Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah Palin and Creationism

Tom Kizzia of the Anchorage Daily News has an article on Sarah Palin and her support for creationism. He writes:

Palin was answering a question from the moderator near the conclusion of Wednesday night's televised debate on KAKM Channel 7 when she said, "Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."

This sounds ominous, but wait, is it as bad as it sounds?

In an interview Thursday, Palin said she meant only to say that discussion of alternative views should be allowed to arise in Alaska classrooms:

"I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum."

She added that, if elected, she would not push the state Board of Education to add such creation-based alternatives to the state's required curriculum.

Whew. There is a lot to like about Ms. Palin. It would be a shame to see her end up on that side of the aisle. I think McCain has made a good choice. We shall see.

Friday, August 29, 2008

More Intellectual Dishonesty, ICR Style

In late 2005, the ICR concluded an eight year radioisotope study in an effort to support the YEC point of view. This was called Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth. Things did not start out well for them since they didn't find quite what they expected. Early on, Larry Vardiman, lead author for RATE, wrote in 1999:

It appears that much larger quantities of nuclear decay may have occurred than would be expected for 6,000 (or so) years of radioactivity at the currently observed rate. The evidence for this concern stems from (1) the presence of daughter isotopes along the entire decay chain in proximity to parent isotopes, (2) visible scars (halos) from alpha decay, (3) the presence of the alpha particles themselves (helium nuclei) still within the rock where they were apparently formed by nuclear decay, (4) visible tracks from decay by fission, and (5) residual heat produced by nuclear decay in proximity to high uranium concentrations.

Subsequent research suggested that at least 500 million years of radioactive decay had occurred. He, nonetheless, concluded:

It is hypothesized by the RATE group that at some time in the past a much higher rate of radioisotope decay may have occurred leading to the production of large quantities of daughter products in a short period of time. It has been suggested that this increased decay rate could have been part of the rock-forming processes on the early earth and/or one of the results of God's judgments upon man following the Creation, i.e., the curse or during the Flood.

This last conclusion did not change over the course of the project. The RATE team went looking for instances in which radiometric dating did not work and, according to Vardiman, found them. In 2005, an anonymous article summarized the findings as follows:

Main summary points:

  1. A large amount of radioactive decay has occurred.
  2. Conventional radioisotope dates differ radically.
  3. Nuclear processes were accelerated during certain periods of earth's history.
  4. Helium diffusion and carbon-14 in diamonds is strong evidence for a young earth.

Eventually, the RATE team concluded their research in two volumes, totaling some 800 pages, costing $79.99. This set of volumes caught the attention of the American Scientific Affiliation, who waded in with a review that appeared in June of last year written by Randy Isaacs, the Executive Director of the ASA. He is scathing. He argues that the four areas in which the RATE project finds radioisotope dating to be wanting have been severely abused. He writes:

All of the four radioisotopic areas discussed involve aspects which the scientific community feels are not reliable for dating. Only one of the four areas discussed, helium diffusion in zircons, is claimed to yield a measurement of the age of the earth on the order of 6,000 years. This is merely a fitting parameter in a complex system of many unknown parameters. The other three areas all lead to ages much older than 6,000 years. The authors claim that the results cast doubt on standard dating techniques, making the young-earth scenario more credible.

About the rate of nuclear decay, he is a bit more forthright:

There is no direct evidence provided for accelerated decay. It is inferred solely from combining the evidence for massive decay with the young-earth position.

The RATE authors note that there is a significant problem with accelerated decay producing massive amounts of heat and radiation, but are convinced that a mechanism will be found for this and that these problems will be solved in the future. They, therefore, conclude that ther is encouraging support for the young-earth position. About this, Isaac writes:

The ASA does not take a position on issues when there is honest disagreement among Christians provided there is adherence to our statement of faith and to integrity in science. Accordingly, the ASA neither endorses nor opposes young-earth creationism which recognizes the possibility of a recent creation with appearance of age or which acknowledges the unresolved discrepancy between scientific data and a young-earth position. However, claims that scientific data affirm a young earth do not meet the criterion of integrity in science. Any portrayal of the RATE project as confirming scientific support for a young earth, contradicts the RATE project’s own admission of unresolved problems. The ASA can and does oppose such deception.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Neandertal Tools As Good As Those of Early Modern Humans

Those studying the archaeology of both groups have known this for years. A story in the Independent is now making the public aware of it. It notes:

Scientists who spent years learning how to make replicas of the stone instruments used by Neanderthals and Homo sapiens have found the Neanderthal tools were just as efficient as anything made by Stone Age man.

And researchers believe that the demise of the Neanderthals – which has often been explained by the supposed inferiority of their technology – could not have come about solely as a result of their stone tools being worse than those of their rivals.

You have to gloss over the fact that early modern humans were also "stone age" and would remain so for another 30 to 70 thousand years, depending on where you were. This is one of the conundrums vexing researchers in Southwest Asia (the Near East). You have both Neandertals and early modern humans (barely) there and they are both using the same kinds of tools—the EXACT same kinds of tools. Modern humans didn't show up until possibly as early as 160 kya in North Africa (depending on how modern the Herto remains really are) and around 110 kya in SW Asia. The earliest modern tool assemblage, the Aurignacian, doesn't show up until around 43 kya in eastern Europe. SW Asian variants show up around the same time. These facts suggest to many that the relationship between the Neandertals and the early moderns was, shall we say, complex.

Fort Wayne Man Behind Methodists' Acceptance of Evolution

And even so, he said he is now at odds with his pastor and his bishop. The story in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette relates the following:

Al Kuelling, 67, a retired engineer trained in physics, wrote two of three proposals on evolution adopted as church policy at the denomination’s 2008 quadrennial national conference this summer in Fort Worth, Texas.

The votes capped a yearslong quest by Kuelling to have the church explicitly recognize evolution as a legitimate foundation of science and acknowledge that it is not at odds with theology.

The votes on the two resolutions that passed weren't even close:

One of Kuelling’s proposals amends the Science and Technology section of the church’s Book of Discipline. It was approved by 80 percent of voting delegates.

It now states, in part: “We find that science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology.”

The second proposal, which passed with 96 percent of the vote, was added to the church’s Book of Resolutions. It endorses The Clergy Letter Project led by David Zimmerman, an ecologist and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Butler University in Indianapolis.

The Clergy Letter Project can be found here. A third proposal opposed the teaching of creationism and ID in the public schools. I have already mentioned that one here. Maybe other denominations will follow suit. One can only hope.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Earliest Bipedality at 6 Mya

A study coming out of SUNY Stony Brook suggests that the earliest form of bipedality arose in hominids around 6 million years ago. The research incorporates the newest information from the Orrorin tugenensis material discovered in 2000. The story notes:

This research solidifies the evidence that the human lineage split off as far back as six million years ago, that we share ancestry with Orrorin, and that our ancestors were walking upright at the time,” says Dr. Richmond. “These answers were not clear before this analysis.”

“Our study confirms that as early as six million years ago, basal hominins in Africa were already similar to later australopithecines in their anatomy and inferred locomotor biomechanics,” adds Dr. Jungers. “At the same time, by way of the analysis, we see no special phylogenetic connection between Orrorin and our own genus, Homo.”

This is something we always suspected—that bipedalism had to have arisen before the australopithecines hit the scene—but it is nice to have at least some evidence of this. It does not, however, shed any light on the relationship between this hominid and Sahelanthropus.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Texas Education Agency Responds to Chris Comer's Lawsuit

The TEA has responded to Chris Comer's lawsuit alleging wrongful dismissal from the agency. The Story in the Texas Observer reports:

The fatal flaw in Comer’s argument, according to TEA’s Motion to Dismiss (.pdf), “arises from a fundamental misconception of the relationship between the Texas Education Agency, headed by defendant Scott, and the State Board of Education.” The 15-member elected board of education develops curriculum, including what Texas schoolchildren learn about evolution, the motion states. TEA only administers that curriculum and provides oversight. “TEA staff, in their capacity as state employees, must not take positions, even by implication, on contested curriculum issues the State Board will be called upon to resolve,” the motion states.

So all of the power for the curriculum resides with the State Board of Education and none with the TEA? How does the SBOE have the power to restrict the free speech of the TEA members? Is that in the contract? If so, it is probably a violation of the First Amendment. What a bureaucratic nightmare.

Early Humans: "The Big Mac Burgers of Their Day."

Research is going on in an effort to determine what predators would have found early humans tasty. Apparently, the cast is large. According to a story in the Independent Online:

The problem, palaeontologists point out, is that at just a metre and a bit tall, our ancestors such as homo habilis were probably the Big Mac burgers of their day.

"We were cat food, we were not that special at that time. No armour, just meat on feet," said Dr Hannah O'Regan, a senior research officer in the School of Biological & Earth Sciences at John Moores University in Liverpool.

The remaining part of the article is devoted to C.K. "Bob" Brain's accumulation of evidence that Leopards were largely responsible for the hominid remains strewn about the landscape. An interesting read.

Yah, Who Didn't See This Coming

The frozen Bigfoot body that was touted as being proof of the existence of the creature is a hoax. That came after owner Tom Biscardi had already paid a handsome price for the chance to examine it. A thorough analysis of the body revealed that it was a carefully prepared rubber suit. According to a story in Foxnews:

Then came the clincher.

"Within the next hour of thaw, a break appeared up near the feet area. ... I observed the foot which looked unnatural, reached in and confirmed it was a rubber foot." That jibes with what Jerry Parrino, owner of Internet Halloween-costume retailer, told last week.

"It definitely looks like our [Sasquatch] costume," Parrino said after viewing photos of the body. The Biscardi team immediately went into crisis mode. Biscardi called Whitton and Dyer at their California hotel. They admitted it was a hoax and agreed to sign a promissory note at a meeting set for 8 a.m. Pacific time at the hotel.

Think they showed?

But when Biscardi got there, he "found that they had left."

There is enough intrigue to go around on this one. Now can we have a look at the Delk footprint, please?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Intellectual Dishonesty, ICR Style

I subscribe to the ICR's Acts & Facts to stay abreast of what that side of the debate is saying. In the most recent issue, there is an editorial by Henry Morris, the late, great don of Young Earth Creationism that was written in 2006. It is called The Logic of Biblical Creationism. In it, he writes:

If there is anything certain in this world, however, it is that there is no evidence whatsoever that evolution is occurring today—that is, true vertical evolution from some simpler kind to a more complex kind. No one has ever observed a star evolve from hydrogen, life evolve from chemicals, a higher species evolve from a lower species, a man from an ape, or anything else of this sort.

He continues:

Actually, there is no evidence at all that evolution ever took place in the past either. In all recorded history, extending back nearly five thousand years, no one has ever recorded the natural evolution of any kind of creature (living or non-living) into a more complex kind. (Acts and Facts, vol. 37 (8), August 2008: 11-12)

All of this is said without a shred of evidence to support these positions. He further writes about the lack of ancestors with "half legs/half wings, half-developed heart, half-developed eye" (Morris 2006) before launching into a misguided discussion of the laws of thermodynamics that, once again, fails to consider that the earth is not a closed system.

Reading this is incredible in the sense that, in order to write verbiage such as this, you have to willingly turn a blind eye to 150 years of observations in palaeontology, geology, geomorphology, physics and many other disciplines that have successfully rebutted all of Dr. Morris' claims. Further, that he made some of these claims reflects a complete lack of understanding of the disciplines that he is criticising. The level of intellectual dishonesty here is breathtaking and reduces the Young Earth position to nothing more than a joke, on par with the Flat Earth Society. It is as if the ICR exists within its own bubble, not even conscious of what goes on in the outside world.

Jeff Schloss, Former DI Staff, Reviews Expelled

Jeff Schloss, a researcher who was, up until 2003 a member of the Discovery Institute, has his own take on the movie Expelled. The review is quite lengthy but worth reading. He concludes it this way:

Contrary to the furious responses many of my friends in biology have had and the enthusiastic responses many of my evangelical friends have had to the film - I think Ross’s assessment is best: sadly. Sadly, the film contributes to an approach that has raised rather than lowered walls between Christians and the surrounding culture. Sadly, it raises the already growing walls of suspicion about any scholarly attempts to explore the relationship between science and faith. Sadly, it raises walls that don’t protect but constrain the spiritual growth of our students, if they are driven to believe they must choose between God and evolution. And most sadly, it is raising all these walls unnecessarily, along a border that is never demonstrated to have been accurately surveyed, much less to be in need of defending.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Glen Kuban on the Alvis Delk Footprint

Glen Kuban, the man responsible for demonstrating conclusively that the Paluxy River Tracks purporting to be of humans and dinosaurs in the same stratum were really those of a three-toed dinosaur wrote and offered his own critique of the Alvis Delk Print here. His article is a good read and very thorough (for what he calls a prelimary critique). He concludes thus:

The Alvis Delk Print is not a convincing human footprint in ancient rock. Its advocates have failed to present the necessary data and details to adequately support their bold assertions. Even putting aside the extensive independent evidence that humans did not exist until long after the Cretaceous Period, the collective weight of several lines of evidence, including the uncertain circumstances of the discovery, lack of in situ documentation, knowledge that similar tracks have been carved in the Glen Rose area, and serious morphological abnormalities in the prints, point to the strong likelihood that both the "human footprint" and dinosaur track on this loose slab were carved or heavily altered from less distinct depressions.

As he points out, it wouldn't be the first time. Read the whole thing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Meanwhile, In Flat Earth Land...

Amidst the controversies surrounding modern science, the Flat Earth Society continues undaunted. A story in Foxnews reports:

The BBC reports that the Flat Earth Society, thought to have been crippled by the death of its leader in 2001, is still hanging on, somewhat bemusedly.

"People are definitely prejudiced against flat-Earthers," Tennessee-based computer scientist and society member John Davis tells the BBC. "Many use the term 'flat-Earther' as a term of abuse, and with connotations that imply blind faith, ignorance or even anti-intellectualism."

But, Davis and his fellow "anti-globularists" insist, their beliefs are based in scientific fact.

"The Earth is, more or less, a disc," states James McIntyre, a Briton who helps run the Flat Earth Society's Web site. "Obviously it isn't perfectly flat, thanks to geological phenomena like hills and valleys. It is around 24,900 miles in diameter."

Yup. And it was created 6 000 years ago, too. The story continues:

The moon landings? Faked, say the flat-Earthers. Satellite images of the Earth? Fake, fake, fake.

So what does the flat Earth look like?

"The North Pole is central, and Antarctica comprises the entire circumference of the Earth," explains McIntyre. "Circumnavigation is a case of traveling in a very broad circle across the surface of the Earth."

McIntyre hopes the Flat Earth Society Web site's discussion forums will unite all discarians into a "global community."

"If you will forgive my use of the term 'global,'" he quips.

Discarians. Tongue firmly in cheek? One wonders. Here is their mock-up of the earth:

From Wikipedia Commons: A computer-generated image of the flat Earth. Antarctica forms an 'ice wall' preventing people from walking off the edge.

Judge Rules High School Courses Can Be Rejected by Universities

A federal judge has ruled that the University of California can reject an applicant as insufficiently prepared for college by denying course credits for science classes that do not teach modern science. The article, in SFGate, notes:

Rejecting claims of religious discrimination and stifling of free expression, U.S. District Judge James Otero of Los Angeles said UC's review committees cited legitimate reasons for rejecting the texts - not because they contained religious viewpoints, but because they omitted important topics in science and history and failed to teach critical thinking.

Great Googlymoogly! Unless this ruling is narrowly rendered, the ramifications are staggering! If other universities and colleges are paying attention, they can put incredible pressure on local high schools to teach concepts of evolution, modern astronomy, modern geology and palaeontology—all anathema to the creationist movement—effectively rendering the "academic freedom bills" irrelevant. This also places some of the local school boards over a barrel in that, if they support creationism in science class, they know that the local and state colleges and universities will reject those classes. How could they be seen as serving the needs of the students in those instances? Given the emphasis on state testing and college preparation, classes that teach creationism may become "one with the snows of yesteryear" as Isaac Asimov put it.

This ruling also puts added pressure on homeschoolers and homeschooling publishers who produce textbooks that are almost universally written from a recent creation perspective. To be sure, there is still a market for private universities that may hew to a YEC perspective, but there may not be enough of those to justify the continued teaching of creationism or ID on a widespread basis.

The ruling is being appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which may prove fruitless since that particular court seems to not have a conservative bone in its body. This ruling could be a watershed.

Human Evolution Olympics

Foxnews has a little contest about which fossil hominid (or hominin if you are a cladist) would win in olympic competition. Certain hominids did some things very well:

For instance, before 2 million years ago, the earliest human ancestors such as Australopithecus afarensis (represented in part by the famed "Lucy" fossil) had just come down from the trees, in an evolutionary sense.

Their bodies still reflected chimp features, such as longer arms and a stronger upper body built for fighting and swinging through the trees.

"A big male chimp weighs about 50 kilos [110 pounds], yet could easily rip the arm off someone," Lieberman noted. "You would never want to arm-wrestle a chimpanzee."

But as far as endurance and running were concerned, it is the later hominids that have it:

The ability to run for long distances changed human athleticism — as well as history — and came around the 2-million-year mark, allowing human ancestors such as Homo erectus to hunt seriously for the first time.

Early hunters only had sharpened wooden sticks and clubs, which meant that success in catching and killing prey relied on the difference between human marathon-running and animal sprinting.

"Most human sports that we value the most (with exception of power sports) involve this incredible ability to run or do aerobic capacity," Lieberman said. "That's really rare. Very few animals adapted for endurance."

Read the whole thing, including the potshot at Neandertals by Dan Lieberman, who has never cared much for them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Books

Well, Donald Prothero's book Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it is Important and Kenneth Miller's new book Only a Theory have just shown up, so I will now curl up on my virtual couch and read for a bit. More later....

Harris Poll on Evolution

Reader Michael correctly points out in answer to my post on Canadians' acceptance of evolution that, here in the US, there is a correlation between the acceptance of evolution and education. A Harris poll in 2005 lays this out pretty clearly. Of particular interest are Tables 7 and 8, in which the answers to questions about human evolution are broken down into political party affiliation and level of education. Here are some of the points concluded by the Harris organization:

  • In general, older adults (those 55 years of age and older), adults without a college degree, Republicans, conservatives, and Southerners are more likely to embrace the creationism positions in the questions asked.
  • Those with a college education, Democrats, independents, liberals, adults aged 18 to 54 and those from the Northeast and West support the belief in evolution in larger numbers. However, among these groups, majorities believe in creationism.
  • Despite the significant numbers who believe in creationism, pluralities among the demographic subgroups examined still believe all three concepts (evolution, creationism, and intelligent design) should be taught in public schools.
In addition to these, though, there are a few striking things about the poll. Democrats accept that humans and apes have a common ancestry at numbers twice those of Republicans (60 to 31%), and the belief in creationism (not defined here) is as high as 73% (among those an education of high school or less). The Republicans have almost made acceptance of some form of creationism or ID part of the platform, and much of the Republican platform is also populist in nature. The two seem to be dovetailing nicely here.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Neandertal DNA Mapped

Researchers have mapped the mitochondrial DNA of a Neandertal using a bone from a specimen thought to be 38 000 years old. The story states:

"For the first time, we've built a sequence from ancient DNA that is essentially without error," said Richard Green of Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany.

Research suggests that the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and humans lived about 660,000 years ago.

The Neanderthal mitochondrial genome presented in the study is a useful forerunner for the sequencing of the complete Neanderthal nuclear genome, the researchers said, adding that this project is already well underway.

The story does go on to say that the precise relationship between Neandertals and modern humans is not known. I will have to find out what Milford Wolpoff and Dave Frayer are saying about this, since it pokes yet another hole in the Neandertal/modern human continuity argument for central and western Europe.

Support for Freshwater?

Reader RBH corrects my impression that Mr. Freshwater, the biology teacher that is on the hot seat for allegedly branding a student's arm in the shape of a cross and teaching creationism in class, has widespread support in the community. The comment states, in part:

Well, in fact, he doesn't have the support of a large number of local townspeople. A good part of the crowd at the Board meeting Aug 4 was from out of the district, called in by Freshwater's pastor from various churches in central Ohio. I counted cars from four non-local counties and two out of state cars in the parking lot. Most of his local support comes from his own congregation and a couple of other small fundamentalist churches in the area. My judgment is that the 'silent' majority in the district supports the board's action.

Thanks for the information.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Kansas Races Have Ended

The Lawrence Record reports on the end of the Kansas School Board races here. According to the story:

Darwin won.

Moderate Kansas State Board of Education candidates pulled off a victory Tuesday, gathering enough might to topple the board’s 6-4 conservative majority.

A victory by incumbent Janet Waugh, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Lawrence, and wins by Republican moderates in two districts previously represented by conservatives left the tables turned heading into the Nov. 7 general election.

No mention was made in the story about Alan Detrich's race.

Canadians More Evolved Than Americans

A new poll conducted by Angus Reid Strategies has discovered that 58% of polled Canadian citizens accept evolution. Interesting notes from the poll:

A comparison of the different age groups also reveals an interesting trend—the belief in evolution decreases with age, while conviction in creationism increases with age. Two-thirds (67%) of respondents aged 18-34 believe in evolution, compared to a smaller 58 per cent for those aged 35-54 and only half (51%) of those over the age of 55. In turn, while only 17 per cent of younger adults believe that God created humans, the proportion increases to 23 per cent for the middle-aged group and 25 per cent for older Canadians.

Belief in the theory of evolution is also quite prevalent among respondents with household incomes of $100,000 or more (66%). The education analysis is worth noting, as the jump between the different groups is striking. Less than half of respondents with a high school degree or less (47%) are prone to believe that humans evolved over millions of years, compared to a higher 58 per cent for those with a college or technical school diploma. Among those with at least one university degree, evolutionists outnumber creationists by a five-to-one margin (71% to 14%).

What is one to make of this? Comparable polls (here and here) in the United States have the numbers swinging the other way. I suppose if you were a creationist, you might say that the university students have been brainwashed and if you weren't you might say they finally saw the light. Is science education that much better in Canada than it is here? Thoughts anyone?


Charles Johnson once again points the way to a story about the elections to the Kansas state school board, which have finished as of this . One school board member, Alan Detrich was being shellacked by his opponent 76% to 24%. The story that LGF points to says this about him:

He moved to Lawrence about a year ago, to study at Kansas University and create religious sculptures made out of fossils, precious metals and bits of machinery.

Some of those works, along with his musings about “evil-lutionists,” can be found at his Web site,

Detrich said he was convinced that life is too complex to be the product of evolution, and that those beliefs will be the centerpiece of his three-year campaign.

And those beliefs are based on what, exactly? Send him packing!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mt. Vernon Heats Up

The trial of John Freshwater has polarized the town of Mt. Vernon, Ohio. According to a story in the Chicago Tribune:

"There's a battle of ideology going on here," said Don Matolyak, pastor of Trinity Worship Center and a Freshwater supporter. "I believe the ultimate issue is the Bible on the desk."

No way, argues Beth Murdock, who runs a downtown bakery. "This makes us look like a bunch of hicks, and that's not what this is," Murdock said.

"I don't think he meant to burn anybody. He got some bad counsel to make this all about the Bible and God. All he needed to do was say he was sorry, but he wouldn't do that," Murdock said.

There have now been suggestions that the "cross-branding" was, in fact, not on purpose:

The alleged branding occurred last December during a classroom science experiment. Freshwater was using an electrostatic device common in science classroom demonstrations. Science teachers at the school say they have used the device for many years to identify the color of gases.

Freshwater told investigators, according to an independent probe, that students often ask if they could touch the device, which carries high voltage but low current. On that day, several students volunteered, including one unidentified child whose parents complained that the crosslike mark left a "burn that remained on their child's arm for three or four weeks," the report said. The parents are suing Freshwater and the school system.

It reminds me of the old Vorlon addage: "Understanding is a three edged sword: There is your side, their side, and the truth" I wonder if we will know it in the end.

Richard Dawkins Takes on Islam

In an article in Andhra News, Richard Dawkins is quoted as saying that Muslims are importing creationism into the UK and it needs to be stopped. The story reports:

The Telegraph quoted Professor Dawkins as saying in a Sunday newspaper interview that: "Teachers are bending over backwards to respect home prejudices that children have been brought up with. The Government could do more, but it doesn't want to because it is fanatical about multiculturalism and the need to respect the different traditions from which these children come."


"It seems as though teachers are terribly frightened of being thought racist. It's almost impossible to say anything against Islam in this country, because [if you do] you are accused of being racist or Islamophobic."

He has an uphill battle, especially since that "hairy idiot" Archbishop Rowan Williams (of Canterbury, no less) suggested that Sharia should be accommodated within the British legal system. They don't call it Londonistan for nothing.

The Methodists Take a Stand!

Ethics Daily reports that the United Methodist Church has passed a resolution opposing the teaching of creationism and Intelligent Design in the public schools. According to the proposal, this is the rationale:

Creationism and Intelligent Design are appropriate topics in public education classes such as comparative religion, literature, or philosophy since scientific method incorporates critical thinking processes. All truth is God’s truth. The promotion of religion or any particular religion in the public schools is contrary to the First Amendment.

This will put them at odds with the major evangelical denominations, who promote it.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

This is Always Good News

Scientists have found 125 000 gorillas living in the forests of the Republic of the Congo. This represents a dramatic increase in their population.

Monday, August 04, 2008

PZ Myers on the Delk Footprint

PZ Myers at Pharyngula has taken on the Delk human/dinosaur footprint. Here is what he has to say:

Unfortunately, they both look ridiculously fake. The human print has toes like tubes and a wierdly dug-in big toe, and looks ridiculously fake. The dino print is even worse — it's basically a three-pronged flat plate, looking like it was modeled after the smooth bottoms of a plastic dinosaur toy.

That's about it. He does include a picture of an honest-to-goodness three-toed dinosaur track, but he plainly doesn't take the Delk print seriously. Until it is examined in detail, we probably won't know how it was created.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Alvis Delk Cretaceous Footprint

Alvis Delk, an amateur archaeologist has found a footprint that purports to show a dinosaur footprint right next to a human one. Here it is.

The story is here. Obviously, if it is the real thing, it will overturn 150 years of evolutionary theory. My suspicion is that it is not but I wonder how soon it will be analyzed because it is being housed by the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, Texas. Glen Rose, if you will recall, is the place where the original Paluxy River tracks were unearthed and touted to have human and dinosaur tracks side by side. That proved to be untrue as the human tracks were discovered to be those of a a three-toed dinosaur. Even the ICR backed off of that claim. Glen Kuban did a fairly long write-up on that in The fact that the original reports of synchronous human/dinosaur deposits were so thoroughly debunked and now this shows up gives one cause for concern. Hat Tip to Little Green Footballs.