Creation-Evolution Headlines
September 2007
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“Nevertheless, it was to Darwin’s friends that the first wave of positive responses must be attributed.  For it was obvious that Darwin’s theories were as useful to them as they were to his theories.  Over the following decades, Darwin’s defenders came to occupy influential niches in British and American intellectual life.  Together, these men would also control the scientific media of the day, especially the important journals....Darwin’s opponents failed to achieve anything like the same command of the media or penetration of significant institutions.”
—Janet Browne, Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Princeton, 2002), p. 129.
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Evolutionists Say Parasites Made Humans Successful   09/30/2007    
“If cooperation has been the secret to our evolutionary success, we may have our parasites to thank for that.”  That’s a pretty big If, but that’s what two evolutionary biologists claimed this month Current Biology.1  The cooperative behaviors naturally selected in evolutionary host-parasite wars, by implication, are what gave human beings the ability to build cities, governments and scientific laboratories – like the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh, where Andy Gardner and Stuart A. West work.
    Surprisingly, their claim came at the end of an article that discussed primarily the downfall of one of the leading theories for social cooperation: the kin selection theory of W. D. Hamilton.  Their first paragraph explained why this theory fails:

Cooperation abounds in the natural world, and biologists are faced with the difficulty of reconciling this fact with the principle of the ‘survival of the fittest’.  A fundamental step in our understanding of cooperation was provided by W. D. Hamilton’s theory of inclusive fitness.  This reveals that altruistic behaviour, where an individual pays a direct fitness cost in order to enhance the fitness of others, can be favoured by selection if individuals tend to promote the reproductive success of their genetic relatives.  This raises the question of how altruists ensure that their selfless behaviour is directed primarily towards their kin.  One possibility is genetic kin recognition, where individuals identify close kin on the basis of physical similarity because relatives look more similar than unrelated individuals.  Despite the apparent incentive for such kin recognition, however, there is relatively poor empirical support for this mechanism in nature.  A new theoretical study of genetic kin recognition by Francois Rousset and Denis Roze reveals that, left to its own evolutionary devices, this mechanism will drive itself to ruin.
They proceeded to demonstrate that theoretical and observational evidence for Hamilton’s celebrated theory for the origin of cooperation is rare in nature, if it works at all.  There was only one example they could provide: parasitism.
But all is not lost for genetic kin recognition.  As Crozier suggested, the mechanism could be stabilised by extrinsic processes that maintain marker diversity.  Rousset and Roze have confirmed this by incorporating an ad hoc advantage to rare markers into their model and found that, provided this was sufficiently strong relative to the fitness consequences of altruism, genetic kin recognition is maintained and selflessness prevails.  This could explain why, when genetic kin recognition does occur, it often involves genes that are implicated in host-parasite interactions, a potent source of strong balancing selection.  The paragon of genetic kin recognition is the detection of major histocompatibility (MHC) genes, involved in immune function, upon which rodents and humans appear to decide their social and sexual relationships.
And that was the context for their ending sentence quoted earlier: “If cooperation has been the secret to our evolutionary success, we may have our parasites to thank for that.”
    This statement clearly implies far more than a desire to uncover a mechanism for evolutionary behavior.  It is implying that our deepest relationships and longings, even to the point of self-sacrifice for one we love, is rooted in blind, uncaring processes of evolution at the genetic level.  Ultimately, it is a claim that selflessness is an illusion, arising from Darwinian selfishness.
    With the downfall of Hamilton’s popular theory, there may be no current working model for the origin of human love, cooperation and reasoning.  Of one thing Gardner and West are sure, however: they came about by Darwinian survival of the fittest.
1Andy Gardner and Stuart A. West, “Social Evolution: The Decline and Fall of Genetic Kin Recognition,” Current Biology, Volume 17, Issue 18, 18 September 2007, pages R810-R812, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.07.030.
Scene: a university science lab.  Excuse me, sir.  May I help you, officers?  We’re looking for a Dr. Darwinlover.  That’s me; what is this about?  I’m afraid we’ll have to take you into custody.  You’re under arrest.  Wha...? On what grounds?  What’s going on here?  According to our warrant, you are being charged with impersonating a scientist, violating established laws, and using academic resources to promote a narrow religious agenda.  What are you talking about?  Who are you?  The CEH Police.  I’ve never heard of you.  We are a non-governmental agency of trained volunteers authorized by the court to conduct citizen’s arrests.  What court?  The court of public opinion.
    You can’t do this to me.  I’m a scientist.  So you say.  We hear that one all the time.  Please don’t cause a disturbance, sir.  We’re just doing our job.  And violating the laws... what laws?  The laws of logic, sir. What are you talking about?  I told you I’m a scientist.  According to the warrant, you claimed, in writing, that human behavior evolved by a material process of evolution, but then reasoned as if this represented a true account of human origins.  So?  Truth cannot evolve, sir.  According to the prosecutor, this represents a contradiction.  According to the law of non-contradiction, this is punishable by demotion to the realm of the irrational – in other words, losing your license to practice science.
    And I’m not promoting any religious agenda!  I’m an atheist!  According to the federal courts, atheistic humanism is a religion.  The prosecutor said you went far beyond the empirical evidence and taught your own personal beliefs using academic resources.  But lots of scientists are atheists!  What you believe in your private life is protected free speech, sir, but scientists are not supposed to use their academic positions to promote a narrow religious agenda, according to your own writings.  This is another one of the counts of violating the laws of logic being charged against you.  In fact, the count alleges that you yourself used this very argument to convince the dean to deprive a colleague of tenure because of his private religious beliefs.
    This is outrageous.  Nobody has ever accused me of such things.  Ignorance of the law is no excuse, sir.  Scientists have a position of high trust in our culture.  Presumably, when you took this position, you committed to abide by the laws of logic and should have received the proper instruction in the law.  But I’ve written things like that paper all my professional life.  And so have all my colleagues!  Are you confessing to collusion, sir?
    For crying out loud, I haven’t done anything that isn’t common practice among all my peers.  I realize that, sir.  The chief recognizes this is a widespread problem.  He has decided it’s time to start cracking down.  The only way to make progress is by tackling one case at a time.  Why me?  He decided to make you an example, so that others would hear, and fear, and commit no more such abomination in the land.
    What will they do to me?  Most likely, you will be given an opportunity to confess your crimes, then cease and desist.  For a probationary period, your speaking and writing will be under surveillance.  However, if you persist in irrational behavior, repeat offenses will lead to your being stripped of your credibility.  Hardened criminals might even be pilloried in public.
    And if I fail to cooperate?  You have the right to remain silent.  But remember, anything you speak or write can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion.  What’s with the dog?  That’s our K9 unit; Apollos here is trained to sniff out contraband[Barking and a brief scuffle ensues.]
Tune in tomorrow for the next exciting episode of: Creation-Evolution Headlines, the top-rated science investigative reporting show, featuring Apollos, the wonder dog.  Brought to you by Master Plan, the universal leader in information management design technology, and by Moral Support, a global network of encouragement.
Next headline on:  Darwin and Evolutionary TheoryDumb Ideas
  Material girl in a material world: not a formula for happiness, from 09/17/2003.

Astronomy Columnist Tackles Naturalism vs. Intelligence   09/29/2007    
Bob Berman is an unusual columnist for a science magazine.  He’s independent-thinking, unafraid to tackle big questions and criticize powerful institutions, but all the while able to keep a sense of humor.  In his monthly column “Bob Berman’s Strange Universe” in the November issue of Astronomy (p. 10), he took a moment from munching on his hot dog under the moon to think big.  “Astronomy leads us to deep issues,” he began.  “Many are so profound, we can’t even handle them.”  In “Hall of Mirrors,” he nevertheless handled, in his own whimsical way, some of the biggest: quantum theory, consciousness, perception, time, space, and intelligence.

Take the question of intelligence lurking throughout the cosmos.  This topic arises when we look for life beneath the martian surface or perform SETI searches.  We assume life is out there, but we don’t know its limits....
    Or consider nature itself, which most of us feel is smart.  Yet, it supposedly arose randomly from inert matter.  So we have this universe, which is basically as dumb as gravel.  A few billion years ago, some witless bits of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen slammed together for awhile until out popped Kobayashi – the Japanese competitive eater who devours hot dogs.  How carbon and oxygen atoms should have ever developed a taste for frankfurters is mysterious.  But there you have it, and it probably happened on other worlds, too.  We’re left with a combo plate: Some of the universe is smart, some of it is dumb.  We’re never quite sure where to draw the line.
So given that the source of intelligence in the universe is a profound mystery, who does a better job explaining it: scientists, or theologians?  Berman switches the conventional whipping boys:
If all this sounds far-out, well, you bet it is – although no more so than the standard model where the universe popped out of nothingness like a jack-in-the-box.  Any way you slice it, the biggest aspects of the cosmos are strange and mysterious.
    Religions push back these mysteries by one step, and science, understandably, finds this unhelpful, even if it cannot come to the rescue itself.  We’re left with the stuff no one talks about, the uncle with the facial tic that everyone tries to ignore.
    I think mysteries are among the best parts of astronomy, the perfect accompaniments to a starry night.  Scientists love ’em too, as they brilliantly chip away.  It would be nice, however, if cosmologists would put a lid on their arrogant ghetto-talk about their latest theory of everything and admit – just once in a while – that their knowledge is a single snowflake in the blizzard of the unknown.
So even though he called it a draw, he reserved his biggest put-down for the standard cosmologists.  No worries, mate: “Me, I’m gonna observe the Moon,” he ended amicably.  “Want a hot dog?”
Bob Berman is a rare columnist unafraid to stand up to the big guys in Big Science when he thinks they are a bunch of clueless loudmouths who don’t know what they are talking about (see 10/06/2004).  Bravo.
    Is it really adding another step, though, to posit God as the Author of intelligence?  Is it really unhelpful?  This common misconception needs to be put in its place.  Carl Sagan used this in Cosmos as one of his many digs at religion, saying “Why not save a step, and say that the origin of the universe is an unanswerable question?”  Don’t just swallow this line and feel intimidated by it.  It’s time to go on offense:
  • It begs the question that saving a step is a good thing.  Sometimes it is, but not always.  Should a pilot save a step, and skip over his flight checklist?
  • It is not really saving a step.  Materialists have exactly the same problem.  They need a step to explain the origin of the cosmos, so in the place of God, they put a multiverse, nothingness, or their own imaginations.  If anything, they are adding steps if not multiplying them.
  • Omitting a source of intelligence for the cosmos leaves intelligence unexplained.  It is a deficient answer.
  • Supposing that intelligence can arise from non-intelligent matter (Berman’s “dumb as gravel” stuff) has no empirical support.  It is tantamount to ascribing God-like powers to inanimate objects.
  • Skipping the question just because it is mysterious is a cop-out.  This is an arbitrary move in a debate, which spells death to logic.  Deal with it.  Either explain how intelligence arose spontaneously without an intelligent cause, or consider the alternatives honestly, without arrogance.
  • Rational discussion is impossible in a material universe of impersonal, unintelligent particles and forces, because reasoning presupposes the existence of truth and the laws of logic – which are immaterial and unchangeable.  Deny that and your arguments become arbitrary and inconsistent; i.e., you forfeit the debate.
In a day when most science reporters and columnists just regurgitate whatever scientists say about everything, it is refreshing to see an exception every once in awhile.  Bob understands the enormity of these questions for religion and philosophy and does not endure arrogant posturing even by the inhabitants of powerful ghettos.  We applaud Mr. Berman for having the guts to call it like he sees it.
Next headline on:  CosmologySETIIntelligent Design
Molecular Machines Under the Nanoscope   09/28/2007    
Seeing machines just billionths of a meter long seems impossible, but cell biologists are now routinely looking into the cellular black box.  Using indirect but powerful methods, they can actually begin to visualize the gears and wheels and cogs of the protein machines that make life possible.  Some of our favorite cell gadgets were examined in recent papers.
  1. Bacterial flagellum:  A paper in Nature: Molecular Systems Biology1 juxtaposed design language with evolutionary speculation.  Rajagopala et al began with high praise for the Ferrari of the cellular world:
    Motility in most bacterial species depends on a sophisticated molecular machine called the flagellum.  The flagellar apparatus is made of dozens of different proteins and thousands of individual subunits.  The bacterial flagellum is actually a mechanical nanomachine with a rotation frequency of 300 Hz, an energy conversion rate of nearly 100%, and the ability to self assemble.
    So far this sounds like Michael Behe’s writing.  Indeed, these authors representing three countries found even more essential protein parts for the flagellum – take one away, in other words, and motion stops.  But the gist of their paper was that the variety of flagella in different species shows evolution: “Many features of the bacterial flagellum have changed over the course of evolution,” they said.  “This is reflected in the surprisingly different composition and protein interaction patterns in the flagella of different species, which may reflect adaptations to species-specific motility needs.”
        Yet their argument was based entirely on homology.  They did not explain how needs produced functional, adapting flagella.  They merely built an evolutionary tree based on similarities:
    The bacterial flagellum represents an interesting entity to study the evolution of complex biological machines.  For an evolutionary view of the flagellum on the protein level, we constructed a phylogenetic supertree solely based on flagellar protein sequences.  As anticipated, this tree closely recapitulates phylogenetic relationships identified, employing traditional phylogenetic marker molecules such as rRNAs.
        Whereas it is generally believed that the motility machinery evolved from an ancient type III secretion system, the detailed steps leading to current structures have yet to be defined....
        Similar to protein sequences and structures, interactions among proteins are often conserved in the course of evolution.  In fact, the phylogenetic relationships of different species are partially reflected by the phylogenetic interaction profile of the integrated network.
    Conservation is not evolution.  Phylogenetic tree construction, furthermore, presumes the very question under investigation: that flagella evolved in the first place.  And as any creationist would say, adaptation is not proof of evolution; it is proof of design.
        In summary, these authors could not help but marvel at the flagellum.  They found an even more amazing network of interactions among the conserved protein parts.  Their conclusions about evolution, however, were based only on arguably circular arguments from homology.  Indeed, “the detailed steps leading to current structures have yet to be defined” in their own article.

  2. ATP Synthase:  A team of UK scientists publishing in PNAS investigated one detail of the other sophisticated rotary motor in all of life: ATP synthase.2 (See 09/18/2003, 07/16/2002.)  They wanted to know how a regulatory protein named IF1 inhibits the motor, like a Denver boot.  (After all, a high-performance motor usually comes with brakes.)  Stopping a spinning motor is not a simple matter.  They found it takes a complex set of protein interactions that forms an “inhibitory complex” with the machine like – well, let them explain:
    To form these complex interactions and penetrate into the core of the enzyme, it is likely that the initial interaction of the inhibitor with F1 forms via the open conformation of the {beta}E subunit.  Then, as two ATP molecules are hydrolyzed, the {beta}E-{alpha}E interface converts to the {beta}DP-{alpha}DP interface via the {beta}TP-{alpha}TP interface, trapping the inhibitor progressively in its binding site and a nucleotide in the catalytic site of subunit {beta}DP.  The inhibition probably arises by IF1 imposing the structure and properties of the {beta}TP-{alpha}TP interface on the {beta}DP-{alpha}DP interface, thereby preventing it from hydrolyzing the bound ATP.
  3. Transfer RNA:  One of the most amazing sets of machines, on which all forms of life depend, is the crew of translators that know which amino acid goes with which codon from the DNA code.  A family of 20 of these molecules, known as aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, or aaRS for short, exists – one for each amino acid.  Each one knows its own amino acid and tRNA so well the accuracy of their operation is stunning.  Even when there are cognate codons (three-letter codes that differ yet code for the same amino acid), the machines rarely make a mistake.  For instance, metRS, the synthetase for methionine, can match two cognate codons with the right amino acid every time and eject very similar ones.
        Herein lies a mystery: if you look at a tRNA molecule (which looks something like a letter t), and the synthetase that works on it, the two active sites are separated by some distance.  The anticodon on the tRNA is on the bottom of the "t", but the amino acid binding site is at the other end – a whopping seven nanometers away.  Seven nanometers may not sound like a lot, but at the molecular scale, that’s a lot.  How does one end of a blind machine communicate with the other end?
        To find out, two Indian researchers investigated metRS in detail and published their results in PNAS.3  They found that vibrations ripple through the amino acids of the enzyme along four pathways.  The strongest one overrules the others when the twist is just right.  Furthermore, they found that these communications caused conformational changes – swings like a lever arm, flips and turns – that had to match the substrate in order to work.  The amino acid would only attach if all the contact points were just right:
    Furthermore, the network analysis on these simulated structures has been carried out to elucidate the paths of communication between the activation site and the anticodon recognition site.  This study has provided the detailed paths of communication, which are consistent with experimental results.... A comparison of the paths derived from the four simulations clearly has shown that the communication path is strongly correlated and unique to the enzyme complex, which is bound to both the tRNA and the activated methionine.
The second two articles did not discuss how these mechanisms could have evolved.  Indeed, it would be a challenge to think of a scenario how they could evolve, since life at the most basic, primitive level depends on the activity of these specialized enzymes.
1Rajagopala et al, “The protein network of bacterial motility,” Nature: Molecular Systems Biology 3 Article number: 128 doi:10.1038/msb4100166.
2Gledhill, Montgomery, Leslie and Walker, “How the regulatory protein, IF1, inhibits F1-ATPase from bovine mitochondria,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print September 25, 2007, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10.1073/pnas.0707326104.
3Ghosh and Vishveshwara, “A study of communication pathways in methionyl-tRNA synthetase by molecular dynamics simulations and structure network analysis,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print September 26, 2007, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10.1073/pnas.0704459104.
Let the evolutionists speculate and spin their webs of belief; we have the observational evidence in front of our noses that shout design.  The precision of fit of these parts, and the accuracy of their performance, is beyond any theory of chance and blind stumbling in the dark.  We do not accept the circular reasoning of the Darwinists who keep saying they evolved because they have a phylogenetic tree, and they have a phylogenetic tree because they evolved.  Those dependent clauses collapse in on themselves.  Neither do we accept the merry-go-round reasoning that says they are wonderfully adapted because they evolved, and they must have evolved because they are wonderfully adapted.  No more Darwinian rhetorical tricks.  Look, behold, wonder, and use your God-given common sense.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
  Museums train guides to deal with creationists, from 09/08/2005.  One trick: go to the restroom.

Don’t Just Sit There; Evolve   09/27/2007    
Have you ever wondered why your body doesn’t evolve?  After all, it is kind of like a population of trillions of organisms.  Why shouldn’t it follow the rules of natural selection?  Philip Ball asked this question in News@Nature recently.  “Evolution is usually thought of as something that happens to whole organisms,” he teased.  “But there’s no fundamental reason why, for multicelled organisms, it shouldn’t happen within a single organism too.”
    So why haven’t you evolved into something else by now?  The answer is as fascinating as it is unexpected: your body works overtime to keep you from evolving:

It’s not easy making a human.  Getting from a fertilized egg to a full-grown adult involves a near-miracle of orchestration, with replicating cells acquiring specialized functions in just the right places at the right times.  So you’d think that, having done the job once, our bodies would replace cells when required by the simplest means possible.
    Oddly, they don’t.  Our tissues don’t renew themselves by mere copying, with old skin cells dividing into new skin cells and so forth.  Instead, they keep repeating the laborious process of starting each cell from scratch.  Now scientists think they know why: it could be nature’s way of making sure that we don’t evolve as we grow older.
And it’s a good thing the body prevents you from evolving.  Ball explains that mutants would have a selective advantage to hijack your other cells without doing any work: “mutant cells that don’t do their specialized job so well tend to replicate more quickly than non-mutants, and so gain a competitive advantage, freeloading off the others,” he explained.  “In such a case, our wonderfully wrought bodies could grind to a halt.
    My, what would Charles Darwin think of that. 
This is too funny.  Not only did the pro-evolutionist writer Philip Ball knock off another Darwinian concept in the pro-Darwin rag Nature, he praised our “wonderfully wrought bodies” with their “near-miracle of orchestration” in language that would warm the heart of any believer in intelligent design.  My, what would Phillip Johnson think of that.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHuman BodyAmazing Facts
Stem-Cell Advocates Try to Shield Ethical Concerns   09/26/2007    
Would an embryonic stem cell by another name cease being human?  Several recent articles on embryonic stem cells are going beyond just touting the potential cures from the controversial research, which involves creating and destroying a human embryo.  Some are blurring the line between embryonic and adult stem cells (cf. 12/02/2006) and attempting to avoid ethically-charged language.  Here are some ways that reporters are trying to make ES cells more palatable to the public:
  1. ES joins the army:  An article on Science Daily claims that embryonic stem cells are being recruited in the war on terror.  A University of Georgia research claims that neural cells induced to multiply from stem cells can detect toxins in the environment, like on a battlefield.  The article fails to mention, however, why embryonic stem cells are needed, and whether adult stem cells could do the job just as well (cf. 07/19/2007).  It also begins with this misleading clause that suggests that embryonic stem cells have already produced cures: “For more than a decade, Steve Stice has dedicated his research using embryonic stem cells to improving the lives of people with degenerative diseases and debilitating injuries.”  The record shows, however, that only adult stem cells have produced therapies that can improve the lives of people, while embryonic stem cells arouse fears of a new era of eugenics (12/16/2006, 11/29/2006 08/13/2006).
  2. Get over it:  The Editorial in Nature 9/27 urged Germans to get over their ethical qualms about embryonic stem cells and get with the international stem cell gold rush (cf. 12/16/2005).  Some German ethicists have pointed to the success of adult stem cells to show that embryonic stem cells are unnecessary.  In urging a change, Nature used only bandwagon arguments (cf. 07/31/2006): “The majority of scientists agree that work on both adult and embryonic sources of stem cells should run in parallel until much more is understood about their biology,” the editorial said.  “But Germany is out of step with most European countries in permitting research only on human embryonic stem-cell lines that were created before January 2002, when regulations were first laid down.”  The article admitted that the creation of new ES cell lines “involves destroying human embryos,” but urged scientists to step up their campaigns against the opponents of the controversial research – many of whom are still smarting from the bad reputation Germany inherited from human medical research atrocities of the Nazis (04/07/2005, 02/28/2006, 12/16/2006).
  3. Kahuna:  In the same issue, Nature published an interview with Alan Trounson, newly appointed head of California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) – the $3 billion stem-cell center approved by California voters.  The differences in success between adult and embryonic cells were blurred in his statement, “Mesenchymal [multipotent] stem cells are already in clinical trials.  Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are coming of age....”  His ending statement was even more telling: “Adult stem cells are happening.  Embryonic stem cells will come into use, and they won’t be immediate cures for everything.  You need drugs and protocols as well as the cells, and you’ve got to work with the immune system.”  Yet California voters had been swayed by tear-jerking stories of invalids who would be cured by embryonic stem cells.  The problems from subjects’ immune systems rejecting embryonic stem cells have so far rendered them medically useless.  On top of that, Trounson made it clear that no cures are forthcoming any time soon (cf. 10/13/2006).
  4. Loaded words:  Because the words “embryonic” and “cloning” are touchy with the public, the US Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry is changing its name to the Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Registry.  Monya Baker reported in Nature 9/27 that this was intended to downplay ethically-charged words.  Baker quoted a professor of rhetoric who called this “linguistic deflation of public anxiety.”  The center was reacting to an executive order from President Bush that stem cell lines be expanded “in ethically responsible ways.” 
The same issue of Nature pointed to a promising avenue of research that might solve the ethical problems.  “For practical and ethical reasons, researchers are on the lookout for ways to reprogramme one mature cell type into another,” said Huafeng Xie and Stuart H. Orkin in News and Views.  “In one case, this might be as easy as switching off a single gene.”  They highlighted research that showed it may be possible to turn one kind of cell into another kind through a process of “cellular reprogramming.”  They pointed to a paper in the same issue by Cobaleda et al who found that “mature B cells can be converted to functional T cells, and reprogramming is achieved by B cells taking a step backwards to assume a more immature state.”  If so, it might become possible to take adult cells from a person and convert them back into an embryonic state – no ethical qualms involved.  “Such insights will, in turn, make the alteration of cell fates using modulation of gene expression and the generation of a specific cell population possible, which is a primary goal of regenerative medicine.”  See also the 06/06/2007 and 08/25/2006 entries.
As we have shown repeatedly before, ES stem-cell advocates are pushing their agenda past the ethical gatekeepers on selfish, pragmatic grounds, yet have no results to show for it.  The appeals are always for Nobel Prizes and staying ahead in the international sweepstakes.  Whenever an ethicist calls them on the questionable reasoning of taking one life to help another (07/11/2005), they hum and guffaw and dodge the issue.  Now they are trying to blur the language with euphemisms to pull the wool over our eyes.  Don’t let them get away with it (07/19/2007).
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsCell BiologyHealth
Did Evolution Hardwire Our Instincts?   09/25/2007    
Jeanna Brynner in Live Science is claiming that evolution hard-wired our brains to pay attention to people and animals more than to inanimate threats.  This is based on a paper by evolutionary psychologists at UC Santa Barbara.
The researchers say the finding supports the idea that natural selection molded mechanisms into our ancestors’ brains that were specialized for paying attention to humans and other animals.  These adaptive traits were then passed on to us. “We’re assuming that natural selection takes a long time to build anything anew and that ’s why this is left over from our past,” said study team member Leda Cosmides, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)....

“Having this pop-out attentional bias for animals is sort of a vestigial behavior,” said study team member Joshua New of Yale University’s Perception and Cognition Lab.

For accepting these claims at face value without laughing, Brynner wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week along with the perpetrators at UCSB.
Strange that evolution did not create a fear of falling coconuts or poison mushrooms.  Evolution also must have taught us that bear cubs and tiger cubs are cute, even when the mother is snarling a few yards away.  Maybe in a few million years, evolution will finally get it right that electrical outlets are dangerous (if any people remain that survive electrocution).  Maybe then our brains will have gotten it straight that we shouldn’t step in front of speeding vehicles, and that most spiders are harmless and cute.  Long before then, Brynner and the UCSB scientists will have comfortably retired with no fear of falsification.
    Isn’t evolutionary psychology wonderful?  It can explain anything.  All you need is a good imagination and some funding.  Let’s try some intelligently-designed shame on the Darwinian mythmakers to see if they evolve any sense.
Next headline on:  DarwinismEarly ManDumb Ideas
More Impacts on Crater Count Dating   09/25/2007    
Planetary scientists have relied on crater counts to estimate the surface age of a planet or moon.  The more craters, the older the surface.  This method has recently come under closer scrutiny (see 10/20/2005) because of the phenomenon of secondary cratering.
    A simplistic look at a crater-scarred planet or moon might lead one to assume a ratio of one impactor to one crater.  Planetary scientists have been realizing, however, that a big enough rock can produce many craters.  Another paper on this subject was published in Icarus this month.1  A team of Russian and American planetologists announced three findings from studies of Mars:
  1. Small clusters:  Some impactors break up in the atmosphere and produce small clusters of craters 100 to 300 meters wide, each pockmark a few tens of meters in diameter.  The breakup of weak cometary bodies on entry through the Martian atmosphere could be responsible for some of these small clusters.
  2. Large clusters:  The team identified a second population of larger clusters, distinct from the small clusters.  Their models indicated that one giant impact can launch numerous fragments as big as hundreds of meters across.  Some fragments can be ejected above escape velocity, but many will remain and fall back to the planet.  On Mars, the weakened fragments tend to break up in the atmosphere into sizes 5 to 50 meters, which is why clusters with similar size distributions are not seen on our airless moon.
        Secondaries can often be identified along rays from the primary crater, but not always.  The fragments can travel long distances, flying through the atmosphere for more than an hour, “making it difficult to identify the parent crater.”  The authors explained that for fragments ejected from a primary impact, “launch at 3 km/s can distribute fragments over much of a hemisphere, and launch at 4 km/s can distribute fragments over most of Mars....”  Escape velocity on Mars is 5 km/s.
  3. Martian meteorites:  The meteorites found on Earth that originated on Mars appear to require impactors 3-7 km across.  An impactor hitting at an oblique angle can produce jets nearly parallel to the surface capable of accelerating surface rocks to escape velocity.  This implies that many other fragments fail to escape.  “Clearly, if fragmenting debris is lofted to escape velocity in order to produce martian meteorites ... on Earth, then other debris is lofted to barely suborbital speeds and secondary impact pits must exist not just in near-primary swarms, but also in near-random positions scattered around Mars.”
The authors did not comment specifically on the implications of their findings on the crater-count dating method.  They worked within the standard Martian timescale with its three periods, Noachian (3.8 to 3.5 billion years ago),2 Hesperian (3.5 to 1.8 billion years ago) and Amazonian (1.8 billion years to the present): e.g., “We conclude that most of the clusters discussed here probably formed in the last half of martian time, not during the Noachian era.  For this reason, we suspect they formed under essentially present-day, low-pressure atmospheric conditions.”  The degree of uncertainty in dating the clusters, however, was evident in the following paragraph:
Further constraints are possible, from crater formation rate information.  Barlow and Osborne (2001) find most clusters on Noachian and Hesperian terrain, but some of our clusters, such as the one on Meridiani Planum (Fig.  4) and others on Olympus Mons, are found on geologically young surfaces.  This implies cluster formation within the last few hundred Myr, possibly within the last 20 Myr in the case of the sparsely cratered surface of Meridiani Planum, which may have been exhumed within the last tens of Myr (based on paucity of small sharp craters; [Hartmann et al., 2001] and [Hartmann, 2005]).  These results suggest clusters accumulating on surfaces throughout martian history.  Note that it is plausible that many young clusters on Mars might be products of a single large impact.
Yet could these age estimates themselves be undermined by the findings of the paper?  If crater-counting methods were used in establishing the commonly-accepted geological periods, how can they be considered reliable now, considering that a single large impact can produce secondaries at random locations across the whole planet?
    The authors hinted at the only logical answer to these questions after discussing various models for the fragmentation of incoming bodies: “All these assumptions suffer from limitations.”  Later, “Precise numbers of craters, their sizes and displacement are dependent on assumptions used,” they said.  As a matter of fact, the words assume and assumption appeared 19 times in the paper.
1Popova, Hartmann, Nemtchinov, Richardson and Berman, “Crater clusters on Mars: Shedding light on martian ejecta launch conditions,” Icarus Volume 190, Issue 1, September 2007, Pages 50-73, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2007.02.022.
2The Noachian epoch, after the prominent Martian region Noachis Terra (which means “Land of Noah”) was named because of the presumption that Mars was warm and wet early in its history.  This assumption was called into question last week (see 09/24/2007, bullet 2).
Despite their rigorous and admirable work of calculating and estimating the physical effects of impacting bodies on Mars, the authors could not think outside the box.  Their own work casts severe doubt on the ability to use crater counts as a dating method.  In principle, if one impact can produce ten million secondaries scattered around the whole planet (see 10/20/2005), there is no way to know how old the Martian surface is.  If anything, one would think the whole planet would have been saturated with craters in short order, hinting that the surface might be young.  And think about it: we’ve already seen several global dust storms in the 33 years since the first Martian orbiter.  How much weathering of craters would be expected in tens of millions of years?  And why is bedrock still clean-swept in large areas on Mars? (06/01/2005).
    Because these scientists began their modeling with undaunted faith in the Age of the Solar System (A.S.S.), a figure (4.5 billion years) that, according to the Law of the Needs of the Darwins cannot be altered, they had to make it all work within their mythical paradigm.  Their crater cluster formation model must fit within the scheme of imaginary Noachian, Hesperian and Amazonian epochs, even though their own work undermines the assumptions that went into making the scheme in the first place (for other problems with the current scheme, see Astrobiology Magazine).  What’s in a name?  Would calling them the Washingtonian, Lincolnian and Clintonian epochs make Mars blink an eye?  Let the discerning mind understand that the fancy charts of geological time scales on Mars and Earth are human impositions on the data – not inevitable products of the observations themselves.
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Upsets: Assumptions About Genes, Atmospheres Challenged   09/24/2007    
It’s not fun when a whole superstructure of scientific theories and models is found to rest on a shaky foundation.  That’s just what may be happening in two very different fields: genetics and planetary science:
  1. Lateral pass to the opposing team:  Building evolutionary trees by comparing genomes was supposed to be simple.  Sure, geneticists knew that some organisms could insert DNA into other organisms, but lateral gene transfer was supposed to be rare or limited to lower life-forms.  That assumption was called into question in Science on Sept. 21: a team of 20 researchers from 7 universities and genetics labs titled their paper, “Widespread Lateral Gene Transfer from Intracellular Bacteria to Multicellular Eukaryotes.”1
        Their findings from studying the Wolbachia genome may send shock waves through biology labs: “heritable lateral gene transfer occurs into eukaryotic hosts from their prokaryote symbionts, potentially providing a mechanism for acquisition of new genes and functions.”  Their concluding paragraph calls for a complete reevaluation of basic assumptions about lateral gene transfer (LGT):
    Whole eukaryote genome sequencing projects routinely exclude bacterial sequences on the assumption that these represent contamination.  For example, the publicly available assembly of D. ananassae does not include any of the Wolbachia sequences described here.  Therefore, the argument that the lack of bacterial genes in these assembled genomes indicates that bacterial LGT does not occur is circular and invalid.  Recent bacterial LGT to eukaryotic genomes will continue to be difficult to detect if bacterial sequences are routinely excluded from assemblies without experimental verification.  And these LGT events will remain understudied despite their potential to provide novel gene functions and affect arthropod and nematode genome evolution.  Because W. pipientis is among the most abundant intracellular bacteria and its hosts are among the most abundant animal phyla, the view that prokaryote-to-eukaryote transfers are uncommon and unimportant needs to be reevaluated.
  2. Gasid indigestion in planets:  Another assumption under fire has to do with gas ratios emanating from planets.  For decades, scientists have assumed that ratios of inert gases tell us something about a planet’s history and interior.  Now, a paper in Nature by Watson, Thomas and Cherniak of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, found that argon-40 is not coming out as fast as thought.2  So?  Chris Ballentine explained in the same issue of Nature3 that this has far-reaching implications on models of planetary origins.
        “We thought we knew how much gas Earth gives up, and how it does it,” he began, “but a challenge has emerged to the prevailing model.”  The implications affect models of plate tectonics, the physics of the mantle, the movement of radioactive decay products, and the origin of the terrestrial planets.  It appears now that argon and helium can be recycled into the mantle rather than being released.  Physicists measuring gas ratios at oceanic ridges, therefore, can no longer assume what they took for granted: that the rate of helium-3 and argon-40 emission reveals something about the rate of convection in the mantle.  “So does the Earth hold its breath?,” Ballentine ended.  “Someone has got it wrong.  Let’s hope we don’t have to hold our own breath too long to find out who.”
        This problem was reported in the popular press by EurekAlert and PhysOrg.  The press release made the extent of the problem of this “Argon conclusion” clear in the first paragraph:
    Geochemists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are challenging commonly held ideas about how gases are expelled from the Earth.  Their theory, which is described in the Sept. 20 issue of the journal Nature, could change the way scientists view the formation of Earth’s atmosphere and those of our distant neighbors, Mars and Venus.  Their data throw into doubt the timing and mechanism of atmospheric formation on terrestrial plants.
      Astrobiology Magazine also reported on this finding.  Watson remarked, “We can no longer assume that a partly melted region of the mantle will be stripped of all argon and, by extension, other noble gases.”  He added, “We may need to start reassessing our basic thinking on how the atmosphere and other large-scale systems were formed.”4

1Hotopp et al,“Widespread Lateral Gene Transfer from Intracellular Bacteria to Multicellular Eukaryotes,” Science 21 September 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5845, pp. 1753-1756, DOI: 10.1126/science.1142490.
2Watson, Thomas and Cherniak, “40Ar retention in the terrestrial planets,” Nature 449, 299-304 (20 September 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature06144.
3Chris J. Ballentine, “Geochemistry: Earth holds its breath,” Nature 449, 294-296 (20 September 2007) | doi:10.1038/449294a. 4Creation scientists may want to examine the implications of the Rensselaer study on radiometric dating methods.  An assumption underlying potassium-argon dating is that argon is not stored when lava is deposited.  If argon is not released readily, even at high temperatures, would this not make some deposits appear far older than expected?
Will the researchers at top levels notice these earthquakes in their underlying assumptions?  Will they explain them away?  What about the papers, books and press releases that now have to be rewritten?  We’ll leave it to specialists to explain the extent of the damage from these announcements, but here is an example of how science works.  Anything you thought you understood is always subject to challenge.
    We don’t accept the cynical description of a scientist as a blind drunk occasionally bumping his head into the lamp post of reality.  After all, we do successfully fly probes to the planets.  But beware the scientist who says “Now we know” this or that thing, especially when it comes to questions of unobserved history and unobservable domains.  The only thing about which you can say “Now we know” is that more such challenges lurk in the future.
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Thermodynamics: The Real Theory of Everything   09/23/2007    
Need a theory of everything?  Try thermodynamics.  Mark Haw reviewed a new book by Peter Atkins on the subject in Nature,1 Four Laws that Drive the Universe (Oxford, 2007).  He had high praise for the achievements of the “19th century grandees” Joule, Maxwell and Kelvin:
Thermodynamics ought to be the cornerstone of any scientist’s understanding of nature.  Forget superstrings and grand unified theories: thermodynamics is the original ‘theory of everything’.  Or perhaps the ‘theory of what everything does and how it does it’.  Thermodynamics explains the transformation of energy, and nothing happens without that.
Though it is impossible to really know thermodynamic theory without mathematics, Haw appreciated the way Atkins conveyed a deep understanding of its concepts without a single equation.  How could any scientist omit learning about such fundamental concepts?
The development of thermodynamics in the nineteenth century was the most wide-reaching and fundamental advance since Newton’s mechanics.  It underpinned (albeit some time after the event) the Industrial Revolution, and led the way to statistical mechanics (and hence to statistical quantum mechanics) and to an understanding of phase behaviour, chemical reactions, the astrophysics of stars...to everything, in other words.
Or, almost everything.  Haw’s only complaint was that Atkins stopped at the end of the 19th century.  20th century discoveries at the microscopic and nanoscopic levels have been profound.  Now we know that understanding proteins is the key to progress:
Proteins do the same job for life that steam engines did for Victorian industry.  Unlike a railway engine, however, the cell is a profoundly non-equilibrium place.  And proteins are not isolated but inextricably bound to the world around them, inescapably prey to brownian motion.
Thermodynamics, therefore, is not a dead science.  Much work needs to be done.  There’s a revolution awaiting in the thermodynamics of the cell:
Understanding the microscopic, non-equilibrium, open-system thermodynamics of these ‘life engines’ could usher in fascinating discoveries: how life works as a physical process, how we might borrow life’s technology to make our own nanoengines, and how we might transform medicine by replacing broad-spectrum chemical cocktails with medical engineering of proteins.  All this requires twenty-first-century developments in thermodynamics that are no less revolutionary than the nineteenth-century theory.
Haw noted that 2007 is the centenary of the death of the great pioneer of thermodynamics, Lord Kelvin.
1Mark Haw, “The real ‘theory of everything’,” Nature 449, 286 (20 September 2007) | doi:10.1038/449286a.
Sounds like an interesting book.  Good to see the three great Christian physicists of the 19th century still acknowledged as grandees, as indeed they were (read their stories in our online book).  Why do we need a theory of everything (T.O.E.) when we already have one?  Hawking, Susskind et al want to blend quantum mechanics, gravity and dark stuff into their Big T.O.E., but they cannot stub the T.O.E. we already have without pain (08/13/2002).
    Budding scientists should stand on the shoulders of giants and learn thermodynamics.  The 4 Laws of TD, especially the first two, show that mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed, and that energy becomes less available to do work over time (law of entropy).  These laws spell doom for theories of evolution (12/30/2005), because they show that the universe is aging and winding down, not progressing (06/08/2005).  Don’t expect Darwinists to find an escape clause in nanoscopic, non-equilibrium situations (07/05/2003).  The kind of order that they need will not come from mechanical laws (10/27/2005, 07/17/2002).  It’s not just order they need: it’s information (12/30/2003).
    If the future lies in understanding the thermodynamics of the cell, and if there are as many revolutionary inventions waiting to be discovered as Haw said by imitating cellular machines, then this may be a great field for a young physicist or medical researcher to enter.  Who will become the next Joule, Maxwell or Kelvin?
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Early Beetle Was Armed   09/23/2007    
According to Live Science, a beetle preserved in amber, dated at 100 million years old, was caught in the act of using chemical warfare.  “Soldier beetles” capable of this kind of advanced defense system were not thought to have evolved till 60 million years later.
    This article contains several statements worthy of the Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week prize:
The discovery of a bug that roamed with the dinosaurs has shown that insects were equipped with chemical weapons much earlier than thought....
    ....the beetle fired an acidic repellent at the attacker—providing researchers with a frozen glimpse of a 100 million-year-old battle for survival.
    What’s even more remarkable, he says, is that this finding pushes back the known existence of this type of beetle by about 60 million years, making it the earliest fossil record of chemical weaponry in animals....
    ....the researchers concluded that the insect was most likely a member of an extinct soldier beetle species which was an ancestor to modern soldier beetles that pack similar kinds of ammunition....
    “That this type of defense has been preserved through 100 million years of evolution is evidence that it works pretty well.”
These quotes satisfy the prize criteria by: (1) attributing complex structures to evolution without explaining how they evolved (i.e., telling a just-so story), and (2) holding to evolutionary dating schemes even though the claim pushes the origin of the complex structure further back in time.
Student Exercise:  Try rewriting the LiveScience article without the evolutionary spin.  Describe what was observed.  Include facts that are remarkable and interesting, but keep the evidence open to other interpretations that do not simply assume evolution (including the millions-of-years dates).
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  The amazing Archer Fish knows the laws of optics, from 09/07/2004 and 10/10/2006.

Was Velociraptor a Dragon?   09/22/2007    
As if Velociraptor, the terror of Jurassic Park, was not scary enough, some scientists are now saying it was feathered.  (This, of course, does not imply it could fly after its human prey like some movie dragon.)  The latest claim in Science is based on the apparent presence of “quill knobs” on the radius bone of a specimen found in Mongolia.  In their “Brevia” article, the authors claimed this is direct evidence that the dinosaur had quilled feathers.  Other science reporters took up the claim without a flap, among them Science Daily, the BBC News and National Geographic News, which may feel some relief after its Archaeoraptor embarrassment (11/21/2002, 09/27/2000).


1Alan H. Turner, Peter J. Makovicky, Mark A. Norell, “Feather Quill Knobs in the Dinosaur Velociraptor,” Science, 21 September 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5845, p. 1721, DOI: 10.1126/science.1145076.
Since nobody else seems to be asking the hard questions, let’s take a look at this claim.  The paper and its photos do not appear convincing to a skeptical eye.  Consider these points:
  1. The evidence is circumstantial, not definitive.
  2. The claim came from one bone, not from multiple samples of Velociraptor.  The first thing they should have done was examine other specimens.
  3. No feathers or feather imprints were found (see 09/06/2007, footnote 2).
  4. There were only 6 of the structures, and they looked like dimples, not knobs.
  5. The dimples followed a curve, not a straight line as on the vulture bone shown for comparison.
  6. The putative quill knobs were in the middle third of the bone but did not continue to the right or left; why would an arm have only six feathers in the middle of the arm?  The vulture bone showed the knobs all the way along the bone.
  7. They did not show similar knobs on the other arm, or on any of the other parts of the skeleton.
  8. Not all birds have quill knobs.  Eagles, for instance, do not.  The authors admit that lack of the knobs is not evidence for lack of feathers, but argue that presence of knobs is direct evidence for feathers.  This is an argument from silence, because there might have been non-feathered animals with knobs.  Their ending statement, therefore, is unsupportable: “Whether this feature represents retention of an ancestral function or the cooption for other purposes, the presence of quilled feathers on the posterior of the arms in a medium-sized derived, clearly nonvolant dromaeosaur can now be established.
  9. These structures might have had a different function than supporting feathers.
  10. Velociraptor had no use for feathers.  The authors admit that the skeleton of the creature did not allow it to fly; the arms are too short to serve as wings.
  11. The authors could only speculate what feathers would be used for: perhaps sexual display or downward lift while running.  For this they referred to Ken Dial’s ridiculous hypothesis about the origin of flight (see 05/01/2006, 12/22/2003, 01/16/2003).
  12. The paper claims that Velociraptor descended from more bird-like feathered dinosaurs that might have been capable of flight.  Not only is there no evidence for this, it would represent devolution, not evolution.
  13. Feathers are very different from scales.  The existence of pits along an arm bone falls far short of explaining how complex feathers could have evolved.  The authors said, “This report of secondaries in a larger-bodied, derived, and clearly flightless member of a nonavian theropod clade represented by feathered relatives is a substantial contribution to our knowledge of the evolution of feathers.”  Such a claim vastly oversteps the evidence.
  14. The introduction said, “Some nonavian theropod dinosaurs were at least partially covered in feathers or filamentous protofeathers.”  But the reference was to a paper by one of the coauthors, not to an independent source.  It would have been a more solid argument to cite a critic of dinosaur-to-bird evolution as a hostile witness.
  15. They said “We present direct evidence of feathers” but did not show any feathers!  The evidence, therefore, was indirect.
  16. Quill knobs are usually indicative of secondary feathers, i.e., those with vanes and barbs used for flight.  None of the other “feathered dinosaur” candidates have advanced feathers like this, unless they were arguably true birds.
  17. The bone was found in isolation and “possesses several characteristics” of Velociraptor.  This allows for the possibility this bone was misclassified.
  18. This claim cannot be taken in isolation from the other controversies about dinosaur-to-bird evolution (see 09/06/2007 and its embedded links to previous entries; see also the four Dinosaur chain links in the Oct. 2005 page).
Paleontologists with more experience, with access to this bone, will need to weigh in on this claim.  But even if definitive evidence were to be established for feathered Velociraptors, what would this mean for creationists?  Nothing.  It would mean that extinct creatures were more varied than previously thought.  Some birds and reptiles had teeth, and some did not.  Some birds and reptiles flew, and some did not.  Some birds and reptiles had different numbers of toes.  The morphological differences within class Aves and within class Reptilia is enormous even today (picture ostrich vs hummingbird, alligator vs turtle).  The diversity was even much more so in the past.  Creationists allow for a Designer who could use His designed structures where needed.  There are many other cases where common structures are found in different groups; evolutionists explain them away with their miracle phrase, “convergent evolution.”  Feathering would just add one more example.
    Feathered Velociraptors would also mean that the scientists were wrong, and the animators of Jurassic Park were wrong.  It would not establish a link between dinosaurs and birds, because this creature was not on the line leading to birds.  Even the authors admitted that the Velociraptor lineage must have been in the process of losing its feathers (if these members indeed had any), while the ancestors (according to the story) would have had functioning feathers, with no ancestors before that showing how the feathers evolved.
    Evolutionists are in a frantic campaign to support their theory.  That’s why this circumstantial evidence is getting so much press.  But at best, it’s merely another argument from homology.  As Jonathan Wells pointed out so well in his book Icons of Evolution, homology does not prove evolution; it can just as well support common design.  Give them all the feathered dinosaurs they want; it will not prove that one kind of animal evolved into another kind.  Until then, we’d like to see a lot better evidence than this one bone.
    Notice one other thing about scientific papers in this vein.  Its authors referenced Ken Dial’s absurd just-so story suggesting that flight evolved when baby dinosaurs held out their arms as stabilizers while running uphill.   These guys used Dial’s paper for support rather than laughing at it as they should have.  This would be a good time to re-read the entry from 03/17/2006, in which a team of social scientists demonstrated that scientific papers can actually perpetuate false ideas rather than build up knowledge.
    On the History Channel tonight, a documentary was shown that illustrates how vastly different interpretations can come from the same evidence.  A 2005 program about dragons was rerun.  It acknowledged that dragon legends exist worldwide, crossing all cultures around the world: Maya, Chinese, American Indian, European.  The similarities between these legends is striking.  Also, each culture believed that these creatures really existed, and some claimed that they were witnessed in recent times.  How is this to be explained?
    Creationists have used these facts to support the idea that humans and dinosaurs coexisted till recent times, and the memory of the awesome beasts was perpetuated in dragon legends.  The secular TV program admitted that dragons bear striking resemblances to dinosaurs, but it put forth a completely different explanation.  Assuming in advance that the existence of humans and dinosaurs was impossible, the commentators made up explanations out of thin air: for instance, that humans are hard-wired to imagine dragons in their evolved brains, such that instinctive fear of predators (eagles, snakes and lions) combined into one imaginary creature, the dragon.  The program also suggested that primitive peoples found dinosaur bones in the ground and projected them into their mythology as large, fearsome monsters.  “Instincts that kept our evolutionary ancestors from being eaten,” combined with the human capacity for vivid imagination, produced dragon myths around the world, independently, with striking similarities in many details.  The program, as could be expected, claimed ownership of “science” as its superior alternative to any other explanation.  This is not about science.  It’s about the science of one world view arguing with the science of another.
    According to Dykstra’s Law, everyone is someone else’s weirdo.  Creationists will surely laugh as hard at the evolutionary explanation as the evolutionists would about the creation alternative.  This is not to say that all weirdos are equally weird, or that all weird ideas have equal validity, or that world views are arbitrary.  It does illustrate, though, that evidence does not interpret itself.  Presuppositions and biases cannot be avoided.  They need to be acknowledged and can, to some degree, be kept under control by honesty and love of the truth.  Claims about Velociraptor feathers need more control than we are seeing today.
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Mars Was and Is Dry   09/21/2007    
The cover story of Science this week has bad news for those hoping for Martian lakefront property.  A series of articles by planetary scientists who studied images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter casts strong doubt on the presence of water on Mars, even in the planet’s early days.  The overview article by Richard Kerr in Science1 summarizes:
In recent years, “water, water everywhere” might have been the motto for Mars exploration.  Shallow, salty seas ruled on early Mars, and water has been gushing down gullies in the geologically recent past, some even in the past few years.  But the tide is now receding, at least a ways.
    As highlighted in the 21 September issue of Science and elsewhere, more leisurely consideration of observations from rovers and orbiters and the unprecedented detail afforded by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)--the latest arrival at Mars--are bringing into question many earlier geologic interpretations involving surface water.  Mars has been “a desolate place for a long time,” concludes geochemist Scott McLennan of Stony Brook University in New York state.
Leading Marsologists, like Alfred McEwen (U of Arizona), contributed to the series of five papers in the issue.  It appears that volcanic activity can account for the layered deposits, and slumping can account for the apparent gullies on crater walls.  Joanne Baker summarized the way the evidence is looking now, in her introductory article, “Water, Water, Not Everywhere?”2
Images of supposed ancient ocean floors and riverbeds show no obvious signs that liquid water was ever present.  Reexamination of some landforms implies that they have been formed by flowing lava, not water.  The only locations where features seem to indicate the presence of liquid water today or in the recent past are on the rims of craters and some gullies, suggesting that heat from impacts may have been the trigger for trickles rather than a revealed water table.  Radar and gravity data show that the cap on Mars’ south pole now holds the largest reservoir of relatively pure water ice on the planet, and layers there and in the north polar cap reveal seasonal oscillations in climate.
This represents a major blow to previous ideas about the red planet.  The Mars Pathfinder rover was thought to have landed in a large, ancient flood channel.  The Mars Exploration Rovers looked long and hard for water; Spirit was supposed to have landed in a flooded lake bed, which turned out to be volcanic debris, but Opportunity seemed to have provided evidence for intermittent shallow seas.  The new evidence is casting doubt on all those visions.  We now may have to work with a revised picture of Mars as a dry, dusty, rocky desert, with wandering icy polar caps, where liquid water has only flowed in rare, ephemeral trickles.
1Richard A. Kerr, “Is Mars Looking Drier and Drier for Longer and Longer?”, Science, 21 September 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5845, p. 1673, DOI: 10.1126/science.317.5845.1673.
2Joanne Baker, “Water, Water, Not Everywhere?”, Science, 21 September 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5845, p. 1705, DOI: 10.1126/science.317.5845.1705.
This must be a severe disappointment to origin-of-life researchers.  The motto “follow the water” has driven much of the Mars program.  Mars remains just as fascinating a geological body as it always was, but with decreasing hopes for water, and therefore life, will there be enough wind in NASA’s sails to keep going back?
    Phoenix is on its way to a polar landing next year.  The mission overview clearly states that water ice and organic compounds necessary for life are a prominent goal of the mission.  The Mars Science Laboratory, scheduled to rove the planet in 2010, has even more experiments to “collect Martian soil and rock samples and analyze them for organic compounds and environmental conditions that could have supported microbial life now or in the past.”  Today’s papers in Science may begin to decrease hopes for even past life.  Will NASA scientists be able to keep Mars plans vibrant beyond MSL, when the goals stated for Mars Beyond 2009 are heavily influenced by Astrobiology?  How much will scientists want to study lava and dust in more detail?
    We hope planetary exploration will continue apace.  Here’s a replacement goal that creationists and intelligent design people (i.e., the majority of taxpaying Americans) can support: “We learn from exploring other planets and moons just how special our Earth is, and how narrow are the requirements for life that are met uniquely on the home planet.”  There’s potential for a lot of good science with that focus.  Astrobiologists can even continue to look for life.  The more they don’t find it, the more we will appreciate how special life is.  Everybody wins.  We will not cease from exploring, T.S. Eliot said.  When we come back home, we will understand the place for the first time.  That’s worthwhile.
    Scientists must face things as they are, not as they wish them to be.  Did you notice that the earlier claims of liquid water were apparently due to the eagerness to find it?  Kerr said that only after a more “leisurely” look at the observations did the dry truth begin to sink in.  That’s not all bad.  Science is often driven by the eagerness to prove or disprove something.  As long as scientists are honest when their hunches don’t bear up, worthwhile findings can result.  We’re only human, though, and emotions do get involved.  It’s a good thing Percival Lowell (Mr. Martian canals) is dead, because he would be sooooo depressed.  But look: his eagerness bequeathed to us the Lowell Observatory.
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Dmanisi Homo erectus Fossil Count Grows   09/20/2007    
More bones matching the skulls from the purported Eurasian Homo erectus skulls in Dmanisi, Republic of Georgia have been found (for background, see 08/31/2005 bullet 5, 03/20/2005, 08/01/2002, 11/29/2002).  The find was reported in Nature1 with commentary by Daniel Lieberman in the same issue.2
    The bones, including ribs, leg bones and arm bones, fingers and clavicles came from three adults and one adolescent.  These specimens continue to arouse controversy.  The individuals were apparently small in stature yet had modern characteristics; Lieberman wrote, “The adult’s limb proportions are quite modern, with a relatively long femur compared with the humerus, and a tibia/femur ratio similar to that of modern humans from Europe.”  The foot bones also showed a prominent arch.  Other parts, like the shoulder, body size and brain-to-body ratio appeared “primitive” to the discoverers.  The mixture of modern and primitive trait was puzzling.  The original paper described these traits:
This material shows that the postcranial anatomy of the Dmanisi hominins has a surprising mosaic of primitive and derived [i.e., modern] features.  The primitive features include a small body size, a low encephalization quotient and absence of humeral torsion; the derived features include modern-human-like body proportions and lower limb morphology indicative of the capability for long-distance travel.
This “mosaic” pattern led them to conclude, “Thus, the earliest known hominins to have lived outside of Africa in the temperate zones of Eurasia did not yet display the full set of derived skeletal features.”  Yet deciding what is primitive and what is modern is not an exact science.  These specimens show surprising variability within the Homo erectus group.  One problem with these specimens is their age: they appeared in Eurasia half a million years earlier (1.8 Mya) than the accepted out-of-Africa hypothesis thought.  Another problem is that they don’t look like what paleoanthropologists expected from the African examples.  A third problem is that since Homo habilis has been found overlapping in age with Homo erectus, the old story of progression has been called into question (09/01/2007, 08/09/2007).  Lieberman stirred these problems around:
When viewed up close, however, the Australopithecus–Homo transition has always been murky.  One problem is that we don’t know enough about Homo habilis, the putative ancestor of H. erectus.  In addition, early H. erectus fossils are quite variable, and the more we look, the more we find contrasts with later hominins (the formal term for a species in the human lineage).  For example, their rate of development was rapid and chimp-like, rather than slow and extended as in modern humans.  Also, brain size relative to body size in the earliest H. erectus fossils is not much different from that of many australopiths or H. habilis.  Finally, the earliest non-African fossils of Homo from Dmanisi, Georgia, which are dated to 1.77 million years ago, resemble H. erectus in many respects.  But they are highly variable, and more in the size range of H. habilis than of H. erectus.
With data this murky, a reporter could pick any angle to focus on.  That’s what happened in news reports about this find.  Some, like National Geographic, BBC News and Live Science, celebrated the transitional-form interpretation, while others, like PhysOrg, focused on the questions these puzzling bones raise for researchers.  News@Nature, by contrast, primarily celebrated the luck of finding this treasure trove, then cautioned, “Even though this sample provides a good look at H. erectus in this time and place, experts caution against drawing broad conclusions about H. erectus.”
    Speaking of variability, geneticists are also finding unexpected variation in the human genome.  When Craig Venter had his own genome sequence published earlier this month (see Yahoo News), geneticists were surprised at the number of differences between his and the “standard” genome that came out of the Human Genome Project.  Yet clearly both data sets represented completely modern humans.  Given the obvious differences between Tom Thumb and Robert Wadlow, and between skinny models and sumo wrestlers, at what point does human variability put someone outside the category Homo sapiens? (see 07/22/2007).  If one cannot know this from genes when we have the live specimens to talk to, how much can be ascertained from bones or salvaged DNA, when the flesh is long gone?
1Lordkipanidze et al, “Postcranial evidence from early Homo from Dmanisi, Georgia,” Nature 449, 305-310 (20 September 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature06134.
2Daniel Lieberman, “Palaeoanthropology: Homing in on early Homo,” Nature 449, 291-292 (20 September 2007) | doi:10.1038/449291a.
Why don’t news reporters listen to the caution about drawing broad conclusions?  The reporters do it all the time, and yet the scientists never stop them.  In fact, when they talk to the reporters, they often lose all scientific restraint and tell stories like the worst of them.
Update: Now they’re at it again: while this entry was being prepared, another report came out claiming that Hobbit Man must have been non-human because the wrist bones are slightly different.  The usual suspects, like LiveScience and the BBC News, never learn.  Haven’t they seen small people before?  Rather than consider variability and the effects of disease or genetic isolation, they are pushing the primitive-to-modern human-ancestry myth again.
    Read the original paper and you will find it is a confusing mishmash of conflicting data.  They can’t decide whether these specimens were primitive, modern, or transitional.  Remember the guy in 2002 (08/01/2002) who was so puzzled by Dmanisi man, he suggested putting the bones back in the ground?  Why would the Dmanisi people have modern arches and walk like modern people, if they were less than human?  Does evolution put out certain fully modern traits in advance of others?  Was the Dmanisi tribe trying to walk out of Africa to go shopping for bigger brains, and if so, how could they do it without the brains in the first place?  Science Daily said that hominids were able to walk just as well as modern humans 3.5 million years ago.  Then, certainly they could have been physically agile to hunt down the potatoes that gave them big brains (09/11/2007).  And now that we know that so-called Homo habilis couldn’t be an ancestor, why doesn’t anyone draw the conclusion that the whole mishmash of evolution stories is pure fiction?
    The more logical conclusion is that there is more variability in the human body than previously thought.  Most thinking people realize mosaics are an art form.  Only one-dimensional Darwinian thinking tries to rearrange the pieces of a mosaic into a straight line.
Next headline on:  Early ManFossilsHuman Body
Humor:  See the Scrappleface parody on how evolutionists treat evidence; then compare it with the 09/01/2007 and 08/09/2007 entries.

Geological Dates Adjust Catastrophically to Evolutionary Assumptions   09/19/2007    
Pick a date for the rise of a land mass: 3 million years or 30 million years.  Either one will work, depending on the current evolutionary assumptions, if one is to follow the logic of an article on the Discovery Channel website.  Here’s how it began:

The geologic rise of the Ethiopian Plateau may have happened millions of years later than thought, and just in time to nudge along the evolution of modern humans, say the authors of a new study.
The old date of 30 million years was accepted for some time, but the human evolution experts had a problem with it:
Some previous estimates of the plateau’s age put its rise at around 30 million years ago – far too early for it to have directly affected the immediate ancestors of Homo sapiens, who arose in the valley just a few million years ago.
Paleoanthropologists needed a more recent date, because their scenario pictured our ancestors walking across a savanna (grassland).  The need to walk upright in wide open spaces, instead of swinging in trees, was supposed to be a driving force in our evolution.
“So (human ancestors) had to walk across that savanna,” said Royhan Gani [U of Utah].  And walking on two feet, as independent studies have shown, is the most efficient way for an ape to cross large distances.
To get the timing of the geological forces in sync with the evolutionary model, some drastic adjustments were needed.  The geologists went looking for evidence to get the savanna formed much more recently, and found some:
Using elevation data collected by the space shuttle, orbiting satellites and radioisotope dating of various rock layers found in the walls of the Nile River Gorge, the researchers believe they have narrowed down the timing of the final phase of the plateau's uplift to less than three million years ago.
    That’s just in time to cause the drying out of east Africa and the creation of the pedestrian-friendly savannas on which humans evolved.
The University of Utah husband-and-wife team decided it was acceptable to radically overturn previous assumptions:
To arrive at the more recent date, the researchers turned the question upside down.  Rather than dating the plateau’s uplift directly, they studied the effects of the one thing in the region that responds instantly to any change in elevation – the Blue Nile River.
Of course, tweaking one factor by a factor of 10 is bound to cause problems elsewhere in the model.  This means the Nile Gorge – a mile deep in places – had to form much, much faster than earlier thought.  No worries; adjustments can easily be made by mixing in a little catastrophism:
Ultimately, they determined that the Blue Nile eventually carved out more than 22,400 cubic miles of rock from the area, not at a constant rate, but in three pulses that reflect major geologic events.  The last phase, which began six million years ago, may have been caused by foundering of a deep part of the earth’s crust, which let the plateau rise like ship losing ballast.
This got the plateau up 3,000 feet in short order, just in time for evolving humans to come down from the trees and have a place to walk:
A simultaneous drop in the Rift Valley’s elevation also contributed to the drying, said geologist Martin Williams of the University of Adelaide in Australia.
    “The African Rift has been going down and widening,” Williams told Discovery News.  “The real drying out of Ethiopia proper began 3 to 2 1/2 million years ago.”  Just in time, perhaps, to drive the evolution of our ancestors.
So now everyone’s happy: the evolutionary geologists, the evolutionary biologists, the evolutionary anthropologists, and the Discovery Channel animators.
Caught in the act!  You thought geologists knew about the dates of mountains, canyons and plateaus, didn’t you?  Here you just saw them make an order-of-magnitude adjustment to an accepted age just to keep the apeman-to-human myth intact.  This huge fudging operation was blessed by none other than the Geological Society of America.  Now you know why the “Related Links” at the end of the article lists a human evolution website, and “PBS explores human evolution,” and “More on hominids from the BBC.”  Do you really think for a million nanoseconds that these geologists were unbiased seekers of the truth, converging independently on the actual date of this plateau by strict adherence to empiricism?  No; Charlie is backstage calling the shots, and they’re all in this racket together.  If you don’t believe it yet, look at a summary of the GSA paper published by EurekAlert:
More than three million years ago, early hominins evolved the ability to walk upright and in doing so started us along the evolutionary path that eventually gave rise to Homo sapiensIt was Darwin who first suggested that a change of climate, giving rise to vast, arid, savannahs, may have spurred on human evolution all those millions of years ago.  But what caused that change of climate?  Could the formation of one of Earth’s most spectacular landscapes, the Ethiopian Plateau, have been responsible for development of the great African grasslands?  And if so, what were the geological processes that led to the formation of the plateau?  To answer these questions, Nahid DS Gani of the University of Utah and colleagues turned...
There you have it.  The rest of the story is just window dressing.  We won’t even need to unpack the idiotic idea that a geologic event is somehow going to make men out of monkeys.  They had their minds made up: the human-evolution story needed a dry savanna, so the evolutionary geologists cooked one up for them on command.  It didn’t matter that they have to turn their old date upside down and shrink it to 10% of its former value.  Nothing is too costly to offer in sacrifice to Father Charlie.  The summary ended, “The timing of plateau formation coincides with and is therefore probably related to the change in climate that gave rise to the African savannahs and ultimately to human evolution.”  Charlie’s wish is their command.  “Ironically, Gani and colleagues had to turn to outer space to determine that the geological processes that spurred on human evolution lay deep within Earth’s mantle.”  They’ll ascend to the heights of heaven, or descend to the depths of the earth, to honor their idol.
    The only bright side of this article is a subtle confirmation of creationist geology.  The creationists have been saying for years that the Grand Canyon was formed rapidly by catastrophic processes.  We’ve seen the secular geology crowd slowly coming around (09/16/2005, 07/02/2002) and dropping their age estimates like a rock in free fall (from 100 million to 5 million to less than a million).  Now, this story alluded to evidence that the “Grand Canyon of Africa,” the Nile Gorge, was not formed by uniformitarian gradualism, but by catastrophism as well.  Shove aside their moyboy lingo (09/16/2005 commentary footnote), because it is worthless.  They weren’t there, they don’t know, and their ulterior motives are driving the show.
Next headline on:  GeologyDating MethodsEarly ManDarwinism

Exercise:  Read the following article, “The Dating Game” on EurekAlert with your Baloney Detector on.  Do you see any examples of belief leading evidence?  of crisis with evolutionary beliefs leading to creative solutions in the evidence?  of willingness to jettison prior measurements in order to save a favored belief?  Notice the last sentence: “Today, few discussions in geology can occur without reference to geologic time and plate tectonics.  They are both integral to our way of thinking about the world.”  What do you suppose is driving this way of thinking?  Does a “way of thinking about the world” have any necessary correlation to the way things really are?  Now read this article by Terry Mortenson, a PhD historian of science whose specialty is the origins of old-age geology.
Early Reptile Had Modern Ears   09/18/2007    
Modern ears are nothing new; they go back 260 million years.  That’s the gist of a paper in PLoS ONE that reported on a Russian reptile fossil.1  The research team was surprised to discover that the creature had impedance-matched ears, a novelty thought to have evolved 50 million years later.  Somehow this innovation survived one of the biggest extinction events in the evolutionary timeline.  Or, suggested the authors, it got re-invented later, four times, in four different groups.
    The paper was summarized by National Geographic News.  The authors said this about the significance of this find:
Using modern amniotes as analogues, the possession of an impedance-matching middle ear in these parareptiles suggests unique ecological adaptations potentially related to living in dim-light environments.  More importantly, our results demonstrate that already at an early stage of amniote diversification, and prior to the Permo-Triassic extinction event, the complexity of terrestrial vertebrate ecosystems had reached a level that proved advanced sensory perception to be of notable adaptive significance.
What’s odd about this story is, it claims this fossil sheds light on evolution, but where is the evolution?  A search on the word evolved in the paper reveals a strange pattern: seem to have evolved, suggesting they evolved, some indication that a tympanic ear had evolved, not thought to have evolved until the Mesozoic, an evolutionary novelty that was hitherto believed to have evolved, assumed not to have evolved until the Mesozoic, etc.  In no case did the authors explain how a complex, impedance-matched middle ear system actually did evolve, or even could.  They merely assumed it did.  More notably, they were surprised it showed up so early.
    Here are two more examples of how the authors used evolution in their analysis:
The evolution of an impedance-matching middle ear within Amniota has been interpreted to have occurred in concert with the diversification of modern insects, which reached its peak in the Mesozoic, implying that the buzzing sound of flying insects would have favoured the evolution of an advanced hearing sense....

The discovery of a highly-evolved auditory apparatus in Middle Permian parareptiles even further emphasizes that the entire groundplan for the impressive evolutionary history of amniotes was already largely in place by the end of the Paleozoic; what followed was in fact only a subsequent tinkering of earlier inventions.

The National Geographic article continued this pattern.  It quoted Robert Reisz (U of Toronto) saying, “The most interesting aspect here is that this is the earliest, clear evidence of a highly evolved hearing system.”  Are they claiming this advanced hearing system appeared without a trace of development in earlier fossils?  The National Geographic article made an even more astonishing claim: impedance-matched ears disappeared, then reappeared later multiple times in separate animal groups: “lead author Müller believes para-reptiles went extinct and that modern ears evolved independently in mammals, birds, lizards, and frogs.”
1Muller and Tsuji, “Impedance-Matching Hearing in Paleozoic Reptiles: Evidence of Advanced Sensory Perception at an Early Stage of Amniote Evolution,” PLoS ONE, 2(9): e889. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000889.
National Geographic swallowed the Muller myth whole, without skipping a beat, without offering any critical analysis or opposing views.  “Well shazam, isn’t evolution amazin'.  It created advanced sound systems not just once, or twice, but four times!  Then Tinker Bell took over and made 'em even gooder.”
    We’ve heard these Darwinist shenanigans so many times, it sounds like a broken record.*
*For those born after 1980, a record was a flat piece of round vinyl that stored recorded music.  As the record rotated on a turntable, a diamond needle in a stylus at the end of a long arm picked up analog signals recorded as bumps in long, spiral grooves (groovy – get it?  That’s where that comes from).  Records were easily scratched, and when that happened, the stylus would often skip back to the previous groove, repeating the same words over and over, like They’re coming to take me away, away [click] coming to take me away, away [click] coming to take me away, away ad infinitum, till someone couldn’t stand it any more and would throw the record out the window like a Frisbee, making target shooters happy because even if they missed the bullet hole was always dead center.  Records would also warp in the sun and make Elvis Presley sound like a Muslim call to prayer.  The Chipmunks got their start when somebody discovered that playing a 33-1/3 revolutions per minute (RPM) record at 78 RPM raised the pitch of James Earl Jones into the Tiny Tim range.  Record stores were very popular till all the record companies silently swapped all the vinyl records out overnight for the newer CDs, making owners of extensive record collections very angry and still, 27 years later, trying to rip their vinyl records to MP3 files, while our spouses scream I’m going to take them away, away, and since the program notes could no longer fit on the back of the album, CD makers reduced the font to 5 points, forcing everyone to wear glasses.  That’s why your parents look mad all the time from squinting so much.  Now you iPod-generation youngsters know what a broken record is and how your parents suffered, trudging through the snow for miles just to buy the latest Beatles album and try to understand it through all the snaps, crackles and pops on rumbly turntables that challenged their impedance-matched ears.  They didn’t even have wireless downloads back then.  How they do the Chipmunks now is anyone’s guess.  Who reminded us of all these headaches?  It’s Darwin’s fault.
Next headline on:  FossilsEvolutionTerrestrial ZoologyDumb Ideas
Dust to Dust, or Dust to Life?   09/17/2007    
National Geographic gave prominent press to last month’s theory of living dust (see 08/10/2007, bullet 1).  Criticisms were mild; scientists were quoted who thought this claim raises interesting questions about the definition of life.  Tsytovich’s ideas were described by Mihaly Horanyi (U of Colorado) as “amazing.”  He said, “This is a very original, very intelligent paper that will trigger a lot of debate.”
The article has the three typical hallmarks of evolutionary storytelling (see 12/22/2003):
1.  We don’t understand what we are looking at.
2.  It must have something to do with evolution.
3.  It therefore opens up our imaginations for more storytelling.
You know that Darwinism is on its last legs when stories this stupid get good press.  No religious myth could be sillier.  They may as well claim a Lava Lamp is alive (09/07/2003).  This is the quality of science news you get from reporters raised on Star Trek.  Where is The Amazing Randi now?  His crusade against pseudoscience knows no bounds when the subject is tainted by religious faith, but when the Darwinists trot out their incredibly dumb and unsubstantiated stories, he takes on the 3-monkey lotus position (02/20/2007).  Then you catch him over there shmoozing with the culprits and telling them how wise and clever they are (02/20/2007).
    The new Darwin Party strategy seems to be to make evolutionary claims dumber and dumber, so that National Gee--a Gaffe [hic] and the other evo-hacks can claim, after the Darwin idol falls, “It should have been obvious we were only kidding.  The joke is on you for taking us seriously.”
Next headline on:  Origin of LifePhysicsDumb Ideas
Dark Matter Sheds Light on Invisible Stars: Come Again?   09/17/2007    
Can one unknown shed light on another unknown?  That’s what some UK astronomers seem to be saying.  Before describing their model, consider this conundrum with which they ended a story in the BBC News:
“We don’t know what the dark matter is, we don’t know what the first stars are.  If we bring these two problems together, when we know more about one, then we can say something about the other.”
But if they don’t know what either is, and they see something, how could they know they are seeing it, and how could it say it says something about something else they don’t see?
    This strange state of affairs comes not from observations, but from computer models.  Liang Gao and Tom Theuns from Durham University told the BBC News that their models allow them to predict the properties of a substance they freely admitted, “they cannot say what it is.”  Yet they were confident enough of their model, that once they had selected certain starting conditions that seemed reasonable to them, they claimed they could propose that the first stars must have formed in long, thin filaments.  No such filaments have been found.  But now, they believe they know what to look for.
OK, let’s play a similar game in a parallel universe, just for fun.  I posit that there are fairies who use pixie dust.  I don’t have any clues what fairies are, or what they look like, but according to the common mythology, they use pixie dust, of which I also have no clues.  I made up a computer game where I gave pixie dust certain properties of granularity, temperature and viscosity.  If I find invisible dust with these properties, it should be able to tell me something about fairies.
    Gentlemen, come back to the science lab when you have some observations.  What?  You need funding first?  All right, all right.  Here’s some imaginary money.
Next headline on:  AstronomyCosmologyPhysics
Review: The Case for Christ DVD   09/16/2007    
A film adaptation of Lee Strobel’s best seller The Case for Christ (1998) was released by La Mirada Films on September 11.  Strobel, a former legal reporter for the Chicago Tribune, and an atheist, was determined to disprove the miracles and resurrection of Jesus Christ after his wife converted to Christianity.  His two-year investigation of the historical and scientific facts about Jesus, his life, and his resurrection, and the logical and philosophical reasons for believing the record, led to his deciding it would take more faith not to believe on Christ than to accept the evidence where it was leading him: that Christ is the son of God, who rose from the dead, just like the New Testament claims.
    The distribution channel of Lionsgate, a major Hollywood film company, makes this DVD available through major chain stores like Walmart and Best Buy.  Dr. Ted Baehr, Christian film critic, was overjoyed that Hollywood is promoting the gospel in this way.  He gave this film his highest rating “exemplary” on MovieGuide.org and spoke of it glowingly on World Net Daily.  The official film website is StrobelFilms.com, which contains a film trailer and other resources.
    The Case for Christ DVD supplements Strobel’s earlier film release based on his third book, The Case for a Creator (2005) (see book on Amazon.com).  A film adaptation of his second best-seller, The Case for Faith (2002), is being considered.
    Also released this September is a new, updated book on Jesus by Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus.  This book is subtitled, “A journalist investigates current attacks on the identity of Jesus” – i.e., attacks in The Da Vinci Code and the Gospel of Judas (04/09/2006) and others that have arisen since The Case for Christ was first published in 1998.
We cannot say enough good about this film.  Everything about it – the content, the delivery, the graphics, the music, the scholarship – is exceptional.  Lee Strobel has one of the most compelling conversion stories in recent years.  Hard-hitting reporter, no-nonsense journalist, discerner of valid evidence, lover of science and skeptic of all religion (especially Christianity), he made a project of investigating the accuracy of claims about Christ – and asks that we do the same with an open mind.
    Lee is a great writer and an enthusiastic speaker.  On the DVD, he interviews a number of leading Biblical scholars and philosophers, who add their insight and expertise to his unfolding case.  He asks hard questions.  He leaves no stone unturned in his investigation.  Interspersed within the story are personal glimpses into his marriage and family – the human dynamic that was propelling his investigation to a verdict.  Women viewers will relate to the conflict that Lee’s wife experienced, and the final resolution that brought great joy to both of them.  These elements provide a warm and appealing balance to the factual material.  Strobel’s ending invitation is reasonable and respectful.  He only asks that we each make it a project to examine the evidence for Jesus with an open mind and be willing follow the evidence where it leads.
    The bonus features on the DVD include Q&A by the scholars interviewed for the movie, and personal glimpses into their own conversion stories – whether from orthodox Judaism, atheism, or a Christian childhood needing independent support in adulthood.  The original score by Mark Edward Lewis can also be heard for its own standalone enjoyment.  Resources for further study are listed.  Everything about this DVD is top-notch.  In fact, La Mirada Films and Revelation Studios have raised the bar of documentary filmmaking to a whole new level.  We are glad to see a major Hollywood producer recognizing the market for quality Bible-based content.  Show them they made the right choice by purchasing this film at the chain store outlets and we will see more like it to offset the usual parade of sex, lies, violence, silliness and nonsense.
    This is a fulcrum issue that must be faced: who is Jesus Christ?  Several recent TV documentaries and books have spread lies, distortions and half-truths about “the historical Jesus” with clear liberal, skeptical bias.  Then, farces like The Da Vinci Code have captivated millions with outright fabrications for which there is no evidence whatsoever.  The DVD has an insert that advertises Lee Strobel’s updated book, The Case for the Real Jesus, which answers the new attacks that have arisen since his first book (see information on LeeStrobel.com).
    Christianity stands alone in inviting scrutiny into its historical foundation.  All other religions ask you to suspend reason and leap into the mists of human imagination, or when claiming to be fact-based, they discourage unbiased critical investigation of their historical claims by outsiders.  Lee Strobel, with long experience in legal investigation, a skeptic but with respect for evidence, was the perfect choice to test the Biblical case.  He found it solid.  Beyond that, it changed his life for the better – as his wife and daughter found.  If you are not a Christian, you owe it to yourself to find out whether the claims of Christ can be trusted.  What better way than this documentary?  Watch it, study the bonus features, and follow up on the resources listed for further investigation, till you arrive at your own verdict.  Read the Bible.  Study, think and learn.  At least make an informed decision about this important subject rather than trusting your emotions, your background prejudices, or whatever your friends happen to think.
    If you are a Christian, you will be strengthened and motivated by this DVD.  Ted Baehr urged people to get it and share it with family members, neighbors, co-workers – everyone you know.  In light of the crisis over Christ seen in academia (see next entry), we heartily concur.  We also encourage students at Olivet, Baylor, SMU and other colleges to respectfully share copies of it with their Darwin-loving professors – after first getting their response to Strobel’s prior (and equally outstanding) DVD on intelligent design, The Case for a Creator.  Anyone still holding onto their skepticism might just reveal ulterior motives for denying the evidence.
Next headline on:  BibleMedia
Some Christian Colleges Love Darwin More than Jesus   09/14/2007    
“If you love me, keep my commandments,” Jesus said.  He told his disciples to expect persecution.  He commanded them to take up their cross and follow him, explaining that as the world hated him, it would hate them.  Counting the cost, the early disciples did indeed love and follow him to the death.
    In the intervening 2,000 years, disciples of Jesus Christ have flourished around the world.  Institutions of higher learning have been among their varied achievements.  The University itself is arguably a bequest of the Christian world view to modern civilization.
    Less than 150 years ago, another man garnered disciples.  This man, Charles Darwin, lost his faith in the Bible and replaced his world view with one involving chance, necessity and purposelessness.  Some followers have combined Darwin’s mechanical process of natural selection with forms of religious faith, such as deism and theistic evolution, but none of these coexist easily with the Bible’s account of miracles, especially Christ’s resurrection from the dead.  Christ Jesus himself spoke of Adam and Eve and Noah as real people and their stories as real historical events.  Attempts to harmonize the teachings of Jesus with those of Darwin have been as problematic as combining iron with clay.  At one end of the theological spectrum, theistic evolutionists, wishing to hold the Bible in one hand and The Origin of Species in the other, have try to reinterpret what Jesus meant by what he said, or have had to diminish his divinity.  At the other end, Biblical creationists have called out, like Joshua, “Choose you this day whom you will serve,” arguing that there can be no compromise.
    Today, some Christian colleges and universities are choosing or have chosen whom they will serve.  If actions speak louder than words, let the news coming from three ostensibly Christian colleges, representing three different denominations, illustrate the tension between Christ and Darwin when it comes to loyalty and willingness to bear the reproach of Christ (see Hebrews 13:13).
  1. Olivet Nazarene College in Illinois is a battleground over Christ and Darwin, indicated Sharon Begly in a Newsweek column entitled, “Can God Love Darwin, Too?”  She illustrated the tension on campus over professor Richard Colling and his theistic evolutionist beliefs.  Colling, who wrote a book called Random Designer, which by its very title reveals his attempt to harmonize Darwinian randomness with the creative power of God, is the target of outrage by Nazarene churches and parents over his unorthodox position.  The furor resulted in the college president recently banning other professors from assigning Colling’s book.  That’s not enough, feel some Nazarene parents and pastors who are calling for Colling’s dismissal.  His supporters, meanwhile, are decrying the decision as a breach of academic freedom.
        Begley mentioned other professors who are joining in the attempt to “save Darwin” from the “godless” rap.  She described the opinions of other theistic evolutionist professors and scholars, like Arthur Peacocke, who died last year.  He had tried to argue that God showed his humility by voluntarily limiting his omnipotence, submitting his creation to Darwin’s mechanism of random mutation and natural selection as the means of creation.  “Thank God for Evolution,” is the call to worship from Michael Dowd, an itinerant preacher, who runs a website with that slogan and mixes the Jesus fish with the Darwin fish.  He preaches a doctrine of “evolutionary spirituality.”
        As for Colling, he appears to justify his belief by attributing any and all doubt to the Bible, not to Darwin.  Begley said, “He explained that ‘evolution has stood the test of time and considerable scrutiny,’ and that evolution through random mutation and natural selection is ‘fully compatible with’ faith.”  Faith in what? is the begged question: the miracles of Christ?  His resurrection?  His claims to the historicity of Adam and Eve?  Colling’s certitude about random evolution seems to suggest what his answer would be.
        Robert Crowther commented on Begley’s column at Evolution News.  According to an article by Kurt Wise at Answers in Genesis, the teachings of professors like Colling at Olivet Nazarene College is turning many Bible-believing freshman into theistic evolutionist seniors.
  2. Baylor University, a Southern Baptist institution in Texas, reopened old wounds this month.  Seven years ago, the university had ousted intelligent-design theorist William Dembski and his Michael Polanyi Center for the study of intelligent design, because of protests by science faculty over charges he was dragging religion into science (see commentary from Oct. 2000 by Answers in Genesis).  Though intelligent design is arguably as distinct from literal belief in the Bible as a phylum from a genus, even that very unspecified, generic suggestion of divine intent was drummed out of Baylor in 2000.  Now, a distinguished professor of Bioinformatics, Dr. Robert Marks, has had a similar fate.  The events were described by Anika Smith at Evolution News on Sept. 6, and by Robert Crowther on Sept. 9.  The story also made the Waco Tribune on Sept. 9.
        Dr. Marks had participated in a podcast with the ID think tank, the Discovery Institute (see ID the Future), on July 20.  In the interview, he cast doubt on the Darwinian mechanism’s ability to account for specified complexity, and referred to Dembski’s book No Free Lunch in agreement.  This summer, Marks had set up a Baylor website describing his research in bioinformatics.  Casting doubt on Darwinism was apparently too much for the university.  After some initial waffling from certain administrators, the university pulled the website without explanation and forbade Marks from describing his research as something Baylor sponsored.  No such restrictions applied to the pro-Darwin science faculty and their research websites.  Some of them presumably pressured the administration to back off from this latest attempt to cede an inch to intelligent design.  Dr. Marks’ disputed website has now been hosted by a third party, Evolutionary Informatics, with an added disclaimer, “The material on this Web site does not necessarily represent the views of, and has not been reviewed or approved by, Baylor University or any other of the employers of the participants in the Evolutionary Informatics Lab.”
        William Dembski blogged on the story at Uncommon Descent on Sept. 6 and Denyse O’Leary Sept. 14.  Anika Smith at Evolution News claimed that academic freedom has been expelled from Baylor – at least when it comes to intelligent design.  Evolution News posted a satire with a picture of Dr. Robert Marks leaning over a huge pile of his publications, with the caption, “Will this man ruin the scholarly reputation of your university?”
  3. Southern Methodist University science professors had vivid words for those wanting to discuss Darwinism vs intelligent design on that campus: “You don’t have to teach both sides of a debate if one side is a load of crap.”  Casey Luskin tells the story on Evolution News.  Not only did SMU refuse to allow a debate over intelligent design on campus, it offered a new course called “The Scientific Method – Critical and Creative Thinking (Debunking Pseudoscience).”  Intelligent Design is apparently the target of that charge of pseudoscience, because every assigned reference was pro-evolution and anti-intelligent design.  “There is not a single article by an ID-proponent to balance out the 3 dozen or so articles that they list in this ‘Intelligent Design’ section,” Luskin said.
        Chief among the anti-ID professors at SMU is professor John Wise, who described God’s role this way: “If we have evolution, we no longer need a Creator to create each and every species.  Darwinism is dangerous because it infers that God did not directly and purposefully create us.  It simply states that we evolved.”  He has called his opponents “IDiots,” giving the shovel to what he considers a load of intellectual refuse.  It should come as no surprise that the university website and mission statement describe the institution’s academic reputation, but say nothing about loyalty to Jesus Christ.
       The “Methodist” in the name today seems to have little to do with the 18th-century revival fervor of John and Charles Wesley.  The information page merely acknowledges that the university was founded by Methodists in 1911, but quickly follows with the buzzwords of academic correctness: “The University is nonsectarian in its teaching and committed to freedom of inquiry.”  No Statement of Faith is provided.  Apparently SMU is CIMO – Christian in name only.
Only a few Christian colleges remain loyal to Jesus Christ as presented in the Scriptures: the fulfiller of prophecy, the miracle worker, the teacher who affirmed Genesis 1-11, God’s Son who rose from the dead, the Creator who incarnated himself in his creation.  Among these are Bob Jones University, The Master’s College, Liberty University, Grace College, Bryan College, and Cedarville University.  Most others seem content to relegate their “designer” to an uninvolved role at the origin of the universe – someone who does not “intervene” in the ongoing processes of nature.  Yet is not Christ’s incarnation, as taught in the Bible, the ultimate example of God’s intervention into nature and the affairs of man?
    Numerous secular universities today, like Princeton and Yale, were founded long ago by Christians to promote the gospel.  Over the years, their focus shifted from loyalty to Jesus Christ to a desire for academic respectability.  This included allegiance to the leading scientific theory of the day, Darwinism.  The academic credentials of professors became more important than their beliefs about Jesus.  These three colleges appear to be at various stages of that same trend.  In their eagerness to promote their campuses as paragons of academic respectability, these ostensibly Christian institutions glow with blurbs about their academic reputations, while hastening to distance themselves from ideas unpopular in secular academia, chiefly “intelligent design” or (God forbid) “creationism” – even though Jesus Christ is described as the Creator in at least three places in the New Testament, by three different writers (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:16-18, Hebrews 1:1-3), and Jesus identified himself with the titles of God (e.g., John 8, John 10).  One would think Christ’s words, therefore, would be considered authoritative at an institution that bears his name.
Jesus wept (Luke 13:34-35, Matthew 15:14, John 12:42-46).
    Let these universities at least be honest about their loyalty.  Let them rename themselves after their idol.  How about Huxley College (sports team, the Huxley Hucksters), Random House, or Southern Methodological Naturalism Multiversity?
    Darwin is the Baal of our time.  The syncretists think they can have it both ways, Baal and Jehovah.  Compromise on God’s word has always produced theological disaster and the judgment of God (e.g., II Kings 17).  College presidents, choose you this day (Joshua 23, I Kings 18, I Kings 22, Acts 4, Hebrews 11:24-26).
Next headline on:  BibleEducationDarwinismIntelligent Design
  Comet theories in trouble, from 09/07/2005.

Iapetus update   09/13/2007    
The data have returned from Cassini’s closest-ever flyby of Iapetus (see 09/07/2007).  All the images can be found at Cassini Multimedia raw images, with good samples posted by the imaging team here and here.
    Amateurs and pros at Unmanned Spaceflight started getting really excited at 12:40 a.m. Tuesday when the images hit the web, and were nearly beside themselves with astonishment as more images from the bright side came down Wednesday evening.  The clarity and detail visible in the photos is stunning.
    It now appears that the equatorial ridge feature does indeed circle the entire moon, at least faintly (see globe) and has been severely battered by craters.  The crisp boundaries between dark and light material raise new questions about this unique yin-yang moon, because the white surface appears pristine by comparison, right next to the dark material.  Some of the white areas appear young and craterless, suggesting some form of reprocessing of the material after emplacement.  The other instruments have contributed their data toward the goal of understanding the composition, depth and distribution of the dark and light materials, but interpreting the rich data set will take years.

These are very interesting results indeed.  Come back later for comments after the scientists publish their initial analysis.  Incidentally, did you know that the name Iapetus appears to be a Greek derivative of the name Japheth, one of the three sons of Noah?  Some scholars believe that Greek mythology has some roots in Old Testament accounts.  The story that Iapetus was one of the Titans who inherited a third of the Earth could be a corruption of the story of Japheth, one of the three sons of Noah who repopulated the world after the Flood.  The Parthenon Code is one site that investigates such connections between the Bible and later Greek mythology.
Next headline on:  Solar System
Genetics “Central Dogma” Is Dead   09/12/2007    
“The gene is dead... long live the gene,” announced subtitles to an article in Science News this week.1  Geneticists have come to a striking conclusion over the last few years: genes are not the most important things in DNA, if they even exist as a concept.
    The “central dogma” of genetics, since Watson and Crick determined the structure of DNA, is that genetic information flows one-way – from the gene to the protein.  In the textbooks, a gene was supposed to be a finite stretch of DNA that, when read by the translation process, produced a messenger RNA, which recruited transfer RNAs to assemble the amino acids for one protein.
    As Patrick Barry described in his article “Genome 2.0,”1 the situation in real cells is much messier.  “Mountains of new data are challenging old views,” his subtitle announced, including the “modern orthodoxy” that only genes are important.
Researchers slowly realized, however, that genes occupy only about 1.5 percent of the genome.  The other 98.5 percent, dubbed “junk DNA,“ was regarded as useless scraps left over from billions of years of random genetic mutations.  As geneticists’ knowledge progressed, this basic picture remained largely unquestioned....
    Closer examination of the full human genome is now causing scientists to return to some questions they thought they had settled.  For one, they’re revisiting the very notion of what a gene is.
Some of the findings in the genomic era include:
  • The human genome has far fewer genes than expected.
  • Some lower animals have as many genes as humans (e.g., 05/01/2007).
  • Most of the human genome does not code for genes.
  • The code for proteins can be split between distant parts of the genome – even on different chromosomes.2
  • The non-coding DNA, once considered evolutionary junk (06/15/2007), is actually heavily involved in gene regulation (04/24/2007).
  • Genetic information processing acts more like a network than a static library of genes.
  • RNA transcripts vastly outnumber gene transcripts: some 74 to 93% of the genome.
  • RNA is much more than a messenger in the cell. Numerous small and micro RNA transcripts are heavily involved in “fine tuning” the production of protein.
  • Gene regulation appears more important than the genes themselves.
  • Scientists “are finding disease-associated mutations in regions of the genome formerly regarded as junk.”
  • Some genes overlap with codes for micro-RNAs or regulatory elements.
  • Genes can be read in multiple ways that can yield far more than one protein (alternative splicing; see 05/20/2007)).
  • Messenger-RNA transcripts undergo significant modification and regulation in the nucleus.
  • The translation process can even yield transcripts from the opposing strand.3
It remains indisputable that DNA codes for proteins via messenger RNA, and that proteins perform the major structural and functional operations of the cell.  But as Hui Ge of the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts said, “What we thought was important before was really just the tip of the iceberg.”  Barry used a homey analogy to illustrate how gene regulation can be more important than genes themselves:
Consider the difference between a one-bedroom bungalow and an ornate, three-story McMansion.  Both are made from roughly the same materials—lumber, drywall, wiring, plumbing—and are put together with the same tools—hammers, saws, nails, and screws.  What makes the mansion more complex is the way that its construction is orchestrated by rules that specify when and where each tool and material must be used.
    In cells, regulation controls when and where proteins spring into action.  If the traditional genome is a set of blueprints for an organism, RNA regulatory networks are the assembly instructions. In fact, some scientists think that these additional layers of complexity in genome regulation could be the answer to a long-standing puzzle...
...that puzzle being the unexpected low number of genes in the human genome.  It might explain the physical differences between humans and roundworms, which both have similar numbers of protein-coding genes.
    Barry’s article provides a good summary of numerous papers that have been casting serious doubt on the Central Dogma, and even the concept of a gene itself:
More fundamentally, it muddies scientists’ conception of just what constitutes a gene.  In the established definition, a gene is a discrete region of DNA that produces a single, identifiable protein in a cell.  But the functioning of a protein often depends on a host of RNAs that control its activity.  If a stretch of DNA known to be a protein-coding gene also produces regulatory RNAs essential for several other genes, is it somehow a part of all those other genes as well?
Some scientists are advocating changing our focus from genes to “functional RNA transcripts.”  But that seems to just relocate the problem.  If DNA is a passive code, what codes for its activity?  If gene regulation by a network of transcripts is now more important than genes, what regulates the regulators?  Come back for Genome 3.0.
Update 09/24/2007:  Colin Nickerson wrote an article for the Boston News that captures the drama of these discoveries:
The science of life is undergoing changes so jolting that even its top researchers are feeling something akin to shell-shock.  Just four years after scientists finished mapping the human genome – the full sequence of 3 billion DNA “letters” folded within every cell – they find themselves confronted by a biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined....
    ....the picture now emerging is more complicated, one in which illness, health, and evolutionary change appear to be the work of almost fantastical coordination between genes and swaths of DNA previously written off as junk.
Nickerson quotes Isodore Rigoutsos, geneticist, saying “The picture that’s emerging is so immensely more complicated than anyone imagined, it’s almost depressing.”
1Patrick Barry, “Genome 2.0,” Science News, Week of Sept. 8, 2007; Vol. 172, No. 10 , p. 154.
2“The ENCODE project revealed that about 90 percent of protein-coding genes possessed previously unknown coding fragments that were located far from the main gene, sometimes on other chromosomes.”
3“According to the ENCODE project results, up to 72 percent of known genes have transcripts on the facing DNA strand as well as the main strand.”
Many previous entries have dealt with these subjects (e.g., 06/15/2007, 12/29/2006 bullet 2, 11/09/2006, 07/06/2006).  This is a classic case of a paradigm change in science occurring before our eyes.  Even what we mean by an intuitively-obvious word like gene is being questioned: is there such a thing?  Does it have physical reality, or is it a mental picture humans have imposed on a much more subtle reality?  The new buzzword is network, but is that an accurate characterization?  Networking is concerned more with the interactions of entities than with the entities themselves; this means that the rules of the game are more important than the nodes of the network.  How could that fit within a materialistic world view?
    Whatever comes in the days ahead, it appears that there is far more information processing occurring in the cell than even Watson and Crick imagined – and that was startling and elegant enough.  Barry states that the raw genetic information transcribed in DNA now appears to be 62 times what genes alone would produce.  The fundamental operational unit of life may, therefore, be nonphysical: information, not molecules.  These are exciting times for science – troubling times for Darwinists.  Don’t expect them to have any remorse over leading mankind into a “modern orthodoxy” that was mistaken.
Next headline on:  Genetics
New World Record for Winged Migration   09/11/2007    
The BBC News reports that a female bar-tailed godwit flew 11,500km (almost 7200 mi) nonstop from Alaska to New Zealand.  The journey took about a week.  Observers at Massey University used electronic tags to catalog the birds’ flight.
    This distance is nearly double what ornithologists used to consider an “extremely long” flight.  This makes the godwits the new champions of avian migration.  “Unlike seabirds, which feed and rest on their long journeys or swifts which feed in flight, the godwits make their long journeys without feeding or drinking.”
    Even more amazing, some of the young follow weeks later without adult guidance.  Then, come January and February, the birds will fly back, completing their annual victory lap around the world.
Animals are never-ending sources of amazement and wonder.  Thank goodness the article spared us an evolutionary fable.
Next headline on:  BirdsAmazing Facts
Potatoes: Brain Food for Evolutionary Health   09/11/2007    
A claim that eating starchy foods, like potatoes, made men out of monkeys made it all the way to the BBC News.  “Man’s ability to digest starchy foods like the potato may explain our success on the planet, genetic work suggests,” the subtitle read.  Not only that, it claimed “these extra calories may have been crucial for feeding the larger brains of humans, speculate the University of California Santa Cruz authors” of a paper in Nature Genetics.
    This benefit, of course, arose after our primitive ancestors mastered fire and cooking.  “We roast tubers, and we eat French fries and baked potatoes,” the article quoted one coauthor.  “When you cook, you can afford to eat less overall, because the food is easier to digest.”
    The paper did not speculate on the evolution of the couch potato.  One meat-eater had a different view.  The article ended:
Professor John Dupré, a professor of philosophy of science at Exeter University in the UK, urged caution when interpreting the findings.
    He said it was impossible to conclude that the introduction of starchy foods into the diet lay behind the emergence of larger brains in humans.
    “Lots of things differ between ourselves and our closest relatives and apart from the difficulty of establishing the relative places in the evolutionary sequence of any of these, the assumption that there is any one fundamental to such change is dubious.
He said the finding does have value in teaching us more about the plasticity of the genome.  Despite this admission, he seemed to mash the potato hypothesis.
    News@Nature took a less philosophical approach.  Showing a picture of a boy spitting, it began its coverage, “Spit might have helped human evolution by enabling our ancestors to harvest more energy from starch than their primate cousins.”  Further down in the article, under “Evolution of Spit,” the article claimed, “The ability to digest starch may have had the added benefit of cutting down on diarrhoea – still a major cause of death in children.”  Then it quoted Nate Dominy (UC Santa Cruz) explaining, “It might pay to start digesting things a bit earlier in the process to get what you can before it’s shot out of your body.”  So Nature was shooting from both ends, apparently.  The article praised such research as “a great example of what can be learned about our past via evolutionary genomics.”  Science Daily reported this story with similar salivation for its potential to explain human evolution.
This is the level of foolishness that Father Charlie has smuggled into science.  The article even uses a suggestive Haeckel drawing of human evolution.  If double dribble is a foul committed by babies with no control of either end of the alimentary canal, the evolutionists here are committing double drivel.
    The world is in the grip of a stupid myth pretending to be scientific.  The new experimental method now consists of trying out new twists on the plot.  How about a little empiricism?  Feed French fries to a chimp and see if he starts philosophizing or composing symphonies.  Notice that this was not from some podunk college professor, but from the world’s leading journal company, and one of the world’s leading news agencies.  O grievous folly.  The Darwinists are now getting in the habit of supersizing their nonsense meal deals.
Next headline on:  DarwinismEarly ManDumb Ideas
Can Humans Use Evolution?   09/10/2007    
Evolution is being used.  A press release from University of Wisconsin-Madison was titled, “Using evolution, UW team creates a template for many new therapeutic agents.”  How does one use evolution?  It continued, “By guiding an enzyme down a new evolutionary pathway, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers has created a new form of an enzyme capable of producing a range of potential new therapeutic agents with anticancer and antibiotic properties.”
We must keep up the heat on evolutionists till they become too embarrassed to say such things.  You cannot “use” evolution.  The moment you use it, you are doing intelligent design.  Evolution has no purpose, no aim, no guidance, no goal, and no reward – not even survival.  In Darwin’s universe, extinction happens and is just as dispassionate an outcome as survival.  If you think survival is somehow good, that’s your soul speaking.
    The moment a human does the selecting, guiding or rewarding, evolution stops and intelligent design begins.  Evolution, as used by Darwin, is not just change.  It is a particular kind of change: undirected, dispassionate, purposeless, blind.  Darwin and his disciples believe that an evolutionary process could have produced all the beauty and variety of today’s highly-adapted lifeforms.  Whether it could or not, Darwin certainly would deny that anyone “used” evolution.  Darwin fought against any suggestion by compromising theologians of his day (even his close friend Asa Gray) that God used the evolutionary process to create life.
    Such stories do nothing but obfuscate.  Evolution has nothing to do with it.  These scientists had a goal, and purposely selected enzymes with the properties they desired.  Darwin team, the referee just blew the whistle.  The penalty for your foul is to yield those two points to the ID team.  The title now reads, “Using selection criteria by intelligent design, UW team discovers a template for many new therapeutic agents.”  Much better; play ball.  Whoops; we just remembered the Darwin team has no goal.  Game over by forfeit.
Next headline on:  EvolutionDumb Ideas
Interpreting Secular Reports About Biblical Events   09/10/2007    
Can secular science provide a bias-free interpretation of evidence for Biblical events?  Consider the case of Robert Ballard’s Black-Sea Flood theory for Noah’s Flood.  This was popular a few years ago (04/21/2001), but has come under fire by other researchers (04/26/2002).  Today an Israeli research team claimed their research vessel found evidence to support the theory (Science Daily), but in June, Rensselaer Polytechnic scientists claimed evidence that contradicted it (Science Daily).
    A bigger issue is whether either team had a true scientific approach to answer a historical question untainted by any theological bias.  Notice what even the proponents of the theory said:
Says [Andreas] Weil [Tel Aviv U]: “We found that indeed a flood happened around that time.  From core samples, we see that a flood broke through the natural barrier separating the Mediterranean Sea and the freshwater Black Sea, bringing with it seashells that only grow in a marine environment.  There was no doubt that it was a fast flood -- one that covered an expanse four times the size of Israel.  It might not have been Noah, as it is written in the Bible, but we believe people in that region had to build boats in order to save their animals from drowning.  We think that the ones who survived were fishermen -- they already had the boats.”
Even a cursory reading of Genesis 6-9 shows major differences between these two stories.  Genesis describes a global flood that covered all the high mountains under heaven.  It was caused by an unprecedented sequence of events, wherein all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the windows of heaven were opened, causing rain for 40 days and 40 nights (no rain is suggested in the Black Sea flood).  And the Noah of the Bible was not one of a group of fishermen who outlasted a local natural disaster, but the only one on Earth whose family survived.  His boat was not his usual fishing boat, but a supertanker-sized ship 100 years in the making.  Undoubtedly the Tel Aviv team had no use, either, for the part of the story about God warning Noah about the coming flood or its purpose as a judgment on human depravity.
    What this means is that the Tel Aviv team, and Robert Ballard’s team, came into their research with a theological bias: they had already decided that the Genesis account was a myth or legend.  They allow that it might have had some basis in an actual historical event, like a smaller, local flood, but it could not have been anything like what the Bible described.  This presupposition puts them in the position of judging the Genesis account a priori rather than employing it as evidence.
    A more unbiased approach should have included the possibility that the Genesis account is historically reliable.  An interpretation of the Black Sea evidence might be, then, to propose it as a subsequent event, not the Great Deluge itself.  These researchers assumed, though, that their evidence pertained to the flood of Noah.
Beware of those who try to give the Bible “scientific” help.  They often do more damage than outright skeptics.  At least with an atheist the lines are clearly drawn.  You can argue the evidence for God and get somewhere.  These people, however, pretend to be helping make the Bible seem more credible.  What they are really doing is preaching a subtle philosophy that one cannot take the Bible at face value, because science, the paragon of Truth, has decided it cannot be more than a collection of myths and legends.  As such, its miracles and acts of God must be seen as misunderstandings of natural events by primitive people who didn’t understand science.
    There is no way to get a local flood out of Genesis 6-9 without either denying it outright as history, or claiming that words do not mean what they say.  Even if they believe in some kind of God, what the Black Sea Flood believers are really conveying is that God cannot be trusted to communicate and preserve His word accurately.  That is a theological position, not a scientific one.  They might as well say outright, “God, we know more science than you do, and we accuse You of lying because you allowed your prophets and spokesmen, and even your Son, to exaggerate a local flood into a global one.”  How would that go over in the pulpit?
    As in archaeology, Biblical events can and do leave physical traces that can be fruitfully analyzed, yielding insights into the context and meaning of the text.  One can do that with a presupposition that the Bible is reliable (e.g., 07/11/2007).  Forcing the Bible into a naturalistic mold is another thing entirely.  The ideas of those who try to “help” the Bible comport with modern secular science may look more appealing than the rants of a Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, but skepticism with a sugar coating produces the same symptoms.
Next headline on:  BibleGeology
Are You a Glorified Ape?   09/09/2007    
Evolutionists seem in a bit of a quandary lately.  They are convinced that humans evolved from apes, but cannot deny the large cognitive gaps between humans and the alleged nearest ancestors, the great apes.  It’s not just a matter of IQ.  The social skills, language, reasoning, altruism and empathy humans express have no parallels in the animal kingdom.  Some recent articles explored the great divide and wondered whether evolutionary theory can bridge it.
    “Humans not just ‘big-brained apes,’ researcher says,” was the title of an article on World Science.  It discussed a recent paper in PNAS by David Premack, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, entitled, “Human and animal cognition: Continuity and discontinuity.”1  Premack does not doubt evolutionary theory, but decided it’s time to focus on the differences between men and animals, not just the similarities.  For instance, a paper in Science summarized by Elizabeth Pennisi alleged that monkeys expect each other to act rationally, and that this represents “humanlike reasoning”.2  Yet this was concluded only on the basis of experiments with food-getting.  Nevertheless, the press release on EurekAlert claimed, “This study suggests that this ability evolved as long as 40 million years ago, with non-human primates.”
    Premack, however, disdained this kind of similarity-hunting.  He questioned Charles Darwin’s assumption that “humans were essentially ‘big-brained apes’.”  Neuroscientists have shown unique structures in the human brain not found in any animal brain, he said.  These neural differences translate into mental and cognitive differences that are unique to humans.  He did not begin to explain how these differences arose by an evolutionary process.
    Though animals often display traits once thought to be uniquely human, Premack focused on eight areas of the divide: teaching, short-term memory, causal reasoning, planning, deception, transitive inference, theory of mind, and language – and found “in all cases, the similarities between animal and human abilities are small, dissimilarities large.”  Animal intelligence and behavior seems focused on a single goal (e.g., getting food), whereas human intelligence can focus on an infinite number of goals.  Premack left it an unsolved problem how the cellular differences between the brains of animals and people translate into cognitive differences.
    Another article accentuated the differences.  EurekAlert reported from a Science special feature on social cognition that higher social skills are distinctly human.  For instance, experiments at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig found that children are much better than apes at following nonverbal cues.  For instance, “Apes bite and try to break a tube to retrieve the food inside while children follow the experimenter’s example to get inside the tube to retrieve the prize, showing that even before preschool, toddlers are more sophisticated in their social learning skills than their closest primate relatives.”  The article did not doubt that evolution produced these differences, but wondered whether it was due to brain evolution or cultural evolution.
    To what extent is there animal in us, and us in animal?  Alison Abbott reviewed a book Nature on this subject:3 The Human Animal in Western Art and Science by Martin Kemp (University of Chicago Press: 2007).  The whimsical book surveyed how philosophers, artists, and scientists have dealt with the animal side of our natures.  No one has doubted that humans resemble animals in many ways, both physical and mental; we are, after all, classified with the mammals.  We compare ourselves with the animals (Richard the Lion-Hearted) and we attribute personalities to our pets.  But till the mid-18th century, human nature was kept in a separate category.  “Until Darwin came along, such cross-attribution never shook the deeply held belief that humans, with their capacity for abstraction, were cleanly distinct from animals, with their inability to rationalize their feelings or control their instincts, appetites and passions,” Abbott writes.  In his book, Kemp denies a clear distinction.  Abbott summarized the book’s viewpoint: “Science, from Darwin to the latest neuroscience and genomics, has shown that there is no sharp animal-human divide, only a sliding scale.”  Yet this seems to beg the question.  The situation might be a sliding scale in one direction but not the other.  Surely some humans degenerate toward beastly behavior on a sliding scale, but it is one thing to claim humans act like animals, and another to claim animals act like humans.  No animal appears to possess the unique human capabilities for reason, language, true altruism, morality and abstract thinking.  Premack, remember, said that the dissimilarities are large.  An injury or mental illness might render a man indistinguishable from an animal, but the converse is not true: we do not see chimpanzees discussing philosophy and morality and holding presidential primaries.  The sliding scale might be continuous downward, but appears to hit a canyon upward.
    Though the above articles disagree on how these large cognitive and social differences between humans and apes arose, none of them questioned the reigning paradigm that humans evolved from apes, or that the differences can eventually be attributed to physical differences in the brain.  A new book challenges that orthodoxy.  The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul by Beauregard and O’Leary (Harper One, 2007), released Sept. 4, re-opens the old philosophical dichotomy between mind and brain (see review by Anika Smith).  It’s time to shed the physicalist bias, the book description explains,
Many scientists ignore hard evidence that challenges their materialistic prejudice, clinging to the limited view that our experiences are explainable only by material causes, in the obstinate conviction that the physical world is the only reality.  But scientific materialism is at a loss to explain irrefutable accounts of mind over matter, of intuition, willpower, and leaps of faith, of the “placebo effect” in medicine, of near-death experiences on the operating table, and of psychic premonitions of a loved one in crisis, to say nothing of the occasional sense of oneness with nature and mystical experiences in meditation or prayer.  Traditional science explains away these and other occurrences as delusions or misunderstandings, but by exploring the latest neurological research on phenomena such as these, The Spiritual Brain gets to their real source.
Beauregard is a PhD neuroscientist, and O’Leary is a journalist and blogger at the Mindful Hack.  They are calling materialism a dead end.  Until scientists acknowledge that the immaterial soul is real, they will never be able to explain human cognition or the gap between humans and animals.  Philosophers and theologians will perk up at this resurrection of an idea thought mortally wounded by Darwin.
1David Premack, “Human and animal cognition: Continuity and discontinuity,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, August 28, 2007, vol. 104, no. 35, pp. 13861-13867.
2Elizabeth Pennisi, “Nonhuman Primates Demonstrate Humanlike Reasoning,” Science, 7 September 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5843, p. 1308, DOI: 10.1126/science.317.5843.1308.
3Alison Abbott, “The animal in us,” Nature 449, 26-27 (6 September 2007) | doi:10.1038/449026a.
Here’s how you can know that the materialists are wrong.  Without a soul, reasoning is impossible.  Why?  Because reasoning depends on unchangeable, intangible realities: truth and the laws of logic.  You cannot get unchangeable, intangible realities out of colliding particles or forces.  Evolution proposes a constantly shifting, purposeless, aimless trend of life that can lay no claim to truth or logic.  Arguments about human-ape similarities and differences, and whether human brains are physically unique or not, are pointless.  You cannot even argue at all within a materialistic world view.  All you can say is that lips are moving or pencils are making marks on paper – but even that requires assuming that observations are reliable and sentences are logical.  Trying to argue within materialism reduces to making incomprehensible noises.
    The only way Premack, Pennisi and all the other evolutionary materialists out there can think and reason about human and animal brains, therefore, is by borrowing theological assumptions: i.e., that truth and logic exist, and that their souls have access to these immaterial realities.  This means that by reasoning they are assuming the very thing they deny.  This is a self-refuting position.  It must, therefore, be false.  Why?  Because to refute something is to falsify it.  Materialism is, therefore, false, and it is irrational to listen to materialists try to explain anything, especially the mind, because they are believing opposite things.  So let’s all get rational here.  It follows that any reasoned explanation using evidence and logic, if presumed to be a attempt at uncovering something that is or might be true, requires acknowledging an immaterial reality that is eternal and reliable.  Belief in truth and the laws of logic is a precondition to the intelligibility of any proposition.  This precondition makes sense in the Christian world view.  It makes no sense within materialism.
    Darwin’s disciples have had 140 years to bury the soul, but it won’t stay interred.  It keeps whispering into the brain, “there is more here than meets the eye.”  Shutting one’s physical ears is no escape from the voice inside.  But since inner voices are notoriously inconsistent and unreliable, our souls need to take instruction from a more reliable source, one that is eternal, wise, omniscient, morally good and truthful.  It stands to reason that only a person can communicate with another person, so the source needs to be personal.  And the only Person who knows everything is the Inventor who came before the invention (the universe).  Good news: He communicates.  More good news: He has bridged the mind-body divide (Acts 17:22-29, Hebrews 1:1-3).
Next headline on:  Early ManHuman BodyDarwinEducationPolitics and EthicsBible and Theology
  Did the Grand Canyon layers come from Appalachia?  Evaluate the claims from 09/15/2003 and 09/02/2003.  The Grand Canyon is still an unsolved problem for secular geologists, from 09/16/2005 – but some are coming around to creationist interpretations (09/30/2000, 05/31/2002, 07/22/2002).

Eyes Do Precision Digital Sampling   09/08/2007    
What is the shutter speed of the eye?  Have you ever considered this question?  After all, the eye functions like a camera in some respects.  Shutterbugs know that shutter speed and aperture are factors in proper exposure.  Most of us know that the iris of the eye controls the aperture, but what controls the shutter speed?
    The question is much more complicated for the eye, because it is a motion picture system.  Movies are typically shot at 24 frames per second, yet our brain perceives the train of still images as a continuous stream of motion.  Does this mean our eyes use a shutter speed less than 24 fps?  That can’t be it, because we notice the jitter when a movie pans across the scene too fast.  Where are the controls for shutter speed in our visual system?  And if the eye is similar to a camcorder, is it analog or digital?
    To find out, a team of scientists from Harvard, Cornell, State University of New York and University of Connecticut examined the response of neurons in the mammalian eye when watching static uniform noise versus a movie of natural motion.  Their results, published in Nature,1 were surprising: the eye has a variable shutter speed in the millisecond range2, and our visual system is digital.  Their conclusion will sound familiar to audiophiles and HD geeks familiar with CD/DVD sampling rates:

Relative precision may be a general feature of sensory neuron communication, in which an analogue input (the sensory stimulus) is encoded by what is essentially a digital signal (the neuron’s spike train).  In this context, temporal precision of neuronal responses is conceptually similar to the problem of digital sampling, in which encoding frequencies must be at least double that of the analogue signal information because of the Nyquist limit.3  From this perspective, the mechanisms that generate neuronal precision ... which seem to make the encoding of visual information more complicated, may actually serve to provide easier means for downstream neurons to decode this information.
The sampling rate of the visual system, in other words, is more than twice as precise as the incoming signal.  This is necessary to allow the brain to extract the maximum amount of information from the input.  A high-performance CD or DVD will sound or look better at a high sampling rate.  The eye, likewise, samples the visual field appropriately to preserve the maximum amount of information from the input.  Audiophiles know that a high sampling rate, while good, has trade-offs; the CPU or player has to be able to keep up with the corresponding higher data rate.  Since the mammalian visual field can vary from static noise to a fast-moving field packed with information, neurons automatically adjust with a variable “shutter speed” to match the information content of the scene.  As a result, we get optimum performance within the physical constraints of cell biology: “the frequency content of the stimulus determines the temporal scale at which the response must be specified to reconstruct the stimulus faithfully.
    The paper said nothing about how this system could have evolved.  Instead, the abstract made it clear that the scientists were approaching the problem with a focus on purpose, information, and function.  Indeed, information was one of the most frequent words in the paper, used 36 times:
Using information-theoretic techniques, we demonstrate a clear role of relative precision, and show that the experimentally observed temporal structure in the neuronal response is necessary to represent accurately the more slowly changing visual world.  By establishing a functional role of precision, we link visual neuron function on slow timescales to temporal structure in the response at faster timescales, and uncover a straightforward purpose of fine-timescale features of neuronal spike trains.
A layman’s summary of this complex paper was published on PhysOrg entitled, “Brain’s timing linked with timescales of the natural visual world.”
1Daniel A. Butts et al, “Temporal precision in the neural code and the timescales of natural vision,” Nature 449, 92-95 (6 September 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature06105.
2The authors said, “This remarkable precision at millisecond timescales has been observed in the retina, the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN)and the visual cortex, as well as in many other sensory systems such as the fly visual system, the electrosensory system of the weakly electric fish, and the mammalian somatosensory and auditory systems.”
3Wikipedia explains, “The sampling theorem tells us that aliasing can be avoided if the Nyquist frequency [i.e., half the sampling frequency of a discrete signal processing system] is greater than the bandwidth, or maximum frequency, of the signal being sampled.... In principle, a Nyquist frequency just larger than the signal bandwidth is sufficient to allow perfect reconstruction of the signal from the samples.”
Science Daily picked up on this story two days after we did, with much less detail.
    This finding becomes more amazing the more you think about it.  It shows that comparing the eye to a camera is way too simplistic.  We have a digital sampling studio in our heads!  Maybe you’ve thought sometimes that the eye can’t be too great if it perceives 24 frames per second as continuous motion.  Well, think about all that’s going on.  The eye is a physical system – subject to physical and molecular constraints.  The rhodopsin in the rod or cone in the retina (one pixel) must reset itself in a finite amount of time, because chemical reactions (protein rearrangements) cannot be instantaneous.  Similarly, each neuron in the visual system requires a reset before the next firing.  A neural axon contains a train of complex “ion pumps” (01/17/2002) that transmit a chemo-electric signal down the membrane to the tip.  There, neurotransmitters must be delivered across a synapse to the next neuron.  Though the response is rapid, it does take measurable time.
    Now, multiply this constraint by the 120 megapixels in each eye that are all having to simultaneously intake photons from the incoming visual field, fire a bit to the brain, and reset (to see what’s involved there, see the 12/30/2003 entry).  It’s incredible that our 3-pound jelly-like brains can keep up with it, while simultaneously monitoring our heart, breathing, and every other input coming from all the senses from head to toe.  To handle this torrent of information, the visual system samples the field and digitizes it.  Each neuron firing event is an element in a code.  The brain does not receive an actual picture, like a projection on a screen.  It receives a continuous train of neuronal signals rich with information.  Because all the information has been encoded with the optimum sampling rate, the brain has all it needs to reconstruct the continuously moving scene with high fidelity.  High-def TV and MPEG-4 is nothing compared to this.
    Even beyond that (if you are still struggling to keep up with this mind-boggling discussion), the neuronal pattern has a temporal structure that the brain interprets to get the time-based information out of the signal.  We shouldn’t think of a single shutter speed for the eye, in other words; there are hundreds of millions of individual shutters going off at their own variable rates.  Each rod or cone, each neuron in the optic nerve, and each neuron in the visual cortex is automatically adjusting its firing to provide the brain with a continuous pattern, containing both spatial and temporal structure, that maximizes the amount of useful information from the scene.
    So the analog-to-digital sampling is not just two-dimensional, but four-dimensional: we get a stereo image from two 2-D sources (combining the information from each eyeball), yielding 3-D, and the temporal structure makes it 4-D.  This all happens within the constraints of physical chemistry.
    A complex 4-D field of information, therefore, is represented in code, where each neuron firing is a bit (“the response of the neuron ... consists of discrete firing ‘events’”).  The temporal structure of the digitally-sampled code is optimized to preserve the maximum amount of information from the scene, without swamping the brain with unnecessary bits (TMI, too much information).  Lest this commentary cause cognitive overload from TMI, we won’t remind you of another amazing fact, that the eye also does on-the-fly imaging processing (05/22/2003, 05/27/2003).  Try building a robot with all this that can dive into a swimming pool.
    We saw a somewhat similar encoding/decoding technology in the olfactory sense (see 11/07/2001, 06/07/2005); an almost infinitely varying input can be represented by finite neurons using a combinatorial code.  Update: A new paper in Current Biology explored this very thing on Sept. 17: “spike-timing dependent plasticity” apparently is responsible for the precision in the olfactory sense of locusts.  The authors said this has been found also in sight, learning and memory formation in vertebrates.  It is likely that all the senses employ digital sampling to some degree.  What a concept: humans have digital senses, and analog-to-digital conversion is built into our ostensibly analog anatomy.  This is true for all other animals, too.  What are the chances that locusts dreamed up this technology by evolution?
    The authors here, again, used an information-theoretic approach to understand the role and purpose of the phenomenon under investigation.  Doesn’t that sound like Intelligent Design at work?  Who needs Charlie to do science?  The eye only gave him cold shudders, and well it should have (12/30/2003, 05/22/2003, 11/10/2006 commentaries).  He didn’t know a hundredth of the problem.  1859 was way before people knew anything about digital sampling, analog-to-digital conversion, millisecond precision, combinatorial code representation of 4-D signals, motion pictures, image processing, neuronal and genetic codes, and much, much more.  Sorry, Charlie; the Darwinian revolution has been rendered obsolete by the information revolution.  Get with the picture.

An evolutionary theorist from Australia responded,

The article “Eyes do Precision Sampling” attracted my attention and drew me to your site.  You see (no pun intended) in New Scientist (11 August 2007, No. 2616) there was a rather derisive feature: Life’s Biggest Blunders – The design flaws that prove evolution is blind.  And as expected the eye come under the writer’s critical gaze concluding “back-front retinas are a mistake”.  So now comparing these articles I realized that is essential for the Darwinist to downplay design features in order to detract from anything that remotely looks design – impeccable design at that!  I am agnostic but I can never deny that organic life (except human) is doing a wonderful job at functioning at optimum capacity.  Thank you for this sight – sorry – site!
Next headline on:  Human BodyPhysicsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
Saturn’s Iapetus Takes Cassini’s Spotlight   09/07/2007    
Scientists are eagerly poised for Cassini’s long-awaited ultra-close flyby of Iapetus on September 10.  The previous visit in 2005 was over 77,000 miles away; this flyby will skim the surface from less than 1,000 miles.  Moreover, it will see a portion of the moon only vaguely imaged by Voyager and Cassini before.  Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages and operates the Cassini mission, posted a map, encounter description and links to other information about Iapetus in preparation for the event.
    Iapetus made the cover of Science News on August 18.1  Ron Cowen, in “Idiosyncratic Iapetus,” surveyed competing theories about the moon’s formation – with particular regard to two major anomalies, its walnut shape, and the 8-mile-high ridge of mountains on its equator (up to 12 miles high in some places).  Did a ring pile up on the equator, as one Taiwanese theorist proposed last year, or did a fast braking action cause Iapetus to bleed molten material from an equatorial wound?
    The latter model was elucidated by lead Cassini scientists in Icarus this month.2  Dennis Matson, Julie Castillo-Rogez, Jonathan Lunine, Torrence Johnson and others, many familiar with Iapetus since Voyager 1 and 2 flew by Saturn in 1981, listed the physical constraints on any model proposed to explain the Iapetus anomalies.  The moon had to start with a fast spin and slow down rapidly due to tidal stress.  In addition, there had to be enough short-lived radioisotopes (aluminum-26 and iron-60) to keep the interior molten long enough for its walnut shape to become frozen.  Then, an equatorial crack had to open up to spill its guts into the mountain range seen today.  It’s “all in the timing” in this model, wrote Cowen.  He quoted veteran Saturnologist Joseph Burns admitting, “The model is pretty improbable since it requires special timings, but Iapetus itself is pretty improbable.
    The two papers also speculated that Iapetus formation models might shed light on a bigger controversy: the origin of planets themselves.  The slow process of core accretion was long the only player in town.  “A decade ago,” Cowen wrote, “the leading model of planet formation would have had a hard time making a large planet in 5 million years or less.”  According to the authors of the Icarus paper, though, the formation of Iapetus must have occurred 2.5 to 5 million years after the solar system first began to form.  That leaves the newer “disk instability” cosmogony more suitable for the “quick creation” of Iapetus.  Indeed, solar system modelers are now having to worry about getting planets formed even faster (08/30/2007).  They have been realizing that incipient planetesimals would quickly be swept into the sun unless something protected them (see National Geographic).  It’s common now for planetologists to speak of gas giants forming in mere hundreds of years.
    Will the latest models be able to endure whatever data Cassini beams to Earth on Monday?  If the past is any guide, any puzzles solved will be superseded by bigger ones.  Voyager scientists were confident they would understand Iapetus’s dark material 25 years ago, but Cassini scientists today still do not have an accepted explanation.
    Incidentally, Voyagers 1 and 2 are celebrating their 30th anniversary in flight (see JPL feature), and Cassini is approaching its 10th anniversary away from Earth.  In addition, the Mars Exploration Rovers have bounced back from the brink of doom after last month’s global dust storm (see Science Daily); Spirit and Opportunity are now both operational 40 months beyond expectations.  Those JPL engineers sure make some hardy stuff.  The navigators, too, know how to give a thrill ride – for space lovers around the world.
    For Cassini’s catalog of images of Iapetus, go to the Cassini Multimedia Images page and select “Iapetus” from the pull-down menu at upper right.  Raw images from the flyby will become available sometime Monday or Tuesday.  For previous entries in these pages about Iapetus, visit 01/07/2005, 03/01/2006 and 07/18/2007.  The 02/06/2006 commentary discusses the use of models to reconstruct the past.
1Ron Cowen, “Idiosyncratic Iapetus,” Science News, Week of Aug. 18, 2007; Vol. 172, No. 7 , p. 104.
2Castillo-Rogez, Matson, Sotin, Johnson, Lunine and Thomas, “Iapetus’ geophysics: Rotation rate, shape, and equatorial ridge,” Icarus, Volume 190, Issue 1, September 2007, Pages 179-202, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2007.02.018.
Tune in again Tuesday.  Should be an interesting show.  Just remember that there is a big difference between observing data in the present and proposing models about what happened in an assumed remote past without human observers.  For every honest observer, regardless of beliefs, better data are always a blessing.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating MethodsPhysics
  Giant pterosaur like a “beautifully engineered” aircraft, from 09/09/2005.

Dinosaurs Stretched, Shrunk and Twisted Into Birds   09/06/2007    
Size matters, thought paleontologists envisioning the evolution of birds from dinosaurs.  The old story was that dinosaurs shrunk as their arms were becoming wings.  That view has been challenged by a new fossil reported in Science.1  Alan H. Turner (American Museum of Natural History) and four others reported a “basal dromeosaurid” that was small long before it ever dreamed of flying.  Furthermore, three related lineages subsequently grew to monsters up to two orders of magnitude larger.  “Thus, miniaturization preceded the avialan node and the origin of flight,” they concluded, “and as a result, hypotheses relating ontogenetic or metabolic controls on miniaturization to flight origin in theropods must be equally capable of explaining the size reduction within ancestral paravians and the iterative trends of size increase in deinonychosaurs” which include the presumably fearsome Velociraptor and Utahraptor.
    The press release at North Carolina State University, where co-author Julia Clarke is an assistant professor of paleontology, focused on the puzzles this find represents.  “Height or flight?” the title asks.  “Fossil Answers Some Questions About Evolution of Flight in Dinosaurs, Raises Others.” 

Paleontologists have long theorized that miniaturization was one of the last stages in the long series of changes required in order for dinosaurs to make the evolutionary “leap” to take flight and so become what we call birds.  New evidence from a tiny Mongolian dinosaur, however, may leave some current theories about the evolution of flight up in the air.
The small, 28-inch species, Mahakala omnogovae, was classified as a dromeosaur – a cousin of Velociraptor.  Discerned to be a young adult, it did not fit the picture of miniaturization occurring late on the trail to birds.  The press release was honest about the problems:
If miniaturization of dinosaurs occurred well before the origin of flight, then this raises other questions about the ways that paleontologists have traditionally explained trends in the early history of birds.
    “We had closely linked smaller size in dinosaurs including birds to flight, changes in growth strategy and metabolism: They got progressively smaller, grew faster, and flew,” Clarke adds.  “Now we see that small size occurs well before many other innovations in locomotion and growth strategy.  It forces us to look at the ways we were explaining trends within this part of Dinosauria, and to question our previous assumptions about causal factors in, and timing of, the acquisition of attributes seen in living birds.”
The touch of humility in this quotation stood in stark contrast to the version in National Geographic News.  Titled, “New ‘Mini’ Dinosaur a Step in Bird Evolution Path,” the report by Kevin Holden Platt was mostly confident that this fossil helps explain how dinosaurs took flight.  “An 80-million-year-old fossil recently uncovered in the Gobi desert could be a key piece of the evolutionary puzzle of how massive dinosaurs gave rise to today’s comparatively tiny birds,” he began.  He quoted a paleontologist who claimed that “the new find fits perfectly into the theory that dinos evolved into birds.”  Only in the body of the article, on page two, did the problems surface:
Today consensus is building among paleontologists that dinosaurs and birds are linked.
   But the experts disagree over how that evolutionary twist helped ancient birds escape being wiped out with the rest of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
    “Paleontologists really don’t know the answer to that.  Why some animals survive mass extinctions while others don’t is one of the most difficult questions in paleontology,” lead study author Turner said.
    “Flying doesn’t seem to have hurt birds, yet pterosaurs—which are not dinosaurs—flew but went extinct.”
Other than that, the article was confident that Mahakala was a prize specimen for the evolution-of-flight display cases.  Of special note was Platt’s insistence that the bird had feathers.  Finding imaginary feathers on dinosaurs seems to be a habit at National Geographic (see 06/13/2007, 02/08/2006, 09/27/2000).  The NCSU press release said nothing about feathers.  The original paper only said that another species, Jinfengopteryx, classified as a troodontid, had feathers.  There has been controversy, however, about this classification.  Originally it was placed with Archaeopteryx, a true feathered flyer.  Some paleontologists later felt it has more in common with troodontids, but the classification remains questionable.  The artist reconstruction on Wikipedia looks like a roadrunner with long tail feathers.  Even the decision to place the troodonts with dromeosaurs has had a checkered past; in many respects, its members seem to have more in common with Archaeopteryx and birds.  Only Jinfengopteryx had clear feather impressions.
    Nevertheless, Kevin Platt gushed about feathers in his article.  Some of this may have been due to the lead author’s opinions on the matter.  “The fossils indicate that the new species was not only feathered but also likely had winglike forelimbs and hind limbs, Turner said.”  Platt quoted only believers, like Xu Xing and Mark Norell, to confirm the suspicion that Mahakala had feathers.  He even stated flatly that the specimen “measures just 27.5 inches (70 centimeters) from its head to the tip of its feathered tail.”  The artist reconstruction in the article showed the specimen well endowed with wing feathers.
    No other source checked said that Mahakala had feathers.  Turner and National Geographic, however, insisting that it was a dromeosaur, had their feathers a-flutter.  They seemed excited that this little bird-like fossil might be related to the terrors of Jurassic Park.  Turner confidently put imaginary feathers on those monsters, too, saying, “The Velociraptor would be completely covered in feathers.”  No Velociraptor fossil has ever been found with feathers.2
1Alan H. Turner, Diego Pol, Julia A. Clarke, Gregory M. Erickson and Mark A. Norell, “A Basal Dromaeosaurid and Size Evolution Preceding Avian Flight,” Science 7 September 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5843, pp. 1378-1381, DOI: 10.1126/science.1144066.
2The Wikipedia entry on Velociraptor, biased in favor of the dinosaur-to-bird theory, only claims that earlier dromeosaurs had feathers (referencing Xu Xing’s classification of Microraptor with dromeosaurs).  Then it makes the following inference and admission: “In light of the fact that the ancestors of Velociraptor were feathered and possibly capable of flight, it is most likely that Velociraptor bore feathers too, since even flightless birds today retain most of their feathers.  While there is as yet no direct fossil evidence to confirm that Velociraptor had feathers, there is no reason to suspect it of being an exception.”
The twists and leaps that evolutionists make to keep their belief intact is an affront to scientific integrity.  Here, an assumption that dinosaurs shrank on their way to flight has been shown wrong.  At least the NCSU press release showed a little bit of honesty that “we have a problem here” but that was undone by Turner and Platt’s shameless boasting about things they don’t know.  The original paper’s chart of dinosaur phylogeny is a jumbled mess, with feathers here and there and sizes varying all over the place.  Deeper investigation shows a good deal of doubt and controversy about each group’s place in the imaginary tree.  The believers in the consensus keep striving to marginalize the critics.
    Once again, there is no simple, straight line from the alleged ancestor to the alleged descendent (cf. 09/01/2007).  The assumption of evolution, however, never gets doubted.  Evolution may have to stretch, squish and twist to keep the observations from falsifying the theory, but Darwin Gumby always comes out the hero.  We are watching one of the worst cases of belief trumping evidence in the history of science.  When all the fossils get sorted out, and all the facts come to light, certain people may have a lot of egg on their faces.
Next headline on:  DinosaursFossilsBirdsEvolution
Whale Sonar: Necessity Is the Mother of Invention   09/05/2007    
Biosonar is a complex ability possessed by toothed whales and dolphins, bats and some birds.  It includes both the ability to produce signals and to process the echoes to locate prey.  How could such a system evolve?  Scientists at UC Berkeley proposed an answer.  The press release promised a developing story:
Behind the sailor’s lore of fearsome battles between sperm whale and giant squid lies a deep question of evolution: How did these leviathans develop the underwater sonar needed to chase and catch squid in the inky depths?
Yet the answer was perplexing: bats and whales developed it by developing it —
Now, two evolutionary biologists at the University of California, Berkeley, claim that, just as bats developed sonar to chase flying insects through the darkness, dolphins and other toothed whales also developed sonar to chase schools of squid swimming at night at the surface.
Their answer, in other words, provided no information on the sequence of mutations that could have been acted on by natural selection to create a complex, interacting system.  It only asserted that the need to dive deep after squid somehow caused the system to be developed – by evolution.
    From that premise, they wove an evolutionary story of millions of years, based on the assumption that necessity is the mother of invention. 
....the first whales entered the ocean from land about 45 million years ago, and apparently did not echolocate....
    At the time whales developed biosonar, nautiloids dominated the oceans.  Lindberg and Pyenson propose that whales first found it possible to track these hard-shelled creatures in surface waters at night by bouncing sounds off of them, an advantage over whales that relied only on moonlight or starlight.  This would have enabled whales to follow the cephalopods as they migrated downwards into the darkness during the day....
    Over the millennia, cephalopod species in general – and especially shelled cephalopod species – fell as the number of whale species boomed, possibly because of predation by whales.  Then, about 10 million years ago, the whales seem to have driven the nautiloids out of the open ocean into protected reefs.  Lindberg said that the decline in nautiloid diversity would have forced whales to perfect their sonar to hunt soft-bodied, migrating squid....
The scientists recognized the need for better explanations:
The most convincing explanation, that echolocation allowed whales to more efficiently find food in the darkness of the deep ocean, ignores the question of evolution.
    “How did the whales know there was a large supply of food down in the dark?” asked Lindberg, noting that cephalopods are the most abundant and high-energy resource in the ocean, eaten by 90 percent of all toothed whales.  “What were the intermediate evolutionary steps that got whales down there?”
Yet the press release never did explain how the system developed – only that evolution saw a need, and by some unspecified process, developed the “sophisticated biosonar system” used by whales today:
“Whales didn’t need to have a very sophisticated sonar system to follow the nautiloids, they could just home in on the hard part,” Lindberg said.  Only later, he added, did they “develop a complex system with finer resolution to detect and capture soft-bodied squid.”
The article pointed to biosonar in bats and whales as “strong examples of convergent evolution” – a term that also hides the “how” of engineering design.  They reinforced their claim by pointing to filter-feeding baleen whales and fruit-eating bats that lack sonar because those don’t need the technology to locate their food in the dark.  Since both the sonar-equipped bats and whales are nocturnal, the authors presumed evolution provided the equipment needed to hunt at night.  They did not speculate why the nocturnal bats and whales didn’t simply switch to daytime food with their diurnal colleagues, nor why the squid didn’t just develop stealth technology to evade the sonar.
    Apparently, this is an acceptable way to explain things in biology these days.  David Lindberg, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology, said, “thinking from an evolutionary perspective about existing data from biology, paleontology and ecology could answer questions about the origin of echolocation in bats, shrews and other animals.”  Presumably, it is now permissible to explain how something developed by saying it just developed – an odd development in scientific explanation.
OK, folks, we all just saw their shenanigans right there, which means we have developed a keen sense for seeing things in the dark – a case of convergent perspicacity.  Don’t let the ev-illusion squids get away with it.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyMammalsEvolution
  All the Darwinian talking points in a handy list, from the 09/02/2005 commentary.

Do Genes Reveal the Cambrian Explosion?   09/04/2007    
A Croatian geneticist believes he can find the Cambrian Explosion in the genes.  Science Daily told about Tomislav Domazet-Loso from the Rudjer Boskovic Institute in Zagreb, whose team employed a “novel methodological approach in evolutionary studies” they called “genomic phylostratigraphy.”  Looking for a “genetic trigger” for the Cambrian explosion, they hoped their method can “shed new and unexpected light on some of the long standing macroevolutionary issues, which have been puzzling evolutionary biologists since Darwin.
    Acknowledging that fossils provide the only direct evidence of what happened, they proposed a “novel and interesting approach” to get around the patchy fossil record:

Namely, they suggested that the genome of every extant species carries the ‘snapshots’ of evolutionary epochs that species went trough [sic].  What’s even more important, they also developed the method which enables evolution researchers to readily convert those individual ‘snapshots’ into the full-length ‘evolutionary movie’ of a species.
    Applying their new methodology on the fruit fly genomic data they tackled some of the most intriguing evolutionary puzzles – some of which distressed even Darwin himself.  First, they demonstrated that parts of the living organism exposed to the environment – so called ‘ectoderm’ – are more prone to evolutionary changes.  Further, they explained the evolutionary origin of the ‘germ layers’, the primary tissue forms that form during the first days after the conception of a new animal, and from which subsequently all other tissues are developed.  Finally, they discovered the potential genetic trigger for the ‘Cambrian explosion’, a major global evolutionary event on the planet, when some 540 million years ago almost all animal forms known today suddenly ‘appeared’.
The details of their method were to be presented at a conference in Croatia Sept. 4-5 and published in the November issue of Trends in Genetics.  It is not clear how the RBI team would explain the mystery of ultraconserved elements (see 08/18/2007 entry and press release from Berkeley Lab).  Scientists found numerous long sequences that were identical in mice and humans, yet appeared to have no effect on mice when deleted.  “The 731-base pair sequence, uc467, should normally have accumulated some 334 nucleotide changes in the more than 80 million years that mice, rats, and humans have been evolving along separate paths,” the press release stated.  This seems to contradict the assumption of the Croatian team that each species contains a genetic movie of its evolutionary history.  The Berkeley team called their findings a “major challenge to our understanding of how highly conserved elements of the genome persist.”  That’s because “evolutionary pressures” should have forced only functional elements to be conserved, while others would have accumulated mutations over millions of years.
So poor old Charlie was distressed.  All the major body plans appeared suddenly without the missing links his theory demanded.  No wonder.  The fossil record, the only direct line of evidence available, looked like creation.  (For details on the Cambrian explosion and evolutionary proposals to explain it, see the 04/23/2006 entry).
    This new idea does nothing to explain how new body plans suddenly “appeared” (how’s that for another Darwinian miracle word).  It is nothing but recapitulation theory resurrected in a new form.  Coining a tongue-twisting euphemism like genetic phylostratigraphy doesn’t make a dumb idea smarter.  For Haeckel, each embryo supposedly recapitulated its evolutionary history.  Haeckel proceeded to impose his vision onto uncooperative data, and then he saw what his faith required.  Now, for Domazet-Loso, each genome recapitulates its evolutionary history.  If he hadn’ta believed it, he wouldn’ta seen it.
Next headline on:  FossilsGeneticsDarwinism
Birds Eat Dark Moths, Therefore God Does Not Exist   09/03/2007    
Michael Majerus watched birds eat peppered moths from his window for seven years (06/25/2004), then drew his conclusions.  In a presentation to a science conference in Uppsala, Sweden on August 23, he said that the peppered moth story proves evolution, which means there is no supernatural being to save us, there is no second coming, creation is not science, evolution is a fact, and evolution should be taught in the schools or the world will never solve global problems.
It is not my place to tell people what to believe.  But I know that we are making a horrendous mess of this planet, and I do not have faith in some supernatural intervention putting it right: No second coming; No helping hand from on high; No last minute redemption....
    We need to address global problems now, and to do so with any chance of success, we have to base our decisions on scientific facts: and that includes the fact of Darwinian evolution.  If the rise and fall of the peppered moth is one of the most visually impacting and easily understood examples of Darwinian evolution in action, it should be taught.  It provides after all: The Proof of Evolution.
  (Emphasis his.)
The entire presentation by Dr. Majerus, who runs an evolutionary genetics lab at Cambridge University, is available from his Cambridge website.  The UK newspaper The Independent provided background on the controversy of peppered moth studies and how they have become a battleground between evolutionists and creationists.  The article sided with Majerus, stating that his study “revealed a clear example of Darwinian natural selection in action.”
    Jonathan Wells, who had criticized the “peppered myth” in his book Icons of Evolution, had some comments about this on the Discovery Institute website, as did Paul Taylor on Answers in Genesis, Paul Nelson on Uncommon Descent and David Tyler on Access Research Network
    Majerus did not seem to notice that creationists never questioned the idea that populations of dark and light moths shifted in response to predation, or that this was an example of natural selection; they only claimed that this had nothing to do with the origin of the moths or with Darwin’s ideas about common ancestry of all living things.  Taylor, for instance, said, “Natural selection does indeed happen—it can be observed.  Darwinian natural selection (i.e., natural selection, for a Darwinist assuming molecules-to-man evolution), however, would require additional genetic information” which was not provided by any of the peppered moth studies.  The dark and light varieties of moths already existed in the wild, so no new species with new genetic information were observed.  In addition, Kettlewell’s original experiments on peppered moths, which became standard evolutionary stories in high school textbooks, came under fire in the late 1990s by creationists and evolutionists alike (07/05/2002).
    In his critique, Jonathan Wells examined the likelihood of sampling bias in Majerus’ technique, and reviewed the slow collapse of what he called the “peppered myth.”  In amusement at the chutzpah of assuming the observations had anything to say about ultimate questions, Wells chuckled, “Surely, Majerus doesn’t think that by watching a few moths in his back yard he has disproved the existence of God.  Nobody could be that irrational, not even a university professor.”
Update 09/07/2007: In its “Random Samples” page, Science magazine on Sept. 7 also sided with Majerus against creationists.  Subtitling the entry the “Last Word on Moths,” the short article said, “A Cambridge University professor has completed a 6-year experiment with peppered moths that he says should conclusively rebut creationist claims.”  The article claimed that “creationists have used the tale to attack evolution” based on Kettlewell’s flawed experiments, but did not mention their main objection: that shifting populations of pre-existing peppered moth species have nothing to do with Darwin’s overarching theory of universal common descent.  The article ended with another swipe at creationists: “Will that take any wind out of creationists’ sails?” it asked, then answered with a quote from a peppered moth expert who said, “It’s probably not going to quiet them down.”  This answer, of course, subtly implies that they need to be quieted down – not that evolutionists need to listen to what they are saying.
Have you ever seen a more blatant example of non-sequitur and exaggeration?  Birds eat dark moths, therefore evolution is a fact and creationists cause global warming.  Majerus had his conclusions fixed in his Darwin-saturated brain before even starting his seven-year vision quest.  He has now triumphantly laid his sacrifice at Father Charlie’s feet and thinks it will vanquish creationism forever.  This is the best case that a Cambridge-professor Darwinist evangelist could make.  Don’t let the Darwinists quiet you down.  Instead, when they act this weird, laugh hysterically so that the world will ask, “What’s so funny?”
Next headline on:  BirdsTerrestrial ZoologyDarwinismEducationDumb Ideas
Read and Weep: Melik Kaylan visited Georgia’s new Museum of the Soviet Occupation and described it for WSJ’s Opinion Journal Sept. 4th.  Craige McMillan commented on it further on World Net Daily.  This is one relic of the Soviet terror within the living memory of septuagenarians today – a window into a regime fully committed to Darwinian ideology of survival of the fittest (11/30/2005).

Ararat Anomaly to Be Imaged in Hi-Res   09/02/2007    
The “Ararat anomaly,” an unusual structure at the 15,300' level of Mt. Ararat in Turkey, is getting increased scrutiny with high-resolution satellite imaging.  Leonard David reported on Live Science that Porcher Taylor of Satellite Imaging Corporation has created a 3-D flyover movie of the site from Ikonos satellite data, and that Geo-Eye I, to be launched next year, will double the resolution of the site to 0.4 meter per pixels.
    Buried under a glacier, the Ararat anomaly drew attention because of “its relatively smooth surface texture and unusual physical composition, according to some interpretations.”  Some have considered it a possible location of the remains of Noah’s Ark.

It was nice to see Live Science give fair treatment to this story.  Our new era of Google Earth and hi-resolution imaging should be able to shed some light on the famous mountain.  For most of the recent decades, political tensions and local hazards have made the search frustratingly difficult.  Eyes from orbit may be able to make the job of sifting evidence much easier.
    A historical string of eyewitness accounts has propelled the brave with ark fever (see noahsarksearch.com).  So far, however, the data collected have done more to rule out some promising sites than to find what would certainly be the most interesting archaeological artifact ever found, if it exists – and even many ark searchers have their doubts a wooden vessel could have survived at all.  Some are not even sure this is the right mountain.
    The eyewitness accounts, tantalizing as they are, do not rise to the level of evidence required to convince a fair-minded skeptic.  Gathering more data quietly, without making outlandish claims, is the best thing that can be done.
Next headline on:  Bible
Messy Evidence Proves Humans Evolved   09/01/2007    
An article from Live Science seems to suggest that the way to do science these days is to believe things in spite of the evidence – at least when it comes to human evolution.  In a juxtaposition of imponderables that might make a schizophrenic feel at home, Meredith Small asserted that evolution is a fact despite the evidence.
    Small spent the first half of her article lamenting the messy fossil record of human evolution.  In the good old days, “It was a straight shot that one could learn in a few minutes late at night while cramming for an exam,” she said.  Since the 1970s the picture has become hopelessly tangled.  Though recent decades have been a golden age in terms of fossil discoveries, “it has repeatedly punched holes in the naive idea that our evolution would be that clear, clean, and straight.”  Now we have Hobbit Man (10/25/2005).  Now we just found out that Homo habilis is not an ancestor of Homo erectus, but was a contemporary on a separate branch (08/09/2007).  The straight branch to man has become a tangled bush.  Have we been hoodwinked by our own desires of how evolution should work?
We want the first bipedal humans to stay out of the trees, but their curved hand bones suggest they spent time swinging in the canopy like apes; we want brain size to increase in lock step with tool use, but tools appear before big brains; we want an orderly diaspora out of Africa and across the globe by culturally armed early humans, but it looks like people kept leaving all the time in fits and starts that don’t correlate with anything; and we want the last 200,000 years of human evolution, the time when modern Homo sapiens appeared, to make some kind of sense, but it doesn’t.
At this point, Small sounded ready to concede defeat for Darwin and join the creationists.  After all, a “tangled messy bush” isn’t quite the textbook evolutionary tree Darwin said we would find.  Here, Meredith Small displayed her rhetorical skill at snapping victory from the jaws of disaster.  This, after all, is just the kind of picture we should expect, she said.  “Of course it doesn’t” (make sense, that is).  Why?  because evolution is an unquestionable fact, even without evidence:
We are, after all, animals that have experienced the quixotic touch of evolution by natural selection, and that’s anything but an orderly process.  Our past is just as messy as any animal that’s been around for millions of years, and we should be prepared to expect the unexpected when the next fossil is announced.
Incidentally, an article a couple of days later on Science Daily asserted that natural selection has favored human evolution toward schizophrenia.
For unflinching faith in evolution despite the evidence, for wondrously illogical dogmatism, and for faithful devotion to Father Charlie, Meredith easily wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week.  Or month.  We’ll have to wait and see, since many more schizophrenics contestants are waiting in the wings for this popular competition.
Next headline on:  Early ManEvolutionFossilsDumb Ideas


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    Now my eyes see the stars God made and the life He designed and I feel the rumblings of joy as promised.  When I feel down or worried my solution is to praise God the Creator Of All That Is, and my concerns drain away while peace and joy fill the void.  This is something I could not do when I did not know (know: a clear and accurate perception of truth) God as Creator.  I could go on and on about the difference knowing our Creator has made, but I believe you understand.
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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....
    I commend you for the completeness and thoroughness with which you provide coverage of the issues.  You obviously spend a great deal of time on this work.  It is apparent in ever so many ways.
    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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(a webmaster in Ukraine, seeking permission to translate CEH articles into Russian to reach countries across the former Soviet Union)

“The scholarship of the editors is unquestionable.  The objectivity of the editors is admirable in face of all the unfounded claims of evolutionists and Darwinists.  The amount of new data available each day on the site is phenomenal (I can’t wait to see the next new article each time I log on).  Most importantly, the TRUTH is always and forever the primary goal of the people who run this website.  Thank you so very much for 6 years of consistent dedication to the TRUTH.”
(11 months earlier): “I just completed reading each entry from each month.  I found your site about 6 months ago and as soon as I understood the format, I just started at the very first entry and started reading.... Your work has blessed my education and determination to bold in showing the ‘unscientific’ nature of evolution in general and Darwinism in particular.”
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“Since finding your insightful comments some 18 or more months ago, I’ve visited your site daily.... You so very adeptly and adroitly undress the emperor daily; so much so one wonders if he might not soon catch cold and fall ill off his throne! .... To you I wish much continued success and many more years of fun and frolicking undoing the damage taxpayers are forced to fund through unending story spinning by ideologically biased scientists.”
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“Your insights ... been some of the most helpful – not surprising considering the caliber of your most-excellent website!  I’m serious, ..., your website has to be the best creation website out there....”
(a biologist and science writer in southern California)

“I first learned of your web site on March 29.... Your site has far exceeded my expectations and is consulted daily for the latest.  I join with other readers in praising your time and energy spent to educate, illuminate, expose errors.... The links are a great help in understanding the news items.  The archival structure is marvelous....  Your site brings back dignity to Science conducted as it should be.  Best regards for your continuing work and influence.  Lives are being changed and sustained every day.”
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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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“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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“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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“I set it [crev.info] up as my homepage.  That way I am less likely to miss some really interesting events.... I really appreciate what you are doing with Creation-Evolution Headlines.  I tell everybody I think might be interested, to check it out.”
(a systems analyst in Tennessee)

“I would like to thank you for your service from which I stand to benefit a lot.”
(a Swiss astrophysicist)

“I enjoy very much reading your materials.”
(a law professor in Portugal)

“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.”
(a graphic designer in Oregon)

“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)

“I’m a small town newspaper editor in southwest Wyoming.  We’re pretty isolated, and finding your site was a great as finding a gold mine.  I read it daily, and if there’s nothing new, I re-read everything.  I follow links.  I read the Scientist of the Month.  It’s the best site I’ve run across.  Our local school board is all Darwinist and determined to remain that way.”
(a newspaper editor in Wyoming)

“ 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 September


Charles Babbage
1791 - 1871

There’s a humorous scene in the movie Back to the Future III, in which Doc operates a crazy contraption he had built in a barn.  He and Marty had been transported back from 1985 to the Old West.  He asks Marty to turn a valve, then he pulls a lever on the large wooden machine.  Marty watches quizzically as wheels turn, gears engage, steam hisses, and all kinds of racket ensues.  Finally, as Doc proudly smiles, an ice cube tumbles down a chute into his cup of tea.  Go back even further in time, and a contraption even more amazing, though never built, was conceived in the mind of our scientist of the month, a genius named Charles Babbage.  Like Doc, he appears like a man trapped in the wrong century, because he envisioned not the first ice cube maker, but the first general purpose computer– in 1832!.  Click here to continue.


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).

Disclaimer: Creation-Evolution Headlines includes links to many external sites, but takes no responsibility for the accuracy or legitimacy of their content.  Inclusion of an external link is strictly for the reader’s convenience, and does not necessarily constitute endorsement of the material or its authors, owners, or sponsors.