Naturalis Historia: A Two Year Status Report

Badlands-joel-duff-bg-SouthDakota2013Naturalis Historia is a bit more than two years old.   In that time I have written more than 160 articles and notes. The majority of these are reflections upon some aspect of the intersection of science and faith.  My typical modus operandi has been to take discoveries from science and ask how these discoveries impact our understanding of origins and the age of the Earth in particular.   Recently I have written more broadly, at times simply reporting on general interest stories in science with minimal commentary on how those stories could or should be understood within a biblical worldview.

I am nowhere close to running out of ideas of topics I wish to explore at the intersection of science and faith. What I am short of is time to do the background research and the writing itself.  The time I can devote to writing is impacted by several competing interests which include my real job, my family and a number of speaking engagements, beginning this spring, that will require quite a bit of preparation.

Yes, I do have a real job. This spring that job will have me teaching two sections of a non-majors biology course. Each of those classes will have about 170 students and I will be overseeing some aspects of the laboratory that goes with the course.  In addition to that I have multiple ongoing research projects that require my attention.  Oh, have I mentioned before that I have 5 school-age kids?  Yeah, lots of programs, sporting events, driving kids to school and so forth will be part of my daily routine for the foreseeable future.   In between all these engagements I’ll be jotting down my thoughts and continuing to share them with anyone that is interested.

Best of NH index:  A few weeks ago I generated a new page (see link at the top of the page) that organized most of my articles topically.  I also listed some of my favorite posts and my notes and photography.

What has the past two years taught me about blogging? 

First, if you write about dinosaurs, ken ham or better yet both at the same time you will get a lot of views of your post.  Second, if you write about the thoughts of anyone who died prior to the 20th century only a small percentage of your followers will click though to view the post unless you can find a way to mention dinosaurs in the title.   Third, posts with over 500 words are not likely to be read in their entirety. Oh, wait. I already knew that, but it has not prevented me from posting many 2000+ word articles anyway.

But seriously, while it is nice to have the views of the pages most of my writing is intended to help me improve as a writer by forcing me to think through my ideas.   The blog keeps me intellectually engaged and stimulates my personal research in ways that I usually could not anticipate.  I have also been blessed with many positive interactions and made many new friends.

What are my future writing plans?

In the coming year I expect to produce a similar mix of 1) longer articles exploring topics that salient to science and faith discussions, 2) shorter notes that mostly take current science headlines and examine their significance toward a Biblical worldview and 3) fun science stories with minimal philosophical commentary and 4) natural history photography just because I enjoy like taking pictures.

In addition to publishing more original content, I plan, for the first time, to begin recycling some of my favorite posts.  I have picked up more than 200 followers in the past year and thus many will not have seen much of my earlier writing. This gives me a chance to update the science and do some badly needed editing of the writing of some of my earlier work.

Here are just a few of topics that I am currently researching that I hope to write about in the coming year:

  • Continuation of the “geological context” series:  Geology of Israel and Egypt focusing on the origins of the Dead Sea, Nile River, and Mediterranean Sea
  • Series of posts examining the claims of preservation of soft-tissues in dinosaurs and a look at some other important discoveries by Dr. Mary Schweitzer that are often overlooked by creationists
  • Introduction to parasitic plants and the challenge they present to young earth creation biology
  • What is life?  Examining how life is defined both scientifically and biblically
  • The Grand Canyon and what it tells us about the age of the earth
  • More posts on the geology of Mars because I follow the story of the Curiosity Rover so closely
  • Many more thoughts on young earth creationism and its impact on the present and future of Christianity

Thank you for your encouragement in this past year and best wishes to all of you in 2014.

In Badlands National Park in South Dakota, August 2013. Photo by Joel Duff

Exploring Badlands National Park in South Dakota, August 2013. Photo by Joel Duff (via tripod)

Comments

  1. ashley haworth-roberts says:

    “Dinosaurs OR Ken Ham”?

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  2. Hey, Joel. Your blog is one of my favorite places on the internet. I appreciate it because you deal with aspects of context and background that I, as a bench biochemist, had next to no experience with in my career. I have come to think that, if I am going to say I was in biology, I should know a few things that were learned before, or without, putting things through a Waring blender or a sonicator. :) Also appreciate your irenic spirit in exploring things that should give the YECs reason to reflect on whether their view can be reconciled with the evidence. Oh, and I guess I am among the few who will read on when the subject is the history of natural philosophy. I was a philosophy major as an undergraduate, and I find the history of thought to be fascinating and revealing about why we are where we are today. Keep up the great work.

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    • Thanks, I’m glad you have found it helpful. Ah, the sonicator, in my younger years I used that a few too many times in DNA extractions without the appropriate head gear. I’m going to try to add some more historical perspectives in the coming year. Joel

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  3. Thank you for writing on these interesting topics. I look forward to read your thoughts on the headlines for 2014 presented above. May 2014 bring you many blessings.

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  4. Thanks, and keep up the great work!

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  5. Found your blog a few months ago via GeoChristian and really enjoy it. I’m a geologist and a bit of a natural philosopher all around, probably best described as a theistic evolutionist Christian, if I had to label myself.

    Given how busy you are and how well you write in general I suppose I’ll forgive your occasional spelling/grammar mistakes :) Looking forward to whatever you have to share in 2014!

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    • Thanks. Grammar has always been a big problem for me. I can read my own words over and over and not see really obvious problems. If I let the writing sit for a day or two and then look again, suddenly it pops out at me so I have been trying to hold off publishing until I have had that review period. Still, my wife always finds a problem when she gets around to reading the post and so if you see my posts the day they are published chances are they have many errors fixed a few days later.

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  6. Dawson Lewis says:

    Just to add my two cents, I always am glad to see one of your posts. As a Christian whose parent are unbelieving biology teachers I have always been exposed to both sides. Writing such as yours helps me to reconcile the clear evidence that God has put in creation with my faith.

    Like

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