“Let’s quickly review some federal bankruptcy law”

James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D., never disappoints. If haven’t come across him before, and can’t figure it out from the degrees included in his authorship credit, he is the ICR’s main source of bizarre legal analogies, although he has also taken to (usually viking-related) history at times. For his column in the August edition of ICR’s monthly newsletter Acts & Facts he has an article titled “One Bankruptcy, Many Adversaries“:

Theistic evolution is like a mega-bankruptcy case containing an almost countless number of adversaries and contests, like piecemeal mini-lawsuits that in aggregate address smaller conflicts within a large-scale mess. Within this big picture it’s important to keep in mind that every small-scale “contested matter” and every “adversary” conflict is an important opportunity to advocate for truth.

I bring this up not because I intend to go through it in any detail, but because it’s funny. I can’t quite tell whether his argument is that “theistic evolution” is under attack from all sides, or that it is important to attack it from every angle, or indeed that he just wanted to call it “bankrupt” – mega-bankrupt even – but then had to waffle on for a few paragraphs to justify publication this month.

It could well be the latter – he runs out of courtroom trivia mid-way, and has to turn to martial metaphors for aid:

A long war is composed of several strategically influential battles, connected to a network of contributory skirmishes. Likewise, countering the anti-Genesis teachings of theistic evolution involves a complex combination of small-scale opportunities to promote the Genesis record as part of the defense of the faith.

You get the idea – or rather, you don’t. Isn’t he wonderful?

Defining Dinosauria

Owen and Dinornis 1879

Richard Owen poses next to a Dinornis (moa) skeleton in 1879—but is it a dinosaur?

This group, which includes at least three well-established genera of Saurians, is characterized by a large sacrum composed of five anchylosed vertebrae of unusual construction, by the height and breadth and outward sculpturing of the neutral arch of the dorsal vertebrae, but the twofold articulation of the ribs to the vertebrae, viz. at the anterior part of the spine by a head and tubercle, and along the rest of the trunk by a tubercle attached to the transverse process only; by broad and sometimes complicated coracoids and long and slender clavicles, whereby Crocodilian characters of the vertebral organs also exhibit the same transitional or annectent characters in a greater or less degree. The bones of the extremities are of large proportional size, for Saurians; they are provided with large medullary cavities, and with well developed and unusual processes, and are terminated by metacarpal, metatarsal and phalangeal bones, which, with the exception of the ungual phalanges, more or less resemble those of the heavy pachydermal Mammals, and attest, with the hollow long-bones, the terrestrial habits of the species.

That’s how, in 1842, Richard Owen described “a distinct tribe or sub-order of Saurian Reptiles, for which I would propose the name of Dinosauria“, a group of organisms which needs no further introduction. But what, 170 years later, can be properly classified as a dinosaur? Former highschool science teacher Brian Thomas thinks he knows better than today’s scientists. He wrote on Wednesday, in “Four-Winged Dinosaur Definition Doesn’t Fly“: Continue reading