Researching Creation

June 12, 2010

Biological Change / A Home Microbiology Lab

JB

Just found this site and thought someone here might find it interesting.  Especially interesting is this page, with instructions on how to setup a kitchen microbiology lab.

Here is a virtual lab.

May 21, 2010

General / BSG 2010 Conference - Register Today!

JB

Registration for the 2010 BSG Conference is now open!  I'm excited - Creation research is not a very hot topic in my city, so I rarely have people to talk about new ideas with.  So I get excited when the BSG conference rolls around, because I get to spend some time listening, thinking, and talking about God's creation with other interested researchers.  I'm giving either one or two talks this year (one has been accepted, the other is still in review). 

If any of you are interested, please come!  I love meeting readers.  In addition, the conference will be at Truett-McConnell college, where Kurt Wise is setting up a Creation research center.  It should be fun!

Register Here -- it's only $90 for students ($120 for everyone else), and includes a room!

May 12, 2010

General / Team Creation Award with Folding @ Home

For those of you who don't know, Stanford has a research project called "Folding@Home" which utilizes extra computing power on people's computers to make a massively parallel computer for doing research on protein folding.  Back when I owned a PS3, I used to run this all the time, and started "team creation" for keeping score.  Now, however, Dan Watts has been leading team creation, and has just generated a score of 1,000,000 points!  Click here to view the team information, and click here to view the certificate. 

If you want to be involved in this project, download the software, and then put in team number 59478 to be a part of our team.

May 12, 2010

Discussions around the Web / So much information!

JB

There is so much going on, it is difficult to keep track of!  Unfortunately, I am, yet again, left without time to make adequate reflection, so I'm just going to give a dump.

And, with that, my browser windows are much happier now.

 

 

 

 

May 05, 2010

Biological Change / The Cognitum, Pt. 1

JB

The "cognitum" is a concept in creation taxonomy that groups animals according to the perceptions that humans have about those creatures.  I have been a fan of the idea of the cognitum since I first heard about it from Sanders and Wise's paper at ICC.  The goal is to develop a standard of taxonomy based specifically on human perception, and not at all on other standards such as genetic data or morphology.

I found this idea extremely intuitive.  There is obviously the Biblical reason that Adam was given to naming each kind that God created.  Therefore, perhaps God gave Adam (and by extension the rest of us) the power to discern important relationships.  It is interesting, for instance, that even children can usually tell, from a simple drawing, the difference between a cat and a dog, despite their relatively similar morphology, combined with the simpleness of the drawing.  The same child can, at least by Sanders and Wise's paper, look at a more bizarre representative of the cat family and still identify it as a cat. 

But, I think there is another point worth looking at.  When there is a debate about the phylogeny of a species on whether it should be grouped according to its morphology vs. its DNA sequences, how is such a decision decided (or for that matter, when any two trees are in conflict)?  I think few people think about how tough a question this is.  No one saw the type of animals who were the current animals' ancestor.  Therefore, we must lean on secondary evidence.  But if the secondary evidence is in conflict, there seems to be some sort of a faculty in the human mind that makes such discernments.  It is neither perfect nor consistent, but nonetheless it is there.

Sanders and Wise's paper has a whole host of interesting points:

  • Most taxonomies (scientific or folk) have animals which are at a "fuzzy boundary" - that is, they "kind of" belong to one or more other groups, but have features that separate them quite significantly.  Paleoherbs, for instance, have a mixture of features from the two main groups of flowering plants - monocots and dicots, and so are in the fuzzy boundary
  • The idea of the fuzzy boundary allows us to apply fuzzy-set theory to biosystematics
  • Classification is an important part of human experience
  • Most lay people can recognize multiple species as belonging to the same general type, even in somewhat more difficult cases
  • Most societies employ four or five hierarchical levels of taxonomy, utilize only the outermost levels for their naming, and reserve the fifth level of taxonomy for minor variants.  This is interesting if one considers the true distinct "kinds" to exist at these levels of naming, and not at the higher ones.
  • The cat family, for instance, seems to be a holobaramin, yet certain other animals (meercats and hyaenas) elicit a distinct "felid" response from humans.  Why is that?
  • Species probably expanded to fill a pre-defined biological character space, which is one way God communicates His design to humans
  • The adaptive radiation and refilling of the earth after the flood to fill biological character space probably produced some overlap from different groups
  • As part of understanding God's design, we should examine how far the parts of God's design can be modified without disrupting the "gestalt" pattern that is recognizable.
  • We can compare the underlying functions associated with an organism's "gestalt" with the variation of functions present within a cognitum
  • The cognitum concept lies in continuity with the platonic view of biology which predominated the pre-Darwinian era.  Creationists should revisit many of these taxonomical concepts to see which ones we need to incorporate into the modern Creation viewpoint.
  • With the cognitum concept in mind, we should evaluate the genetic basis of different patterns and identify the genomic constraints that restrict the distribution of patterns
  • How and why are larger cognita chained together by a fuzzy boundary?
  • Is there some line after which fuzzy boundaries give way to clear-cut phylogeny?  Might this help draw the line for baramins?
  • Hopefully, as the cognitum concept is studied we will learn to differentiate homoplasy (cross-line similarity) due to separate origins from homoplasy from genetic recombination within the same cognitum.
  • We need to look into the cognitive neuroscience of gestalt formation in the human mind
  • Is there a relationship between human memory capacity and the structure of the biological world (i.e. so that humans can comprehend it)
  • Cognita could be used to identify basic baramins and inclusions for baramins before we have a good breeding/morphological/genetic analysis

Anyway, as you can see, there were a lot of things that jumped out at me. 

I also had a thought - I wonder if the "fuzzy boundary" organisms might have originated in locations with a low diversity of species.  So, basically, an organism "sensed" the lack of biological character space, and then morphed to fill it.

It is interesting to compare this notion of taxonomy with a study on <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1635482/?tool=pubmed">adaptive radiations in cichlid fish</a>.  I have not read it in detail (a commenter on UD pointed me to it), but the abstract says, "The evidence suggests that speciation rate declines through time as niches get filled up during adaptive radiation: young radiations and early stages of old radiations are characterized by high rates of speciation, whereas at least 0.5Myr into a radiation speciation becomes a lot less frequent."

But even more interesting is this statement -- "The available data suggest that the propensity to undergo adaptive radiation in lakes evolved sequentially along one branch in the phylogenetic tree of African cichlids, but is completely absent in other lineages."

This indicates that there might be a "basal-type" species which is presumably more similar to ark-based species than others, from whom adaptive radiations tend to take place.  This would be super-awesome if it is true.

Sanders also has a newer paper out on the application of the cognitum, but I haven't had time to read it yet.  Wood has a basic overview for those interested.  A quote from Wood quoting Sanders:

What is most striking from the results compiled in Appendix A is the high level of support by the molecular data for the circumscription of the core groups of most of the primary cognita identified. ... This suggests that the core groups of primary cognita are units that are generally internally consistent morphologically, as well as genomically. ... The decoupling of molecular similarities from morphological similarities just above the family/order level suggests that the circumscribed core groups of cognita at this level or the subfamily/family level may closely reflect the constitution of holobaramins represented by them. In fact, more precise methods of documenting both the decoupling of morphological and molecular characters and mosaic recombination of these characters, so easily depicted in a cognitum system, may eventually prove to serve as a criterion in delimiting holobaramins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 08, 2010

Activism / Help Ian Win a New Car!

JB

Ian Juby, who has posted here on occasion, is in a contest to win a new car.  Vote for him here!  This will help him greatly in his Creation ministry.

April 07, 2010

Discussions around the Web / Future Directions of CORE Research and More

JB

Sorry for the lack of posting.  This is my last semester in seminary, and I'm focusing on that.  Anyway, here's some stuff that I found rather interesting:

There was a lot more if you count Journal of Creation papers and CRSQ papers, but I don't have time to get into them now.  Hopefully this will keep you busy for a while!

March 26, 2010

General / New BSG Newsletter and Kolbe Center UK Speaking Tour

JB

The BSG (Creation Biology Study Group) just released their latest members-only newsletter.  Take a look!  If you are not a BSG member, why not join today?

In other news, the Kolbe Center just announced a UK speaking tour.  Hugh Owen and Tim Murnane will be speaking at several churches throughout the area.  Here is their tentative schedule (use their website for definitive details):

Friday, April 16, 6:30-9:30 p.m.  Edinburgh

Saint Andrew's
Belford Road,
Ravelston

Contact: holyfamilyapostolate@googlemail.com 

Saturday, April 17, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.  Edinburgh

Church Hall,
St. Brides Hall
Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral
31 Coursington Rd. 
Motherwell 
ML1 1PP

Contact: holyfamilyapostolate@googlemail.com

Sunday, April 18, Time 3:00 - 6:00 p.m.  Glasgow

(with Benediction and Dinner to follow for all participants!)

Church Hall of:Immaculate Heart of Mary,
162 Broomfield Road
Glasgow
G21 3UE

Contact: holyfamilyapostolate@googlemail.com 

Tuesday, April 20, 7.00 - 9.30 p.m.  Birmingham

Maryvale Institute
Maryvale House
Old Oscott Hill 
Birmingham. 

Contact:: Adrian Dulston paul.dulston@virgin.net

Wednesday, April 21.  Salisbury

Location: TBA

Contact: TBA

Thursday, April 22, 7-9 p.m.  Nottingham 

Church of the Assumption
25 Foster Avenue
Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1AE 

Contact: pm.dakin@hotmail.co.uk

Friday, April 23, 7-9:30 p.m.  Spalding, Lincolnshire

St Margaret's Church Hall
Main Road
Quadring 
Spalding, Lincolnshire
PE11 4PW

Saturday, April 24 OR Sunday, April 25.  London

Location: TBA

Contact: TBA

 

March 16, 2010

General / Gerald Schroeder and the Science of God

JB

I just finished reading Schroeder's The Science of God: the Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom.  It's a really good book, though I have not done an in-depth reading.  Please take this review with a grain of salt, as there may be parts of the book that I haven't read which I should.

While Schroeder probably doesn't consider himself a part of the ID camp (one of his videos, for instance, is titled "beyond Intelligent Design", though he makes the same arguments as the ID'ers), the book's take on evolution is almost entirely from the perspective of front-loaded evolution, and ID concept.  In fact, a good substitute for the book is just reading Mike Gene's blog or the Telic Thoughts website, though each of these lack the insights of Jewish mysticism that Schroeder brings in.  In fact, he even favorably cites Michael Behe.

The fundamental point of the book is that the advances in physics and biology of the last 30 years have actually put science and the Bible much closer together - and even closer still if one interprets the Bible through the eyes of Jewish mystics throughout the centuries (frequently referencing the Kaballah, Rashi, and Maimonides).

He faults Creationists for taking Genesis literally when it should not be taken that way.  In fact, he even argues that Moses said that it should not be taken that way, citing Deut. 31:19, 31:30, and 32:44 (apparently because Moses referenced a "song", though he was not explicit).

The problem I have with Schoeder's book is not that it's evolutionary.  I really don't care that much.  The problem is that he recognizes that the last 70 years or so have brought lots of information that bring science into corroboration with scripture, and in every case argues for this citing modern scientific facts.  However, he fails to make what I think is the necessary leap.  He never says that there in fact might be things in the Bible which are against modern science which are nonetheless true.

Think about this for a minute.  Let's say that Schroeder wrote his book 70 years ago, with the evidence which was available 70 years ago.  Would he have argued the same way, and for the same positions?  The meaning of scripture, whatever it is, has not changed in the last 70 years.  What has?  Science!  So, while Schroeder documents many ways in which science is conforming itself to scripture, he leaves out any mention of where he thinks that the Bible is currently correct and science is not. 

If he were arguing for the same interpretations of scripture 70 years ago, his book would have to be replete with examples where the interpretation of the Bible was going against current science.  Likewise, if the Bible is true, no matter what method of interpretation you use, there would likely be some way in which the Bible's truth is different than modern science, unless he is arguing something distinct about the last 70 years which has finally finished the connection between science and scripture.

But he never really goes there, except, in a minor way, over the nature of humanity, which is probably more of a philosophical issue than a biblical one. 

Regarding creationism, he correctly notes that the account of the Earth being created 6,000 years ago is infinitely closer to the current scientific age than the age supposed by the steady-state universe theory that preceded the Big Bang (i.e. infinity).  But, given that, why is it such a stretch to think that a change in understanding might not take it the rest of the way?  If Einstein rewrote physics after Michelson said that all of physics was basically known, why could not the same thing happen for natural history?

So, while the book was very good, I could not find a place in it where Schroeder took the argument to its necessary conclusion - that there might somewhere be something in scripture which is both true and contrary to modern science.  He just never goes there, but it is nonetheless the logical outcome of his view.

That is one of the reasons I am so hopeful about Creationism, despite its many problems.  The history of science has been steadily marching closer and closer to Biblical truth.  Therefore, there is no reason to pawn away the remainder.  In fact, Biblical truth gives us a head start in science, precisely because we have many pieces of knowledge not in possession by secular science.  Why not use that head start and do research rather than wait several hundred years for science to catch up?

[NOTE - this post was updated 3/18/2010 to clarify a few items]

March 03, 2010

Discussions around the Web / Stuff I Would Read and Comment On If I Had the Time

JB

I get information from a number of sources, and often times wind up with more things to read and write about than there is time in the day.  So, in order to get my browser back down to its normal size, I'm just going to share with you a link list (note that I have not even read most of these):

Ah!  Good!  Now I can close my browser windows.