Today’s sessions (8/7/2013) at the International Conference on Creationism (Pittsburgh) were quite productive, and there were two that really stood out. Here’s the overall list of sessions I attended: Eugene Chaffin on Double-Beta-Decay, Russ Humphreys on the earth’s magnetic field, Anne Habermehl on Ancient Egypt and the Ice Age, a panel discussion on meteorites with John Baumgardner, Mike Oard, Steve Austin and Danny Faulkner, and concluding the evening was Paul Nelson on the Genomics Revolution.
Once again I’ll begin with my favorite session of the day (also the last session of the day), which featured Paul Nelson (Philosopher of Biology) on the Genomics Revolution and Darwin’s Tree of Life.
Nelson asked, “If the theory of common descent were false, how would we know it”? According to evolution, all organisms are related, and at some point in history all organisms shared a single common ancestor (LUCA- last universal common ancestor). Evolutionist Jerry Coyne also claims that all organisms are related by descent with modification.
But Nelson says that neo-Darwinism was wrong. He quoted Carl Woese, who said, “The time has come for biology to go beyond the doctrine of common descent.” Some biologists have argued that common descent is an axiom of biology, and that it would be falsified if it could be demonstrated that successive numerous modifications could not produce a given trait.
Based on evolutionary assumptions, Nelson says we shouldn’t be able to find unique genes and proteins, or out of order fossils. He then presented a topic I was completely unfamiliar with; he mentioned the importance of what are called “orphan” genes, or ORFan genes (open reading frame), which were first identified as genes of “unknown function”. These are genes that have a limited phylogenic (relationships among groups of organisms) distribution. Predictions involving these ORFan genes has failed; expectations have resulted in surprise and puzzlement, and have been called “an artifact of bad sampling”.
Now, even evolutionists are rejecting Darwin’s tree of life. According to Didier Raoult, there’s no reason to believe the tree of life is real. And Ford Doolittle even rejects the tree of life. Craig Venter says that there is not one common ancestor. And other evolutionists are up-in-arms over these defections.
Part of the problem is that these ORFan genes are everywhere in the animal kingdom. One example of a failed prediction includes mollusks protein shells, which have been called “unexpected complexity”. Another failed prediction would involve the human vs. chimp genome: there aren’t very many ORFan genes found in chimps, but there are “too many” found in the human genome.
I’ve always maintained that genetics supports creation over evolution, and I’m happy to see how the field is expanding for creationists.
Next up was Russ Humphreys (PhD in Physics from Louisiana State University) and his presentation on the earth’s magnetic field (Magnetic Dynamo Theories). He questions whether the earth’s magnetic field could maintain itself by natural processes, which would be required for evolutionary time scales.
The first Dynamo Theory was proposed by Sir Joseph Larmor in 1919. He suggested that the internal motion within the earth’s core could induce an electric field, and the resulting electric current would increase the magnetic field, making it possible for the internal cyclic motion to continually regenerate the magnetic field.
Currently we have a good explanation for the decay of the earth’s magnetic field based on the uniformitarian dynamo theory, but, after millions of years, the magnetism wouldn’t remain. Dynamo theories, therefore, are incomplete- and there aren’t any experiments that can be performed in a laboratory to test it. Furthermore we also know that the earth’s magnetic field is fading fast.
Then in 1933 Thomas Cowling demonstrated that simple theories like the one presented by Larmor couldn’t work. He said that an axially symmetric field cannot be maintained by its own current. The general magnetic fields of the sun and earth can’t be self-maintained.
Theorists, however, have been searching for loopholes for decades even though all the anti-dynamo theorems indicate that the magnetic field can’t be sustained by dynamo action. Even in 2002 supercomputer models fell short in their simulations.
The earth’s inner core is solid, so it’s resistant to turbulence created by the Coriolis Effect; this means that the “heart” of the dynamo isn’t beating. The dynamo theory has exhausted itself and is dead.
Right now mean-field electrodynamics is the leading theory, but new problems exist, such as large-scale dynamo quenching.
The planet Mercury also has a magnetic field- even though scientists predicted that there would be none. Scientists went on to predict no decay and no strong field in the past. Russ Humphreys, however, predicted about 5% decay and said there were strong fields in the past. The MESSENGER space mission found 7.8% decay and a strong past field.
The dynamo theory has had 94 years of failure, while creationist theories work quite well in explaining the origin and decay of magnetic fields.
Humphreys says that he’s looking for better computer simulations to help with further predictions he’s working on, and he believes there were between 50-100 magnetic reversals during the flood.
The next session I attended has also been of interest to me. Anne Habermehl (B.Sc. University of Waterloo) presented the Ice Age and Egyptian history.
Habermehl indicated that the earliest evidence of humans living in Egypt is from the lower Paleolithic period, and these people were probably descendants of Mizram, Noah’s grandson. Glaciation would have been present during this time, and the climate would have been cool, with glaciers close to the Nile River. After glaciation humans would have moved westward into the Sahara during the time of the Nile flooding, and the Sahara would have been green and habitable.
In her timeline Habermehl suggests that Abraham visited Egypt around 1920 BC at the earliest, which would have been about 200 years before Joseph became vizier of Egypt in 1700 BC. She also suggests that Joseph may have been Imhotep. And finally she claims that we should be using the Septuagint to resolve some of the dating conflicts- although I’m not sold on that idea.
The evening session was a panel discussion on meteorite impacts with Danny Faulkner, Mike Oard, Steve Austin, and John Baumgardner.
Faulkner said that consensus is needed for the role of meteor impacts during the creation week, the fall, flood, and later catastrophes. He explained that nearly all solid surfaces in the solar system have craters, and they’re probably all from meteors. He doesn’t believe there was much meteor activity prior to the flood. But based on the uniform bombardments of other planets it’s likely earth was hit by the bombardments as well.
Mike Oard believes the earth was bombarded with possibly as many as 58,000 meteors at one point- based on estimates from counting craters on the moon. He says we need to get the timing of the flood down, and suggests that the “windows of heaven” mentioned in Genesis 7:11 could refer to meteor impacts, not necessarily rain. However he says there are only about 190 impact craters found on earth, so there needs to be more evidence. He doesn’t think it’s likely that the earth would have escaped being hit by the bombardments sustained by the moon.
Steve Austin suggested that there could have been large bombardments during creation week, and light bombardments during the flood, and that these bombardments could have been directional, which could explain why the earth wasn’t impacted as greatly as the moon.
John Baumgardner said that we still need to determine the boundaries for the flood and resolve dating techniques, and that some of the evidence for impacts may have been destroyed during the flood.
I’ll close with Eugene Chaffin (PhD in Theoretical Physics from Oklahoma State University) who presented a session on Double-Beta-Decay. This session was a bit technical, so I’ll be brief.
Chaffin began by explaining that decay in this sense doesn’t mean that “decay” has occurred, but that there’s been a change in the element. He explained the anatomy of an atom, as well as other terms like half-life, decay constant, parent atoms, electron capture, enhanced alpha particle tunneling, the coupling constant, and types of decay. Chaffin then presented the Accelerated Decay Hypothesis: the hypothesis that the Decay Constant hasn’t been constant over time, which, if true, would impact the age of the earth.
Justification comes from secular scientists who face controversy surrounding which half-life is correct; there are two different half-life results that are being argued over, and that’s evidence that dating techniques are not reliable.
Chaffin demonstrated that there’s evidence that double beta decay half-lives have changed over geologic time. Slight changes in the strength of the nuclear forces can cause changes in pairing phases of the nucleus, causing major changes in half-life.
(just added these photos for the Byron C. Nelson Award presented to Russ Humphreys, John Baumgardner and Steve Austin)