Thursday, August 27, 2015

A YEC Icon of Faith is Invalidated

Joshua Kritsch at Vocative reports on an article that has been written for the Journal Antiquity, called Death of a Pterodactyl.  Here is what he writes:
Along the sloping walls of the Black Dragon Canyon in Utah, there’s a curious rock painting that looks remarkably like a flying dinosaur. Creationists say it’s proof that humans and pterodactyls once coexisted. But now, in a paper published in the journal Antiquity, archaeologists have revealed that the “dinosaur” is actually a time-worn depiction of humans, a snake and some sheep.
“What was supposed to be one wing of this pterodactyl is actually two little four-legged animals,” Paul Bahn, a freelance archaeologist and coauthor of the paper, told Live Science. “The so-called head and beak and neck of the pterodactyl [are] actually a human figure, with its spindly legs and its two arms stretching out.”
Honestly, I had not heard this claim, but as there are thousands of little young earth creationism claims out there, that is not surprising. How was this claim refuted?  From the abstract:
A new study using portable X-ray fluorescence refutes this ill-founded interpretation and reveals a scene characteristic of Barrier Canyon style, featuring an anthropomorphic figure. By removing interpretational bias, the new technology finally lays to rest the Black Dragon Canyon pterosaur.
As the Rock Man says: “You hear what you want to hear, and you see what you want to see.”

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Modern Hand Digit at 1.84 Mya

A story in Lab Equipment has spotlighted new evidence that modern human morphology was present in early hominins at 1.84 million years ago.  From the story:
“The new Olduvai fossil represents the earliest known hominin hand bone with (modern human-like) appearance,” they wrote. “Our results, along with the archaeological record, reveal that instead of following an orderly trend, eventually culminating in the modern human condition, some ‘primitive’ hand bone morphologies persisted side-by-side with (modern human-like) hand bone morphologies well after the first appearance of stone tools and zooarchaeological evidence of their use for butchery by at least (2.6 million years ago).”
This makes sense. Evolution happens at the trait level, not the species level. There are numerous examples of some traits becoming more modern over time, while some retained archaic dimensions.What is not clear is whether or not it is from early Homo or Australopithecus (Paranthropus) boisei.  If it is from Paranthropus, then the modern morphology extends back at least to the point where the later diversification of australopithecines occurred, between 2.5 and 3.0 mya and, perhaps, longer. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Answers in Genesis Equivocating Again?

Dan Arel, of Patheos, has written a column where he points out that what Mark Looey, of Answers in Genesis is saying about the tax incentives and their hiring practices does not coordinate with the facts.  Looey claims that the tax incentives were lost because of the perceived religious nature of the project (which is not in dispute), rather than the stated reason Kentucky that AiG violated state hiring practices.  He is quoted in the story (unlinked) as saying: 
“One lingering myth has concerned the future hiring practices for the park next year. Despite the rumors, here are two important facts to remember: 1) the Ark Encounter has not yet determined its final hiring policies and 2) when the policies are completed, we have committed to closely follow all applicable federal and state employment laws that govern religious organizations like ours,” write Looy.
The problem, of course, as Arel points out, is that the Ark Encounter has posted job applications that require the applicant's statement of faith to conform to that of Answers in Genesis'. AiG is very clear about what their statement of faith is.  When Arel contacted Ken Ham about the conflict, Ham replied that the job announcement in question was not an Ark Encounter job, but one for Answers in Genesis.  This, despite the fact that the job title reads "CAD Technical Designer: Ark Encounter."

Recall that Ken Ham debated Barry Lynn on CNN one time, in which he remarked that the Ark Encounter was not being run by AiG.  Here is the Exchange:
ANDERSON COOPER: Mr. Ham, are you trying to convert people here?

HAM: You know, first of all, it's not Answers in Genesis that owns the Ark Encounter. The Ark Encounter is a profit organization. Answers in Genesis is just a member. You need to understand that.

And, secondly, the -- the government of Kentucky is not subsidizing the Ark Encounter. They have an economic incentive program available for anyone. In fact, they can't have viewpoint discrimination, as Barry Lynn would like to have.

And because of the economic incentive program, we, like anyone else, if we fulfill the criteria of that -- and there are five criteria -- it doesn't involve the state endorsing any particular religion or anything like that.

In fact, the Ark Encounter is not a religion. It is a theme park. It is centered around biblical history. And -- and the state is not going to have viewpoint discrimination just because it's a theme park centered around biblical history.
If it is just a theme park, why is there a requirement for a statement of faith in the first place?  This position by AiG becomes less true as time goes on. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

South Korea University to Teach Creationism

Yonsei University, in South Korea, is now going to be offering a course in creationism, taught by a professor in electrical engineering.  The Hyankoreh has this:
Yonsei University, which has Protestant affiliations, is adding a course on creation science for the second semester of the 2015 academic year in September. The focus of the class is on using creationism as a basis for scientifically examining the events of the Bible. Aimed at first-year students, the course carries one credit and is taught by Choe Yoon-shik, a professor of electrical engineering. A similar class had previously been instituted at the university fourteen years before.

The move has generated controversy ahead of registration for the fall semester, with students taking to Facebook to post messages criticizing it.

“It is an international embarrassment that subjects like that are being taught at a university,” wrote one.

“If we accept a course like this, we should also be accepting African voodoo practices as medicine,” wrote another.
The professor suggests that the controversy is overblown and that the purpose of the course is not to bash evolution and mainstream geology but to examine the parts of scripture that lend themselves to scientific testing.  That's as may be but, with an electrical engineering background, unless he has had the necessary coursework, he will simply not be equipped to teach the sections on geology, palaeontology and genetics.  That should worry people. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Creationism in the Grand Canyon

Steven Newton wrote a piece for HuffPo a week or so back on Creationism in the Grand Canyon.  He notes:
Creationists often imply that to accept science (especially evolution) is to reject God. In line with this spurious way of thinking, they argue that having National Park Service rangers give talks to visitors about the Grand Canyon in terms of millions of years is an infringement of religious rights. Not being allowed to have bronze plaques on the South Rim quoting biblical verses is viewed an assault on their liberty. In a strange twist, the park association bookstores are forced to carry Tom Vail's creationist coffee-table book about the Grand Canyon, over the objections of many scientific groups.
This is an odd position for creationists to take, given that Vail's book expressly argues that modern science can explain that the canyon was produced in a calendar year, world-wide flood.  Why wouldn't creationists simply argue that mainstream science presents an alternative geologic view?  Nothing like painting a bull's-eye on your forehead.  This is the first of Newton's proposed five-part series.