Acts & Facts – November 2012

I think that will do for this month’s edition. It’s already well into December so the usual ICR Acts & Facts page has switched to the next month, but a pdf can be found here and the links are all below anyway. I haven’t already written as much on these articles as I have in past months, so there’s a fair bit here that you haven’t seen before (or at least recently). Note also that November was also the month of the US holiday of ‘Thanksgiving,’ something which I ignored entirely, so expect a lot of articles on that. Continue reading

The Chattanooga Shale

ShaleFor his November geology article John Morris gave a report on the Devonian Chattanooga Shale, which he called an “evolutionary enigma.” According to Morris the “evolutionary” explanations for its formation are all wrong, and the Flood did it.

The most common sedimentary rock type is known as shale, made up of tiny silt or clay particles cemented together. Tiny particles are easily carried along by moving water. Thus, in uniformitarian thinking, shale particles take an inordinate amount of time to fall through a column of water and settle on the bottom, even when the water is completely calm.

To the extent that this is true (it probably is, but I’m no geologist), the conditions under which the sediment that becomes shale falls to the bottom of the water column will be based less on “uniformitarian thinking” so much as the laws of physics and our knowledge of fluid dynamics. Morris never does explain how shale could be laid down in the tumultuous conditions of the Flood, though he assures us they do indeed exhibit evidence of “catastrophic deposition.” Continue reading

Countdown to Extinction

There are only a handful of articles left in the November 2012 edition of Acts & Facts that are worth close inspection. One of these, oddly enough, is by the prolific Brian Thomas. Most of Thomas’ Acts & Facts articles seem to be repeats of stuff that we have already covered, but his November article – Human Mutation Clock Confirms Creation – is a rare exception in that it seems to be largely new. Continue reading

False Counsel

Experts – who needs them? In the face of the sheer number of scientists and other educated people who agree with evolution, creationists need to find some way to dismiss their expertise. Andrew Schlafly has his “best of the public” concept, claiming that these people (generally, those that agree with him) are “better than a group of experts.” For his November 2012 Acts & Facts article James J. S. Johnson too asks What Good Are Experts?

Buried deep within his article Johnson does make some good points about not trusting arguments from authority, especially when the authority is talking about something beyond their area of expertise. But these small nuggets of wisdom – so easy to acquire elsewhere – are few and far between. The bulk of the article, as you might expect, is an entirely nonself-critical attack on the expertise on anyone and everyone who disagrees with the position of Johnson and the ICR. He begins his article like so:

How should we react to “experts” who smugly announce that the Bible is disproven? What about science “authorities” who have assured us that the Higgs boson particle “proves the Big Bang,” contradicting Genesis 1:1? Do experts ever jump to unwarranted conclusions? If so, how do we know? And do experts ever inflate their credibility by stretching their credentials—if a scholar holds an astronomy Ph.D. is that a qualifying reason to believe the man’s opinion about biblical Hebrew?

The Higgs boson reference is cited to Jake Hebert’s September article, covered here. I am yet to find anyone actually making the quoted claim, and it’s unfortunate that the ICR is running with it as if somebody actually did. All in all, not a great start. Continue reading

Bio-Origins Project: Hypothesis Disproven

The full ATP synthase enzymeNow it’s my turn to be smug. In last month’s edition of Acts & Facts “Deputy Director for Life Sciences Research” Nathaniel Jeanson announced that he was investigating differential mutation rates as an explanation for the observed differences in sequence in the same gene in different species. His hypothesis was that God had, in effect, a pool of genes to choose from when he created life. All organisms that needed a specific gene would be given the same one, but the particular genes needed by each would vary. These originally identical genes would then diverge through mutations, with Jeanson using lower generation times as proxies for higher mutation rates. His original supporting evidence came in the form of the mitochondrial ATP-6 genes of the elephant, mouse, and fruit fly.

As I pointed out at the time there are a number of flaws in this hypothesis. For one – despite Jeanson’s claims to the contrary – this process would not necessarily create the observed hierarchy in sequence similarity. More importantly, however, the three animals analysed at that point just happened to have their evolutionary relatedness approximately agree with the predictions of Jeanson’s differential mutation rate model. I predicted that the mere insertion of a fourth animal would ruin the correlation, suggesting a turtle as a good test subject.

The ICR has not tested a turtle, but instead has analysed a large number of mammalian ATP-6 genes. Jeanson has written a new article for the November Acts & Facts edition: Bio-Origins Project Update, Evidence Against Differential Mutation Rates. Continue reading