March 2014 Archives

Geranium richardsonii

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Photograph by Andrew Freeman.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention.

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Geranium richardsonii – wild geranium, Pearl Lake, Colorado.

Since everyone is all het up about Noah, I thought I would resurrect (sorry) a narrative I wrote 15 years ago for my book on science and religion. The “Friedman” I cite is Richard Elliott Friedman, author of Who Wrote the Bible? I used the section primarily to explain why scholars are convinced that the Hebrew Bible is a composite of two different but related methodologies (the documentary hypothesis), but it also shows the utter incoherence of the Bible when read as a literal history. The excerpt may be found below the fold.

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Well, AiG’s Ken Ham has seen the movie “Noah” starring Russell Crowe, and boy, is he steamed!

Friends, I just arrived home after seeing the Hollywood (Paramount) movie NOAH tonight. It is MUCH much worse than I thought it would be. Much worse.

The Director of the movie, Darren Aronofsky has been quoted in the media as saying NOAH is ‘the least biblical biblical film ever made’, I agree wholeheartedly with him.

I am disgusted. I am going to come right out and say it-it is disgusting and evil-paganism! Do you really want your family to see a pagan movie the has Noah as some psychopath who says if his daughter-in-law’s baby is a girl, he will kill it as soon as it’s born. And then when two girls are born, bloodstained Noah (the man the Bible calls righteous Noah-Genesis 7:1), brings a knife down to one of the baby’s heads to kill it and at the last minute doesn’t do it-and then a bit later says he failed because he didn’t kill the babies. How can we recommend this movie and then speak against abortion! Psychopathic Noah sees humans as a blight on the planet and wants to rid the world of people.

I feel dirty-as if I have to somehow wash the evil off me.

Aythya americana

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Aythya americana – redhead, Walden Ponds, Boulder, Colorado, 2014. A stray widgeon insisted on getting into the picture. (The person with the biggest binoculars told me that they were cinnamon teals, but that does not look right. Someone with a good pattern-recognition system please correct me if necessary.)

Cygnus columbianus

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Cygnus columbianus – tundra swan, Walden Ponds, Boulder, Colorado, March, 2014. A single swan, presumably the same one, has been showing up here for the last few years. I looked for the people with the biggest binoculars and the longest focal-length camera lenses and asked how come there was only one? I got several answers, all of which begged the question why the bird is not in a flock: (1) They mate for life, and maybe this one lost its mate. (2) They mate for life, but maybe they don’t always hang around together. (3) Maybe this one is a juvenile, not old enough to have a mate.

I finally watched a tape of the first installment of the new “Cosmos” series the other day. I thought it was a bit overdone and maybe a little slow, and I thought the cartoons were ghastly. (Also, there were gobs of commercials; why oh why is this series not showing on PBS?) Never once did I imagine that anyone would accuse such a completely innocuous television program of being propaganda for materialism. Yet according to a Salon article by Andrew Leonard, the far right has accused the program of being precisely that. Ironic that is showing on the Fox network!

I have not looked at the primary sources, so I will have to take Leonard’s word for it, but they may be right about Giordano Bruno. The conventional wisdom is that Bruno was burned for supporting the heliocentric theory, but the historian Alberto Martinez, in his book Science Secrets, thinks that it may as well have been because of his theological views: doubting that Jesus was born of a virgin and denying that he was actually God. Bruno was, nevertheless, an early and vigorous supporter of the Copernican theory, and only an idiot or a conspiracy theorist (but I repeat myself) would think that Bruno was introduced into the program for nefarious reasons.

Acknowledgment. Thanks to Walter Plywaski for showing me the Salon article.

Paabo_2014_Neanderthal_Man_cover.jpgPeople have been sending me this, so I might as well blog it. In February 2014, Svante Pääbo, who led the Neanderthal genome project, published a popular book on the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome, and reactions to it.

I haven’t yet read the book, although I’m sure it’s great, based on talks I have seen by Pääbo. However, there is one passage that PT readers may find particularly interesting:

Svante Pääbo (2014). Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes. Basic Books; First Edition (February 11, 2014), 288 pages http://www.amazon.com/Svante-P%C3%A[…]e/B00GJ9XR7O

p. 221:

There were many others who were interested in the Neanderthal genome – perhaps most surprisingly, some fundamentalist Christians in the United States. A few months after our paper appeared, I met Nicholas J. Matzke, a doctoral candidate at the Center for Theoretical Evolutionary Genomics at UC Berkeley. Unbeknownst to me and the other authors, our paper had apparently caused quite a flurry of discussion in the creationist community. Nick explained to me that creationists come in two varieties. First, there are “young-earth creationists,” who believe that the earth, the heavens, and all life were created by direct acts of God sometime between 5,700 and 10,000 years ago. They tend to consider Neanderthals as “fully human,” sometimes saying they were another, now extinct “race” that was scattered after the fall of the Tower of Babel. As a consequence, young-earth creationists had no problem with our finding that Neanderthals and modern humans had mixed. Then there are “old-earth creationists,” who accept that the earth is old but reject evolution by natural, nondivine means. One major old-earth ministry is “Reasons to Believe,” headed by a Hugh Ross. He believes that modern humans were specially created around 50,000 years ago and that Neanderthals weren’t humans, but animals. Ross and other old-earth creationists didn’t like the finding that Neanderthals and modern humans had mixed. Nick sent me a transcript from a radio show in which he [meaning Hugh Ross] commented on our work, saying interbreeding was predictable “because the story of Genesis is early humanity getting into exceptionally wicked behavior practices,” and that God may have had to “forcibly scatter humanity over the face of the Earth” to stop this kind of interbreeding, which he compared to “animal bestiality.”

Clearly our paper was reaching a broader audience than we had ever imagined.

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The above is the copy I got in an email.

Somebody spilled the beans, alas, and the corrected version with “antidote” has been posted.

Too late, we’ve gotten our belly laugh! Nyah Nyah, Discovery Institute, no memory hole is big enough to make this laughable faux pas go away.

I occasionally receive a request to print or post a photograph that has appeared on Panda’s Thumb, but this one takes the cake: A magazine called Creation Illustrated, which bills itself as “The Christian answer to National Geographic,” requested permission to publish this photograph

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in its magazine. Fat chance!

Their e-mail was datelined, “URGENT - Matt Young’s photo of Table Mountain needed.” Needed, eh? I am afraid I was not very kind to them:

Thank you; I am glad you liked my photograph. Unfortunately, under no conditions will I allow this photograph (or any other to which I own the copyright) to be published in any creationist publication. So my answer is, “No.” Did you not notice that the website, Panda’s Thumb, where the photograph was published, is devoted to scientific reality, that is, evolutionary science? “Christian answer to National Geographic,” indeed!

Until now, I was blissfully unaware that National Geographic needed an answer of any kind.

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www.arkencounter.org

Gaillardia aestivalis

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Photograph by Lynn Wilhelm.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention.

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Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri ‘Grape Sensation’ – Winkler’s White Firewheel-Purple selection, JC Raulston Arboretum Raleigh, North Carolina. Ms. Wilhelm adds, “This cultivar (cultivated variety) is a selection by the Stephen F. Austin State University Mast Arboretum in Nacogdoches, Texas, in honor of the school color. The natural variety is white with a yellow center and is found only in one county in Texas. Gaillardia aestivalis depends on fire to reduce competition in its native habitat (hence the common name).

By David MacMillan

Following the joint interview with Dan Phelps and Terry Mortenson on WEKU-FM, David MacMillan wrote a letter to Dr. Mortenson. This article is based on that letter. Dr. Mortenson responded to Mr. MacMillan’s letter, but unfortunately requested that his response be kept confidential. Odd behavior, it seems to me, for someone who is itching for a debate; Dr. Mortenson is welcome to respond here any time he likes.

Panda’s Thumb recently posted a guest contribution by Dan Phelps, who was interviewed along with Answers in Genesis’s Terry Mortenson on WEKU-FM, Eastern Kentucky University’s NPR station. Dr. Mortenson, for his part, posted his own discussion of the interview on the Answers in Genesis website. As a former creationist and AIG guest author who has recently been writing about the creation-evolution controversy in light of Ken Ham’s recent debate with Bill Nye, I thought Dr. Mortenson’s comments provided a particularly good example of one of the biggest problems with the creationist movement.

Cupressus macrocarpa

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Photograph by Tom Gillespie.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention.

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Cupressus macrocarpa – Monterey cypress, just off the 17-Mile Drive near Pebble Beach, California, looking north from the pedestrian walkway to the Lone Cypress, December, 1995. Mr. Gillespie wonders “how much erosion has taken place since.”

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