I sometimes regret tethering this blog so tightly to the activities of the ICR – it means it’s harder for me to talk about what I want (not that I’m very good at that). After all, moments of hilarity and craziness are by no means limited to this one organisation. And science itself is cool too, I suppose. Anyway, here are some vaguely-relevant things I have read recently:
- I mentioned as recently as yesterday that radiocarbon dating requires what is called a “calibration curve” to covert calculated dates to calendar dates. As you may have read, this curve has recently been extended back to around 50,000 years before the present by core sample from Lake Suigetsu. We will see something on this soon from the ICR, I predict, though probably not for about a week. We could well see something made of the offhand remark that the preserved leaves from which the dates were calculated “look fresh as if they’ve fallen very recently,” but what we probably wont see is mention of the fact that real ages tend to be older – not younger – than the figure directly calculated from radiocarbon dating.
- The latest YOM post is called Are You Falling In Love With Mother Earth? It calls Greenpeace misguided (so do I sometimes, but for different reasons) and also pagan, and outlines what you might call the creationist brand of environmentalism – or rather the lack thereof.
- Overshadowed by the discovery of Alpha Centauri Bb was news of further evidence that the moon was created by an ancient collision between the proto-Earth and the Mars-sized protoplanet called Theia. The creationists will no doubt try to wiggle out of it somehow, but what we have here, if nothing else, is an undeniably successful prediction of proper, old-Earth geology/astronomy. They predicted “isotopic fractionation” in moon rocks, and they have now found it:
But a creation event that allowed volatiles to slip away should also have produced isotopic fractionation. Scientists looked for fractionation but were unable to find it, leaving the impact theory of origin in limbo — neither proved nor disproved — for more than 30 years.
Taking a young Earth creationist view there would be no need for this fractionation to exist should the moon have been created by God only 6000 years ago. Unless they can come up with something really good the only reasonable conclusion consistent with creationism is that God is lying and/or misleading (perhaps “testing”) scientists. Or perhaps it was just the devil.
- We have yet another example of speciation, this one from a plant in Scotland. It’s a good thing you don’t see many creationists arguing that species are immutable any more, but it’s still macroevolution however you slice it.
- Naturalis Historia has a post out on the differing tactics of the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis. AiG, you’ll remember, is the personality cult of Ken Ham and seems to have the largest stake in the young Earth creationist market. In contrast, since the death of Henry Morris in 2006 the ICR has taken the diametrically opposite path, which has not lead to prosperity of late. But the Historian predicts that Ham’s cult must fail eventually. Slow and steady wins the race? We will probably see if it does over the course of the next decade.
- The Sensuous Curmudgeon indirectly informs us that Mary Schweitzer has some new soft tissue findings out in a post about Answers in Genesis’ reaction. We’ll probably see something from the ICR on this in time.
- A new study has apparently found that the human DNA “clock” runs much slower than thought, pushing dates determined by it backwards in time. The new numbers are a mixed bag when it comes to matching up with fossil evidence. Recent dates like the date given for the human-neanderthal split, for example, now matches with the fossils, but older figures like the split between the human/chimp and orangutan lineages no-longer match and are now way off. While this will obviously be an avenue of attack for creationists this is, in my opinion, the preferable way around. Something might have happened to change the mutation rate a few million years ago, after all. The new mutation rate may also be problematic for the genetic load argument, as it is significantly smaller than the 60 mutation/generation figure they often use (only 36).
- Monster Talk has a new episode out on young Earth creationism and Beowulf (of all subjects). I haven’t listened to it yet, so if you don’t mind I’ll go do that…
There are of course many more things I could mention. I think I’ll take a better record as I see them, and do this a little more often.