Acts & Facts – October 2012

It is less than a week into the month of October and we have already reached the end of the articles worth analysing in any depth in the latest edition of Acts & Facts. It’s time then to take a look at all of the articles in context. For future reference the pdf of this months newsletter is located here.


Page 3: The Enduring Value of Words (Jayme Durant)

The gist of the editor’s column this month, after you get past the story about her great grandmother going into a retirement home, is that the ICR plans to release two new books this season. One is by Brad Forlow, and will be called Biology and the Bible – my guess is that this will most likely be pamphlet sized, and even that will be pushing it. The other is by John Morris, called The Global Flood: Unlocking Earth’s Geologic History. While most likely just have more of the same kind of stuff found in other young Earth creationist geology-related books, as I haven’t read any of those before it might be interesting to get my hands on. I still need to do Tomkins’ book, however, so it would have to be added to the end of an ever-lengthening queue.

Continue reading

Introducing Guliuzzism

How giraffes got long necks: The most important evolutionary question out thereIn the Randy Guliuzza lecture video that I analysed last week I missed out a few things. Somewhere in there, for example, he talks about how angels are immaterial and information has no weight. Mentioned, but glossed over, was Guliuzza’s description of the process of adaptation, which I described as “eerily reminiscent” of Lamarckism. Fortunately his October Acts & Facts article, Engineered Adaptability, elaborates further.

I did say that it was Lamarckian, but having looked over the definitions I have changed my mind. The most famous aspect of Lamarckism is that it involves the “inheritance of acquired characteristics,” such as a baby giraffe having a longer neck because its parents intentionally stretched theirs to get at food. I can’t detect traces of this in Guliuzza’s article, and he instead focuses on the concept of adaptation being innate. The closest existing concept that I can find to this is orthogenesis, but not being completely solid on definitions I’ll Christian Randy’s self-described “radically new paradigm for adaptation” Guliuzzism.

Before we get to what Guliuzzism actually is, however, we have an opening paragraph to dissect:

Doctors, lawyers, and engineers. Engineers always seem to take third place in the list of esteemed professions. Exciting television programs feature skilled surgeons or smooth, well-dressed defense attorneys, but engineers are not primetime stars. That’s too bad, because they do exciting work, as reflected in one school’s motto, “Cool stuff doesn’t just make itself.”

I don’t know about ‘esteem,’ but judging by the ratings by trust at least this is a rather strange ranking. Continue reading

Rosie Webel

I don’t think it’s a trend (I can’t even give you other specific examples, my archives are a little too long to quickly search), but I feel like non-YEC forms of creationism are being targeted by the ICR of late. Today we have gap creationism, which claims a significant temporal “gap” between the creation of the universe in Genesis 1:1 and the creation story that continues beyond it. James J. S. Johnson calls this idea a “Trojan Horse.”

I don’t know anything about gap theory beyond what I’ve read in Johnson’s article, information that I naturally hold as suspect. I get the impression that you can have a good argument over whether the scriptures do or don’t support the idea, while from a purely scientific standpoint it seems like a very strange thing to believe. So I really make no comment here, and I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not this attack on one creationist belief by another is a fair criticism. It’s all the same to me, really. Continue reading

In Search of a Turtle

It has only been a month, but Nathaniel Jeanson already has an ‘update’ on his Bio-Origins Project (see here for last month) – Bio-Origins Project Update, Hypothesizing Differential Mutation Rates. Here’s how he opens:

You might expect that the same gene in different creatures would have the same sequence. Surprisingly, this is not so.

See, I wouldn’t expect that (I wouldn’t want to just assume the opposite in all cases either, however). I can’t speak for any creationists, however, so perhaps this is a new revelation for them? Continue reading

Something Happened

To research for his October Acts & Facts article, Evolution: It Just Happened, about all Frank Sherwin seems to have done is run a search of the academic literature for the phrase “something happened.” He has compiled a small collection: his first is from the “prestigious secular journal Nature.“*

A recent issue of the secular science journal Nature includes research by molecular palaeobiologist Kevin Peterson in which he questions the traditional evolutionary tree of mammals, stating it is all wrong. The data Peterson uses are based on a molecule called microRNA (miRNA). This is just one of several kinds of ribonucleic acids that control the expression of genes. Peterson’s miRNA interpretation breaks away from the traditional Darwinian view that people are more closely related to cows, dogs, and elephants than to rodents.

Peterson’s conclusions are interesting, I have to say, but not overly compelling. Continue reading

Dendrochronology

Some unidentified tree ringsDendrochronology is, of course, the method of using tree rings to date things. Our records go back as far as 11,000 years in some cases, which is incredibly useful for archaeological purposes and as a side effect also demonstrates that such dates existed to boot – you can see how that might worry young Earth creationists. For his October Acts & Facts article John D. Morris wants to talk about Tree Ring Dating and its problems.

Several species of trees live almost indefinitely. The giant sequoia trees of California are known to live over 3,000 years, discerned through tree ring dating. Under normal circumstances, woody trees add one ring per year. A ring typically consists of a light-colored growth portion and a dark-colored portion produced in a stabilization season. However, some trees do not produce annual rings at all, especially those in temperate or tropical regions.

Actually, it is those that are in temperate regions that produce the best rings, as the seasonal changes in growth are the clearest. Morris needs to show us that dating via this method is unreliable. You’ll note the lack of specifics on his part. Continue reading