Thursday, February 14, 2013

#422: Todd Wood

Todd C. Wood is a “professor of baraminology” at Bryan College (named for William JenningsBryan). He also has a blog. As he puts it “[a]nyone who knows me at all knows that I break down creationist biology into four main components: design, natural evil, systematics, speciation, and biogeography” (which would probably more than qualify him for a mathematics position at Oral Roberts University).

Wood is a frequent contributor to Answer in Genesis’s “peer-reviewed” journal Answers. For volume 1  he contributed (with Roger W. Sanders, Kurt P. Wise, and Joseph W. Francis) “Toward a Practical Theology of Peer Review”, a criticism of the peer review process “from a Christian perspective”. For volume2 he gave us “There is no Darwin Conspiracy”, which actually admonishes creationists to avoid rejecting evolution based on ad hominem attacks – apparently because evolution is so easily demonstrated false by other means.

As a baraminologist he has, among other things, claimed that the genetic similarity between humans and other mammals prove the existence of God. The proof goes as follows: since the similarity cannot be random, and since the Bible excludes evolution, we’re left with having to accept that God did it. Hence God exists. Some of us may find the argument not unproblematic. For volume 3 of the Answers journal, he gave us “Baraminological Analysis Places Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, and Australopithecus sediba in the Human Holobaramin” (discussed here), which did not in any way establish the existence of baramins. Interestingly, however, the same volume contains a heated response from archloons David Menton, Anne Habermehl and David DeWitt expressing their shock that Wood could claim that other hominids could be “human”. Their rejection of Wood’s analysis is not based on science or evidence, but I guess no one would have suspected that anyway (Anne Habermehl: “Let me point out that we creationist can tell, merely from reading our Bible, that some fossils are humans and others are not; we do not need statistical analysis to confirm this.”) I don’t think I’m the only one to see the connection between Answers in Genesis and the Melanesiancargo cult.

Interestingly, Wood is an ardent critic of Intelligent Design Creationism, partially since ID lacks a coherent theory (which is correct). Young Earth Creationists like Wood does, however, and it’s called “The Bible”. Wood even acknowledges thatevolution represents the best scientific knowledge available, but that, of course, is just science, and science alone cannot measure up to, you know, Jesus. Still, Wood sometimes display glimmers of critical thinking skills, which is a rare thing among his group of people.

Diagnosis: An illuminating case. Wood is a fundamentalist denialist who would never let truth, evidence or accountability come in the way of his religious beliefs. In fact, Wood has a reputation for intellectual honesty – not a common trait among creationists – and is not afraid to criticize other creationists. He has even shown good evidence for critical thinking skills. It is a pity that he can’t put his mind to better use. 

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