Hardground with borings

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Photograph by Dan Phelps.

Phelps_Hardground_600.jpg

Hardground with borings from the Grant Lake Limestone (Upper Ordovician, Maysvillian), Maysville, Kentucky. Mr. Phelps explains, “Hardgrounds are surfaces in the geologic record that lithified on the sea floor and then were bored into and encrusted by marine invertebrates, followed by the deposition of more sediments. They are common in Ordovician carbonates of Kentucky.” And adds, “The creationist explanations for hardgrounds can be hilarious. Especially look at the diagram with gas emissions lifting antediluvian hardgrounds to be redeposited in the Flood.”

This link is a preview of an Australian television show about the “replica” of Noah’s Ark being built out of gopher steel and concrete in Kentucky. I think it will air next Sunday, and I hope that an online version will be available soon afterward. “Sunday Night” is apparently an Australian news magazine similar to 60 Minutes in the US.

Ken (who you callin’ the a Messiah, bud?) Ham commented on the program here; he seems to have been bent out of shape by a comment made by Bill Nye in the preview. Mr. Ham is an Australian native, and that may be part of the reason that the Australian channel is running the story.

The producers also interviewed the Ark Park’s persistent critic Dan Phelps at length, both in a hotel meeting room in Cincinnati and on an outcrop near Big Bone Lick State Park. I have a feeling that Mr. Ham will be bent further out of shape if Mr. Phelps’s comments are aired.

A commenter on an earlier thread directed our attention to an article by Zack Kopplin in the Daily Beast, “School teaching creationism with video from Islamic sex cult.” The headline may be a bit over the top, but the gist of the article is that the school district is employing materials developed by Harun Yahya. To give due credit, here is what the commenter, “Charley Horse,” wrote on the earlier thread:

A bit off topic … but of interest.

School Teaching Creationism With Video From Islamic Sex Cult. An Ohio school district is using a video made by a Holocaust-denying Muslim to undermine evolution in science class.

QUOTE A BIT:

A curriculum map recommends teachers in this public school district show a creationist video, Cambrian Fossils and the Creation of Species as part of 10th grade science education. The video claims that the Cambrian Explosion “totally invalidates the theory of evolution.”

…The district’s curriculum map calls for teaching “an alternative theory called Intelligent Design,” which is another name for creationism. Youngstown suggests teachers show a creationist video, Unlocking the Mystery of Life, produced by the right wing Christian advocacy group, Focus on the Family and by the Discovery Institute, a creationist think tank.…

“Students are reminded how the irreducibly complex system like the flagellum of a bacterial cell could not have evolved slowly, piece by piece and serves as a counter-example to evolution,” says the curriculum, citing another disproven creationist talking point. It also recommends the video Darwin’s Dilemma, also produced by the Discovery Institute. Other materials call evolution a “theory in crisis,” and were created by the All About GOD ministries.

The Daily Beast article directs us to a “curriculum map” and notes,

A curriculum map (PDF) recommends teachers in this public school district show a creationist video, Cambrian Fossils and the Creation of Species as part of 10th grade science education. The video claims that the Cambrian Explosion “totally invalidates the theory of evolution.” The Cambrian Explosion was a time period, nearly 550 million years ago, where, over the next tens of millions of years, the number of species on Earth experienced a (relatively) rapid expansion by evolutionary standards. Christian creationists regularly point to this explosion of life as evidence for creation by God and against evolution.

Blink and you’d miss the Islamic connection in the video. A black screen flashes for less than one second that says “this film is based on the works of Harun Yahya.” In the right corner, there’s a gold bubble that says, “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” in Arabic.

I followed the link to the curriculum map. I am not a biologist, and I did not read all 24 pages in detail, but, sure enough, on page 3/24, I found,

An article in The Star Press datelined Muncie, Indiana, today proclaimed, ‘Intelligent design’ professor earns tenure at Ball State. The professor in question is Eric Hedin, a physics professor who, as we reported in 2013, is apparently an intelligent-design creationist and once taught a course called Boundaries of Science. The class has, however, been canceled, and Professor Hedin has presumably been enjoined to not teach creationism in his physics classes. (No, my very dear trolls, that is not a violation of his freedom of speech.)

I looked up Professor Hedin and find that his research interests include “Teleology.” He has what seems to me a heavy teaching load, primarily General Physics 1 and 2, 5 mornings a week. I followed a link to his publications and find that he has a steady stream of publications in what look like respectable journals and conference proceedings. I did not see any papers that looked like they were concerned with teleology, and I presume that he is not surreptitiously teaching creationism.

The physics department at Ball State is blessed with 2 intelligent-design creationists. Panda’s Thumb reported, about 1 month before our report on Professor Hedin, that Gonzalez [is] appointed assistant professor at Ball State University, referring to the intelligent-design creationist Guillermo Gonzalez. Professor Gonzalez had famously been denied tenure at Iowa State University, presumably for failure to conduct an original research program and instead writing The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery.

A morbid curiosity getting the better of me, I looked up Professor Gonzalez in Google Scholar and also here. I do not know when he became a fellow of the Discovery Institute, but I noted no publications of interest after 2007, though he was a co-author of a book on observational astronomy in 2006. Like almost every other fellow of the DI, Professor Gonzalez appears to have produced virtually nothing since joining that institute.

But let us end on a positive note: The same cannot be said for Eric Hedin, and I must assume that his promotion and tenure are well deserved.

______

Thanks to Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education for the original link.

Recurvirostra americana

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DSC00949_Avocet_600_2.JPG

Recurvirostra americana – American avocet, Cottonwood Lake, Boulder, Colorado, 3 days ago.

A retired European geneticist, Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, has made a point that he feels is devastating to population genetic arguments about the effectiveness of natural selection. In a post at the Discovery Institute’s blog Evolution News and Views. He pointed to an argument he made in 2001 in an encyclopedia article. The essence of his criticism is that many organisms produce very large numbers of gametes, or of newborn offspring. Most of those must die. Then

If only a few out of millions and even billions of individuals are to survive and reproduce, then there is some difficulty believing that it should really be the fittest who would do so.

In addition, he was interviewed two days ago by Paul Nelson, in a podcast posted very recently by the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute, on their blog Evolution News and Views. You will find it here. He makes the same point (while Nelson misunderstands him and keeps raising an unrelated point about protein spaces).

It is a stunning thought that evolutionary biologists have ignored this issue. Have they? Have population geneticists ever thought about this? Well, actually they have, starting nearly 90 years ago. And the calculations that they made do not offer support to Dr. Lönnig. Let me explain …

Dan Phelps just sent us an editorial in the Lexington Herald-Leader. The editorial accuses Kentucky of seeking science jobs while at the same time denying science: not just evolution but also global warming, alternative energy sources, and conservation. The editorial notes that Kentucky is “perennially short of money,” in part because of tax breaks like that for the Ark Park, and concludes,

Kentucky forgoes tax revenue to help deny science while telling students they need to learn it. In homage to coal, Kentucky dumbly stints on alternative energy technologies, or even conservation, while telling young people they need to prepare to work in advanced manufacturing.

The messages aren’t just mixed, they’re in open conflict.

That about sums it up.

Celithemis eponina

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Photograph by Robin Lee-Thorp.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention.

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Celithemis eponina – Halloween pennant.

NCSE informs us that the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has rendered a decision in the appeal of Cope vs. Kansas, which we reported on here. Specifically, the Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s earlier dismissal of the case, largely on the basis of standing. Additionally, NCSE notes, “Interestingly, though, the decision observes in a footnote that COPE’s suggestion for ‘teleological’ explanations to be added to the standards would be unconstitutional.” NCSE’s report on the decision follows, printed with permission:

A DECISION IN THE COPE APPEAL

The creationist lawsuit seeking to reverse Kansas’s 2013 decision to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards on the grounds that the state thereby “establish[ed] and endorse[d] a non-theistic religious worldview” failed again on April 19, 2016, when the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s dismissal of the case, COPE et al. v. Kansas State Board of Education et al.

The court’s decision mainly addressed the question of standing, agreeing with the district court that the plaintiffs lacked standing to assert any of their claims. Interestingly, though, the decision observes in a footnote that COPE’s suggestion for “teleological” explanations to be added to the standards would be unconstitutional.

As NCSE previously reported, the lead plaintiff, COPE, Citizens for Objective Public Education, is a relatively new creationist organization, founded in 2012 but its leaders and attorneys include people familiar from previous attacks on evolution education across the country, such as John H. Calvert of the Intelligent Design Network.

The NGSS have been adopted in eighteen states – Arkansas (so far only for middle school), California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia – plus the District of Columbia. The treatment of evolution and climate science in the standards occasionally provokes controversy, but COPE v. Kansas is the only lawsuit to have resulted.

You may find the court’s decision (PDF) here, courtesy of NCSE.

And you may find NCSE’s collection of documents from COPE v. Kansas here

______

Thanks to Glenn Branch of NCSE for allowing us to reproduce their essay.

The Ark Park is hiring

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Answers in Genesis is advertising a whole slew of jobs, but you do not have to read very far between the lines to realize that the hirees will be “detailed” to the Ark Park, presumably because AIG, as a religious organization, is allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion. I do not know why they are bothering, because recently a Kentucky judge ruled, in effect, that it was legal for the Ark Park itself to discriminate on the basis of religion, and there is no chance that the state will appeal.

For the uninitiated, Ark Encounter (the legal name of the Ark Park) is a for-profit corporation, though it is apparently owned by Answers in Genesis. In order to get a tax break, Ark Encounter had been prohibited from discriminating on the basis of religion. Indeed, as we reported here, they purported to

provide equal employment opportunities to all qualified employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, religion, sex, age, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, citizenship status, veteran status, disability or any other legally protected status. [Emphasis added.]

Nevertheless we predicted some shenanigans here

… it appears as if AIG plans to hire someone to work not for AIG, but for its subsidiary, Ark Encounter, that is, that AIG wants to apply a religious test to an employee who on paper works at AIG but in fact works at Ark Encounter. You might say that they are planning to launder the position so that the religious test can be applied where it ought not be applicable.

and here

In other words, Ark Encounter’s tax incentives will be restored, if only they pledge in writing that they will not discriminate in employment. Ark Encounter has so far declined to give such assurance, which makes a body speculate that they just might be thinking of laundering all Ark Encounter employment through Answers in Genesis in order to circumvent the law.

I checked the job listings, and, sure enough, the jobs are apparently located at “(WILLIAMSTOWN, KY/ARK …),” even though the employer appears to be AIG. Additionally, AIG applies a religious test. For example, a senior network administrator has to have

Ability to communicate technical issues and concepts to a broad range of technical and non-technical staff with Christ-like kindness and tact …

Most importantly, a proven firmness in their walk with Christ, and a passion for technical skill for the glory of God.

A grounds maintenance technician has to supply “Salvation testimony. Creation belief statement. Confirmation of agreement with the AiG Statement of Faith.” Other occupations that I checked had similar requirements.

I cannot immediately find a forthright statement by Ark Encounter that they will not discriminate on the basis of religion, but the mayor of Williamstown certainly thought so:

…The city supports the Ark and is pleased that it is locating in Williamstown. The Ark Encounter will not require anyone to sign a statement of faith. I agree with you that it is a requirement of employment at the Creation Museum [presumably as opposed to the Ark Park] …

according to a Facebook posting on March 6, 2013, which an informant very kindly sent me. I do not know whether anyone piped up to disillusion the mayor.

Finally, while figuratively thumbing through old Panda’s Thumb articles, I came across my own 2011 article, Ark Park goes nowhere, in which I predicted that the groundbreaking would take place in 250,000 years:

My own estimate is that their timescale is skewed by their belief that the Earth is around 5000 years old. It is in fact more like 5 billion years old. Thus, if we take 3-4 months and multiply it by the ratio of 5 billion years to 5000 years, we estimate that the groundbreaking ceremony will take place in 3 million months, or 250,000 years.

LEO Weekly was more modest and estimated 2024.

Read very carefully, because this may be the first time that a pundit has ever admitted error: However reasonable my prediction – and they had raised very little money at the time – I was severely mistaken, and the Ark Park will open on July 7, 2016. If that is not a miracle, nothing is.
_____

Note added in proof, so to speak. Dylan Lovan of the Associated Press reports today that the Ark Park will hire approximately 300-400 people; they must be Christians, but apparently almost any denomination will suffice (see, however, the requirements for the grounds maintenance technician, above). I do not know whether all these positions will be laundered through AIG.

Attacus atlas

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Photograph by Diogenes.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention.

Diogenes.Attacus_atlas_male.jpg

Attacus atlas – Atlas moth. This specimen is a captive male at the Museum of the Academy of Natural History of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

wafflehouse

Solemn greetings, all. Today, as the more reverent among you know, is Paul Nelson Day. Today is the 12th annual feast day of St Nelson, patron saint of obtusity and procrastination, and we honor his contributions to science by...well, by not doing much of anything at all. You could make grandiose claims today and promise to make good on them tomorrow, a tomorrow that stretches out into a decade or more, I suppose, but that's too much work. Instead, maybe we should all just shrug and say we'll think about celebrating later.

Oh, jeez, shrugging? I don't have time for that. How about if we don't and just say we did.

I also thought about suggesting waffles as the perfect food for this day, but nah, I'd have to cook them, or go to a restaurant. I'm just going to say "waffles!" and put it off to some other day.

Anyway, if you don't know the story, Paul Nelson is a creationist who attended the Society for Developmental Biology meetings in 2004, with a poster in which he claimed to have developed this new evo-devoish parameter, Ontogenetic Depth, that supposedly measured the difficulty of developmental complexity to evolve. I quizzed him on it, and specifically asked him to explain how I could measure it in my zebrafish, for example, and he couldn't tell me, even though he seemed to be saying that he and a student had been doing these 'measurements'. But he promised to send me a paper he was working on that explained it all. Tomorrow! A tomorrow that never came.

So now we remind him of his failure every year. It's a good thing to point out to Intelligent Design creationists that they don't seem to be very good at fulfilling their grand promises.

He seems to sometimes notice that he's being mocked, at least. Last year, he tried to trot out Ontogenetic Depth 2.0, which was just as impractical and ill-conceived as the first non-existent version. Maybe he'll have a new beta for us this year, too?

Unlikely. Too much work. Not in the spirit of the day.

Metaconglomerate rock

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Photograph by Dan Phelps.

Phelps_Metaconglomerate_2_600.jpg

Metaconglomerate rock (commercially known as marinace; if anyone knows why, please comment below).

Mr. Phelps writes:

I originally became interested in this rock after reading this blog post. The material was hard to find in small quantities, but I found a company that sells interesting rock slabs to use as cutting boards. If you notice, my slab has handles, which I will probably remove.

The rock is actually a metaconglomerate from Brazil and may represent a metamorphosed Proterozoic glacial tillite.

It is relatively easy to construct an entire series of events that led to the formation of this interesting and beautiful rock. Specimens of this rock might be useful for educators to show basic geologic concepts, including geologic time, to both students and the public.

Note that individual cobbles and pebbles are made of quartzite, gneiss, and what is either a migmatite or a metamorphosed pinkish orthoclase feldspar-rich granite. The greenish black matrix is rich in the mineral chlorite.

I came up with the following steps to form this rock slab. Please comment below or e-mail me at [Enable javascript to see this email address.] if you think I have missed anything.

1. Deposition of the sediments that make up the precursors of the cobbles/pebbles.

2. Lithification of sedimentary rocks that were the precursors of the cobbles/pebbles. These include sandstone, and shales and siltstones (protoliths of the metamorphic rocks in Step 3).

3. Metamorphism of the sedimentary rocks in Step 2 by heat and pressure, resulting in quartzite and gneiss. Some of the gneiss may have partially melted then crystallized to form a pinkish orthoclase-rich migmatite.

4. Weathering of the metamorphic rocks in Step 3.

5. Erosion of these metamorphic rocks into well-rounded pebbles/cobbles.

6. Deposition of these pebbles/cobbles in a fine-grained mud.

7. Lithification of the sediment from Step 6. This results in a rock type of pebble/cobble sized fragments in a fine-grained mudstone matrix and is called a diamictite. Diamictites often represent lithified glacial till.

8. Metamorphism of the rock formed in Step 7 forming a metaconglomerate. This occurred deep enough underground to change the mudstone matrix into greenish black chlorite.

9. An orogeny (mountain building) event stretched many of the pebbles and cobbles giving the rock a foliation.

10. Pressure solution causes some of the pebbles/cobbles to erode at boundaries where they touch each other.

11. Weathering and erosion bring the metaconglomerate to the surface.

12. Human quarrying followed by cutting and polishing of the slab.

By Gaythia Weis.

I want to call attention to the newly enacted legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which relinquishes Federal control over many aspects of the education of our nation’s children. In so doing, this law may enable religious activists to exert their influence to a greater extent than previously possible. I need not remind readers of The Panda’s Thumb of the manner in which creationists attempt to subvert the public education system to further their own ideological goals.

ESSA is the latest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was first enacted in the Lyndon Johnson administration as a means of furthering equality of education in our nation. ESSA is ostensibly directed to address issues, including excessive student testing and ineffective teachers, that many think were problems with the previous No Child Left Behind program. However, the ESSA is the result of bipartisan political compromise and its provisions raise new issues.

Some of these issues ought to be of grave concern to those of us interested in science education. These issues call for our close attention and active monitoring.

I do not know why it is coming to light only now, but a few years ago a Kentucky elementary school rewarded students with “perfect” attendance by taking them on a field trip to the Creation “Museum.” Americans United has reported the story here, and a few days ago we received a press release from Daniel Phelps, a persistent critic of the Ark Park and the Creation Museum. Mr. Phelps has sent his press release to the Associated Press and elsewhere, but he tells us that he cannot get any reporter interested in investigating. We will reproduce his press release below the fold.

Americans United notes that the school’s definition of “perfect” is somewhat flexible, in that one absence counted as perfect. More importantly, they note

And kids have a right to learn about [certain religious concepts] - on their own time or in Sunday school. Such ideas are not appropriate for an official public school field trip, even if that trip was only offered to a handful of students. Instead, kids should be learning sound science - not religious dogma.

Mr. Phelps argues that the trip is “a clear violation of the separation of church and state” and “an act of educational malpractice.” He is concerned that, although this trip happened in 2012, there may be many like it, and he claims that Answers in Genesis “brags that they have stealth missionaries in the public school system.” Mr. Phelps’s entire press release follows.

Interesting video, Proof of evolution that you can find on your own body, deals with several vestigial organs in the human body. It is certainly hard to see why a god might have included such organs if she had created humans by any method other than evolution. The video is only 4 min long; watch it!

The Sensuous Curmudgeon informs us today that the Tri-State Freethinkers of Newport, Kentucky, will launch a billboard campaign that, as they put it, intends to “counter” the grand opening of the Ark Park in July. They have launched an IndieGoGo campaign with an intended goal of $2000; when I checked a moment ago, it looked as though they had raised nearly $3100 in a single day.

The billboard will read

Genocide and Incest Park
Celebrating 2000 Years of Myths

Yes, I know, that may be a bit over the top and, except for the picture, does not obviously refer to the Ark Park. But, dammit, the Ark Park is well over the top, and I intend to contribute $18* right away.
______

* A bit of numerology; even strict materialists can have traditions.

Grus canadensis

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Photograph by Robert Dullien.

Dullien_Sandhill_Crane_600.JPG

Grus canadensis – sandhill crane.

We have just received an e-mail from one of the Panda’s Thumb crew to the effect that a paper “demonstrating” the intelligent design of the human hand has been published in the refereed journal Plos One. The paragraphs that caught the crew member’s attention are these:

The explicit functional link indicates that the biomechanical characteristic of tendinous connective architecture between muscles and articulations is the proper design by the Creator to perform a multitude of daily tasks in a comfortable way.

In conclusion, our study can improve the understanding of the human hand and confirm that the mechanical architecture is the proper design by the Creator for dexterous performance of numerous functions following the evolutionary remodeling of the ancestral hand for millions of years.

Another crew member directs us to the website Retraction Watch, which quotes a Plos editor to the effect that

PLOS has just been made aware of this issue and we are looking into it in depth. Our internal editors are reviewing the manuscript and will decide what course of action to take. PLOS’ publishing team is also assessing its processes.

The Retraction Watch paper naturally engendered the response,

Where has tolerance and respect for the beliefs and opinions of others gone? One doesn’t need to agree, but bringing in a different idea in a civil manner seems more appropriate for an academic discussion.

buzzards.jpg

This was sent out by the Discovery Institute around a week ago. Note the bolded sentence.

Dear {Insert name of email recipient here}:

Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, originator of modern quantum theories and 1918 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, was quoted as saying, “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

Here in Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (CSC), we are living proof that no matter how powerful an idea is–and the idea of intelligent design (ID) is truly a powerful one–there is some truth to Planck’s statement. It is not just about convincing opponents about the merits of ID. While books such as Stephen C. Meyer’s Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt have been met with critical acclaim, there is still a long way to go.

Thanks to your generosity, we aren’t simply waiting for our opponents to die.

Since its inception almost 10 years ago, visionary CSC donors have enabled us to focus on educating young people through our Summer Seminar on Intelligent Design and C.S. Lewis Fellows Program– programs designed to raise up a new generation of scientists and scholars who are not afraid to follow the evidence wherever it leads. These programs are made possible by those who recognize that science needs an infusion of new minds and ideas.

We need your support to continue and expand these programs. Our summer programs attract students from the United States and around the world, including Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, Central and South America, and the Middle East; more than we can admit. Most of these students cannot attend unless we pay their expenses.

You can help with your gift of any amount.

  • $75 will pay for the cost of ground transportation for one student.
  • $200 will provide books and other curricular materials to one student.
  • $800 will pay to house and feed one student for the entire program.
  • $2,500 will cover the full cost for admitting an additional student into the program.

Donate now to the Summer Seminar campaign and be a part of the transformation of science and culture, one student’s life at a time!

Creepy, or what? Discuss.

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Recent Comments

  • harold: He actually appears to have been an elementary school teacher at the Lynn A. Budlong Elementary in Chicago. http://www.ratemyteachers.com/jan-p[…]kis/944059-t He isn’t present on the latest faculty page at their read more
  • Rolf: Robert, it is all about The universal Deluge the hypothetical Noah’s Flood, and Alternative Hypotheses for Hardground Origins. Too much hyphothesising going on there Robert. You all pull hypotheses from read more
  • Dave Luckett: Wait, there’s more. Young-earth creationists also dismiss radiometric dating techniques on the grounds that the half-lives of the isotopes concerned might have been far shorter in the past, and nobody read more
  • Dave Luckett: Occam’s razor. read more
  • Scott F: But we have modern examples of just what you are describing. Just look at the valleys surrounding Mount St. Helens, or other volcanic mountains. Or look at the mud read more
  • phhht: Especially if you admit mental illness. read more
  • prongs: Is not the human mind the most wonderful thing? The extent of its imaginations seems endless, and without bound. read more
  • Henry J: That reminds me of a remark by a character in a science fiction novel: the character supposed that maybe God split her/his/its self into a huge number of pieces read more
  • Charley Horse: Just a reminder.…John Woodmorappe is a high school science teacher in Illinois…or was back in 2008. His real name is Jan Peczkis. More at http://aigbusted.blogspot.com/2008/[…]morappe.html Which reminded me of his read more
  • Robert Byers: Its an idea. I don’t know about this idea. The facts are that turning sediment into stone etc is a big deal. I suggest instead the sediment was suddenly laid read more

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