Thursday, 4 May 2017

2017 BioLogos Conference Plenary Session Videos

When I shared notes from Heather Goodman's live blogging of the 2017 BioLogos Christ and Creation conference in Houston, Texas, I expressed my hope that a record of the conference would shortly be available. Thankfully, BioLogos have made available the plenary sessions so those unable to attend will be able to see leading scientists and Biblical scholars show how to understand Christianity in the light of the fact of evolution.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Galactic Archaeology - evidence of an ancient universe written in the stars

YECs are well aware that the evidence from the natural world overwhelmingly attests to an ancient universe, which is why they invest considerable effort in an attempt to explain away this data to preserve their hyperliteral reading of the creation narratives. Of course, this means advancing patently nonsensical ideas such as accelerated rates of radioactive decay and the creation of light in transit for objects more than 6000 light years away from the Earth. The former assertion is readily falsified when we realise that accelerated rates of radioactive decay would release enough heat to melt the crust of the earth, while the latter means what we see of the universe more than 6000 light years away is essentially a universe-sized special effect which may not have even happened. As Charles Kingsley put it when commenting negatively on Philip Gosse's book Omphalos in which he advanced creation with appearance of age as a means of explaining the evidence for an ancient natural history, "I cannot...believe that God has written on the rocks one enormous and superfluous lie for all mankind."

Sunday, 9 April 2017

More musings on monogenism (or why the human population was never as small as two people)

If every single human alive was exclusively descended from two people who lived around 6000 years ago, we would not expect the data from population genetics to show that the human population was never smaller than a few thousand individuals. Nor would we expect to see coalescent times for human genes in the hundreds of thousands of years. This is however exactly what we see, and it completely falsifies the anti-evolutionist position that the entire human race descended from six individuals approximately 4500 years ago and propagated away from Mt Ararat. What we see continues to show an African origin for the human race. As always, the problem here is simply one of choosing from an avalanche of papers that show this fact.

Friday, 31 March 2017

How Fundamentalism and YEC fails the next generation - notes from the BioLogos 2017 Conference

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the 2017 BioLogos Conference in Houston, so Heather Goodman's live blog feed will have to do instead. Certainly, with scholars of the calibre of Tom Wright, John Walton, and Scott McKnight, one hopes that a video or print record of the conference will eventually see the light of the day.

While the live blog gives a taste of some of the highlights of the conference, sadly, it has provided a few reminders of the corrosive effect evolution denialism, virulent opposition to science and a "our way or the highway" approach from fundamentalists / YECs has on the next generation.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Even Answers in Genesis concede the "Cambodian Stegosaurus" is not evidence for human-dinosaur coexistence

Young earth creationist assertions that humans and dinosaurs coexisted are of course nonsense. The last non-avian dinosaurs died out at the end of the Cretaceous around 65 million years ago while the oldest reliably dated Homo sapiens fossils are nearly 200,000 years old. Fossil footprint evidence alleged by YECs to show that humans and dinosaurs coexisted such as the Paluxy River tracks are conceded even by some YECs to be bogus. The claim that 'soft tissue' in dinosaur bones proves the fossils are young is falsified by the securely dated strata in which the fossils were found, confirming their great age, while showing that organic molecules can be preserved for millions of years if the conditions are right. That leaves YECs with nothing other than fanciful interpretations of ancient artwork as evidence for their claims.

One of the more popular examples is a carving at the Ta Prohm temple in Angkor, Cambodia, dated to the 12th / 13th century CE, which some YECs allege is a depiction of a stegosaurus:

Monday, 20 March 2017

"A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject"

One of the accusations made by evolution denialists in our community about both evolutionary creationists and those who do correctly do not regard it as a fellowship issue is that they are being divisive. Given that evolutionary creationists are not insisting on their views being normative for the entire community, have done considerable work behind the scenes in preserving the faith of young people who are struggling to reconcile the fact of evolution with a faithful reading of the Bible, and are asking only that their position be accommodated, this assertion is simply false. More to the point, by seeking to divide the community over this issue, ironically it is the hard-line evolution denialist whose behaviour could well be called divisive, and promoting of factionalism.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

A 400,000 year old Portugese hominin - yet more hard evidence for the antiquity of humanity

My previous post commented on a recent study that showed not only the antiquity of indigenous Australian settlement, but that individual population groups had been present in the same area for tens of thousands of years. This of course falsifies the special creationist assertion that the entire human race descends exclusively from two people who lived six thousand years ago. Now, another paper provides more evidence for the antiquity of the human lineage. Portugese palaeoanthropologist João Zilhão, and his colleagues have published a paper detailing the discovery of a Middle Pleistocene hominin skull from Gruta da Aroeira in Portugal securely dated to around 400,000 years. The skull may well be ancestral to Homo neanderthalensis, and occurs along with stone tools, animal remains and evidence of controlled use of fire.