Creation-Evolution Headlines
 March 2002
“I sometimes wonder why we talk about anything else.  Because this is the most interesting topic there is: it’s our creation story.  Where did we come from?  How did we get here?  What brought us into existence?  What is our relationship to reality as a whole?”
– Dr. Phillip Johnson, in a new film Unlocking the Mystery of Life from Illustra Media that premiered March 9.

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Living Fossil from Age of Dinosaurs Getting Too Warm for Comfort   03/31/2002
The tuatara, an odd-looking lizard from New Zealand that thrived in the age of dinosaurs and is still extant today, is in peril of extinction due to rising temperatures, reports the
BBC News.  Nicky Nelson, one of the researchers, said, “They’ve been around since the time of the dinosaurs, so they've been through climate change before and survived, whereas dinosaurs didn’t, so they must have some mechanisms for coping with it.”

Something sounds incongruous in this story.  On the one hand we are told that dinosaurs, who come in all shapes and sizes, were the most successful land creatures that ever lived, surviving everything from Arctic freezing to Egypt’s hot spells, yet this little contemporary, who has outlived them all, is sensitive to a one-degree rise in climate.  So over 65 million years, with all the climactic changes in that long period, the tuatara, who survived whatever wiped out the dinosaurs, have never been threatened with extinction until now?  Is it remotely possible something is wrong with the millions of years story?
    The tuatara is one of many examples of living fossils – organisms long thought extinct for millions of years, but recently found alive and unevolved today.  Living fossils pose a severe challenge to evolutionary theory.  Other living fossils from the age of dinosaurs, and some before that, are known, from all over the world.  Evolutionists respond that these living fossils just found niches that were comfortable enough to keep them from evolving, but at other times describe natural selection as this inexorable force that carries everything along in its path.  Let the evidence speak for itself.  Either evolution is not inexorable, or the earth is not that old, or (radical thought) both.
Next headline on: Dinosaurs. • Next headline on: Fossils.
Eyes Jump, but Brain Doesn’t   03/29/2002
Our eyes are always jumping around, in a movement termed saccades, but somehow the brain smoothes out the image.  Does the retina or the brain compensate for the saccadal movement?  German scientists publishing in the
March 29 Science have identified non-retinal neurons that are able to distinguish between the automatic saccadal movements and the darting glances we make on purpose.  Marcia Barinaga explains an experiment you can do to see how the movement works:
If our mind were to see what our retinas see, the world would seem herky-jerky.  That’s because our eyes continually dart from place to place, causing an image to jump about on our retinas.  The brain smooths the scene by briefly blanking out visual perception when the eyes jump.  A simple demonstration illustrates this: Look at one of your eyes in a mirror.  Then look at your other eye.  Then back to the first.  You will not see your eyes move, even though a person watching over your shoulder would easily see the rapid eye movements known as saccades.
The scientists found evidence that the special neurons compensate by cancelling out the saccadal movements.
If you stared at something without movement, your receptors would be saturated.  So to prevent temporary blindness, God gave you muscles that move the eyes constantly, and nerves that compensate for the movements so you don’t get confused.  How could these two independent functions evolve simultaneously to harmonize just right?
Next headline on: Human Body.
Chemist Envisions Possibilities of Self-Organizing Molecules   03/29/2002
The March 29 issue of
Science is devoted to “Supramolecular chemistry and self-assembly.”  In a viewpoint article entitled Toward Self-Organization and Complex Matter, French chemist Jean-Marie Lehn of the Pasteur Institute speculates about the future possibilities in the upcoming era of “Darwinian chemistry” where chemists will utilize techniques molecules have evolved over millions of years:
The combined features of supramolecular systems--information and programmability, dynamics and reversibility, constitution and diversity--are leading toward the emergence of adaptive/evolutive chemistry.  Adaptive chemistry implies selection and growth under time reversibility.  It becomes evolutive chemistry when acquired features are conserved and passed on.  Harnessing the power of selection for adaptation and evolution on the molecular scene is ushering in a darwinistic era of chemistry.  The ultimate goal is to merge design and selection in self-organization to perform self-design, in which function-driven selection among suitably instructed dynamic species generates the optimal organized and functional entity, in a postdarwinian process.

... Supramolecular chemistry provides ways and means for progressively unraveling the complexification of matter through self-organization.  Together with the corresponding fields in physics and biology, it leads toward a supramolecular science of complex, informed, self-organized evolutive matter... Through progressive discovery, understanding, and implementation of the rules that govern the evolution from inanimate to animate matter and beyond, we will ultimately acquire the ability to create new forms of complex matter.

As an example of a natural model, Lehn points to the human brain: “The most complex object we know, the brain, builds up by self-organization and is self-wired and self-integrated, as well as self-connected through our senses.”
Self, self, self.  Pasteur would be appalled at what this scientist, at the institute he founded, is saying.  Pasteur thought he had demonstrated for all time the law of biogenesis: only life begets life.  “Never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow of this one simple experiment,” he claimed after demonstrating the results of tests with his famous swan-necked flask.  Leeuwenhoek before him had also argued strongly that living things do not just emerge (self-assemble) from inanimate matter.  But now, spontaneous generation has arisen with a vengeance: the universe is viewed as a self-assembling, self-organizing, self-designing, self-fabricating, self-recognizing, selfish self.  Lehn uses the prefix “self-” 45 times in his short article.  How apt a science for the “me generation.”
    Crystalline structures can be claimed to self-assemble because of the laws governing their bonding (a form of programming that implies design in the laws of physics), but nowhere is there found a type of chemistry that can carry information and be programmed except in living things.  Lehn provides no examples of inanimate primordial soup that has self-organized into a functioning unit.  Instead, he is so convinced that life designed itself that it taints his view of the hard sciences of physics and chemistry, making them animated with intelligence and power.  This is not hard science: it is pantheism.  It is animism dressed up in a lab coat.
    Consider this opening line by Joe Alper in another paper in the same issue: “Despite biology’s considerable lead in working with loose-knit bonds, scientists have learned...”  Here we see biology treated as a god.  It has intelligence, a competitive edge, and technical skill.  You thought atoms were lifeless particles, but lo! they are imbued with spirits.  And these spirits, more powerful than thermodynamics, able to leap tall design specs in a single bound, are creating the most complex programs known to man, by themselves.  And now the good part: we have evolved self-recognition to the point where we can take control of our own evolution.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?  You shall be as gods.
    Know the fallacy of personification well, for you will see it often in evolutionary thinking.
Next headline on: Darwinism.
Another Protein Chaperone Found   03/28/2002
German scientists writing in the
March 28 Nature have described another “protease-chaperone machine” in cells that is widely conserved in living things.  Named DegP, this molecular machine has two functions: if it cannot refold a badly-folded protein, it dismantles it.  Its functions appear to be heat sensitive.  The six-sided cluster of protein chains forms a barrel-shaped cavity, with “a construction reminiscent of a compactor.”  Customers are guided by tentacle-like “gatekeepers” into the machine, and the door is closed.  If the customer just needs cleaning to refold, the lint is scraped off and the molecule is ejected to refold; otherwise, it is compacted and destroyed.  The machine is apparently versatile enough to handle many different kinds of proteins.
This is all so amazing, and raises additional questions; how do these eyeless, mindless machines know just what to do?  How do they recognize a badly folded protein?  When our best biochemists can’t solve the highly complex problem of protein folding, how does a cell do it?  Clearly a great deal of sophisticated hardware and software design is behind the construction of these tiny machines.  And remember, these machines are already fully functional in bacteria, the simplest forms of life.
Next headline on: The Cell. • Next amazing story.
Life Compared to Designed Architecture   03/28/2002
In the
March 28 issue of Nature, Everett Shock of Washington University of St. Louis gives his view on the announcement in the same issue of the creation of amino acids by UV light in simulated interstellar ice (see this NASA press release for details).  Titling his News and Views piece “Astrobiology: Seeds of Life?” Shock, after agreeing that amino acids are easily formed in a variety of abiological conditions, ends with this statement:
Does this tell us much about the origin of life?  Well, you can study geology for a living, but knowing how different rocks form doesn't tell you which lumps of rock will become Teotihuacán, the Taj Mahal or Tony's Tavern.  Studying the chemical building-blocks of life shows that they are ubiquitous and can exist in the absence of life.  Indeed, inferred cosmic abundances of these building-blocks from abiological sources greatly exceed those from living organisms.  Accepting that fact, it follows that process- driven investigations into the emergence of life may need to be cast in a different way, which takes into account the materials involved but is not directly tied to them.  This, I believe, is a major challenge for the fledgling field of astrobiology.
This sounds for all the world like a statement by an Intelligent Design theorist.  What are Teotihuacán, the Taj Mahal or Tony's Tavern, but examples of intelligent (more or less) design?  Dr. Shock correctly distinguishes the building blocks from the way they are assembled.  Of course, this is obvious to anyone, even Tony, that bricks do not spontaneously assemble themselves into taverns.  Yet astrobiologists routinely get excited about finding bricks.  They have never found abiological architects.  We agree with Everett Shock that astrobiology needs to be cast in a different way that is not just tied to the materials; it needs to account for the origin of information that leads to functional structures.  To do this without input of intelligent design is a “major challenge,” to put it wildly mildly.
Next headline on: Intelligent Design. • Next headline on: Origin of Life.
Dry Mars: “River Channels” Carved by Dry Ice?   03/27/2002
According to an article on
Discovery News, echoed by NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, a growing number of scientists are interpreting the latest data as evidence that the channels and features of Mars that looked like they were formed by water are better explained by liquid carbon dioxide from episodes of volcanic heating.
The jury is still out, but this would be a big disappointment to those who expected to find life there.
Next headline on: Mars.
Where Did Earth Get Its Water?  “The H2O Enigma”   03/26/2002
The cover story of
Science News (Vol 161:12, Mar 23) laments that theories of the origins of Earth’s oceans are all wet.  “Earth was born dry, many scientists maintain, but the source of its water remains a mystery with conflicting clues. ... A long-popular theory about how Earth got wet-that the oceans are puddles left by an ancient rain of comets- doesn’t seem to hold water, and new hypotheses suggest that the celestial pantry is now empty of a key ingredient in the recipe for Earth.”
    In the article, all three major theories are shown to be faulty:
  1. Comet impact hypothesis (water was added after the formation of the earth by comets impacting the dry earth): Comets have a twice as high a deuterium to hydrogen ratio than ocean water, so apparently the water was not added as a veneer from comets late in earth’s history. 
  2. Wet accretion hypothesis (water was added during the earth’s condensation out of the solar nebula): volatiles such as water, in addition to argon, krypton, xenon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen most likely could not have survived during the alleged period of planetary formation, yet here they are.  Did earth’s water come from silicate rocks with water trapped inside, in a cooler band of the solar nebula?  “If existing objects in space couldn’t have combined to make Earth’s unique mix of water and other elements, the planet must have formed from–and entirely depleted–an ancient supply of water-rich material that has no modern analog, Drake and Righter [proponents of the hypothesis] argue.”  Jonathan Lunine remarks, “If Earth got its water locally, then Mars [too] should have been swimming in water” (but that appears not to be the case; see the March 27 headline).
  3. Chance encounter hypothesis (a big wet object hit the earth after its formation): This allows for the unique chemical signature of earth compared to the other planets, but is an ad hoc scenario relying on a highly unlikely, chance event that cannot be tested.
Scientists hope that more data, such as from the Contour Mission scheduled for launch on July 1, may help resolve the mystery.
Is there anything in evolutionary theory, whether cosmology, geology, biology or paleontology, that is not slippery, uncertain, contradictory, and disputed between evolutionists?  We’re still looking.  Meanwhile, you can be sure Epcot won’t revise their Living Seas exhibit because of this report.  A good multimedia fantasy is worth a ton of scientific papers.
    These are the kinds of difficulties scientists get themselves into when refusing to accept God’s account of what happened.  The creation account in Genesis 1 presents no enigma; water was present from the very beginning, the very first and most abundant material, prior to everything else.  Notice how improbable and ad hoc the materialistic theories sound.  In light of this story and all the other difficulties naturalistic explanations have (browse through the Geology and Solar System chain links), whose story sounds more plausible?
Next headline on: Geology. • Next headline on: Solar System.
What Caused the Permian Extinction?   03/26/2002
Robert Berner, a Yale geologist, writing in the March 26
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examines the many theories of what supposedly killed off most species of living things 550 million years ago.  He studied effects on the carbon cycle, and concludes: “The most far-reaching effect was found to be reorganization of the carbon cycle with major sedimentary burial of organic matter shifting from the land to the sea, resulting in less burial overall, decreased atmospheric O2, and higher atmospheric CO2 for the entire Triassic Period.”  On March 27, Scientific American posted a summary of this theory.
Just storytelling.  Other evolutionists will disagree and like their story better, especially the one about the big meteor.  It makes more exciting computer animations on the Discovery Channel.  (This paper allows for the meteor, but combines it with two other ad hoc mechanisms.  What happened to Ockham’s Razor?)
Next headline on: Dating Methods. • Next headline on: Geology.
Evolutionists Try to Calibrate Molecular Clocks to Fossils   03/26/2002
A team of American and British scientists tackles the difficulty of relating the evolutionary tree based on gene comparisons with the evolutionary tree derived from fossils.  Writing in the March 26
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they conclude, from a study of ferns, that molecular evolution can speed up and slow down, even creating “molecular living fossils” that show no evolution over long periods.  They conclude, “Similar discrepancies between the fossil record and molecular-based age estimates noted in other studies may also be explained in part by violations of rate constancy among lineages.”
The title calls this phenomenon “Rate heterogeneity” – a clever euphemism for “confusion.” This paper is a case study in begging the question.  It only makes sense if you already are convinced evolution is true.  It also only makes sense if you accept their dating methods for fossils, which are themselves based on evolutionary assumptions.  The data show, as we have reported frequently, a big mismatch between molecular family trees and those based on the fossil record (both of which assume evolution from the get-go).  But this anomaly must never cast doubt on the fact of evolution; they just have to force the mismatched parts together, somehow.  They admit in their Introduction that “it has become clear that many estimated divergence times [based on the molecular clock hypothesis] are grossly inconsistent with the fossil record.”  But does postulating a wildly fluctuating molecular clock help?  Does it not just add to the confusion, making it impossible to be sure about anything in evolutionary theory? 
    Don’t forget that the proponents of “punctuated equilibria” theory have postulated that the fossil clock also fluctuates wildly, with long periods of stasis punctuated by rapid periods of evolution (that, unfortunately, leave no trace in the fossil record– thus explaining away the many systematic gaps in the record).  So here, in this paper, you have evolutionists trying to calibrate two wildly fluctuating clocks against each other.  Does anybody know what time it is?  Time to consider alternatives to evolution.
Next headline on: Fossils. • Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Neutral Mutations Wait for Their Time to Shine   03/26/2002
Two scientists writing in the March 26
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a gene in monkeys that had some weak antiviral activity, but when duplicated, became much more effective.  They reason that “neutral substitutions are not simply ‘noises’ in protein evolution, as many have thought.  They may play constructive roles by setting the intramolecular microenvironment for further complementary advantageous substitutions, which can lead to improved or altered function.”
They admit that, “The molecular evolutionary mechanisms underlying the functional divergence of duplicated genes, however, are not well understood, in part because it is difficult to reconstruct the sequences and functional characteristics of ancestral genes and proteins.”  They do little more than hope that “paleomolecular biochemistry” will shed more light on it.  But how did a paper like this slip through peer review?  It reeks of teleology (purpose, plan) – a mortal sin to an evolutionist.  They picture neutral mutations lying in wait for their chance to aid survival.  This is unacceptable.  Mutations don’t care.  They can’t care; like accidents waiting to happen, they are far more likely to damage what is working rather than help.  Even if you granted their premise, does one example justify a theory?  Even if you granted that, the monkeys are still monkeys, so no real evolution has been observed here.  Consider whether this paper helps evolutionary theory at all, especially in light of the next story below on cell motors, which is based on empirical, observational evidence.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Cell’s Motors– Are Really Motors   03/26/2002
James Marden and Lee Allen from Penn State, writing in the March 26 PNAS,
“Molecules, muscles, and machines: Universal performance characteristics of motors” have graphed the net force vs mass of motors from molecular size to rocket engines.  They found essentially no difference between biological motors like ATP synthase, the bacterial flagellum, dynein and other nano-scale molecular machines and man-made motors:
Animal- and human-made motors vary widely in size and shape, are constructed of vastly different materials, use different mechanisms, and produce an enormous range of mass-specific power.  Despite these differences, there is remarkable consistency in the maximum net force produced by broad classes of animal- and human-made motors.
In addition, they compared “flying birds, bats, and insects, swimming fish, various taxa of running animals, piston engines, electric motors, and all types of jets” and found them to all fall on the same line of force per mass, except in a few cases where viscosity of the medium was a factor.  “Remarkably,” they state, “this finding indicates that most of the motors used by humans and animals for transportation have a common upper limit of mass-specific net force output that is independent of materials and mechanisms.”  They are not sure if living things have achieved a theoretical upper limit of performance per unit mass, but conclude: “In the meantime, we perhaps can only marvel that millions of years of natural selection on animals and a few centuries of experimentation with machines have resulted in an empirical and evolutionary solution to the problem; ...”
(Gag) There it is again, another glittering generality that time and chance, acting on impersonal atoms, have achieved perfection in engineering!
    Despite the bad punch line, this paper is really mind-boggling, when you think about it.  It’s another example of scientists referring to biological parts as machines – and motors, and marvelling at them.  Not just biologists, but physicists, engineers and inventors are excited about how they work.  Darwin and Haeckel might have been excused for thinking a cell was like a simple blob of jello, but now we know better.  The day may soon come when attributing the exquisite engineering in cells to natural selection will get the reaction it deserves: incredulous disbelief that anyone could think such a thing.
    As is typical each week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the same issue has a plethora of additional research papers about wonders of living cells: for example, So many wonders; so little time.
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry. • Next amazing story.
52 Ohio Scientists Encourage Critical Thinking on Evolution   03/26/2002
In the ongoing controversy about
evolution teaching in Ohio schools, a group of 52 scientists have launched a salvo for academic freedom regarding origins, encouraging schools to teach evidence both for and against evolution and intelligent design, and critical thinking and “informed participation in public discussions about biological origins.”  A third of the signers are from Ohio State University at Columbus, says Access Research Network, which published the resolution and list of signers.
    Access Research Network also posted a statement by Senator Edward Kennedy repudiating intelligent design as science (disagreeing with a March 14 Washington Times article by his colleague Rick Santorum), and a response by William Dembski asking whether Kennedy is an expert in this area or was influenced by establishment scientists.
Looks like Kennedy did a flip-flop on this, because he earlier supported the Santorum Amendment (see his statement in our June 30 headline).  One wonders what advice was given him by evolution-only promoters.  Regardless, Dembski points out that Kennedy provided no reason for his blunt statement that ID is not a scientific theory, then provides reasons why it is.  Apparently the 52 Ohio scientists agree, and believe ID deserves to be heard, and that neither Darwinism nor any other controversial theory in science should be treated like a monopoly.  The protectionism demanded by the Darwin Party is going to work against them.  What are they afraid of?  If Darwinism must be shielded from honest inquiry, don’t they realize it makes their case look weak?
Next headline on: Schools. • Next headline on: Intelligent Design.
Blood Cells in Dinosaur Bone: True or False?   03/25/2002
In 1997, Carl Wieland, creationist writer with
Answers in Genesis, reported on an alleged find (by evolutionists) of red blood cells in dinosaur bone.  An evolutionist decided to go to the source and check out the details.  He wrote a letter claiming that no such blood cells were found, and it was an example that “AiG has again been caught misrepresenting the results of scientific studies and exaggerating their impact to bolster its anti-evolution agenda.”  Now, Carl Wieland has responded, point by point, to the evolutionist’s rebuttal, concluding that, still, the evidence is highly consistent with red blood cells having been found in T. rex fossils.
Get out your Baloney Detector and check out this interesting debate.  Note that the original claim of blood cells came from the evolutionist literature, not from a creationist source.  That means the burden of proof is on them to explain away the data, since they were the ones surprised by what appeared to be remains of blood cells and hemoglobin.  Have they succeeded?  Begging the question (assuming evolution and long ages) doesn’t qualify.
    Since evolution tends to have the smugness of majority rule in explanations, be especially watchful of this critic’s arguments, after clearing away the ad hominems and smokescreens, to see if any arguments of substance remain.  Don’t just accept flat-out bluffing claims on either side; look for raw data and sound logic.  How do you vote?
Next headline on: Dinosaurs. • Next headline on: Fossils. • Next headline on: Dating Methods.
Iraqi Dam Threatens Archaeological Sites   03/22/2002
Unless something is done before 2007, a new Iraqi dam on the Tigris will flood the mound of Ashur, capital of ancient Assyria, laments the
March 22 issue of Science.  With tensions as high as they are because of Saddam Hussein, it is unlikely this archaeological treasure trove and 64 others in the flood zone can be salvaged in time. 
Asshur is mentioned quite often in the Old Testament; the Assyrians were the nemesis of the Israelites.  That the large Assyrian empire is gone, and may soon be buried under water, while the Israelites flourish in their homeland, is a testimony to the hand of God in history.  Still, we deplore the destruction of archaeological sites that can shed light on Biblical peoples and times.  Iraq is seat of many fascinating historical sites that, sadly, are off limits to researchers because of Islamic extremism and the totalitarian government of a mad despot.
Next headline on: Bible.
Why Cold Feels Cold   03/22/2002
The
March 22 Science explains a little of what happens when you taste a cool mint or put an ice cube on your hand: 
Mildly cool temperatures (25º to 15ºC) and the cooling agent menthol activate the TRPM8 ion channel.  This channel is expressed by sensory neurons in the mouth that project to the trigeminal ganglia (TG) in the brain, and by sensory neurons in the skin that project to the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) of the spinal cord.  When activated, TRPM8 channels open, allowing Ca2+ and Na+ ions into neurons, which then become depolarized.  TRPM8, like other TRPM channels, is a tetramer with each subunit containing six transmembrane domains and unusually long amino and carboxyl termini.
Cool, huh?  Just thought you’d like to know.  By the way, there is a different sensor for hot chili peppers and burning heat.  Sometimes, it appears, both heat and cold can trigger the same ion channels.  That’s why touching a frigid piece of metal can create a burning sensation.
Next headline on: Human Body.
Factory Recall: How the Cell Deals with Assembly Errors   03/22/2002
From DNA to protein – the process of transcription and translation, in which a messenger RNA (mRNA) reads the DNA template and ferries the information to a ribosome, where transfer RNAs (tRNA) assemble amino acids into protein chains, is an elaborate process coordinated with dozens of enzymes, signals and molecular machines.  The mRNA is supposed to come with a “termination codon” a specific series of nucleotides that tells the ribosome the chain is complete.  But what is the ribosome to do when the mRNA is missing the termination codon, or has it in the wrong place?  If it releases a misfit protein, the results could be disastrous.  Not to worry: the cell has control procedures to recognize the error and dismantle the misfit protein before it gets into circulation.  Two papers in the
March 22 issue of Science explain new findings about the factory recall system, termed nonsense-mediated messenger RNA decay and nonstop messenger RNA decay.  Several mechanisms are involved.  Though complicated, they resemble human assembly lines with inspectors that stamp bad parts defective, so that downstream workers know to send them to the recycle bin (an exosome or proteasome) instead of the shipping room.  Other mechanisms resemble instructions from a high-tech spy novel: something like “if the messenger arrives more than 22 minutes late or is lacking his security clearance emblem, activate his self-destruct mechanism.”  In her perspective summary, Lynne E. Maquat begins, “Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells have evolved remarkable quality assurance mechanisms at virtually every step of gene expression.”  Maquat also has a summary of the processes in the March 19 issue of Current Biology.
Prokaryotic cells, are, of course, the “simplest” and most “primitive” life forms on earth.  Yes, how did they “evolve” remarkable quality assurance mechanisms?  Pray, tell.
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry. • Next amazing story.
What Are Fossil Redwoods Doing in the Arctic?   03/22/2002
They’re shedding light on a very unusual past.  A researcher at
Johns Hopkins University is studying a remarkably preserved group of fossil redwoods within the Arctic Circle at Axel Heilberg island north of Canada, where no plants–let alone forests–grow today.  The research team headed by Hope Jahren made three trips to study the fossils.  She remarked, “Some of this stuff looks about like driftwood on the beach, but it’s 45 million years old.  These fossils are chemically preserved at a level you usually would expect to see in something that’s only 1,000 years old.” Jahren published her theory in the January GSA Today that an unusual current of warm equatorial air circulated almost due north to nourish the trees.  Nevertheless, the find raises a number of questions.  Jahren asks: “Did they function similarly to how plants function now?  Or did they have strategies that plants either no longer have or no longer employ?  Were they fundamentally different?  These fossils are really forcing us to expand our ideas of how ecosystems can work.”  (At this latitude, it is dark for four months of the year.) 
The 45 million year age comes from evolutionary assumptions; trees have rings, but not 45 million of them, nor do they have dates inscribed on them when they died.  How did redwoods get so far north, and how were they so “immaculately well preserved”?  This is not the only find that indicates a nearly global temperate climate in the past.  Some creationists have used this evidence to support the view that the climate was very different before the Flood. 
Next headline on: Plants. • Next headline on: Fossils.
Intelligent Design Awareness Increases   03/21/2002
The
March 21 Nature contains a report by Trisha Gura about the goings on in Ohio, where Stephen Meyer and Jonathan Wells and others were attempting to get intelligent design introduced into the state science standards (actually, to at least allow for criticisms of Darwinism).  It also mentions the Emmanuel College incident from last week.  It concludes with a quote from Ken Miller, evolution proponent, that the Ohio skirmish is just “a rehearsal for what will happen later” in Texas and other states.
The report is surprisingly dispassionate.  It reports the viewpoints of both sides, and tells what is occurring.  Sure, there is the quote by the Darwinists that intelligent design is pseudoscience and just a Trojan Horse for sneaking in the teaching of creationism, but that kind of rhetoric is ho-hum; Nature does not appear to take sides.  That’s especially interesting when you read their opening editorial (see next headline).
    In response to the increasing awareness of this topic, and its expected newsworthiness in the upcoming months, we have started a new Chain Link on Intelligent Design.
Next headline on: Schools. • Next headline on: Intelligent Design.
Biologists Drowning in Complexity   03/21/2002
So admits an opinion page, “Pursuing Arrogant Simplicities,” in the
March 21 Nature, stating (emphasis added):
Generating vast sets of data from stressed cells in order to determine patterns of gene expression is an immense step forward.  But beware the false impression that we are close to understanding how networks of genes regulate one another’s expression, and generate phenotypes such as cellular development and behaviour.  Even the true scale of most genetic networks is unknown.  And biologists know that genes are just one aspect of control: protein switches and molecular signalling networks are still a largely uncatalogued universe. ...
    .... Even after one absorbs a thousand or more pages of text, one would still be unlikely to have a feel for the variability and complexity of even the simplest microbe.
The comments were made in regard to universities that are building multi-disciplinary centers to model biology, warning them not to take life too simplistically.  While the editors encourage a search for simple, breakthrough hypotheses to model such things as genetic networks, the editors ask, “But what if, as some biologists suggest, there may be no possible model simpler than life itself?  Such are the defeatist speculations that physicists at least (as Szilard suggested) are schooled to ignore.”
In a day when the scale of complexity of living things is becoming known as never before, it is prime time for intelligent design theory to supersede a simplistic Darwinian model that cannot deal with it.  It’s nice to hear Nature admit the complexity, but interesting to note the total silence on evolution and origins in these kinds of writings.
Next headline on: The Cell.
Ethiopian Homo erectus Unifies the Species   03/21/2002
All Homo erectus individuals were members of a single species, according to
EurekAlert reporting on the cover story of the March 21 Nature.  Tim White’s Berkeley team extracted a skull in Ethiopia they believe shares composite African and Eurasian features, and was found in a location that makes it a human ancestor.
Any new claim about another human ancestor needs to be evaluated in light of all the prior claims we have reported right here in Creation-Evolution Headlines, and what the evolutionists themselves have said about them.  Please browse through the chain links on Early Man, like this series from the Feb 15 Science.   Human evolution theory is 1% data and 99% storytelling based on evolutionary assumptions, and evolutionists practically say so (especially when opining about their rivals’ discoveries).  Why, this time it only took two weeks to overturn the previous claim in Nature.
    Should we be convinced, when National Geographic isn’t?  They argue that any claim is bound to be controversial because the evidence is so fragmentary: “The situation is comparable to a researcher, one million years from now, looking at a few fossil remains of an Australian pygmy and an NBA basketball player.  Both are members of the same species, but their features represent a lot of variation within the species.  Without genetic or other supporting evidence, it’s easy to see how questions could arise among anthropologists of the future.”  Better yet, using this same reasoning, how can anthropologists of the present know anything for certain about the past?  Maybe this new skull belonged to the Shaq, or the Tom Thumb, of his day.  There is more variety among living Homo sapiens than the fossils of early man; would it be fair to line modern humans up in an evolutionary sequence based on some arbitrary parameter, such as skull shape?
Next headline on: Early Man.
Darwinist Predicts the Future   03/20/2002
An evolutionary biologist at the
University of Rochester, Barry G. Hall, is predicting evolution’s next step (for bacteria, at least), in a press release entitled “Darwin’s Time Machine.”  By analyzing how bacteria have evaded antibiotics, he thinks he can predict what strategy the bugs will take next, so that new medicines can head ’em off at the pass.
Antibiotic resistance is just variation within the species of bacterium; it is not evolution.  To see why, read the Discovery Institute’s response to Episode 4 of the PBS series Evolution.  The bacteria may be losing information, not evolving into something more advanced.  Consider how a man who loses his arm becomes immune to being handcuffed.  Evolution is given far too much credit for helping bacteria evade the handcuffs.  The bacteria are still bacteria, the same species of bacteria, after millions of generations.  What’s evolution got to do with it?
Next headline on: Darwinism.
Human Brain Evolved Not Just to Get Smart   03/19/2002
The latest
Science News examines the theory of Laland and Reader in the March 12 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about what led to the large human brain.  Examining a thousand research papers from four primate journals, the authors concluded, “The ability to learn from others, invent new behaviors, and use tools may have played pivotal roles in primate brain evolution.”  Thus they advocate an hypothesis “out of favor” with the mainstream.  Science News explains, “This conclusion challenges a popular theory that big, smart brains arose primarily because they afforded advantages when it came to negotiating complex social situations during human evolution.”  In other words, all primates, not just humans, were evolving these capabilities.  “They suggest that intellectual accomplishments unique to people, such as language use, may have played a smaller role in the evolution of our sizable brains than has often been thought.”
Again, what is important here is not the hypothesis presented, but the controversy it points out.  Evolutionists are trying to stuff observations into a story, and one group likes their story better than other groups’ stories.  There is nothing solid to support any of the evolutionary stories, mainstream or not: phrases like “may have” and ”might be” and “perhaps” occur 15 times in the paper.  Reader and Laland spend their introduction describing all the different hypotheses that have been proposed: the behavioral drive hypothesis, the social intelligence hypothesis, the Machiavellian social manipulation hypothesis, the extractive foraging hypothesis, the cognitive mapping hypothesis, the ecological hypothesis – all of which have their advocates and detractors, all of which are untested, all of which have serious problems. 
    None of these hypotheses include a detailed description of how multiple parts of the brain could have improved simultaneously.  If one extremely rare beneficial mutation were possible, giving rise to a bigger frontal lobe, for instance, how much more rare would be simultaneous mutations providing a bigger hypothalamus or hippocampus, or (even more important) the neurotransmitters and receptors involved, to say nothing of multiple anatomical improvements like the ability to walk upright or speak?  And if this proposal were correct, why is there not a gradation in language skills between primates, so that we could converse with monkeys and at least get them to nod knowingly when we explain the Machiavellian social manipulation hypothesis?
Next headline on: Early Man.
Did Proteins Self-Organize?   03/19/2002
The
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for March 19 published a supplement on “Self-organized complexity in the physical, biological, and social sciences.”  In the only paper of the colloquium that might bear on evolution, Hans Frauenfelder of Los Alamos labs considers Proteins: Paradigms of Complexity.  He describes complexity: “A system can be called complex if it can assume a large number of states or conformations and if it can carry information.”  Proteins and DNA, he explains, can assume so many possible combinations that they make astronomical numbers seem small by comparison: yet proteins and DNA carry information, “Hence proteins, and in general biological systems, are complex.”  He describes the complex conformations of amino acid chains, the energy landscape of protein interactions, and the many functions they perform.  Then he concludes with this enigmatic statement (emphasis added): “This brief sketch should make it clear that proteins are truly complex systems and that the complexity can be described through the energy landscape.  The complexity has arisen through evolution.  The structure and function of proteins are coded in the DNA.  Within the living system, proteins are part of a complex proteins network, and the complex interactions in the network may control the actual function.  Can this be called self-organized?
Frauenfelder calls self-organization a question of semantics, but it would seem any thinking person could not look at a complex system of this magnitude and call it self-organized.  When the intellectual schizophrenia of evolution speaks with its left brain describing complexity of a high order and its right brain saying “the complexity has arisen through evolution,” sooner or later something is going to snap.
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry.
Materials Scientist Inspired by Diatoms   03/19/2002
Diatoms are single-celled algae that live in glass houses.  The intricacy and variety of diatom shells, called frustrules, is staggering: some 100,000 varieties, all different, some with detailed geometric patterns precise enough to be used as gauges of microscope resolution. 
Science Now reports that Kenneth Sandhage of Massachusetts Institute of Technology sees potential to use diatoms for nanotechnology.  The silica of which they are made is too delicate, however, so he has invented a way to replace the silica with magnesium oxide.  This may lead to a variety of applications, including composites for solid rocket nozzles.  Dr. Sandhage marvels at the manufacturing potential of diatoms: a single diatom can give rise to a billion copies of its detailed house in just 10 days.
How did brainless algae create such beautiful geometric shapes?  Browse through these diatom collections at Bowling Green State University and the California Academy of Sciences and the Alfred Wegener Institute for an eye-feast of microscopic artwork.
Next amazing story.
Mars Magnetite Physical, Not Biological   03/18/2002
The claim of fossils in Martian Meteorite ALH 84001 in 1996 has generated dozens of papers pro and con.  Now, a scientist at
University of Dayton has recreated the magnetite grains, purported to be biological in origin, with just heat and pressure.  Andrea Koziol presented her findings Friday at the Lunar and Planetary Conference in Texas.  Sky and Telescope has reported this story, headlining it as “Prospects Dim for Fossils in Martian Meteorite.”  Meanwhile, JPL reports that more Martian meteorites have been found in northwest Africa.
    Another Mars headline: good news and bad news from Mars Odyssey: the MARIE experiment to measure the radiation environment around Mars, is back online.  The bad news is that the radiation is more intense than previously believed, up to three times the harmful heavy nuclei that astronauts experience on the Space Station.
The claim of fossilized life in the Martian meteorite created hoopla all over the world, and the news media paraded it for all it was worth.  Reality has a bad way of raining on parades.
    Regarding MARIE, it is unlikely humans will ever go prancing around Mars in their spacesuits like science fiction images have long suggested.  It would be like walking into a firing range.  Mars has neither the thick atmosphere nor the global magnetic field to protect humans and other carbon units from damaging particles.  No other planet in the solar system, however, comes as close as Mars to a vaguely possible habitat for people.  How “lucky” we are.
Next headline on: Mars. • Next headline on: Origin of Life.
Dawkins Attacks Private College that Teaches Creation   03/18/2002
The
BBC News reports that Richard Dawkins, author of The Blind Watchmaker and one of the most vocal proponents of gradualistic Darwinism today, has accused a private Christian college in England of teaching “ludicrous falsehoods” because it steers its students toward a Biblical world view.  Prime Minister Tony Blair defended the school, saying claims it was teaching creationism were “somewhat exaggerated.”  Other media sources such as New Scientist have picked up on the story.  Emmanuel College recently was rated an outstanding school by inspectors, but Dawkins and other scientists want its science curriculum re-examined.
    Apparently the hubbub began with two speeches given March 8 at the college by Ken Ham, prominent American creationist.  Answers in Genesis issued a report on the visit and the media firestorm that erupted, gaining the attention of the country all the way to Parliament.
The college science curriculum policy clearly states its intent to build on a Biblical foundation rather than a humanistic one.  In this, it claims to be in the tradition of Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, and Isaac Newton. 
    It’s interesting to compare the reaction of the scientific elite with the attitudes with the elites of another era.  Put miters on Dawkins and his colleagues, and you have history repeating itself: accusations of heresy, and demands for an inquisition.  Darwin has become the new Aristotle, the standard by which truth must be judged.
    Instead of applying political pressure, and insisting on conformity to the opinions of those in power, Dawkins and the humanists should act like scientists: engage in honest debate about the evidence.
Next headline on: Schools.
Did North American Mammals Wander Over from Asia?   03/15/2002
A team of scientists makes the case that our familiar American mammals are Chinese in origin.  Publishing in the March 15
Science (see also summary on Scientific American), they pieced together bits of data about rocks, fossil fauna assemblages, magnetic reversals and phylogenies to come up with “modest support for the hypothesis that perissodactyls, artiodactyls, and primates were present in Asia before their first appearance in North America and Europe” during the boundary between the Paleocene and Eocene.  They suspect it was a period of global warming that caused the migration.
We need to approach these stories as skeptics.  “Show me!” should be the cry, rather than just acquiescence to authority.  If you look at the raw data without evolutionary presuppositions, all you see are bits and pieces of data that have no necessary correlation with evolution.  What’s more, you find the scientists hedging their bets with if-then statements, disclaimers, and soft terms like “these date suggest that such-and-such happened.”  They get away with it because evolution is a fact that all scientists accept, right?  So no further corroboration is needed, and no one will question it further.  Interesting, isn’t it, that global warming was the cause; aren’t we told that global warming is a human sin?
Next headline on: Mammals. • Next headline on: Fossils.
Orange County Red Cross and High School Ban the C Word (Creator)   03/15/2002
On his nationally syndicated radio talk show Thursday evening,
Dennis Prager conversed with Cherilyn Bacon, an Orange County leader of a high-school music group that was not allowed to utter the C word at a Red Cross event.  The event was to honor volunteers who had gone to New York after September 11 to help victims of the terrorist attack.  The group had planned to sing four songs: God Bless the USA, America the Beautiful, Prayer of the Children and Declaration.  Based on the Declaration of Independence, Declaration was banned outright because it stated: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights...”  Bacon was in utter disbelief when a Red Cross official told her these statements were too political, and might offend someone.  Her disbelief grew stronger when later all four of the songs were considered politically incorrect and were disallowed by both the Red Cross and the high school on the basis of needing to uphold neutrality, diversity and sensitivity.  The Orange County Register reported this story March 9.  (Note: this decision was made solely by the local Orange County chapter of the Red Cross, not by the National headquarters; but Prager pushed the point that he had not heard the headquarters repudiate it or discipline anyone for making the decision.)
This story speaks for itself.  We no longer have rational discussions of issues in our culture; political correctness has given rise to utter hatred of anything suggesting God created us for a purpose, even to the point of calling our founding principles offensive (see next headline, also).  1984, anyone?
    If America the Beautiful with its lines “God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood” is too offensive, we have just the thing for the PC crowd: Evolution Anthems that are sure to please the Red Cross, the National Science Foundation, and the National Education Association, and will not offend anyone (except sentient beings).  Cf. our editorial “America the Clueless”.
Next headline on: Politics. • Next dumb (or unbelievable) story.
    PS: The PC crowd seems to be very picky about their sensitivity to not offend anyone.  During the following hour, Dennis Prager interviewed a former slave who had escaped the horrors of the jihad occurring in the Sudan.  He and his sponsor from American Anti-Slavery Group described the wholesale slaughter of entire villages, torture, rape, dismemberment, and slavery occurring in the Sudan, where at least two million south Sudanese have been murdered by the northern Islamic government–a holocaust vastly outnumbering all the atrocities in the Balkans or South Africa, but all but ignored by the media for nearly two decades.
“Evolution Champion” Eugenie Scott Wins NSF Award   03/15/2002
The March 15 issue of
Science reports that the National Science Foundation has awarded Eugenie Scott, a “tireless battler against the forces of darkness on the evolution front,” this year’s Public Service Award.  Scott, director for the past 15 years of the National Center for Science Education, whose sole purpose is to promote exclusive teaching of evolution in school science classrooms without even permitting criticisms of Darwinism, believes the award “highlights the importance of scientists taking the antievolution movement seriously.  We need to realize that we have to be in this for the long haul.”
Forces of darkness – absolutely incredible.  The people who want academic freedom in science, the ones who want the evidence to speak for itself without materialistic bias, the majority of Americans, the scientists who are the philosophical descendents of Boyle, Newton, Maxwell and von Braun,, usually honest and decent people of faith, who believe nature is an expression of the wisdom of a Creator rather than a pointless collocation of mindless atoms, are now called the forces of darkness.  Does this help characterize the nature of the creation-evolution controversy in America today, the way the evolutionists perceive it?  It’s about politics and power, not the facts.  It’s a battle, and they are in it for the long haul.  Notice that Scott was not called a battler for truth.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
DNA Computer Demonstrated   03/14/2002
Meet the DNA computer: humans using biological molecules to perform non-biological calculations.  Dr. Leonard Adelman of USC got DNA to work a difficult combinatorial problem, says a news release at
Jet Propulsion Laboratory which partly funded the research.  The advantage of DNA molecules is that they can operate in a massively-parallel fashion, unlike serial processing done by our familiar electronic computers.  They are also very energy efficient and capable of storing vast quantities of information.  Adelman exults:
“We’ve shown by these computations that biological molecules can be used for distinctly non-biological purposes.  They are miraculous little machines.  They store energy and information, they cut, paste and copy.  They were built by 3 billion years of evolution, and we’re just beginning to tap their potential to serve non-biological purposes.  Nature has given us an incredible toolbox, and we’re starting to explore what we might build.”
Adelman’s report is published in the March 15 Science.
It is mind-boggling to consider both the complexity of DNA, and the capabilities ascribed to Mother Nature by evolutionists.  Toolboxes of miraculous machines!  All built by time and chance!  Surely we cannot address evolutionists as “O ye of little faith.”
Next headline on: The Cell and DNA. • Next amazing story.
Mars “Lakes” Not Wet, Just Dry Ash   03/14/2002
Squelching hopes of water on Mars, Brian Hynek and team at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston last week claimed the layered deposits found earlier could have been formed by successive deposits of volcanic ash.  The report in
Sky and Telescope shows some of the debated images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor
    Kids across America are going to have a chance on March 19 Passport to Knowledge to view a “Live from Mars 2002” program about Mars Odyssey and its search for water, and its role in “and the possibility of past or present life.”
Water is interesting, but give the believers all they want –flood the entire Martian surface for billions of years – and it still wouldn’t follow that life would ever evolve there.  Teach your kids to think critically.  Water is necessary to life, but life is more than water like a computer is more than silicon.
Next headline on: Mars. • Next headline on: Geology.
Does Religion Improve Health, or Not?   03/14/2002
“Popular claims that religious activity provides health benefits have virtually no grounding in the medical literature, according to an article in the March issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.”  Thus begins a press release by the Center for the Advancement of Health, based on a review of studies on religion and health by Columbia University professor Richard P. Sloan.  He found that claims of a religion-health link often employed flawed methodologies.
A complex subject like this cannot be judged by one pronouncement.  Can science even make a claim one way or another, when so many variables are involved?  Clearly not all religion is healthy – it might fly you into buildings.  Look at the hatred some religion foments.  Some religions have their adherents imbibing or inhaling harmful substances, or skewering their skin with knives; some put their victims into constant states of fear and dread.  Saying “religion” is good for you is like saying food is good for you; it depends on the food.  Broccoli is food, and so is whiskey.  We all know people who take their broccoli on the weekend, and get drunk the rest of the week; i.e., their religion makes little impact on their lifestyle.
    It makes sense that any system that teaches moderation, abstinence from harmful habits, and engenders an attitude of peace or joy is going to enhance one’s health in general, but we must never forget that some of the godliest saints have been martyrs or torture victims.  Anyone following a religion for its potential health benefits has the wrong motive.  Jesus asked his disciples to take up their cross and follow Him.
    The Bible occasionally makes a connection between faith and health.  God
promised the Israelites that if they obeyed His commandments He would bless them, and prevent the diseases of Egypt from afflicting them.  Solomon taught that a joyful heart is like a good medicine.  But the Bible also gives examples of righteous people, like Job and Paul, who were afflicted according to the will of God for purposes beyond their understanding.  We all know that, regardless of our habits, death is at the end of our road, most likely due to illness or failure of our bodies that live in a cursed world.  We have all watched the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper.  Considering all these factors, it is doubtful any scientific study could ever prove that religion enhances health.  Most important, faith must be directed toward the right object: the true and living God, the Creator, the Manufacturer who alone knows how to operate His machinery.
Next headline on: Health.
Gates of the Cell Open to Awe-Struck Eyes   03/12/2002
The cover story of the March 9
Science News Vol 161:10, pp 152-154 is about ion channels, the complex gates that attract and channel electrically-charged atoms into the cell (see our Jan 17 and Mar 7 headlines on this topic).  The article has color diagrams of the complex proteins that make up the channels and describes how they function: the KcsA potassium channel, for instance, “can shuttle up to 100 million potassium ions across a cell membrane in a single second while keeping out similarly charged sodium ions, whose smaller size would seem to make the passage easier.”  (Sidelight: Nature Science Update reports that scientists have engineered a synthetic chloride channel, imitating nature.)  The importance of ion channels is emphasized: “Literally every single thought or action involves these channels.  After all, among their duties is regulation of the electrical excitability that nerve cells use to communicate and that muscles exploit to contract.”  Roderick MacKinnon and other researchers who first revealed their intricate structure were surprised that lowly bacteria had fully-formed ion channels:
There was something even more surprising.  No one had previously reported voltage-gated ion channels in a microbe.  Jellyfish were the simplest creatures known to possess such channels. It was generally thought that microbes, which lack muscles and nervous systems, don’t need the high-speed reactions that voltage-gated ion channels permit.
    “This changes the whole evolutionary picture of [ion] channels,” says Clapham.  “It means that bacteria, the most primitive life forms, have what was thought to be a very specialized channel.”
The descriptions of these channels and their fast-acting voltage-regulated gates borders on awe at times.  MacKinnon, though pleased at the possibility of medical advancements now that ion channels are becoming better understood, “admits that he’s motivated more by the thrill of understanding these remarkable proteins.  ‘I just wonder how nature does things,’ he says.  ‘How did nature make an electrical signal go from my brain to my toes so fast?  The more you learn about what the ion channels have to do to make that signal, the more incredible it seems.’”
Yes!  Keep asking questions like that.  Let the evidence speak for itself.  The closer you look at the cell, the more amazing it becomes, and the more old-fashioned Darwinism looks totally inadequate to account for it.  This article would be great to share with materialists, because, while from a secular source, it makes all the points the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists are making.  There is incredible engineering in the most “primitive” life (bacteria) that is unexplainable by chance and time.  These structures display engineering for efficient function that presupposes intelligence, not chance.  What’s more, the instructions to code for these channels and the processes that build them are, of necessity, even more complex than the channels themselves.
    Let’s consider for a moment how scientific papers might be written from an ID perspective.  Scientists come from a wide variety of cultures and religious backgrounds; how can science remain neutral?  Evolutionists are worried that if ID were to supersede methodological naturalism, scientific papers might include Scripture quotes in them or praise be to Allah or other religious/metaphysical references that could start holy wars in the scientific world.  That is a red herring; it’s like saying it’s better to keep Saddam Hussein in power than to trust democracy.
    Nothing religious is necessary or proper in a scientific paper, which should be concerned strictly with the phenomenon in question, what it is and how it works.  No reference to the identity of the designer should be the intent of empirical studies; just whether it shows design tied to function.  In fact, that is what already characterizes most scientific papers today!  A survey of papers reviewed in Creation-Evolution Headlines will reveal the amount of Darwinian speculation to be inversely proportional to the quantity of good empirical data (see Eddington’s Theory).  Design is also the approach scientific papers used since the advent of the Royal Society, when most scientists were devout Christians.  Science done from a design perspective, therefore, is nothing new or strange.
    What is strange are the forced references to Darwinian evolution and materialism, the near obsession with explaining how complex specified structures arose spontaneously.  If we just omitted those references, we would have Intelligent Design science right now.  This article is a good example.  It shows what the potassium channel is, what it does, what it looks like, how it operates, what genes code for its formation, etc.–in other words, a description of its design.  It is even fair to call it beautiful, intricate, and exquisite.  But the brief reference to the evolutionary history of these channels adds nothing to the story, other than to show what an awful predicament the evolutionists are in.
    Design presupposes information, which could be assumed to be a fundamental entity of the universe alongside matter and energy.  In this way, scientists from around the world, from all different faiths, could abide by acceptable scientific rules of publication.  Everyone can describe information, design, and function, but leave out the identity of the Designer.  That part would be left to the metaphysicians; philosophers, theologians, even atheists, who could attempt to take the scientific discoveries and incorporate them (with more or less success) into their world view.  Design has profound metaphysical implications, but the observation of design comes from the data, not from the metaphysics.
    In short, an ID approach would be good for science.  It is non-religious and non-sectarian, it is empirically based, it has a long history as a fruitful approach.  It’s how Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, Pasteur and Carver did their science.  It’s how archaeology, cryptography, forensics, and SETI approach their scientific work even now.  The scientific community has nothing to fear from an ID paradigm.  The cell has fermented naturalism beyond its bursting point.  It is time to put the new wine of biochemistry into new wineskins of intelligent design.
Next headline on: The CellNext headline on: Human Body. • Next headline on: Intelligent Design. • Next amazing story.
Scientists Coax Molecules to Self-Assemble   03/12/2002
Nanotechnology, the use of molecules to build machines, is a hot topic these days.  Makers of these invisibly-small robots are imitating nature, taking their cues from living systems.  In the March 12 preprints of the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, there are two papers describing how scientists have gotten molecules to self-assemble into structures.  One team got star-shaped building blocks to assemble into tubes: “Entropically driven self-assembly of multichannel rosette nanotubes.”.  (See this summary on Scientific American.)  In the same issue of PNAS, another team describes how molecular-size machines and motors might be built from various molecules in “Controlled disassembling of self-assembling systems: Toward artificial molecular-level devices and machines”.
The words “self-assembly” sound impressive and give evolutionists hope that life assembled itself in the past.  The molecules, however, do only what the chemists and the laws of nature tell them to do, following the well-known laws of thermodynamics.  The rosette-shaped elements of the nanotube first had to be engineered by intelligent designers.  Like magnetized Lego blocks, the forces of attraction bring them together, but the ingredient that requires a mind for self-assembly to work is information, intelligence, instructions; that is the challenge.  Explains the author of the second paper (emphasis added), “The challenge for chemists engaged in this field resides in the ‘programming’ of the system, i.e., in the design and synthesis of components that carry within their structures the pieces of information necessary not only for the construction of the desired supramolecular architecture but also for the performance of the required function.”  I.e., these self-assembling structures have been programmed.  Programming requires a programmer.
Next headline on: Origin of Life. • Next headline on: Intelligent Design.
Pulsars Puzzle Astronomers: How Old Are They, Really?   03/12/2002
Last December, astronomers decided they had dated a pulsar too young.  Now, they figure they dated another one too old by 43,000 years, says the
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, “Age Discrepancy Throws Pulsar Theories into Turmoil.”  Using the Very Large Array in New Mexico, astronomers measured the proper motion of a pulsar away from its presumed supernova progenitor, and got a much younger age than the technique used for years, measuring the slowing of the rotation rate.  Bryan Gaensler of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who reported the discrepancy in the March 10 Astrophysical Journal Letters, said, “We are learning that each individual pulsar is a very complicated object, and we should assume nothing about it.” The NRAO report says, “Previous estimates of pulsar ages have assumed that all pulsars are born spinning much faster than we see them now, that the physical characteristics of the pulsar such as its mass and magnetic-field strength do not change with time, and that the slowdown rate can be estimated by applying the physics of a magnet spinning in a vacuum.  ‘With one pulsar older than the estimates and one younger, we now realize that we have to question all three of these assumptions,’ said Gaensler.”
Notice that important word assumptions.  Dating methods are often presented as empirical tools that give objective results.  In reality, they are interpretations of measurements made with unverifiable assumptions.  Some of the assumptions may seem reasonable, but consider that for decades now, these assumptions seemed reasonable, but are now being questioned.  Does that give you any confidence that the ages tossed around in this story–64,000 years– have any validity at all?  What headline might show up in year 2005 that will throw out the current assumptions?
Next headline on: Stars. • Next headline on: Dating.
1500 Attend Ohio School Board Evolution Policy Hearing   03/12/2002
An Associated Press story in the
Nando Times reports that a large crowd came to hear the face-off between proponents of stronger emphasis on evolution in the state’s science standards, and proponents of alternatives like intelligent design (ID).  The article states that Stephen Meyer of Discovery Institute, an ID think tank, backed off his demand for ID to be written into the standards, accepting instead that teachers be allowed to present the evidence both for and against Darwinism.  Critics called ID “not science“ and a cover for creationism.  The article did not indicate if any vote was taken, or how the school board responded, but just mentioned that they have to decide by year’s end what the non-binding science standards will contain.
Update 03/13/2002: Judi Hahn, writing for Answers in Genesis was present at the hearing and filed a report.
Update 03/15/2002: Phillip Johnson’s Weekly Wedge Update weighs in on the controversy, and asks “Why are the Darwinists so fearful?”  He says any theory that has to be protected from public scrutiny has a low life expectancy.  Johnson’s editorial provides links to a report in the Washington Times and an editorial by Rick Santorum (R.-Penn).
The AP story contains the usual distortions.  We challenge readers to find anything of substance in the evolutionists’s statements.  “Intelligent design isn’t science” = hot air.  “A disguise for creationism” = fear mongering (only subversives wear disguises, right?).  “Courts have barred that approach from public schools” = Big Lie.  “I wish we were talking about things that strengthen science and not dilute it” = hot air and non-sequitur.  “If intelligent design were allowed in, I would spend my time teaching why it’s not science” = more hot air.  The Evolution Party seems to think that all they need do is make bald assertions like “evolution is a fact.”  No evidence, no logic, no other support is needed; just demagoguery and appeals to prejudice.  The E.P. knows that it cannot stand up to scrutiny.  That’s why they must insist on forbidding their critics a hearing.  For instance, the National Center for Science Education grades schools on how well they teach evolution; Sola Darwina, K-12, with no criticism, earns their “Grade A” designation.  We thought authoritarian dogma went out of style with Aristotle. 
    Darwinism is one of those ideas that makes sense, when you don’t think about it.  Meanwhile, the baloney bullets are flying fast and furious in these school controversies; forewarned is forearmed.
Next headline on: Schools. • Next headline on: Intelligent Design.
Time Editorializes on Intelligent Design   03/11/2002
Time and chance?  Robert Wright in the March 11 issue of
Time Magazine has weighed in his opinion on the current Intelligent Design controversy facing the Ohio School Board.  He thinks leaders of the ID movement are needlessly attacking “poor old Darwin” but failing to provide an explanation of their own; “Darwinism offers an explanation of how we got here.  Any ‘theory’ that offers no such explanation can’t compete–much less win.’”
Wright is a good writer.  He is interesting to read, but commits some common misunderstandings about Darwinism and Intelligent Design.  He does treat ID with more gentleness than usual; he grants that it has merit because “ID adherents have raised productive doubts–and in science, being productively wrong is nearly as valuable as being right.”  So has Wright proved ID wrong?  He assumes some flawed points:
  1. That Darwin came up with an explanation for how we got here.  On the contrary, other than speculating in a letter to a friend on the possibility of a “warm little pond,” Darwin avoided the question of the origin of life.  As to natural selection being the “evolutionary engine” that Wright calls it, it is not an engine, it is a sieve.  Read this treatise by William Dembski on Why Natural Selection Can’t Design Anything.  Natural selection, at best, conserves what exists and eliminates the harmful.  Treating it as an engine of design that can create wings and eyes where none existed before is unwarranted extrapolation and glittering generalities and subjectivity, not observational science. 
  2. That ID has to come up with an alternative to this non-mechanism of natural selection to get a hearing.  This is the old “shifting the burden of proof” fallacy.  ID is like a coroner; did the body die of natural causes, or from murder?  It’s the detective’s job, not the coroner’s, to find out who did it.  ID is like a code-breaker; is there a message in this string of apparently random characters or not?  It is someone else’s job to read the message and figure who sent it and why.  ID is concerned not with explaining how we got here, but whether there is evidence of information and design in biological systems. 
  3. That Ken Miller has answered the argument from irreducible complexity.  This is merely an argument from authority.    Read both sides, including this analysis by John Woodmorappe and Jonathan Sarfati, and let Michael Behe respond to Miller’s critiques.
  4. That Darwinism is kindly favorable to religion.  Observers of the evolution camp know better.  In the comments of our Jan. 14 headline on the NCSE, read Phillip Johnson’s description of the two-platoon system used by Darwin’s defenders.
If Mr. Wright wants a theory on how we got here, let him ask whether that is even a scientific question, since it is not susceptible to observation and testing.  He certainly won’t find such a theory in natural selection, if he looks more rigorously.  But if he peers into the simplest living cell, he will find abundant evidence of intelligent design unexplainable by natural causes.  Instead of portraying this as political parties battling each other, let’s let the evidence speak for itself.
Next headline on: Darwinism.  See also this Feb. 28 critique of ID. • Next headline on: Intelligent Design.
Butterflies a Living Laboratory for Evolution   03/11/2002
According to a biologist from the
University of Buffalo working with a biologist from Puerto Rico, the “beauty of butterfly wing patterns may hold key to understanding morphological evolution.”  These researchers believe that butterflies are better than fruit flies for studying evolution, because the dramatic color changes in the wings take place on two-dimensional surfaces of scales, that are easier to study, and have clear adaptive differences in the wild for avoiding predation and conserving heat.  They are creating the first transgenic butterfly to study the effects of genetic changes on morphology (outward appearance), a connection that is poorly understood.
Nothing has been demonstrated about evolution here (yet).  They just offer this as a research program, not as evidence for evolution.  Variations in butterfly wings, which are examples of horizontal changes, are expected in both creation and evolution models.  If butterflies are still butterflies and fruit flies are still fruit flies when all the experiments are done, then no vertical evolution has occurred.  But why do these scientists call the butterfly wings beautiful?  From where did the concept of beauty evolve?
Next headline on: Arthropods.
Intelligent Design Gets a Powerful New Media Boost   03/09/2002
Exclusive  Over 600 guests gave a standing ovation Saturday March 9 at the premiere of a new film by
Illustra Media, Unlocking the Mystery of Life.  This 67-minute documentary is in many ways a definitive portrayal of the Intelligent Design movement that is sweeping the country.  Intelligent Design is a non-religious, non-sectarian, strictly scientific view of origins with both negative and positive arguments: negative, that Darwinism is insufficient to explain the complexity of life, and positive, that intelligent design, or information, is a fundamental entity that must be taken into consideration in explanations of the origin of complex, specified structures like DNA.  The film features interviews with a Who's Who of the Intelligent Design movement: Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, Paul Nelson, Stephen Meyer, Dean Kenyon, William Dembski, and others, who explain the issues and arguments for intelligent design as the key to unlocking the mystery of life.  The film also features nearly 20 minutes of award-quality computer animation of molecular machines, manufacturing plants, and storage libraries of elaborate information - DNA and proteins at work in the cell, climaxing with a dazzling view of DNA transcription and translation.
    In his keynote address, Dr. Paul Nelson (who appears in the film), gave reasons for optimism.  He said that Time Magazine, usually solidly Darwinian, admitted just last week that these Intelligent Design scientists may be onto something.  U.S. News and World Report is also coming out with a piece on I.D.  And Stephen Meyer, who also appears in the film, could not be at the premiere because he was on his way to Ohio (see next headline), armed with copies of the film to give to the school board members.  Nelson said that scientists should not arbitrarily rule design off the table.  “Keeping science from discovering something that might be true is like having a pair of spectacles that distorts your vision,” he said.  “It does profound harm to science.”  He described how Ronald Numbers, evolutionist, once told him that design might be true, but science is a game, with the rule that scientists cannot even consider the possibility of design; “that’s just the way it is,” he said.  (See this quote by Richard Lewontin for comparison.)  Yet design is already commonly considered in archaeology, cryptography, forensics, and SETI, so why not in biology?  Apparently this arbitrary rule has become a national controversy.  Intelligent Design, says Nelson, is finally removing a “rule of the game” that is hindering science.  If the reaction of the crowd at the premiere luncheon was any indication, Unlocking the Mystery of Life has launched a well-aimed smart weapon at the citadels of Darwinism.
We highly recommend this film.  Copies are just now becoming available for $20.  Visit IllustraMedia.com and order it.  View it, and pass it around.  Share it with your teachers, your co-workers, your church.  You will have no embarrassment showing this high-quality, beautiful, amazing film to anyone, even the most ardent evolutionist.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory. • Next headline on: Intelligent Design.
Media Circus Expected in Monday’s Ohio School Board Hearing   03/08/2002
Is it against the law to question evolution?  A lot of scientists think so, and are gathering their forces in Ohio to convince the school board to forbid the teaching of “intelligent design” as an alternative to evolution. 
Answers in Genesis discusses the events, organizations and personalities leading up to the March 11 hearing, where expert witnesses on both sides will present their views.
Shouldn’t students be allowed to hear all the evidence?  Shouldn’t they be allowed to hear both sides of controversial topics, like evolution?  Shouldn’t they be taught to think critically?  What could possibly be wrong with that?  Just watch the pro-evolution forces pull out their arsenal of fear tactics, smokescreens and half truths and you’ll see scientific evidence relegated to the background.  This story makes an interesting placement next to the headline below.  It’s like having a cigarette commercial in the middle of a documentary on the lungs.
Next headline on: Schools. • Next headline on: Intelligent Design.
Batteries, Chaperones, Translators: Wonders of the Cell Continue to Dazzle   03/08/2002
Recent techniques have allowed scientists to peer into the cell at 1.6-nanometer resolution.  What has appeared in sharp detail is a veritable factory of living machines that can manufacture things, charge batteries, edit code and much more.  The
March 8 issue of Science has several papers that explore more the complex goings-on inside our cells, and even the cells of the lowly bacterium E. coli:
  • Battery Rechargers: Three biochemists have described how some anaerobic bacteria recharge their batteries.  To get work done, all organisms have to use electricity.  They do this by pushing charges the way they don’t want to go (against the energy gradient), creating an electromotive force (in this case, PMF or proton motive force).  The authors examined the proton pump in the membrane of E. coli, and found that it is a complex of very complicated protein molecules shaped somewhat like a mushroom.  It effectively passes proteins down a 90-angstrom channel somewhat like an electric wire, using a series of chemical reactions called a redox loop. 
  • Assembly Plant: The cell is a crowded place.  Newly manufactured proteins, if not protected before folded into their proper shape, can turn into harmful gunk.  Not to worry; a family of chaperone proteins is at their service to whisk the proteins to safe barrel-shaped havens where they can fold in peace.  Two German biochemists have examined the process from newly-synthesized chain to folded protein:
    “To become functionally active, newly synthesized protein chains must fold to unique three-dimensional structures.  How this is accomplished remains a fundamental problem in biology.  Although it is firmly established from refolding experiments in vitro that the native fold of a protein is encoded in its amino acid sequence, protein folding inside cells is not generally a spontaneous process.  Evidence accumulated over the last decade indicates that many newly synthesized proteins require a complex cellular machinery of molecular chaperones and the input of metabolic energy to reach their native states efficiently.” 
    They describe some of the bad things that can happen: aggregation or clumping, which might be implicated in Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease, among many other problems.  The paper describes a staggering array of complex chaperone molecules and procedures that work together to prevent trouble under a wide variety of conditions.
  • Editing Room: Two Greek biochemists from Crete peer into the process of transcribing a gene of DNA into messenger RNA, which then travels to the ribosome to build a protein.  It’s not a simple job.  The DNA is bundled tightly into balls of chromatin and nucleosomes, preventing the editing apparatus from getting to it.  Again, not to worry: there is a squad of chromatin-unscramblers to unlock the precious code and let the translator, RNA-polymerase II, scan the code and build the messenger RNA.  Think of scrolls locked in a library of ancient manuscripts that need to be translated into English.  These scrolls contain the instructions for building machines.  You need someone with a key to let you in, then you need a way to safely unroll the scroll to the right spot.  These steps must precede the translation and manufacturing processes.  In this paper, the scientists found that two squads are needed.  A pre-initiation complex (PIC) gets the unrolling machinery ready before the door is unlocked.  A chromatin-remodeling squad unlocks the door.  The unlocking is actually more like unscrambling tightly-wound strands so that the PIC can get to it, before the translator can do its work.
The activities going on in our cells, every moment, every day, are absolutely astounding.  Trouble is, papers like this are very difficult to read; they are loaded with technical jargon and concepts that assume a great deal of prior knowledge.  Nevertheless, just looking at the illustrations and scanning the nearly overwhelming complexity described is a worthwhile exercise.*  It is also interesting to note that the word “evolution” is rarely mentioned in papers like this.  Even more rare is any attempt to explain how these detailed processes, involving many interdependent complex parts, could have originated in the first place.  The machinery is already fully operational in the simplest living cells!
    It is for this reason many believe that modern biochemistry is sounding the death knell for Darwinism.  Darwin had no idea what his theory would have to face starting in the late 20th century.  But he gave creationists the gun when he said, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry. • Next amazing story.
*Good news: a new film illustrating the wonders of the cell is being released this month.  It visualizes many of these complex processes in a way that is understandable even to children (as long as they are alert and precocious).  More news on this important new film in tomorrow’s Creation-Evolution Headlines.
The Real Feathered Dinosaur Found?   03/07/2002
If optimistic reports in the
March 7 Nature are correct, a dromeosaur with unequivocal impressions of modern feathers has been found in a museum in northern China.  Mark Norell and colleagues name the specimen BPM 1 3-13. The feather impressions are pinnate and modern-looking, and cover the entire body of a pheasant-size fossil.  To the researchers, this proves feathers evolved before flight.  Larry Martin of the University of Kansas, a skeptic of the bird-dino link, is reported in New Scientist to have reminded people there have been fakes in the past and this new one needs to be confirmed by others.
Well, maybe believers have their smoking gun, and maybe not.  Many questions remain; why would a dinosaur have feathers?  Is the identification of this specimen truly dinosaurian, or is it a primitive bird?  How or why would scales transform into complex feathers and appear abruptly?  Is this fossil dated prior to other known fossil birds, or after?  Is it another hoax?  The arrangements of these fossilized animals into family trees are based on evolutionary assumptions.  If even other evolutionary paleontologists are reserving judgment, surely it is too early to concede their claim.  See also these counter arguments raised by Answers in Genesis.
Next headline on: Birds. • Next headline on: Dinosaurs. • Next headline on: Fossils.
Early Man Walked Out of Africa Three Times?    03/07/2002
The latest theory by
Alan Templeton in the March 7 Nature is that early man emerged out of Africa at least three times, and interbred with other species of Homo like Neandertals.  National Geographic weighs in on what this controversial theory might mean.
Pay no attention.  Whatever you learn from this story you will undoubtedly have to unlearn in the next issue.  Even National Geographic, the showcase of evolving ape-men, admits that the human origins debate “has been highly charged for at least 15 years” (try 150).  Human evolution theory is not science; it is more like professional wrestling.
Next headline on: Early Man.
Prominent Darwinist Leaves Disconcerting Legacy   03/07/2002
The final papers of W. D. Hamilton, influential evolutionary biologist, just published in Volume II, Evolution of Sex, are reviewed by Olivia P. Judson in the
March 7 Nature.  She finds the book “disconcerting and discomfiting.”  Hamilton gave Darwinism the theories of inclusive fitness and led to game theory as explanations of altruism.  In this book, which represents his last thoughts before dying in March 2000, Judson finds “a thorny and unweeded thicket of scientific advocacy, political manifesto, broken intellectual taboos, self-revelation and apocalyptic vision.”  He explains genocide, for instance, as products of differential birth rates between groups, and views all aspects of human behavior, including racism, xenophobia and “differences in intellectual ability between men and women,” as genetically driven. 
    More disturbing, Hamilton believed that humans are posed for genetic meltdown unless they return to natural selection: i.e., prolonging the lives of those with genetic defects is harming the species.  Judson points out that “...well, more natural selection equals more death, which is hardly something to agitate for.”  She feels that “After all, it is self-evident that the human psyche has been shaped by natural selection; and it is certainly possible that the shape is an ugly one.  But I feel - and this is where I completely disagree with Hamilton - that, although understanding how natural selection has acted on humans will help us to understand why we are the way we are, it tells us nothing about what we would like to become.”
Judson is having a hard time coming to grips with the bitter fruit of Darwinist thinking.  Hamilton was more honest.  Darwin’s world is a world of struggle and death, where morals do not exist, and the heroes (if this concept has any meaning) are those who emerge on top of the boneyard.  How can Darwinism speak at all of “what we would like to become”?  We are all products of selfish genes, mindlessly playing games with human bodies as their pawns.  If this scene is too horrifying, dear reader, please allow us to introduce you to a Creator and Redeemer who described, and demonstrated, true sacrificial love.  The fittest gave Himself for the survival of the weakest and guiltiest.  Greater love hath no gene.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Why Does Music Move Us?   03/07/2002
Allison Abbott, writing in the
March 7 Nature, explores the mystery of why humans enjoy music, since it does not appear to have survival value.  What is music for?  She speculates (emphasis added):
After all, an appreciation of music confers no glaringly obvious advantage in the darwinian struggle for survival.  Various theories have been put forward - that music promotes social cohesion, for example - but so far, none represents more than a plausible ‘just so’ story.  Our love of music might merely be a pleasurable side-effect of the evolution of other perceptual abilities - representing, as cognitive neuroscientist Steven Pinker of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has put it, “auditory cheesecake.” . ...
    ... More fancifully, some scientists have even suggested that a mother’s singing can cause her baby’s hair to stand on end and so keep it warm.
    Whatever the function, many of the neuroscientists studying music are convinced that it is the product of evolutionary design [sic].  “The emotional processing of music probably does have an evolutionary basis” says Altenmuller.  “The chills can be so profound, so biological, it seems very likely that the evolutionary point is about social cohesion.”
    Pinker remains unconvinced, arguing that our appreciation of music and our musicianship are by-products of the way our auditory system analyses sounds, combined with our tool-making skills.  “The problem with most of the theories put forward is that they are circular he says.
    The true answer may never be known.  “We can’t do the experiment to re-evolve ourselves,” observes Halpern.  Thankfully, we don’t need to understand the evolutionary significance of music, nor the details of how it is processed in the brain, for it to continue to work its magic.  As Elvis Presley once said: “I don’t know anything about music.  In my line you don't have to.”
The article quotes several neurobiologists and explores how they try to decipher the brain’s processing of music by comparing the tone-deaf with skilled musicians, but reaches no definitive explanations for why music would ever evolve.
    In the same issue, David Juritz emotes praise and exasperation at William Benzon’s new book Beethoven’s Anvil, which seeks to explain music as the evolution of hunting calls.  When Benzon compares Beethoven’s Ninth arriving at its Ode to Joy theme to a group of baboons selecting the dominant male, Juritz has a fit. 
A clearer case of a priori reasoning could hardly be found.  Reductionist Darwinians are so convinced that music must fit into the evolutionary paradigm of survival of the fittest, they feel no guilt in telling just-so stories and arguing in circles to stuff music into the evolutionary box.  The end result is always groups of evolutionists fighting each other about whose just-so story is better, with the reporter concluding that maybe we’ll figure it out someday, or maybe the true [evolutionary] answer will never be known.  And it won’t, on their watch.  As Billy Joel croons, it’s all about soul.  Evolutionists don’t understand soul; in their line of work, they don’t have to.
    Making the baby’s hair stand on end to keep warm; good grief.  For that to fit Darwinist theory, every baby that did not have this lucky mutation would have to die until only the lucky babies that kept warm enough could grow up and have more babies like themselves.  Meanwhile, the mothers of babies without the mutation were too stupid to hold them a little closer, and just watched them freeze to death.  Go put on a good CD and forget this nonsense.
Next headline on: Human Body. • Next dumb story.
Earliest Fossil Bacteria Claim Causes Debate   03/07/2002
Dr. William Schopf of UCLA, the champion finder of precambrian fossils, has claimed a new record that has scientists arguing over its validity.  Published in the
March 7 Nature, the alleged fossils are claimed to be 3.5 billion years old, almost a billion years older than the previous record.  Henry Gee comments: “Given that Schopf was one of the first to cast doubt on the biogenicity of another celebrated suite of purported microfossils - in the martian meteorite ALH84001 - it is ironic that his own work should be subjected to such scepticism.  But that is the name of the game for claims of life at the extremes of time and space.”  See also this summary on Nature Science Update.
Be a good sceptic [sic] and doubt both the dates and the fossils.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, remember?
Next headline on: Origin of Life. • Next headline on: Fossils.
India Intensifies Teaching of Evolution   03/06/2002
Exclusive  An Indian pastor, in the U.S. gathering materials for his mission Ray of Hope, told us that the teaching of Darwinism in his country has intensified since a new nationwide educational policy was enacted in 2000.  All colleges now teach evolution as fact, and unbelievers are often subjected to ridicule and sometimes persecution.  Christopher Hukkeri, who works in the state of Goa where 60% are Hindu, 30% are Catholic and 10% are “other”, said that the Hindu population has no problem with Darwinism, since evolution is, at its heart, based on a pantheistic world view similar to Hinduism.  Hindus also believe the monkey god created man, and see a correspondence to what evolution teaches.
Mr. Hukkeri commented that Darwinism is affecting the faith of Christians, who are in the minority to begin with.  The rising influence of Darwinism in the schools is a major problem to missionaries and pastors in India right now.  It feeds the prejudices of the increasing population of intellectuals and students against Christianity.  Hindus tend to equate Christianity with Catholicism, he explained, since that is mostly what they hear about.  The Catholics in his state in India, however, have a reputation for loose morals and drunkenness, and do not stand for anything, so Hindus tend to feel superior, and despise “Christianity” altogether.  Surprisingly, the Bible Society is under Catholic control, but does not wish the people to read the Bible!  They want to keep people in darkness, he claimed.  For this reason, Christopher recently translated the New Testament into the Konkani language himself, along with the Old Testament books of Joshua, Proverbs, and (almost completed) Isaiah, so that people in his city could have access to the Word of God.  He told how a high government official was recently saved by reading the entire New Testament three times.  Nevertheless, Jesuits in the state of Goa persecute the Christians and cause great difficulty for missionaries like Hukkeri who strive to get the Bible into the hands of the people. 
    One of Hukkeri’s goals on his visit to America was to obtain a video projector so that he can continue to show
Moody Science films and other visual aids to present creation and argue against evolution.  (He was very excited to hear that Discovery Media Productions is continuing to produce new films of the same quality.)  Hukkeri is also working to build a creation-oriented planetarium. 
    In spite of the darkness in his native land, Christopher sees God’s hand at work.  The devastating earthquake that hit on January 26, 2001 destroyed a diamond trading center, in which corrupt, evil traders perished with their wealth.  At the same time, a group of Christians were praying on the third floor of a building for God to intervene against an anti-Christian law that was being debated by the government.  At 9:00, while they were praying, the earthquake hit, and the building they were in collapsed to the ground – yet all of them escaped unscathed.  After that, it was the Christians who had access to the devastated regions with food, blankets, medicine and messages of hope for the suffering, while corrupt government bureaucrats were intercepting and keeping for themselves the aid packages sent by international relief agencies.
Next headline on: Schools.
Found on the Net 03/06/2002: “Foreword in the Form of a Letter to My Children” from Witness by Whittaker Chambers.  Chambers, the communist spy convicted with Alger Hiss in the 1950s, tells how he came to reject communism while looking at his infant child eating breakfast:
My eye came to rest on the delicate convolutions of her ear–those intricate, perfect ears.  The thought passed through my mind: “No, those ears were not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature (the Communist view).  They could have been created only by immense design.”  The thought was involuntary and unwanted.  I crowded it out of my mind.  But I never wholly forgot it or the occasion.  I had to crowd it out of my mind.  If I had completed it, I should have had to say: Design presupposes God.  I did not then know that, at that moment, the finger of God was first laid upon my forehead.
Chambers explains how Communism was the vision of Man without God.  What that vision led to is expressed in horrifying detail as a series of screams in the night:
What Communist has not heard those screams?  They come from husbands torn forever from their wives in midnight arrests.  They come, muffled, from the execution cellars of the secret police, from the torture chambers of the Lubianka, from all the citadels of terror now stretching from Berlin to Canton.  They come from those freight cars loaded with men, women and children, the enemies of the Communist State, locked in, packed in, left on remote sidings to freeze to death at night in the Russian winter.  They come from minds driven mad by the horrors of mass starvation ordered and enforced as a policy of the Communist State.  They come from the starved skeletons, worked to death, or Bogged to death (as an example to others) in the freezing filth of sub-arctic labor camps.  They come from children whose parents are suddenly, inexplicably, taken away from them–parents they will never see again.
The excerpt is posted by the Augustine Club at Columbia University.  For more on this subject, read “The Darwinian foundation of communism,” by Jerry Bergman, at Answers in Genesis.
Next headline on: Politics.

Evolution Monkeys with Duplicate Genes   03/06/2002
An Asian monkey has a duplicate gene that evolved to perform a different function, claims evolutionary geneticist Jianzhi Zhang of the University of Michigan, reports
Nature Science Update.  A gene for ribonuclease now codes for a digestive enzyme.  Zhang believes that two processes were involved in the evolution of the new gene: both positive selection (preserving an advantage) and lack of negative selection (a neutral mutation free to evolve till it “finds a new job”).  The report ends with a caution:

Shozo Yokoyama, an evolutionary biologist at Syracuse University in New York state, says Zhang’s functional tests are a difficult and essential step toward understanding the role of duplication. But “the final answer is still not there,” he says. More research is needed to show not only how the amino acid changes reduced the ribonuclease’s old function, but also how they helped it reach its new function.
Zhang’s paper is published in the March 2002 Nature Genetics.
There is too much play and too little known to assert the conclusion.  Each step has to provide a survival advantage for natural selection to preserve a change.  Yokoyama’s caution is well taken; more research is needed before concluding this is evolution in action.  Just saying so doesn’t make it so.  Besides, the monkey is still a monkey.
Next headline on: Mammals. • Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Dodo Bird Gains Respect   03/05/2002
Not just a poster child for extinction and evolutionary dead ends, the dodo was a creature well adapted to its unique environment, the island of Mauritius.  So says
National Geographic, which explains that the dodo had no ground predators till its discoverers brought them on ships.  Flightlessness and gigantism helped the bird to survive harsh conditions on the island.  Moreover, the pictures we’ve seen of the fat, ungainly oddballs, like in Alice in Wonderland, are caricatures of a bird that was probably more sleek in reality.  Recent molecular analysis has related the species to pigeons that may have arrived from the mainland.  The research is reported in the March 1 issue of Science, which admits that “The evolutionary history of the dodo is very poorly understood.”
We know that pigeons can show quite a remarkable diversity in appearance, yet belong to the same kind, similar to the diversity in dogs.  Note that the odd-looking characteristics of the dodo involve loss of function (flight) and exaggeration of traits from severe inbreeding.  This is allowed in both creation and evolution models; there is no gain in information or function.  Also, it does not take millions of years for such variations to become pronounced.
Next headline on: Birds.
Mars Has Ice, Maybe Life?   03/05/2002
The way the
Los Angeles Times puts it, scientists might expect Mars to be a playground of critters romping in the snow.  Usha Lee McFarling, Times Staff Writer, in “Vast Ice Fields Suggest Life on Mars Possible, ” writes that scientists are buoyed by the first results from the Mars Odyssey orbiting spacecraft that suggest water ice is abundant in the soil of the red planet, since water is vital to life.  The NASA - Ames Astrobiology Institute didn’t hesitate to post the L.A. Times article on its web page.
H2O is to life as ink to a textbook.  You need ink to write a textbook, but you wouldn’t expect a textbook to arise spontaneously from inkblots on paper.  To make it more fun, try using frozen ink.  Then bombard the ink and the paper with microscopic bullets and wait for something like Principia to emerge.
Next headline on: Mars. • Next headline on: Origin of Life and Astrobiology.
Award-Winning Biochemist Calls Mother Nature a Brilliant Engineer   03/04/2002
Scientific American posted an interview with Roderick MacKinnon (see our Jan. 17 headline), who has devoted his research to figuring out how ion channels work in the cell.  He describes how the potassium channel, for instance, with its very effective selectivity filter, is able to allow potassium ions through but reject smaller sodium ions that also have the same positive charge.  The effect is based on finely-tuned arrangement of oxygen atoms that make it energetically favorable for potassium ions to slip through the channel, but not others.  MacKinnon describes the design of the channel as extremely interesting and unpredictable before it was actually observed.  He explains his feelings about it:
And then to finally see it was extremely satisfying.  In some aspects, it was satisfying because many things were predicted, and in other ways it was satisfying because some things that were not predicted were almost more beautiful than anybody would have predicted.  For example, the cavity and these helices were just a marvelous arrangement that Mother Nature used to solve this problem, you know, as if a very brilliant engineer did it all. I think that was very satisfying to see.
The interview contains a diagram of how the potassium ion channel works.
Let’s give credit where credit is due.  This is no Mother Nature if you are an evolutionist.  Why does it look as if a brilliant engineer did it all, if a Brilliant Engineer did not do it all?  To parry Dobzhansky’s famous quote against him, in light of the recent findings of biochemistry, Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of intelligent design.
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry. • Next headline on: Intelligent Design.
Debate Over Icons of Evolution Continues   03/04/2002
When Jonathan Wells spoke at
Univ. of California at San Diego on January 29, a majority responded positively, but it aroused the ire of some students.  In response to Wells’ talk based on his popular book Icons of Evolution, which basically says everything you were taught about evolution is wrong, Nick Tamzek has posted a rebuttal called, “Who’s the real fraud? Scientific mistakes, distortions, and sleights-of-hand in Wells’ book Icons of Evolution.”  On March 3, Casey Luskin on Access Research Network posted a detailed response to Tamzek’s arguments.
This is a good debate on which to become familiar with the arguments on both sides.  Who is doing the real obfuscation or sleight of hand?  See also Wells’s own response to critics on this January 23 headline.  When judging a debate, always have your Baloney Detector in good working order.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
First Mars Odyssey Images Released   03/01/2002
At a press conference today at the
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, scientists unveiled with excitement their first pictures and science results from the Mars Odyssey spacecraft.  The ship arrived in October and recently attained its mapping orbit.  Scientists showed some razor-sharp images from the infrared camera that produces images 30 times sharper than the previous best.  The gamma ray spectrometer detected possible abundant water ice in measurements of hydrogen under the soil.  The radiation experiment determined that cosmic ray exposure at the surface ranges from moderate to hazardous, depending on elevation, because the Martian atmosphere is so much thinner than the Earth’s protective blanket.  In addition, astronauts en route to Mars would experience nearly twice the daily dose of damaging cosmic rays endured by dwellers in the Earth-orbiting space station.  These health risks will certainly be of concern in planning future manned missions to the red planet, which will require up to three years exposure to these levels of radiation.
Mars is a fascinating place, but today’s news is a reminder of the many “cosmic accidents” that make Earth habitable for life.  See also our 05/02/2001 headline and 09/14/2000 headline about the Martian radiation environment.  We wouldn’t be surprised if some evolutionist announces to the press that the cosmic rays will be a shower of blessing, helping future inhabitants of Mars evolve faster.
Next headline on: Mars.
Don’t Just Give Chocolate; Dress In It   03/01/2002
Science Now reports on a new theory on sexual selection by biologists writing in the March 7 Royal Society Biology Proceedings B.  Male guppies grow bright orange spots to look like the females’ favorite sweet snack: orange fruit.  This attracts the females to come closer, where the males can then strut their stuff.  “The spots may first catch a lady’s eye, but she’ll soon check out traits more reflective of mates’ genetics,” ends the review.  “So don’t buy that chocolate shirt unless you’ve got the goods to back it up.”
Yes, take off the shirt and hand it to her to eat while you flex your muscles, guys.  Good grief.
    We have reported earlier how evolutionary theories of sexual selection commit the personification fallacy by putting human emotions into fish brains.  Now they’ve gone further and made males into a candy store for dimwitted females who can’t tell the difference between an orange gummy worm and a member of their own species.  The story is worthless except to notice this sentence: “The research challenges the standard theory of sexual selection, which maintains that sexy traits reveal the quality of a prospective mate’s genes.”  Which, being translated, means: dumb has been replaced with dumber.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Next headline on: Fish. • Next dumb story.
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Featured Creation Scientist for March

Galileo Galilei
1564 - 1642

A 68-year old scientist, in ill health, hauled off to Rome to stand trial before the Inquisition.  Forced, under threat of torture and imprisonment, to renounce his scientific writings, which are declared to be heretical and against church dogma.  Put under house arrest, he is heard sobbing uncontrollably: “The injustice of the sentence tormented him so that he did not sleep for several nights, but could be heard crying out, babbling and rambling in distraction” (Sobel, p. 298).  Undeniable facts of history, forming an open and shut case for religious intolerance of science, right?

Any history of science must deal with the Galileo affair.  In many circles it is an icon of science vs religion.  Fortunately, in recent years scholars having been taking fresh looks at the circumstances of Galileo’s trial and realizing there are complexities that dramatically change the conventional interpretation.  A recent PBS documentary admitted that the usual slant is quite incorrect.  Astronomer and historian Owen Gingerich, often one to debunk historical inaccuracies, has researched the incident and challenges the science vs religion spin.  And a recent (1999) new historical biography by Dava Sobel, Galileo’s Daughter (an award-winning, captivating, original work we highly recommend) sheds refreshing new light on the life, times, and legacy of this giant of early science, Galileo Galilei.

Our purpose here is not to exonerate the Catholic Church, which is surely culpable for the injustice done to Galileo (for which the Pope formally apologized in 1992).  And as non-Catholics, we condemn all the injustices of the Inquisition, not just this one.  But a quick look at some of the factors involved in the heresy trial will show how the conventional spin is often greatly misinterpreted:

• Galileo was a personal friend of both major popes that ruled during his lifetime.

• Galileo enjoyed a wide popularity and high reputation by many, if not most, within the Catholic Church.  He had many friends in high places that had no problem at all with his views or with those of Copernicus.

• His book that was condemned in the trial, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World, had received the official imprimatur of the church, and had been approved by the official Roman censor, Father Niccolo Riccardi.  Galileo readily made all suggested alterations, which did not alter anything of substance.

• Pope Urban VIII had been a lifelong friend of Galileo and had said of him, “We embrace with paternal love this great man whose fame shines in the heavens and goes on Earth far and wide.”  He praised Galileo for his uprightness and virtue.  Before and after he had become pope, Galileo enjoyed personal, cordial contact with him; in early years prior to becoming pope, he [then Cardinal Barberini] wrote to him, “I pray the Lord God to preserve you, because men of great value like you deserve to live a long time to the benefit of the public.”

• Pope Urban VIII did not reject Copernicanism or Galileo’s arguing for it, he only urged that Galileo treat it as hypothesis and not limit God’s inscrutability.  Also, correcting another popular misconception, the Pope never invoked infallibility in the affair, which was not even a Catholic doctrine at the time.

• Copernicanism at the time of Galileo was fairly new, and did not have the observational support it has today.  It lacked the essential extension by Kepler and Newton.  Many found Copernicanism interesting and useful, but others clung to the traditional Ptolemaic view because it seemed more intuitively obvious, and because it had such a long reputation of utility.

• Pope Urban VIII was in a bad mood at the time of the trial.  The papacy had gone to his head, and he had spent fortunes on self-aggrandizement.  In addition, he was accused of being soft on heretics by not acting stronger against the Reformers.  The Thirty Years War was giving him great stress.  Galileo’s Dialogue came at a very inopportune time.  The pope trusted what others said about it, without reading it himself.  He was led to believe, contrary to the facts, that Galileo had double-crossed him by going against explicit orders.  These factors tended to make him inflexible against his former friend.

• The trial represented a brief portion near the end of Galileo’s long and productive life, during which he gained wide fame for his discoveries and his books across Europe, and within the Catholic church.  Contrary to popular perceptions, most churchmen, including Pope Urban VIII, were delighted with Galileo’s discoveries with the telescope.

• In 1616, there was an anti-Copernican edict under Pope Paul V which came just short of calling Copernicanism heretical and banning the book; Galileo acquiesced by holding to it as opinion or hypothesis and not fact.  Though foolish by today’s standards, the Edict did not seriously hamper his scientific work and writing, until accusations flew again seventeen years later.

• During and after the period of house arrest in Rome, and when he was allowed to return home to Arcetri, Galileo continued to do scientific experiments and publish with relative freedom.

These are just for starters.  Most important, what comes out of the details of the record, is that Galileo was a staunch Catholic Christian his entire life, never wavering on his devout belief in God, creation, and the Bible.  In fact, Galileo was afraid that the Church’s reputation would be damaged if they rejected Copernicanism; he took pains to protect the church from foolish and mistaken interpretations.

Neither Copernicus nor Galileo ever intended their works to be considered criticism of the Bible and the church.  Galileo regretted deeply that his work was twisted and misunderstood as such.  He went to great lengths to explain that his science was in no way incompatible with Scripture.  Early on he explained in a long letter to the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, “I think in the first place that it is very pious to say and prudent to affirm that the Holy Bible can never speak untruth – whenever its true meaning is understood.”  Much later, after his trial, he wrote to a friend, “I have two sources of perpetual comfort, first, that in my writings there cannot be found the faintest shadow of irreverence towards the Holy Church; and second, the testimony of my own conscience, which only I and God in Heaven thoroughly know.  And He knows that in this cause for which I suffer, though many might have spoken with more learning, none, not even the ancient Fathers, have spoken with more piety or with greater zeal for the Church than I.”

So how are we to explain the ugly accusations of the trial?  In a word: vengeance.  Galileo had a knack for making loyal friends and bitter enemies.  His razor-sharp logic and penchant for sarcasm won him admirers and detractors.  Some felt he was ramming Copernicanism down the throat of Christendom.  In Dialogues, he created characters to debate Copernicanism, and portrayed the protagonists as wise scholars and the antagonists as simpletons (he even named one opponent “Simplicio”).  Some of Galileo’s enemies understood him to be mocking them, and this inflamed their passion to get even.  Sadly, some of these dishonorable persons wrapped their vice in the cloak of the Church and used their position to cast the debate as Galileo vs the Bible, or Copernicanism vs the Church: leading to trumped up charges of the dreaded H word, heresy.

Galileo was framed.  He was caught up in a maelstrom of colliding currents: politics, personalities, ambitions, new discoveries, wars both physical and theological, suspicions, superstitions and misunderstandings.  Unfortunately, Galileo found himself at the center of the vortex, a victim of circumstances partly his fault and mostly beyond his control: a church in conflict with Reformers, just past the Council of Trent and trying to assert its authority, suspicious of those who, like Luther, felt they had the right to interpret the Scriptures for themselves.  Galileo knew that his detractors were, out of insecurity, fabricating “a shield for their fallacies out of the mantle of pretended religion and the authority of the Bible” (Sobel, p. 68).  In no way was the Church unanimous in condemning Galileo.  Even during the trial, numerous Catholics supported him, and like the archbishop of Siena, despised “those who have control of the sciences, and they have nothing left but to run back to holy ground” (Sobel, p. 286).

It could be argued that, rather than science vs. religion, the debate was not about the Bible at all, but about experimental science vs Greek philosophy.  Galileo’s opponents were primarily academics and professors, not churchmen.  To complicate matters, the Catholic church itself had compromised Biblical teachings with pagan Greek ideas about nature.  Dava Sobel explains that Thomas Aquinas “grafted the fourth-century-B.C. writings of Aristotle onto thirteenth-century Christian doctrine.  The compelling works of Saint Thomas Aquinas had reverberated through the Church and the nascent universities of Europe for hundreds of years, helping the word of Aristotle gain the authority of holy writ, long before Galileo began his book about the architecture of the heavens” (Sobel, p. 152).

It was Aristotle, not Scripture, that taught the immutability and perfection of the heavenly spheres in contradistinction to the corruption of the earth.  Finding blemishes on the moon and spots on the sun violated Aristotelian teachings, but not a word of Scripture.  Galileo’s “heresy” was against Aristotle, not the Bible!  He wrote, “To prohibit the whole science would be but to censure a hundred passages of Holy Scripture which teach us that the glory and greatness of Almighty God are marvelously discerned in all His works and divinely read in the open book of Heaven.”  Galileo believed that “Holy Scripture and Nature are both emanations from the divine word: the former dictated by the Holy Spirit, the latter the observant executrix of God’s commands” (Sobel, p. 64).  There was no contradiction between the two, in his view, but he distrusted the fallibility of human interpretation: “Holy Scripture cannot err and the decrees therein contained are absolutely true and inviolable.  I should only have added that, though Scripture cannot err, its expounders and interpreters are liable to err in many ways.”

Along this line, although relatively blameless himself, Galileo seems to have started a philosophy of interpretation that, taken too far, would later lead to a form of intellectual schizophrenia: the idea that the Bible is concerned only with spirit, while nature is the exclusive domain of science.  In the modern world, this has gone to extremes.  Some Christian creationists subscribe to a dual-revelation theory, that nature is just as authoritative a revelation from God as Scripture.  This is a half-truth, for the Bible certainly teaches that the works of God declare His glory, but proponents of this view often fail to take into account the fallibility of human interpretation of natural revelation.  They tend to accept whatever secular scientists say as authoritative, and mold the Bible to fit it.

Secularists and atheists, on the other hand, are sometimes patronizingly willing to let religious people have everything they wish in the spiritual realm, as long as scientists retain their hegemony over the study of nature.  Stephen Jay Gould, for instance, proposes a peace accord called “non-overlapping magisteria” (with a play on words from Catholic vocabulary), in which the church gets the art, music and theology, but science gets physics, chemistry and biology.  In both these views, dual-revelation and NOMA, inevitably nature winds up devouring the spirit, and Scripture becomes the servant of secular science.

We can see the seeds, but not the fruit, of this false dichotomy in Galileo.  Quoting Baronio, he believed the Bible was a book about how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.  He warned against literal interpretations of Scripture that would have us, for instance, picturing God with hands and feet and eyes, and human and bodily emotions.  He said, “I believe that the intention of Holy Writ was to persuade men of the truths necessary for salvation, such as neither science nor any other means could render credible, but only the voice of the Holy Spirit.  But I do not think it necessary to believe that the same God who gave us our senses, our speech, our intellect, would have put aside the use of these, to teach us instead such things as with their help we could find out for ourselves, particularly in the case of these sciences of which there is not the smallest mention in the Scriptures; and above all, in astronomy, of which so little notice is taken that the names of none of the planets are mentioned.  Surely if the intention of the sacred scribes had been to teach people astronomy, they would not have passed over the subject so completely.” (Sobel, p. 65).

This statement is sensible as far as it goes, but there appears to be a hidden assumption: that the mind of unregenerate man is capable of discovering truth on its own.  This may be practical with regard to repeatable, observable phenomena like falling bodies and motions of planets, but what about the origin of universe, the origin of the life, and the origin of the soul?  There is no subject under heaven today that modern science does not feel it has authority to explain by natural causes, even prayer and sexual mores.  Reductionist science even goes so far as to explain love as the sum total of neurotransmitter reactions in the physical brain.  Modern science has usurped the spiritual world; it has gone far beyond Galileo’s principle, and so we must watch his statements with awareness of where, in hindsight, an idea can go astray.  Nevertheless, Galileo himself attempted to explain Biblical passages like Joshua’s long day as real events, not allegories.  He accepted the creation account in Genesis as literally true.

Galileo’s scientific achievements are so well known as to require little elaboration here.  First to turn a telescope to the heavens; discoverer of sunspots, lunar craters, stars within the Milky Way, the phases of Venus, and the four large satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean satellites in his honor); staunch proponent of experiment over authority, discoverer of laws of falling bodies (in the process disproving Aristotle’s contention that heavier bodies fall faster), popularizer and publisher, mathematician, his work is of monumental importance in the history of science.  Einstein overstates the case that he was the “father of modern physics–indeed of modern science altogether,” because of his insistence on experiment over logical deductions.  He was a giant, but a giant among giants.  His Protestant contemporaries Johannes Kepler and Francis Bacon similarly espoused the same values of experimental science over authority.  And they were building on giants before them, Christian philosophers who viewed nature as the rational work of a transcendent God, worthy and capable of being explored by men created in His image.

In keeping with our theme, Galileo considered his faith a driving force behind his science.  According to Sobel, “The Dialogue resumed his importuning that truths about Nature be allowed to emerge through science.  Such truths, he still believed, could only glorify the Word and deeds of God.”  He was thankful to God for enabling him to see farther than any man before him.  In the euphoria of discovery during those nights turning the telescope toward the heavens for the first time, he expressed, “I render infinite thanks to God for being so kind as to make me alone the first observer of marvels kept hidden in obscurity for all previous centuries” (Sobel, p. 6).

For a delightful and enlightening read, we recommend Dava Sobel’s excellent book Galileo’s Daughter, (Penguin Books, 1999).  It has the unique amenity of a newly-translated collection of letters from Suor Maria Celeste, his daughter who spent her life in poverty as a nun.  The biography is woven around these sweet letters from his devoted and deeply spiritual child.  Around these intimate, innocent epistles, Sobel masterfully limns the spirit of the times, the superstitions as well as the achievements, the nobility and notoriety of numerous persons that came into contact with Galileo during his long and productive 75 years, which could have continued many more had his body kept up with his tireless mind.  Through many original quotes and sources, Sobel illustrates how the Galileo affair was far different than the simplistic portrait of science vs religion.  The book has a surprise ending that will move you.

Dava Sobel says that “Galileo remained a good Catholic who believed in the power of prayer and endeavored always to conform his duty as a scientist with the destiny of his soul.  ‘Whatever the course of our lives,’ Galileo wrote, ‘we should receive them as the highest gift from the hand of God, in which equally reposed the power to do nothing whatever for us.  Indeed, we should accept misfortune not only in thanks, but in infinite gratitude to Providence, which by such means detaches us from an excessive love for Earthly things and elevates our minds to the celestial and divine.’” (Sobel, p. 12).

In 2002, the Galileo spacecraft) completed its 12-year orbital reconnaissance of Jupiter and its Galilean satellites, the “little solar system” that overturned Greek dogma and opened a heavens far more wondrous than even the wise old bearded scientist himself could have imagined.

Did you enjoy this true story?  Please write us with your comments, and tell a friend!

For more information on Galileo Galilei and other great Christians in science, see our online book:
The World’s Greatest Creation Scientists from 1000 to 2000 A.D.
Copies are also available from our online store.

A Concise Guide
to Understanding
Evolutionary Theory

You can observe a lot by just watching.
– Yogi Berra

First Law of Scientific Progress
The advance of science can be measured by the rate at which exceptions to previously held laws accumulate.
Corollaries:
1. Exceptions always outnumber rules.
2. There are always exceptions to established exceptions.
3. By the time one masters the exceptions, no one recalls the rules to which they apply.

Darwin’s Law
Nature will tell you a direct lie if she can.
Bloch’s Extension
So will Darwinists.

Finagle’s Creed
Science is true.  Don’t be misled by facts.

Finagle’s 2nd Law
No matter what the anticipated result, there will always be someone eager to (a) misinterpret it, (b) fake it, or (c) believe it happened to his own pet theory.

Finagle’s Rules
3. Draw your curves, then plot your data.
4. In case of doubt, make it sound convincing.
6. Do not believe in miracles – rely on them.

Murphy’s Law of Research
Enough research will tend to support your theory.

Maier’s Law
If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.
Corollaries:
1. The bigger the theory, the better.
2. The experiments may be considered a success if no more than 50% of the observed measurements must be discarded to obtain a correspondence with the theory.

Eddington’s Theory
The number of different hypotheses erected to explain a given biological phenomenon is inversely proportional to the available knowledge.

Young’s Law
All great discoveries are made by mistake.
Corollary
The greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.

Peer’s Law
The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem.

Peter’s Law of Evolution
Competence always contains the seed of incompetence.

Weinberg’s Corollary
An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.

Souder’s Law
Repetition does not establish validity.

Cohen’s Law
What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts – not the facts themselves.

Harrison’s Postulate
For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.

Thumb’s Second Postulate
An easily-understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex, incomprehensible truth.

Ruckert’s Law
There is nothing so small that it can’t be blown out of proportion

Hawkins’ Theory of Progress
Progress does not consist in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is right.  It consists in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is more subtly wrong.

Macbeth’s Law
The best theory is not ipso facto a good theory.

Disraeli’s Dictum
Error is often more earnest than truth.

Advice from Paul

Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.

I Timothy 6:20-21

Song of the True Scientist

O Lord, how manifold are Your works!  In wisdom You have made them all.  The earth is full of Your possessions . . . . May the glory of the Lord endure forever.  May the Lord rejoice in His works . . . . I will sing to the Lord s long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.  May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord.  May sinners be consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more.  Bless the Lord, O my soul!  Praise the Lord!

from Psalm 104

Maxwell’s Motivation

Through the creatures Thou hast made
Show the brightness of Thy glory.
Be eternal truth displayed
In their substance transitory.
Till green earth and ocean hoary,
Massy rock and tender blade,
Tell the same unending story:
We are truth in form arrayed.

Teach me thus Thy works to read,
That my faith,– new strength accruing–
May from world to world proceed,
Wisdom’s fruitful search pursuing
Till, thy truth my mind imbuing,
I proclaim the eternal Creed –
Oft the glorious theme renewing,
God our Lord is God indeed.

James Clerk Maxwell
One of the greatest physicists
of all time (a creationist).