Proving Religion, Disproving Catholicism?

Wiccan Triple Moon - clearly the Wiccan's are right.A strange article from Brian Thomas: “Evidence of Eternity in Our Hearts?

People believe what they do for a wide variety of reasons, but it seems that some beliefs – politics and religion being being perhaps the most famous – may be in some way “hardwired.” Studying children from Ecuador, a recent paper (pdf, press release) looked at the belief in a “pre-life” of people from indigenous rural and urban catholic society. Thomas explains:

Natalie Emmons and Deborah Kelemen of Boston University conducted two studies on 283 children from Ecuador. They reasoned that survey participants from the jungle lived closer to life and death events and would have biologically based ideas about pre-conception existence, while the Catholic student participants from the city had more exposure to religious teaching that life begins at conception and therefore would “reject the idea of life before birth.” Surprisingly, both groups of students maintained that a core aspect in each person lives even without the body.

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Ark Fight!

An (English) CoracleSo you remember that “round ark” story from a few weeks ago, right? Brian Thomas has finally gotten around to poo-pooing it with an article called “Cuneiform Reed-Ark Story Doesn’t Float.” He begins:

News emerged in 2010 that Irving Finkel, a cuneiform expert at the British Museum, had translated an ancient tablet describing Noah’s Ark as round and built of reeds. Now, Finkel is publishing a book on the find, and news reports again assert the tired tale that the Bible’s authors borrowed a Babylonian flood tale like the one on this tablet and modified it into their “story” of Noah. Babylonian or biblical, round or rectangular—which Ark story stays afloat?

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Brian Thomas Misses the Point

Biston betularia f. carbonariaI could use that headline for every article, but “Fossil Skin Pigment Evolved Three Times?” is a particularly strong example. A new paper in Nature – which you can read all about in this blog post by palaeontologist Shaena Montanari – investigated fossil pigment of three different extinct marine reptiles and concluded that the trait known as melanism had independently evolved in each of them. This is to say that a darker colouring, perhaps for the purposes of heat absorption and retention, was selected for and became dominant in each group of animals separately. But Brian Thomas has apparently misread this to mean that the pigment melanin, which is what produces the colour, independently evolved three times and has written a 13-paragraph article based on this misconception. Continue reading

Spiders: God’s Filter Technicians?

A diagram of the web of the spider Nephila clavipes, which is being focussed on in the paperBrian Thomas writes Magnetic Spider Webs Attract Scientists’ Attention. He means electrical, not magnetic, but we’ll forgive him that one and move on.

Spider webs have electrical properties that help them attract insects: a paper last year noted that positively charged objects are more attracted to the silk than neutral objects. This is unsurprising, as weak electrostatic charges build up all the time simply from different materials rubbing together. Thomas says: Continue reading

Friday Falsehoods #1

You don’t need me to tell you about the upcoming “Ham on Nye” debate – a name with many curious connotations – nor give you my opinion on whether it is a good idea or not. But any aspiring debater needs to be able to almost reflexively parse creationist claims for their most crucial and obvious errors. At present we’re four articles behind, so this is the perfect time to start this series – in future I will probably pull from other, non ICR sources as well.

The format we’ll start off with is to give you a quote from each article to consider, and then (if I can get it to work) you can go to the next page to see what I made of each. Then, head to the comments below to tell me what you would have said. Continue reading

Editorial Insights from a Blind Cavefish

Mexican Tetra as Blind Cave FishYou’ll be wanting to look at this screenshot. The ICR article that we’re looking at (“Blind Cavefish Shed Light on Creation,” by Brian Thomas) looks like that as I write this, but it will almost certainly have changed before you see it.

It has always been clear that the ICR has some form of editing process – the relative paucity of typos, the long publication delay, and the fact that for them to do otherwise would be unprofessional being the more obvious clues – but I’ve long been interested in learning about it. This article has been misposted in an annotated draft form, and provides clues I never thought I’d see. My sincere thanks, then, to whoever made the mistake, and I hope nobody gets annoyed with you for it. Continue reading

Duon and Duoff

DNA UV mutation

Attentive viewers will note that this illustration – like Tomkins’ stock photo – is left handed.

Welcome to 2014! I hope you have all had time to settle in a little, and are ready to begin the year afresh. As always, in the event of an earthquake take cover under your desks and then exit through the doors at the front and back in an orderly fashion after the shaking ends. If there is a fire, leave immediately and do not panic. If both occur simultaneously, hope.

Our topic is, as always, the Institute for Creation Research: as such 2013 is not yet over for us. Today the subject is December’s infamous ‘duons’, and the Creation Science Update by Jeffrey Tomkins is called “Duons: Parallel Gene Code Defies Evolution.” Continue reading

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

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