In the Zone

| 25 Comments

Y’all may remember the last world-famous person I hung out with. I’m currently hobnobbing it with many famous people at the Evolution meeting in Portland. Today I got to meet in person a regular contributor to our site:

felsenstein.jpg

Sweet, huh!

If you are at the conference and want your picture with me, just track down Reed Cartwright. He’s giving a talk Monday morning.

25 Comments

YEC baraminologist Todd Wood is at the conference, sending daily updates via his blog. You should get a picture of him with Prof Steve Steve!

http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/

SteveF said:

YEC baraminologist Todd Wood is at the conference, sending daily updates via his blog. You should get a picture of him with Prof Steve Steve!

http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/

Wow, I looked on that blog … guy flatly admits that evo science is NOT in crisis and that the evidence DOES support it, but that his faith supports a different read on things.

Being an apatheist I can’t say what goes on in the head of a fundy, but all I can think is: Urrr, wouldn’t it be a LOT less complicated just to take the theistic evolutionist position and be done with it?

I did a search for “baramin” and eventually found this:

//www.bryancore.org/anniversary/10.pdf

“Perspectives on ageing, a young-earth creation diversification model” by Todd Charles Wood

In this essay, I found this:

For example, a new report places all fossil equids in a single monobaramin, implying that they descended from a pair of horses on the Ark [12]. This would require the origin of 150 species of horse prior to the gift of donkeys (Equus asinus) from Pharaoh to Abram (Gen. 12:16), which took place ~400 years after the Flood. Similar examples of rapid diversification in other vertebrate baramins could be given (e.g. see Wood [68]). Since we see no ‘speciation’ like this today or in historical times, we can infer that the mechanism of intrabaraminic diversification is qualitatively different from modern speciation [68].

Hey, Prof. Steve. Did you see Mike Steel’s talk? Apparently Joe Felsenstein is God.

TomS said:

I did a search for “baramin” and eventually found this:

//www.bryancore.org/anniversary/10.pdf

“Perspectives on ageing, a young-earth creation diversification model” by Todd Charles Wood

In this essay, I found this:

For example, a new report places all fossil equids in a single monobaramin, implying that they descended from a pair of horses on the Ark [12]. This would require the origin of 150 species of horse prior to the gift of donkeys (Equus asinus) from Pharaoh to Abram (Gen. 12:16), which took place ~400 years after the Flood. Similar examples of rapid diversification in other vertebrate baramins could be given (e.g. see Wood [68]). Since we see no ‘speciation’ like this today or in historical times, we can infer that the mechanism of intrabaraminic diversification is qualitatively different from modern speciation [68].

In short, evolution happened, but only when the Bible allows for it to happen.

NO! The Bible is NOT the standard for empirical truth! The universe itself is.

Dale Husband said: In short, evolution happened, but only when the Bible allows for it to happen.

Or… It’s perfectly rational to assume that species changed incredibly quickly, and migrated incredibly quickly, and, in many cases, went extinct incredibly quickly and in tightly defined areas because the Bible infers that something like that had to happen.

But, it’s totally irrational to think that species change gradually, migrate eventually, and go extinct occasionally, over vast reaches of the geological past and in a process that continues today, because the only thing that supports that crazy idea is giant piles of hard evidence.

I followed a previous thread to the baraminology papers and found one in which non-poisonous snakes had been raised and tricked into mating with related species, using the same types of methods regular scientists have used with insects. They produced fertile hybrids with intermediate markings. It seemed like a well-done scientific paper, but instead of a peer reviewed journal, it will probably go into some crack-pot tract proving the snakes are one “kind.” It just seems so, so sad.…

My take on this is that at least Wood is trying to present a scenario. That the only scenario that he can present is weird, that’s another issue.

stevaroni said:

Dale Husband said: In short, evolution happened, but only when the Bible allows for it to happen.

Or… It’s perfectly rational to assume that species changed incredibly quickly, and migrated incredibly quickly, and, in many cases, went extinct incredibly quickly and in tightly defined areas because the Bible infers that something like that had to happen.

But, it’s totally irrational to think that species change gradually, migrate eventually, and go extinct occasionally, over vast reaches of the geological past and in a process that continues today, because the only thing that supports that crazy idea is giant piles of hard evidence.

May I steal that comment and use it elsewhere, stevaroni?

Todd Wood apparently has the strongest compartmentalization abilities in the history of the universe. http://www.bryan.edu/wood.html

He actually seems to be able and willing to look at mainstream biological science, apparently even understand it (he has a legitimate PhD, although that doesn’t help some other creationists), acknowledge that it makes sense, and then admit that he can’t accept it and veer off into his own purely religious explanation.

He borders on advocating Omphalos, and for all I know, might even agree that he does advocate a variant of it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omphalos

Now, I’ve been disappointed every other time that I said a kind word about a creationist, but there seems to be a shred of a possibility that Todd Wood is that insanely rare specimen, an honest creationist.

If so, then of course, his approach is not only useless to, but an anathema to, the run of the mill nihilistic “defeat ‘evolution’ in court no matter what it takes” creationists who make up 99.9% of the total.

Hell, he’s even useless to the tiny number of crackpots who deny evolution in order to fuel their own obsessive fantasy of “great genius”.

“I admit that evolution is supported by the evidence, and I reject it solely because of my religious beliefs, despite the evidence”. Not exactly the way to become a DI fellow.

Yeah, from my admittedly sketchy pokings through his blog it seems that Wood honestly respects and possibly even likes the sciences. Ordinary creationists, though they ceaselessly try to obscure the fact, obviously detest the sciences.

I feel sorry for Wood, watching a person trying to reconcile two masters when he CAN’T. I wonder how long he can maintain such a conflicted position. I would think he would either have to fall back to traditional YEC concepts – I don’t think he can do that, he sounds too smart – or move on to a TE position.

Prof. Steve Steve has returned! Rejoice! :D

Also: Prof. Wood…enough already, come to the dark evolution side!

MrG said:

SteveF said:

YEC baraminologist Todd Wood is at the conference, sending daily updates via his blog. You should get a picture of him with Prof Steve Steve!

http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/

Wow, I looked on that blog … guy flatly admits that evo science is NOT in crisis and that the evidence DOES support it, but that his faith supports a different read on things.

Being an apatheist I can’t say what goes on in the head of a fundy, but all I can think is: Urrr, wouldn’t it be a LOT less complicated just to take the theistic evolutionist position and be done with it?

That sounds like the Omphalos position. I knew someone like that. A rank-and-file Omphalos creationist might become a TE, if he can get over the discomfort of saying that he believes God used evolution (common descent and all), rather than just that he can’t dispute the evidence. But to an activist admitting TE would be career suicide.

harold Wrote:

“I admit that evolution is supported by the evidence, and I reject it solely because of my religious beliefs, despite the evidence”. Not exactly the way to become a DI fellow.

Oops, you beat me to the Omphalos punch. I don’t think that Wood would want to be a DI fellow, though. I think he is aiming at an audience that doesn’t care what the evidence says, only that their beliefs are validated, be it by evidence, “revelation” whatever.

Whereas the DI is aiming at an audience that does care about the evidence (however cherry-picked and otherwise misrepresented), but mainly that it refutes evolution. Wood wants people to believe YEC, whereas the DI doesn’t care if they believe YEC, OEC, or “virtual evolution.” Just don’t say you’re a TE, or heaven forbid rave about Ken Miller.

Frank J said:

But to an activist admitting TE would be career suicide.

Yep. Glenn Morton wrote about the reception he got when he started having serious questions about the creationist position.

Of course, the other interesting thing about Wood is that, by emphatically declaring that the whole creationist rumble about evo science being on its last legs is bogus … he makes it clear that he KNOWS the arguments that his fellow believers are using are duds, that he KNOWS they’re talking trash.

The question is one of just how long somebody can survive in such a conflicted position. As Morton’s experience showed, the instant the doubts reach a certain level, the hostility to the doubter goes into fast-ramp positive feedback and quickly drives the doubter out.

Frank J. -

For what it’s worth, which is fairly little, Wood seems to be the kind of creationist I can live with on an intellectual level. He isn’t lying about the evidence, or misrepresenting the scientific point of view, or, as far as I can tell, spreading lies in any way. He’s looked at the evidence fair and square, with an educated eye. To me, it’s clear that there are many religious stances in the world, but the scientific evidence all converges on one explanation for the diversity of life on earth (which is not at odds with many religious dogmas; see the previous thread).

Wood apparently sees the same thing but feels that it is trumped by a particular religious dogma, which, as far as I can tell, he expresses honestly and openly. He is optimistic that his work will somehow eventually reconcile his dogma with science, but does not seem to be making false statements about the current state of affairs.

There’s simply no problem for me there, whatsoever, if the above is accurate. We can honestly state one another’s views in an unbiased manner, and agree to disagree.

But it’s not my intellectual differences with creationists, but rather, my legal differences, which are important. I strongly support their right to hold any crazy belief they want, as long as they respect my rights.

I strongly defend my constitutional right as a US citizen, that my tax dollars not be used to favor or promote any particular religion over others. Note that this view is independent of my particular religious stance. If the FSM manifests before me tomorrow and I convert to Pastafarianism*, I will still respect the rights of my fellow citizens and not try to jam Pastafarian dogma into publicly funded science classes.

If Wood wants any form of promotion of a particular religion in public schools, then he and I have a serious disagreement (with me being 100% objectively correct as long as the US constitution is in force).

Now, if he advocates mainstream science in private school and creationism in private venues, then we have no problem at all.

*I reject religions which promote the idea of eternal torment or discrimination against people for irrelevant reasons out of hand, whether they are true or not. The Taliban, as represented in the US media, could convince me that they actually have it right tomorrow, and I still wouldn’t worship their religion (putting aside the actual extremely complex nature of religious and social beliefs in Afghanistan). I believe this is pretty standard for apatheists. However, my only reason for rejecting the FSM is that I don’t believe in Her, so I am open to revelatory experiences.

Wood seems to me to be a tragic figure. I read on his blog that he has a hypothesis that intermediate organisms (which he doesn’t deny exist) of course aren’t evolutionary links between “baramins”, but might be some kind of message from God which he hopes to decode. What a waste! He might as well study astrology and try to decipher messages from the Gods in the stars. Its a shame that someone who could have made a contribution in science to humanity will waste his abilities like that.

Dale Husband said:

May I steal that comment and use it elsewhere, stevaroni?

Be my guest.

Aagcobb said:

Wood seems to me to be a tragic figure. I read on his blog that he has a hypothesis that intermediate organisms (which he doesn’t deny exist) of course aren’t evolutionary links between “baramins”, but might be some kind of message from God which he hopes to decode. What a waste! He might as well study astrology and try to decipher messages from the Gods in the stars. Its a shame that someone who could have made a contribution in science to humanity will waste his abilities like that.

I agree. He reminds me of Kurt Wise in that he knows the evidence is there but holds that somehow, despite everything, the Henry Morris/Ken Ham version of prehistory is correct. I actually have more respect for him than I do for Nathaniel Jeanson (a friend of a friend), recently of (hangs head in shame) one of Harvard’s Ph.D. programs and now of the ICR, who goes on with the usual nonsense about how evolution is weak science.

harold Wrote:

Now, if he advocates mainstream science in private school and creationism in private venues, then we have no problem at all.

I defend anyone’s legal right to peddle creationism or any other pseudoscience in private venues too, but I still have a big problem with it. One I would tackle not by denying their freedom to peddle their nonsense, but by exercising our own right to refute their arguments and expose their tactics wherever they use them.

In fact I’m relatively less concerned about anti-evolution activists’ efforts to control public school science class than their efforts everywhere else, if only because NCSE and other science supporters are doing such a great job. Though I make sure to put my “2c” – actually $30 – in each year anyway.

Maybe I’m not looking at a representative sample of the efforts, but it does look like more attention should be devoted to venues where misrepresenting science is legal, but still immoral.

James F Wrote:

I actually have more respect for him than I do for Nathaniel Jeanson (a friend of a friend), recently of (hangs head in shame) one of Harvard’s Ph.D. programs and now of the ICR, who goes on with the usual nonsense about how evolution is weak science.

We should always be suspicious of anyone who pretends to have an alternate “theory” yet “supports” it mostly or exclusively on “weaknesses” of evolution. If they really believe that the evidence supports their “theory,” especially one that makes the extraordinary claim that the Earth itself is only a few 1000 years old, why would they want to, let alone need to, even mention evolution?

MrG said:

SteveF said:

YEC baraminologist Todd Wood is at the conference, sending daily updates via his blog. You should get a picture of him with Prof Steve Steve!

http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/

Wow, I looked on that blog … guy flatly admits that evo science is NOT in crisis and that the evidence DOES support it, but that his faith supports a different read on things.

Being an apatheist I can’t say what goes on in the head of a fundy, but all I can think is: Urrr, wouldn’t it be a LOT less complicated just to take the theistic evolutionist position and be done with it?

Since I live in China where blogspot is censored, I can not access Wood’s blog. However, what I suspect he believes in is presuppositional apologetics. This is a school of theological thought that declares the Bible must be completely true becuase if it is not, human knowledge becomes impossible. The basis for this conclusion seems to be a word salad of Calvinist total depravity mixed with Cartesian and Humean skepticism. Personally, I can’t find the actual argument.

What this theology does is free people like Todd to actually admit what the scientific evidence is since it can have no bearing on the final conclusion. That is, Todd can admit the scientific evidence supports evolution, but it still must be wrong because if the Bible is not inerrant, human knowledge becomes impossible. He would probably say that in years to come there will be new discoveries that support the Biblical version of events.

Andrew Stallard said:

… mixed with Cartesian and Humean skepticism.

I’m wading through Hume right now – actually rock solid clear once one gets through his ways of speaking and wraps the brain around what he was talking about.

Anyway, on reading Hume I’m surprised crackpots don’t exploit him more, he said a lot of things that could be easily misconstrued by those with a willingness to do. I go a bit pale thinking of what he would have done to somebody if he caught him doing it, though.

Frank J -

Maybe I’m not looking at a representative sample of the efforts, but it does look like more attention should be devoted to venues where misrepresenting science is legal, but still immoral.

Sorry, let me clarify fully.

I have a huge problem with all creationists I have ever heard of except Wood for the same reasons you give above. Even when they aren’t violating the constitution per se, they are lying about science, misleading the public, contributing to science illiteracy, hiding their own true views, behaving like con men, promoting a harsh political agenda with “religious” justifications, etc.

In theory, if an honest person exists who is honest and knowledgeable about science, does not mislead, does not hide their views, but rejects science as a description of reality for bizarre reasons (by my standards) in an honest way, I have no problem with that. Wood, alone among active creationists, may come close to fitting this description. I don’t ask people to be entirely sane, I just ask them to behave decently.

I suspect I’ll find out that he doesn’t fit it, either, but for now, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and designating him as a rare “honest creationist”.

MrG said:

Andrew Stallard said:

… mixed with Cartesian and Humean skepticism.

I’m wading through Hume right now – actually rock solid clear once one gets through his ways of speaking and wraps the brain around what he was talking about.

In my opinion, Hume’s argument against the possibility of induction, that experience is not a legitimate way to discovery causal relations, is engagingly wrong, with the emphasis on engagingly. While no inductive argument is absolutely certain, I think it is wrong to suggest, as Hume does, that no inductive argument is stronger than any other. Indeed, Hume even admitted that we must live as if induction works. I see Hume’s argument not as a conclusion, but as a challenge, a challenge to understand exactly what conclusions can be drawn from what experiences. (You can read all of my opinions on this subject when my own treatise gets published.*)

Anyway, on reading Hume I’m surprised crackpots don’t exploit him more, he said a lot of things that could be easily misconstrued by those with a willingness to do. I go a bit pale thinking of what he would have done to somebody if he caught him doing it, though.

The pre-suppers do. They take Hume’s argument not only as decisive as it stands but also as implying some nihilistic Pyrrhonian skepticism that Hume would have never accepted, and then they say this proves “secular humanists” have no reason to “account for” knowledge, whereas the Bible somehow does. (Exactly how the Bible does this is something they never get around to explaining.) Presuppositionalism is an interesting mental fun house to explore, but be sure to bring some brain bleach when you do so.

*–This work will not be at Amazon this year, or the next, or probably not before all American troops leave Afghanistan.

Andrew Stallard said:

Presuppositionalism is an interesting mental fun house to explore, but be sure to bring some brain bleach when you do so.

I don’t know Hume at all well, but I will say this: it would seem only too easy for the foolish or unscrupulous to try to read him as Charles Fort.

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This page contains a single entry by Prof. Steve Steve published on June 27, 2010 1:47 AM.

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