Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Twisted Polystrate Plants
At Joggins, Ian was taking photographs of the numerous polystrate fossil plants there (a polystrate plant is one that cuts through multiple geological strata). He then noticed something he hadn't before -- they were almost always twisted. So he decides to start examining the twists more closely. Not only are they all twisted, they are all twisted in a clockwise ascending spiral (80% of those studying were spiraled in this fashion; 17% showed no spiralling, and the remaining showed counterclockwise spiralling).
So what causes the spiralling? Do they grow like this? No. And the plants were all bent the same way on the same bedding plane. Underwater tornadoes? No, they would have had to stay centered on the plant while burying it at the same time. Changing flow directions? No.
What is really unusual is that many are bent past the failure point (i.e. they should have broken), but are not broken, indicating that they were being supported while being twisted and buried.
Ian's solution was Coriolis forces due to rapidly shifting continents. He cited an interesting paper which may be showing similar forces in play in the mid-Oceanic ridge.
I don't know a lot about physics, so I can't really comment on Ian's proposed mechanism, but the pattern of twisted polystrate fossils is certainly an interesting one!
Monday, July 30, 2007
Geology Conference Wrap-Up
Timothy Clary started off the day with a fascinating overview of the cold blooded/hot blooded dinosaur debate and how it pertains to the potential of higher Oxygen levels in the past.
John Baumgardner then presented some more computer modeling relating to potential rolling of the planet resulting from pangea causing instability in the planet.
Peter Holyland presented for himself and Robert Frohn on DEM (digital elevation maps) for studying post-flood runoff and glaciation studies. This is an area I've had some experience in, so it was especially interesting for me. We talked quite a bit later on as Peter will probably be heading up a Creation research project; a collaboration of a number of fragmented creationists and creation groups around the world who were all attempting to do the same thing: Make global maps of stratigraphy. This was one thing that Peter's company was involved in, and a number of creationists, including myself, are heavily involved in studies of persistent facies and stratigraphic relationships on continental and global scales.
This project will be done on line, and thus we can all contribute and have access to the overall data.
Michael Oard presented his case for the post-flood boundary being in the Mesazoic layers. It was the usual excellent Mike Oard stuff, like drinking from a fire hose.
Aaron Hutchison presented his data from an excellent study in response to Glen Morton's claims that mercury poisoning during the flood would kill off all life on earth, including those after the flood. It was humurous, well thought out, and will be a chapter in the upcoming "Rock Solid Answers" book that John Reed and Mike Oard are editing, of which I also contributed a chapter.
John Doughty presented some fascinating data of anomolous gases (including carbon 14) in various gas wells in the southwest; all points to a very young earth and refutes the old ages assigned to it all.
Lee Spencer presented his case for a flood model attempting to explain the distribution of dinosaurs and stratigraphy. Very interesting tidbits of information strewn all throughout the talk.
Lastly, I got thrown to the lions. I showed evidence that the polystrate plants of Joggins, separated by hundreds to thousands of meters both stratigraphically and geographically, were spiraled, predominantly in a clockwise ascending spiral. It was good because I had already answered all of the objections, but simultaneously it showed me loud and clear that I was not presenting my case and communicating well.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Update from the Creation Geology Conference
There was roughly 50 people who showed up for this event; the first ever of it's kind, and a long time coming. It is being hosted at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio.
The purpose of the conference is for Creation Geologists to bounce ideas off of other professionals; this is intended to be the place for model proposal and building where experts can critique your work and ideas.
Andrew Snelling drew the long straw and got to go first, giving us an update on his work cataloging and tabulating Radiohalo populations in various rock types, including various metamorphic rocks. This is a continuation of research from multiple researchers being carried out for literally decades, starting with Dr. Robert Gentry
Lee Spencer then presented a model for fossil distribution during a global flood related to biomes; that is, biological zonation and its possible relationship to why we find fossils where we do in the fossil record.
John Whitmore then attempted to address some of the claims made by old-earthers regarding reef formation and the possibility (as well as the methods) for rapid reef formation in a post-flood world.
I then gave my first paper which basically showed the research that was carried out in Glen Rose on two flumes at the Creation Evidence museum. This was encouraging, as John Whitmore and Ray Strom (a fellow Canadian who was also present) had been carrying out research on the coconino sandstones and sand dunes as I had been, and we were able to share our findings. Ray had some fantastic hi-definition video of sand dunes in California growing right before the camera on a very windy day. It was very enlightening and put more nails in the coffin of the "sand dune" interpretation for the coconino crossbeds.
After an awesome lunch here at the University, Peter Macleod, all the way from Ireland, presented a paper on a flood model he calls Tectonic wedge resonance. Kudos to him as I wouldn't be brave enough to attempt to put together a flood model, and his had many intriguing aspects to it.
John Woodmorappe then gave a paper examining formations called "hard grounds" which are sometimes cited as a supposed evidence for time gaps in the geolog record. It was a fascinating talk and Kurt Wise had some input from a separate study he was carrying out in California which may be related. Discussion on "burrows" and "bore holes" from organisms was interesting.
Ian Taylor gave a paper on the historicity of the old earth; which is a fascinating and important subject, as most people simply assume that the old earth theory was founded in good science. It was not; it was birthed out of religious motivation, and Ian showed some of the intriguing history behind all of this.
John Whitmore then introduced a new geology program Cedarville university to help fill the demand for Creation Geology researchers; this has been a growing need for decades and we look forward to the program being implimented.
Marcus Ross delivered a paper co-authored with David DeWitt and Steve Deckard on educational studies they had carried out on the effectiveness on biblical education in changing world views. This prompted considerable discussion.
After a break for supper, about 30 or so people joined John Whitmore and John Woodmorappe at a limestone ledge to examine hardgrounds and for people to collect the fantastic fossils found in abundance here. This particular limestone layers is an excellent testament to the global flood of Noah, spreading over multiple states as well as multiple provinces in Canada. In fact, this is the same layer that outcrops near my home where I fossil collect all the time.
The conference will continue for another two days.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Forcing a Crisis of Faith on Youth
Why? The reason is that our young people, when they leave for college or work, aren't coming back. There are many reasons, but there are two that concern this blog. First of all, when they get to the outside world, they meet people who aren't Christians, and who think that Christianity is stupid. They then get told all of the problems with Christianity. That person is not likely to have heard any of these things before. This brings a few responses:
1) I've been lied to - they think that since their parents never brought this stuff up, and made Christianity sound like it was bullet proof and only stupid or bad people disagreed, that since they've found someone smart, ethical, and with significant doubts about Christianity, this means their parents and Church were lying to them. Depending on what was being taught and how, sometimes this is in fact true.
2) I don't know what to do about my faith - they then have a crisis of faith -- what if this Christianity stuff isn't true? Now, since they were sheltered from this while they were in church with their family, not only are they having a crisis of faith, they are having a crisis of faith with NO ONE around who can help them through!!!
3) I never want to be in that position again - this isn't quite as common, but it happens quite a bit. The person feels stupid and embarrassed and exposed, and they never want to suffer from that again. So they swing the other way. They'll NEVER let themselves be fooled again.
All this happens because they were over-insulated while at Church with their family. What we should be doing is exposing everyone to the strongest arguments against Christianity while they are still young, and force them into a crisis of faith while they are around people who care for them and want to help them work through it. Almost EVERYONE has a crisis of faith. The only question is, would you rather your child's crisis of faith happen when they have no help at all, or when the Church is there to help them through it.
The Church has to wake up and be honest with the difficulties of all its positions if it wants to remain relevant. While we should be "ready to give an answer" that is not the same as pretending to have answers when you don't. If we give our young people the room and freedom to doubt, and care for them and help them through that process rather than keeping them from that process, we will have a better, stronger church.
Creation Geology Conference Proceedings
Monday, July 23, 2007
Your Mind is Not Your Brain
He found that he could elicit all kinds of things from electrically stimulating the brain- memories, emotions, movements of the body, etc. The mental processes elicited were remarkably vivid.Yet in all instances, patients knew that the evoked response was not caused by their own will. Penfield called it 'double consciousness'. Patients always saw the response from a third person perspective, as well as experiencing the response in the first person. Patients always knew that the response was done to them, not by them. Penfield noted that patients always experienced their own responses as observers, as well as participants, and they could always distinguish their own coincident experience from the simultaneous induced response. There always remained a first-person subjectivity that was untouched by electrical stimulation of the brain.
Penfield recognized that there was an irreducible component of human experience that was itself independent of neurophysiology. He noted "Something else finds its dwelling place between the sensory complex and the motor mechanism. . . . There is a switchboard operator as well as a switchboard."
Also fun is the article showing that people can live normal lives with almost no brain at all (there was a similar article in Nature not too long ago -- it has a nice picture of a cranial space almost entirely filled with water).
On a similar but slightly different note, here is an excellent talk by Plantinga on why dualism is much better than materialism.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Creation Geology Conference Next Week
On another note, YoungCosmos has just opened up a new Creation/ID forum.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Information Systems as Evidence of Design
I forgot to put in the reference list at the end, so here are my references:
- Abel and Trevors, Journal of BioSemiotics -- "More than a Metaphor: Genomes are Objective Sign Systems"
- Gitt, W. In the Beginning was Information (condensed form here)
- Shannon, C. The Bell System Technical Journal -- "A Mathematical Theory of Communication"
- Trevors and Abel, Cell Biology International -- "Chance and Necessity Do Not Explain the Origin of Life"
- Yockey, H.P. Computers and Chemistry -- "Origin of Life on Earth and Shannon's Theory of Communication"
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Patriarchal Lifespans Follow a Sigmoid Curve
Figure 1 is a plot of the 35 lifespans as a function of date of birth in years BC. It is immediately apparent that the lifespans are not a random or incoherent set of values but that they form a well-defined and regular series with time. Notice how the ages of the prediluvian patriarchs are fairly uniform and run between 895 and 969 with the exception of Lamech (777 years). Following the Flood (F), however, the lifespans drop rapidly and consistently with time. It is interesting to notice that although Shem was born before the Flood he lived most of his life of 600 years after it. The values of the age at death in the period after the Flood from Shem to Terah are between 600 and 148 years. The lifespans from Abraham on continue dropping but at a much slower rate. They run between 180 and 110 years before the Exodus (E). During the Monarchy, longevity continues to slowly drop. The maximum age is 70 years for David, while it is only 36 for Ahaz.
It includes a lot of discussion on possible causes of ageing, but really nothing new. Now, Lopez calculated his curve by plotting the ages based on the date of birth of the individual. I have heard (I will not name the source since I do not have a perfect memory and may be misrepresenting it) that the most regular data points are retrieved if you base it on generations after Noah (though I'm not sure what curve this follows). The person who related this to me also mentioned that the Bristlecone pines (i.e. the oldest tree - thought to be started growing almost immediately after the flood) also follow this same distribution, with the children dying younger, and the children's children dying even younger, following the same basic series as the human lineage. Anyway, I wish I had a source for this information, but I don't, so treat it as speculation, but it would be an interesting research project. Lopez concluded:
The Old Testament life-spans were interpreted in the light of the ageing process in modern populations. Ageing can be characterized by an increase in mortality rate with age. The increase has been found to be exponential and can be expressed by the Gompertz formula.
The Gompertz formula relates the average age to the mortality rate, and Lopez noted that the sample size pre-flood is too small to be certain, but that in general terms if follows the characteristics of what we know about ageing, just at a very low mortality rate.
For more info about sigmoid curves, see here and here.
For more info about the Gompertz formula, see here.
Friday, July 06, 2007
More about the "Death Pose"
Last year, Ian Juby gave us the low-down on the "death pose" (for more info on Ian and his travelling Creation museum, see ianjuby.org) - the position that dinosaurs are often found in. Here are some of Ian's comments about it:
The first thing you are met with is an in-situ dinosaur cast showing the "death pose" that I have been studying for the past year or so...For those not familiar with this, long necked, articulated animals in the fossil record commonly have their heads arched back as far as they can possibly go...the conventional thinking is that they laid out and dried up, the tendons on the back of the neck shriveled as it dried up, thus pulling the head back.
I have claimed that the heads are arched back due to suffocation: The last thing to go underwater when drowning is the head. Furthermore, while some of the animals exhibiting this death pose have their mouths open, others do not. In either case, even humans that are suffocating arch their heads back. I used to have asthma, that's how I know.
What I'm suggesting is that they were buried alive, and the stress of this event is exhibited in their taphonomy in burial. [NOTE - Ian is indicating that the burial event is the flood and their posture testifies to it]
At the Tyrell they had Archaeopteryx, compsagnathus, and at least EIGHT dinosaurs all exhibiting the death pose. Of those, NONE had tensed legs or arms. Some have the tails arched back as well, which could also be a reaction to being buried alive, or Joe Taylor also suggested defication.
Well, in the most recent issue of Paleobiology, we have additional support for Ian's interpretation of the "Death Pose" in a paper titled The opisthotonic posture of vertebrate skeletons: postmortem contraction or death throws? [NOTE - the "opisthotonic posture" is the "death pose"]
The paper argues:
- Conventional post-mortem paleontological explanations for this position has no experimental evidence.
- We have a lot of evidence in the clinical literature of why this happens before death
- Taphonomic evidence argues against any long-period interpretation of this position because carcasses quickly become stuck to the beach in dry conditions and cannot be moved even by severe flooding.
- Opisthotonic postures must have been buried quickly after drowning and then been left undisturbed.
- Rigor mortis creates muscle stiffness, not contraction, so it cannot be an explanation of the position, though it can preserve the position after death for a short period if the animal was in that position at the time of death.
- A carcass carried in water flow can sometimes cause a similar position to appear, though these are often disarticulated, and they are with the current flow.
The authors described numerous taphonomic experiments (i.e. watching what happens when/after animals die in various conditions) of animals that had been euthanized at a local humane society that validated that none of the post-mortem hypotheses for the posture stands up to experimental scrutiny.
The available evidence shows that, instead of being a postmortem artifact, the true opisthotonic posture is a consequence of the spasmodic response of the animal's CNS [central nervous system] and musculoskeletal systems to hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and other CNS diseases experienced in the final moments of life. The subsequent onset of rigor mortis would (temporarily) fix the carcass in this position, if it is not previously disturbed, and burial would provide ultimate preservation. So it could be concluded that, in general, vertebrate skeletons preserved in the opisthotonic position were buried soon after death, generally without substantial transport, and did not suffer extensive deterioration from currents or scavengers.
They also point out that the opisthotonic position is correlated with "high basal metabolic rates" (i.e. warm-bloodedness), which I assume they are saying indirectly that dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded, though they hold that more tentatively.
And, for your pleasure, here are most of Ian Juby's "death pose" pictures (he's working on descriptions for these and we will post the page when he has it done):
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
New Video Series - Part 1: Intelligent Design and Choice
I'm starting up a new series of videos. This one is much more apologetic than the blog is, because I think a lot of people don't understand what the evidences are for design and creation. Anyway, the goal of the video series is to have numerous short videos covering various evidences.
It takes a surprising amount of time to create a video. Mine are obviously low-budget, and still it took an hour to film and 2 hours to edit a 9-minute video! This may wind up taking up more time than I can manage, but it was fun to at least get started in this endeavor.
Anyway, let me know if you have any comments.
Creation Cosmologies and the Pioneer Anomaly
If a large volume of empty space surrounds the matter of the cosmos, so that the cosmos can have a centre of mass, then the matter is in a deep gravitational potential ‘well’. If space is expanding and spreading the matter outward, then the depth of the well is decreasing. According to general relativity, especially a new solution of Einstein’s equations derived in the Appendix (which also deals with Birkhoff’s theorem), the decreasing depth continuously shortens ‘radar’ distances within the well, causing the observed apparent acceleration. The magnitude of the anomalous acceleration implies the bottom of the potential well has not yet risen very far above the critical depth for gravitational time dilation. Thus the Pioneer effect supports the essentials of several creationist cosmologies: a centre of mass, expansion of space and recent time dilation.
The paper itself is here.
Huxley Memorial Debate Now Free Online
Sunday, July 01, 2007
New ARN YouTube Videos
Hat tip to UncommonDescent.