Happy Holidays

A belated Saturnalia to you all.

Eye on the ICR Christmas Card 2013(You may want to make that a little bigger.)

I should probably have mentioned a little earlier that I’m on holiday, up North and away from the internet. But, you may ask, that means this is a scheduled post – why didn’t I just say it when I wrote this? A very good question. You’ll have to ask me in the new year when I get back.

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Methane is an Odourless Gas

Cassini's view of Titan on November 29 (click to enlarge)It’s that time of year again: time for Brian Thomas to recycle the news stories of the year in a rapid-fire format. First up are the astronomy topics.

If the moon was formed over four billion years ago by some colossal impact as secularists assert, then it should be dry as a bone. The violent impact would have melted all the minerals and thus would have ejected any water from its magma. But this year researchers reported discovering water within the minerals of some moon rocks. Not only does this refute the molten moon narrative, but it supports Scripture’s recent and watery lunar origins.

The Moon is mildly damp: see this post for more details. To quote the apostle Peter:

For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were transformed from water, but a little bit was left behind because He wasn’t paying much attention. And when He saw this He left it there, because it would screw with people when they saw it.

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Tim Clarey’s Better Explanation

About a week ago at his blog Naturalis Historia Joel Duff discussed the recent discovery in Argentina of the 240 million year old fossilised remains of a communal dinosaur latrine [EDIT: silly me, they’re not dinosaurs but Dinodontosaurs]. I suggest you go there for the details, but the most important point is that we have a number of sites of ~900 square metres in area and containining tens of thousands of individual coprolites (fossil poop). When originally reading his post I thought to myself that if I ended up writing my own piece on the subject it would be called “giant steaming piles of dinosaur shit” – while I have clearly changed my mind since this will still do for a subtitle, for reasons that will become clear.

Duff asked: “how [do] young earth creationists (YECs) interpret this fossil find?” Timothy L. Clarey, in Digging Into a Fossil Outhouse, provides an answer. He opens his article:

A group of paleontologists reported the discovery of concentrated fields of fossilized dung, called coprolite, in northwest Argentina. The closely-spaced dung piles are seen as evidence of gregarious behavior from large herbivores. However, does the great Flood provide a better explanation? Continue reading

Nathaniel Jeanson’s Null Hypothesis

I’ve been investigating ICR researcher Nathaniel Jeanson’s recent paper in Answers Research Journal, “Recent, Functionally Diverse Origin for Mitochondrial Genes from ~2700 Metazoan Species.” As it’s a topic I’ve seen before I’m going to write about it, but I see this morning that Hemant Mehta at his Friendly Atheist blog has actually beaten me to it, writing “A Creationist’s Desperate Attempt to Sound Like a Credible Scientist.” However Mehta’s post mostly mocks Jeanson, going so far as to dig up a promotional video the ICR made about him, and doesn’t really address his arguments in any detail. All the more for me then. Continue reading

How to Preserve an Ostrich Cell

ArteryWe have a long article – with an even longer back story – today from Brian Thomas, called Dinosaur Soft Tissue Preserved by Blood?

For many years now Mary Higby Schweitzer has been investigating soft tissue and other biomolecular remains from inside dinosaur bones that are 70 million or so years old. For equally many years young Earth creationists like Brian Thomas have been pointing to these soft tissues and insisting that they could not last nearly so long, and so therefore the Earth is young. In this article Thomas says:

The scientific community has long shown its desperation to defend mainstream fossil ages against the short shelf-life of soft-tissue fossils.

This is, of course, a gross mischaracterisation of the debate. Continue reading

The Hongshan Pig Dragons

Ceratopsid skeletonYou may have heard of a new baby ceratopsid skeleton from Alberta, Canada. It’s quite well preserved, is about 70 million years old, and is the smallest skeleton from this group of dinosaurs found. Curiously Brian Thomas turns this into a “dragons were dinosaurs” story, and writes Dinosaur Youngster Looks Like Dragon Figurines. As usual with this topic – in which a creationist claims that a particular artefact or artistic depiction means that its ancient creator saw a real live dinosaur (therefore the Earth is 6,000 years old) – it’s basically impossible to know what the true origin of the image was, but I feel that I can show that there are enough holes in Brian Thomas’ story to demonstrate that his is not the correct explanation.

But before we get to that it’s time for a quotemine alert: Continue reading

Spears of Destiny

Ethiopian spearheadsWe return at last to regular service with a new article by Brian Thomas, Which Came First–the Spear or its Thrower? But first, let us backtrack.

You may remember from October 2012 that Thomas dedicated an article to the Schöningen spears. These are wooden throwing spears found in a coal mine in Germany, and at around 300,000 years old they are commonly billed as the oldest hunting weapons known. Thomas, seeming to believe that they were the oldest tools of any kind, used these artefacts to claim that humans have always had this kind of technology. He said at the time:

If human evolution were true, one would expect to find that the earliest ape-like humans produced clumsy efforts, not the refined tools and artifacts known around the world.

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Reviewing RATE with Vernon R. Cupps

Quark structure of a pionIn the December edition of Acts & Facts, the ICR’s monthly newsletter, there is a profile of Vernon R. Cupps, their newest “research associate.” Cupps is a published nuclear physicist, with a PhD and everything from the Indiana University Cyclotron Facility.

He later spent time at the Los Alamos National Laboratory before taking a position as radiation physicist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, where he directed and supervised a radiochemical analysis laboratory from 1988 to 2011. He is a published researcher with 73 publications, 18 of which are in referred journals.

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There and Back Again: Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON)

ISON remnantOr not, as the case may be. If you haven’t already heard Comet ISON – once hailed as a potential “comet of the century” – has almost certainly fragmented after rounding the Sun and will not be spectacularly gracing our skies over the new year, nor returning to the outer reaches of the solar system intact. In more hopeful times back in late June Brian Thomas published an article called “Ison–The Comet of the Century,” which opened:

In September 2012, a Russian and a Belarusian astronomer using the Kislovodsk Observatory co-discovered a comet heading our way. Comet Ison should become visible to Earth viewers in December 2013 after passing perilously close to the Sun during November. It may even appear brighter than the moon, triggering discussions about when and how comets formed.

Thomas, who paid no attention to what was even then a very real possibility that ISON would break up during its “perilous” perihelion approach, used the comet as a launching pad to promote the young-Earth creationist view that comets prove that the universe is young. But even before fragmenting ISON was not a particularly good poster-boy for this cause. Continue reading

On Top of the World

We seem to be making an overdue time jump into November: Brian Thomas’ article for Monday is called Tibetan Cat Fossil: A Tall Tale? He opens:

An international research team claims to have found the world’s oldest big cat fossil in Tibet, publishing their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Big cats include lions, tigers, jaguars, and even snow leopards from Asia. The team dated several snow leopard-like partial fossils at between 4.1 and 5.95 million years old and a complete skull at around 4.4 million years. But how did the authors obtain these large numbers?

Continue reading