Creationist's Wikipedia page removed

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David Klinghoffer wrote a piece at Evolution News a month or so ago, in which he charged that Wikipedia had removed the entry for the paleontologist Günter Bechly because Dr. Bechly had “converted” to creationism. I think he may have a point.

I had not had a chance to get back to this case, when the English edition of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz posted an article proclaiming, “A Respected Scientist Comes Out Against Evolution – and Loses His Wikipedia Page.”

Thanks to some assistance from the Panda’s Thumb crew, I found Dr. Bechly’s deleted article, which appears to have forthrightly stated that he had relatively recently become critical of “neo-Darwinism” and now supports intelligent-design creationism. The article quotes Dr. Bechly to the effect that he supported creationism for purely scientific reasons.

Life-Size Goliath's Spear

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Ken Ham’s blog yesterday says, “There are some things you’ve just got to see in person to comprehend.” The italics are his, but I think the pictures are probably good enough. For in that link you will see, miracle of miracles, Goliath’s spear, all 12.7 ft and 33.1 lb of it.*

Mr. Ham tells us,

Sheldon Rhodes and Chris Allen have worked since 2013 to first determine what Goliath’s spear would have looked like, what materials it would have likely been made from, and how it would have originally been crafted. They reached out to Answers in Genesis for help in researching this project, and Troy Lacey, who handles phone, email, and letter correspondence, provided them with historical data. In thanks for his efforts and the on-going work of the Creation Museum in sharing the message of biblical authority and the gospel, Sheldon and Chris donated one of their spears to the Creation Museum.

The spear head and the counterweight at the tail end are made of iron, and the shaft is red oak. I understand that the Philistines had iron, and I shall assume that at least one of the oak trees mentioned in the Bible (in Genesis and Joshua) was a red oak.

Dan Phelps, who sent us the link to the article, is somewhat more circumspect than Mr. Ham:

It could be twice as big, or only half size and one couldn’t “prove” it was wrong. The Ark has brought out a golden age of creationism wherein they just make bullshit up.

No matter how big his spear, I think that Goliath would have been a sitting duck for a kid with a sling. A shepherd who protects his sheep and kills wolves with a sling will have no trouble killing a giant from a distance beyond the range of his spear. The “battle” between David and Goliath reminds me of nothing more than a famous scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (?) where a vicious-looking villain brandishes a scimitar (?) and is promptly shot from some distance by, if you will excuse the expression, a good guy with a gun. David was not impressed with the length of Goliath’s spear, and you should not be either.


* The shekel varied with time and space, but let us say it was around 0.5 oz, so Goliath’s spear (or the iron in it) would have weighed around 20 lb. Samuel does not tell us the length of Goliath’s spear, but tells us that Goliath himself was approximately 6 cubits tall, or perhaps 9 ft, so the estimates of the spear’s length and weight are not wholly unreasonable. My apologies to those who live outside the United States and use God’s units of measure; 20 ft is around 6 m, and 20 lb is around 10 kg. You will have to ask an archeologist, not a physicist, whether spears in those days looked like that.

Two films

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Two new films: one that has been released and one that has not. First, the film that has been released, Bill Nye: Science guy, directed by David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg. (The film that is due to be released is “We believe in dinosaurs,” featuring David MacMillan and Dan Phelps, and I will discuss it below the fold.) The IMDb entry for “Bill Nye: Science guy” says,

A famous television personality struggles to restore science to its rightful place in a world hostile to evidence and reason.

and gives the following storyline,

Bill Nye is retiring his kid show act in a bid to become more like his late professor, astronomer Carl Sagan. Sagan dreamed of launching a spacecraft that could change interplanetary exploration. Bill sets out to accomplish Sagan’s space mission, but he is pulled away when he is challenged by evolution and climate change contrarians to defend the scientific consensus. Can Bill show the world why science matters in a culture increasingly indifferent to evidence?

Brachiospongia digitata

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Photograph by Dan Phelps.

Photography contest, Finalist.

Brachiospongia
Brachiospongia digitata – fossil sponge. Mr. Phelps writes, "I recently excavated this specimen of B. digitata from the Curdsville Formation of the Lexington Group (Late Ordovician). I had intended on carefully excavating the layer in the future, but this specimen was in fragments at the surface. I glued it back together then removed a lot of the excess shale from between the 'arms.' The specimen could use more cleaning."