…there has recently been a bit of a wrinkle in this core tenet of evolution. It used to be that you could say with confidence that changes brought about by environmental influences over the course of an individual’s lifetime (loss of limb, build-up of muscle mass) are not heritable. But more and more examples of just that—of environmentally affected traits being passed from parent to offspring—have been recently reported in the scientific literature. Earlier this year, for example, Scientific American ran a piece by biologist Michael Skinner that described the phenomena he has studied since 2005. He recounts how mice exposed to a toxin produce male offspring with low sperm count and underdeveloped sex organs. No problem so far, the offspring were developing within the mother’s body and therefore also exposed. But Skinner’s team noted a disproportionate occurrence of these traits in the next two generations. There was no trace of the toxin in…
North American Geology. It’s complicated. I’m pretty sure Amanda and I were abducted by aliens this morning. This is not the first time for me. I was abducted with two others about 20 years ago in Southern Maine while looking for antiques, back when you could still get them cheap even in antique stores (inexpensive antiques, not aliens). You can tell you were abducted because one moment it is a certain time and the next moment is it much later in time and you have no memory whatsoever of he ensuing span of minutes or hours. Since that is essentially impossible, alien abduction is pretty much the best possible explanation.
Back in Maine, it caused us to miss a critical turn just by the Big Red Barn antique store. This morning, it caused Amanda to go rushing out of the house only half ready for a day of teaching Life Science and me to sit here wondering, “Why did I just spend 20 minutes reading pages in this creationist web site called Answers in Genesis?”
Well, I’m not sure how Amanda’s day is going to go, but I’m going to make use of this abduction and talk about the Grand Canyon. Continue reading →
Last month Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a top candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, remarked, “Evolution is just a theory out there.” He also claimed Texas schools teach both evolution and creationism.
Perry was mistaken: In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled public teaching of Bible-based creationism (or “intelligent design”) unconstitutional.
The creationism vs. evolution in schools debate has reared back into our national political dialogue, which may be reason enough to revive “Inherit the Wind,” a 1955 play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee.
We don’t see many revivals of this sturdy courtroom drama…
Giant Dinosaurs of the Jurassic is a children’s book for kids in third to fifth grade or, in my opinion, a little younger. Certainly this is an excellent choice, because of the cool illustrations, of a book to read aloud to the pre-literate little ones. Continue reading →
From whence the humble chicken? Gallus gallus is a domesticated chicken-like bird (thus, the name “chicken”) that originates in southeast Asia. Ever since Darwin we’ve known that the chicken originated in southeast Asia, although the exact details of which one or more of several possible jungle fowls is the primal form has been debated. The idea that more than one wild species contributed to the early chicken has been on the table for a long time, though perhaps not as long as the chickens themselves have been on the table. Continue reading →
Here is a preliminary list of resources for people to find out more about Intelligent Design. Please feel free to put this on your own site. If you want, email me and I’ll send you the HTML code to make this one step easier. But you can also, if you are using Firefox, use “ctrl-u” to display the code and cut and paste it from there.Please feel free to add to this resource for people who want to learn more about Intelligent Design. Continue reading →