Researching Creation

November 26, 2008

General / Creation Research Society Conference

JB

The Creation Research Society is sponsoring a conference this summer at the University of South Carolina Lancaster.  I think this is CRS's first conference.  Anyone can attend, but you have to be a voting member of CRS to author a paper (or have a voting member as a co-author).

Anyway, I'm probably going to be at the BSG conference this year, though at the moment it does not appear that I will have anything myself to present.  Come to think of it, that might actually make it more fun.

November 23, 2008

General / A Short History of Creationism

JB

While the whole book is pretty long, if anyone wants a short introduction to the history of Creationism, I would suggest reading the last chapter of Ronald Numbers' The Creationists.  I'm actually reading an older edition, so if it has changed the chapter is called "Creation Science Floods the World".  Anyway, it was a very good, short, history of the worldwide movement.

November 20, 2008

General / BSG Newsletter and an Opportunity for Students to Get Involved

JB

The Creation Biology Study Group is working on putting out a newsletter a few times throughout the year.  It will consist of book reviews, literature commentaries, and question/answer sections.  For those of you who are interested in Creation Research, but don't know where to start or how to get involved, consider contributing to the newsletter!  To contribute to the newsletter or to read the newsletter you will have to be a member of the Creation Biology Study Group.  Also, we are having a question/answer section where students can ask questions and have them answered, so feel free to ask!  Again, this is a great way to start contributing to Creation research.

Here is the full announcement:

--------------

Fellow BSG Members

We are looking to put together our first ever BSG newsletter.  This is going to be primarily member-contributed material, so please read on and see what you can do to help!  If you are a student, and want to start being active in Creation biology - this is a good way to get started!  The details and schedule for contributions are at the bottom of the email.  All newsletter-related email should be sent to bsg@bartlettpublishing.com .  The newsletter has two main goals:

1) Continue studying God's creation together
2) Encourage new participants and students to join in who might not be able to make it to the conferences

So, here's how I plan to organize the newsletter:

1) Book Reviews by BSG Members
2) Literature Commentaries by BSG Members
3) Current Happenings in the BSG Community
4) Creation Biology Questions and Answers
5) Member Correspondence

1) Book Reviews

The book reviews will be reviews of both creationary and non-creationary books.  The goal is the critical evaluation of books in terms of accuracy of the science, history, or philosophy presented.  Reviews of evolution-oriented books should point out items of value to our research goals and must not attack such books using anti-evolution polemics.  Likewise, reviews that favorably present creation-oriented books without critical evaluation of the content are not acceptable.   It is my hope this feature will encourage  wider reading of scholarly books so the BSG members will be well versed in both creationary and evolutionary current thinking.

Book reviews can be submitted by anyone, and if you are a student this is probably a good area to help out in.  There are no minimum or maximum lengths.  If you aren't sure how to start or what to review, just send us an email and we'll hook you up.

To get an idea of what we are looking for, here are some suggested books to look at (please don't feel limited by these!):

The Design Matrix: A Consilience of Clues
Evolution through Genetic Exchange
Evolution and the Levels of Selection
Science and Grace: God's Reign in the Natural Sciences
The Biology of Coastal Sand Dunes
Polar Lakes and Rivers: Limnology of Arctic and Antarctic Aquatic Ecosystems
Chance in Biology: Using Probability to Explore Nature
A Creationist Review and Preliminary Analysis of the History, Geology, Climate and Biology of the Galapágos Islands.
How and Why Species Multiply: The Radiation of Darwin's Finches
Ecological Stoichiometry: The Biology of Elements from Molecules to the Biosphere
Cornell Lab of Ornithology Handbook of Bird Biology
Foundations of Systems Biology
The Biotic Message
The Regulatory Genome: Gene Regulatory Networks in Development and Evolution
Evolutionary Dynamics: Exploring the Equations of Life
The Structure and Dynamics of Networks
The Genesis Factor: Myths and Realities
2) Literature Commentaries

Literature commentaries can cover any paper, especially conventional papers whose results have application to creation biology.  The commentary should begin with the full citation of the article.  This should be followed by one or two short paragraphs summarizing the article's findings and one or two short paragraphs suggesting a creation biology application.

3) Current Happenings in the BSG Community

Anything that you think that the BSG Community might be interested in, please let us know!  This includes papers published, conferences happenings, and even personal stuff like job changes, marriages, and babies.  Please note that the newsletter will be semi-private—that is, we will only make it available to BSG members, but that is not a guarantee to privacy.  So please do not submit anything that you wouldn't want others to see or find out about.

4) Questions and Answers

This is a section where you can ask questions and have them answered by our community. Submit questions to the newletter editor, who will contact an appropriate expert in our community.  The question and answer will be published together. This section can be used for students to get their deepest, darkest questions answered.

Researchers who want feedback on planned projects and ideas should submit to the newsletter editor a brief project proposal along with their e-mail address to be published in the newsletter.   Readers having comments on the proposal can then contact the researcher directly.

5) Members Correspondence

This is a place to comment about anything which occurred in the previous newsletter or in a previous conference.  If you have a note, question, or other correspondence about the happenings of the BSG, this is the place to share them.

SUBMISSION INFORMATION AND DEADLINES

I plan on publishing the newsletter late in January.  Therefore, for book reviews and literature reviews, please email me your topic within the next week.  If you would like to contribute, but need some direction, please email me immediately and we'll figure something out.  The reviews themselves need to be in by December 31st.  All other material can be submitted until January 15th.  Send all newsletter-related items to bsg@bartlettpublishing.com .

SUBMISSION POLICIES

The newsletter is not a full peer-review process.  All entries will be reviewed by the newsletter editor with final approval by the executive editor.  Copyright for all entries will remain with the submission author.  However, by submitting an entry you are granting the BSG an unlimited, royalty-free license to use your submission.


Literature commentaries can cover any paper, especially conventional papers whose results have application to creation biology.  The commentary should begin with the full citation of the article.  This should be followed by one or two short paragraphs summarizing the article's findings and one or two short paragraphs suggesting a creation biology application.

3) Current Happenings in the BSG Community

Anything that you think that the BSG Community might be interested in, please let us know!  This includes papers published, conferences happenings, and even personal stuff like job changes, marriages, and babies.  Please note that the newsletter will be semi-private—that is, we will only make it available to BSG members, but that is not a guarantee to privacy.  So please do not submit anything that you wouldn't want others to see or find out about.

4) Questions and Answers

This is a section where you can ask questions and have them answered by our community. Submit questions to the newletter editor, who will contact an appropriate expert in our community.  The question and answer will be published together. This section can be used for students to get their deepest, darkest questions answered.

Researchers who want feedback on planned projects and ideas should submit to the newsletter editor a brief project proposal along with their e-mail address to be published in the newsletter.   Readers having comments on the proposal can then contact the researcher directly.

5) Members Correspondence

This is a place to comment about anything which occurred in the previous newsletter or in a previous conference.  If you have a note, question, or other correspondence about the happenings of the BSG, this is the place to share them.

SUBMISSION INFORMATION AND DEADLINES

I plan on publishing the newsletter late in January.  Therefore, for book reviews and literature reviews, please email me your topic within the next week.  If you would like to contribute, but need some direction, please email me immediately and we'll figure something out.  The reviews themselves need to be in by December 31st.  All other material can be submitted until January 15th.  Send all newsletter-related items to bsg@bartlettpublishing.com .

SUBMISSION POLICIES

The newsletter is not a full peer-review process.  All entries will be reviewed by the newsletter editor with final approval by the executive editor.  Copyright for all entries will remain with the submission author.  However, by submitting an entry you are granting the BSG an unlimited, royalty-free license to use your submission.

November 12, 2008

General / Royal Society Digital Archive Free untile February

JB

For those of you interested in scholarly content, the Royal Society has just announced that it will make its archives available for free to everyone until February 1st, 2009.

The Royal Society is a top publisher of scientific papers, and their archives go back to 1665!  So,  if you are interested in the history of science, this is a perfect place to go searching.

Exciting!

If you find any interesting papers of note, please mention them on the comments.

October 31, 2008

General / Catholic Creationism Conference This Weekend

I doubt that many of you will be in Rome next week, but I still thought you might be interested to know about the Catholic Creationism conference being held there next week.  The topics covered are pretty basic, but it is good to see elements of the Catholic church supporting Creationism.

Now, of course, they actually don't call themselves Creationists:

The scientists participating in the conference at Sapienza University are not creationists. They represent thousands of world-renowned scientists whose evidence against evolution is often downplayed or ignored by academics who support evolution.

But I know that Berthault is a diluvialist at least.  However, Berthault doesn't consider himself a Creationist because his position is based on data, not theology.

October 22, 2008

General / The Changing Understanding of Pseudogenes

JB

Our understanding of pseudogenes is currently being revolutionized.  Jean Lightner reviews some literature which discusses pseudogenes that code for proteins!  Pseudogenes have already been shown to provide lots of different types of regulation, but now we are seeing that different ways of reading the genes can actually produce functioning proteins from pseudogenes.

This should re-emphasize a point - science is always changing.  Those of you who think that we should put our faith in science instead of God and God's word in scripture, remember that what we think we know today about science can turn out wrong tomorrow.  Science is great, but only if we understand it as a subordinate discipline.  Science is a servant, not a master.  Many of the "proofs" of evolution are based off of things that we are only beginning to understand. 

I worry that the Church is banking too much on the "established fact" of evolution.  There is so much theology that is currently being systematically skewed because even conservative evangelicals are shifting to the evolutionary paradigm.

Matthew 24:24 - "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect."

I think many Christians are turning to science as a false Christ and false prophet.  If you look at the way they justify their theology, it is based on all of the wonderful achievements of science, and then they go and reinterpret the whole Bible based on an evolutionary paradigm.  That rings to me of following a false Christ because of signs and wonders.

2 Peter 3:3-6 - "First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 5But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed."

October 21, 2008

General / Intellectual Honesty

JB

MikeGene has had several great posts of late but I haven't had time to blog on them.  However this one I think is important enough for us that I'm taking the time to post it: 10 Signs of Intellectual Honesty.  This is a very easy value to sacrifice when trying to convince people of the value of your position, especially when something important like scripture or creation is being discussed.  However, I would argue that overreaching/intellectual dishonesty have the biggest long-term downsides.

October 12, 2008

General / New animal discovered 1.74 miles below surface

JB

This looks very cool.

D. audaxviator survives in a habitat where it gets its energy not from the sun but from hydrogen and sulfate produced by the radioactive decay of uranium.

The original article has a picture - this is a micro-organism that was collected from cave-water.

October 01, 2008

General / Caterpillars - Cute and Stinging

JB

My wife found a cool-looking caterpillar outside near the sandbox.  Turns out it is potentially a stinging caterpillar.  Anyway, we are keeping it for a pet in a butterfly cage.  It is a Banded Tussock Moth (Halysidota tessellaris).

September 27, 2008

General / Why Creationism can be Methodologically Naturalistic

And Why it Shouldn't Be

JB

I'm almost done reading Gilkey's Creationism on Trial.  It actually covers a wide range of interesting information, and is a usefl read for anyone interested in the way the liberal academy views the relationship between religion, science, and Creationism.  This is very useful because Gilkey's reasoning remains the predominant form of reasoning about these issues today.

Interestingly, I think that Gilkey contains in his argumentation all of the necessary elements for the demise of his conclusions (note that Gilkey's conclusions may have been perfectly valid concerning the case at hand in Arkansas, but my point is that the conclusion is not valid for all possible ways of putting Creationism together).

Here are some of the ideas which Gilkey presents in his book:

  1. Science deals only with materialist causes
    1. This is a limitation of science and not reality
    2. This limitation also limits science's ability to describe people fully
    3. This necessarily means that science is not fully descriptive of reality
    4. It also means that science is not fully descriptive of the events which it covers
  2. Scientists may legitimately use any source for the inspiration and elaboration of their work (see the description of Ruse's testimony, for instance, if you don't believe me)
  3. Sources that may be legitimate for inspiration/elaboration of ideas are not necessarily legitimate for the validation of those ideas (again see the description and Gilkey's comments of Ruse's testimony).
  4. The validation of an idea comes from the scientific community, which is a culturally conditioned unit
  5. Additionally, only ideas which are material causes are considerable within science

Now, there are several important flaws here, which we should take note of in the beginning:

  • Gilkey provides no criteria for determining whether or not a given effect falls within the limitations of science under proposition 1.  If this is truly a limitation of science and not reality then this means that science cannot determine whether or not an event is characterizable scientifically, and therefore it must be done so on other grounds.
  • If the scientific community is the source of validation of ideas, and if the scientific community is shaped by culture, then it is reasonable to think that the validation of sources appropriate for use in validation may simply be a majority vote of the validity of sources for inspiration and elaboration by individual scientists, and thus not differing from each other in kind, but rather simply by popularity.  In this case, the methodology for validating evidence is every bit as culturally conditioned as the methodology for producing insight.  Thus, the disconnect which Gilkey draws is not helpful epistemologically.
  • Item #5 is actually a fairly new description for the limits of science.  The limits of science have been described several times and by several people, and historically all of them have busted.  Newton's notion of gravity violated scientific principles at the time, by introducing "spooky action at a distance" - which is a carryover from Newton's spiritual beliefs.  Science at that time was self-limited to directly-interacting particles.  Action-at-a-distance was contrary to this.  Likewise, quantum mechanics changed the rules of science.  As Einstein said (quoting from memory), science should "be about actual things, and not only the probabilites of their occurring."  This new definition of science is just as new and arbitrary as the previous ones.

So now, let's take a view of Creationism that works as follows:

  1. Fred (a scientist) reads a non-scientific work A, and find out about a work of God, which we will call X.
  2. Fred decides that X itself is outside of science, because it is a work of God
  3. However, X lends itself to physical consequences
  4. The physical consequences of X would be Y
  5. Fred investigates to see if Y is true
  6. Fred validates the validity of Y independently of A according to "standard" scientific markers

It is difficult to see, even following Gilkey's framework 100%, why this should be disqualified as science.  Even if at stage 6 Fred finds contrary evidence, but uses that to reformulate Y into Z, as long as at the end of the day the scientist is not using A to publicly validate Y and is instead using fairly standard scientific logic, then there is no inherent conflict between Creationism and science according to Gilkey's paradigm (although there may have been in the specific instances in the Arkansas trial).

So, some examples:

  • Using the assumption of the Universe created out of water 6,000 years ago, Russel Humphreys devised an equation for determining the magnetic fields of celestial bodies.  This was before any of them were known.  The mechanism for the creation of the planets was outside of science, but their magnetic properties afterwards (which is what Humphreys is attempting to describe scientifically) should be the result of scientific principles.  Humphreys model is validatable independent of the Bible (by measuring the magnetic fields of planets), and has been validated where it has been tested.
  • Using the assumption that the deluge was recently sprung upon a young earth (where the origination of the earth and the origination of the deluge would be outside scientific discovery, but the effects of the flood [for instance, the sediments it deposited] would be understandable naturalistically), Art Chadwick believed that the Coconino sandstone would have been part of what was laid down during the flood.    This would imply that it would have been laid down in an underwater environment, even though most geologists had labelled it as a remnant from a desert.  Therefore, Chadwick examined the trackways of animals in the Coconino, and devised a mechanism for testing whether or not the trackways were made in desert or underwater conditions.  The flume experiments experimentally validated (independently of Chadwick's belief in God's action) that the Coconino was probably laid down in an underwater environment.

It is difficult to see, if science is taken as being a methodological limitation and not a limitation on reality, how such could be excluded from science (whether or not you agreed with the conclusions - note that much of science is not true [i.e. will be proven false] so whether or not you agreed with the conclusions would be irrelevant to whether or not it should be classified as science).

So, in fact, Creationism can be persued in a methodologically naturalistic way.  However, I'm going to go further and say that it shouldn't be.  Reality is not as separable as we might like.  Also, there is no reason why modern limits on science should be carried into the future.  There is no historical validity behind it.  If the goal is to understand reality, then that must include understanding God and His Purposes.  The understanding of God's action is likely to take a different form from current scientific understanding, but nonetheless I think it should be persued.

One instance of this occuring is ReMine's Message Theory (currently reading The Biotic Message - hope to report on it soon).  Here, ReMine is at least attempting to present what he thinks is the message of biology - and it is a message which ReMine thinks is testable and verifiable.  However, messages are not currently part of science, as they depend on non-material causation for their occurence. 

The exciting thing, though, is that computer science already deals with structures which are the results of intelligent causes, so I would encourage anyone who is wanting to understand the non-material aspects of the future science, to study up on computer programming and theoretical programming semantics.  This will prepare you for the future of science which is freed from its materialistic bondage, yet still remains validatable and empirical.