Creation-Evolution Headlines
May 2007
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“While the admission of a design for the universe ultimately raises the question of a Designer (a subject outside of science), the scientific method does not allow us to exclude data which lead to the conclusion that the universe, life and man are based on design.  To be forced to believe only one conclusion—that everything in the universe happened by chance—would violate the very objectivity of science itself.”
—Wernher von Braun, rocket pioneer, 1972.
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Better Late than Never:  Our featured Creation Scientist of the Month for May has finally been added on the right-hand column.  Read the short but interesting article about Douglas Dewar.

How Best to Propagate Darwin’s “Science”   05/31/2007    
Two book reviews recently discussed the problem of “scientific illiteracy” in society, which the authors equated with doubts about Darwinian evolution.

  1. Dumb public:  In a review in Science of A Scientist’s Guide to Talking to the Media by Richard Hayes and Daniel Grossman (Rutgers, 2006), Barbara Kline Pope began with an anecdote to illustrate the pitiful state of scientific literacy in America.  She had overheard a lady in a doctor’s office waiting room saying, “Well, I can sort of believe in evolution, but I just can’t see that the big bang really happened.”  Kline was appalled at this example of the “dismal state of scientific literacy.”  She pointed to evolution and the big bang as “some of the most established scientific theories.”  It was not clear, however, what connection these two theories had with the rest of her review, which focused on the theme that “knowledge of basic scientific ideas is necessary for adequate citizen participation in decision-making, preparation for employment, and the practical aspects of daily life.”  How many include the big bang in their job applications, or evolutionary theory in their town hall meetings?
  2. Group conundrum:  In Nature, Mark Pagel gave a surprisingly unenthusiastic review of David Sloan Wilson’s Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives (Delacorte Press, 2007; see entry from 11/01/2005).  He left it doubtful this book will convince anyone to become an evolutionist.
        Like the previous review, this one bemoaned why so few people accept Darwin’s theory.  It’s a source of endless frustration to evolutionary biologists that the number of doubters remains high: currently 54% – up from 46% in 1994.  One answer might be that creationists are having more kids.  The other answer, however, is the tack Sloan Wilson prefers: evolutionists just haven’t done a good enough selling job: “if the evidence for darwinian evolution is presented clearly enough and often enough, any reasonable person will come around to the darwinian view.”  But Pagel realizes this will be a hard sell to human-type primates:
    What is there to say?  The usual answer, that we share more than 98% of our genes with chimpanzees, is becoming hackneyed.  It is the strangeness of human behaviour that really puts the darwinian view to the test.  And here there is much to discuss.  We have enormous brains that make us shrewd beyond belief in comparison to other animals, we have the only fully developed symbolic language on the planet, we cooperate with and engage in elaborate task-sharing and reciprocal relations with people we don’t know, we help the elderly, give money to charities, put on matching silly shirts to attend football matches, obediently wait in queues, die for our countries or even sometimes for an idea, and we positively ripple and snort with righteousness and indignation when we think others don’t do some of these things.  We even have a word for this sense of how others ought to behave – morality.  Chimpanzees, and for that matter other animals, aren’t like this.  No wonder the creationists don’t believe the darwinian account.
    Though Pagel called it an “agreeable little book,” he thought Sloan Wilson oversold the group-selectionist view of human sociality.  For every example of evolutionary altruism, Pagel had counter-examples of selfish individualism.  If group selection is so effective, he puzzled, why do bees with much smaller brains do a better job of cooperation than humans, if we have enjoyed such big brains for 3.5 million years?  With the Darwinists themselves still debating whether human altruism can be explained by group selection or individual selection, he considered Sloan Wilson’s approach too optimistic.
And at this point, we award Mark Pagel Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week for his ending logical conundrum:
But perhaps even Sloan Wilson should not expect to change people’s minds about religion.  If our minds evolved to help us wade through the complexity of social life, to use groups for our own gain, and to help us rebound from ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’, which set of beliefs, on balance, will be more useful, religious ones (whether true or not) or a belief in natural selection?
This seems to be saying that if evolution invented religion, it must be useful, so don’t knock it.  But then why even try to convince anyone that a useless idea like natural selection is true? 
A bigger conundrum is raised by Pagel’s quote: how did the evolutionary biologists figure out natural selection’s conspiracy to hide the truth from everyone else?  Maybe they are the ones that are deceived.  How could they tell?  There is no truth in Darwinland.  There is no standard of usefulness, either; i.e., useful to whom?  Is survival even useful?  Whatever useful means, it appears evolutionists aren’t very useful themselves.  Maybe they are just mutants that need to be selected away from the gene pool.  How ironic.  By pushing a useless theory called Darwinism, they won themselves a Darwin Award.
    We need a new category: Evil Evolution Quote of the Week.  The rabid atheist Sam Harris was at it again, as Madelaine Bunting wrote for the Mail&Guardian online.  Lumping Christians and radical Muslims in the same category, Harris pondered, “some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.”  What constitutes an atheistic standard of ethics, he did not say.  Vicki Baker used this quote for a pop quiz on the Dangerous Intersection blog.  It prompted a variety of heated responses.  Apparently, Sam Harris never quite got around to realizing this has already been tried (see 11/30/2005 entry).
Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryEducationDumb Ideas
Molecular Motors Move You   05/30/2007    
The realization that cells are filled with molecules that move like machines fascinates many people.  Students who grew up thinking of chemistry as bouncing molecules that did little more than link up and separate have a whole new paradigm to consider: molecules that walk, fold and unfold, spin and operate like ratchets, robots, wrenches and motors.  Here are a few recent developments in the world of molecular machines:
  1. Brownian walk:  Researchers in Science1 reported that myosin, a molecular “walking” motor used in muscle, harnesses the random force of Brownian motion to keep on track.  Brownian motion is the random shuddering action of small molecules due to thermal motion in the environment.  Like sails in the wind, myosin motors are built in such a way that they can make use of the vector component corresponding to the direction they need to go.  “The leading neck swings unidirectionally forward, whereas the trailing neck, once lifted, undergoes extensive Brownian rotation in all directions before landing on a site ahead of the leading head,” said Shiroguchi and Kinosita.  “The neck-neck joint is essentially free, and the neck motion supports a mechanism where the active swing of the leading neck biases the random motion of the lifted head to let it eventually land on a forward site.”  This way they get a push for free.  The authors did not discuss how this mechanism might have evolved.
  2. Gut-level machinery:  Speaking of myosin, did you know it aids digestion?  Your digestive tract is lined with microvilli, tiny projections that vastly increase the surface area of the intestinal membrane that absorbs nutrients.  Now, scientists have found there’s a lot more going on in the tips of these projections.  Science Daily reported on work at Vanderbilt that showed myosin is concentrated in the tips and appears actively involved in shedding membrane material at the tips.  This process of vesicle formation and detachment may inject metabolic enzymes into the passing food material, as well as protect the lining of the intestine from invaders.  It’s all done with motors: myosin 1a, “a protein with the potential to generate force and move cargo around in cells.”  Matthew Tyska figured that there must be a reason these force-generating motors are concentrated in the microvilli, and sure enough, he found them at work: “It’s a little machine that can shed membrane from the tips,” he said.  This could give a whole new dimension to the term bowel movement.  Now his group is seeing if a similar mechanism operates in other cellular projections, like the hair cells of the inner ear.  See also EurekAlert.
  3. Clockworks:  A paper in Nature discussed the latest research into the molecular mechanisms behind biological clocks.2  There is not one clock molecule involved, but a host of proteins that form feedback loops in cycles that express and repress certain genes in response to environmental cues.  One of the proteins is even nicknamed CLOCK.  The article payed particular attention to PGC-1-alpha, a protein that appears intimately linked to both the circadian rhythm and metabolism, affecting the production of glucose, fatty acids and haem (iron-containing molecules).  Many questions remain, however.  This is clearly a work in progress.
  4. Splice and dice:  Another paper in Nature used the word “machinery” six times, speaking of the spliceosome.3  “A complex macromolecular machinery in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells is responsible for pre-mRNA splicing,” said Blencowe and Khanna.  They described how alternative splicing “is a remarkably efficient mechanism for a cell to increase the structural and functional diversity of its proteins, and it plays many roles in gene regulation” (see 05/20/2007).  The way alternative splicing is controlled is by RNA “riboswitches,” including messenger-RNA transcripts that can regulate their own expression with feedback and feed-forward loops.  These riboswitches can actually change shape in response to cues, and the shape determines how the gene will be expressed.  The authors used the word switch 18 times.
        Earlier, riboswitches were thought to exist only in bacteria and fungi, but now it appears they may be common in higher animals and in plants.  The authors speculated about evolution’s place in this: “It seems plausible that splicing-regulatory riboswitches represent a system that has evolved to coordinately regulate multiple genes in the same biochemical pathway using feedback and, in some cases, feed-forward mechanisms,” they asserted.  “Presumably, the rapid kinetics and energy-saving advantages afforded by bypassing protein-mediated regulation explain why riboswitch aptamers have persisted during evolution and function at many levels of regulation of gene expression.”  Yet this seems to assume what needs to be proved.  They used the presence of these switches, and the advantages they appear to confer, as evidence they evolved, yet provided no details on how that could have occurred by natural selection.  By contrast, the evidence they did provide shows the opposite of evolution: between very distant organisms, like fungi and higher plants, the genes involved are “evolutionarily conserved” (i.e., unevolved).
  5. Machine language:  Two scientists publishing in PNAS sounded like factory planners, but were talking about cells.4  “Experimental and theoretical studies of proteins, acting as motors, ion pumps, or channels, and enzymes, show that their operation involves functional conformational motions,” they said.  A few sentences later, the machine talk continued: “Generally, a machine is a mechanical device that performs ordered internal motions that are robust against external perturbations.”  They were discussing how molecular machines in the cell, particularly myosin and ATP synthase, are examples of such robustness.  “In conclusion,” they said in the final discussion section, “we have shown that motor proteins possess unique dynamical properties, intrinsically related to their functioning as machines.”  This recalls a line Scott Minnich said in the film Unlocking the Mystery of Life: “It’s not convenient that we give them these [machine] names; it’s truly their function.”
        Part of the title read, “design principles of molecular machines.”  Yet the authors attributed this design to undirected chance processes of evolution in this statement: “Actual proteins with specific architectures allowing robust machine operation may have developed through a natural biological evolution, with the selection favoring such special dynamical properties.”  They ran a simulation of an “evolutionary computer optimization process” and achieved a “artificial elastic network architectures possessing machine-like properties,” but this statement blurs the line between intelligently-selected outcomes and chance.
“Machine” language is quite common in the scientific literature.  One often finds matter-of-fact discussion of proteins and enzymes as machines.  They use energy and perform physical work according to tight specifications.  The evolutionary conundrum is: how could functioning machines arise from non-functional matter in motion?  Authors of scientific papers typically either ignore the question, or assume evolution did the design work.
    A more fruitful approach was offered by a biophysicist who wrote Nature last week, suggesting that we “Look at biological systems through an engineer’s eye.5  R. S. Eisenberg said that when approaching a black box, whether an amplifier in a sound system or an unknown mechanism in a living cell, we should identify the inputs and outputs, the power supply and the device equation.  Looking at biological devices with the eyes of an engineer, he said, can lead to fruitful experiments:
Complex systems – for example, with many internal nonlinear connections like the integrated circuit modules of digital computers or, perhaps, the central nervous system – may not be easily analysed as devices, no matter how many experimental data are available.  But it seems clear, at least to a physiologist, that productive research is catalysed by assuming that most biological systems are devices.  Thinking today of your biological preparation as a device tells you what experiments to do tomorrow.
    Asking the questions in this way leads to the design of useful experiments that may eventually lead to the device description or equation, if it exists.  If no device description emerges after extensive investigation of a biological system, one can look for other, more subtle descriptions of nature’s machines.
An intelligent design scientist might feel vindicated.  No evolutionary theorizing is needed in this approach.  Assuming design in the device, and asking engineering questions, can stimulate a fruitful experimental program.
1Shiroguchi and Kinosita, “Myosin V Walks by Lever Action and Brownian Motion,” Science, 25 May 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5828, pp. 1208-1212, DOI: 10.1126/science.1140468.
2Grimaldi and Sassone-Corsi, “Circadian rhythms: Metabolic clockwork,” Nature 447, 386-387 (24 May 2007) | doi:10.1038/447386a.
3Blencowe and Khanna, “Molecular biology: RNA in control,” Nature 47, 391-393 (24 May 2007) | doi:10.1038/447391a.
4Togashi and Mikhailov, “Nonlinear relaxation dynamics in elastic networks and design principles of molecular machines,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0702950104, published online before print May 16, 2007.
5R. S. Eisenberg, “Look at biological systems through an engineer’s eye,” Correspondence, Nature 447, 376 (24 May 2007) | doi:10.1038/447376a.
These papers speak for themselves.  Was anybody impressed by the evolutionary storytelling?  Was it useful?  Did it contribute to understanding in any way?  How about, on the other hand, the machine language?  Can you talk machine language without assuming intelligent design?  Where do you think science is headed?  Bye-bye, Charlie.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
Resisting Science, or Resisting Purposelessness?   05/29/2007    
Why do so many adults “resist science”?, asked Yale psychologists Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg in an essay on The Edge.  They argued that childhood common sense impressions lead to a teleological view of the world.  These impressions conflict with evolutionary ideas presented at school, but are reinforced by religious authorities.  The job of the teacher, then is to help them overcome their natural proclivities toward design thinking.  They ended,
Given the role of trust in social learning, it is particularly worrying that national surveys reflect a general decline in the extent to which people trust scientists.  To end on a practical note, then, one way to combat resistance to science is to persuade children and adults that the institute of science is, for the most part, worthy of trust.
Dr. Albert Mohler launched into a commentary on this essay on his blog for May 29.  He joked, “The attorney who asks a jury, ‘What are you going to believe, my argument or what you see with your own eyes?,’ has a fool for a client.”  More seriously, he turned the tables on Bloom and Weisberg: “Many polls indicate that a majority of Americans reject the dominant evolutionary theory and believe in some form of divine creation.  This frustrates the evolutionary scientists to no end.  But they are asking Americans to reject what they learned in Sunday School in favor of a theory that insists that the universe is a great cosmic accident.  It’s not just children whose brains are hard-wired to reject that.”
This interchange provides some good food for thought, but before digesting it, add this antacid: what on earth do Bloom and Weisberg mean by science, anyway?  Sounds like they could use a purpose-driven life instead of a life divorced of purpose.
Next headline on:  EvolutionBible and TheologyEducation
Ant Brain: Software Compression Extreme   05/28/2007    
How can so much software fit in such a small space?  An ant brain can’t be very big, but look what it can do.  The BBC News and Science Daily both told about the route-finding ability of army ants.  Not only do they find the most efficient routes to their targets, they even plug potholes with their own bodies.  The volunteers that agree to get walked on, providing a “living surface” for the others, are even specifically matched to the size of the hole, scientists at University of Bristol found.  One team member said, “When it comes to rapid road repairs, the ants have their own do-it-yourself highways agency.”
    In addition, ants are able to plan far ahead for their own workforce.  Science Daily reported that ants, “one of nature’s ultimate self-organising species breeds optimum numbers of each worker type to ensure the smooth running of the colony.”  They seem to have an uncanny sense to adjust the expression of key genes to breed the workforce that will be most in demand in the future.  How they do this is a mystery, but one evolutionary biologist was certain Darwin could explain it: “It seems that ants have evolved their own solution to this problem.”
Do-it-yourself agency, he said.  Self-organizing species, they called it.  Do ants have a sense of self?  Do they complain when they get walked on, like people do?  Just a momentary jest; whatever is going on, a lot of information has to be packed into a tiny space in the head of an ant.  The miniature robots know just what to do and do it extremely well (see 09/12/2001).  And what do you know, they say army ants have been doing this for 100 million years without any evolution (05/06/2003, 11/14/2000).  What do you know.
    Notice how in this and the next entry, evolutionists are fond of phrasing their materialistic theory in the personal, active verb form: such-and-such evolved a solution, or color vision, or whatever.  Foul!  The organism did not – and could not – conspire to do such a thing.  Their own presuppositions disallow it.  Don’t let an evolutionist confuse the issues with such personal, teleological language.  Force them to be consistent.  This will poke a hole that will leak all the pneuma out of their theory’s tires.  Simultaneously, their explanations will be seen not as highways, but as potholes, wider than their own bodies.  Flat tires on a highway that is all pothole and no road will get their theory nowhere fast, even if they all join hands and feet in a desperate attempt to keep the road from disappearing.  (As if that would help, anyway; they don’t even know where their road should go.)
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyAmazing Facts
Red Vision Produced Red Hair in Monkeys   05/27/2007    
A story circulating in the news media claims that as soon as monkeys evolved the ability to see red, they evolved red hair to look at.  Isn’t that the gist of a press release from Ohio UniversityScience Daily thought so, and so did Live Science, which said, “A new study shows that apes first evolved color vision to help them forage food, after which nature made red the sexiest color around and spiked apes’ evolutionary tree with red hair and skin.”  Monkey see red, monkey do red.
If there was a 650-nanometer photon around but nobody to see it, would it still be red?  Sometimes we just have to put out the latest evolutionary groaners to let you see otherwise smart people making monkeys of themselves.  Monkey say, better red than deadhead. 
Next headline on:  MammalsDarwinismDumb Ideas
Double Take:  Anything wrong with this sentence?  From the New York Times: “Every feature of a butterfly or moth, throughout its life from egg to adult, has been shaped over millions of years of evolution for specific purposes.”  If you need clues, re-read the 05/31/2004 and 04/20/2006 entries.

Creation Museum Opens   05/26/2007    
The $27 million Creation Museum in Florence, Kentucky, built by Answers in Genesis, opened to the public on May 26, after years of planning and construction.  It features audio-animatronic dinosaurs, a planetarium, a bookstore, hiking trails and many elaborate exhibits.
    AIG unashamedly presents a Biblical interpretation of origins, science, history and ultimate destiny of man and the universe – within a Genesis timescale.  The entire project was financed by private donations.
    The New York Times printed a surprisingly favorable review of the museum by Edward Rothstein.  His only critical question was as follows:

The other catastrophe, in the museum’s view, is of more recent vintage: the abandonment of the Bible by church figures who began to treat the story of creation as if it were merely metaphorical, and by Enlightenment philosophers, who chipped away at biblical authority.  The ministry believes this is a slippery slope....
    But one problem is that scientific activity presumes that the material world is organized according to unchanging laws, while biblical fundamentalism presumes that those laws are themselves subject to disruption and miracle.  Is not that a slippery slope as well, even affecting these analyses?
Nevertheless, Rothstein seemed impressed by the experience of walking through the elaborate dioramas.  The visitor, he said, “leaves feeling a bit like Adam emerging from Eden, all the world before him, freshly amazed at its strangeness and extravagant peculiarities.”
The answer to Rothstein, of course, is that the Darwinists believe in miracles, too (see 05/24/2007).  Their miracles are more fantastic and unnatural than anything the Bible ever said.  So pick your miracle-worker: a God who has infinite power and intelligence, or time and chance.  And, for extra consideration, choose the bottom of the slippery slope you would like to live at: a world of hate, sin, strife and evil, or a world that abides by the moral laws of the Divine lawgiver.  Science did pretty well for centuries before atheists co-opted it for their agenda.  Read what Madelaine Bunting wrote recently about the new hate-filled atheists in Mail&Guardian Online.  Want to follow their lead?
    A regular reader who visited on opening day may provide another first-hand account soon.  In the meantime, watch how the media react to this (and media from around the world were on hand to practice their spinning skills).  Some Darwinista organizations, as we said (05/23/2007), are trying to prevent people from going.  AIG said that on opening day a protest group with a rock band set up camp nearby.  Here are the typical spins you are bound to see:
  • This is bad science and will make America fall behind the world.
  • This museum is brainwashing kids.
  • Can’t we all just get along?
Monday evening 5/28, Fox News already interviewed an evolutionist using all three against AIG president Ken Ham.  There is only one word you need to know to respond to Darwiniacs who try to use these ploys.  HYPOCRISY.
Next headline on:  MediaBible and Theology
Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  Design by Darwin   05/24/2007    
Can Darwin get credit for intelligently-planned research?  Apparently John Chaput thinks so.  A press release from the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University states this:
Nature, through the trial and error of evolution, has discovered a vast diversity of life from what can only presumed to have been a primordial pool of building blocks.  Inspired by this success, a new Biodesign Institute research team, led by John Chaput, is now trying to mimic the process of Darwinian evolution in the laboratory by evolving new proteins from scratch.  Using new tricks of molecular biology, Chaput and co-workers have evolved several new proteins in a fraction of the 3 billion years it took nature.
A strange mix of chance and design permeates the article, with evolve or evolution 17 times and design seven times.  The Biodesign Institute itself, according to its information page, seeks to learn from nature’s designs, as do Caltech (06/25/2005) and the Georgia Institute of Technology (10/29/2005).  The inspiration for such ventures is credited to evolution:
Research in the Institute shares a common starting point.  It explores the remarkable structure and function of living systems, which have been honed by thousands of years of evolution and natural selection.  If man could duplicate what nature does routinely, all aspects of society would be transformed....
The list of hopes is impressive: preventive health care, increase in the global food supply, brain repair and industrial efficiency.  It’s all tied together in this sentence: “The ‘Biodesign’ reference in our name reflects a desire to design solutions with the same efficiency and success as living systems.”  But those, it goes without repeating, presumably evolved by chance over millions of years.
The Darwin Dogma of Miracles can be summarized: (1) assume evolution, (2) personify Nature, and (3) wave the magic wand of millions of years.  Then, miracles of exquisite design occur by natural law.  (Contradiction intended for ironic, dramatic effect.)
    The Intelligent Design movement should sue for trademark infringement, plagiarism, and copyright violations when Biomimetics credits the Darwin Party.  Design belongs to intelligent minds, not trial-and-error outcomes of blind, impersonal processes.  How many times do we have to educate the Darwinists and reporters that “guided evolution” is a contradiction in terms?  That “artificial selection” is not natural selection, but intelligent design?  When Dr. Chaput has a goal, designs the parameters, and makes a selection with his mind, he is exercising intelligent design by definition.  Darwin has nothing to do with it.  Mother Nature is a fiction, OK?  Give honor to whom honor is due.
    Good grief, the next thing we’ll see the Darwinists doing is offering prayers and sacrifices at the foot of idols of Mother Nature.  At least that would be more sensible than talking this way in a science lab.  Recall a worse example by Francisco Ayala earlier this month (05/10/2007).
Next headline on:  BiomimeticsIntelligent DesignDarwinismDumb Ideas
Darwinists Combat Creation Displays in Advance   05/23/2007    
Even before opening day, pro-evolution groups are launching pre-emptive strikes against a new $27 million creation museum in Kentucky.  Fox News reported that Eugenie Scott’s National Center for Science Education has sent a petition to 600 scientists in the region to oppose the new museum.  Also, the Campaign to Defend the Constitution is calling the new museum a “campaign by the religious right to inject creationist teachings into science education.”
    Ken Ham, president of the museum’s builder Answers in Genesis, counters that the “vast majority of natural history museums and textbooks available to students are devoted to teaching evolution” so it seems odd that they would be worried about one museum with a different message (see 10/17/2005).  Opening day is May 28.  The museum does not inject itself into schools.  Visitors have to come to the museum and pay an admission fee.  For the museum’s response to the NCSE, visit the AIG website.
    The Calgary Herald reported about another creation museum opening in Alberta on June 5: the Big Valley Creation Science Museum.  “As expected, the museum has its detractors,” the article states.  Critics quoted in this article were a little less dogmatic, in that they defended the right of people to weigh evidence and make up their own minds, but one biology professor called it a “propaganda approach” and another said that refuting evolution entirely was “a little head in the sand.”
Watch for fireworks in the media when the Creation Museum opens.  Evolutionists can have their lying feathered dinosaur displays (05/06/2004) and their lying early-man displays (03/27/2007, 02/07/2007), often paid for with tax dollars to the tune of tens of millions, but let a little alternative science be displayed and the Darwin Attack Dogs come barking and snarling to scare people from entering.  The contest in the media should be interesting to watch.  How many reporters will dredge up tired old talking points and play the warfare-of-science-and-religion card?  How many will acknowledge the freedom and basic intelligence of people to weigh evidence and make up their own minds?  Anticipate some juicy Stupid Evolution Quotes of the Week.
Next headline on:  MediaDarwinismEducation
Dino Feathers or Horsefeathers?   05/23/2007    
The much-touted feathers on certain dinosaurs may be nothing more than collagen fibers.  An article on ABC France says “Dinosaur ‘feathers’ are no such thing.”  Instead, it’s just decayed dermal collagen, like that found on sharks and reptiles.  A South African team came to this conclusion after analyzing the alleged feathers on Sinosauropteryx.
    If their analysis is correct, this casts doubt on the birds-from-dinosaurs theory.  The team lead called the idea a “reckless leap” from the evidence, and said, “There is not a single close-up representation of the integumental structure alleged to be a proto-feather.”  He called for more scientific rigor in the analysis of these fossils.
    Nature Science Update also reported on this find, saying “Bald dino casts doubt on feather theory.”  It says, “If Sinosauropteryx was indeed featherless, then it may be that feathers arrived on the evolutionary scene later than palaeontologists had thought.”  But Nature downplayed the implications.  David Unwin, paleontologist at the University of Leicester, said,“there’s no need to panic” about the implications of this find.  He claimed, “This doesn’t in any way challenge the idea that dinosaurs had feathers and that dinosaurs gave rise to birds.”  It just “throws into doubt the first step in feather evolution.”  But Unwin echoed a common theme in evolutionary theories: “Things may be more complex than we thought.”
    PhysOrg was more dramatic.  It said that this announcement “had the effect of a thunderclap” on scientists who had used the alleged feathers as evidence for bird evolution.  “Palaeontologists have fired a broadside over a fossil which is the cornerstone evidence to back the theory that birds descended from dinosaurs.”
Although we don’t want to make a conclusion based on one team’s analysis of one fossil, we agree more scientific rigor is called for.  Notice how Nature was quick to hedge about the meaning of this disillusionment.  The rest of the media that love to display artists’ reconstructions of feathered dinosaurs are strangely silent so far.  We ought to be asking seriously, in the meantime, have we been sold a bill of goods (again) about feathered dinosaurs? (10/10/2005, 05/06/2004).  We have often seen the propensity of the Darwinists to take flights of fancy based on lightweight evidence (cf. 02/08/2006, 09/27/2000).
Next headline on:  DinosaursFossilsBirds
Darwin’s Ethics: All and/or None   05/22/2007    
Several stories recently indicate that evolutionists not only want to control the non-tangible areas of study, such as ethics and morals, they want to prevent anyone else from having a say.
  1. PsychologyLicense to sin – What would you think of a scientist who tempted people to sin so that he could observe their actions?  Yet that is what a team did to students, as reported by EurekAlert.  They found that “asking people to think about vice increases their likelihood of giving in.”  This should raise red flags about the ethics and limits of science.
  2. Theology: Drosophila philosophy – Believe it or not, an article on EurekAlert asks whether fruit flies have free will.  The article, about a study published on PLoS One, ponders what combination of chance and necessity (and only those ingredients) can explain the fly’s behavior.  Free will vs determinism has long been an issue discussed by theologians and philosophers.  Now, biologists are thinking they can give the definitive word.  Presumably, what applies to fruit flies applies to people as well.
  3. Genetic engineering: Age of the chimera – The BBC News reported that the British government has bowed to pressure from scientists and overturned prohibitions against human-animal hybrid experimentation.  An ethicist called this “appalling” and said, “This is a highly controversial and terrifying proposal, which has little justification in science and even less in ethics.  Endorsement by the UK government will elicit horror in Europe and right across the wider world.”
        Proponents advertised hoped-for cures for genetic diseases, and argued it was “an area where these [chimeras] could be used for scientific benefit.”  According to The Guardian (UK), a geneticist said “I’m delighted that common sense has prevailed,” calling the hybrids just “cells on a dish.”
  4. Education: Warning signs – The scientific press is sounding an alarm: a Darwin skeptic who was on the Kansas school board is now running unopposed for a post in Washington on the National Association of State Boards of Education.  Science Daily had only negative things to say about this development.  It “has many evolution advocates concerned,” and Ken Miller (Brown U) responded, “any situation that provides an opportunity for the opponents of science education to advance their agenda is a matter of concern.”
        This presupposes the Darwin supporters have no agenda.  It also asserts without proof that candidate Kenneth R. Willard opposes “science education” completely, and that only pro-evolutionists are in favor of science education.  If appointed, Kenneth R. Willard would not even start serving till January 2009.  He said in the Hutchinson News that evolution is not on the agenda of the NASBE, and he does not expect to bring it up.  Nevertheless, activists with Kansas Citizens for Science are urging a write-in campaign to oppose his election on the grounds he is “anti-education.”
  5. Education: Litmus Test – Astrobiologist Guillermo Gonzalez, co-author of The Privileged Planet, was denied tenure at Iowa State last week, not because he lacked publications (he exceeded the requirement by 350%), or because his scientific work was substandard (it was acclaimed by peers, see Evolution News), but because he is a “Darwin skeptic” who supports intelligent design.  The news about his tenure denial was widely reported: for more information, see Evolution News and its review of report in Nature on the case.
  6. History: Darwin letters opened – Want to read the innermost thoughts of Charles Darwin?  His letters have been posted on the web, announced the BBC News
  7. Ideology: Biopolitics – Can evolutionary theory bring an end to the clash of ideologies?  Apparently psychologist John Jost (New York U) thinks so.  He is persuading colleagues that human tendencies to embrace various ideologies can be analyzed with equations.  See story on EurekAlert.
  8. Propaganda: Anti-evolutionism as anti-science – An article in Science1 tried to analyze the “childhood origins of adult anti-science behavior.”  Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg considered creationism and resistance to evolutionary theory as examples of anti-scientific attitudes, and portrayed them as childish behaviors that were not properly overcome through education.  Surprisingly, they admitted that common sense contributes to resistance to evolution.
        They ended, “This is the current situation in the United States, with regard to the central tenets of neuroscience and evolutionary biology.  These concepts clash with intuitive beliefs about the immaterial nature of the soul and the purposeful design of humans and other animals, and (in the United States) these beliefs are particularly likely to be endorsed and transmitted by trusted religious and political authorities.”  The idea is that scientists and educators need to be aware of these “anti-science” tendencies in their efforts to teach science – a science that is congruent with materialistic neuroscience and evolution.
        At Access Research Network, David Tyler wrote a lengthy critique of this article from an intelligent design perspective.
  9. Emotions: Darwin book redux – Another paper in Science2 resembled Darwin’s Book The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals and even included the 1872 book as a reference.  In “Embodying Emotion,” Paula Niedenthal gave physicalistic interpretations of emotions in people and in animals.  Though she did not refer to evolutionary theory directly, her paper also lacked any reference to anything like a soul or spirit.  She said, “In particular, I discuss insights that have been stimulated by theories of embodied cognition and show how such theories account for the embodiment effects that you and Darwin might have been able to intuit.”
  10. Morals: Biological morality – Jonathan Haidt got a full-page press in Science3 for his ideas on moral evolution (see 05/17/2007).  “More research is needed on the collective and religious parts of the moral domain, such as loyalty, authority, and spiritual purity,” he said, but it is clear in his paper that he meant all these things have an evolutionary basis, and zero epistemic authority.
        For instance, he said, “From prokaryotes to eukaryotes, from single-celled organisms to plants and animals, and from individual animals to hives, colonies, and cooperative groups, the simple rules of Darwinian evolution never change, but the complex game of life changes when radically new kinds of players take the field.”  From here he launched into a discussion of the morality exhibited by ants.
        Later, he remarked, “because morality may be as much a product of cultural evolution as genetic evolution, it can change substantially in a generation or two.”  That’s a clear statement of moral relativism.  Throughout his paper, evolution was one of the most prominent and common words.
These sample articles make clear that evolution is a complete package.  From a big bang to the death of the universe, the evolutionary world view seeks to encompass every concept, even the immaterial ones like love, morality, and world views themselves.  When anyone tries to offer a different perspective that does not embrace evolution’s underlying materialism, the alarms are sounded.  Pro-evolutionists employ “scientific” morality, whatever it is, to label the challenge anti-science, anti-education, and just plain wrong.
1Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg, “Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg,” Science, 18 May 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5827, pp. 996-997, DOI: 10.1126/science.1133398.
2Paula M. Niedenthal, “Embodying Emotion,” Science, 18 May 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5827, pp. 1002-1005, DOI: 10.1126/science.1136930.
3Jonathan Haidt, “The New Synthesis in Moral Psychology,” Science, 18 May 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5827, pp. 998-1002, DOI: 10.1126/science.1137651.
And so, pray tell, how would they know it is wrong?  Right and wrong are judgments about truths that are immaterial.  If morals emerge from particles in motion, they are not morals at all: they are temporary, arbitrary trends of collectives of objects.  If you base an argument on something arbitrary, you can prove anything – including the idea that materialism is false.  Christian theists, by contrast, can prove something is right or wrong, because their presuppositions include the notion of eternal truths and laws of logic.
    Evolutionism is not a science.  It is a world view.  It is a silly world view that refutes itself, because it cannot generate intangibles like morals and truths by appeals to particles in motion.  Any one of the appeals to “science” that the evolutionist uses to defend its brand of morality, rationality or ideology is a two-edged sword.  Using the same arguments, a skilled debater can turn the tables and tie the Darwinist in intellectual knots.
For instance, moral relativism is a capitulation to the idea that anything goes.  But if anything goes, then calling anything immoral in any context is bad if the majority likes it – such as creationism.  Furthermore, attacking moral relativism itself can be good if the majority so desires – which refutes the idea that morals are relative.  Q.E.D.
You can’t get moral blood out of a materialist turnip.  The same goes for truths, laws of logic, and consciousness.
    Once you understand this, and watch how the radical Darwinists intrude into every area of scholarship, including fundamental issues far beyond biology, you see why the radical Darwinists are a threat: a threat to rationality, to morality, to education, and to civilization itself.  Their own words condemn them.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsEducationDarwinism
Think Fast: News Briefs   05/21/2007    
Of the many news items that cross the CEH desk, many are noteworthy but go unreported due to lack of time.  Here are a few that deserve honorable mention lest they pass into oblivion.
  1. Cosmology: Dark future – Several sources like Science Now and Space.com commented on the dark future of the universe if cosmic acceleration continues to tear the universe apart.  It’s not just a heat death any more.  Hundreds of billions of years from now, the story goes, galaxies will recede from our horizon, making us feel very alone before we freeze to death.  Christians might find it interesting to compare this eschatology with their own.
  2. Astronomy: Venerable star – Is this star really 13.2 billion years old?  That’s what scientists at ESA said (see also National Geographic).  They called a star in our Milky Way a “galactic fossil” and claim it was born not long after the big bang.  The fact that it contains heavy elements means that, according to theory, even earlier stars had to form first, live, die and explode to provide the ingredients.  The dating methods are indirect, naturally.  Stars don’t have birth certificates.  Nobody seemed to question the estimate.
  3. Cell biology: Tar babies – Imagine cells that can thrive in gooey asphalt.  That’s what biologists have found in the famed La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, reported EurekAlert.
  4. Zoology: Frog pharmacy – Why would God create highly poisonous frogs?  Maybe He didn’t.  An article on National Geographic says that the poison on frog skin, made of alkaloids, comes from mites they eat.  Certain species of frogs seem to have been able to tolerate the alkaloids and shuttle them onto their skin.  The mites pick up the alkaloids from leaf litter.  Some frogs end up tasting bitter, and some are highly poisonous.  The toxicity, therefore, may have been a consequence of a natural concentrating process that did not add any new information to the genome of the frogs or the mites.
        In a related story, National Geographic said that juices in frog skin might provide an ideal bug repellant.  The reporter wrote, “‘frog skin is really a portable pharmacy’ full of chemicals for keeping the amphibians healthy.”
  5. Planetary science:  Enceladus friction – a new theory for how Enceladus produces geysers was offered in Nature and echoed in EurekAlert, National Geographic and Space.com.  The idea is that tidal forces open and close the “tiger stripes” or cracks in the southern hemisphere, producing heat like rubbing your hands together.  This might permit a geysering mechanism without water (which, National Geographic lamented, might decrease the odds for life).  The paper did not address how long this mechanism could last, nor why the other nearby moons are not so affected.
  6. Genetics: Music of the proteins – Someone at UCLA decided to put proteins to music, reported EurekAlert.  The website allows visitors to download MP3 files and listen to them.  Amino acids were assigned chord values and the sequences were played in tune.  Listeners can judge whether this makes any scientific sense.
  7. Climate: Global historic warming – Evidence for a “megadrought” in the 12th century has been deduced from tree rings in the Colorado Plateau, reported EurekAlert.  The U of Arizona researcher was surprised by how deep and long it lasted.  He said it “could be an analogue for what we could expect in a warmer world.”  It is doubtful the American Indians were burning coal and gasoline at the time, so don’t blame them.  Incidentally, prolonged droughts have been suggested as reasons for the decline of the Anasazi.  Their cliffside remains scattered throughout the southwestern United States were left abandoned en masse.
  8. Marine biology: Cold treasure trove – Scientists were amazed to find a rich, diverse ecology under Antarctic ice.  The Live Science article was published widely.  Evolutionists thought that harsh environments would produce less biodiversity.  See also the National Geographic report with pictures.
  9. Marine biology:Demise greatly exaggerated – Another Coelacanth was pulled up in Indonesia, reported PhysOrg.  This classic living fossil species that was thought to have gone extinct in the time of the dinosaurs was found alive in 1938.  Since coelacanths live in deep, cold waters, they normally do not survive after capture for more than a couple of hours.  This one lived 17 hours.  Their bony fins, once thought to be evolving into limbs for land travel, are used for swimming: “The powerful predator is highly mobile with limb-like fins, and it gives birth to live young rather than laying eggs.”  The report in National Geographic has a photo of the fish and fisherman.
This shows just a little of the material that must be sifted to bring you Creation-Evolution Headlines daily.  For every article reported, typically several dozen others are examined.  Every once in awhile we need to “clear the desk” to prepare for new stories coming in.  We hope you appreciate this service; write here if you have a comment.
Next headline on:  CosmologyAstronomySolar SystemCell BiologyTerrestrial ZoologyMarine Biology
Genetics: Alternate Reading Frames May Be Common   05/20/2007    
Imagine a book written in a language where there were no spaces, and every word was three letters long.  Now imagine that you could get one story by starting at the first letter, and a different story by starting at the second letter, and another by starting at the third letter.  That’s the situation with some genes in the genetic code.  DNA can code for one protein in the first reading frame, but a different protein in an alternate reading frame.  Since the DNA language has three nucleotide “letters” per codon “word,” and since the opposite strand has three more reading frames, there are potentially six reading frames per gene.  How commonly are alternate reading frames used by an organism?
    A paper in PLoS Computational Biology hints that there may be widespread examples of alternate reading frames (ARFs) in mammalian genomes.  ARFs were thought to be rare in eukaryotes.  An international team, using new statistical techniques, found 40 cases in the human genome, but says that this may be a significant underestimate, since their analysis was very conservative.  Their author’s summary asks and answers why these alternate reading frames were not found before:
A textbook human gene encodes a protein using a single reading frame.  Alternative splicing brings some variation to that picture, but the notion of a single reading frame remains.  Although this is true for most of our genes, there are exceptions.  Like viral counterparts, some eukaryotic genes produce structurally unrelated proteins from overlapping reading frames.  The examples are spectacular (G-protein alpha subunit [Gnas1] or INK4a tumor suppressor), but scarce.  The scarcity is anthropogenic in origin: we simply do not believe that dual-coding genes can occur in eukaryotes.  To challenge this assumption, we performed the first genome-wide scan for mammalian genes containing alternative reading frames located out of frame relative to the annotated protein-coding region.  Using a newly developed statistical framework, we identified 40 such genes.  Because our approach is very conservative, this number is likely a significant underestimate, and future studies will identify more alternative reading frame-containing genes with fascinating biology.
    They said there was an almost zero probability these ARFs were due to chance: in fact, one section of the paper is subtitled, “Dual Coding Is Virtually Impossible by Chance.”  Finding so many ARFs was surprising, they said, because maintaining ARFs by natural selection is “costly” – i.e., mutations in one reading frame could disable the information in the alternate frame.
    Often, the proteins that result from alternate reading frames are related to the same function or process in the cell.  The researchers compared the well-known ARFs between humans, mice and some other mammals and found them to be highly conserved (i.e., unevolved).
1Chung, Wadhawan, Szklarczyk, Pond, and Nekrutenko, “A First Look at ARFome: Dual-Coding Genes in Mammalian Genomes,” Public Library of Science: Computational Biology May 18, 2007.
Try writing a message that could be read three different ways depending on which letter was the starting point.  It is extremely difficult.  If this turns out to be a common mechanism in genetics, it reveals an astonishing level of intelligent design.  How, and why, would a blind process do such a thing?  Notice how geneticists were not even looking for this amount of complexity because they did not believe it was possible.
    This technique of “data compression” could expand the functional information of the genome significantly.  ARF!  The hunt is on.  Sic the design community on this fascinating puzzle.  They won’t be tied up and muzzled from announcing the return of the Master to biology.
Next headline on:  GeneticsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
  Speaking of conserved genes, remember the mystery of the ultraconserved elements?  The 05/27/2004 entry describes thousands of “frozen” strands of DNA with no change between animals as distinct as birds and humans.  Furthermore, not all the ultraconserved elements were in gene-coding regions, and some are apparently not required for survival.  This announcement produced “gasps of amazement” among geneticists.

Science Is for the Birds   05/19/2007    
Birds, with all their variety and functionality, are a never-ending source of study for scientists.  Here are some recent feathery findings:

  1. Memory masters:  Scrub jays are like us: they can plan ahead, regardless of mood.  Current Biology did a study that proved these common western birds can cache tomorrow’s breakfast regardless of their motivational state.  The authors said, “The fact that the birds act in favor of a future need as opposed to the current one challenges the hypothesis that this ability is unique to humans.”
  2. Lab masters:  A Nevada scientist wrote Science about his backyard experience watching his labrador retriever trying to match wits with a crow.  When the dog would get too close to the crow’s cache, the bird would grab it and move it to a new location.  Watching this “regular ritual of food hiding and searching,” he quipped, “The crow relied on his memory of his stashed food to beat the dog to the prize nearly every time.”
  3. Whoops, no sexual selection here:  A “textbook example of sexual selection” has been called into doubt.  Current Biology reported that the longer tails of male barn swallows are not just for attracting mates.  They apparently are “due to naturally selected variation in the aerodynamic optimum for each individual” – in other words, they have a function for the male’s flying behavior.  See also the original paper.
  4. Whoops, co-evolution in trouble:  Elisabeth Pennisi in Science described a situation in which co-evolution has apparently stalled out, and is not a simple arms-race kind of story.  Clark’s nutcrackers and the pine cones they feed on are in a more complex situation when the squirrel factor is considered.  “Ecologists have found that, in organisms from birds to bacteria, coevolution is not a sure thing,” she said, describing “nagging inconsistencies” in the observations.
  5. Rabbit terrorNational Geographic had a one-page description of South America’s “terror birds,” known only from fossils.  These 7-foot monsters with scary-looking beaks “could have outrun an Olympic sprinter,” the article by Peter Gwin says.  They were likely driven to extinction when a land bridge from North America allowed big cats, dogs and bears to enter their territory  Despite the artist’s illustration of the big bird closing in on a terrified man, Gwin said they likely chased down rabbits (not humans) for food.
In Current Biology, Nicola Clayton described how fascination with birds led to his career in determining the intelligence behind their songs: “I have always been fascinated by birds, especially by how their minds work and why they engage in such amazing behavioural displays.  Watching birds triggers my two passions: science and dance!” 
What does a 7-foot, 250-pound terror bird say?  (Deep voice) “Polly want a rabbit, NOW!  Humans call them “terror” birds, but who knows; maybe they were as silly as turkeys.  It’s hard to infer behavior from bones.  There are living birds dangerous to man, though; the cassowary can run fast and deliver a disembowelling kick to a human unlucky enough to intrude on its territory.  Thank goodness most birds are cute little things without Alfred Hitchcock conspiracies lurking in their highly intelligent brains.
    Watch the classic nature film Winged Migration to get your passions triggered about birds.  Our feathered friends are an endless source of fascination with their amazing abilities to fly, swim, run, sing, dance, and communicate with a high degree of intelligence.  Think of the tremendous variety between a terror bird and a hummingbird: visualize penguins (09/10/2004), condors, swans, egrets, kiwis, pigeons, toucans, woodpeckers, spoonbills, doves (09/09/2004), albatross, chickadees, birds of paradise, flamingos, ostriches (08/17/2004), swifts (04/29/2007), cormorants (05/24/2004), parrots, majestic eagles, owls, and many more.  Birds have mastered and adorned the sea, the land and the skies.
    Think how many birds add music to the world.  How does a little lightweight critter project its voice over the range of half a mile?  Sing “Listen to the mockingbird” and then do it.  Think; what amazing intelligence lies behind this ability to sing a rapid-fire repertoire of dozens of unique, complex melodies for hours?  Evolutionists are up a tree even with their textbook cases.  Each month it seems they have to scuttle a previous story.  Do a good deed; teach your parrot to say “Charlie was a slacker; birds believe in God.”
Next headline on:  BirdsEvolutionAmazing Facts
Batting for Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week   05/18/2007    
National Geographic reported that bats are master flyers, whose aerodynamic skills outperform birds.1  They also have an exquisitely refined sonar sense that allows them to discern detail as fine as a fish fin sticking out of the water.  Coupled with aerobatics and see-in-the-dark sonar, a bat can swoop down and catch the fish right out of the water.
    There is a feature story in the June National Geographic Magazine on the bats of Panama.  It shows photographs of bats that can fish, catch insects, and feed on fruit.  The first fossil bat was already capable of powered flight (04/20/2006, bullet 2).  There is no evidence, fossil or genetic, for how they arose from a non-flying mammal (01/28/2005).  This did not stop Jennifer Holland from inventing an evolutionary story out of thin air:
Sixty million years ago, on a planet crawling with mammals, one tree dweller rose above the crowd on paper thin wings.  So goes the story of ancestral bats, which, equipped with flight and a sixth sense called echolocation, mastered the night sky and flourished.
(NG June 2007, p. 142).  Holland did not mention who the ancestral bats were, or what evidence she had for their existence.  Her tale sounds like an instantaneous evolution of multiple, complete, complex, interacting systems.  It also avoids explaining how this “one tree dweller,” so well-equipped with new equipment, could have mated and produced fertile offspring.
1See technical paper about bat aerodynamics in Science, May 11, 2007.
Some day we are going to have a good laugh at the Darwinians.  We’re going to collect these kinds of statements and put them with cartoons.  Maybe we could call it the Real Darwin Awards.  Now, if they would just eliminate themselves from the gene pool...
Next headline on:  MammalsDarwinismDumb Ideas
Can Morality Be Evolutionized?   05/17/2007    
A psychologist at the University of Virginia is probing the evolutionary origins of morality:
[Jonathan] Haidt shows how evolutionary, neurological and social-psychological insights are being synthesized in support of three principles: 1) Intuitive primacy, which says that human emotions and gut feelings generally drive our moral judgments; 2) Moral thinking if [sic] for social doing, which says that we engage in moral reasoning not to figure out the truth, but to persuade other people of our virtue or to influence them to support us; and 3) Morality binds and builds, which says that morality and gossip were crucial for the evolution of human ultrasociality, which allows humans – but no other primates – to live in large and highly cooperative groups.
    “Putting these three principles together forces us to re-evaluate many of our most cherished notions about ourselves,” says Haidt....
    Haidt argues that human morality is a cultural construction built on top of – and constrained by – a small set of evolved psychological systems....
    “We all start off with the same evolved moral capacities,” says Haidt, “but then we each learn only a subset of the available human virtues and values.  We often end up demonizing people with different political ideologies because of our inability to appreciate the moral motives operating on the other side of a conflict.  We are surrounded by moral conflicts, on the personal level, the national level and the international level.  The recent scientific advances in moral psychology can help explain why these conflicts are so passionate and so intractable.  An understanding of moral psychology can also point to some new ways to bridge these divides, to appeal to hearts and minds on both sides of a conflict.”
Moral psychology is thus squarely built on the notion that morality itself is a product of evolution – not a reflection of universal truths or ideals of right vs. wrong.  The article says Haidt’s ideas represent “a new consensus scientists are reaching on the origins and mechanisms of morality.”
    Apparently some even think one’s world view is an evolutionary artifact.  In a related story posted by EurekAlert, psychologists at New York University are probing the evolutionary origins of ideology.
If you are a veteran reader of these pages, it’s time for a pop quiz.  The commentaries here should not be doing all the work for you.  Each of you needs to think through these ideas and make sound reasoning part of your skill set in life.  So before we post a response to the article, please go read it, and list on a sheet of paper your own reasons why the ideas expressed are stupid, wicked, or both.  The quiz is open book and open notes.  You can refer to previous commentaries and our Baloney Detector for help.  Come back later for our reactions, or send your responses here.
Next headline on:  EvolutionPolitics and EthicsDumb Ideas
Take a Walk in the Biodiversity Park   05/16/2007    
A walk in the park is good for your spirit.  That much we already knew.  Researchers at the University of Sheffield now claim, though, that the more biodiversity in the park, the better: “Dr Richard Fuller and colleagues from the University’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, and De Montfort University in Leicester, have been able to show that biologically complex surroundings appear to enhance a person’s well-being more than those spaces less rich in species.”
Urban planners and city citizens should place value on preserving open space near town, accessible to people.  The most biodiverse parks of all are the natural ones.  An urban park with all oaks and grass is better than nothing, but how about trying one with dozens of species of trees and herbaceous plants and a variety of birds and wild animals?  (picture 1, picture 2 picture 3)  See what effect it has on your sense of well-being.  Think of it as a science project.
Next headline on:  Health
OOL Study Substitutes Computer for Chemistry   05/15/2007    
Upon reading a recent origin-of-life paper in PNAS,1 you might think the authors ran experiments with real chemicals and real deep-sea rocks.  A more careful look, however, reveals that their model only worked in cyberspace.  This raises interesting questions about the ability of simulations to substitute for empirical evidence.
    Their claims were dramatic – accumulation of the building blocks of life by factors of 100 million and more.  The paper makes optimistic, if not enthusiastic, claims that “nucleotides” and other important biochemicals can be highly concentrated in micropores in deep-sea geological formations: “We find that interlinked mineral pores in a thermal gradient provide a compelling high-concentration starting point for the molecular evolution of life.”  This, they advertised, can overcome the “concentration problem” that has plagued other models: how does one get a significant number of prebiotic chemicals close enough together to interact?
    From the first-sentence reference to Miller and Urey, who used real lab apparatus and real chemicals, the paper appeared to follow the experimental tradition.  It focused on the problem of concentrating chemicals in a plausible environment.  By positing convection currents inside microscopic pores of rocks around deep-sea vents, the model overcame – by at least two orders of magnitude – a minimum set by the Second Law of Thermodynamics on how many molecules are needed for interaction to be considered probable.
    True, the authors used the word “simulated” in the title and 14 times in the paper.  Their references to nucleotides and other “real” chemicals were qualified with indirect references.  Nevertheless, until the “Materials and Methods” section at the end of the paper, it seemed they were talking about real chemicals and physical pores in real rocks.  One of the figures showed photographs from real hydrothermal vents.  They mentioned nucleotides 37 times – including the title.  The body of the paper was filled with references to temperatures, pressures, volumes, and concentrations that looked real.  Actually, the entire model was done within two software programs, Comsol and Femlab.  The nucleotides, pores, and thermometers were virtual, not physical.
    They tried to plug in real-world values into the programs and use realistic boundary conditions.  They input known properties of real molecules.  Putative pore sizes were based on photographs of real hydrothermal vents.  The bottom line, though, is that none of the concentration results were observed or measured in the wild.2  The model revolved around simplified geometries of pores as programmed into a computer – and that, of pores in only two dimensions.
    Here was their concluding paragraph.  Note the lack of reference to a computer simulation.  Is it real, or is it memo tricks?
In conclusion, we propose a type of mechanism, driven solely by a temperature gradient, which strongly accumulates even small protobiological molecules in semiclosed hydrothermal pore systems.  This setting provides a compelling, dissipative microenvironment to promote the first steps in the molecular evolution of life.
The line between real and virtual was blurred in another passing thought near the end of the paper:
Equally, freshly precipitated mesoscopic mineral grains are subjected to thermal cycling by the convection.  Their catalytic surfaces might generate nucleic acid multimers by thermally triggered periodic condensation and unbinding reactions.  In this context, we note that, in a comparable thermal convection setting, DNA was shown to replicate exponentially by using the, albeit protein-catalyzed, PCR.
Critics of origin-of-life studies might be stunned at this line.  PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, is an intelligently-guided reaction, performed by machines in laboratories by scientists with PhDs.  PCR depends on protein catalysts – highly complex molecules from living systems, whose specificity enables them to react with DNA.  By associating a guided process that uses complex biological parts with a theoretical process that is unguided and uses simple abiological parts, can the one be properly compared to the other without assuming what needs to be proved – the origin of complex biological processes?
    This paper was presented as part of a colloquium by the National Academy of Sciences last December on “In the Light of Evolution I: Adaptation and Complex Design” (see 05/10/2007 entry), published May 9 on the Proceedings website.
1Baaske, Weinert, Duhr, Lemke, Russell and Braun, “Extreme accumulation of nucleotides in simulated hydrothermal pore systems,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0609592104, published online before print May 9, 2007.
2In addition, they did not test complications, such as whether pores might become clogged with tar and sediments – they just speculated and dismissed the possibilities, viz: “One may ask whether the strong accumulation of solvated organic molecules would lead to the tarring of the pore.  This is not expected because thermophoretic coefficients become small for concentrations in the molar range.”
Models are OK, and have a long history in science, but the bluffing-to-proof ratio in this paper was beyond the pale.  These authors might be able to defend it by claiming they “said” it was just a simulation in a computer, but nobody scanning the contents would think so.  Few readers are going to look at the Materials and Methods section (usually boring, unless you’re trying to replicate the results).  This paper gave every appearance of being an empirical, laboratory experiment in the real world.  It was all done with software smoke and model mirrors.
    As we saw 12/03/2004, one of the conspirators (Russell) is a master bluffer.  He has a propensity to gloss over major problems and swap out experimental facts for cartoon pictures on a screen.  In his 2004 lecture, he made everything look so simple, so problem-free, life should just pop out of the pore.  If life by the yard is hard, and life by the inch is a cinch, wouldn’t life by the micron be right on?  It’s a foregone conclusion.  The hard part over, little Poregum would just gloriously evolve into us.  Some unbiased, objective scientist he is.  He should read Shapiro’s devastating critique (02/15/2007) of such notions.
    Observational facts have a way of tarring up computer models.  Let us ask a simple question: where are these nucleotides supposed to get their ribose?  Doesn’t Russell and gang know that deep-sea vents are the last place one would expect to find ribose?  It is so difficult to imagine it forming by chance, in fact, that Steven Benner (11/05/2004) had to envision it forming in a desert in the presence of borate.  (Not Borat, mind you – no humans allowed, no matter how perverse.  It’s borate.)  Now, since Benner’s surface model falsifies Russell’s deep-sea model, and vice versa (Russell thinks the surface environment is “disastrous” for life), this one little “problem” we raised is enough to gum up the software and send their little computer instantly into BSOD (blue screen of death, pun intended).  We would continue with more real-world pressure, but as Windows users know, one BSOD is enough to ruin your whole day.
Next headline on:  Origin of LifePhysicsGeology
When Is a Primate a Human Ancestor?   05/14/2007    
Behold Aegyptopithecus zeuxis, an extinct fossil monkey.  It had a brain smaller than a lemon, smaller than that of modern lemurs.  Why, then, are the news media touting this as a human ancestor?
    The new specimen of Aegyptopithecus is more intact and complete than previous specimens.  Two surprises were noted; the amount of sexual dimorphism (differences between male and female) was more than expected, and the brain size was smaller than expected.
    This specimen, in fact, seems more un-human than before.  Despite the surprises, several news reports about this fossil are noteworthy for their degree of certainty that this particular ape belongs in the human family tree.  The surprises have not cast any doubt on the human-ancestry interpretation.
    The headline on EurekAlert was perhaps the mildest, focusing at least some attention on the problems: “Brain, size and gender surprises in latest fossil tying humans, apes and monkeys.”  National Geographic was brash: “Human Ancestor had Lime-Size Brain.”  Ditto for Live Science: “Human Ancestor Had a Pea Brain.
    In these articles, one can look in vain for doubt that we descended from these extinct lemurs.  Jeanna Brynner wrote flatly in Live Science, “The skull belonged to a common ancestor of humans, monkeys and apes.”  National Geographic’s scrambled lineage confuses who begat whom: “apes, humans, and monkeys.”
    How could the discovery of such a tiny brain be used as support for an evolutionary link to humans?  National Geographic explained, “The skull—of a species related to apes, humans, and monkeys—is evidence that the more advanced and bigger brains of African primates developed later than previously believed, researchers said.”
You see how they do it, don’t you?  Evolution is never subject to any doubt.  Evolution is a fact.  This IS a human ancestor, got that?  Don’t even THINK of anything else.  Now that you are sufficiently brainwashed to follow the tale, uncooperative evidence can be molded to fit.  They just rearrange the plot a little: large brain size evolved a little later in the sequence that led to us.  Never would it enter their pointy-headed pea-brains that this extinct monkey, designated Human Ancestor by the Darwin Party, might be irrelevant to the family line of Beethoven and Einstein.
    True to form, the news lemmings followed the script precisely (10/11/2006 commentary): (1) assume evolution, (2) observe a fact, (3) make up a story to fit the fact into the assumption.  The Darwin Party is so skilled at this fability (01/16/2007 commentary), we need to coin another new word, fogma, to describe it.  Fogma is dogma so thick you can’t see through it unless you’re outside it.  Once surrounded by fogma, it begins to represent all of reality—a shifting, shapeless mass of evolutionary change.  The only thing providing a sense of stability in all the fability is the voice of the Darwin Party announcer speaking through the fogma and interpreting the ever-shifting view.  (It is not politically correct to ask the announcer how he knows this.)
    The Charlie and Tinker Bell Theater uses state-of-the-art fogma machines with Charlie’s secret recipe.  It produces the perfect colloid of mythoids (05/29/2003 commentary).  The stage hands aim the fogma so that it reveals only the things they want the audience to see – the props that fit the script at the right time – and conceals everything else.  Surprises are inserted occasionally to keep the audience awake.  After all, every good work of fiction needs a crisis.  But not to worry; the entire production crew knows how to bring the plot to a proper denouement.
    This works well indoors under controlled conditions.  Take the fogma out into the real world, though, and the sunlight of evidence quickly dissipates it.  The design of the world then stands out in clear relief.
Next headline on:  Early ManFossilsDumb Ideas
  Amazing stasis: army ants haven’t changed for 100 million years, from 05/06/2003, and ginkgo trees haven’t changed for 200 million, from 05/30/2003.  Any questions?
Let’s toss in salamanders (160 million) while we’re at it: 03/27/2003; oh; and don’t forget the horseshoe crab at a mere 500 million: 06/21/2002.

Seeds Muscle Their Way into the Soil   05/11/2007    
A biological motor has been found, of all places, on the seeds of wild wheat.  A team of German and Israeli scientists watched wheat seeds and found they could dig themselves into the ground.  How can a dry seed, with no muscles, nerves or circulatory system, accomplish such a feat?  It all becomes clear when you look under the awning.
    You’ve probably seen the long strands attached to the seeds of grasses like wheat and oats.  These are called awns.  They’re not just decorative; they are actively involved in seed dispersal.  Once the seed drops to the ground, with awns still attached, a remarkable mechanism goes into action.  As the humidity rises and falls throughout the day and night, the awns respond by bending or twisting.
    How does the bending take place?  At first, it seemed surprising anything would happen, because the tissues in cross section look uniform under an electron microscope.  The authors, though, found a remarkable feature: a “huge acoustic impedance contrast” in cross section that affects the stiffness of the awn shaft from one side to the other.  In cross section, the shaft resembles the shape of a mushroom with a cap.  The cap portion had twice the Young’s modulus as the stem – a stiffness the equivalent of spruce wood.  As humidity changes, the differential stiffness causes the entire awn to bend.  By analogy, consider how a bimetal strip, like the coil in a thermostat, bends and straightens in response to temperature.  Not only that, “silica tiles stiffen the epidermis and protect the structure as it interacts with the soil.”
    So let’s follow the action in the wild.  The seed, awns and all, falls to the ground.  In real time, it might look like nothing is happening.  The seed, after all, is dead; its tissues are removed from any source of nourishment or internal energy.  A time lapse movie, however, shows the seed appearing to spring back to life.  This time, it’s a robotic life exacting its energy from the air.  The alternate bending and unbending of the awns gives a kind of “muscle” to the seed, propelling it along the ground – and even into the soil!
    This mechanism for seed dispersal has been known for some time.  What’s new is that the scientists found tiny silicified hairs on the outside of the awns that act like a ratchet – they force the motion to go one way.  As a result, when oriented horizontally, the seed will swim like a frog along the ground.  (They actually said this: “The movement is reversible; thus, the humidity cycle causes a periodic movement of the awns, which resembles the swimming stroke of frog legs.”)  When oriented vertically, the seed acts like a power shovel.  The awns open and close like the handles of a post hole digger.  Meanwhile, those silicified hairs latch onto the soil particles, only allowing the seed to go down, not up.  Thus, the seed works its way deeper and deeper into the soil – safely out of the reach of predators, fire and drought.  “This suggests that the dead tissue is analogous to a motor,” they said.  “Fueled by the daily humidity cycle, the awns induce the motility required for seed dispersal.
    This mechanism is optimized, they said, for the soil environment of the Fertile Crescent, where civilization first began to farm wheat thousands of years ago.  In some kinds of domesticated wheat, the awns are no longer active.  The authors speculated that the length of time since domestication has reduced the function of the awns without removing them entirely.  Because humans now provide the muscle to plow the seeds into the soil, the awns have atrophied.  Apparently “use it or lose it” applies to seed muscle as well as the animal kind.
    In their summary, the authors suggested that humans might gain additional nourishment from wheat – food for thought, that is.  The passive-muscle mechanism in wheat seeds might inspire, among other things, new ways to move weed killers where needed:

The understanding of this seed dispersal mechanism may help in developing new concepts in weed control.  The microscopic mechanism found to provide motility to the seed may also serve as a model in biomimetic materials research.  Indeed, a hydration-dependent bending movement was recently reported in an artificial system consisting of nano-silicon columns embedded in a hydrogel film.  From a mechanistic point of view, we have discovered a device for movement that is composed of passive elements.  Locomotion is provided by a volume containing nonoriented cellulose crystallites that shortens on drying and pulls the awn like a muscle.  The energy source for this active movement is the daily cycle of air humidity.
Maybe someday artificial muscles in robotic devices will work without batteries, extracting the energy they need from the environment – all inspired by the slender filaments on the grass at your feet.
1Elbaum, Zaltzman, Burgert and Fratzl, “The Role of Wheat Awns in the Seed Dispersal Unit,” Science, 11 May 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5826, pp. 884-886, DOI: 10.1126/science.1140097.
A passive muscle driven by moisture in the air—amazing.  Could a lowly grass figure out that it needed both a tissue differential with the right acoustic impedance to produce bending at the correct Young’s modulus, at the same time that it needed silicified hairs to act as a ratchet?  Without both, this “frog” would swim in place and get nowhere.  And what contractor laid the silica tiles?  Silicon is not a normal part of plant tissue; it had to be guided into place by epidermal cells while the seed was growing.  The fibrils in the awns, also, need to be arranged exactly right to produce the differential impedance.  The arrangement of all the parts needs to be complete before the mechanism will work.  Think of that – then think about the additional wonder that there are more motors, ratchets and machines at work, on a much smaller scale, inside every cell of the plant.
    It was nice of the authors to spare us any evolutionary just-so stories about how this all came together by chance.  Their only use of the E word was in reference to human history: “The short evolutionary time since domestication (about 10,000 years), probably allowed the complete loss of awns in several domesticated wheat lines, but not the alteration of the awn structure.”  If so, this is a case of devolution, not evolution.  They actually used the word design twice.*  Anyone believing evolution could design this mechanism needs to eat more whole wheat to provide better nourishment to the brain.
    The authors provided a couple of short time-lapse video clips to illustrate the bending action, but the best way to see this is to get a copy of the wonderful Moody Video production called Journey of Life.  The filmmakers made an eye-popping time-lapse sequence of wild oat seeds, which propel themselves by a similar mechanism, but with twisting action instead of bending.  You would swear you were looking at insects crawling along the ground instead of plant seeds.  This and many other ingenious seed-dispersal mechanisms are wonderfully illustrated in this film (also recapped in Part 1 of the trilogy Wonders of God’s Creation).**
    Plants may seem passive, anchored to the ground.  In their own ways, though, they get around like world travelers: crawling, climbing, boating, ballooning, launching, helicoptering, hitchhiking and hunting (e.g., Venus flytrap), surprising us each time with their built-in ingenuity.
*Anecdote:  One of the authors of the paper works for the Biotechnology Department of the Tel Hai Academic College in Upper Galilee, Israel.  This is in the vicinity where a certain Teacher told some parables about wheat and sowing (e.g., Matthew 13).  He also said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24).  He was speaking in reference to the results His impending death would accomplish.

**Project:  This article and the Moody films suggest a science project for your junior-high or high-school student.  Many video camcorders have a time-lapse function (sometimes called interval timer).  If you already own one, you have the most expensive part of a good science project.  Look for backyard weeds and grasses with awns or other external structures; for instance, the seeds of filaree (Erodium cicurarium) work like little power drills.  Suggest a hypothesis for how the shape of the seed contributes to its dispersal.  Build a terrarium where you can control the cycles of temperature and humidity using electrical timers, and use the camcorder interval timer to record the action.  Show your video clips with your display at the science fair.  This seems like a sure way to attract the attention of the judges – and the envy of the other students.  Better still, a demonstration of biological design might kindle some thoughts about a Designer.
Next headline on:  PlantsBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  Design without a Designer   05/10/2007    
Apparently Francisco Ayala (UC Irvine) thinks that just stating something dogmatically is enough to end all discussion.  The scope of his paper in PNAS is grandiose and sweeping, enough to keep philosophers and theologians from around the world busy for years, but Ayala just put out his opinions without any hint of dispute, and stamped it with the seal of the National Academy of Sciences.  Here is the abstract from his paper, “Darwin’s greatest discovery: Design without a designer” –
Darwin’s greatest contribution to science is that he completed the Copernican Revolution by drawing out for biology the notion of nature as a system of matter in motion governed by natural laws.  With Darwin’s discovery of natural selection, the origin and adaptations of organisms were brought into the realm of science.  The adaptive features of organisms could now be explained, like the phenomena of the inanimate world, as the result of natural processes, without recourse to an Intelligent Designer.  The Copernican and the Darwinian Revolutions may be seen as the two stages of the one Scientific Revolution.  They jointly ushered in the beginning of science in the modern sense of the word: explanation through natural laws.  Darwin’s theory of natural selection accounts for the “design” of organisms, and for their wondrous diversity, as the result of natural processes, the gradual accumulation of spontaneously arisen variations (mutations) sorted out by natural selection.  Which characteristics will be selected depends on which variations happen to be present at a given time in a given place.  This in turn depends on the random process of mutation as well as on the previous history of the organisms.  Mutation and selection have jointly driven the marvelous process that, starting from microscopic organisms, has yielded orchids, birds, and humans.  The theory of evolution conveys chance and necessity, randomness and determinism, jointly enmeshed in the stuff of life.  This was Darwin’s fundamental discovery, that there is a process that is creative, although not conscious.
There is hardly a line in this paragraph that is not disputed by some of the greatest minds of this and past ages, yet Ayala stated it all as a fact of science and a “discovery” of Charles Darwin.
    The paper mostly summarized the history of mechanistic science and construed the Darwinian Revolution as supplanting natural theology.  Ignoring the Cambrian explosion, he judiciously began his tale of gradualism after the sudden appearance of all the animal phyla: “Several hundred million generations separate modern animals from the early animals of the Cambrian geological period (542 million years ago).... we can readily understand that the accumulation of millions of small, functionally advantageous changes could yield remarkably complex and adaptive organs, such as the eye,” he said.
    He also attributed mental and moral qualities – aesthetics, rationality and even free will – to matter in motion: “organisms that populate the Earth, including humans who think and love, endowed with free will and creative powers, and able to analyze the process of evolution itself that brought them into existence,” he said, not blinking a philosophical eye.  ”This is Darwin’s fundamental discovery, that there is a process that is creative although not conscious.”  He did not ask whether a product of unconsciousness could determine the presence or absence of consciousness in another, nor how a product of irrational forces could rationally defend the truth of such a claim.  Apparently this was all intuitively obvious and needed no defense:
And this is the conceptual revolution that Darwin completed: the idea that the design of living organisms can be accounted for as the result of natural processes governed by natural laws.  This is nothing if not a fundamental vision that has forever changed how mankind perceives itself and its place in the universe.
Ayala’s paper was one of a dozen from a colloquium held by the Academy last December in Irvine, California, on the subject, “In the Light of Evolution I: Adaptation and Complex Design.”  The papers just became available today (May 10) on the PNAS website.  Of course, no one from an Intelligent Design movement was allowed to publish a contrary view or rebuttal.
1Francisco J. Ayala, “Darwin’s greatest discovery: Design without designer,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10.1073/pnas.0701072104, published online before print May 9, 2007.
They just aren’t learning, are they?  How these people, with Eugenie Scott and Nicholas Matzke and all the other Darwin Party hacks present, can continue to spew out their unchanged rhetoric after years of debates, books, documentaries, conversions and international movements is a measure of their incorrigibility.  It would be honorable if they acknowledged the criticisms and strove to address them in a scholarly way.  Then, at least, we could have a discussion about the evidence.  But they don’t even admit the existence of challenges to their views.  When they stoop briefly to admit the existence of critics, they just sweep them away with the same old talking points devised in the 19th century.  It’s always one-way communication.  They act like wooden dolls with fake ears and prerecorded voices, complete with halitosis.
    Where have they been?  This is the Information Age, the age of molecular machines and biomimetics and rational design.  The Science Wars and the collapse of logical positivism have shown one cannot assume a fact/value distinction, a science/religion dichotomy, a demarcation criterion for science, or an objective/subjective posture.  Presuppositions matter.  It’s not the early 19th century any more.  We have paradigms, webs of belief, social and historical influences on science, redefinitions of scientific explanation, deep debates about empiricism vs rationalism, no consensus on what constitutes scientific explanation, and a host of other worries that do not allow one to merely assume science is progressive and true to reality.  Even then, Ayala cannot just assume that Darwinism is better aligned with science (whatever it is) than are other world views.  Darwinian claims go far, far beyond anything that can be subjected to scientific investigation.  Claims this broad need warrant, not assumption.
    None of the worn-out Darwinist propaganda could stand up to a minute’s worth of hard questioning by an undergrad in philosophy of science or intellectual history.  His Copernicanism is all wrong, his history of science could be shredded by even secular historians of science, and his terminology begs numerous questions about what is science, what is design, what is natural law, and whether chance and necessity can produce rationality.  No problem, thinks Ayala.  I’ll just speak the talking points and let them come true.  I’ll use my rationality to disprove rationality.  Well, he succeeded on that last point – but only within the boundaries of his own skull.
    So.  If they aren’t going to listen, we shouldn’t listen to them (as if we hadn’t heard their reruns long enough to have them memorized).  Tune out of the flat black-and-white Darwin Party propaganda machine, and tune in to the 3-D, stereo, fresh, live broadcasts of the information age.
    The only value of this paper is a lesson in hindsight.  Modern students should study this to learn what the Old Guard of the Darwin Party was saying right before their regime collapsed.  It would be like reading Mein Kampf or studying the Sayings of Mao in a 20th century history class – weird, but thank God nobody still believes that.
Exercise:  Find all the errors of fact and propaganda techniques Ayala used in the abstract quoted above.  For an advanced exercise, read his entire paper and search for any actual scientific evidence he used to prove that chance and necessity could produce orchids, birds and humans (remember, microevolution cannot be extrapolated recklessly, and he cannot assume what he needs to prove).  Among his historical and scientific references, see if there are observations that are actually relevant to this grandiose claim (e.g., bacterial resistance is limited to bacteria – it does not follow that humans evolved from bacteria).  A successful graduate should also be able to describe some of the havoc these ideas have wrought on civilization.
Next headline on:  DarwinismIntelligent DesignDumb Ideas
Nature Displays Leftist Ideology   05/09/2007    
For a British scientific journal ostensibly devoted to nature (think: horses, trees, cells, atoms, stars), Nature gets downright political sometimes.  Usually, a liberal position is presented without rebuttal or balance – often intruding into American politics.  Some recent examples:
  1. Military defense:  In the May 3 issue, a Nature editorial attacked the American missile defense system, calling it “hard to defend.”  The editorial flouts, “the system is sham, as well as a menace to foreign relations” and “no more money should be wasted on it.”  It criticizes the money the Bush administration has expended “in pursuit of this myopic vision.”  King George III must be shouting “Hear, hear!” from the grave.
  2. Global warming:  Also in the May 3 issue, Nature praised a rock group for preaching the global warming message.  “Rock ‘n’ roll and the movies join the fight against climate change,” it trumpeted, with ultra-liberal Hollywood activist Rob Reiner prominently displayed in a photo.  Al Gore was also rockin’ with the editors in this piece.
  3. Stem cells:  Justin Burley got free rein to preach against the conservatism and religion in some book reviews about embryonic stem cell research.  He let the sinners have it right between the eyes:
    The principal themes that surface in these three books are now familiar.  First, there has been a mischievous use of facts by opponents of embryonic stem-cell research.  The wilful misunderstanding of important differences between adult and embryonic stem cells has skewed the moral debate and stalled progress.  Second, researchers using adult and embryonic stem cells face major technical challenges, some of which may be insurmountable, and it remains doubtful whether either stem-cell type will be the medical panacea that some have proposed.  Third, scientists operate in a fiercely competitive environment – reputations stand or fall on the basis of publications and the grant money required to get them.  Against this background, it is unsurprising that frauds have been committed and that sloppy science has seeped into some top-tier journals.  Finally, it is a fact that every day, people around the world become ill, suffer and die.  Despite this, many misguided citizens seek to use governments to impose on others their own particular metaphysical conceptions of the sacredness of human life.  No essentially religious view should dominate policy in a modern democratic society.
    Yet if the promise is doubtful (10/31/2006), and if the research tempts fraud because of motivations for money and fame, is there not a place for disputing its morality by a public that is being asked to pay for it? (see 12/16/2006 entry).  In Burley’s view, only those on the liberal pro-ES stem-cell side can claim morality: “Herold does a fine job of bringing to the fore the way that religiosity continues to polarize the nation with respect to all matters concerning the moral status of early human life.”
In Nature, the blame is always on the religious – whoever they are.  Only they have an agenda.  Only they polarize the culture.  The assumption is that scientists are neutral and unbiased on these and all other moral questions (but see 09/10/2006).
    It needs no documentation to point out that Nature is 100% pro-Darwinian evolution and never gives anything but contempt to intelligent design (e.g., 07/06/2006).
What’s Nature doing inserting itself into American politics and values?  We occasionally have to demonstrate the liberal-leftist bias in Big Science and academia lest any think the evolution wars are strictly intellectual disputes over science vs. religion (see also 08/16/2006).  Just like their founding fathers (03/04/2004 commentary and 07/20/2005 commentary), the editors of Nature are shamelessly partisan.  In the editors’ eyes, a conservative president can do no virtue, and a liberal politician can do no vice.  We could count on the fingers of one horse the number of times Nature has given fair treatment to a conservative point of view.  We’ve demonstrated often that the pro-Darwin, pro-leftist, anti-God ideologies go hand in hand (e.g., 09/02/2004).
    This is not meant as any disparagement on the contributing scientists who submit their papers to Nature honestly, many of whom are just doing their job and presenting their findings as fairly and accurately as possible.  But controlling the editorial page and the book reviews and the news articles is one way the lefties at Nature maintain the false impression that science is on their side.  Notice how brazen they have been of late.
    If you are still under the impression that Nature Inc. is a fair, balanced, unbiased, unprejudiced, impartial, objective, neutral group of professional smart people only concerned with presenting facts to a candid world, get over it.  Big Science as illustrated by Nature and Science (08/05/2004) is like Big Labor, Big Education and other PACs.  Despite the views of their rank-and-file membership, the leaders are typically far-leftist ideologues, devoted to pushing their views and marginalizing anyone who disagrees.
Now, it is fine to have opinions and exercise freedom to express them.  But Nature and its comrades present themselves as scientific publications.  They play off the public perception of science as this idealized paragon of objectivity.  Maybe objectivity existed in Bacon’s vision, but in real life, it hasn’t lived up to that ideal, especially since Darwin.  In real lab science, the only way to prevent runaway bias is to have competition – another scientist eager to disprove your theory.  Why, then, is there no competition of ideas in these journals when it comes to politics and ethics?
    It’s odd that materialism is dominant in the editorial pages, when we argue in our online book that one cannot even do science without believing in absolutes.  One must believe in truth and honesty.  Try evolving those from hydrogen.  For the British elitists at the Royal Society and Nature to moralize about the rest of us, when they believe our minds are products of undirected material causes, is a royal non-sequitur (see 09/22/2004).
There are many good science papers in Nature, but never any suggestion that a U.S. conservative (politically or theologically) has anything worthwhile to say.  Bush-bashing is fine, Gore-praising is better.  If Nature reflected a free marketplace of ideas, surely one would expect to find an occasional editorial by a conservative, especially since conservatives represent a majority in many communities.  Instead, it’s always pro-abortion, pro-ES stem cells, pro-Darwin, pro-Democratic party, pro-big government, pro-handouts, logical positivism, naturalism, free sex, pro-UN, pro-unlimited funding for whatever scientists want, and anti-conservative positions on these issues, week after week (e.g., 09/27/2004, 11/17/2005, 07/06/2006, 07/31/2006).
    Face this diagnosis so that you can feed on Nature properly, with large supplies of vitamins, laxatives and emetics at hand.
Next headline on:  Politics and Ethics
Details of Photosynthesis Coming to Light   05/09/2007    
New tools of science are unveiling the secrets of what was long a “black box” in biology: photosynthesis.  A paper in Nature last week1 described the structure of the plant PhotoSystem I complex (PSI) in near-atomic resolution.  Next day, a paper in Science2 described some of the protein interactions that occur when plants turn light into energy for work.  Both papers praised the exceptional efficiency of “the most efficient nano-photochemical machine in nature.
    As is common in the scientific literature, the paper in Nature used engineering language when discussing photosynthesis.  It referred to the “reaction centre” as a “light-harvesting complex” and to certain parts as “antennas.”  The authors used the root efficient eight times in the paper: for example, “This highly efficient nano-photoelectric machine is expected to interact with other proteins in a regulated and efficient manner” – there are two instances in the same sentence.  The paper ended:
The complexity of PSI belies its efficiency: almost every photon absorbed by the PSI complex is used to drive electron transport.  It is remarkable that PSI exhibits a quantum yield of nearly 1 (refs 47, 48), and every captured photon is eventually trapped and results in electron translocation.  The structural information on the proteins, the cofactors and their interactions that is described in this work provides a step towards understanding how the unprecedented high quantum-yield of PSI in light capturing and electron transfer is achieved.
The authors only referred to evolution once: “The two principal subunits of the reaction centre, PsaA and PsaB, share similarities in their amino acid sequences and constitute a pseudosymmetric structure that evolved from an ancient homodimeric assembly.”  Yet this was stated dogmatically without any explanation of how that could have occurred.
    The paper in Science explored photosynthesis from the protein’s perspective.  The authors of this paper also spoke of the “efficient transfer of electrons across biomembranes” and the “high efficiency of the reaction (an electron is transferred for each photon absorbed)” – i.e., there is no loss or waste of input.
    The authors discussed how certain protein parts physically move in response to their inputs.  These movements among the chlorophylls and other parts modulate the speed of the downstream reactions.  Rather than quote their jargon about biomechanics and biomolecular dynamics, let’s attempt an analogy that suggested itself from one of the illustrations: it’s like catching eggs dropping out of the sky into a soft, gentle net, where they can be safely transported to the kitchen.  Those who prefer the original jargon can see the footnote.4
   
1Amuntz, Drory and Nelson, “The structure of a plant photosystem I supercomplex at 3.4-angstrom resolution,” Nature 447, 58-63 (3 May 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05687.
2Skourtis and Beratan, “Photosynthesis from the Protein’s Perspective,” Science, 4 May 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5825, pp. 703-704, doi: 10.1126/science.1142330.
3The second paper also spoke of the efficient use of quantum mechanical properties of light: “The experimental data reported by Wang et al. also encourage renewed theoretical attention to the early events in photosynthesis.  Models that include quantized nuclear dynamics seem particularly important, because high-frequency quantum modes influence fast electron transfer, producing nonexponential kinetics and unusual temperature dependence.”
4“Wang et al. suggest that the slow protein dynamics discussed above may help to overcome reaction barriers produced by membrane potentials or by environmental factors that perturb the photosynthetic reaction center and potentially slow down the electron-transfer rate.  Thus, protein motion could overcome reaction barriers produced by cellular factors that might otherwise perturb the electron-transfer kinetics.”
Those who studied high school biology decades ago can revel in these facts about photosynthesis that are now coming to light (pardon the pun).  At the time, our teachers and professors saw light going in, and sugars coming out, but were nearly clueless about what magic was going on inside.  The black box is now opening, and we’re finding out that highly efficient molecular machines were there all along.  So that’s how it’s done!
Next headline on:  PlantsCell BiologyPhysicsAmazing Facts
New Theory for Introns: Mutation Sponges   05/08/2007    
When you don’t know where damage will occur, it makes sense to spread the assets around.  Scientists from City of Hope Medical Center (a cancer care and research institute) have a new idea about introns, those regions of DNA “junk“ between the more interesting exons (parts of genes).  Perhaps the introns are mutation sponges.
    Writing in PNAS,1 nine scientists provided evidence that mutations occasionally come in showers.  When a bad translation machine comes along, for instance, it could inflict a lot of damage in a small region.  By spreading the genetic material apart with introns, most of the damage will be absorbed by the non-coding DNA.  Here’s how they expressed it:
The observed mutation showers often will affect one or a few genes in mammalian genomes, because they tend to diminish within 30 kb.  Therefore, most mammalian genes range from 20 kb to 1 Mb with 90+% of the sequence within introns.  Approximately 90% of the mutations within a mutation shower generally would not have functional consequences.  Thus, the introns serve as a “sponge” to absorb many of the mutation showers without damage to protein function.
They also suggested that a mutation shower in the wrong place might produce “cancer in an instant.”  They asked,
Might there be scattered mutation showers throughout the genome that occur, perhaps by nucleotide pool imbalances during replication or another cellular metabolic process?  This is a critical unanswered question.  If scattered mutation showers occur, multiple genes could be inactivated, leading to cancer in an instant.
They said this might explain why many tumors have high averages of mutations.
1Wang, Gonzalez, Scaringe, Tsai, Liu, Gu, Li, Hill and Sommer, “Evidence for mutation showers,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0610902104, published online before print May 7, 2007.
No one knows if this is “the reason” for introns, but it shows that there are creative ways to discover a function for something that otherwise looks meaningless.  What a novel concept: sponges in the genome to absorb mutations.  If introns are more likely to take the hits, then the sponges can be cut out after the translation by the spliceosome, and 90% of the errors can be thrown away.  This way, it is more likely the exons will link up without loss of function.  Post-translational proofreading can then provide additional protection against the remaining 10%.  It sounds like an intelligently planned strategy the military or an IT company would use.  Perhaps other functions for introns will come to light if scientists approach them from a design perspective.
    The paper, however, was categorized under the topic of evolution.  The authors said the existence of mutation showers has “implications... for evolution.”  But they did not provide any evidence that mutation showers could advance evolution in any way, shape or form.  Mutation showers cannot be sources of evolutionary innovation.  On the contrary, they are threats to be mitigated.  Risk management requires a strategy appropriate to the threat.  Like Kansas towns in tornado alley, it’s best if they are kept small and separated by large tracts of vacant land.  Such a strategy does not eliminate the threat; it just limits the exposure.
    Yes, this has implications for evolution, but evolutionary progress has nothing to do with it.  This is disaster preparedness, not innovation.  It wouldn’t make any sense to expect to find new functioning towns in the debris of a passing F5 twister – or Boeing 747s, either.  Just ask the folks in Greensburg, Kansas.
Next headline on:  GeneticsEvolution
Herod’s Tomb Found   05/08/2007    
The probable tomb of Herod the Great has been found, reported Haaretz a day before a scheduled press conference.  This is the King Herod who slaughtered the innocents of Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth after being visited by the wise men.  Scholars knew he was supposed to be buried at his fortress of Herodium.  Despite years of excavation, the sarcophagus had not been found till now.  Since no inscriptions have yet been found, full confirmation is pending.
    For more details, see Arutz Sheva, Science Daily, BBC News, Science Now, National Geographic and EurekAlert, based on a press release from Hebrew University.  Todd Bolen has provided historical background on the Bible Places blog with additional links.  The AP story on Yahoo has a slide show of Herod’s hilltop fortress and palace.
Any time something about a Bible character is discovered, it’s big news, and King Herod was a big character.  The paranoid megalomaniac was responsible for both monumental buildings and horrendous crimes.  Seeing the remains of his monuments at Caesarea Maritima, Herodium, Masada, Jericho and the Temple Mount underscores his genius for pulling off large and elaborate construction projects.
    The Herodium, where his sarcophagus was found, is a crumbling ruin.  Yet a few miles north, in Bethlehem, on a silent night, another King was born.  Gentle as a Lamb, He changed the world forever.  Despite Herod’s cruel yet futile attempt to wipe out any competition, that King is alive in the hearts of millions today.  He didn’t take titles and make monuments to Himself.  He taught, He who would be greatest among you, let him be your servant (Matthew 23).  Seek first the kingdom of God, He said, and all these things will be added to you (Sermon on the Mount).  By humbling Himself unto death, He has become King of Kings, and Lord of Lords (Philippians 2, Revelation 19).
    Within a couple of hours, you can tour Bethlehem, where a humble King was born and placed in a manger, then the Herodium, where about two years later a proud king was buried in a monument to himself.  Before Herod died he ordered leading men to be slaughtered so that there would be some mourning on the day of his death (fortunately, his sister prevented the order from being carried out).  Jesus died outside the gate of Jerusalem but gave life to His followers.  Herod’s monuments, impressive as they were, lie in ruins.  But 2000 years after Christ, the most elaborate buildings in the world ring with praises to Christ, the King.  What a contrast.  Which path are you on?  the way of Herod, or the way of the cross?  Jesus said, He who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 14:11).
Next headline on:  Bible and Theology
Instant Diamonds?   05/07/2007    
Talk about catastrophism: imagine a geological process creating a dyke 150 miles deep in a few minutes.  This is a new model for how diatremes formed, as described in Nature last week.1  The surprise end of the abstract by Lionel Wilson and James W. Head III states, “No precursor to the eruption is felt at the surface and the processes are complete in about an hour.”
    Diatremes are deep, funnel-shaped dykes made of kimberlite rock.  They extend down 200 to 250 meters into the earth and are famous as sources of diamonds.  The origin of diatremes has long been a puzzle.  Diverse and unusual, they have seemingly contradictory characteristics:
Relative to normal magmatic eruptions, the most unusual of these characteristics raise the questions of how is it possible to: (1) transport diamonds from the mantle (where they are stable) to the surface (where they are metastable) fast enough to avoid significant alteration over the intervening range of depths at which they are unstable; (2) transport significant quantities of mantle xenoliths to near-surface levels; (3) produce intrusive pyroclastic kimberlitic material at depths where pressures would normally preclude magma fragmentation by volatile expansion, and then separate most of the volatiles from the pyroclastic materials; (4) generate extensive fracturing and brecciation of host rocks in many parts of the system, with minimal contact metamorphic effects; and (5) produce complex shallow structures (diatremes and root zones) in which an unusual widening of the conduit system occurs, sometimes with extensions that do not connect to the surface, and where complex mixtures of fragmented material and coherent dyke segments are present.
In light of the difficulties previous models have had, the authors propose a catastrophic eruption: “We propose that essentially all of the rise of kimberlitic magma to the surface takes place via rapid propagation of a dyke from unusually great depths (Fig. 2) rather than the much slower propagation of a diapir to shallower depths before transitioning to a dyke,” they explained.  “This very deep dyke initiation and propagation minimizes thermodynamic problems associated with transporting diamonds from mantle depths to the surface.”
    In their model, which describes six stages of the eruption, carbon dioxide creates a sort of magma foam that propagates upward explosively.  Here is the brief description:
Dyke initiation in a deep CO2-rich source region in the mantle leads to rapid propagation of the dyke tip, below which CO2 fluid collects, with a zone of magmatic foam beneath.  When the tip breaks the surface of the ground, gas release causes a depressurization wave to travel into the magma.  This wave implodes the dyke walls, fragments the magma, and creates a ‘ringing’ fluidization wave.  Together, these processes form the diatreme.  Catastrophic magma chilling seals the dyke.
The walls open up, fill with the kimberlite, and close in rapid succession.  How quickly?  No millions of years required: “The termination of the eruption immediately after diatreme formation, probably within at most a few tens of minutes of the onset of eruption, is a direct consequence of the extreme cooling of magma during the large pressure reductions that occur on venting to the atmosphere.”  Long ages are not needed to explain the rocks found inside, either: “The subsequent very rapid pressure and temperature fluctuations lead to the formation of a diverse suite of rock types in the intrusive deposits that characterize these eruptions.”
    In cases where water substitutes for carbon dioxide, the process could be more protracted, they said, similar to “traditional basaltic pyroclastic eruptions.”  Those may take a few more hours.
1Lionel Wilson and James W. Head III, “An integrated model of kimberlite ascent and eruption,” Nature 447, 53-57 (3 May 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05692.
If this model is correct, who needs millions of years?  Of all the catastrophic geological processes described in the literature, this one seems among the fastest.  Imagine a funnel-shaped crater filled with rocks and minerals forming in less than an hour.  Undoubtedly, a passing uniformitarian-trained geologist would look at the deposits an hour later and deduce that they took millions of years of slow, gradual processes to form.
    It is clear from this example that the presumption of long ages is a mindset drilled into geologists’ heads, not a requirement of the evidence.  This would be a good subject for a Biblical geologist to investigate in more detail.  See also last year’s surprise announcement that rich gold deposits could form in a human lifetime (10/15/2006).
    Better hope you are not in the wrong spot when one of these eruptions is about to blow.  Come by shortly afterwards, though; you might just find acres of diamonds.  How’s that for fast delivery?  From mantle to surface, your diamond delivered in just one hour.  Lucy, meanwhile, is somewhere in the sky without any.  She is mourning her demotion as a human ancestor (04/10/2007).  The party at Charlie & Charlie’s really rocked for awhile.  Now that morning has come, she realizes her fling didn’t result in any lasting commitments.
Next headline on:  GeologyDating MethodsPhysics
Seeking Explanations for Plant Fibonacci Spirals   05/06/2007    
The spiral patterns on an artichoke are enough to make a physicist choke.  How do plants like cacti, sunflowers, strawberries and artichokes produce geometric patterns of left- and right- handed spirals?  Why do these spirals follow a mathematical rule called the Fibonacci sequence?  A new theory suggests that it is the optimal energy arrangement for a structure of elements built on a conical form.
    An article in PhysOrg explains the theories of three physicist/mathematicians at the University of Beijing.  They were able to produce Fibonacci spirals on conical microstructures.  Their investigation suggests that “plant patterns might be modeled by mutually repulsive entities for both spherical and conical surfaces.”  Even so, they have not been able to come up with a mathematical proof, for good reason:
“The patterns on a sphere are now referred to as the Thomson problem, which has been generalized as the Generalized Riesz Problem,” [Zexian] Cao said.  “There is no general method to find the least energy configuration for a given confining geometry, and the numerical solution costs enormous time of both the computers and the scientists.  Even worse, it is difficult to make oneself believe that the least energy solution he finds is really the global minimum.  And numerical solutions would never be accepted as proof.”
Cao said the difficulty of explaining this phenomenon is an “embarrassment” in physics.  The latest explanation also fails to show a causal connection from the way DNA translates proteins into the way they become arranged at the leaf tip.
See comments from 01/21/2003 and 11/20/2003.  Today’s article shows this is still an ongoing problem four years later.
Next headline on:  PlantsPhysicsAmazing Facts
Tweaking Mercury to Keep it Old   05/04/2007    
Mercury has a magnetic field.  That’s odd.  It shouldn’t.  If it were 4.6 billion years old, the little planet should be solid stiff by now.  Planetary scientists have published a new model of its interior with the required molten outer core that allows a dynamo to generate the observed magnetic field.  What’s interesting are the initial conditions required to get the interior to stay molten this long.
    Sean Solomon in Science1 describes the reaction of scientists 30 years ago when Mariner 10 detected Mercury’s magnetic field:
Some 30 years ago the planetary science community was surprised when the Mariner 10 spacecraft flew by the planet Mercury and detected an internal magnetic field.  Earth’s internal field is produced by a magnetic dynamo sustained by convective motions in the planet’s molten, iron-rich outer core.  Although Mercury’s high bulk density indicates that its dominantly iron central core is the largest by fractional mass among the planets, the detection of its magnetic field was surprising because Venus has no field and Mars and the Moon show evidence only for ancient global fields.  With a mass about 5% that of Earth, Mercury had been expected to have cooled internally to the point where either the core had solidified or core convection no longer occurs.  A necessary condition for Mercury’s magnetic field to arise from an active Earth-like dynamo is that at least the outer shell of its core be molten.  On page 710 of this issue, Margot et al.  report new observations of variations in Mercury’s spin rate made with Earth-based radar, providing strong evidence that this condition is met.
The paper by Margot et al.2 does, in fact, present the physics that allows Mercury to generate a magnetic field.  With a little libration, and a little reorganization of the melt layers, they can match the observed field.  That, however, is only part of the problem.  Keeping the inside of Mercury hot enough for 4.6 billion years is the next challenge.  Previously, planetary scientists thought that Mercury only swept up material from the inner solar disk when it formed.  That paradigm has had to soften under heat and pressure:
The presence of a liquid core in Mercury has important implications for theories of planet formation and evolution.  Thermal models predict a frozen core unless a sufficient amount of sulfur (at least 0.1% weight fraction) depresses the melting temperature of the core material.  But chemical condensation models indicate that sulfur cannot condense in the primordial solar nebula at the heliocentric distance of Mercury.  Hence, the need for a sufficient amount of accreted sulfur to keep the core molten over the age of the solar system implies that Mercury was accreted from planetesimals that originated over a wide range of heliocentric distances.
This solution indicates that the age of Mercury was never called into question.  Since the scientists already know how old it is, something else had to give.  The free parameter became the assumption about the solar nebula.  Without explaining how, they assumed sulfur throughout the primordial disk – out to billions of miles – became incorporated into the planet Mercury, so that the interior could stay molten.  The magnetic field, in fact, became evidence that this had indeed occurred: “Hence, the need for a sufficient amount of accreted sulfur to keep the core molten over the age of the solar system implies that Mercury was accreted from planetesimals that originated over a wide range of heliocentric distances.”
    This story was announced on a JPL press release as solving a “30 year mystery.”  It was picked up by New Scientist, National Geographic, Science Daily and other news outlets.  The explanation was echoed in each case, with no one questioning the date of Mercury or the method of adjusting parameters to keep it safely old without growing cold.3
    A NASA spacecraft named MESSENGER is on the way to Mercury, for arrival next January.  Planetologists hope it will be able to take more precise measurements of the magnetic and gravitational fields to deduce the structure of its interior dynamo.
1Sean C. Solomon, “Hot News on Mercury’s Core,” Science, 4 May 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5825, pp. 702-703, DOI: 10.1126/science.1142328.
2Margot, Peale, Jurgens, Slade and Holin, “Large Longitude Libration of Mercury Reveals a Molten Core,” Science
3According to one of Murphy’s Laws, “Every solution breeds new problems.”  The authors did not begin to speculate on what altering the amount of mixing in the solar disk does to other aspects of planetary evolution theory.  The old paradigm explained the differences between the rocky planets and gas giants by the composition and temperature of disk material: e.g., beyond the “frost line,” only gas giants could form, while rocky planets closer to the sun, unable to hold onto their volatiles, condensed primarily from heavy elements like rock and metal.  Requiring this much mixing of material from the far reaches of the disk would seem to have dramatic repercussions on both the orbits, compositions, and interactions of the planetesimals – and the comets, asteroids and other solar system objects that resulted.  None of the articles discussed those ramifications of the explanation offered in this paper.
Do you see the pattern?  Certain “facts” in science, like evolution and billions of years, are locked in a vault and never open to scrutiny.  No reporter is ever allowed to question the word of the wizards on those subjects.  Everything else in the universe, and even in multiple imaginary universes, is freely open to doubt, but never those.  There’s something rotten in the state of Men–dark.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating MethodsPhysics
Passings: Howell Dies, of Time-Life Book Fame   05/03/2007    
Nature contained an obituary for F. Clark Howell, paleoanthropologist (1925-2007).  He knew and worked with most of the 20th century fossil-man hunters from Raymond Dart to the Leakeys.  Students will probably remember the Time-Life series he authored, Early Man, with its fold-out panorama by illustrator Jay Matternes of the march from furry monkey to naked man, an icon of evolution that has been imitated and parodied ever since.
The power of pictorial propaganda cannot be understated.  Were you influenced as a child by those pictures of the rise of humans from the apes?  Most of the data on which those drawings depend (ditto for the other dioramas in the book) have been discredited.  Yet the damage is done; the propaganda parade marches on.
    Our favorite parodies: the computer, woman stasis, woman on top, obesity, cake-eater, levitation, direction of modern culture, science made stupid and big daddy.  Rest in peace, Dr. Howell, as we howl like monkeys.
Next headline on:  Early ManMedia
Heat and Light: Jerusalem City of David Excavations Arouse Notoriety   05/03/2007    
Like its rival Science (02/09/2007), Nature1 examined the ongoing archaeology in the City of David south of the walls of Jerusalem.  In a news feature, Haim Watzman examined the complexities, disputes, politics and ethics of the digs by Eilat Mazar and Ronnie Reich and others that appear to have found evidence supporting the Biblical stories of King David and his dynasty.  The article focused on conflicts both scientific and political.  Accusations of bias go both ways.  Despite allegations that Mazar and her primary funding organization have a religious agenda to prove the digs date to the time of David, the article did not point to anything specific that disproves the claim.  Watzman rather acknowledged that Mazar’s work has defended its objectivity against the skeptics pretty well.
    Next day, Science printed a letter from Elisabetta Boaretto, the carbon-14 specialist who performed radiocarbon dating of artifacts at the site.  She took umbrage at the Feb. Science article’s implication that radiocarbon could not help settle disputes over whether the finds go back to the time of David.  “I would have expected the article to provide an evaluation of whether radiocarbon dating can solve this problem by consulting with experts in the field, rather than publishing a quote by an archaeologist comparing radiocarbon dating to a prostitute,” she quipped.  She personally tested 150 artifacts, some of which appear to distinguish the Iron I and Iron II periods to within a century, and defended the work with judgments from other scholars.  She stated, “No bias was detected, disproving misconceptions that radiocarbon labs have specific agendas besides doing scientific research.”
    The Nature news story also discussed the Pool of Siloam excavations, the Gihon Spring and Hezekiah’s Tunnel – all remarkable structures “mentioned in the Bible” that have only recently come back into the news.
1Watzman, “Archaeology: deep divisions,” Nature 447, 22-24 (3 May 2007) | doi:10.1038/447022a.
Same comments apply as in February (02/09/2007), so no repetition necessary here.  Suffice it to say that despite these secular journal’s heartfelt need to latch onto any controversy that might undercut evidence that supports the Bible, there was not much they could say.  They tried to make Mazar and other conservatives look biased, but they couldn’t prove it.  They tugged at heartstrings with stories of local residents who are being inconvenienced by the digs, but had to admit the archaeological park is nice and is open to all.  They had to quote the Finkelsteins and other minimalist skeptics but could not dispute the scholarship of the Bible-trusting archaeologists.  The evidence is speaking for itself.
    So here, for centuries, for thousands of years, evidence for David’s palace and fortifications have been buried under layers and layers of destruction levels and occupational overburden.  How fortunate we are to be living in a brief period between political tensions when some of the facts can now see the light of day – for the first time since the Kings of Judah lived out the adventures, the triumphs and disasters, the ups and downs of righteousness and wickedness recorded in the Bible.  The tangible evidence of those events can reinforce our faith that God does indeed work in the lives of individuals and nations.
Next headline on:  BiblePolitics and EthicsDating Methods
  Paley would be pleased: rotary clock found in bacteria, from 05/17/2005.

Hubble Explodes Star-Formation Assumption in Globular Clusters   05/03/2007    
The Hubble Telescope found three episodes of star formation in a globular cluster.  While this announcement might make a layman yawn, what’s interesting are the expressions of grief and anguish coming from astronomers about what this does to their theories.  For many years, astronomers had prided themselves on their understanding of globular clusters.  These massive, spherical clusters formed early in the universe, it was said, and have been slowly aging till now.  This assumption appears to have been jeopardized by the observations made of giant globular NGC 2808.  Feel their pain:

  • We had never imagined that anything like this could happen,” said Giampaolo Piotto of the University of Padova in Italy and leader of the team that made the discovery.  “This is a complete shock.”
  • “The standard picture of a globular cluster is that all of its stars formed at the same time, in the same place, and from the same material, and they have co-evolved for billions of years,” said team member Luigi Bedin of the European Space Agency.... “This is the cornerstone on which much of the study of stellar populations has been built.  So we were very surprised to find several distinct populations of stars in NGC 2808.”
  • Finding multiple stellar populations in a globular cluster so close to home has deep cosmological implications, the researchers said.
  • “We need to do our best to solve the enigma of these multiple generations of stars found in these Hubble observations so that we can understand how stars formed in distant galaxies in our early universe,” Piotto explained.
  • [Science Daily]: Space telescope makes startling discovery... The Hubble Space Telescope has provided evidence representing a major upset for conventional theories that propose a single period for star birth.
  • [Space.com]: The long-held belief that globular star clusters form in a single boom has been challenged by new findings.
  • [New Scientist]:  “NGC 2808 was just considered a normal globular cluster and no one was expecting this ability to see three distinct stellar populations,” Piotto told New Scientist.  “This result says globular cluster stars are not as simple as we are teaching to our students.
To be fair, the astronomers are not quite ready to take up truck driving.  “No one would make the radical step of suggesting that previous work on other clusters is no longer valid,” one of the astronomers said.  “But this discovery shows that the study of stellar populations in globular clusters now opens up in a new direction.”  If a theory this well-established can be challenged, however, it raises questions about the ability of astronomers to claim knowledge about lesser-understood phenomena.
Is science always progressive and cumulative?  Is this finding a mere adjustment?  Are astronomers converging on The Truth about the universe, despite some missteps along the way?  Or do announcements like this illustrate the tentative nature of science, and cast doubt on the ability of man by reason and fallible senses to deduce the true nature of the world?  These are profound questions in the philosophy of science.
    It appears obvious that we know more about stars and the universe than we did a hundred years ago, or two hundred.  Yet as professor Steven Goldman at Lehigh reminds us in Science Wars, almost everything we thought we knew 100 years ago has changed dramatically.  What we think the Earth is, and what we think the Universe is, and what we think an Atom is, or Space, or Time, or Matter, or Energy, bears almost no resemblance to what scientists “knew” about these things at the beginning of the 20th century.  We cannot have much assurance, therefore, that scientists 100 years in the future will not look back on the early 21st century and chuckle about how wrong we were.
    Most scientists these days are realists.  They believe in the correspondence theory of truth: i.e., that our sense impressions correspond to what is really “out there” in the world.  This is the “common sense” view most of us take for granted.  Philosophers since the Greeks have questioned this assumption, however.  For thousands of years, the greatest minds in history have debated vigorously the degree to which our senses provide knowledge about reality.  Science has, in fact, taken some of its most serious blows in recent decades.  Since the 1930s and 1960s – even into the “science wars” of the 1990s, great minds have wrestled with the “knowledge problem” in science.  Though realism tentatively holds the hill again now, some big names have challenged the objectivity of scientists.  They have pointed to the historical and social nature of science, accusing scientists of being blind to their assumptions, and asking questions that push the academic programme in certain directions and not others.  Even the logical positivists who were determined to save the objectivity of science gave up by the 1950s.
This is not to say that we must doubt what a car is, and whether we are driving down the road, or what will happen if we drive into a brick wall.  But when discussing scientific objects like a quark, or the interior of a star, or a black hole, or a species, or a population, or a gene, or global climate change, or laws of nature – and the causes of their interactions and how we explain them — scientists get onto slippery philosophical ground very quickly.  A finite number of instances cannot necessarily be extrapolated to a class.  A time sequence does not necessarily imply a cause-effect relationship.  A majority of scientists can be wrong (bandwagon fallacy).  And today’s best theory is not necessarily a good theory (Macbeth’s best-in-field fallacy).  These are just a few of the caveats that can be levied against even simple, down-to-earth explanations in our everyday experience.  The problems become even more significant in astronomy and cosmology, where the line between theory and observation is often very fuzzy.
This entry about globular clusters reminds us that scientists can never simply assume that their theories correspond to Reality with a capital R.  No matter what the textbook says, or how solid the scientific consensus appears, everything in science is subject to revision.  Some things are subject to revolution.  Whenever a scientist says “We now know,” that’s the time to get out the red flag and say, “We heard that line 100 years ago, and now look.”
Next headline on:  StarsDating MethodsCosmology
More Optical Design in Eye Retina Than Seen Before   05/02/2007    
For decades, evolutionists have used the vertebrate retina as an example of poor design (dysteleology).  They have mocked how any designer could have been so unintelligent as to get the wiring backwards – with the photoreceptors behind a jumble of light-scattering cells.  Creationists have countered that despite the arrangement, it works well.1  Now, they may have a new debating advantage.  German scientists believe they have found a sophisticated network of high-performance optical fibers that funnels light into the photoreceptors without any loss.
    The Register (UK) summarized the finding by German scientists at Leipzig University.  They found a layer of cells that act like a second lens inside the eye, channeling the light right through the opaque layer and putting it right where it is needed.  Their words almost glow:
They have demonstrated that light is collected and funnelled through long cells called Müller cells.  These work almost exactly like a fibre optic plate: a “zero-length window” that optical engineers can use to transmit an image without using a lens....
    “Everyone thinks lasers are perfectly parallel, but this is not so,” [Andreas] Reichenbach continues.  “They do diverge.  The Müller cells behave as a lens, and collect all the light without any loss, just like an optical plate.”
    But normal optical plates have simple bundles of optical fibres that collect and transmit the light.  The researchers have discovered that the vertebrate eye has gone one step further and created a funnel shaped cell that allows more light to be collected at the surface of the eye....
    “Nature is so clever,” Reichenbach says.  “This means there is enough room in the eye for all the neurons and synapses and so on, but still the Müller cells can capture and transmit as much light as possible.
Optical engineers might learn a lesson from this design, the article ends.
    Even the AAAS news site Science Now was impressed.  In a picture story underScience Shots called “Optical Solution,” (May 2), the caption said,
For an organ that delivers such crystal-clear images, the eye is curiously designed.  Its light-sensing rods and cones lie hidden behind a blanket of nerve cells that carry visual information to the brain.  So what prevents those neurons from obscuring our vision?  The answer may be surprisingly high-tech.  The entire retina is held together by a network of elongated Müller cells, and these act like optic fibers, funneling light straight through the neural veil to the rods and cones, according to a study published online the week of 30 April in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Not a bad trick for a camera designed 500 million years ago.
Though a creationist may flinch at that last sentence, no one can fail to notice the D word design – and the absence of evolution language in both articles.  Does this indicate a backpedaling of arguments about bad design in the eye?  It appears the design was more clever all along than anyone imagined.
Update 05/07/2007: The paper in PNAS2 appeared on May 7.  The 10 German authors describe in exquisite detail the optical properties of the Muller cells, and how they measured them.  They said that each cone cell (color photodetector) has one Muller cell guiding the light to it, while several rods (black and white photodetectors) can use one optical fiber.  The entire front surface of the retina is effectively covered by the cone-shaped entrances of the optical fibers, which guide the light directly to the photoreceptors, bypassing the other cells which would otherwise scatter the light.  Each Muller cell has a variable index of refraction tuned to the light to maintain the optimum wave-guiding properties and reduce loss by reflection.  The authors say in the final discussion, “the increasing refractive index together with their funnel shape at nearly constant lightguiding capability... make them ingeniously designed light collectors.”  There is no mention of evolution in the paper.
1For example rebuttals, see creationist articles on CSI by Peter Gurney and Carl Wieland, and ID responses on ARN by George Ayoub and Michael Denton.  See also CEH entries from 05/09/2002 (“Best of all possible optics?”), 05/27/2003 and 05/22/2003.  Consider also the sharpness of the eagle eye, or the eyes of a diving cormorant, 05/24/2004.
2Franze et al., “Müller cells are living optical fibers in the vertebrate retina,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0611180104, published online before print May 7, 2007.
The dysteleology argument against the vertebrate retina is now dead.  If you ever hear it raised again, point the evolutionist to this paper.  Who could have imagined that advanced waveguide technology was built into the vertebrate eye?  The scientists used guinea pig eyes in their research.  Are we supposed to believe that guinea pigs and even smaller vertebrates are the leading optical designers in the world?  Come on.  No more do we need to hear the mocking of Darwinists like Jared Diamond (see non-sequitur in the Baloney Detector).  Darwinism is out for the count on this old argument.  The vertebrate eye is superbly designed all the way down.
    Creationists don’t need judges to decide in favor of their position.  They just ask for better observations of the facts that are there for the seeing.  Read this, you mockers.
Next headline on:  Human BodyAmazing FactsEvolutionIntelligent DesignBiomimetics
New Genes Don’t Fit Mr. Darwin   05/01/2007    
If evolutionists predicted the wealth of new data from genetics was going to fall nicely into an evolutionary picture of Darwin’s tree of life, nature has foiled them again.  Ancestral patterns are blurred by unexpected findings, such as the following:
  1. Little giants:  Small, simple.  Large, complex.  That’s the old high-school picture of genetic evolution, but some marine phytoplankton refuse to follow the script.  Science Daily reported about a one-celled phytoplankton named Ostreococcus studied by Scripps Institute of Oceanography.  The genome of this tiny eukaryote has nearly the number of genes of a human being.  It also has nearly the number of selenium proteins as humans – “an enormous number relative to their small genome and microscopic size.”
        Not only that, two very close species of Ostreococcus show large differences in their respective genomes.  One has an extra chromosome.  One shared chromosome shows substantial rearrangements of genes between the two species.  “These are pretty remarkable differences that we didn’t expect,” said one researcher.  “We would expect the DNA to change slowly and see a small number of differences between the two species as they slowly evolve.”
        This organism cells contain about five times the genetic material of comparably sized one-celled organisms.  Ostreococcus exists in enormous numbers in the ocean and is responsible for half the photosynthesis on the planet.  A teaspoon full of sea water can have upwards of 100,000 cells.

  2. Coral grief:  How can corals, among the earliest and simplest multicellular organisms in evolution, rival humans in the complexity of their genes?  Oceanographers from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Australia started their press release with a surprise: “The humble coral may possess as many genes – and possibly even more – than humans do.”  These genes are not just taking up space, either.  “And remarkably, although it is very distant from humans in evolutionary terms, it has many of the immune system genes that protect people against disease.”
        Another thing.  While humans manufacture hundreds or thousands of different cell types, these “simple” animals only need to make about 12-14 types.  Yet they possess, here near the base of the assumed evolutionary tree of life, more genes of higher organisms than those nearest neighbors:
    Around 10 or 12 per cent of the known coral genes are in fact shared uniquely with vertebrates – these are genes that have been lost from all other animals so far examined.  These include genes for the development of nerves, vision, DNA imprinting, stress responses and key immune system genes.
        “We actually have quite a lot in common with corals, though it might not appear so,” Professor [David] Miller says.  “For example, we have been amazed at how many of the genes involved in innate immunity in man are present in coral – and just how similar they are.”
    Vertebrates, of course, are thought to be much farther up the tree than the “other animals” that lack these genes.  And just why would corals, of all animals, need genes used by vertebrates for nerves and vision?
Despite these conundrums, the press releases never question the validity of evolutionary theory.  The coral story, for instance, contains this juxtaposition of surprise and faith: “The richness of the coral genome – unexpectedly loaded with genes, many of which were thought to have evolved much later – is also casting new light on evolution.”  How can that be?  Here is the explanation offered:
It appears that all animals lose genes during evolution; those with fast generation turnover times – like fruit flies – shed genes particularly fast.  Corals which take at least 5 years to reach sexual maturity (compared with the laboratory fruitfly whose generation lasts only 3-4 weeks), and which have long and overlapping generation times, may thus be a living ‘museum’ of ancestral animal genes.”
Yet this can be little more than a speculative afterthought, given the complexity found and the contradiction to expectations.  Speaking of the huge difference in number of tissue types between corals and humans, Professor Miller added a possibility that “coral genes may interact with each other in far less complex ways.  Humans, on the other hand, are the product of a continuous and complicated dialogue between thousands of genes.”  If he is proposing this as a law of nature, it should be testable.  No evidence of such a pattern was offered in this article.  It is also unclear why the vast differences in tissue complexities and interactions would converge on comparable numbers of genes.  Further, it does not explain how the complex genes arose in the first place – or how and why they persisted nearly unchanged for 235 million years while the rest of life was transforming itself many times over and apparently got by without them.
    A similar expression of confidence in evolution was exhibited in the first story.  Here, in an article largely perplexed at the findings, one of the researchers again employed the “sheds new light” angle.  He said, “Genomic comparisons are exciting because they allow us not to just document the diversity of the ocean but to start to understand the processes behind that diversity and see all of the changes in the evolution of two species.”
    Evolution always wins – cooperative data or not.
The number of times we have documented the disparity between new evidence and evolutionary faith should leave no doubt.  It is no longer just a hypothesis that evolutionists believe in Darwin despite the evidence.  It is now an established scientific theory – soon to become a law of nature.  The only thing that can rescue an evolutionist from a law of nature is a miracle.  There is one shortcut to the miraculous.  It’s called repentance.
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“Several years ago, I became aware of your Creation-Evolution Headlines web site.  For several years now, it has been one of my favorite internet sites.  I many times check your website first, before going on to check the secular news and other creation web sites.
    I continue to be impressed with your writing and research skills, your humor, and your technical and scientific knowledge and understanding.  Your ability to cut through the inconsequentials and zero in on the principle issues is one of the characteristics that is a valuable asset....
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    Also, your background topics of logic and propaganda techniques have been useful as classroom aides, helping others to learn to use their baloney detectors.
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“I wrote you over three years ago letting you know how much I enjoyed your Creation-Evolution headlines, as well as your Creation Safaris site.  I stated then that I read your headlines and commentary every day, and that is still true!  My interest in many sites has come and gone over the years, but your site is still at the top of my list!  I am so thankful that you take the time to read and analyze some of the scientific journals out there; which I don’t have the time to read myself.  Your commentary is very, very much appreciated.”
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“Thank God for ... Creation Evolution Headlines.  This site is right at the cutting edge in the debate over bio-origins and is crucial in working to undermine the deceived mindset of naturalism.  The arguments presented are unassailable (all articles having first been thoroughly ‘baloney detected’) and the narrative always lands just on the right side of the layman’s comprehension limits... Very highly recommended to all, especially, of course, to those who have never thought to question the ‘fact’ of evolution.”
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(a biology prof in Ohio)

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“I was grateful for creationsafaris.com for help with baloney detecting.  I had read about the fish-o-pod and wanted to see what you thought.  Your comments were helpful and encouraged me that my own ‘baloney detecting’ skill are improving.  I also enjoyed reading your reaction to the article on evolution teachers doing battle with students.... I will ask my girls to read your comments on the proper way to question their teachers.”
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“I just want to express how dissapointed [sic] I am in your website.  Instead of being objective, the website is entirely one sided, favoring creationism over evolution, as if the two are contradictory.... Did man and simien [sic] evovlve [sic] at random from a common ancestor?  Or did God guide this evolution?  I don’t know.  But all things, including the laws of nature, originate from God.... To deny evolution is to deny God’s creation.  To embrace evolution is to not only embrace his creation, but to better appreciate it.”
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“Just wanted to say that I am thrilled to have found your website!  Although I regularly visit numerous creation/evolution sites, I’ve found that many of them do not stay current with relative information.  I love the almost daily updates to your ‘headlines’ section.  I’ve since made it my browser home page, and have recommended it to several of my friends.  Absolutely great site!”
(a network engineer in Florida)

“After I heard about Creation-Evolution Headlines, it soon became my favorite Evolution resource site on the web.  I visit several times a day cause I can’t wait for the next update.  That’s pathetic, I know ... but not nearly as pathetic as Evolution, something you make completely obvious with your snappy, intelligent commentary on scientific current events.  It should be a textbook for science classrooms around the country.  You rock!”
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“Thanks for your time and thanks for all the work on the site.  It has been a valuable resource for me.”
(a medical student in Kansas)

“Creation-Evolution Headlines is a terrific resource.  The articles are always current and the commentary is right on the mark.”
(a molecular biologist in Illinois)

Creation-Evolution Headlines is my favorite ‘anti-evolution’ website.  With almost giddy anticipation, I check it several times a week for the latest postings.  May God bless you and empower you to keep up this FANTASTIC work!”
(a financial analyst in New York)

“I read your pages on a daily basis and I would like to let you know that your hard work has been a great help in increasing my knowledge and growing in my faith.  Besides the huge variety of scientific disciplines covered, I also enormously enjoy your great sense of humor and your creativity in wording your thoughts, which make reading your website even more enjoyable.”
(a software developer in Illinois)

“THANK YOU for all the work you do to make this wonderful resource!  After being regular readers for a long time, this year we’ve incorporated your site into our home education for our four teenagers.  The Baloney Detector is part of their Logic and Reasoning Skills course, and the Daily Headlines and Scientists of the Month features are a big part of our curriculum for an elective called ‘Science Discovery Past and Present’.  What a wonderful goldmine for equipping future leaders and researchers with the tools of clear thinking!
(a home school teacher in California)

“What can I say – I LOVE YOU! – I READ YOU ALMOST EVERY DAY I copy and send out to various folks.  I love your sense of humor, including your politics and of course your faith.  I appreciate and use your knowledge – What can I say – THANK YOU – THANK YOU – THANK YOU – SO MUCH.”
(a biology major, former evolutionist, now father of college students)

“I came across your site while browsing through creation & science links.  I love the work you do!”
(an attorney in Florida)

“Love your commentary and up to date reporting.  Best site for evolution/design info.”
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“I am an ardent reader of your site.  I applaud your efforts and pass on your website to all I talk to.  I have recently given your web site info to all my grandchildren to have them present it to their science teachers.... Your Supporter and fan..God bless you all...”
(a health services manager in Florida)

“Why your readership keeps doubling: I came across your website at a time when I was just getting to know what creation science is all about.  A friend of mine was telling me about what he had been finding out. I was highly skeptical and sought to read as many pro/con articles as I could find and vowed to be open-minded toward his seemingly crazy claims. At first I had no idea of the magnitude of research and information that’s been going on. Now, I’m simply overwhelmed by the sophistication and availability of scientific research and information on what I now know to be the truth about creation.
    Your website was one of dozens that I found in my search.  Now, there are only a handful of sites I check every day.  Yours is at the top of my list... I find your news page to be the most insightful and well-written of the creation news blogs out there.  The quick wit, baloney detector, in-depth scientific knowledge you bring to the table and the superb writing style on your site has kept me interested in the day-to-day happenings of what is clearly a growing movement.  Your site ... has given me a place to point them toward to find out more and realize that they’ve been missing a huge volume of information when it comes to the creation-evolution issue.
    Another thing I really like about this site is the links to articles in science journals and news references.  That helps me get a better picture of what you’re talking about.... Keep it up and I promise to send as many people as will listen to this website and others.”
(an Air Force Academy graduate stationed in New Mexico)

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(a newspaper editor in Wyoming)

“Congratulations on your 5th anniversary.  I have been reading your page for about 2 years or so.... I read it every day.  I ...am well educated, with a BA in Applied Physics from Harvard and an MBA in Finance from Wharton.”
(a reader in Delaware)

“ I came across your website by accident about 4 months ago and look at it every day.... About 8 months ago I was reading a letter to the editor of the Seattle Times that was written by a staunch ‘anti-Creationist’ and it sparked my interest enough to research the topic and within a week I was yelling, ‘my whole life’s education has been a lie!!!’  I’ve put more study into Biblical Creation in the last 8 months than any other topic in my life.  Past that, through resources like your website...I’ve been able to convince my father (professional mathematician and amateur geologist), my best friend (mechanical engineer and fellow USAF Academy Grad/Creation Science nutcase), my pastor (he was the hardest to crack), and many others to realize the Truth of Creation.... Resources like your website help the rest of us at the ‘grassroots level’ drum up interest in the subject.  And regardless of what the major media says: Creationism is spreading like wildfire, so please keep your website going to help fan the flames.”
(an Air Force Academy graduate and officer)

“I love your site!  I **really** enjoy reading it for several specific reasons: 1.It uses the latest (as in this month!) research as a launch pad for opinion; for years I have searched for this from a creation science viewpoint, and now, I’ve found it.  2. You have balanced fun with this topic.  This is hugely valuable!  Smug Christianity is ugly, and I don’t perceive that attitude in your comments.  3. I enjoy the expansive breadth of scientific news that you cover.  4. I am not a trained scientist but I know evolutionary bologna/(boloney) when I see it; you help me to see it.  I really appreciate this.
(a computer technology salesman in Virginia)

“I love your site.  That’s why I was more than happy to mention it in the local paper.... I mentioned your site as the place where..... ‘Every Darwin-cheering news article is reviewed on that site from an ID perspective.  Then the huge holes of the evolution theory are exposed, and the bad science is shredded to bits, using real science.’”
(a project manager in New Jersey)

“I’ve been reading your site almost daily for about three years.  I have never been more convinced of the truthfulness of Scripture and the faithfulness of God.”
(a system administrator and homeschooling father in Colorado)

“I use the internet a lot to catch up on news back home and also to read up on the creation-evolution controversy, one of my favourite topics.  Your site is always my first port of call for the latest news and views and I really appreciate the work you put into keeping it up to date and all the helpful links you provide.  You are a beacon of light for anyone who wants to hear frank, honest conclusions instead of the usual diluted garbage we are spoon-fed by the media.... Keep up the good work and know that you’re changing lives.
(a teacher in Spain)

“I am grateful to you for your site and look forward to reading new stories.... I particularly value it for being up to date with what is going on.”
(from the Isle of Wight, UK)

“[Creation-Evolution Headlines] is the place to go for late-breaking news [on origins]; it has the most information and the quickest turnaround.  It’s incredible – I don’t know how you do it.  I can’t believe all the articles you find.  God bless you!”
(a radio producer in Riverside, CA)

“Just thought I let you know how much I enjoy reading your ‘Headlines’ section.  I really appreciate how you are keeping your ear to the ground in so many different areas.  It seems that there is almost no scientific discipline that has been unaffected by Darwin’s Folly.”
(a programmer in aerospace from Gardena, CA)

“I enjoy reading the comments on news articles on your site very much.  It is incredible how much refuse is being published in several scientific fields regarding evolution.  It is good to notice that the efforts of true scientists have an increasing influence at schools, but also in the media.... May God bless your efforts and open the eyes of the blinded evolutionists and the general public that are being deceived by pseudo-scientists.... I enjoy the site very much and I highly respect the work you and the team are doing to spread the truth.”
(an ebusiness manager in the Netherlands)

“I discovered your site through a link at certain website... It has greatly helped me being updated with the latest development in science and with critical comments from you.  I also love your baloney detector and in fact have translated some part of the baloney detector into our language (Indonesian).  I plan to translate them all for my friends so as to empower them.”
(a staff member of a bilateral agency in West Timor, Indonesia)

“...absolutely brilliant and inspiring.”
(a documentary film producer, remarking on the 07/10/2005 commentary)

“I found your site several months ago and within weeks had gone through your entire archives....  I check in several times a day for further information and am always excited to read the new articles.  Your insight into the difference between what is actually known versus what is reported has given me the confidence to stand up for what I believe.  I always felt there was more to the story, and your articles have given me the tools to read through the hype....  You are an invaluable help and I commend your efforts.  Keep up the great work.”
(a sound technician in Alberta)

“I discovered your site (through a link from a blog) a few weeks ago and I can’t stop reading it....  I also enjoy your insightful and humorous commentary at the end of each story.  If the evolutionists’ blindness wasn’t so sad, I would laugh harder.
  I have a masters degree in mechanical engineering from a leading University.  When I read the descriptions, see the pictures, and watch the movies of the inner workings of the cell, I’m absolutely amazed....  Thanks for bringing these amazing stories daily.  Keep up the good work.
(an engineer in Virginia)

“I stumbled across your site several months ago and have been reading it practically daily.  I enjoy the inter-links to previous material as well as the links to the quoted research.  I’ve been in head-to-head debate with a materialist for over a year now.  Evolution is just one of those debates.  Your site is among others that have been a real help in expanding my understanding.”
(a software engineer in Pennsylvania)

“I was in the April 28, 2005 issue of Nature [see 04/27/2005 story] regarding the rise of intelligent design in the universities.  It was through your website that I began my journey out of the crisis of faith which was mentioned in that article.  It was an honor to see you all highlighting the article in Nature.  Thank you for all you have done!
(Salvador Cordova, George Mason University)

“I shudder to think of the many ways in which you mislead readers, encouraging them to build a faith based on misunderstanding and ignorance.  Why don’t you allow people to have a faith that is grounded in a fuller understanding of the world?... Your website is a sham.”
(a co-author of the paper reviewed in the 12/03/2003 entry who did not appreciate the unflattering commentary.  This led to a cordial interchange, but he could not divorce his reasoning from the science vs. faith dichotomy, and resulted in an impasse over definitions – but, at least, a more mutually respectful dialogue.  He never did explain how his paper supported Darwinian macroevolution.  He just claimed evolution is a fact.)

“I absolutely love creation-evolution news.  As a Finnish university student very interested in science, I frequent your site to find out about all the new science stuff that’s been happening — you have such a knack for finding all this information!  I have been able to stump evolutionists with knowledge gleaned from your site many times.”
(a student in Finland)

“I love your site and read it almost every day.  I use it for my science class and 5th grade Sunday School class.  I also challenge Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers to get on the site to check out articles against the baloney they are taught in school.”
(a teacher in Los Gatos, CA)

“I have spent quite a few hours at Creation Evolution Headlines in the past week or so going over every article in the archives.  I thank you for such an informative and enjoyable site.  I will be visiting often and will share this link with others.”
[Later] “ I am back to May 2004 in the archives.  I figured I should be farther back, but there is a ton of information to digest.”
(a computer game designer in Colorado)

“The IDEA Center also highly recommends visiting Creation-Evolution Headlines... the most expansive and clearly written origins news website on the internet!”
(endorsement on Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center)

“Hey Friends, Check out this site: www.creationsafaris.com.  This is a fantastic resource for the whole family.... a fantastic reference library with summaries, commentaries and great links that are added to daily—archives go back five years.”
(a reader who found us in Georgia)

“I just wanted to drop you a note telling you that at www.BornAgainRadio.com, I’ve added a link to your excellent Creation-Evolution news site.”
(a radio announcer)

“I cannot understand why anyone would invest so much time and effort to a website of sophistry and casuistry.  Why twist Christian apology into an illogic pretzel to placate your intellect?  Isn’t it easier to admit that your faith has no basis -- hence, ‘faith’.  It would be extricate [sic] yourself from intellectual dishonesty -- and from bearing false witness.”
Sincerely, Rev. [name withheld] (an ex-Catholic, “apostate Christian” Natural/Scientific pantheist)

“Just wanted to let you folks know that we are consistent readers and truly appreciate the job you are doing.  God bless you all this coming New Year.”
(from two prominent creation researchers/writers in Oregon)

“Thanks so much for your site!  It is brain candy!”
(a reader in North Carolina)

“I Love your site – probably a little too much.  I enjoy the commentary and the links to the original articles.”
(a civil engineer in New York)

“I’ve had your Creation/Evolution Headlines site on my favourites list for 18 months now, and I can truthfully say that it’s one of the best on the Internet, and I check in several times a week.  The constant stream of new information on such a variety of science issues should impress anyone, but the rigorous and humourous way that every thought is taken captive is inspiring.  I’m pleased that some Christians, and indeed, some webmasters, are devoting themselves to producing real content that leaves the reader in a better state than when they found him.”
(a community safety manager in England)

“I really appreciate the effort that you are making to provide the public with information about the problems with the General Theory of Evolution.  It gives me ammunition when I discuss evolution in my classroom.  I am tired of the evolutionary dogma.  I wish that more people would stand up against such ridiculous beliefs.”
(a science teacher in Alabama)

“If you choose to hold an opinion that flies in the face of every piece of evidence collected so far, you cannot be suprised [sic] when people dismiss your views.”
(a “former Christian” software distributor, location not disclosed)

“...the Creation Headlines is the best.  Visiting your site... is a standard part of my startup procedures every morning.”
(a retired Air Force Chaplain)

“I LOVE your site and respect the time and work you put into it.  I read the latest just about EVERY night before bed and send selection[s] out to others and tell others about it.  I thank you very much and keep up the good work (and humor).”
(a USF grad in biology)

“Answering your invitation for thoughts on your site is not difficult because of the excellent commentary I find.  Because of the breadth and depth of erudition apparent in the commentaries, I hope I’m not being presumptuous in suspecting the existence of contributions from a ‘Truth Underground’ comprised of dissident college faculty, teachers, scientists, and engineers.  If that’s not the case, then it is surely a potential only waiting to be realized.  Regardless, I remain in awe of the care taken in decomposing the evolutionary cant that bombards us from the specialist as well as popular press.”
(a mathematician/physicist in Arizona)

“I’m from Quebec, Canada.  I have studied in ‘pure sciences’ and after in actuarial mathematics.  I’m visiting this site 3-4 times in a week.  I’m learning a lot and this site gives me the opportunity to realize that this is a good time to be a creationist!”
(a French Canadian reader)

“I LOVE your Creation Safari site, and the Baloney Detector material.  OUTSTANDING JOB!!!!”
(a reader in the Air Force)

“You have a unique position in the Origins community.  Congratulations on the best current affairs news source on the origins net.  You may be able to write fast but your logic is fun to work through.”
(a pediatrician in California)

“Visit your site almost daily and find it very informative, educational and inspiring.”
(a reader in western Canada)

“I wish to thank you for the information you extend every day on your site.  It is truly a blessing!”
(a reader in North Carolina)

“I really appreciate your efforts in posting to this website.  I find it an incredibly useful way to keep up with recent research (I also check science news daily) and also to research particular topics.”
(an IT consultant from Brisbane, Australia)

“I would just like to say very good job with the work done here, very comprehensive.  I check your site every day.  It’s great to see real science directly on the front lines, toe to toe with the pseudoscience that's mindlessly spewed from the ‘prestigious’ science journals.”
(a biology student in Illinois)

“I’ve been checking in for a long time but thought I’d leave you a note, this time.  Your writing on these complex topics is insightful, informative with just the right amount of humor.  I appreciate the hard work that goes into monitoring the research from so many sources and then writing intelligently about them.”
(an investment banker in California)

“Keep up the great work.  You are giving a whole army of Christians plenty of ammunition to come out of the closet (everyone else has).  Most of us are not scientists, but most of the people we talk to are not scientists either, just ordinary people who have been fed baloney for years and years.”
(a reader in Arizona)

“Keep up the outstanding work!  You guys really ARE making a difference!”
(a reader in Texas)

“I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say that ‘science’ is not hostile towards ‘religion’.  It is the dogmatically religious that are unwaveringly hostile towards any kind of science which threatens their dearly-held precepts.  ‘Science’ (real, open-minded science) is not interested in theological navel-gazing.”
(anonymous)
Note: Please supply your name and location when writing in.  Anonymous attacks only make one look foolish and cowardly, and will not normally be printed.  This one was shown to display a bad example.

“I appreciate reading your site every day.  It is a great way to keep up on not just the new research being done, but to also keep abreast of the evolving debate about evolution (Pun intended).... I find it an incredibly useful way to keep up with recent research (I also check science news daily) and also to research particular topics.”
(an IT consultant in Brisbane, Australia)

“I love your website.”
(a student at a state university who used CEH when writing for the campus newsletter)

“....when you claim great uncertainty for issues that are fairly well resolved you damage your already questionable credibility.  I’m sure your audience loves your ranting, but if you know as much about biochemistry, geology, astronomy, and the other fields you skewer, as you do about ornithology, you are spreading heat, not light.”
(a professor of ornithology at a state university, responding to the 09/10/2002 headline)

“I wanted to let you know I appreciate your headline news style of exposing the follies of evolutionism.... Your style gives us constant, up-to-date reminders that over and over again, the Bible creation account is vindicated and the evolutionary fables are refuted.”
(a reader, location unknown)

“You have a knack of extracting the gist of a technical paper, and digesting it into understandable terms.”
(a nuclear physicist from Lawrence Livermore Labs who worked on the Manhattan Project)

“After spending MORE time than I really had available going thru your MANY references I want to let you know how much I appreciate the effort you have put forth.
The information is properly documented, and coming from recognized scientific sources is doubly valuable.  Your explanatory comments and sidebar quotations also add GREATLY to your overall effectiveness as they 1) provide an immediate interpretive starting point and 2) maintaining the reader’s interest.”
(a reader in Michigan)

“I am a huge fan of the site, and check daily for updates.”
(reader location and occupation unknown)

“I just wanted to take a minute to personally thank-you and let you know that you guys are providing an invaluable service!  We check your Web site weekly (if not daily) to make sure we have the latest information in the creation/evolution controversy.  Please know that your diligence and perseverance to teach the Truth have not gone unnoticed.  Keep up the great work!”
(a PhD scientist involved in origins research)

“You've got a very useful and informative Web site going.  The many readers who visit your site regularly realize that it requires considerable effort to maintain the quality level and to keep the reviews current....  I hope you can continue your excellent Web pages.  I have recommended them highly to others.”
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)

“As an apprentice apologist, I can always find an article that will spark a ‘spirited’ debate.  Keep ’em coming!  The Truth will prevail.”
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)

“Thanks for your web page and work.  I try to drop by at least once a week and read what you have.  I’m a Christian that is interested in science (I’m a mechanical engineer) and I find you topics interesting and helpful.  I enjoy your lessons and insights on Baloney Detection.”
(a year later):
“I read your site 2 to 3 times a week; which I’ve probably done for a couple of years.  I enjoy it for the interesting content, the logical arguments, what I can learn about biology/science, and your pointed commentary.”
(a production designer in Kentucky)

“I look up CREV headlines every day.  It is a wonderful source of information and encouragement to me.... Your gift of discerning the fallacies in evolutionists interpretation of scientific evidence is very helpful and educational for me.  Please keep it up.  Your website is the best I know of.”
(a Presbyterian minister in New South Wales, Australia)

“I’ve written to you before, but just wanted to say again how much I appreciate your site and all the work you put into it.  I check it almost every day and often share the contents (and web address) with lists on which I participate.  I don’t know how you do all that you do, but I am grateful for your energy and knowledge.”
(a prominent creationist author)

“I am new to your site, but I love it!  Thanks for updating it with such cool information.”
(a home schooler)

“I love your site.... Visit every day hoping for another of your brilliant demolitions of the foolish just-so stories of those who think themselves wise.”
(a reader from Southern California)

“I visit your site daily for the latest news from science journals and other media, and enjoy your commentary immensely.  I consider your web site to be the most valuable, timely and relevant creation-oriented site on the internet.”
(a reader from Ontario, Canada)

“Keep up the good work!  I thoroughly enjoy your site.”
(a reader in Texas)

“Thanks for keeping this fantastic web site going.  It is very informative and up-to-date with current news including incisive insight.”
(a reader in North Carolina)

“Great site!  For all the Baloney Detector is impressive and a great tool in debunking wishful thinking theories.”
(a reader in the Netherlands)

“Just wanted to let you know, your work is having quite an impact.  For example, major postings on your site are being circulated among the Intelligent Design members....”
(a PhD organic chemist)

“It’s like ‘opening a can of worms’ ... I love to click all the related links and read your comments and the links to other websites, but this usually makes me late for something else.  But it’s ALWAYS well worth it!!”
(a leader of a creation group)

“I am a regular visitor to your website ... I am impressed by the range of scientific disciplines your articles address.  I appreciate your insightful dissection of the often unwarranted conclusions evolutionists infer from the data... Being a medical doctor, I particularly relish the technical detail you frequently include in the discussion living systems and processes.  Your website continually reinforces my conviction that if an unbiased observer seeks a reason for the existence of life then Intelligent Design will be the unavoidable conclusion.”
(a medical doctor)

“A church member asked me what I thought was the best creation web site.  I told him CreationSafaris.com.”
(a PhD geologist)

“I love your site... I check it every day for interesting information.  It was hard at first to believe in Genesis fully, but now I feel more confident about the mistakes of humankind and that all their reasoning amounts to nothing in light of a living God.”
(a college grad)

“Thank you so much for the interesting science links and comments on your creation evolution headlines page ... it is very informative.”
(a reader from Scottsdale, AZ)

“I still visit your site almost every day, and really enjoy it.  Great job!!!  (I also recommend it to many, many students.)
(an educational consultant)

“I like what I see–very much.  I really appreciate a decent, calm and scholarly approach to the whole issue... Thanks ... for this fabulous endeavor–it’s superb!”

“It is refreshing to read your comments.  You have a knack to get to the heart of the matter.”
(a reader in the Air Force).

“Love your website.  It has well thought out structure and will help many through these complex issues.  I especially love the Baloney Detector.”
(a scientist).

“I believe this is one of the best sites on the Internet.  I really like your side-bar of ‘truisms.’  Yogi [Berra] is absolutely correct.  If I were a man of wealth, I would support you financially.”
(a registered nurse in Alabama, who found us on TruthCast.com.)

“WOW.  Unbelievable.... My question is, do you sleep? ... I’m utterly impressed by your page which represents untold amounts of time and energy as well as your faith.”
(a mountain man in Alaska).

“Just wanted to say that I recently ran across your web site featuring science headlines and your commentary and find it to be A++++, superb, a 10, a homerun – I run out of superlatives to describe it! ... You can be sure I will visit your site often – daily when possible – to gain the latest information to use in my speaking engagements.  I’ll also do my part to help publicize your site among college students.  Keep up the good work.  Your material is appreciated and used.”
(a college campus minister)

 
Featured Creation Scientist for May

Douglas Dewar
1875 - 1957

An eminent ornithologist and former evolutionist, Douglas Dewar helped organize a movement against the theory of evolution in Britain in the post-Scopes era.

The following description of his life is taken from Men of Science, Men of God by Henry M. Morris:

Douglas Dewar (1875 - 1957) was a founder of the Evolution Protest Movement in London in 1932 and was a long-time leader of this organization.  He had been a graduate of Cambridge in Natural Science and was an evolutionist in his early career, even authoring books on evolution.  He had a distinguished career in India, both in politics and as a naturalist and ornithologist, authoring more than 20 books on the birds and the history of India.  After he became a Christian and creationist, when he was about 50 years of age, he wrote numerous papers and books expounding the scientific basis of creationism.  He was elected Vice President of the Victoria Institute and participated in a number of both written and oral creation/evolution debates with leading British evolutionists, including H. S. Shelton, J. B. S. Haldane, and Joseph McCabe.”

The Evolution Protest Movement is now called the Creation Science Movement and is still active.  Their website mentions Douglas Dewar as one of the prime movers of the organization.  His title is listed as “barrister and Auditor General of the Indian Civil Service.”  He served as the EPM’s third president from 1946 to 1957, the year he died.

Some may remember a palm-sized booklet distributed by the Evolution Protest Movement that summarized key scientific evidences against Darwin’s ideas.  This booklet was widely circulated in the 1950s and 1960s when few creationist resources were available.

A search on Amazon.com shows that 38 books by Douglas Dewar are still listed.  To have written 20 books on birds of India, the Himalayas and Kashmir suggests years of travel, adventure, and detailed scientific observation in a country far distant from his native land. 

Among the many scientific books on birds and ornithology, the catalog lists half a dozen other books by Dewar on the creation/evolution controversy. Most notably, his anti-evolution book The Transformist Illusion (1957) received three five-star ratings by reviewers.  The reviews are well worth reading.

Another book is a debate against J. B. S. Haldane.  For Dewar to take on this prominent evolutionary theorist is noteworthy.  Remember what evolutionist Steve Jones said about Haldane? (09/02/2004) –

Set against the bearded bigot [R. A. Fisher], the Gandalf-like figure of Haldane is revealed in a rather better light.  A daring and often reckless experimenter, he was known in the trenches as the Rajah of Bomb and was pursued by the whiff of cordite [smokeless powder] throughout his career.  He stuck with the Communist party long after his colleagues had abandoned it, and Kohn provides a telling account of Haldane’s readiness to support Comrade Lysenko even in the face of powerful evidence against his theories.

So if the communist Haldane was fond of Lysenko, who is today roundly denounced as a mad scientist responsible for artificial famines in Russia and China that killed millions, what should we think of Haldane’s adherence to “Chairman Charles” as Jones called Darwin?  This should be an interesting debate to go back and review.

Douglas Dewar gives the lie to the myth that creationists are atavisms from the church indoctrination of their youth and cannot accept evolution for religious reasons.  Here, a man was an esteemed scientist with a long scientific and publishing career, with political leadership experience, before he turned against Darwinism in his mature years.  He was so adamant in his scientific objections to evolution, he devoted himself to the formation of an Evolution Protest Movement and helped lead it for 12 years in his 70s and 80s.  In addition, he debated leading evolutionists, and wrote books that are still highly regarded today.


If you are enjoying this series, you can learn more about great Christians in science by reading our online book-in-progress:
The World’s Greatest Creation Scientists from Y1K to Y2K.

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 according 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).

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