David Attenborough on his upcomming evolution documentary

[Via Pharyngula]


Here is a clip of the doc:

[Also via Pharyngula]

Teach the heliocentrism controversy!

The latest shirt at Evo-T’s (men’s & women’s) makes the point that “teaching the controversy” in  schools isn’t necessarily a wise thing.

Intelligent design creationism vs. evolutionary theory is no more a controversy than the Earth centered model of the solar system vs. the Sun centered model of the solar system. So if you want to teach the former you might as well teach the latter.

Believe it or don’t, there are still people out there that seriously believe that the Earth is the center of the solar system (if not the universe) and that there is an evil atheist conspiracy to foist “Copernicanism” on the world.

For examples see:

Welcome to the 15th century!


A little housekeeping

I have bitten the proverbial bullet and procured myself a few domain names to cover this blog and my web site as well.

Henceforth the address for Playing Chess with Pigeons is http://pigeonchess.com (as you can see  at the  top of your browser window) and the new address for my Creation/Evolution Locus page is http://commondescent.net.

Please update your favorites/bookmarks and any links that might be effected.

Sorry for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

This graphic should make the changes clear:



Or if that doesn’t do it here is something more relevant to this blog:

Dinosaur song

It makes a number of scientific errors but it’s still fun and kinda catchy.

[Via the Smithsonian’s Tracking Dinosaurs.]

Political correctness run amok

I have a generally low opinion of political correctness, which usually seems to be an excuse for those on the left to censure (or censor) things they don’t like (sort of the equivalent of “family values” on the right). However, this particular instances of PC  has flown vigorously  off into the lofty realm of the bat shit insane.

This case involves a student/worker at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (with the ungainly acronym of IUPUI), who committed the unpardonable sin of reading an anti-KKK history book in public. See the video to find out (mixing my metaphors a bit) how deep this rabbit hole went:

[Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars.]

Intermediate fossils and the pre-Darwin (creationist) geologists

RBH left a comment to a previous posting that inspired me to put some material together to address his (or anyone’s) reservations on the subject of intermediate fossil forms and the pre-Darwin (creationist) geologists.

Another really helpful post, Troy. Thanks!

Thanks RB!


I realized during my discussions with RBH in the comments to this post that my main point behind writing about this subject might not be transparent to the average reader who doesn’t eat, sleep, and breath the creation/evolution debate. So I add this preface to give the reader a context for why I am going on at length about early 19th century geologists.

My point in all this is less about understanding the often vague and sometimes even contradictory views of the pre-Darwin scientists (as worthy as that subject of study is) and more about countering the arguments from modern antievolutionists that intermediate fossils do not exist and that those paleontologists who claim that they do, do so only because they are reading their “evolutionary beliefs” into the evidence.

If the pre-Darwin creationist geologists saw intermediates this tends, strongly I think, to falsify that argument. The same applies to the overall pattern of the fossil record and the geologic column that illustrates it (which is also frequently claimed by antievolutionists to be a evolutionary invention).

RBH: I do have one reservation. You wrote

The changing pattern of the fossil record and the existence of intermediate fossil forms was recognized by scientists (who were creationists) long before Darwin brought evolutionary theory into the scientific mainstream.

The changing pattern in the fossil record was surely observed; Cuvier in France and Owen in England — both eminent comparative anatomists in the first half of the 19th century — were very clear on that.

Indeed, Cuvier, Owen and just about every other geologist/paleontologist in the world at the time.

RBH: But Owen opposed Darwin’s hypothesis of species transmutation and common ancestry specifically because he did not see transitional/intermediate forms in the fossil record to which he had access.

I can’t speak much about Cuvier, but Owen is a little difficult to pigeon-hole into modern categories (perhaps a theistic evolutionist of sorts). He did oppose Darwin, particularly Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection but seemed to have been open to the idea of some sort of secondary causation for living things (as opposed to their direct creation by God).

Read on»

Biologist bitch slaps (figuratively) intelligent design creationist

Prof. Ken Miller

Prof. Ken Miller

Brown University biologist and Dover ID trial witness Ken Miller pwns ID creationist Casey Luskin in a guest posting on Carl Zimmer’s blog The Loom.

Tis a thing of beauty.


Miller is showing no mercy. The above was just part one! Here are parts two and three.