Speculation Above Data – Standard Fare for “Global Warming”

Wallace Smith Broecker, known to friends and colleagues as “Wally Broecker,” has an earned PhD in geology from Columbia University. He is a professor in Columbia’s Earth and Environmental Sciences department and has published more than 450 journal articles in various earth science disciplines. He also has 10 books to his credit, including Fixing Climate: What Past Climate Changes Reveal About the Current Threat–and How to Counter It.

While Dr. Broecker’s list of academic accomplishments is very impressive, he is best known among earth and atmospheric scientists as the man who coined the phrase “Global Warming.” In 1975, he authored a paper entitled, “Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” 1 In that paper, he predicted how temperatures would rise due to increased carbon dioxide emissions.

Interestingly enough, he doesn’t like being called the “father of global warming.” In a recent interview in the journal Science, he says he offered a $200 reward to anyone in his class who could find an earlier reference to “global warming” so that someone else can be given that title. Unfortunately for him, no one could find an earlier reference.2

What I found fascinating about the interview, however, was his admission that the data really don’t support the idea that “global warming” will be a catastrophe.

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Those Bones Keep Looking Younger and Younger

Fossil mosasaur that contained soft tissue. (Image from the PloS One article mentioned below)

Mosasaurs are aquatic reptiles that are (as far as we know) extinct today. According to evolutionists, they went extinct about 65 million years ago. Regardless of when they went extinct, there are several fossils of these large creatures, and some of them are quite well preserved.

On August 9, 2010, PloS One published a paper by Johan Lindgren and his colleagues, and it discusses the fossilized remains of a mosasaur that belongs to genus Platecarpus. The fossil is exceptional because it is largely intact, the bones are well-articulated, and it contains soft tissue.

Of course, soft tissue in dinosaur fossils is not new. As I mentioned in a previous post, Mary Schweitzer and her colleagues stunned the world in 2005 by discovering soft tissue in a Tyrannosaurus rex femur that is supposed to be 65 million years old. Some scientists tried to discredit the claim, but it held up under scrutiny. In addition, other fossils that are supposedly millions of years old have been found to contain soft tissue.

So why am I blogging about this particular find of soft tissue in a fossil that is supposedly about 80 million years old? Because the details found in the soft tissue are quite remarkable.

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Are Autism Rates Really Rising?

In a previous post, I discussed the rise in autism that seems to be occurring in the United States. In that discussion, I made it clear that genetically-based diseases can increase over time. One commenter (Eric) suggested that autism is not rising all that rapidly in the United States. This prompted a spirited exchange, which I enjoyed, and I hope Eric enjoyed as well.

The comments on that article are now closed, but Eric recently commented on another post to add a link related to that previous discussion. It is an excellent link, so I want to share it in a post that clearly relates to autism.

In essence, the author (an academic clinical neurologist at Yale) is skeptical that there is any significant increase in autism itself. Instead, he thinks that broadened diagnostic criteria for autism as well as increased surveillance have caused the number of diagnosed cases of autism to increase, but the actual number of autism cases has not increased much over the years. We are just doing a better job of diagnosing it, watching for it, etc.

You should read the article and see what you think. I personally think the Bearman studies he mentions (it was a series of studies, not just a single study – see this New Scientist article) are the most convincing, and they argue that there is a real increase in the rate of autism. Even the author of the original link seems to be willing to admit that increasing parental age (which I highlighted in my previous post) is causing at least some real increase in the prevalence of autism.

How Do Bacteria Smell? Very Well!

One of the fundamental ideas behind the evolutionary hypothesis is that organisms fall in a range from “simple” to “complex.” The organisms that are supposed to be simple, like bacteria, are assumed to be more reflective of the kinds of organisms that existed on earth a few billion years ago. As the evolutionist waves the magic wand of time, it is assumed that those “simple” organisms slowly evolved into “complex” organisms. What we see on earth today, then, is a range of complexity in nature. “Simple” organisms (like bacteria) are reminiscent of the first kinds of organisms that existed on earth, and “complex” organisms (like mammals) are the products of the long, slow process of macroevolution.

Of course, this goes counter to the creationist view. In the creationist view, organisms do not fall in a range from “simple” to “complex.” Instead, as my coauthor and I stress throughout our biology book, there is no such thing as a simple organism. Even organisms like bacteria are marvelously complex. Thus, if there is a range of complexity in creation, it is from “really complex” to “ridiculously complex.”

The more we learn about science, the more it confirms the creationist view of complexity. Organisms that evolutionists call “simple” are actually amazingly complex.

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Free Webinar

Webinars are seminars given on the internet, and they are wonderful things. You can attend them right in your own home, you don’t have to get dressed up (or even dressed) to attend, and you can ask questions of the speaker in relative anonymity. I will be doing a free webinar through the The Home Scholar on Tuesday, September 21 at 7:00 PM Eastern. The title is:

Homeschooling – Discovering How and Why it Works

In the webinar, I will be discussing studies (new and old) that show how incredibly effective homeschooling is, and I will also speculate on why it produces such excellent students.

Many homeschoolers find this talk encouraging, and others find it very educational. If you have the time, you might want to consider attending. You can sign up here.

Quivering Daughters

The book cover for Quivering Daughters
This book is nothing short of amazing. It was written by a woman who grew up in the “patriarchy movement,” which is gaining popularity in the homeschooling community. In essence, the patriarchy movement suggests that if you follow a basic formula that includes parental authority, emphasis on family, homeschooling, and adherence to the “divinely-ordained” roles of the man as the head-of-the-house/breadwinner and the woman as the keeper-of-the-house/helpmeet, you will be rewarded with a legacy of godly children. Those in this movement say that children are a blessing, and God should determine how many children you have. Thus, many in this movement have very large families. Since Psalm 127:3-5 says, “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD…Like arrows in the hand of a warrior…How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them,” people will often refer to such families as “quiverfull” families, and that’s where the title of this book comes from.

Why is this book nothing short of amazing? Actually, there are several reasons. First, it is really intended for a very limited audience: women who grew up in the patriarchy movement and were harmed by it. Please note the “and” in that sentence. While the author was clearly harmed by the patriarchy movement, she does not contend that all women are harmed through it. This is actually one of the amazing aspects of the book. The author has every right to feel angry towards the patriarchy movement and those who promote it, but she doesn’t express any anger at all. To be sure, she discusses in several places why the patriarchy movement is unBiblical, but she never once condemns the people leading it or participating in it. I find that quite laudable.

The book is also amazing because even though it is intended for a very limited audience, it actually affected me in a profound way. Being neither a woman nor someone who grew up in the patriarchy movement, I still learned a great deal from it. In fact, I strongly recommend it to all fathers who have daughters. I truly wish this book had been around a long time ago. If I had been able to read it before I adopted my little girl, I would have been a better father to her.

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Will Evolutionists Ever Learn?

Cover of the June 25, 2010 edition of the journal Cell, which put the final nail in the coffin of the idea that the primary cilium is useless.
Evolutionists are very fond of the idea that there are useless things scattered throughout the living world. Darwin suspected that there were many, many useless organs in several members of the animal kingdom. After all, since he thought “higher” animals evolved from “lower” animals, he assumed that some of the important organs in the “lower” animals would serve no function in the “higher” animals. Nevertheless, since those organs were already there in the “lower” animals, they might continue to appear in the “higher” animals, because making a useless organ was not enough of a disadvantage for natural selection to remove it. He likened such useless organs to the silent letters in a word – they tell you things about the word’s origin but serve no function. In the same way, a useless organ serves no purpose for the animal, but it does tell you about the animal’s evolutionary ancestors.

Since Darwin, evolutionists have continued to point to useless organs and even useless DNA that supposedly litter the living world. The only problem is that annoying functions keep being discovered for these supposedly useless things. Up until about 2004, it was confidently taught that the human appendix is useless, but now we know it serves a vital function. It was once thought that large sections of the genomes of most organisms have “junk DNA” that serves no useful purpose, but time and time and time again, DNA that was confidently described as useless has been shown to have important functions. Evolutionists have been wrong time and time again when it comes to claiming that a given structure in creation is useless.

Well…we now know that evolutionists were wrong…AGAIN.

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The Old Schoolhouse Expo

On October 4-8, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine will be hosting its second online convention, and I will be one of the speakers. It’s not the first time I’ve done an online convention, but I am very excited about it. In order to promote the convention, they are having a couple of “preview” events, and I am speaking at the one on August 24th. The topic is one that I have not spoken on before, but it is very near and dear to my heart:

Be Open-Minded, but Don’t Let Your Brain Fall Out!

This topic is very important to me because if I had not been open-minded, I would not be a Christian today. I was an atheist at one time, but as a result of being taken to an “Atheism versus Christianity” debate, I ended up realizing that I had been incredibly closed-minded regarding my atheism. Thus, I opened my mind and read some books by Christian thinkers, and it changed me forever! I am truly a new creation, but only because I decided to open my mind and read what people I disagreed with said about serious issues.

Over the years, I have tried to apply that same kind of open-mindedness in all I investigate. I honestly believe that’s why I am a young-earth creationist. I could easily have been a theistic evolutionist if I had simply accepted uncritically what my teachers and my textbooks told me. However, because I was willing to consider views that were not necessarily in line with “mainstream” science, I ended up coming to the conclusion that young-earth creationism is the most reasonable scientific position to hold.

So open-mindedness is quite important to me, but at the same time, it brings along a tension. To exercise my open-mindedness, for example, I read a variety of works, including those by atheists. While most atheists (like Richard Dawkins, for example) are rather easy to dismiss because of their irrationality, every now and again, I read atheists like Bradley Monton who make me uncomfortable, as they bring up some excellent rational points.

My goal, then, is to be open-minded, but not so much that my brain actually falls out, and I end up believing everything I read. How do I accomplish that? Come find out!

Why Sacrifice? After All, She’s Just Our Daughter!

A Facebook friend of mine linked an opinion piece from the Denver Post, and I think it illustrates why so many children today are messed up. The author (Daniel Brigham) writes that he and his wife are expecting their first child. They already call her “Lucy,” and their friends have been asking them how they will educate their child. His response is very troubling.

He says he used to teach at the University of Colorado Boulder for more than a decade, so unlike many, he knows about the benefits of homeschooling. He acknowledges (as anyone with intellectual honesty must) that homeschooled students are academically advanced compared to students from public and private schools. Studies clearly demonstrate this, and his experience with one homeschool graduate while he was teaching at the university level is consistent with those studies. He also acknowledges that homeschooled students are not at any social disadvantage compared to their peers.

At this point, he reminds me a lot of myself more than 15 years ago. While I was on the faculty at Ball State University, my best students were the homeschool graduates. My experience with them caused me to look at the studies that had been done on homeschooled students, and those studies confirmed that homeschooled students are, indeed, academically superior to their peers and suffer no social disadvantages compared to their peers.

I took such information to heart and began homeschooling my daughter once we had adopted her. Mr. Brigham, however, has decided against homeschooling his daughter. If he knows that homeschooling offers academic advantages with no social disadvantages, why has he decided not to homeschool her?

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I No Longer Work for Apologia Educational Ministries

In June of 2008, I sold Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. to Davis Carman. Since then, I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the new direction Apologia is taking, as well as the vision of its new owner. As a result, I resigned from Apologia today.

I did not make this decision lightly. It involved many, many hours of prayer, deep discussions with Kathleen (my wife), lots of consultation with homeschooling leaders I respect and admire, and several discussions with my Christian role models. In the end, it truly boiled down to the fact that I cannot continue to work for a company that is opposed to many of the Christian values that I hold dear.

Please don’t take this as a blanket denunciation of Apologia. Obviously, I still like a lot of their products, including the books that I wrote (surprise, surprise). I just cannot support its new direction or the vision of its new owner.

Please note that while I am leaving Apologia for good, I am certainly not leaving the home education community. I will continue to speak at conferences and other homeschooling venues, and I will blog about homeschooling from time to time. I will also be working on a product line that will hopefully make the lives of homeschooling parents a bit easier. I hope to launch that product line in three years.