Posts of the Month for 2002
- January: Progress in Abiogenesis Research
- Abiogenesis, the origin of life from non-life, is one of the newest and most rapidly developing fields in science. Ian Musgrave helps bring us up to date on what advances have been made in the last few years.
- February: Morton's Demon
- The famous 19th-century physicist James Clerk Maxwell once proposed a famous thought experiment, now known as "Maxwell's demon", by which the second law of thermodynamics could potentially be violated. It was eventually shown that Maxwell's demon could never exist in reality; in this post, however, former young-earth creationist Glenn Morton describes a far more subtle and devious demon.
- March: The Devil Went Down to Talk.Origins
- Was the theory of evolution, as most believe, first proposed by a brilliant amateur British naturalist named Charles Darwin in 1859 with his groundbreaking On the Origin of Species? Or, as creationists such as Henry Morris believe, was it first conceived by Satan as a clever way to undermine God's authority and given to Nimrod by the Father of Lies himself at the Tower of Babel in the years following the great flood? We may never know for sure. But talk.origins contributor and young-earth creationist Dave P. has made up his mind. Not only that, he believes the Prince of Darkness is still active in the world spreading his fork-tongued lies, as is shown by this post where he accuses a talk.origins regular of some rather diabolic associations.
- March Runner-Up: Monkeys' Uncles
- The hominid fossil tree has presented paleoanthropologists with an embarrassment of riches. African sites have yielded a wealth of fossils that allow us to retrace in detail the branching steps of our own evolution. But what do we find if we go much further back, to the far more ancient split between apes (including humans) and monkeys, or between humans and other apes? Which species are our last common ancestors with these primates? The answers are not yet known for sure, but here Floyd summarizes what we do know.
- March Honorable Mention: Mechanisms of Gene Transfer in Bacteria
- Single-celled organisms, such as bacteria, can evolve in ways very different from those used by the vertebrates. While they lack the gene-shuffling benefits of sex, they possess other abilities; for example, many bacteria can directly swap segments of DNA in a process called plasmid transfer. They can even use the genes of infectious viruses to their own benefit. David Tamang elucidates these mechanisms and others.
- March Honorable Mention: What's the Urgency?
- Surprisingly, while arguing that what they do is science, even the more prominent advocates of intelligent design creationism such as William Dembski admit that their work is at a very primitive stage and not ready yet for public funding to carry out experiments. But as the recent fracas in Ohio shows, they are already fighting hard to get ID taught in schools. What's the urgency? asks Mike Dunford.
- April: A Flood Geologist Recants
- Once, the Noachian flood was considered to have been a real and historic event by mainstream geologists. Today, it is not. How did the global deluge fall out of favor? Mike Dunford explains: the death stroke was given when a great scientist who until that point had been one of the principal supporters of the flood recanted, admitting that it was a hypothesis that simply was not compatible with the empirical evidence.
- May: The Storks Have It
- Out of all the mammals, humans have the most trouble giving birth by far. Louann Miller tells us why, and who we should blame.
- June: Creationist Predictions
- Anyone who's ever argued with a creationist knows that it is notoriously difficult to get them to provide a list of specific, testable predictions by which their model might be either confirmed or falsified - and this can even be true of Biblical-literalist, young-earth creationists, as well as the much more vague intelligent-design types. Rossum tries to help them out by giving a list of potential predictions derived from the literal Book of Genesis interpretation of creation.
- July: The Descent of Man
- What would your ancestors have looked like, and what kind of world would they have lived in, a thousand generations ago? What about ten thousand generations? A hundred thousand? A million? How far back would you have to go to reach the last common ancestors of all humanity, and what would they be like? Aron-Ra does the math and reports his findings.
- August: The Knudelfish and the First Frenchman
- A recent Scientific American article attacking creationism sparked a war of words on talk.origins. Here, two t.o. contributors - John Wilkins with this month's winning post and Andre Isaak with a close runner-up - each use their own analogies to explain the mechanics of reproductive isolation and the formation of new species, in a thread inspired by that article.
- September: Fish Fossils
- In a thread debating the historicity of the Genesis flood, Keith Littleton dismisses claims that the fossil record of fishes shows evidence of widespread catastrophic deposition, and points out facts about mammalian and foraminiferan fossil records that a global flood cannot explain.
- September Editor's Pick: A Christian Responds
- Not all Christians are creationists, and some Christians positively deplore the harm creationism has done to their religion. James Hutchins reminds us of that.
- October: The Root of the Evolution/Creation Controversy
- At its heart, young-earth creationism is a religious phenomenon. It does not arise primarily from the evidence, but rather from a particular interpretation of Scripture, and a faulty one at that: so argues VBM, a Christian and an avowed creationist himself, contending in this post that young-earth creationists' refusal to admit their true motives is only doing harm to their cause and the church in general.
- November: Former Creationists
- A talk.origins poster asked if any frequent contributors to the group were former creationists who had since become supporters of evolution, and this question was answered by a large number of replies in the affirmative. Those replies can be viewed here.
- December: The Nature of the Designer
- Intelligent-design advocates claim they have a reliable method for detecting the handiwork of a designer in the complexity of nature, but refuse to speculate on who or what that designer might be. However, the basis for this refusal is unclear; after all, as Mike Dunford points out, other scientists who deal with intelligent agents do not shy away from drawing conclusions about the nature and motivation of their "designers" based on the evidence they have, and the IDists' refusal to do the same can readily be seen as a desire to cloak their true goals.
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