Segmentation and Evolution (Watch this if you want to understand how evolution works.)

limey:

I’m re blogging this video because I found it clear and interesting. Its 13 minutes long and worth watching. For anyone who has studied evolution, it is unlikely to present anything new, what it does do is explain the basics of body segments in a simply and easy to understand way.

While watching it I kept asking myself the question “Does this prove evolution over creationism?” No, this video doesn’t do that, but it does show that evolution is plausible and should be seriously considered.

The obvious creationist rebuttal is that it doesn’t show that god didn’t use DNA and genes to create all animal life and their ability to adapt within a species. While that is true, I would further ask the question, why would god use a system that so clearly can be used to create multiple species from a single framework and have elements that are interchangeable between radically different species?

This is why I accept evolution as true.

Originally posted on Bios:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHR5K2o7uQU

This is amazing in its sublime simplicity.

View original

Who do you write like?

This is a little bit of fun that I thought some fellow bloggers might like to play with.

http://iwl.me/

It’s a website that analyses your content and tells you which famous writer you write like. I tried several of my posts and saved literary items that are long term “works in progress”, predictably, the results were varied but some names came up more than once.

I’ll ignore that the first two came up with Dan Brown and list you these people in whose company I am apparently now worthy, David Foster Wallace, Margaret Atwood, J. K. Rowling, Arthur Conan Doyle and Jane Austin.

As you can see, I am clearly a meandering soul with no clear sense of form or direction ;-)

enjoy!

More Flood Stuff – part 2, Rocks and Fossils

 

In part 1 I whittle on about Flora and Fauna (http://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/more-flood-stuff-part-1-flora-and-fauna/)

Geology and the Flood

Moving on from animals and plants, the mechanics and timescales of the flood as described in Genesis requires some very serious geological events. The word cataclysmic hardly seems appropriate; the activity would have been utterly incredible. Creationists will argue that it was the events of the flood that created the mountains we see today and that most of the flood water came from below the ground.

Beyond that, the layers of rocks we see today and the fossils we see in them are all formed from the flood events. Did the rocks before the flood have layers?

Rock layers deposited by a global flood could be believed if they were flat. There is still an issue over how the layers are so easily defined because layers deposited at the same time would have some mixing and the change between layers would be expected to be more blended rather than distinct. Another issue to consider is that today rock layers can be curved or even vertical. Sediment does not settle in stacks or neatly along a curve, rock layers that curve or stand up, but remain uniform, will have been bent after they formed because if the sediment was loose at the time it would have been shifted off its neat and even layers. Considering uplifted rock, this can only be done very slowly over many thousands of years because if rock bends quickly it tends to crack and break, hence earthquakes. This means that non flat rock layers could not have been formed as part of a global flood and the associated mountain upheavals, unless a miracle is invoked to keep the rock intact.

This miracle requirement rather makes a mockery of the whole idea of using geologic study to confirm creationist accounts. When the miraculous is required to complete the explanation then by definition, naturally explainable actions are done away with and cannot be used.

But look at all the fossils

Creationists also point at the flood as the cause of the fossils that we see today because all the animals that died in the flood would have been buried by the subsequent sedimentary layers. This, they say, is why fossils can be found halfway up mountains and it is a better explanation than plate tectonics pushing the sea bed up and creating mountains.

The mechanisms at play here are a problem for creationists. If the creationist explanation were true, I would expect the larger heavier animals to sink faster, along with the heavier sediment and the smaller lighter animals to settle slower, like the smaller lighter sediment. I would also expect the dead animals to drop quicker than most of the sediment and so the resulting layers would show more animals at the bottom and fewer and smaller animals at the top of the sedimentary layers. This is not at all what we see in the fossil and rock layer record. The observed evidence completely contradicts the expected result.

The timing of the flood events are also out of order. The claim is that the mountains were formed at the start of the flood as part of the “waters of the deep” bursting forth and supplementing the rainfall. This would mean that the mountains were formed before the sediment had settled and buried the animals and people. Talking of which, where are the people fossils?

Looking at the fossils in more details we can see that the vast majority of fossils show species that are not alive today and fossils that exactly match species we know and love today and conspicuously rare. The answer is typically that not all the animals which survived the ark also survived to today. For the flood account to be the single source of all (or at least most) fossils then the fossils what we see ought to be representative of the animals that were saved on the ark. Therefore besides dinosaurs, we should also see dogs and rabbits. I would also expect to see a drowned city full of bodies of modern humans fossilised, including evidence of clothes in the fossil. This is an example of a prediction based on creationism that should be possible to confirm but is lacking.

How long does it take to form a fossil?

The process of creating a fossil requires significant timescale because a chemical process is required to replace minerals in the dead body with the minerals from the surrounding material. It seems this process typically requires water and pressure. (http://www.discoveringfossils.co.uk/whatisafossil.htm) these mineralisation processes occur at rates that can be measured, which is how ages can be determined. Note the following AiG article on the subject spends precious little time talking about the actual fossilisation process (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab2/do-rock-record-fossils-favor-long-ages).

If fossils could be formed in just four thousand years, then scientists would be able to show that by burying an animal in the right conditions and showing that the process had started in only a few decades. This is a simple experiment that creationists can do to show the world how right they are.

Too many holes

The flood story is a very dramatic story but simply doesn’t hold water as an historical event. The bible account is vague and leaves way too much open for the readers to insert their own facts. This is what creationists do constantly and they should be honest about what they are doing and they should be even more honest about how critically they view the evidence of the world against what the bible says because none of it matches.

More Flood Stuff – part 1, Flora and Fauna

More Flood Stuff – part 1, Flora and Fauna

In my researching for my last flood post (http://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/animal-evolution-post-flood/) I found much more that I wanted to comment on and so left the bits that were not specific to animal evolution for another post.

The more I look at creationist claims, the more I see a dependence on the flood story. The flood account is crucial to the creationist because of the evolutionary argument and how it dictates global geology. Every discussion on the age of the world and animal evolution will at some point include the story of Noah, his ark and the flood that saved them. As such, the flood account is of huge importance to the creationist and so it shouldn’t be surprising that there are a lot of words dedicated to the subject.

With that out of the way, let’s hit the myth some more.

Oh look a dinosaur

AiG takes a stab at the dinosaur issue (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/what-happened-to-the-dinosaurs) and brushes off their fate as little more than ‘oh dear they, they failed to survivce’. Of all the different species of dinosaur, are we supposed to simply accept that not one managed to live long enough after the flood to be described by later generations? The AiG article criticises scientists for being curious over their fate and for admitting that we don’t yet know the full story and for continuing to try to solve those mysteries. To AiG its simple, they existed but they don’t now and that’s because the world is sinful and man isn’t perfect so those the flood didn’t kill died anyway. Who needs curiosity when there is a simple answer? I’m guessing lions, crocodiles and eagles were luckier in the lottery of God’s judgement.

I find the AiG explanation both dismissive and depressing. Are they not at all curious over where the post flood dinosaurs went and how they died out?

It is precisely because of suggestions like that, that secular scientists point at creationists and accuse them of not doing any science. Those accusations are justified because all AiG does is critique scientific results and frame their objections in a creationist tone. In the AiG article I have linked to above, there is actually no scientific study, just conjecture, objection and bible references.

Oh the Plants, what of the plants

Recently there has been a lot of rainfall in my part of the UK; rainfall to such a level that many farms in the area have been underwater for 2 months or more. Near my house there is some open land that was underwater for months last winter and then again this winter. As I write this the standing water has almost all gone and some areas are now dry enough to walk on again. There are patches of rotten grass and shrubs. Plants do not do well when underwater for months at a time.

The idea that, after a year under a global sea, trees would be able to blossom again to the point a bird could take a leafy branch only weeks after being exposed to air again is simply impossible. For that to work the tree could have only been fully submerged for a few weeks, certainly not months. A tree submerged for that period of time would have died and been unable to grow again. This is the same for pretty much all plants. The land near me will survive and grass and shrubs will grow again quickly, that’s because there are plants close by which have not been submerged and, being spring, there will be seeds and pollen in the air to take up the place of the dead plants. Also, the water on this land is fresh, not salty. A global ocean would still be a salty ocean and that is even more devastating to submerged plants.

If we take the flood story at face value and assume that the earth was fully flooded at the end of the 40 days of rain and then it slowly began to drain away, then the draining needed to happen rapidly for the world to not be utterly devoid of useable vegetation. However, many creationists accept that the ark would have been afloat for about a year. This means that in order for high up vegetation to survive, the water would have had to keep rising after the rain stopped in order for the submerged time to be drastically reduced. This requires interpretation of the events because there is not enough detail in the story to know for sure. AiG are shameless in their adding of detail where it suits them (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v7/n1/how-did-plants-survive-flood). You will see in the article that they confidently state that plants must have had built in survival mechanisms, more incredulously they roll out the tautology that of course plants survived because we see plants today. Neither of these are satisfactory explanations.

To address the salt water issue, the AiG article above posits that the seas were less salty at the time of the flood and became more salty post flood. I’m not sure if they also mean they were less salty before the flood. This might have had an effect on the ability of plants to survive a prolonged period underwater, but the period of time is still far too long, even for fresh water. As already stated, plants today don’t last more than a few weeks under water.

Have they since evolved to become less tolerant of being submerged?

The other problem for the salinity argument is that today we see fish that live in salty water and fish that live in fresh water. Both types can be sensitive to changes in the levels of salinity which means the mildly salty water of the global flood would have killed both types of fish. Presumably those fish have evolved since the flood and are now less able to live in water with those salinity levels and require either fresh water or more salty water.

The arguments for the flood are deeply flawed and simply do not hold together either logically or scientifically.

Stand by for part 2, geology and fossils.

Series Review – The Bible

This week, I watched the TV series The Bible (http://www.channel5.com/shows/the-bible) which was aired in the UK some months ago. To be honest, I am not at all sure what I was supposed to get from it because my overwhelming feeling, having gone through all 8-ish hours in 5 nights is, to shrug my shoulders and say “meh”.

Halfway through my wife (the good Mrs Limey is still a Christian) was ready to give up on it for the same reasons, but it was me who said I would carry on, and so she continued to watch it with me.

The series opens with the Ark afloat and Noah telling the story of creation, and then it romps through the old testament at quite a lick and hits the birth of Jesus at the mid-point. From that point on its basically the story of Jesus’ life with a conversion of Paul and John’s imprisonment thrown in in the final minutes. One could say far more about what was left out and there were many times when my wife and I would comment on how another skip had been made and such and such an event had been left out.

To be fair, it is impossible to do a series called The Bible that is less than ten hours and cover all the important or critical parts. You could double the length of the Series and I would probably still say “they left some crucial bits out”.

There were also quite a few blatant changes to the biblical text, several I thought odd, but in the context of artistic license., I didn’t think any were unforgiveable. The problem here is that when you show a program like this, people who know the source will notice little things and criticise as a result. Noticing things like that distracts the viewer from the drama and so I would say that the places where drama has been added at the cost of accuracy, distracted me from the story and since I was struggling to stay engaged anyway, it made those issues far worse. If I was riveted to the narrative, I dare say that many of the changes would not have irked so much, or maybe even not been noticed.

The biggest issue for me, and my wife feels the same, is that the series didn’t feel strung together. When the bible is laid out like that in drama form it gets revealed to be a hotch-potch of stories and events and not much of a thread holding it all together. There is a narrator to the program, who did his best to serve the purpose of joining the fragments. Where there was an arc of story, it was when it featured the nation of Israel and their battles with their neighbours. That gets spoilt when Jesus is born because then it all becomes about him and less about the nation. This could be a symptom of rushing through the bible or it could just be that the bible doesn’t hang together as a narrative anyway, in which case, to do a series on the bible a more radical approach needs to be taken.

In summary, nothing worth shouting about, certainly not worth spending money on, I really don’t see what joy a Christian would get from it and I certainly don’t see how it could an effective evangelistic tool.

Happy to hear other thoughts, especially if you disagree with me :-)

 

Animal Evolution Post Flood

 

I have previously commented on the flood story and how it featured in my deconversion process (http://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/noah%E2%80%99s-ark-gilgamesh-or-just-a-story/).

However, a recent exchange on Bruce’s blog has prompted me to comment on the curious case of animal evolution post flood (http://brucegerencser.net/2014/02/creationism-atheism-science-trumps-biblical-literalism/). The original post on Bruce’s blog is my own guest post which he kindly put up for me, and part the conversation that followed centred on what happened to the animals after the flood. This is what I want to specifically comment on now.

Too Many Animals

The most obvious criticism of the ark story is the sheer number of different animals we see about us today. An ark of the dimensions described in Genesis simply could not hold a pair of every animal species alive today. In addition to that there are those that have gone extinct, both recently and those we see in the fossil record. There are also unknown animal species for which there is no record that we know of. Then there are some species of animal for which more than one pair is required, according to the Genesis account.

On top all those animals being squashed into the ark, there is the delicate matter of food, water and waste. All those animals needed to eat and drink and defecate. Many of them would have been carnivores and so animals as food would have been needed to be brought on to the ark, as well as food for the food animals.

The Genesis flood account does not give an indication in advance of how long the flood was to last. In fact the preparation details are quite vague. The dimensions for the ark are given but nothing about how many decks, how much open air space how far up the side the door should be, how to manage storage and other practicalities. The door shutting account though does imply that once the rain started, there was no going outside until the ark was grounded. That’s a long time to be cooped up indoors.

Talking of time, about one year is the generally accepted length of time that the ark was afloat. I am surprised I haven’t seen a claim for a miraculous draining, in the same way that there is a miraculous claim for the water appearing. Such a claim would allow the time in the ark to be reduced and therefore many of the storage issues countered.

One year cooped up with not much of an outside view and a whole load of animals is a serious challenge. Who’d want to be a vet in those circumstances? Noah and his extended family would have had to work full time feeding and cleaning the animals and attending to any other needs. Would they have been able to get round all the animals needs each and every day? Personally, I doubt that very much.

I wonder how many generations of fruit flies they had to nurture during the voyage, and who was the poor soul who had to carry the tape worms?

The number and variety of animals to care for is simply too great for a boat that size. Even if we ignore the arguments over dinosaurs being on the ark and just stick to animals that are alive today, the ark simply is not big enough to hold a representative pair of every animal.

Kinds vs Species

The most obvious creationist rebuttal to this is that animals in the ark were split into kinds, not species. Kinds are typically described as a family type that includes multiple related species. The most obvious example would be a pair of wolves, from which all dogs have descended. I wonder if creationists will would include foxes and jackals in that group, which would have been the pair on the ark? This can only work if all species families break down that easily. The argument might work for dogs or cats; but what about Elephants, Giraffes Rhinoceros, Hippopotamus and numerous other animals which are very distinct and don’t easily fit into this creationist model? In fact, the kinds argument is so vague that is simply not enough detail in it for there to be any scientific test. It is hardly surprising then that this language is solely used by creationists and there is no biologist that actually recognises it as fitting within the species hierarchy.

If this creationist suggestion were true, there would be a prediction we could make from it that could be tested. For example; if all species alive today were descended from representative kinds that were on the ark, then we should be able to break animal species into groups that match those kinds and DNA evidence would show a familial link. These species groups would show distinct DNA similarities within the groups and distinct differences between groups and when mapped into a tree there would be multiple roots and evidence leading back to the ark resident pair.

However, this is not what we see. DNA evidence shows that all species are related, to varying degrees, and that the tree has multiple branches and there is no single bottle neck to which multiple strands lead. The creationist prediction fails.

Evolution or not evolution?

The craziest irony about the creationist kinds into species suggestion is that it flies in the face of the creationist belief that evolution has not occurred and that all species were created during creation week. The idea that all living creatures alive today have evolved from previous forms is denied by creationists. They simply do not accept that along the way separated groups of one species have each evolved into different and separate species. Yet, in order to get from a parent kind to multiple descendent species it is precisely this form of evolution that is required and suggested.

No doubt the creationist will object to that and claim it’s not the really same thing and probably roll out the standard micro / macro defence; a defence that I used many times myself in the past. The trouble with this argument is that minor changes across generations are all we ever see. Major changes never happen, they only become apparent after many generations and many minor changes. The creationist objection simply doesn’t follow for another reason, that is that to get from a parent kind into multiple child species, there needs to be a speciation event, something that creationists continue to deny ever happens, yet to get multiple species from a single pair this is exactly what is required.

Creationists who argue that animal kinds came off the ark and became the many species we see today need to ask themselves, what animals it was that came off the ark what processes changed one pair of animals into multiple different species. Species that will be visually and genetically different today to their ark bound brethren. They also need to ask themselves what animals actually went onto the ark, would we be able to recognise them if we saw them today if the kinds into species argument is correct?

On top of all that, the creationist then has to explain how those changes happened in only a few thousand years, there are simply not enough generations to produce the species variety we see today.

The Cowardly British Media

 

At the tail end of last year there was an incident where students at the London School of Economics (LSE) were asked (forced even?) to cover up their T shirts during a freshers fair because they depicted images from the Jesus and Mo cartoon. Apparently the images could be construed as offensive and radical Muslims have been known to react violently when images of their prophet are publicly displayed (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jan/04/danish-cartoonist-axe-attack).

The incident at the LSE made national headlines and the LSE apologised to the students concerned (http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/20/lse-university-apology-students-atheism-tshirt-religion-jesus-muhammad). That wasn’t the end of it though, the ripples continued when Muslim Maajid Nawaz tweeted a Jesus and Mo cartoon stating that it didn’t offend him (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jan/28/maajid-nawaz-muslim-lib-dem-candidate-cartoon). He appeared on the BBC show The Big Questions, where he reiterated his comments and reinforced his position that he is defending his religion from the loud radicals. The show is not available on the BBC site, but is on his own site (http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/in-the-media/maajid-nawaz-on-the-big-questions-should-human-rights-outweigh-religious-rights/).

It is at this point that the press show their yellow colours. BBC News and Channel 4 News each showed clips from the show, which featured wearers of the same T shirts. Both organisations blurred out the Mo image and claimed they were doing it out of sensitivity and desire to not offend. Each framed their actions as though they were doing an honourable thing. When I heard that explanation, my mind immediately went back to when the BBC received a bucket load of complaints about the Jerry Springer opera (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4154071.stm). Back then the BBC did not back down and insisted they had a right to air the show as it was a cultural commentary. I was a Christian then and despite not seeing it, I argued against it because I held the view that the show intentionally meant to offend Christians. I did not go so far as to be one of the thousands who complained officially, but I did think there was an argument to be had. So far as I am aware, no Christians went out and killed anyone over it, or publicly threatened to, a detail which marks the event as different to that of Muslims and the publishing of the Mohammad image.

Oh how times have changed.

I suspect that if the Jerry Springer Opera were to be happening now, the BBC would still go ahead because what is really going on here is that death threats and murder has actually made some organisations to become cautious about what they publish and have by default allowed the bullies and the scoundrels to get their way. The problem with this is that it gives the message that this is a good method of getting your own way and will only encourage similar action again.

What bothers me more is that it is often reported that displaying the image of Mohammad is contrary to Islamic law, well the last time I checked, this country was not answerable to Islamic law. What is happening here is that bullies and radicals are forcing their own laws into a foreign culture through threat and violence, while also using the same tactics in their own land to force visitors to abide by their own existing laws. This is an imbalance and one that needs to be resisted and the BBC and Channel 4 should be ashamed of themselves for being so cowardly.

The creator of Jesus and Mo has a good retort to the recent events (http://www.jesusandmo.net/2014/01/29/black/).

I also like what the Richard Dawkins Foundation has to say on the matter (http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/2014/2/4/what-is-wrong-with-channel-4-s-censorship-of-jesus-and-mo)

For those who which to buy a Jesus and Mo T shirt here:  http://www.cafepress.com/jmoshop

 

The Geocentric Argument

 

This head shaking story appeared in my news feed recently (http://phys.org/news/2014-02-americans-unaware-earth-circles-sun.html). Like some of the commentators, I would like to know more detail about the nature of the questions and who was asked. Given the small numbers involved (only 2,200) it is possible to create such a set of questions and pick a demographic that skews the result to create whatever headline you wish. I’m not saying that is what happened, just that there is far too little information and the sample size far too small for this to be truly something that can be extrapolated out to cover the whole population of the USA.

However, if you do decide to do a search on geocentrism (the belief that the earth is the centre of our solar system) then some properly head scratching pages do come up; http://www.genesis-creation-proof.com/geocentricity.html being a good example. The beauty of this one is that it shows you precisely why biblical literalism is a bad idea (even dangerous?). The site rings all the same alarms for me that many conspiracy sites ring, that is the lone enthuse with little or no backing from a wider organisation. In other words, a fringe whacko who does not represent the wider majority who are biblical literalists. Another such site is http://www.evidencechart.com/charts/10.

The point that these sites help to make is that for those who wish to base their scientific claims on bible verses is that there will always be problem verses that simply cannot be taken as scientific fact but, equally so, there will also be some enthusiastic individuals who wish to make that claim and fly in the face of hard proof. Thus the blurry line between interpretation and literalism will always exist.

Geocentrism did seem obvious for a while. There was always a problem though; the retrograde motion of the visible planets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retrograde_and_prograde_motion) throws a hefty spanner into the mix and to stick with a geocentric model of the solar system means one has to come up with some impressive adjustments and gymnastics to account. Seasons also cause a problem because it requires the path of the sun around the earth have a significant wobble; this needs an explanation. These two pieces of evidence are what I would have replied to this blog post had I known about it at the time (http://thonyc.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/we-live-in-a-geocentric-world/).

The kicker for geocentrism, of course, was the telescope. This earth changing invention allowed man to gaze at the stars and see so much more. The planets were shown to have moons of their own, something that clearly didn’t revolve around the earth. Even more amazing, Venus and Mercury showed changing crescents while Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were always full. That needed a very good explanation and really should be the last nail in the geocentric coffin for anyone who would stop and think and just five minutes.

Geocentrism Therefore Creationism.

Anyway, the news at the top of this post prompted me to dig a blog post out of my saved archives, http://thenewcreationism.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/well-evidenced-theories-can-be-wrong-poorly-evidenced-theories-can-be-right/. It is one I saved specifically because I consider it nonsense and wanted to keep it for when I felt the need to comment, that need is now.

The post above is short so won’t take much time to read, but makes an intriguing claim. Essentially it says that geocentrism was logical because that what the available evidence implied at the time. No matter how much the people believed it and wanted it to be true, it was always wrong and later, better evidence revealed that. The author then makes an analogy with evolution and attempts to put evolution in the place of geocentrism by admitting that it looks obvious. That doesn’t make it true aparently. He then goes a step too further and implies that the heroes of creationism are the Galileos of today. What an insult!

He’s wrong of course, very wrong.

Geocentrism wasn’t easy to overturn; there was an established worldview that required the earth to be the centre of everything and that philosophy would not be challenged. It was evidential weight that forced it into a minority view, one that really should be history by now. No one would ever seriously suggest that there is a controversy between geocentrism and heliocentrism and certainly no one would want both ideas to be taught in the classroom for students to make up their mind which one they want to adopt.

The true analogy with geocentrism is creationism; they are both idea born out religion and appear to make logical sense when looked at superficially. However, go deeper and the there is greater complexity that a simplistic worldview simply cannot explain and both idea crumble under evidence that is crushing.

No, the creationists of today are not Galilean heroes bravely fighting an established order trying to tell the world the truth; they are religious literalists cornered into a philosophy that has an ever shrinking platform and their worldview is so narrow they simply won’t accept what the evidence says because the consequences and cost are potentially enormous.

Getting the Hump over Camels

Recently an item giving unexpected news appeared on my science feeds. It seems that camel domestication in the Middle East happened too late for the references to Camels in the Bible (http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/5900/20140205/earliest-camel-bones-contradict-bible-archaeologists.htm). PDF of the report here: http://archaeology.tau.ac.il/ben-yosef/pub/Pub_PDFs/Sapir-Hen&Ben-Yosef13_CamelAravah_TelAviv.pdf

The conclusion, according to the report, is that this is more evidence that those parts of the Bible are invented by later societies. That’s a big claim.

As is often the case with items like this, there is a frustrating lack of detail and a high volume of sensation. This is a shame because as far as I am concerned, this is a very important discovery and the impact with regards to Biblical events should be weighed against other similar evidence and conclusions should be cautious, pending more detailed analysis.

The camel domestication is dated from bones and coincides with the arrival of mining in the area. I didn’t see if there were any other dating methods used to cross check the dates found. What is found is that there is consistency across the sites measured, showing that domestication happened at a specific time, so whatever the date is, it would seem to be accurate for the arrival of domestic camels to the area.

There are older bones found and these are claimed to be from earlier wild camels. The reasoning behind this is not found which is a big shame because this evidence really is needed in order to back up the sensational claims. I really do hope that there are going to be follow-up reports with more detail on the results.

What is certainly true; is that if these dates are correct, then it is a very serious blow to the credibility of the Bible. Certainly when it comes to the stories relating to Abraham anyway, if those can’t be trusted, then what else can’t?

There are obvious Creationist objections, like the dating methods used. Creationists will always attack a dating method when it comes up with something that contradicts the Bible and this is exactly what is seen on the AiG website (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2014/02/10/carbon-dating-camels). However, what you don’t see there is a counter interpretation using that same evidence. Instead what is seen is a fall back to the Bible and the assumption that the researchers got something wrong. I wonder what they’d have said if the same testing had shown camels were domesticated at the right time, would they raise the same objections to the dating methods? I doubt it.

What is the effect of a church leader with an Atheist Spouse?

 

If any reader has an practical experience on this subject, or even if you have an opinion on this, I would very much welcome your comments.

Since the great coming out a couple of years ago (http://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/the-coming-out-begins/) my wife has continued her involvement with the local church and we’ve had many conversations on the matter. Things have changed slightly from the initial desires discussed. I don’t attend church any more, though I do attend some of the more social aspects and we continue to be good friends with the Pastor and his family and one other family in the church. These are friendships that are important to us both. I am, however, the sole atheist and there is no one outside the church whom we socialise with.

My wife has gradually increased her involvement in the church and regularly leads worship (along with the other couple mentioned above). She has even supported another local Baptist church by preaching there a couple of times. She is liked by that congregation and has been invited back to preach again. I’m not at all surprised by that. My wife preaches and leads sensitively and makes her points concisely and clearly. She is humble in her presentation and when I was a believer I enjoyed hearing her preach.

Since the big breakup of last year (http://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/its-all-gone-to-shit/) church life has become much calmer and happier. Those who left are doing their own thing and the church that remains has attracted new people and by all accounts and a much better place to be. So much so that I understand there is a very good chance that the women in leadership rule (http://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/on-women-in-the-church/) will be put to a vote and removed. This is a bit speculative on my part and I am very likely jumping the gun, but I am also very confident that this is the current state of the church membership.

This will have a significant effect on my wife because she would be given the chance to preach on occasion and she’ll be doing so with the explicit support of the Pastor and other in the leadership.

 

But what about the Atheist Spouse?

This does have an effect on me too and I swing constantly in my attitude on the subject (http://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/and-so-the-pendulum-swings/). Should I challenge my wife on things that I consider untrue about Christianity? I do the same with friends and family when faux medical benefits such and acupuncture or homeopathy, why should religion be treated differently?

Or do I leave her to it and treat it like a hobby, much like my photography? Except I can’t do that because they are not comparable as hobbies; plus it also involves my daughter and she is important to me and I should have a say. So I continue to struggle on the subject.

 

Interesting chats

Over the past year or more my wife and I have had multiple conversations on Christianity, mostly they have been amicable with only a very few ending badly. It is a constant learning and challenging experience for us both. If only all people of our respective views could have this many conversations with someone of the opposite position.

 

But what about the subject of this post?

This isn’t specific about my situation. It is more of a general thought process, however I think it does need considering for my wife and what she does.

In my Christian days I would have considered a church leader who has an atheist spouse as compromised. Compromised because their home life clearly isn’t always focused on the church and a spouse of a church leader is expected to be there is presence, a visible support and someone to go to when the leader themselves is not available. As a couple they are expected to be a united team. If the spouse is an atheist then they are clearly in opposition to the leader and so the leader is not fully effective as a Christian and they could even compromise their message so as to accommodate the position of their spouse.

I am fairly sure that there are many Christians about the world who would feel similar now. Some people in our church (yes I still refer to it as our church even if it really isn’t my church) know of my atheism, even if it is not publically announced. It is one thing for my wife to preach at another local church, which knows nothing of our situation. Having her preach at the church where we are known so much better raises a new set of questions which we’ve not fully addressed.

There is no doubt that when the time comes for her to preach there, it will be with the full support of the pastor and others in the leadership, but as recent events have shown, that is not a guarantee of the full support of the wider church family.