Dinosaurs! (Flood Part #2)

Arguably the most entertaining part of any creationist Global Flood model is where the dinosaurs come in to it. Indeed, as John Morris himself asks for our introductory article, How Do The Dinosaurs Fit In? Let’s find out…

Velociraptor mongoliensis

Continue reading

ICR and the Time Before the Flood (Flood Part #1)

So what does the ICR believe about the Flood?

Quite a lot of interesting stuff, to judge by my newly expanded (and easily updateable) page with the list of known ICR articles on the flood. There is so much stuff to wade through that this has had to become a series of articles from the original planned (and I use that word loosely) single article.

We will begin, then, with their beliefs about what the world looked like before the Flood: Continue reading

Limits to Evolution and an Out of Place Fossil – Quick DpSU 14 June

Our first DpSU is entitled “The Cost of Adaptations Limits Evolution“. This seems to be a classic Micro/Macro Evolution story, and by my reckoning a Type AE DpSU (Misrepresented Study).

Or in this case, studies. Mr Thomas is talking about two studies from a recent issue of the journal Science in which bacteria (Methylobacterium and E. coli) were experimented upon, with the researches investigating the effects of multiple mutations on Epistasis. Epistasis, btw, is (to quote WP) “the phenomenon where the effects of one gene are modified by one or several other genes, which are sometimes called modifier genes.” Interestingly, the ICR article does not mention the word Epistasis anywhere outside of it’s references.

The problem I have with this article is that I don’t have access to any part of the studies beyond the abstract, so I’m a bit limited about what I can say.

To distil the ICR article down somewhat, what the studies seem to show is that, as beneficial mutations accumulate, their benefits decrease, causing a diminishing returns situation. And this disproves evolution how? Mr Thomas extrapolates this to say that animals only have a limited ability to evolve. So Baraminology is out the door then? Definiately an AE, though I don’t have the time to deconstruct the article.

As for the second, “Out of Place Marine Fossil Disrupts Evolutionary Index“.

The science behind this is that a group of animals from the Cambrian period, the Anomalocaridids, have been shown to have survived significantly longer. It might be added that we already knew that to a certain degree, but that wont stop Mr Thomas.

No, a new discovery shows (according to him) that the whole ‘Evolutionary Index’ is unreliable, as Anomalocaridids are a defining feature of Cambrian rocks, indeed make Cambrian rocks Cambrian. There is, however, no reference to that claim, which would help. He also claims that Noah’s flood predicts that fossils should be disorganised, and that this is a prime example of that. I’ll cover this kind of thing in my Noah’s Ark series shortly, but I’ll add here that the Flood would disorganise fossils a whole lot more than is observed.

Thomas also throws in a declaration that the fossils found are already perfect, and therefore could not evolve further and could not have been evolved either — therefore God (spot the logical fallacy anyone?). Also, he says that “no anomalocaridid looks like an evolutionary transition”. *sigh*. What is an evolutionary transition by Mr Thomas’ unknown definition anyway. A ‘transition’ looks no different from any other fossil, and is defined only by the prior discovery of fossils that have the potential to be ancestors/aunts and descendants/nieces of the new discovery. If you find fossils in a different order, different fossils are classified as ‘transitional’.

And that’s all I have time for tonight…

Flood ‘Evidence’ Raises More Questions Than It Answers

Yes, I thought I’d try and see if I could come up with a DpSU style headline myself, and I reckon I did pretty well…

I was (almost) lead to believe that we’d be reviewing the evidence for Catastrophism in general in this article (it was titled Worldwide Catastrophic Evidence is Everywhere after all), but, as I expected, it’s all (yes, all) about the flood. Which is odd, considering the next article is entitled “Much Evidence Exists for a Worldwide Flood“. This is not surprising, really, considering that most of the stuff that is making geologists blend Catastrophism into their explanations are rather unpalatable to Creationists. The K-T impact wouldn’t really help their case, you understand.

To go over the meat of the article:

Fault surfaces that contain zones characterized by microbreccias and pseudotachylite are evidences for rapid displacements.

And why is this evidence? You need to explain this, rather than tossing out science-sounding words… I’m guessing they’re talking about sedimentary layers containing breccia, which is apparently a bit like concrete with rocks in it, where the pseudotachylite” here is presumably the concrete (It is also associated with impact craters, but I doubt that’s what they’re talking about here).

Beveled surfaces below, within, and above thick strata sequences provide evidence of rapid flood and post-flood erosion. Sheetform beveled surfaces below and within thick strata sequences provide evidence of widespread sediment sublimation during a global flood (e.g., the paraconformity between Coconino Sandstone and Hermit Shale on Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon).

According to wikipedia, “A beveled edge refers to an edge of a structure that is not perpendicular to the faces of the piece.” What “sediment sublimation” is supposed to mean I don’t actually know – search for it in google in quote-marks and this article is top of the list! Paraconformity is “a type of unconformity in which strata are parallel; there is little apparent erosion and the unconformity surface resembles a simple bedding plane.” (source)

What the author seems to be saying is that the flood caused rapid laying down of sediment and it’s partial erosion, followed by more sediment. This isn’t evidence for the Flood so much as interpreting the evidence from the perspective of the Flood having happened, a key difference. None of this can’t explained by other means.

As further evidence for the worldwide nature of the flood, ancient human cultures across the globe appear to possess legends recounting a great global flood.

Classic argumentum ad populum here – just because lots of people believe it, doesn’t make it true. See wikipedia on the potential origins of the Flood myths of the world.

I’m going to combine the next few articles together with some “Related Articles” to comprehensibly cover (or thereabouts) the ICR’s position on the flood. As I alluded to in the title of this post, there are a few questions I want answered about the flood (in no apparent order):

  • Where did all the water come from?
  • Where did it go?
  • How high was the water?
  • If the water completely altered the landscape, why does Genesis 2 talk about the Euphrates and Tigris, which presumably did not exist at the time?
  • How do they explain sediments that have been turned and then had more sediments put on top of them?
  • How long did the planet take to dry out after all that time?
  • How did the flood erode the grand canyon but fail to erode the entire earth?
  • How come fossils are generally consistent with regards to their position in the geologic record
  • It is sometimes said that animals were initially not carnivorous before the flood – does the ICR believe this and what is there explanation for dinosaurs fossilised with their dinner inside them?
  • How are there different layers in sediments if they were all laid down largely together?
  • Why do some places have different layers than others?
  • What was the salinity of the flood-waters?
  • What happened to the oceanic currents during the flood?
  • Why isn’t there sediment from the Flood all over Antarctica?
  • Why can’t we see the flood as a major disturbance in ice core samples?
  • How permafrost formed between the Flood and now when it is thought to take far, far longer?
  • Why there isn’t huge amounts of DNA in fossils, far more than the measly specks that Brian Thomas is so fond of seizing on?
  • Why Dendrochronology (tree rings as gauge of climate) can extend back for more than 10 thousand years without noticing any global flood?
  • How you get footprints in the Coconino Sandstone mentioned above? It’s neither the top nor bottom layer in the sequence – I presume that it was still under water (I’m talking about Lizard footprints here).
  • How all that extra Iridium got into the K-T layer, but not any of the others?
  • Why don’t we have a layer of petrified wood at the bottom of the sediment, but nothing of that nature above it?

And probably a few million more also, which I can’t think of right now.

I also have a few questions about the Noah’s Ark aspect, some of which I have mentioned before:

  • The whole the-whole-thing-couldn’t-actually-float-if-made-from-contemporary-materials thing?
  • What they fed the animals on?
  • How a colony of bees is supposed to recover from a population of a single queen and a useless drone? \
  • How small flightless birds such as the kiwi are supposed to have gotten from the far corners of the earth to Mesopotamia in time to catch a boat, and then back again?
  • What all the trees were doing at the time?
  • Where did they put all the faeces?
  • Are Dinosaurs “Birds of the Heavens” and therefore require not 1 but seven pairs of each “Kind”? Where do you draw the line?
  • Do you really believe all this stuff about dinosaurs and dragons?
  • Define “Kind” anyway…

And so on. I don’t mean to Gish Gallop, I just want to see what is left by the end…

Amber and Embryos – DpSU’s, May 30

There have been some rather amusing articles from Mr Thomas in the last few days…

To summarise the first, a CT scan of a 49 million year old spider trapped in amber (video) apparently challenges evolution, largely on the grounds that

  1. The spider’s relatives haven’t noticeably changed over the millennia, and
  2. The amber has rapidly oxidised and turned opaque since being found in 1854 – how can it have been 49 million years old?
  3. The Baltic Amber was caused by the Flood, as “a large deposit [of amber, such as in the Baltic,] implies massive damage to whole forests that was catastrophic enough to trap even “strong, quick animals.” This kind of broad-scale destruction is consistent with the global Flood or its residual catastrophes.”

The first is interesting – how much can you expect the surface of a spider to change over a few millennia, compared to another spider in the same genus? Considering, you understand, that you can’t see the colour and the specimen isn’t complete in all respects. I dunno myself, but I doubt it’s that much. As time passes, major changes in organism groups are decreasingly common, and spiders had been around for nearly 200 million years when the amber here was made. Thomas tried to make a similar argument not too long ago, when he claimed that horsetails hadn’t evolved much since the time of the dinosaurs (150 million years ago, in this case). Again, this isn’t unbelievable. What would be useful here is DNA for comparison, and despite what you might have seen on Jurrassic Park this is unfortunately not possible for either the horsetail or the spider specimen. This hardly “Confirms Creation”. It is also worth noting that the whole “Punctuated Evolution” saga is over the degree to which evolution occurs in bursts, nobody feels that evolution occurs “relentlessly”, even if more the most part mutations do.

As for the second, this is claimed to be a killing blow but in reality is glossed over somewhat. Thomas claims that “there are no known rock types that are able to totally block oxygen from passing through them”, which may well be true, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the amount (or lack of) oxygen is sufficient to slow the rate of oxidation by orders of magnitude. Considering that it still took 150 or so years to turn opaque while out in the air, how long would it take under anaerobic conditions? Probably quite a while, I think. Tellingly, a section of a paper that I am unable to access states that “The high content of organic matter in the sediments [which sediments I don’t know] favours the preservation of amber by preventing its oxidation and destruction. Otherwise, in aerobic conditions, during pre-transport exposure to the atmosphere or reworking processes, amber oxidation takes place quickly”. Interesting…

The Flood reference seems a little out of place, or at least poorly backed up. It may well be true that amber appears as a result of catastrophe, but I can’t see how this could be caused by “the global Flood or its residual catastrophes”, the nature of which are not specified by Thomas or the Bible as far as I am aware. Indeed, Thomas provides no challenge to the dating of the amber at 49 million years, nor the insects in other pieces of amber, which are indeed different to their present forms.

As for the second, “Embryonic Tissue Development Needs More than Just DNA“, therefore God. Something like that, anyway…

I can’t claim to be an expert in this (or anything else), so I’ll take it that Thomas has faithfully reported the study that he is using for a source, and is merely adding his own interpretation. What he is claiming the study shows that if you stimulate muscle contractions in roundworms with a needle, you can cause stem cells to differentiate into epithelial cells. Fair enough, but then Thomas goes on to claim that this means that not all embryonic development is caused by DNA, and even further as to say that:

…the fact that specific elements other than DNA—in this case, nearby cells and their contractile motions—are required for proper development removes evolution from contention as a possible origins hypothesis, since evolution supposedly operates by making changes to DNA.[ref to own article] So if something other than DNA is needed to develop and sustain life forms, then evolution is out.

So, what causes these contractions in nature? (I’m assuming they do occur in nature, though it doesn’t necessarily follow). It’s possible that it comes back to DNA. Even if not, Thomas is attacking a straw man of evolution, in which DNA is the only agent of heredity. It doesn’t have to be – Darwin sure didn’t know about DNA or genes, and anything that permits “descent with modification” can be incorporated into the system. After all, why wouldn’t it be? Imagine, for a moment, that we’re talking mammals instead of minute invertebrates, and that the cause of the muscle contractions is the precise chemical composition of the fluids in the womb. Most likely, the make-up of this fluid is determined by the mother’s genes – evolution can still occur. If it comes from the food she eats, that is still determined by genes. Hypothetically it could come from an approximate synthesis of the fluid the mother experienced in the womb herself, but even here evolution can still occur, although DNA is no longer involved to such a degree. Mistakes can still be made, and Natural Selection can still punish them. Thomas needs to show that the only possible explanation of the roundworm muscle contractions is divine – Evolution can still act on anything else, except possibly direct environmental influence, but if this was generally harmful to the organism, it can be evolved away from, or if not the species will simply die off. Will he do it? Lets see…

…He doesn’t. Instead he goes off on a tangent with a dangerously large example of irreducible complexity. I.C is usually invoked for the very small, such as bacterial flagella, not for things as large as roundworms and other multicellular creatures, as it makes it more plausible that the arch really would collapse if one stone was removed. This makes it even more likely that this, like most – if not all – other examples of I.C. raised over the years, simply isn’t irreducibly complex. I couldn’t tell you if that was the case, however, so I’ll assume that the situation is indeed I.C. It would seem likely, then, that instead of a simpler origin to the situation, it began (or at least went through a period of being) far more complex, inefficient and redundant. As time and evolution passed, it became simpler and simpler until it could do so no more, like a mountain eroded down to a single, beautiful rock. As a result, it fits the definition of ‘irreducibly complex’, but has still evolved. As you would expect, Thomas does not mention this, and merely finishes thusly:

So, what does it take to make epithelial tissue in roundworms, and possibly in other creatures? The answer is: precisely the right DNA, the right hemidesmosomes, the right kinds of nearby muscle cells, and the right strength and duration of muscle contractions. Without all these features already in place and fine-tuned to work together, there would be no epithelial tissue, and as a result, no surviving creature.

Skin development could not have evolved by a gradual addition of traits, because this would require a version of the animal that did not already have all the required traits. Such a transitional form would have died, and the animal would not exist today. And since it certainly exists, it must have been created.

*sigh* And to think I thought irreducible complexity was dead…

Quick DpSU’s #1

Here’re some quickies:

Self-Cloning Lizards Fit for Survival

So, some lizards can reproduce by a system akin to cloning – parthenogenesis – and this can be created in the lab. Also, “evolution has no useful explanation for the origin of sexual reproduction, let alone unisexual.”

This isn’t useful in itself. Sure, the field is not settled, but what is? Ironically, the article itself gives us an idea for an explanation for why a species could reproduce both sexually and asexually:

It would make sense that a Creator would have endowed these egg-laying vertebrates with the potential to perpetuate themselves even in the event that a male was unavailable.

It would also make sense that a species could have both abilities due to natural selection. And anyway, the actions of a ‘Creator’ can always be made to ‘make sense’ in the light of new evidence. How is this a ‘useful explanation’?

Sounds like another “you can’t explain therefore God” article.

‘Old’ Galaxy Found in ‘Young’ Part of the Universe

According to Mr Brian Thomas, M.S., the author of most of the science related DpSU’s, a distant galaxy imaged via gravitational lensing as it was 800 million years after the Big bang is too modern in appearance to be from that time period, calling the whole Big Bang theory into question, claiming that “In the common conception of stellar evolution, 200 million years is not enough time for the Big Bang’s randomly distributed gases to have coalesced into well-formed stars and galaxies.” That the reference for this is, interestingly enough, from one or Mr Thomas’ own articles from about a year ago, which doesn’t provide any references of its own that would back up Thomas’ present claim. Even more interestingly, the citation has the following statement beside it:

Actually, the addition of time does not make star formation any more feasible. Since a nearby exploding star would be necessary to form a new star naturally, it stands to reason that the first stars—and therefore the galaxies that they inhabit—must have been intentionally created.

I was under the impression that the very earliest stars did not need any stellar shock waves to start off – they coalesced out of the abundant hydrogen and were very large, lasted for only a short while and blew up in a spectacular fashion, providing plenty of energy to get any nearby stars that did need a good jolt moving. It would also make sense if the reason why modern stars need such a shock is that, if they didn’t, the would’ve already have formed. I could be wrong, mind.

Original Study: (pdf)

Thomas’ source articles: here and here

He also seems worried (if that is the right word) about this new galaxy having “well-defined edges”. I’m not sure how he can tell (a more zoomed in picture doesn’t help), and I can’t find his source for that.

Evolutionary Leftovers in DNA? Not So, Says New Study

This is basically about Junk DNA (the titular Evolutionary Leftovers) which other people are covering in far more detalil than I am at the moment, so I’ll defer you to one of them

And finally, T. Rex Toddler Answers Noah’s Ark Questions

What? The whole the-whole-thing-couldn’t-actually-float-if-made-from-contemporary-materials thing? Or what they fed the animals on? How a colony of bees is supposed to recover from a population of a single queen and a useless drone? How small flightless birds such as the kiwi are supposed to have gotten from the far corners of the earth to Mesopotamia in time to catch a boat, and then back again? What all the trees were doing at the time? What the salinity of the water during the flood was, and what all the fish that didn’t like that amount did during that time? How the flood managed to carve out the grand canyon in one go without stripping the topsoil off the entire world at the same time? Where all that water came from, and where it went (without invoking divine intervention)? And for that matter, where did they put all the feces?

Apparently not. The article is trying to counter the old claim that there wouldn’t be enough room for all the animals on the ark, and does so in two ways.

  1. There could have been juveniles on the ark, rather than adults (hence the tying in with a new discovery of a “T. Rex Toddler”), cutting down on the space per animal (never mind infant mortality)
  2. There was only one pair of every kind on board, and so cutting down on the number of animals needed to be taken.

I haven’t done that math, but I doubt number one does anything to help the situation. On a related note, are Dinosaurs ‘clean’, and do they count as birds? (I know bats do). If so, then Noah needed not one but seven pairs of each.

As for number two, this is shaky ground. If only one pair of each kind was on board, then in the intervening period between then and now millions of species would have had to evolve, at a much faster rate than any ‘Evilutionist’ has suggested actually happens. And this from people who reject evolution utterly as having never been observed…