Researching Creation

January 29, 2009

Information Theory / An Interesting Perspective on Intelligent Design


While I didn't agree with everything he said, I think everyone will find this talk by Kirk Durston fascinating.  The one thing that I don't think he properly took into account was that the "fitness function" on computers is necessarily finite, while the "fitness function" in real life does not necessarily have to be either specified nor finite.

Kirk paints the problem as having a smart enough fitness function - therefore Darwinism is only plausible if the fitness function of life has sufficient information to form life as we know it.  However, I think the key he misses is that natural selection is not a fitness function in the same veing as a genetic algorithm fitness function.  Natural selection requires that something be usable now, while an appropriate fitness function could select for future optimality (Dawkin's WEASEL is an excellent example, but there are also much more subtle ways of doing this).  While Durston makes some great points, the problem, as I see it, will always be the generation of diversity, not its selection.

January 21, 2009

General / Interesting Biblical Chronology Blog


I recently discovered a blog on Biblical Chronology called ShallowTime. This is great for me because my sources for Biblical Chronology material are very slim.  What also caught my attention was the link to a photograph of the historical site of Ai (from Joshua 8).  This is very interesting for me, because this is the area of scripture that my son and I are reading (we read Joshua 12 tonight), and we just read about the battle of Ai a few days ago.  I'll have to show him the picture of Ai tomorrow.

January 18, 2009

Discussions around the Web / Interesting January Conversations


Here are some recent discussions that I found interesting:

January 16, 2009

General / This Makes Me Want to Buy Their Magazine


It turns out that Discover Magazine is standing by their claim that Forrest Mims is one of 50 best brains in science despite the harsh criticism they are receiving for it.

In our feature, we recognized Mims specifically for his contributions as an amateur scientist, and we stand by that assessment. His work on the Altair 8800 computer, on RadioShack’s home electronics kit, and on The Citizen Scientist newsletter has been undeniably influential. DISCOVER does not in any way endorse the Discovery Institute’s views on “intelligent design.” At the same time, Mims’s association with that group does not invalidate his role as a leading figure in the American amateur science community, any more than James Watson’s dubious speculations about race take away from his groundbreaking research on DNA. (emphasis mine)

This is a breath of fresh air in the controversy over intelligent design.  May more magazines and journals take the same approach!

January 11, 2009

General / Bryan CORE Releases Several Foundational Papers on Creationism


I was searching for some of Todd Wood's old papers, and I ran into CORE's 20th anniversary website.  Bryan CORE is Bryan College's "Center for Origins Research" - one of the few centers for Creation research in existence.  Normally, I wouldn't really care about their anniversary, except that they have a page on this site where they released several foundational papers on Creationism which had previously been unavailable online!  If you go there, the graphical circles on the bottom are links to the different papers defining foundational aspects of Creationism.  Anyway, they have papers on:

  • The basics of baraminology (Creationary classification of organisms)
  • The origin of diversity in created kinds
  • Transitional forms
  • The pre-flood/flood boundary
  • Kurt Wise's paper on the multiple-nesting of life (as opposed to a single tree of life)
  • The role of human perception and understanding in unravelling God's design
  • The role of the Creation model in apologetics

Anyway, I'll probably be commenting on some of these papers soon.  Many of these have been buried in expensive International Conference on Creationism volumes which I have not been willing to purchase, or in old issues of other magazines.  It's fantastic that they made them available here!  Thanks guys!

January 07, 2009

Biological Change / Contingency Loci and Symbiosis


Caporale's latest work, The Implicit Genome, covers a lot of cool mechanisms for the generation of variability within genomes.  One interesting mechanism is through contingency loci.

A contingency locus is an area of the genome which has a high mutation rate, which is associated with a frequently-changing environment. A typical reason for contingency loci is to get around the immune system.  The contingency loci in many bacteria are for their outer coat proteins, which is what the immune system recognizes.   Bacteria and single-celled eukaryotes can evade the immune system by rapidly mutating their outer coat.

Now, usually the relationship between microbes, hosts, and immune system is discussed in terms of warfare - this fights this, this evades that.  But what if this was instead a mechanism that wasn't nearly as much about warfare as it was about adaptation?

For example, Opa proteins on N. meningitidis are surface proteins that are encoded by contingency loci.  Different versions of these proteins adhere to different types of cells.  So, what I'm wondering is - are mutations in these contingency loci associated with mutations elsewhere, or expression changes elsewhere?  For instance, might certain microbes alter their biochemistry in coordination with their surface proteins so that they assist the right cell type in the correct way?  In other words, instead of "evading the immune system", might it instead be trying to find a biochemistry which is helpful to the organism, and using surface proteins to advertise to the immune system what sort of tissue the organism is best configured for.  The immune system, rather than "combating" the antigen, might be just cleaning up good microbes which are just in the wrong place, or perhaps in the wrong configuration in the wrong place.

Anyway, it's an interesting possibility, but I'm not sure how it might be investigated.  But it might make a good research project for a budding Creation PhD student somewhere.

I'm not quite sure how this question would be investigated, but it's sure worth asking.

January 05, 2009

General / The Personal Cost of Creationism


I myself have not experienced any discrimination based on my belief in Creationism.  However, that is not the case for many in academia.  Jerry Bergman's new book, Slaughter of the Dissidents, reveals in excruciating detail the perils that befall most academics who are Darwin-dissenters of any stripe (Creationists, IDers, or even evolutionists skeptical of the Darwinian mechanism, or honest enough to allow open conversation about the subject or the possibility that they could be wrong).

If you want to learn more, I posted a review of the book on UncommonDescent.

For those of you wanting to do Creation research in an academic setting, I'll just say this: use caution, but stand up for what you believe in.

By the way, here is an inspiring story about someone successfully standing up for Creation in academia.