Posted by: paulgarner | August 5, 2011

Reflections on Origins 2011

Well, another CBS/CGS conference is over. This year’s meeting marked the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Whitcomb and Morris’ The Genesis Flood, and so it was designed to be a special event with a geology field trip and some public talks in addition to the technical sessions.

Our field excursion to the Black Hills of South Dakota was led by Marcus Ross. It included a visit to the Homestake gold mine, the Great Unconformity between the Precambrian Ellison Formation and the Cambrian Deadwood Formation, and the Niobrara Chalk. We also had an opportunity to see Mount Rushmore and its famous carvings of former US Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. The photo to the left shows Steve Austin addressing the group at the Great Unconformity.

The next two days were devoted to the technical sessions. You can read the abstracts online (in the latest editions of JCTS Series B and JCTS Series C), but here are a few highlights:

• Georgia Purdom explained the work she is doing to identify biogenic stromatolites in the rock record and evaluate their occurrence in pre-Flood and Flood sediments.

• Roger Sanders offered a creationist interpretation of fossil pollen assemblages across the Cretaceous-Palaeogene boundary.

• Todd Wood presented a new analysis showing that the chimpanzee genome is not much bigger than the human genome and nearly identical to it.

• Tim Clarey discussed the phenomenon of overthrusts and proposed that they developed as catastrophic gravity slides late in the Flood or early in the post-Flood period.

• Marcus Ross examined the fossil record of mammals in North America and argued that it was incompatible with a Flood/post-Flood boundary in the Plio-Pleistocene.

• John Whitmore reported new observations of bedding styles in the Permian Coconino Sandstone of Arizona which pointed to subaqueous deposition.

There were also three presentations on dinosaur baraminology. One was a baraminic distance study which showed Archaeopteryx clustering with dromaeosaurs and separated from modern birds by morphological discontinuity. This is intriguing in light of last week’s Nature paper about Xiaotingia zhengi, a new Archaeopteryx-like fossil from China. Many creationists will probably reject the idea that Archaeopteryx is a feathered dinosaur, although I’m not quite sure why. I can’t think of a single biblical or theological reason why the idea of a feathered dinosaur should be considered problematic for creationists.

Finally, there were the public talks. Art Chadwick gave a tremendous presentation about his ground-breaking work at the Hanson dinosaur dig in Wyoming and John Morris offered us some personal recollections of events associated with the writing of The Genesis Flood. Other talks covered the frontiers of creation biology (Todd Wood), the eruption of Mount St Helens (Steve Austin), the wonders of human reproduction (Randy Guliuzza), a creationist approach to microbial life (Joe Francis) and scriptural and scientific insights into the pre-Flood world (Kurt Wise). The conference closed with a panel discussion on educational issues that raised controversial questions about how (or even whether) evolution should be taught in Christian colleges.

If you missed the conference, you missed a real treat. Don’t make the same mistake next year!

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