mentioned last week is cholera, which is caused by Vibrio cholerae, which is transmitted through contaminated water.  Other examples might be malaria, which is caused by a m…

BioLogos's Brad Kramer weighs in on the "War on Science"

You might remember my comments on National Geographic's cover story on the "War on Science."  Recently, content writer Brad Kramer posted a response on the BioLogos website.  For those who don't know, BioLogos is the leading evangelical organization that advocates acceptance of evolution (and an old earth and an old universe).  As a young-age creationist, we don't really see eye to eye on that subject, but I was encouraged to read most of Kramer's article.

Kramer also noted the odd tone of the National Geographic article, as it swerved back and forth between an honest appraisal of science and insistence that science yields TRUTH.  Kramer and I disagree in the end though because he views science as generally reliable in the long run.  Science can have missteps here and there but eventually the hard work of many scientists converge on the truth.  I tend to think that science can get stuck for a long time in spots where scientists think they've got the truth…

"Intro to Origins" is now complete

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It seems like just yesterday, but it's been almost three years since I taught a really long Sunday school class on origins.  At the time, I still worked for Bryan College.  So I took a camera to church and started recording my lessons, with the idea that I might use the video in a class someday.  Just a few weeks after I started that class, the big crisis happened, and I realized that those recordings might be really valuable to me someday.

That day has finally come.  "Introduction to Origins" is now available from Core Academy as a series of online short courses, designed especially for teachers looking for Continuing Education Units.  If you're not a teacher, you can still take the courses.  Parts 1 & 2 have already debuted, and now Part 3 will be available for the next short course session (beginning April 6).

Here's what the courses cover:


1.  Introduction
2.  Faith and Science (BONUS LESSON)
3.  The Creation/Evolution Debate Today
4.  A Case for Creation…

Neandertals, natural selection, and scrub jays

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This week's post is a hodgepodge of interesting things that caught my eye last week.




First comes word of new Neandertal "jewelry" from Croatia.  According to a paper in PLOS ONE by Radovčić et al., the discovery consists of eagle talons and a bones with careful cut marks and surface wear that occurred post-mortem.  The authors interpret the cut marks as evidence of preparation of the bones to make decorations and the surface wear as a result of the bones rubbing against other items that they would have been lashed to.  The discovery comes from the well-known Neandertal site at Krapina (OK, "well-known" if you follow such things).  This is not the first evidence of Neandertal jewelry, as previous discoveries from Spain indicated that Neandertals made jewelry out of painted sea shells.  This is also additional evidence that Neandertals worked with bone, since the first known Neandertal bone tools were only recently discovered.  These newly-discovered eagle talons…

Black rhino growing a horn

I always get a charge out of seeing natural things I've never seen before, and this is a neat little link to a baby rhino's developing horn.  Check it out.  It's fascinating!  There's even a cute video with gratuitous bird shots (seriously - what's the deal with the birds?).

Rhino Calf's Horn Starts to Sprout!
Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Rogue Science and the Ghost Map

Because my wife loves audio books, we usually have a selection of books to listen to as we drive all over the midwest during the holidays.  The 25 hours we usually spend in the car during our average Christmas visiting is a good time to catch up on interesting books.  This Christmas, we listened to Steven Johnson's 2007 book The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World.  I quite enjoyed it, even though it had some frustrating bits.  The frustrating bits are what I really want to focus on.

For those who haven't read the book, it tells the story of the 1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak in London, and the quest of Dr. John Snow to figure out what caused it.  Today, Dr. Snow is remembered chiefly among microbiologists and epidemiologists for seminal research that established that cholera is spread through water.  At the time, the London medical establishment still held to the idea of miasma - diseases…

Ironic Tribalism in National Geographic

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The front cover of the March National Geographic was a bit of an eye-opener. In case your subscription hasn't arrived yet, here it is:


Ain't that subtle.

Honestly, the cover article, "The Age of Disbelief" by Washington Post writer Joel Achenbach, isn't that bad.  The article's mostly about climate change, and it hardly mentions creationism.  Achenbach describes some really interesting studies, including one by Dan Kahan at Yale University that showed that basic scientific literacy did not correlate with acceptance of human-caused climate change.  Instead, scientific literacy correlated with an increasing polarization of opinion about climate change.  Knowledge of science is used to reinforce preconceived worldviews, which I'm not the least surprised by.  Frankly, that sounds remarkably similar to claims made by many creationists for many years:  We all have the same facts and the same reasoning abilities, but when you add to those the assumptions which a…