Creation-Evolution Headlines
November 2007
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“There were two factors in particular that were decisive.  One was my growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe.  The second was my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself – which is far more complex than the physical Universe – can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source.... It was the evidence itself that led me to this conclusion.”

— Antony Flew in an interview 10/30/2007 explaining why he changed from atheist to believer in God.
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New Dinosaur Finds Astonish Paleontologists   11/30/2007    
Some recent dinosaur discoveries on different sides of the world have produced amazement among scientists and the public as well.

  1. Tire tracks uncover dino tracks:  ATVs and dirt bikes have ridden for years over a place that is now found to be loaded with dinosaur tracks.  Near Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah, reported the Salt Lake Tribune, thousands of dinosaur tracks were discovered in an area thought to have been a desert – “as harsh as the Sahara” – when dinosaurs roamed there.  Associated Press and National Geographic News gave short summaries of the story.
        The Tribune said that one species of carnivore was as small as a robin.  Five other species, including a 3-toed crocodile and a plant-eater 35 feet long, were found across dozens of layers of rock.  “You rarely find herbivores in a desert,” said Martin Lockley, curator of the Dinosaur Tracks Museum at the University of Colorado at Denver.  As paleontologists flock to the site, one question will be what conditions allowed these prints to be preserved in a dry desert.
        Dinosaur tracks are known in other places in the southwest, such as near Tuba City, Arizona, and Zion National Park.  Another dinosaur trove is being explored in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park east of the Coral Pink Sand Dunes (10/09/2007, bullet 1).  And far away and down under, Science Daily reported a track site in Australia.  Dinosaur tracks have even been found in Israel (search list at Bible Places), but when they walked there, maybe only Job knows.
  2. Spanish inquisitive:  Imagine more than 8,000 dinosaurs, some 65 feet long, buried together in one location.  That’s what The Times Online (UK) reported about a site between Madrid and Valencia that was discovered during excavations for a rail line.  100 titanosaurs are included in this massive graveyard that includes a wealth of other plant and animal species.
        The traditional dating of the strata, 80 million years old, represents a time when the number of dinosaur species was supposed to be sharply declining.  “Palaeontologists working in Lo Hueco, though, have been amazed to find a wide variety of dinosaurs from the period.”  No less remarkable is the manner in which they died.  “The range of species they are finding at the 80 million-year-old site and their state of conservation is virtually unparalleled in Europe and challenges long-held beliefs about the way in which dinosaurs became extinct.”  One of the excavators remarked, “Everything indicates that the dinosours [sic] were enjoying great evolutionary vigour when they suddenly disappeared.”
        Excavators are hurrying to sift through 20,000 kg of sediment so that railway digging can continue.  The site is 80 to 100 times the size of a normal excavation in terms of time and money, the report said. They expect to find dozens of smaller species.
        Surprisingly, American science news media are not reporting this story.  A report from Expatica counts 30 paleontologists and geologists working flat-out with volunteers to preserve the bones before construction resumes.  This is one of Europe’s most spectacular dinosaur finds (cf. Switzerland and Germany, 08/15/2007).  “The state of conservation is incredible,” the director of the dig said.  “There are articulated skeletons, for example, a neck that is several meters long with all its vertebrae and ribs in place.”  The article says the pit is 20 meters deep.  It appears to be in a fluvial channel, where “the animals were probably washed into it by heavy flooding.” 
Sometimes the reactions of scientists are as interesting as the fossils.  One of the directors of the dig in Spain said, “This is completely beyond what we expected to find.  This represents a huge leap in our understanding of the Upper Cretaceous.”  This can only mean that before the huge leap, there was less than understanding.
The pit in Spain is a phenomenal discovery—where are the dinosaur media?  Are they afraid that creationists will jump on it?  This doesn’t look like slow, gradual evolution or uniformitarianism: it looks like a giant flood buried them all.  Maybe the same flood hit Switzerland, Germany and Norway (04/25/2006).  Toss in Australia and Montana while we’re at it.  Maybe the Utah group was running for their lives.  Maybe yes, maybe Noah.
    The Times Online article demonstrates why we don’t print unmoderated reader comments at this site.  All it takes is for a few idiots to say stupid things, and the stink spreads around.  Fortunately the comments we get are mostly thoughtful and erudite, because our readers tend to be educated and intelligent.  It’s very possible the ones who sent in those remarks are trolls just trying to make Christians look bad.  If you are prone to write responses on blogs, please think and do your homework first – and brush up on your spelling and punctuation, too.  An education with our Baloney Detector should be a prerequisite for any public writing.
Next headline on:  DinosaursFossils
  Must-read for pastors: Darwin demands the Kingdom, from 11/05/2006.  The result?  see 11/29/2006 and 11/22/2006.  Need more?  read 11/30/2005.

Who Knows the Age of Grand Canyon?   11/30/2007    
“In spite of over a century of work on the Grand Canyon, there are still fundamental questions about the age of the canyon and the processes that have formed it.”  Thus begins a paper in the November GSA Bulletin of the Geological Society of America.1  To re-evaluate the date of Grand Canyon, a team dated lavas comparing argon-40 and argon-39, examined fault lines, and modeled rates of downcutting by the river.  Their result?  The canyon is half as old as previously thought: from 1.2 million years maximum, to probably less than 723,000 years – maybe even as little as 102,000 years.
    This represents another step in a long trend of falling ages for the world’s most famous canyon.  John Wesley Powell thought the canyon was 70 million years old – a date that stuck for nearly a century (source: RAE.org).  In more recent decades, 5 million years was the consensus figure.  Now it’s getting down into the hundreds of thousands (07/22/2002), with no end in sight.  Textbooks can’t keep up with the scientists, though.  This website for Utah fifth graders, for instance, nonchalantly tells the kids the canyon is 10 million years old.
    Meanwhile, creationists have long argued that the canyon is very young.  Their most popular model has a large lake upstream breaching its dam and carving the entire canyon within days or weeks.  Remarkably, some secular geologists are warming up to that idea, supplying their own variations on the dam-breach theme but putting the event farther back in time (09/30/2000, 05/31/2002, 07/22/2002, 09/16/2005).  Who knows; maybe tradition makes it hard to give up those millions of years.


1.  Karlstrom et al,40Ar/39Ar and field studies of Quaternary basalts in Grand Canyon and model for carving Grand Canyon: Quantifying the interaction of river incision and normal faulting across the western edge of the Colorado Plateau,” GSA Bulletin, Volume 119, Issue 11 (November 2007), pp. 1283-1312.
Our commentary is based on analysis of this paper by a field geologist with over 28 years’ experience in the oil, gas and mining industries, who has also given presentations about the Colorado Plateau.
    The authors of this paper cherry-picked their data.  They only used 26 of 63 radiometric dating tests – that is tossing out 60% of the data.  How can we trust their results?  Even then, the spread in resulting ages is huge, but they never questioned the validity of their dating method.
    In addition, there is a large discrepancy between the dates of lavas on the Uinkaret Plateau (3.4 to 3.7 million years) and those of intracanyon flows (100,000 to 700,000 years), but they assumed that their results are immune from the flaws of earlier attempts.  Regardless, they had to admit that radioactive dating of basalt is very difficult, particularly in Grand Canyon.  They also acknowledged large discrepancies between radioactive dates and those determined by stratigraphic position: in one case, they were off by more than two standard deviations.  The way out was to use a method of “recalculating errors to better reflect scatter of the dates beyond analytical error.”  Some stratigraphic dates agreed with the radiometric dates, but the above discrepancy stuck out like a sore thumb.  What did they do?  Ignore it!
    The incision rates (downcutting of the river) they modeled would require 10 to 12 million years to carve the canyon – much older than the date they got from radiometric methods.  They tried to correlate incision rate with faulting rate, but those are two processes that have nothing to do with each other; to get disparate pieces of the puzzle together, they allowed incision rates to vary by nearly 1000%.  When needed, they added some ad hoc forces to keep things in sync: raising the whole Colorado Plateau by a “buoyant low-velocity mantle upwelling.”
    In short, our geologist concluded, “RA [radioactive] dating can give any date you would like, depending on where you sample and what method you use.  Because the evolutionists’ assumptions are wrong they are asking the wrong questions, using the wrong methods, and generating wrong interpretations.  What a waste of time and effort.”  (See 09/19/2007).
    Scouring through the jargon and numbers in this technical paper, it is apparent that these geologists were trying to piece together a lot of uncooperative data into some kind of patchwork that gave them a human sense of accomplishment.  Undoubtedly the team felt gratified for getting a paper published by their peers in the Geological Society of America.  Whether their claims have any necessary correlation with what actually happened at Grand Canyon is an entirely different question.  Here, it is publish and perish – perish the thought that their assumptions might be totally off kilter.  See 11/05/2003, 11/04/2003.
Opportunity:  Want to see evidence for a young canyon with your own eyes?  Join us for the Memorial Day 2008 3-day rafting trip in Grand Canyon! (see sample picture).  Click here for details on this fun-filled, educational vacation package.  Don’t hesitate – the trip is expected to fill by January 2008 or before.
Next headline on:  GeologyDating Methods
Nehemiah’s Wall Found   11/30/2007    
Earlier this month, archaeologist Eilat Mazar found remnants of an ancient wall on the old city of David she believes is a remnant of the wall built by Nehemiah in 445 BC (see Nehemiah 3-6 that describes the project in detail).  This was reported on the Bible Places blog, with a link to The Trumpet which broke the news.
    Now, the mainstream press has picked up the story.  MSNBC and other news sites are printing Regan Doherty’s Associated Press report, and Todd Bolen has provided additional pictures on Bible Places, including a close-up of the actual wall.  The Jerusalem Post contains a picture of a person in the wall for scale.  The identification with Nehemiah is based on pottery shards dated to the post-exilic period; see photo of the pieces on PhysOrg.  More coverage can be found at WND.
    Students of Old Testament history will also be fascinated to know that an inscription in Arak el-Emir in Jordan specifically mentions Tobiah.  This may well be the very same “Tobiah the Ammonite” who opposed Nehemiah’s project, as described in Nehemiah 4.  Pictures and descriptions of the inscription are available on the Bible Places Jordan CD.
    The other recent big story concerning Old Testament archaeology, the First Temple artifacts (10/23/2007) found in a trench dug by Muslims on the Temple Mount, is placed in context on the blog of Dr. Leen Ritmeyer, the world’s leading authority on the historic Temple Mount.  Todd Bolen has provided an update to this story on Bible Places, with additional links.  He has also provided documents proving that Muslim guides as recently as 1930 acknowledged the existence of Solomon’s temple on the site; click here and here.
These are exciting times for monumental discoveries, but Jerusalem is currently a pawn in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks (see WND).  The Israeli government showcases these discoveries to the public in beautiful archaeological parks; would Palestinians be as hospitable if the site were entirely under Muslim control?  Their treatment of the Temple Mount, Gaza and Hebron portends ominously otherwise.  And did you hear what members of the Religion of Peace are demanding today in Sudan? (Breitbart.com).
    The capricious history of archaeology in Israel shows that opportunities for exploration are volatile.  Major discoveries can be followed by decades of denied access.  Ritmeyer has experienced this firsthand.  He has had to stitch together tantalizing tidbits of information gathered from fortuitous opportunities over 30 years.  How much better it would be for the scholarly community if these historic sites were open for free and fair investigation.  This is another reason to pray for the peace of Jerusalem – and for Iraq, another country with untold archaeological treasures where scholarly access hangs in the balance.
Next headline on:  Bible and Theology
Magicians through the Looking Glass   11/29/2007    
A leading origin-of-life researcher passed away last month: Leslie Orgel.  Gerald Joyce paid him tribute in Nature.1  Orgel worked closely with other famous origin-of-life people like Stanley Miller, and was a leader in the “RNA world” scenario for the origin of life.  Joyce appreciated his rigid empiricism:
Although Orgel was a theoretician, he always demanded that theory be subject to rigorous experimental validation.  This, he felt, was especially true in the field of the origins of life, where “theories are a dime a dozen and facts are in short supply”.  He took great pleasure in a positive result, to the point of rooting for the pen on a graph-plotter during chromatography experiments.  But he also delighted in negative results, because they pushed him to devise new hypotheses.  This, of course, is the way scientists are supposed to behave, but Orgel was one of the few who actually did so.
Joyce found it refreshing that Orgel would readily criticize his own favorite hypothesis:
Following the discovery of catalytic RNA, Orgel continued to pursue the RNA-world hypothesis as both a strong proponent and a tough critic.  He pointed out that the notion of an RNA world hardly solves the problem of the origins of life, and suggested that RNA was preceded by some other genetic material, just as DNA and protein were preceded by RNA.  Many of his later publications concerned experimental studies of possible pre-RNA-world molecules.
At this point, Joyce took a swipe at another group of critics of origin-of-life theories:
His theories brought him into conflict with creationists, who sometimes quoted Orgel out of context, pointing to his admitted uncertainty about life’s origins as if this were a failing of the scientific approach.  It was, of course, typical of Orgel and of the best practice of science.  He had no time for proponents of ‘intelligent design’, and avoided those prone to magical thinking.
Since these critics included PhD biochemist Duane Gish and others with impeccable credentials who launched their criticisms specifically at the lack of rigor in such hypothesis, one is left wondering who was engaging in “magical thinking.”
1.  Gerald Joyce, “Obituary: Leslie Orgel (1927–2007),” Nature 450, 627 (29 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/450627a.
Gerald Joyce, still smarting from the other Darwin Party wizards who used their magic against him (02/15/2007), is no one to teach us about science vs magic.  The whole RNA World scenario is nothing but a stage for magicians to entertain gullible patrons.  If he has no time for creationists, does he have time for fellow OOL researcher Steve Benner?  Benner warned about the intractable problem of getting ribose (an essential sugar for RNA, ribo-nucleic acid), and criticized those who invoke “genetic takeovers” for pre-RNA chemistry (see 11/05/2004) like some magic wand.
    The charge that creationists would quote Orgel out of context is a common dodge, like throwing a smoke bomb and running away.  Prove it.  Doesn’t this just mean that Joyce is mad creationists effectively used quotations from a hostile witness to buttress their arguments that a chance origin of life is impossible?  Prosecutors do that all the time; that is not quoting out of context, it is making your case wisely.  When a hostile witness admits a key point it doesn’t matter if he still believes his story or not; the truth is out, and the jury takes note.
    Irrespective of any noble intentions of researchers like Orgel to maintain an air of empirical rigor, at what point do investigations into impossible scenarios become indistinguishable from alchemy?  The alchemists had arguably more experimental rigor behind their hypotheses than the OOL schools.  Joyce pasted the label “best practice of science” on the modern OOL foolery but it won’t stick.  It is a logical fallacy to assume that goal-oriented research, conducted via intelligent design in modern labs, can teach us anything about what chance might have done in the unobservable past.  Joyce could use a little more intelligent discernment.  Magician, don’t fool thyself.
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeDumb Ideas
  Is psychotherapy scientific? from 11/13/2005.

Dealing with Light at the Extremes   11/28/2007    
“Light is the most important variable in our environment,” wrote Edith Widder, a marine biologist.  The inhabitants of two different ecosystems have to deal with either too little or too much. 

  1. Let your light so shine:  A thousand meters below the sea surface, all sunlight is extinguished.  Yet for thousands of meters more, creatures live in the perpetual darkness by manufacturing their own light.  Bioluminescence is everywhere, reported Mark Schrope in Nature,1 “Eventually, the lightshow grows into a veritable fireworks display against an ever blacker background.”  The light comes from everything alive: bacteria, microorganisms called dinoflagellates, jellyfish, anemones, shrimp, vertebrate fish, and more.
        Edith Widder is co-founder of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association in Fort Pierce, Florida.  With a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), her team uses a deep ocean submersible craft called Eye-in-the-Sea to understand creatures who can only be studied in their own space.  The submersible is equipped with an LED flasher that tries to beckon organisms and study their behaviors.  They were actually able to get a distant organism to flash its light back.  They also got a squid to respond to their light signal, thinking it had discovered lunch.
        Possible uses of biological light include decoy, defense, camouflage, mimicry, sexual attraction and alarm.  Though red light is the first to be extinguished in the depths, and most dark-adapted organisms see in the blue-green range, some organisms appear to emit red light that could be visible only among their own.  To do this, they must transfer the blue-green light from their photophores to red-fluorescent proteins, which seems inefficient.  “My physics head says, ‘No,’” commented Justin Marshall, an Australian participant in the Deep Scope project, “But my biology head says, ‘Well, Why not?’ Biology is weird, so it could be.”
        The fact that organisms can emit light by intricate processes of bioluminescence presupposes that they also contain sensitive organs to detect it.  Many deep-sea fish have large eyes tuned to the blue-green light of photophores.
        A new version of Eye-in-the-Sea is being prepared for deployment in early 2008 in Monterey, California.  This will provide the first undersea observatory of the dark depths, “the first effective, long-term study of true deep-sea bioluminescent behaviour.”  It may shed new light on an ecosystem that communicates in the language of photons.
  2. Too much of a good thing:  On topside, some organisms have the opposite problem: too much light.  Plants harvest sunlight to make nutrients from the soil, but like sunbathers know, too much can burn.  Within leaves are elaborate mechanisms to shunt away excess light from the photosynthetic factories.  Science Daily reported on a paper in Nature2 where researchers from University of Sheffield and Queen Mary, University of London learned more about “photoprotection” in plant leaves: “They were able to show how a small number of certain key molecules, hidden among the millions of others in the plant leaf, change their shape when the amount of light absorbed is excessive; and they have been able to track the conversion of light energy to heat that occurs in less than a billionth of a second.”  The original paper stated, “it is experimentally demonstrated that a change in conformation of LHCII occurs in vivo, which opens a channel for energy dissipation by transfer to a bound carotenoid.  We suggest that this is the principal mechanism of photoprotection.”  The excess energy is thus shunted to a heat sink by an extremely rapid switch.
        What they are learning may help increase crop yields and improve photovoltaic cells.  Plants already know how to adjust for the dim light of a cloudy day to the scorching radiation under a midsummer sun at noon.  “Many plant species can successfully inhabit extreme environments where there is little water, strong sunlight, low fertility and extremes of temperature by having highly tuned defence mechanisms, including photoprotection.”  See also the 06/23/2006 and 01/24/2005 entries about photoprotection, “One of Nature’s supreme examples of nanoscale engineering.”  (That’s Nature as in the real world, not the artificial journal.)
  3. Light just right, but que pasa?:  We humans, too, have to not only be able to harvest light, but process it as information.  The brain has a mechanism for making sense of a scene – deciding what is foreground, and what is background.  A “neural machine,” described in Science Daily, sorts this all out faster than the blink of an eye.  A portion of the visual cortex called V2 makes a preliminary judgment of what part of the field is the background, and what part is the foreground.
        Rudiger von der Heydt, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University, described what happens: “What we found is that V2 generates a foreground-background map for each image registered by the eyes.  Contours are assigned to the foreground regions, and V2 does this automatically within a tenth of a second.”
        This first-pass interpretive filter helps us make instant sense of a complex scene, even though its decision can be overridden by the conscious mind, or tricked by optical illusions.  Paintings by artist M.C. Escher, for instance, owe their popularity to tricks with the mind, fooling our eyes with contradictions about which way is up, or which part is the foreground and which is the background.
        Van der Heydt continued, “Because of their complexity, images of natural scenes generally have many possible interpretations, not just two, like in Escher’s drawings.  In most cases, they contain a variety of cues that could be used to identify fore- and background, but oftentimes, these cues contradict each other.  The V2 mechanism combines these cues efficiently and provides us immediately with a rough sketch of the scene.”
        The neuroscientist commented on the wonders of this system.  “We can do all of this without effort, thanks to a neural machine that generates visual object representations in the brain,” he said.  He admitted that how it works is still a mystery to us.  “But discovering this mechanism that so efficiently links our attention to figure-ground organization is a step toward understanding this amazing machine.”
Look at your eyes in a mirror.  Using an eye to see the eye: fascinating.  There’s enough in that self-reflexive activity to keep biologists, neuroscientists, physicists and philosophers busy for millennia.
1.  Mark Schrope, “Marine biology: Lights in the deep,” Nature 450, 472-474 (2007) | doi:10.1038/450472a.
2.  Ruban et al, “Identification of a mechanism of photoprotective energy dissipation in higher plants,” Nature 450, 575-578 (22 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature06262.
As with every natural resource in every ecological environment, light is used efficiently and effectively by a multitude of organisms well equipped to manage with feast or famine.  What other physical resources are utilized via similar feats of nanoengineering by living organisms?  Water (vapor, liquid, and solid), oxygen, nitrogen, iron, magnetism – no matter the physical resource, living things know how to harvest it for highest and best use.  Organisms daily exhibit a declaration of intelligent design; they have been endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rightly elegant constitutions.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyBotanyHuman BodyPhysicsAmazing Facts
Moon Dust Can Kill   11/27/2007    
Future astronauts preparing to operate on the moon, beware.  High-speed dust is deadly, reports PhysOrg.  With no atmosphere on the moon to slow its path, dust flying from rocket engines can blast anything in its path.  “Small grit can travel enormous distances at high speeds, scouring everything in its path,” the article says – at speeds up to 2 kilometers per second.
    Apollo astronauts didn’t experience this first-hand, because they were safe inside the lunar module when it took off.  But when surveying the condition of Surveyor 3 on Apollo 12, the astronauts noticed a sand-blasted appearance on the side facing the Apollo lander.
    This could prove disastrous to a future moon base.  “This evidence concerns [Phil] Metzger [Kennedy Space Center] because in a future lunar outpost, high-speed fine grit could scour the reflective coating off thermal control blankets, roughen the surfaces of windows and other optics, compromise the surfaces of solar panels, and penetrate connectors or other mechanisms on digging machines or spacesuits, causing friction and even mechanical failure,” the article said.  Getting farther away from the launch pad is no help: “Dust particles accelerated by a rocket’s exhaust could theoretically travel all the way around the Moon!”
Just one more reason to be thankful you live on God’s green Earth, nicest place in the solar system.  Take a deep breath of fresh air, and smile.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemPhysics
Early Platypus Stuns Evolutionists   11/27/2007    
With the possible exception of a monotreme tooth assumed to be 62 million years old, the oldest known platypus fossil was dated 15 million years old.  Now, a fossil from Australia reported in Science sets a new record: 112 million years old.1
    “It’s really, really old for a monotreme,” Timothy Rowe of the University of Texas (UT), Austin, told the audience at a meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology last month in Austin, Texas.  How to fit this with the evolution of monotremes?
That would push back the fossil record of the platypus quite a bit; the next youngest fossil is Obdurodon dicksoni from 15-million-year-old rocks in Australia.  It is also much older than current estimates from DNA of when platypuses and echidnas diverged from their most recent common ancestor.  Molecular clocks put that date somewhere between 17 million and 80 million years ago.  Rowe speculated that one reason for the underestimate may be that monotremes evolve at slower rates than other mammals do, an idea that fits with their lower diversity.

1.  Erik Stokstad, “Jaw Shows Platypus Goes Way Back,” Science, 23 November 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5854, p. 1237, DOI: 10.1126/science.318.5854.1237a.
Was this platypus a transitional form?  No.  Was it evolving from a simpler animal into a complex creature with a duck bill, poison spur, electrical sensing organ, webbed feet, fur and ability to lay eggs?  No – it was Darwin’s nightmare popping up way, way back in the record, over 100 million years earlier (in their own dating scheme) than the next clear platypus fossil.  Why not consider the obvious, that there was never any 113 million years between the two fossils?
    According to evolutionary theory, most of the other mammals diversified into elephants, giraffes, lions and whales in far less time, but these Darwin-defying furry-duckmammals just lived on and on in their niche as if nothing else was going on in the world.  Rowe’s reply that they just evolved slower (and that lower diversity demonstrates this), should be seen not only as a gratuitous speculation, but as an escape from reality.
    That’s it: Darwin was the prophet of Second Life, a virtual world where any fantasy you want to dream up can come true and be called science.  Whenever their virtual fantasyland has an internal conflict, they can always dream up virtual ways to resolve it.  Science needs to kick the habit and get back to the real world – literally, not virtually.
Next headline on:  FossilsMammalsDating methods
  A dozen living wonders to make you marvel, from 11/04/2005, and ten Darwin just-so stories to make you groan, from 11/05/2005.

Pangea Stuck at Square One   11/26/2007    
Students in their physical science classes learn all about Pangea, the supercontinent that broke up 200 million years ago and ended up with today’s familiar continents after millions of years of continental drift.  What they don’t often learn is how scientists come up with these ideas, and how they pull their hair out when observations don’t match the story.  Here are some quotes from 2 articles on PhysOrg, #1 and #2, that reveal interesting things going on in the back rooms of the wizards.

  • [Title] Dunes, climate models don’t match up with paleomagnetic records.
  • “It’s a puzzle, a ‘conundrum’ is the word we like to use,” said Robert Oglesby of UNL [Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln].  “And in the Science paper, we’re not solving the conundrum, we’re raising the conundrum.
  • “I thought that was very curious,” [David] Loope said.  “It didn’t seem to fit with what we think we know about where the continents were.”
  • The three geoscientists began working together, trying to find a computerized climate model that would explain the discrepancy, but they couldn’t find one that worked.  “We ran the model in any different number of configurations just to see if we could make it do something different,” [Clinton] Rowe said.... The equator is the only place you could get this large-scale arc of winds that turn from the northeast to the northwest as they moved south.  Nowhere else would you get that as part of the general circulation unless the physics of the world 200 million years ago was very different from what it is today.  And we just don’t think that’s the case.”
  • “We brought Rob [Van der Voo] in to try to see if he could help us sort it out, and he’s like, ‘Gosh, guys, I don’t know.  This is a conundrum,’” Oglesby said.  “It’s important to note that we have not just a paleomag person as a co-author, but arguably the best-known paleomag person in the world—and he’s as confused as we are.”
  • “The nicest thing would have been if we had a solution, but we don’t,” said Van der Voo, the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Geological Sciences at U-M.  “All we can say is that we have this enigma, so perhaps our model of Pangea for the period in question is wrong or the wind direction didn’t follow the common patterns that we recognize in the modern world.  Neither seems likely....”
  • ““We’ll come up with everything we can possibly think of,” Oglesby said.  “From the point of view of the climate model, the paleogeography, the vegetation, the topography, local-scale vs. large-scale, paleomag, going back and rethinking everything that the dunes tell us.  We’ll go back to square one in everything, trying to figure it out.”
The team expected patterns in alleged sand dune formations to match up with paleomagnetic data, but there was a clear mismatch.  Their paper was published in Science.1
1.  Clinton M. Rowe, David B. Loope, Robert J. Oglesby, Rob Van der Voo, Charles E. Broadwater, “Inconsistencies Between Pangean Reconstructions and Basic Climate Controls,” Science, 3 November 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5854, pp. 1284-1286, DOI: 10.1126/science.1146639.
It is nice when scientists stop bluffing to the press, and admit they have a problem.  But are they really going back to square one?  Sometimes the most obvious problem is staring them right in the face and they don’t even see it: the assumption of millions of years.
The team believes that a supercontinent just sat there at one location for 100 million years collecting sand dunes, from the Permian to the Jurassic, then all of a sudden it started moving north.  Is that even remotely plausible?  Take away the habit of assuming billions of years are available, and question the traditional interpretations of the data, and the idea would seem ridiculous on the face of it.
Evolutionary biologists and geologists toss around their millions of years thoughtlessly, making “reckless drafts on the bank of time” (07/02/2007) whenever they need to shield their models from lack of empirical evidence.  Without an overhaul of their presuppositions about the world, it is impossible for them to get back to square one.  Square one is outside their box.
Next headline on:  GeologyPhysicsDating Methods
The Stars That Shouldn’t Exist   11/25/2007    
Theories in astronomy are fun to model on paper with equations, but once in awhile they need to stand up to observations.  Phil Berardelli wrote for Science Now:
It seems as though every time astronomers point their telescopes at the night sky, some weird new finding forces them to revamp their theories.  And so it is with nine newly discovered white dwarfs.  The stars defy their expected chemical makeup and by rights shouldn’t even exist.  An explanation could open up a new branch of astronomy.
The stars may be violating human rights but apparently abide by stellar rights.  One astronomer concluded, “It tells us that nature has found a way that we didn’t know to make white dwarf stars without the usual hydrogen or helium surface layers.”
    According to stellar evolution theory, white dwarfs should be enveloped with hydrogen and helium, not carbon.  Astronomers could find no trace of hydrogen or helium in the spectra from these oddball stars.  “Astronomers don’t have a clue why,” the article continued.  Another astronomer commented, “There is currently no explanation how such stars can be formed.  It’s a real challenge to stellar-evolution theory.”  The stars were identified in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.  See also EurekAlert.  The original paper was published in Nature.1  “Our analysis shows that the atmospheric parameters found for these stars do not fit satisfactorily in any of the currently known theories of post-asymptotic giant branch evolution,” the abstract states.
1.  P. Dufour, J. Liebert, G. Fontaine and N. Behara, “White dwarf stars with carbon atmospheres,” Nature 450, 522-524 (22 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature06318.
This portion of the news is brought to you by the makers of Humble Pie, reminding you that moderation in science is a good thing.
    “Twinkle twinkle little star, I don’t wonder what you are; for by spectroscopic ken, I know that you are hydrogen.”  So astronomers used to say.  Always be wary when a scientist says, “I know.”  What rhymes with carbon?
    If they had only found seven of these unexpected stars, we could have spun some fairy tales about Snow White Theories and the Seven Dwarfs getting lost in the Data Mine.  We’ll show moderation, though, and not discuss which astronomers were sleepy, dopey or grumpy.
Next headline on:  AstronomyPhysics
Multiple Dinosaurs Reclassified as One Species   11/24/2007    
It’s tough sometimes to draw the line between species – especially when dealing with fossils.  A report in Science suggests that three bone-headed dinosaurs are probably just different stages of one species.1  These had been named Pachycephalosaurus, Stygimoloch and Dracorex.
    Erik Stokstad, reporting on activities at the meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology last month in Austin, Texas, said that two veteran dinosaur hunters knocked heads over the classification of these thick-skulled dinosaurs that may have knocked their own heads together in real life.  Jack Horner proposed lumping three specimens into one species, but Robert Bakker opposed it on the grounds that they look so dramatically different.  Horner and others, though, are convinced that changes in canals visible in the skulls represent different stages of growth from youth through adolescence to adult forms.  He postulated that bony growths on the head could have changed during maturation.  (It’s not clear, incidentally, whether these dinosaurs or scientists actually did butt heads with each other in real life.)
    Stokstad said, “If Horner turns out to be right, the diversity of pachycephalosaurs would be 50% lower than previously thought for the latest Cretaceous.”  Horner said this would be consistent with the belief that “other kinds of dinosaurs were also declining in diversity at the time.”
    Claims of new dinosaurs continue.  James Owen said in National Geographic that “A forgotten museum fossil that had been gathering dust for more than a century is actually from a mysterious British dinosaur that represents an entirely new family, scientists have discovered.”  Science Daily described how researchers in Australia are trying to correlate dinosaur bones down under with those known from other parts of the world.
1.  Erik Stokstad, “Did Horny Young Dinosaurs Cause Illusion of Separate Species?”, Science, 23 November 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5854, p. 1236, DOI: 10.1126/science.318.5854.1236.
Did you know that the biological concept of a species is fraught with difficulties?  Philosophers question whether scientists are “discovering” species divisions, as if “carving nature at its joints” (Plato), or whether they are engaged in a purely human activity of imposing our own patterns on observations in ways we find useful.
    The “biological species concept” we learn in school (species are populations that can produce fertile offspring) doesn’t work for fossils, nor for the vast majority of organisms, which are asexual.  Taxonomy since Linnaeus has been a battle between the lumpers and the splitters.  There is also the reward motivation.  Identifying a “new” species can bring you fame.  You might even be able to name it after yourself.  Remember Nebraska Man?  The human ancestor tooth was named for its discoverer, Hesperopithecus haroldcookii (see original 1922 paper from Science).  Cook must have been mighty proud till the tooth was identified as from an extinct pig.
    Horner thinks the lumping makes sense according to an evolutionary pattern of declining diversity in the late Cretaceous.  But he has just undermined a criterion of diversity to do so.  One wonders just how much data are force-fitted into evolutionary stories by tweaking parameters according to flawed assumptions, based on a prior commitment to Darwinist historical geology.
Next headline on:  DinosaursFossils
  How water striders walk on water, from 11/04/2004.

No Salt, Please: Europa Life Needs It Bland   11/23/2007    
Salt may taste good on human food, but for life trying to emerge in the sea, it is toxic.  Astrobiologists have long wondered if life could exist at Jupiter’s moon Europa, where an ocean is believed to exist miles deep under the icy crust.  They must have been presuming the water is pure, but an article on Astrobiology Magazine, a NASA website, says that Europa’s ocean could be saturated with salt.

The amount of salts in the ocean also could be stressful for life.  [Kevin] Hand [Jet Propulsion Laboratory] says the Galileo magnetometer results indicate Europa’s ocean could be nearly saturated in either sodium chloride or magnesium sulfate.
    “If you’ve got a salt-saturated ocean, that doesn’t bode well for the origin of life,” says Hand.  “Some of the processes that lead toward the generation of polymers or the stringing together of genetic base pairs are inhibited by high salt concentrations.  That said, there are terrestrial halophiles, salt-loving microbes, that could survive in the ocean we propose.”
Terrestrial (earth-based) halophiles (salt-lovers), however, did not originate in a salty sea, according to evolutionary theory.  Presumably, they developed the ability to deal with salt long after life arose.
Recall the 09/17/2002 paper that taught us to avoid salt at all costs when modeling the origin of life in a primordial soup.  Salt of any kind is very effective at dismembering fatty acids needed for cell membranes and preventing nucleotides from linking up (assuming they could even form in water; see 11/05/2004).  Monard et al had no answer, but just pointed out that this was a “crucial piece of information” for astrobiologists theorizing about how life might have formed in a random sea of chemicals.
    Yet hope springs eternal.  You can almost hear the hand-wringing in the Astrobiology Magazine article.  They just admitted that the presence of salt does not bode well for the origin of life.  They’re thinking, But... if life DID originate somehow, maybe it could get along just like the halophiles on Earth manage to do.  Foul.  It didn’t.  Salt tosses life out of the equation.  You can’t get there from here.
    While we’ve got them pinned to the floor, let’s put the squeeze on by asking another pertinent question.  What is the likelihood that the Earth’s early oceans, filled with runoff from the torrential rains and upheavals for two billion years after its hellish birth (11/01/2007), were pure and soft as spring waters?  Salt is bad for astrobiology here, too.  If salt was present, you may as well become a creationist now, because Charlie is out before he gets to the starting gate.  Sorry for the mixed metaphors of wrestling and horse racing, but you get the point.  Charlie’s horse may enjoy a salt lick, but salt licks astrobiology like a Charlie horse.
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeSolar System
SETI Researcher Writes Children’s Poem   11/22/2007    
For a feature called “SETI Thursday” at Space.com, Dr. Laurence Doyle has written a childish poem about how life brought itself up from nothing to galactic explorers.  It begins, “When the Earth was young, and the Moon nearby, in a cometary sea, prokaryotic thoughts arose, what fun it is to be!”  The idea of evolving being fun is a motif throughout the poem.  One excerpt:
Trilobites now filled the sea, and oxygen the air, “What say we all crawl up on land?  And have a picnic there!”
“We’ll bring amphibians and trees, and Oh, it will be fun!  And bring some extra ozone to protect us from the Sun.”
So off we went, and partied on, from cynodont to ’saur.  Time flies when one is having fun.  Then from a distant shore,
We saw a comet hit the ground, the best I’ve ever seen.  It turned the Moon a pretty blue, the Sun a shade of green.
“Now that’s a party!” we all sang, and went to mammals be.  The ’saurs became a little flock of ornithology.
From there, it wouldn’t be long till primates spread their partying from inner caves to outer space:
The trees were great, but it was late, so onto two we strode.  And chipped some stone and built some fires to warm the cave abode....
Next—to another sun!  A galaxy to party in.  I said it would be fun!
There’s another place on the planet where talking animals party all the time: Disneyland.
The Imagineers at Disneyland have actually gotten together with the Darwin Party on numerous occasions.  The Magic Kingdom is loaded with reference to evolution.  Darwinists love to party there, because when you wish upon a star, anything can happen.  Prokaryotic thoughts can even arise.  Just don’t ask, “from where?”
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeSETIEvolutionDumb Ideas
Give Thanks for Our Rare Moon   11/22/2007    
Our moon is a rare treat, says a press release from Jet Propulsion Laboratory, based on findings from the Spitzer Space Telescope.  The telescope looked for indications of dust from collisions in other planetary disks thought to be the age of our solar system when our moon formed.  According to the leading theory, our moon formed from the collision of a Mars-sized body impacting the earth when our solar system was 30 million years old.  Only 5-10% of dust disks had telltale signs of dust from such collisions.
    See also the story on New Scientist.  The moon is approaching full phase on the weekend Americans celebrate Thanksgiving.
The claim is based on a controversial theory that invokes an extremely improbable collision (01/26/2007, 02/19/2007).   It is based on unverifiable dating assumptions (09/25/2007, 08/08/2006).  The theory has many problems and is not accepted by some geologists, including Harrison Schmidt, who walked on the moon during the Apollo 17 mission (11/04/2002).  Students of philosophy of science may want to examine this story as an example of an explanation so intertwined with theory, it is hard to know where the theory stops and the evidence begins.
    While it is nice for astronomers to recognize our moon is special, we didn’t need their evolutionary assumptions.  The moon’s role in stabilizing earth’s axial tilt and tides is part of a large suite of evidences that show our home planet was designed for life.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating Methods
  On what planet does it rain lead?  see 11/26/2003.

Mt. St. Helens Rebuilding Fast   11/21/2007    
Could Mt. St. Helens grow back to its pre-1980 size in just 180 years?  That’s what an article in the Tacoma, Washington News Tribune says.  The lava dome is growing fast, and so is a glacier inside the crater.  It is growing 3 feet per day.  The lava dome split the glacier because it was “growing by a pickup truckload of lava every two seconds.”

Yes, it may be growing fast now, children, but before there were scientists to observe it, it took millions and millions of years.
Next headline on:  GeologyDating Methods
Stem Cell Breakthrough   11/20/2007    
Stem cells from skin cells: it’s all over the news – see EurekAlert 1, EurekAlert 2, EurekAlert 3, EurekAlert 4, National Geographic News, BreitBart.com, BBC News 1, BBC News 2, MSNBC and and PhysOrg for sample reports.  Two teams working independently, one in Japan and one in America, were able to tinker with just four genes to make skin cells pluripotent – able to turn into any of more than 200 body tissue cells.  This is another advance on a technique announced last June (06/06/2007), that now has been demonstrated to work with human skin cells.
    If this technique bears fruit with real treatments, it could end the need for embryonic stem cells.  National Geographic, however, said it could be a blow for those who want to receive funding for embryonic stem cells.  The article ended with a quote from a medical legal advisor claiming that it “is a mistake” to think this ends the need for funding of ES cell research.  No explanation was given.  It questioned whether the new technique would be eligible for federal funding.  History would seem to show, however, that when something works, and people flock to a life-saving treatment, the money will flow from investors, patients and probably the government as well.
    Only a few labs have had the resources and expertise to deal with embryonic stem cells.  The new method is “fairly straightforward and can be repeated by standard labs with relative ease,” the PhysOrg article stated.  The breakthrough solves not only the ethical problems but a practical one as well: “The new method is expected to rapidly advance research in the treatment of cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, diabetes, arthritis, spinal cord injuries, strokes, burns and heart disease because scientists will have much greater access to stem cells.”
    The American team’s paper is to be published in Science this week (Nov. 22); the paper by the Japanese team will appear in the Nov. 30 issue of Cell.  Confirmation that these cells act identically to pluripotent stem cells will take time, and treatments may be years away, but PhysOrg quoted the director of a cardiovascular health institute who said the “work is monumental in its importance to the field of stem cell science and its potential impact on our ability to accelerate the benefits of this technology to the bedside.”
    Incidentally, the Science paper arrives on Thanksgiving Day in America.  Many patients suffering from debilitating diseases in hospitals have a new reason for gratitude and hope.
Christian radio talk show host Frank Pastore reminded his listeners today that not long ago, the proponents of embryonic stem cell research were the ones calling Christians, who supported adult stem cell research (07/19/2007) but opposed ES cell research on ethical grounds, “anti-science” (09/26/2007).  Remember their tear-jerking commercials, the celebrity endorsements and the doomsday warnings that America would fall behind unless we got to the head of the ES stem cell bandwagon?  Californians should demand their $3 billion back, or demand it be redirected into these new ethical approaches.
    Pastore quoted a researcher who admitted that ES cell research has not produced one cure for anything – not one.  Adult stem cells, during the same time, have produced dozens of practical treatments.  If this new approach to harvesting stem cells succeeds in generating actual treatments, doctors will have a ready supply of easily-obtainable pluripotent stem cells without the problems of teratomas and tissue rejection inherent with ES cells.  Great days for medicine could be ahead.  No thanks to the Big Science Big Money doomsday prophets; you know, the same ones who bring you global warming socialism and the Darwin-Only Policy on Education (DOPE); in fact, a Nature editorial quizzically claimed this is the exactly wrong time to constrain research on ES cells (no reason was given).  For the rest of us, thankfully, health and beauty may indeed be only skin deep.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsHuman BodyPolitics and EthicsHealth
How Early Man Got High on Generosity   11/19/2007    
Are you generous because of a chemical?  That seems to be the claim of researchers from UCLA, Chapman and Claremont.  They did a double-blind test with students where they played computer games that required them to make decisions about how to split up a sum of money.  The ones who got a whiff of oxytocin in the nose were 80% more generous than those with a placebo.  The study was published in PLoS One.1
    What causes humans to be generous?  “Several evolutionary mechanisms have been proposed to explain altruistic giving,” they said, but found problems with the common hypotheses of kin selection (help the family), reciprocal altruism (scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours), indirect reciprocity (smile and the world smiles with you), group selection (we help people who look like us), and strong reciprocity (we love everybody except the bad guys).
    “In this paper we investigate a mechanism that may produce generosity while dissociating generosity from altruism,” they continued.  That’s where they proceeded to explain it as a chemical reaction.  Oxytocin is one of the chemicals in the brain that makes us feel good.  Being generous with total strangers stimulates the release of this chemical, they hypothesized.  This means that generosity is really a form of selfishness.
    Although they allowed for the possibility that other mechanisms might exist to explain generosity and altruism, they were sure that whatever the causes, they were mechanistic:
Generosity may be part of the human repertoire to sustain cooperative relationships.  Several neural mechanisms likely support generosity.  OT can induce dopamine release in ventromedial regions associated with reward reinforcing generosity....
    Although we artificially raised OT [oxytocin] levels in this study to establish a causal mechanism producing generosity, OT can be enhanced nonpharmacologically in a variety of ways, including touching, safe environments, and receiving a signal of trust from another person.  By increasing OT the ability to empathize with others, and the motivation to be generous with them, are enhanced.  Indeed, mice that lack OT receptors suffer from social amnesia.  This suggests that a variety of factors we encounter in our daily lives may motivate us to be generous—even with strangers.
This view, without doubt, differs radically from the view that generosity is a free moral choice.2
1.  Zak, Stanton and Ahmadi, “Oxytocin Increases Generosity in Humans,” Public Library of Science One, Nov. 2007.
2.  For examples, read St. Paul’s treatises on charity and generosity from theological and moral foundations: II Corinthians 8 and I Corinthians 13.
It is one thing to claim that generosity produces physical effects in the human brain.  It is another thing entirely to claim that generosity is merely a physical phenomenon.  The researchers are implying that elevated oxytocin levels in neurons of primates became associated with social behaviors that were selected for survival somewhere in our evolutionary past.
    This paper is a prime example of physicalism (roughly equivalent to materialism).  The authors see a moral behavior and want to reduce it to interactions between physical objects – molecules and members of a social group.  Since they think they are doing “science,” they think they inherit all the prestige and authority science has achieved in our culture.  Confident that they alone have a methodology that generates reliable knowledge, they can weave their evolutionary tale without any fear of rebuttal from those who traditionally engaged matters of the mind, society and morals.  Those people need not enter the discussion: philosophers, theologians, historians and, especially, the ones who have lost all authority in our culture: preachers. 
    If scientists like these really demonstrated the superiority of their physicalist explanatory power, the traditional parties would have to humbly bow the knee and acquiesce.  But they cannot.  The physicalists commit at least two logical fallacies that undermine their whole approach.  One is reductionism, the fallacy of assuming a phenomenon can be sufficiently represented by a summary of its component parts: i.e., morals reduces to chemistry, which reduces to physics.  This is like saying the Constitution reduces to paper and ink.  The most significant aspect is lost in the reduction.
    This leads to the second problem, the self-referential fallacy.  If generosity and altruism can be reduced to chemistry, then so can scientific explanations.  As such, they have no claims to validity; the scientists can no longer appeal to rational concepts of truth, coherence, consistency and logical inference.
    These researchers have a bad case of the Yoda complex (09/25/2006 commentary).  We cannot allow them to speak from some disembodied platform of knowledge to the rest of us mortals.  Their spirits must come back and melt into the atoms and molecules of their human bodies, where, according to their assumptions, truth and abstract concepts have no independent reality.  There is, therefore, no possible way they could know anything – including the claims made in their paper.
    You can therefore dismiss this paper as boorish nonsense, the chaff of a windy worldview that denies the existence of grain.  And that’s being generous.
Next headline on:  Early ManEvolutionary Theory
  Origin of life researcher jokes about becoming a creationist: 11/05/2004.

Males on “Evolutionary Overdrive”   11/17/2007    
A press release from University of Florida claims males evolve faster than females, and suggests a reason.  It’s because males are simpler.  Some quotes:

The observation that males evolve more quickly than females has been around since 19th century biologist Charles Darwin noted the majesty of a peacock’s tail feather in comparison with the plainness of the peahen’s.
    No matter the species, males apparently ramp up flashier features and more melodious warbles in an eternal competition to win the best mates, a concept known as sexual selection.
    Why males are in evolutionary overdrive even though they have essentially the same genes as females has been a mystery, but an explanation by University of Florida Genetics Institute researchers ... may shed light on the subject.
    “It’s because males are simpler,” said Marta Wayne....
    It turns out that the extra X in females may make answering the call of selection more complicated....
    ...“males have only one X inherited only from their mother.  This is a simple mechanism that could be working in cooperation with sexual selection to help males evolve more quickly.
    Researchers believe this relatively uncomplicated genetic pathway helps males respond to the pressures of sexual selection, ultimately enabling them to win females and produce greater numbers of offspring.
The article did not consider the possibility that females, having a double dose of genes on the X chromosome, might be evolving faster.  The researchers seemed to assume that flashier traits are a metric of evolutionary speed.  There would be no reason to exclude the possibility that plainness or camouflage might actually require more selection.
For assuming male traits are merely products of selection, for visualizing evolution as a car engine and a recruiter, for personifying evolution as an invisible agent helping males to evolve, for considering genetic mechanisms of reproduction and inheritance as simple things, and for implying that fitness is a function of number of offspring (a tautology), this article wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week.
    Once again, winning the sex game is the only virtue in evolution.  Students raised on a steady diet of Darwin can kiss good-bye to purpose, values, morals, reason, standards, service to others, and truth.  If the researchers behind this story were consistent, they would quit the science lab and just go try to distribute their genes as far and wide as possible.  But if you asked them why they were doing this, they would not be able to give any reason for it – not even a Darwinian one.  Do a very un-Darwinian thing: think about it.
Next headline on:  DarwinismDumb Ideas
Nature Inspires Useful Products   11/16/2007    
Some day soon you may be able to extract water out of thin air, decorate your walls with detachable wallpaper, read street signs clearly in fog, and employ reusable tape underwater.  These are some of the innovations coming from biomimetics – science inspired by nature’s designs.
  1. Venus flytrap:  Alex Crosby at University of Massachusetts was intrigued by the action of Venus flytrap, which changes almost instantly from convex to concave when triggered.  Science Daily reported how his team plans to make a variety of products that mimic this shape-snapping transition at large and small scales.  A small input of energy can produce a large change in geometry.  “Imagine paint that adheres to a surface, but releases on command or road signs that change their reflectivity with changing weather conditions,” the article began.
  2. Spider web:  Imagine being able to harvest water out of thin air.  Israeli scientists, inspired by how dew collects on a spider’s web, have created a dew-harvesting device that funnels atmospheric moisture into a collection and filtration unit.  New Scientist has a picture and description of the invention.  In one day, the 10-meter wide device collected 20 liters of water.  The device won an engineering contest for fresh-water solutions for drought-stricken areas.  Improved models are expected to fit into the collection pot for portability.
        This water-collection technique may be familiar to survivalists who have used a similar approach for emergency water collection: the desert still (see Desert USA).
  3. Geckos and insects:  Sticky tape inspired by gecko and insect feet is making strides.  An article on PhysOrg shows a dramatic electron micrograph of a complex insect foot.  Researchers at Max Planck Institute studied 300 insects for ideas on manufacturing the ideal, reusable adhesive.  The result is a sticky tape that stays clean, can be reused thousands of times, and is twice as sticky as regular tape.  It can be washed with soap.  The inventors put it on a small robot and it proceeded to walk right up the wall.
Put the ideas together, and you can get even more benefits.  The Venus flytrap article (above) states that one application is a kind of Venus-flytrap/gecko hybrid, that can allow the development of “smart adhesives by covering the lenses with hairs that adhere in the convex position and release when the lenses are concave.”  Some day you may try out a new wallpaper and just peel it right off for another, or reposition it easily, without all the muss and fuss of old-fashioned paste.
    Last month in Science,1 W. Jon P. Barnes (Centre for Cell Engineering, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow) wrote about “Biomimetic Solutions to Sticky Problems.”  From velcro to gecko tape, “biomimetics is certainly coming of age,” he said.  He wrote about some of the high-tech materials coming out of animal-inspired research, and commented that even more smart adhesives are “likely to be inspired by the remarkable mechanisms developed by climbing animals over millions of years of evolution.”  Funny; none of the inventors in the other articles claimed that evolutionary theory had anything to do with their research.
Update 11/20/2007: BASF labs is using photonic crystals to produce optical routers for fiber-optic networks.  “This phenomenon is known from nature: the splendid, shimmering colors on butterfly wings derive from the properties of photonic crystals.”
1.  W. Jon P. Barnes, “Materials Science: Biomimetic Solutions to Sticky Problems,” Science, 12 October 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5848, pp. 203-204, DOI: 10.1126/science.1149994.
In ancient times, people built elaborate cisterns to collect rainwater for survival.  You can see incredible water systems Herod built at Herodium, Masada and Jerusalem.  Even more ancient systems carved out of solid rock, like those at Megiddo and Gibeon, arouse awe at the amount of work men exerted to collect the precious fluid of life in the dry climate of the middle east.  Imagine the expression on their faces if you could show them a portable invention that everyone could use at home to collect water out of thin air most days of the year, even without rain, based on the web of the lowly spider.
    These stories should warm our hearts.  Real scientists and engineers, inspired by plants and animals at our feet, are adapting the design they see into useful, practical products that can improve our lives.  These inventions owe nothing to evolutionary theory.  They owe everything to design detection, combined with the human ingenuity to observe, imagine, and create.
    Want your kid to be on the cutting edge of 21st century science?  Want him or her to improve the world and maybe make a lot of money doing it?  Take them out in the yard, looking for bugs and leaves and birds and anything natural.  Look for opportunities to ask, “How do they do that?”  When science projects are assigned, inspire them with creative ideas based on biomimetics—intelligent design at work.  Some day that aptitude to see design in nature may turn into a profitable career.  Combined with the character trait of charity you should also be teaching your kids, it might inspire them to make discoveries that could help impoverished people in third-world countries lead more productive lives without harm to the environment – taking advantage of innovations their fellow creatures have been using for millennia.
    To think that Ken Miller called intelligent design a science-stopper (11/14/2007).  Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise (03/16/2006).
Next headline on:  PlantsTerrestrial ZoologyBiomimeticsPhysicsAmazing Facts
Darwin As Prognosticator   11/15/2007    
How good was Darwin at making predictions?  A good scientific theory should make predictions, at least according to a common assumption about science.  PBS thinks Darwin hit a home run, according to an interactive feature on the website for Judgment Day, the documentary about evolution vs intelligent design shown on Nova this week (11/14/2007).  The commentary below will analyze these 13 predictions, but some other recent stories from science journals show Darwin scoring a much lower batting average:
  1. Island dwarfism:  Evolutionary biologists have long believed that animals trapped on islands would evolve into smaller versions of their mainland counterparts.  Not true, say researchers from Imperial College, London.  A catalog of island species shows no such trend; many factors are involved in the size distribution of island species.  The details can be found at PhysOrg and Science Daily.  (Note: the articles do not attribute the prediction to Darwin himself.)
  2. Arms race:  If Darwin intended his theory of natural selection to express a law of nature that applies everywhere, it might be difficult to correlate opposite results.  Many evolutionary biologists speak of predators, prey and parasites leading to an “evolutionary arms race” that drives speciation and adaptive radiation, leading to Darwin’s branching tree of life.  An article in Science Daily, however, says that predators and parasites can drive “evolutionary stability.”
  3. Parental guidance suggested:  The environment is supposed to drive evolutionary adaptation.  Offspring, facing the mean old world, should get by with the random genetic mutations that improve their survival – not a parental handout.  Taking loans from mom or dad’s genes would indicate a dependency on pre-adaptive resources, innate in the genetic information of the species.  A study at University of Virginia suggests, however, that maternal influences do help offspring adapt to their environment.
  4. Birds don’t talk:  What drives speciation in birds?  It should be Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection – of which the Galapagos finches are the textbook example.  In Science last month,1 however, Loren Rieseberg reviewed a new book by Trevor Price, Speciation in Birds, and found that even the textbook case is not open and shut:
    Of perhaps greater interest are Price’s conclusions about the roles of ecology and social selection in speciation; these remain relatively unexplored subjects about which birds have much to offer.  Closely related species of birds often differ in ecologically important traits--such as body size, habitat preferences, and feeding and migratory behaviors--that are also likely to contribute to both premating and postmating reproductive isolation.  These observations, combined with classic studies of ecologically driven speciation in Darwin’s finches and crossbills, imply that ecological selection likely contributes to most speciation events in birds.  However, Price cautions that divergence of most co-occurring bird species is too ancient to make inferences about the causes of speciation and that studies of recently diverged species, such as Darwin’s finches, highlight the fragility of ecological reproductive barriers.  He concludes that “it is unclear if ecological causes are sufficient or even important in many speciation events.”  This somewhat negative assessment of the role of ecology in speciation is tempered by speculation in later chapters that rapid ecological speciation may account for short branch lengths detected early in the evolution of many bird genera.
    That sounds like Price debunked Darwin’s speculation, only to replace it with one of his own.  “Interestingly, social selection appears to be more generally important in speciation in birds than sexual selection, despite the emphasis in the literature on the latter,” Rieseberg continued, only to accuse Price of doublethink: “Price also argues that ecological factors are a major cause of divergence in socially selected traits, an assertion that, while strongly supported, seemingly is at odds with his earlier pessimistic assessment of the importance of ecology in speciation.”
        Earlier in the review, Rieseberg also noted that Price did not put much credibility in another evolutionary hypothesis, the so-called “founder effect” (i.e., that new colonizers drift genetically into new species).  Whatever the causes of the origin of species, they appear more complex and inscrutable than Darwin had imagined.
  5. Opportunity lost:  The genes of 12 species of Drosophila were compared in a massive test of evolution, published in Nature.2  How much opportunity was there for evolution since the species diverged?  The team wrote, “the evolutionary divergence spanned by the genus Drosophila exceeds that of the entire mammalian radiation when generation time is taken into account,” so for the number of generations during which mammals went from mice to giraffes and whales, these little flies should have had ample opportunity to evolve by Darwin’s theory of natural selection.  (Note: the only kind of natural selection of interest here is positive selection for functional advantage; purifying selection gets rid of harmful mutations, and balancing selection tries to offset them.)
        The paper mentions evolution and selection numerous times.  A search for innovation turns up empty, though, and examination of instances of positive selection shows no clear cut example of something new and improved arising.  The geneticists looked for markers of positive selection indirectly – fast-changing base pairs in otherwise unchanging sequences.  It is not as straightforward, however, to correlate these changes with new genetic information that provides a functional advantage for the fly.  The clearest example of positive selection they could find was for “helicase activity,” which seems like merely an adjustment in the rate of operation of existing hardware.  They said, “Despite a number of functional categories with evidence for elevated omega [i.e., an indicator of positive natural selection], ‘helicase activity’ is the only functional category significantly more likely to be positively selected.”  In other words, not only are all the 12 species of Drosophila still fruit flies, none of them seemed to exhibit a single clear-cut example of a new functional innovation – despite as many generations as the mammals had for their assumed evolutionary radiation, with all the new capabilities possessed by bats, skunks, hippos and aardvarks.  What was Darwin doing all that time?  It would seem if clear indications of innovation that would vindicate Darwin had been found, it would be the news of the decade.
        In the same issue of Nature,3 Ewan Birney commented on the Clark et al study.  “The analysis of positive selection by Clark and colleagues is undoubtedly the broadest and most detailed investigation performed in any clade of multicellular organisms.”  Two species of Drosophila in the study are as different genetically as humans are from other primates, he said.  Though he claimed that the team identified a third of fruit fly genes apparently undergoing positive selection (mostly for the existing immune system and olfactory functions), he did not identify any example of an “upward” change that gave any species a new organ, system, or innovation that would indicate Drosophila was evolving into something better than a plain old fruit fly.  Instead, he indicated that future studies on primates would be required to understand positive evolution: “Clark and colleagues’ findings suggest that, to understand the fascinating adaptive changes among primates, including those unique to humans, we probably need to sequence the genome of every extant primate (and, where possible, any extinct primates with recoverable DNA), using optimal sequencing strategies to obtain both population-level data and accurate genome sequences.”
  6. Fossils to the rescue?  Is Darwin’s tree rooted in the rocks?  Gene Hunt undertook a study of “The relative importance of directional change, random walks, and stasis in the evolution of fossil lineages,” and found a lot of stasis.  After his “large-scale, statistical survey of evolutionary mode in fossil lineages,” involving some 250 sequences of evolving traits, he wrote in PNAS,4 “The rarity with which directional evolution was observed in this study corroborates a key claim of punctuated equilibria and suggests that truly directional evolution is infrequent or, perhaps more importantly, of short enough duration so as to rarely register in paleontological sampling.”  Darwin did not predict punctuated equilibria.  The core of his theory was that changes occurred imperceptibly, gradually and cumulatively.  In addition, he knew that the fossil record was characterized by large gaps, but predicted that the new fossil discoveries would fill in those gaps, revealing his hoped-for branching evolutionary tree.  Hunt found only 5% of fossil lineages could be attributed to directional evolution.  Of the rest that showed change over time, it was mostly for body size, not body shape.  This does not seem to be a vindication for Darwin’s prognosticative powers.  In the evolutionary rat race, if a bigger or smaller rat wins, it is still just a rat.
Scientific literature does present occasional successes for Darwin, such as this claimed vindication at Queens University for Darwin’s controversial hypothesis of sympatric speciation.  But the score is mixed.  One study never undertaken is how Darwin’s predictions would rank against those of astrology.
1.  Loren H. Rieseberg, “...And a Partridge in Allopatry,” Science, 12 October 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5848, p. 198, DOI: 10.1126/science.1147892.
2.  Clark et al, “Evolution of genes and genomes in the Drosophila phylogeny,” Nature 450, 203-218 (8 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature06341.
See also an article in Science Daily that lamented the difficulty this study uncovered about identifying what is a gene.
3.  Ewan Birney, “Evolutionary genomics: Come fly with us,” Nature 450, 184-185 (8 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/450184a.
4.  Gene Hunt, “The relative importance of directional change, random walks, and stasis in the evolution of fossil lineages,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print November 14, 2007, 10.1073/pnas.0704088104.
We have reported numerous times when Darwin predicted something and the opposite was found (e.g., 11/13/2007, 11/09/2007, 10/17/2007).  Charlie has struck out again and again, yet his fans never give up.
    The PBS Judgment Day program (11/14/2007) made a big deal about how “scientific” Darwin’s theory was.  For support, the PBS website offered an interactive feature listing 13 of “Darwin’s Predictions” that supposedly came true.  This was presented to trick students and visitors into thinking Darwin has an impressive batting average.  Let’s look at them and see if Charlie can make it to first base at least.  The PBS feature begins with a dramatic star spangled banner, asking Jose if he can see the Darwin’s early light:
Ahead of his time is putting it moderately for Charles Darwin.  The father of evolution had conjectures that were only proved, or greatly substantiated, decades after his death in 1882, in some cases not until recently.  Today, evidence that unequivocally supports his theory of evolution by natural selection, as well as other surmises he had, comes from an array of scientific disciplines, including paleontology, geology, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, and, most recently, evolutionary developmental biology, or “evo devo.”  “The notion that all these lines of evidence could converge and give a common answer to the question of where we came from is truly powerful,” says Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller.  “This is the reason why scientific support for the theory of evolution is so overwhelming.”
A pretty dramatic overture indeed, provided there is power behind the sound system.  Here are the 13 pitches for Darwin to swing at.  Keep in mind these are all supposed to be predictions by Darwin that were confirmed by science.  Unfortunately, since the Darwin Party owns the stadium and both teams, which are sworn to make Charlie look good, all we can do is umpire from the sidelines when they break the rules.
  1. Evo-devo:  “Evolution happens,” the first entry announces triumphantly.  Something else on bumper stickers also happens, but we won’t press the point.
        Right off the bat, we notice them including evo-devo in the victory circle with little more than an unsupported assertion followed by the favorite Darwin Party quote that nothing in biology makes sense except in the darkness of evolution.  Last month, however, Ron Amundson, in a Science Magazine book review (318:5850, pp. 571-572, 10/26/2007) portrayed evolutionary genetics and evolutionary embryology (of which evo-devo is the latest incarnation) as antagonists in a long tug-of-war between biologists about where the seat of evolution lies.  This is essentially the battle between saltationism and gradualism in embryo.  So for PBS to claim evo-devo is a friend of Darwin is a little like Coriolanus embracing Aufidius.  They are reluctant allies who would as soon stab one another except for the common enemy, the creationists.
    Verdict: this is not even a pitch; it’s just Darwin fans rooting in the stands.
  2. Natural selection:  “Evolution happens through natural selection,” the next entry states.  We thought that was the question at issue.  Ever hear of begging the question?  This is no prediction; it assumes what needs to be proved.  There it is, right before your eyes, a totally begged question, complete with another favorite D.P. quote that natural selection is “the greatest idea anyone ever had,” followed by a Big Lie by Niles Eldredge that nothing in 175 years has contravened it (even his own competing theory of punctuated equilibria?).
    Verdict: this is a little dance on the pitcher’s mound getting applause from the Darwin fans again.  No ball has been pitched yet.  We’re getting impatient.
    For rebuttals that show natural selection does not work as advertised, and has been essentially falsified, see 11/29/2004 and, more recently, 11/13/2007 and 10/17/2007
  3. Galapagos finches:  This was no prediction.  Darwin found the finches while a creationist, then much later worked them into his evolutionary theory.  But even if you allow a postdiction to count as a prediction, it is irrelevant, because even young-earth creationists allow for the microevolution seen in finch beaks.
    Verdict: When are you going to pitch a ball, PBS?  We want a pitcher, not a Lucy itcher.  We’re starting to boo from the sidelines while the hysterical fans go ape.
  4. Genetics:  Finally, a pitch.  Darwin swings and misses.  His theory of pangenesis was discredited almost as soon as it hit the shelves.  He knew nothing of DNA, and did not predict anything like a code in the cell which, to him, was a simple blob of protoplasm.
    Verdict: Strike one.  For the Darwin party to give Charlie credit for DNA and molecular biology as a prediction of his theory is like giving Walt Whitman credit for the internet.
  5. Antisupernaturalism:  What?  That is the very question under consideration.
    Verdict: Foul!  Illegal procedure!  This is no pitch; it is another egregious case of begging the question.
  6. Embryology:  This is indistinguishable from #1.  It’s evo-devo again.  PBS failed to point out the Haeckel’s embryo hoax that sprang right out of Darwin’s own speculations.  The shared genetic toolkit is no prediction of Darwin’s theory; it is an evidence that complex design was there from the beginning.
    Verdict: No pitch.  Sending the evo-devo clown out on the field for another cheer from the fans is a distraction.
  7. Sexual selection:  OK, here’s a real pitch.  Darwin did predict sexual selection would drive sexual dimorphism.  (Actually, this is just another postdiction, because peacocks were already well known in his time.)  The theory is controversial (02/26/2003), but at best, a peacock with radical tail feathers is still a peacock, not a new animal.  Sexual selection does not explain the origin of new species.
    Verdict: Ball One.
  8. Common ancestry:  Ken Miller states, “Despite the extraordinary diversity of life, all living organisms share a nearly identical set of essential genes, reflecting their evolutionary development from a common ancestor.”  Yet Darwin’s view was one not of “immortal” traits, nor of anything that has “survived essentially unchanged for over two billion years.”  Darwin’s world is a fluid picture of gradual, incessant change, not stasis.
    Verdict: More evo-devo.  More begging the question.  Common ancestry is the question under debate, not a prediction!  They are not learning their lesson.  This elicits a cheer from the fans in the stands, but no ball was pitched.
  9. Human evolution:  “Humans evolved from an ape-like ancestor,”  the next slide announces triumphantly, again begging the question.  As support, the slide borrows an ancient 1863 Huxley drawing, and then repeats the discredited whopper that human and chimpanzee genes are 99% similar (see 06/29/2007).  No fossil evidence is presented.  They repeat Darwin’s speculation that “the difference between the mind of man and that of a chimpanzee or gorilla is a matter of degree, not of kind.”  What did they do to interpolate this, interview Lucy or something?  It’s not like creationists have failed to notice similarities and differences between humans and apes for thousands of years; so what has Charlie done to prove his condition that we evolved from them?
    Verdict: Begged question, no evidence.  Ball Two.
  10. Modern humans arose in Africa:  Evidence is presented from phylogenetic trees and alleged hominid bones, most of which were found in Africa.  This argument fails to recognize the selective effect of doing most of the digging in Africa, and the circular nature of finding Darwin trees in the genes, when unbiased analysis finds no tree (10/08/2007) and declares phylogenetic tree-building a function of assumptions (01/18/2006).
    Verdict: the ball curves chaotically through the batter’s box, making any contact with the bat a matter of luck, not skill.  Ball Three.
  11. Old earth:  This was not a prediction of Darwin.  Hutton, Lyell and other geologists had already decided long before The Origin to believe in an old earth, and they began interpreting the strata through that lens.  Regardless of debates on the age of the earth, Darwin gets no credit for predicting it.
    Verdict: Strike Two.
  12. Fossils:  Precambrian fossils?  Missing links?  Gaps filled in with transitional forms? (see 10/15/2007 commentary on the PBS offerings, under numbered bullets #1).  The gall of these people to use the most damaging evidence against Darwin’s theory as support for it!
    Verdict: Strike Three.
  13. Moth tongue:  OK, Charlie struck out, but we’ll entertain his final little just-so story, his lucky #13, as he walks to the dugout.  He predicted a pollinator with a foot-long tongue would be found to pollinate a peculiar orchid, and by golly, one was found 40 years later.  Awesome, dude.  Cowabunga.  Way to go.  Ahem.  The moth was still a moth, not some other animal, and the orchid was still an orchid.  None of this is germane to the question of the origin of species.  Since even young-earth creationists allow for dramatic variations of traits within kinds (look at dogs), this pitch is too little, too late.
    Verdict: Don’t quit your day job, prognosticator.  Go breed some pigeons.  Be sure to use intelligent design.
So Charlie is out.  He has failed to hit a single pitch from the list of predictions.  He couldn’t even walk to first base, because the pitcher kept dancing on the mound.
    We hate to hurt a guy’s feelings when he’s down, but must point out that even if he had struck a homer, it wouldn’t have mattered.  You see, scientists and philosophers have known for a long time that predictability is no assurance of validity.  There is an inherent logical fallacy in making and fulfilling predictions, called the fallacy of Affirming the Consequent (see Wikipedia for a convenient summary): “If P then Q; Q is true, therefore P is true.”  This is a non-sequitur; there are other things than P that could have been the cause of Q.  Example: Columbus told the natives that their gods were angry because of their treatment of his sailors, and were going to punish them by turning the moon blood-red.  It happened!  Columbus was good at predicting a lunar eclipse, but the natives believed the gods were angry, and treated him with much more respect.  If you take a placebo because the experimenter tells you it will make you feel better, and you feel better, it doesn’t mean the placebo cured you.  Astrologers and pseudoscientists for centuries have used this fallacy to their advantage.
    The problem is even more serious at a deeper level.  Philosophers of science since Pierre Duhem (late 19th century) have pointed out that theories are underdetermined by facts.  No matter how many facts your theory can incorporate, or how many successful predictions it can make, there are always a nearly infinite number of other theories that could account for the phenomena.  That’s why Popper proposed falsifiability as a criterion for good science.  Many would argue that Darwinism has already been falsified, but then Popper is not the last word, either.  Philosophy of science, the attempt to give a rational justification for scientific claims and discriminate good science from pseudoscience, has undergone multiple revolutions in the 20th century alone.  There remains no consensus even today.  All agree now, however, that the ability to make predictions is neither necessary nor sufficient to claim a theory is scientific.  So even if Charlie had hit the ball, the game wasn’t valid in the first place.  There is no joy in Dudville.  Mighty Charlie has struck out.  The officials, meanwhile, had already abrogated the game and declared it nugatory.
Next headline on:  Darwin and Evolutionary TheoryGeneticsFossils
Photo: Earthrise 2007   11/15/2007    
The Japanese Kaguya spacecraft has taken a series of “Earthrise” photos from lunar orbit, including this sequence.  The complete set of new hi-resolution photos is available at Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency.  (Due to the orbital path of the spacecraft, Antarctica is at the top.)
    “Earth-rise is a phenomenon seen only from satellites that travel around the Moon, such as the KAGUYA and the Apollo space ship,” the caption explained.  “The Earth-rise cannot be observed by a person who is on the Moon as they can always see the Earth at the same position.”
    The first set of Earthrise images in December 1968 from Apollo 8 had a dramatic impact on the inhabitants of Spaceship Earth.  Borman, Lovell and Anders called it their Christmas present to the inhabitants of the “good Earth” as they celebrated by reading the opening verses from Genesis (see NASA article).  The recent movie In the Shadow of the Moon retold the story (see CNN).
    As an encore, ESA’s Rosetta Spacecraft zipped by Earth yesterday and took some stunning images of our planet from the night side.  Rosetta is on a long flight itinerary to land on a comet in 2014.  Viewers may want to compare these Blue Planet images with the latest from the Red Planet taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
    This time, perhaps, these new Earthrise images can be thought of as another holiday gift to Spaceship Earth: a symbolic cornucopia for Thanksgiving.
Who could not be thankful at the sight of such a perfect blue sphere out there, loaded with life and beauty?  The contrast with the lifeless and sterile moon makes the scene all the more thought-provoking.  What poetry or Scripture would come to mind as you look at these stunning images?  What deep questions about the universe, Earth, life, humanity, politics, ethics, meaning and destiny arise in your soul?  Take a moment to jot down your thoughts after a good, long gaze at this image.
    It’s sad to consider that if astronauts today, 39 years after Apollo 8, tried to read inspirational words from the Bible, they would be promptly sued by the ACLU, and roundly condemned by leading politicians, scientists and educators.  Your thoughts do not have to reflect their thoughts; they can be aligned with God’s thoughts.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are high above the earth, so our my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Next headline on:  Solar SystemBibleMediaAmazing Facts
Judgment Day:  Will it Be the New Inherit the Wind?   11/14/2007    
The PBS-Vulcan film Judgment Day just aired on national TV (see 10/12/2007) and is sure to represent a new rallying point for both sides of the ongoing controversy over Darwinian evolution that has raged for 148 years.  For material on both sides, see the PBS website, which put Intelligent Design on trial, and the responses at the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News and Intelligent Design.org, which put Darwin on trial (per the title of Phillip Johnson’s influential ID book).  Also see the DI’s new intelligent design central, Intelligent Design.org.  For those who missed the show, the entire transcript and film will be available online November 16.
    The transcript of the entire interview with Phillip Johnson, of which only selected portions were shown on camera, is available on the PBS site.  It is about the only ID-friendly material on the entire site except for some listings on the Resources page.  The list of authors for every other pro-Darwin article or recording reads like a who’s who of lawyers, scientists, educators and activists who have made a career out of discrediting intelligent design.  Phillip Johnson had some pre-game thoughts on the show and his involvement on the ID the Future podcast for November 12.
    Just as generations of students were exposed to Inherit the Wind in school, it is likely new generations will study Judgment Day as the definitive depiction of “intelligent design on trial.”  The PBS website offers teachers a selection of resources for the classroom and encourages teachers to use the film as an instructional resource.
We recommend readers become familiar with the best arguments on both sides and avoid caricatures and propaganda tricks, a number of which were clearly in use in the program.  This film, indeed, could well be used as a case study in how to bias a controversy to favor one side.  It would be worth watching it side by side with Unlocking the Mystery of Life, The Privileged Planet and Icons of Evolution.  The key to understanding will be to discern what pieces of evidence are relevant to the central issue, and how they are portrayed.
    In the re-enactments, notice how the producer pretended to give an accurate portrayal of courtroom events but included subtleties that buttressed the anti-ID bias.  Darwin propagandists undoubtedly learned their lesson from Inherit the Wind, which did not even pretend to be a factual reconstruction of the Scopes Trial and has been roundly criticized by secular historians as completely misleading regarding what really happened in Dayton in 1925.  In Judgment Day, the producer tried to pick actors that resembled the main characters, and had them quote the transcript more-or-less verbatim, without overblown histrionics or garrish TV effects.  It was evident, however, that the Ken Miller character was made to look very sure of himself and persuasive to the audience, whereas the Michael Behe character, through body language and facial expressions, was made to start out with a phony air of confidence that degenerated into uneasiness and doubt.  You can be sure that the parts of the transcript quoted were carefully selected as well.
    The closing statements, similarly, contained the same subtle cues intended to reinforce the desired effect: that the anti-ID lawyers and witnesses were on the side of reason and science, and could see through the supposed duplicity of the other side with complete clarity, as if “come on, you guys, we know exactly what you are up to.”  The pro-ID lawyers and witnesses were made to look like bumbling, ruffled, evasive, almost sinister advocates who were not very good at covering up their hidden agenda – especially the two pro-ID school board members, who were portrayed as criminal perjurers who belong on America’s Dumbest Criminals.  The film was careful to quote enough of the opposition to sidestep charges that they were completely and utterly biased against ID – but in each case, either quoted them to knock down a straw man, or did not allow them to elaborate sufficiently to support their assertions.  The Darwinists always got the last word.
    In evaluating this film, it is essential to first toss out the irrelevant material.  There was a lot of that.  Consider a short list of vignettes the film focused in on that have absolutely nothing to do with the issue of whether Darwinism alone is science and deserves exclusive treatment in public education, or whether intelligent design can be treated apart from religious implications.
  • The ineptitude of the Dover school board members.  Irrelevant.
  • The outrage of the science teachers, and their brave stand against the “conspiracy”.  Irrelevant.
  • The tragedy of a town embattled in controversy.  Irrelevant.
  • The fact that school board meetings “erupted in chaos.”  Irrelevant.  They erupt just as readily over Walmart.
  • The tragedy of a reporter unable to reconcile with her Christian father.  Irrelevant.
  • The “smoking gun” evidence of clumsy editing changes to the book Of Pandas and People.  Irrelevant.
  • How hard Barbara Forrest had to work to find the “smoking gun.”  Irrelevant.
  • The glee the NCSE experienced over finding evidence that Pandas and People was construed as “creationist” before it used the term “intelligent design”.  Irrelevant.
  • The eagerness of the ACLU to help, and the prosecutors’ excitement over getting the case of a lifetime.  Irrelevant.
  • Whether the school board was religiously motivated.  Relevant perhaps to this particular case and the interpretation of the Establishment Clause as recently given by the Supreme Court, but irrelevant to the validity of Darwinism or intelligent design, and irrelevant to the original intent of the Constitution; also, arguably false or impossible to know one’s true motives or whether religion was any more motivating than a common human desire for fairness.  The policy statement made no reference to religion or to any particular church that would have been “established” had students been informed that alternatives to Darwinism exist (which is true).  A statement should be judged on evidence for its veracity, not by what motivated it.
  • Whether intelligent design can be construed as somehow violating separation of church and state.  Irrelevant.
  • Whether 1/3 to 1/2 of Americans doubt Darwinism.  Irrelevant.
  • Whether most creationists tend to be Christians.  Irrelevant.
  • Whether Christians usually feel the Designer is God.  Irrelevant.
  • Whether many creationists accept Genesis.  Irrelevant. 
  • Whether some evolutionists are not atheists.  Irrelevant.
  • Whether Ken Miller is a practicing Catholic.  Irrelevant.
  • Whether Christians would like to see a renewal of culture they feel was ravaged by materialism, for which they feel Darwinism is largely responsible.  An important issue, but irrelevant to the question of whether Darwinism deserves educational priority in science classrooms to the exclusion of anything else.
  • That the Discovery Institute wrote a Wedge Document with broad goals seeking a renewal of science and culture.  Irrelevant; the Discovery Institute was not on trial – in fact, they disagreed with the Dover policy.  For rebuttal, and a discussion of how this line of motive-baiting can be turned just as easily against Darwinists (for instance, because of Eugenie Scott’s signing of the Humanist Manifesto III), see Evolution News.
  • Whether Darwin’s finches are evidence for evolution.  Irrelevant; even creationists accept microevolutionary change.
  • Whether teaching ID would harm America’s future in science.  Irrelevant and absurd.
  • Whether minimizing Darwinism would hurt medicine or agriculture.  Irrelevant and absurd; most medicine and agriculture was advanced by creationists (e.g., Pasteur, Mendel, Carver).
  • Whether ID lacks a fully fleshed-out scientific approach, as Paul Nelson confessed.  Irrelevant.  Design-based science arguably does more real legwork in science than Darwinism does (e.g., biomimetics, archaeology, forensics, information technology); besides, Darwinism was little more than a suggestion in 1849, but that didn’t stop them.  Read Dembski’s The Design Revolution for more answers to this type of criticism.
  • Whether textbook writers have ever been afraid to present evolution in high school textbooks.  Irrelevant. 
  • Whether Behe, Minnich, and the lawyers for the defense made a good case.  Irrelevant; they are only human.  Other witnesses said they did much better than this movie portrayed.
  • Whether Behe was embarrassed by a pile of books and papers that claimed they explained the evolution of the immune system.  Irrelevant.  A detailed inspection of these publications would undoubtedly confirm the pattern reported in these pages, that evolutionists fill in the gaps with pure speculation in spite of evidence, based on an a priori commitment to naturalism.
  • Whether the trial produced a flap of worldwide media coverage.  Irrelevant.
  • What Darwin’s great great great grandson thought of the trial.  Irrelevant.
  • Whether evolution critics understand what a “theory” is in science.  Irrelevant.  Look how some Darwinists exhibit their ignorance by comparing the theory of evolution to the law of gravity.
  • Whether Michael Behe’s definition of science as presented at the trial was so loose so as to allow astrology.  Irrelevant; as all philosophers of science know, there is no universal definition of science, nor is there a universal scientific method, nor any epistemic justification that even the most basic science preserves an accurate reflection of external reality, whether or not it proves useful.  Definitions of science vary from extremes that it is The Truth to it is a socially-constructed set of cultural biases.  As philosopher J. P. Moreland claims, hardly any working scientist has a clue what science is; it is not typically a part of their education.  The definition of science is not science, it is a second-order claim of philosophy about science.  It follows that Michael Behe can work as a scientist without being expected to define science in a courtroom in a way that will satisfy his critics.
  • Whether the teachers and Judge Jones received hate mail and death threats.  Tragic, but irrelevant.  By the way, as if any readers here need to be reminded of the obvious, this is NO way to be effective for ANY point of view!  It is harmful, wicked and criminal.  If you are given to this tendency, repent.
  • Whether David DeRosier, whom Behe quoted, believes in Darwinian evolution or not.  Irrelevant.
  • Whether Darwinists can say “evolution is science, ID is religion” with feeling (or with a straight face).  Irrelevant.
  • Whether Judge Jones ruled that teaching ID is unconstitutional.  Irrelevant; he is just one unelected man who took on himself to decide issues far beyond what the case was about, and his decision is limited to the Dover area.  It has no judicial weight outside that district, for whatever propaganda chaff the victors want to glean from it.
  • Whether Darwinists were pleased that a judge decided what science was.  Irrelevant and counter-productive.  Scientists do not want to go to unelected judges to decide matters of science.  What if some day a judge decides federal funding for science is unconstitutional?
Now, we are not saying these elements of the movie were completely worthless.  They had entertainment value.  Like the mission statement in Paul Allen’s Vulcan film company stated, they wanted to engage in “elegant and compelling storytelling.”  For that matter, Inherit the Wind and even Birth of a Nation succeeded at that, too, in a perverse way.  The point is that none of this has anything to do with the truth claims or epistemic superiority of Darwinism.
    OK, we have just dispensed with about 75% of the program.  Another 5% consisted of baseless, unsupported assertions, like Ken Miller blurting out “ID is a science stopper!”  Sorry, unsupported assertions prove nothing.  (These were used to good effect in the Scopes Trial by the Darwinists, too.)
    Another 5% consisted of card stacking, or selective evidence.  For instance, Neil Shubin and Kevin Padian carried on and on about all the transitional forms, especially their star witness, the fish-o-pod Tiktaalik (see 04/06/2006, 05/03/2006, 10/20/2006), but said nothing about the Cambrian explosion, which makes Tiktaalik irrelevant because the Cambrian explosion falsifies Darwinism from the get-go.  Noticeably absent was any discussion of the origin of life, other than Shubin’s passing comment, “Many scientists believe life began in the water,” as if anybody cares what many scientists believe.  This is not supposed to be a matter of belief or faith, but science, remember?  Many scientists believe in unobservable universes.  Should they teach that in school?
    Another 5% consisted of wild extrapolations from these controversial examples to the claim that the entire fossil record is replete with transitional forms.  Which brings us to the out-and-out lies, like asserting that Archaeopteryx represents a transitional form between dinosaurs and birds, or that the Establishment Clause teaches Separation of Church and State, or that ID consists entirely of negative arguments, or that creationism is an attack on all that Galileo and Newton tried to accomplish (ahem, they were creationists).  (For more lies told in the film, see Evolution News).  Then there were the half-truths, such as that the Discovery Institute would not agree to be interviewed because of their refusal to abide by “standard journalistic practice” (see EvolutionNews for their side of the story), or that their scientists “dropped off like flies” from testifying, without explaining that they had tried to get the Dover school board and the Thomas More Law Center to abandon the policy because they felt it was an ineffective approach that was legally doomed.  Another half-truth: emphasizing the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the exclusion of the Free-Exercise Clause.
    Another 5% consisted of question-begging statements that assumed people know what science is, and that evolution is science, but ID is not.  An unbiased presentation would have correctly explained that there is no universally-accepted definition of science, there are no demarcation criteria that can successfully keep the desired sciences in and the undesirable sciences (including astrology) out – so Michael Behe had a point, when understood this way: if you want to exclude astrology, then guess what! you are going to exclude Darwinism, too.
Other questions begged in the movie:
  • Whether the Arkansas ruling made any and every kind of teaching creationism unconstitutional.
  • Whether creationism deserves to be regarded as a pariah.
  • Whether ID should be expected to have some overlap with creationism or not.
  • Whether discussions of ID must include the religious motivations of some of its proponents.
  • Whether ID proponents must identify the Designer.
  • Whether evolutionary explanations are any more successful at propelling science forward.  Consider the Darwinists’ science-stopping explanations about vestigial organs and junk DNA, for instance.
  • Whether all sciences are equally empirical, testable, falsifiable (consider political science, sociology vs the science used in space flight operations).
  • Whether ability to make predictions defines something as scientific.  Popper and other philosophers of science denied this.  Even astrology made predictions that sometimes worked, and few practicing scientists abandon a theory over a failed prediction.
  • Whether the ability to speculate on a possible gradualistic path to an irreducibly complex structure is equivalent to establishing that this is actually what happened.  The plausibility criterion is insufficient to make a speculation scientific.  Anybody can make up a story.  Maybe a meatball traveled across the Atlantic and resulted in music (08/26/2003 commentary).  It’s plausible, isn’t it?  If I expect you to prove me wrong, I am shifting the burden of proof.
  • Whether the rise of Darwinism was correlated with progress in science.  A case could be made that it was anti-correlated; that it rode on the coat-tails of a scientific revolution that was happening anyway (e.g., because of the work of creationist physicists Faraday, Maxwell, Kelvin).  A strong case can be made that Darwinism actually was parasitic on scientific progress, borrowing from its prestige while generating disasters like eugenics and racist criminal theory.
The worst example of question-begging of all was assuming that science cannot infer design because that requires a supernatural God.  How convenient—that makes science materialistic by definition!  Again, this is not a question science can address; it is a second-order claim about science.  But with a sweep of the hand, with an arbitrary and philosophically-indefensible rule (not scientific evidence), they cleared the playing field of any contenders, such that something like Darwinism must be true, no matter how implausible, simply because it is materialistic.  The film employed the either-or fallacy to make any references to so-called “supernatural” causes (should be intelligent causes) look as arbitrary as possible.
    Up to this point we have not addressed the few minutes of actual scientific evidence the film presented to support the dramatic claim that Darwinian evolution is so well supported, it deserves absolute supremacy in the classroom, to the exclusion of anything else.  Here are the main three instances of empirical observations that were adduced to show support for Mr. Darwin’s grand tale:
  1. Tiktaalik:  PBS clearly treated this as a showpiece in the film.  Too bad it is irrelevant.  See our earlier commentaries on this from 04/06/2006, 05/03/2006, and 10/20/2006.  Also, Evolution News has a refutation of this fossil’s relevance to Darwinian evolution.  Notice that Shubin bluffed that these rocks were from the “right age” for the fish-tetrapod transition, ignoring the fact that the dating of the strata was built on evolutionary assumptions.  Let Shubin deal with the Cambrian explosion then we will listen to his fish-o-pod story – and yuck it up around the cave campfire, where Truth doesn’t exist anyway.
    The 4 other fossil transitions presented on the PBS website (not shown in the movie) are even less convincing.  Notice how many times the feature uses the words “may have” and “probably” etc.  The reptile-to-mammal sequence looks as ad-hoc as placing a lizard, a wolverine and a mouse in a line and calling it an evolutionary sequence.  Look at the dates in the alleged dinosaur-to-bird transition; apparently they think evolution ran backwards in time here.  The whale sequence relies little on bone, and heavily on artist imagination.  The human evolution sequence is fraught with controversy among paleoanthropologists themselves, so this depiction is highly contrived.  Each of these exhibits has more gap than data, and each relies heavily on inference from similarities.  Have some fun; find evolutionary transitions among your garage tools.
  2. Flagellum and Type-III Secretion System (TTSS):  The “co-option” argument for evolution was fully answered in the film Unlocking the Mystery of Life.  In addition, many scientists now believe that the TTSS is a degenerate structure from the flagellum, not a transitional form.  Furthermore, the use of a TTSS by disease organisms says nothing about whether they were designed or not, which is all ID tries to answer.  If Darwinists want to argue that God would not have made such a thing, then they have left science and are now arguing theology, so they had better not bring that up in science class.
  3. Human chromosome #2 as a splice:  Ken Miller gleefully showed evidence that humans have one less chromosome than great apes because sometime in human history two chromosomes were spliced together, and this proves evolution.  It proves it only if you commit several logical fallacies.  Notice that the splicing of a chromosome was not a prediction of evolution, but an observation, with a made-up evolutionary story after the fact.  Miller committed the either-or fallacy by assuming that since he could not imagine God creating the chromosome this way, Darwinism is therefore established (this is also an example of the Argument from Personal Incredulity, one of his own favorite accusations in debate).
        Did Miller provide any evidence this change conferred fitness on evolving humans?  No.  Did he prove that this change occurred before humans came into existence?  No.  Did he establish a time frame for when it occurred?  No.  Did he rule out all other possible explanations, like a genetic bottleneck that might have occurred on Noah’s Ark or something?  No.  Does he or any other evolutionist have any explanation for the variety of chromosome numbers in animals, which seem to bear no correlation with fitness?  No.  It is a quirky observation that could lend itself to numerous explanations, none of which science has any way of establishing, so it is irrelevant to the film’s argument about why students should get only the Darwinian story.  Do apes get along great with their 24 pairs of chromosomes?  Do humans get along fine with 23 pairs?  Sure; that’s about all that science can say.  For more information on chromosome number variability, in answer to Miller’s claim, see Jean Lightner’s article on Answers in Genesis.
Since everything else in the film was irrelevant, the entire weight of Darwin-Only Policy in Education (D.O.P.E.) must rest on these, their best examples of actual scientific evidence in support of the claim that 9th-grade students must be taught only the belief that humans had bacteria ancestors.  You might have noticed that it was PBS that displayed the false dichotomy of Darwin vs Genesis.  Don’t these same people squeal when we call evolution “Darwinism”?  They had Charlie’s mug all over the screen, with his pet finches and Beagle and all.  Clearly, they were equating Darwinism with evolution, so that’s why their critics do, too.
    A huge, underlying assumption that was downplayed was that Darwinists, and only Darwinists of the NCSE stripe, understand the nature of science and the nature of religion, including what constitutes the terms natural and supernatural.  This was shamefully misunderstood and misconstrued by the entire pro-Darwin cast.  Philosophers of science around the world should rise up in horror at the sophomoric definition of science that Judgment Day merely assumed was universally accepted and defensible.
    This film was a grandstand for the usual suspects, a certain cadre of Darwin Party Hacks who make a career out of protecting their idol from criticism.  The names of these same People of Froth appear in just about every instance of an ID controversy.  Take away their bullhorns and disarm their attack dogs at the ACLU, and most of the commotion over intelligent design would probably calm down into a nice, rational debate among reasonable people.
    While thinking about these issues, you might review yesterday’s entry (11/12/2007), since the film showed, over and over and over in Dover, a mesmerizing animation of their mystical icon, Darwin’s tree of life (see also the 10/08/2007 entry, with the remarks of Nick Matzke, one of the PBS heroes, worrying about what ID proponents would do with the clear evidence against Darwin’s tree).  How can they reach a tree of life when they don’t even have knowledge of good and evil?
Next headline on:  DarwinIntelligent DesignMediaEducation
More Cell Codes and Authentication Mechanisms   11/13/2007    
Here are more “cool cell tricks” that ensure a smoothly-functioning system inside the cell that can adapt to changes while protecting assets.
  1. Ribosome code:  Why don’t all ribosomes look alike?  Perhaps they know a secret code.  Another possible coding mechanism has been found in ribosomes, those important organelles in the cytoplasm that translate messenger RNA into proteins.  You might recall that in chromosomes, a “histone code” appears to oversee the genetic code, regulating what genes get translated (07/26/2006, 07/28/2004).  Now, researchers at Harvard Medical School reported in Cell1 that a similar mechanism might be at work in the ribosomes:
    Our data supports a model in which there are many different forms of functionally distinct ribosomes in yeast, where the functional specificity is determined by the combination of duplicated ribosomal proteins present.  However, protein composition is not the only source of ribosomal heterogeneity.  Many fungi express different forms of 5S rRNA...   Moreover, ribosomal proteins are subject to a variety of posttranslational modifications....; such modifications impact the translational activity of the protein....   Indeed, as previously posited..., there is a wealth of evidence for heterogeneity among ribosomes regulating the translational activity of their targets.
        This model of translational regulation bears a striking resemblance to the canonical model for transcriptional regulation.... In sum, the transcription state of a given region of chromatin is determined by specific combinations of histone proteins, posttranslational modifications of histones, and DNA modifications; this complex relationship has been called the “histone code” (Jenuwein and Allis, 2001).  Our data support a similar level of complexity for the process of translation in which different combinations of ribosomal protein paralogs, posttranslational modifications of ribosomal proteins, different forms of rRNA, and modifications to the rRNA allow calibrated translation of specific mRNAs.  As with the histone code, this “ribosome code” would provide a new level of complexity in the regulation of gene expression.
  2. Token authentication:  Here’s a design challenge for the engineer in you.  A round door needs to be open to the environment, but keep interlopers out.  Valid users, coming in a wide variety of sizes, need to be allowed access by an automatic authentication system that will usher them in quickly.  Once inside, they should not be able to drift back out.  The nuclear pore complex appears to use a most elegant solution to this problem of “selective gating.”  It was reported in Science October 26 by researchers in Switzerland and Singapore.2
        To spare our readers the technical nomenclature, we’ll substitute a sci-fi analogy for what happens at the 40-nanometer scale.  Imagine a spaceship with a highly-sensitive computer center at its core.  Objects and spacemen drift by in this weightless environment.  The doors to the computer center must remain open at all times, but entry must be protected from enemies and from those who have no business being in there.  Anchored to the rims of these doors are chains that extend outward, drifting about like spaghetti in a breeze tied at one end.  The ends of these chains contain crystals that emit a force-field, collectively creating an invisible dome of force around the door, preventing accidental or malicious entry.
        You, as a valid user, approach the door with a secret crystal in your hand that acts like an authentication token.  When you extend it toward the chains, they sense it, and rapidly collapse backwards, pulling you in and forming a kind of tunnel around you.  The more distant chains are not affected; they continue to stand guard and keep the force field up.  Once you are inside, a robotic device removes your token and secures it in a protective chamber so that it cannot open the door behind you.  Meanwhile, the collapsed chains quickly extend outward again, re-establishing the force field to keep out anything or anybody not having the special token.
        Want the details?  Read footnote 3 for the technical description of the nuclear pore complex authentication mechanism as described by the researchers.3

1.  Komili, Farny, Roth and Silver, “Functional Specificity among Ribosomal Proteins Regulates Gene Expression,” Cell, Volume 131, Issue 3, 2 November 2007, pages 557-571.
2.  Lim, Fahrenkrog, Koser, Schwarz-Herion, Deng, and Aebi, “Nanomechanical Basis of Selective Gating by the Nuclear Pore Complex,” Science, 26 October 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5850, pp. 640-643; DOI: 10.1126/science.1145980.
3.  Ibid, “The nuclear pore complex regulates cargo transport between the cytoplasm and the nucleus.  We set out to correlate the governing biochemical interactions to the nanoscopic responses of the phenylalanineglycine (FG)–rich nucleoporin domains, which are involved in attenuating or promoting cargo translocation.  We found that binding interactions with the transport receptor karyopherin-[Beta]1 caused the FG domains of the human nucleoporin Nup153 to collapse into compact molecular conformations.  This effect was reversed by the action of Ran guanosine triphosphate, which returned the FG domains into a polymer brush-like, entropic barrier conformation.  Similar effects were observed in Xenopus oocyte nuclei in situ.  Thus, the reversible collapse of the FG domains may play an important role in regulating nucleocytoplasmic transport.”
Cells are so high-tech cool, who could ever imagine they sprung out of a chaotic soup of dilute chemicals?  Darwinists, that’s who – and they are on a campaign to teach their nonsensical scenario without competition by outlawing anyone who disagrees with them.  Intelligent design – that is real, realistic science.  The power is in the details.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyAmazing Facts
  Nature uses intelligent design while attacking it; why this is morbid instead of fervid, from 11/24/2005.

Evolution: Onward and Downward   11/13/2007    
A story in New Scientist explores a growing realization about evolutionary trees: over time, things have gotten simpler, not more complex.  Better cut down the tree in your textbook and start over.

If you want to know how all living things are related, don’t bother looking in any textbook that’s more than a few years old.  Chances are that the tree of life you find there will be wrong.  Since they began delving into DNA, biologists have been finding that organisms with features that look alike are often not as closely related as they had thought.  These are turbulent times in the world of phylogeny, yet there has been one rule that evolutionary biologists felt they could cling to: the amount of complexity in the living world has always been on the increase.  Now even that is in doubt.
    While nobody disagrees that there has been a general trend towards complexity – humans are indisputably more complicated than amoebas – recent findings suggest that some of our very early ancestors were far more sophisticated than we have given them credit for.  If so, then much of that precocious complexity has been lost by subsequent generations as they evolved into new species.  “The whole concept of a gradualist tree, with one thing branching off after another and the last to branch off, the vertebrates, being the most complex, is wrong,” says Detlev Arendt, an evolutionary and developmental biologist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany.
The article goes on to describe a new storytelling strategy. 
The entire tree of life has been built on the assumption that evolution entails increasing complexity.  So, for example, if two groups of animals were considered close because both had a particular prominent feature, then someone discovered a third, intermediate line that lacked that feature but shared many other aspects of the two groups, traditional phylogenists would conclude that the feature had arisen independently in the two outlying groups, by a process known as convergent evolution.  They often did not even consider the alternative explanation: that the feature in question had evolved just once in an ancestor of all three groups, and had subsequently been lost in the intermediate one.  Now a handful of molecular biologists are considering that possibility.
How the earlier, more primitive creature evolved the innovation in the first place was left unstated.  These innovations are not simple functions likely to arise from genetic mutations.  They include multi-part systems, such as a central nervous system.
The Darwin Party’s motto is, “Everything we know is wrong.”  If you like trying out the avenues with signs that say Wrong Way, follow the Darwin Partymobile onto the highway of life.
Next headline on:  Darwinism
Evolutionary Algorithms Improve on Plants   11/12/2007    
A press release from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign talks design, but it’s really about evolution, but then really about design.  Confused?  So is the author of the press release, entitled “Researchers successfully simulate photosynthesis and design a better leaf.”
University of Illinois researchers have built a better plant, one that produces more leaves and fruit without needing extra fertilizer.  The researchers accomplished the feat using a computer model that mimics the process of evolution.  Theirs is the first model to simulate every step of the photosynthetic process.
The team programmed supercomputers.  Is this how evolution works?  Writer Diana Yates had no problem with this:
Using “evolutionary algorithms,” which mimic evolution by selecting for desirable traits, the model hunted for enzymes that – if increased – would enhance plant product.  If higher concentrations of an enzyme relative to others improved photosynthetic efficiency, the model used the results of that experiment as a parent for the next generation of tests.
But can humans “use evolution” or is that intelligent design? (see 09/10/2007).  And who decides what is desirable: the researcher, or the plant?
An obvious question that stems from the research is why plant productivity can be increased so much, Long said.  Why haven’t plants already evolved to be as efficient as possible?
    “The answer may lie in the fact that evolution selects for survival and fecundity, while we were selecting for increased productivity,” he said.  The changes suggested in the model might undermine the survival of a plant living in the wild, he said, “but our analyses suggest they will be viable in the farmer’s field.”
So clearly, desirability is in the eye of the beholder.  Since plants don’t have eyes and evolution is blind, the better metaphor might be that fitness is in the survival of the wild type.
    For more on the efficiency of photosynthesis, see 07/27/2007 and 05/09/2007.
The shameless bravado of evolutionary biologists never ends.  What they did had nothing to do with evolution, and everything to do with intelligent design: goals, choice, procedures, and metrics.  To brag on top of that they outdid photosynthetic design by manipulating concentrations of pre-existing enzymes is too much.  Make like a tree and leaf design to intelligence.
Next headline on:  PlantsEvolutionIntelligent Design
Gone Fishing: Can Humans Counteract Evolution?   11/12/2007    
Darwinists insist that human beings are part and parcel of the evolutionary process, but once in awhile, they criticize their fellow hominids for getting in Darwin’s way.  A recent example in Nature1 took aim at fishermen:
People like to catch big fish, sometimes so much so that fish sizes overall become greatly diminished.  According to one view, the continual removal of large fish from a population sets the stage for rapid, undesirable evolutionary changes, including slower growth, earlier adult maturation and permanently smaller size.  This occurs because removing the largest fish directly opposes natural selection, which tends to favour large size.
David Conover called this situation a “dynamic tug-of-war between the forces of natural selection and fishing selection.”  But as if anticipating a logical objection that fishing selection is subsumed under natural selection if humans are natural, he quickly tried to explain why fishing selection was against nature:
Why is evolution important to fisheries management?  It could be argued that fishing merely adds an additional predator to the ecosystem.  But from the fish’s point of view, humans turn the rules of engagement completely upside down.  Most natural predators attack smaller fish more frequently than larger fish.  The bigger a fish gets, the lower its mortality (Fig. 1).2  Hence, growing fast early in life is a good strategy.  Moreover, because big fish produce many more offspring than small fish, delaying maturation to larger size also increases fitness – that is, the likelihood that one’s genes will be passed on to future generations.  By causing greatly increased mortality at large sizes, fishing selects for fish that grow slowly and mature at small sizes.  Numerous other physiological, behavioural and reproductive traits likewise evolve that can lower fitness.  Taken to its extreme, many generations of intense size-selective fishing could in theory cause the evolution of a population of runts.
Humans, in other words, are causing unnatural change in fish populations.  This is evident in Conover’s choice of title, “Nets vs nature.”  But are humans causing the change on purpose?  Do they have the capacity to choose to do otherwise?  If so, does this reflect a decision that should be made on moral grounds?  These questions were not addressed.
    Citing work on population genetic responses to “fishing selection” for size, Conover argued that “evolutionary responses to the opposing forces of fishing and natural selection must be accounted for in managing fisheries.”  To him, this was an illustration that evolutionary theory is not just of academic interest, but has practical applications of interest to all of us.3
1.  David O. Conover, “Fisheries: Nets versus nature,” Nature 450, 179-180 (8 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/450179a.
2.  The figure is labeled, “The darwinian struggle between natural selection and fishing selection.”
3.  Conover also tried to pre-empt a charge of storytelling.  Correlation does not prove causation, he noted.  Also, “The responses are probably far too rapid to be entirely evolutionary as opposed to ecological in origin,” or merely coincidental, he confessed.  “With only one population under study, any interpretation of this sequence of growth changes contains an element of story-telling.
    His comeback was that “this is one of the most data-rich and comprehensive analyses of fishery-induced evolution ever published,” and agreement with other studies, he felt, shows the possibility that “all such studies are erroneous is becoming vanishingly small.”  Yet without an external criterion of how many cases are required to establish causation, and for how long a period, any such probability calculations seem subjective.
He said that “It could be argued that fishing merely adds an additional predator to the ecosystem,” so here we come, a predator to prey on evolutionary theory itself.  If he is going to be a consistent evolutionist, Conover cannot make a case that what humans are doing to fish populations is bad or even unwise.  You just watched him empathize with the poor little fishies: “from the fish’s point of view, humans turn the rules of engagement completely upside down.”  Who is he to become a crusader for fish’s rights?  That’s not fair, prosecuting attorney Conover whimpers before us members of the jury, pointing to the defendant, Joe Fisherman.  He didn’t play by the rules.  He flagrantly violated the Law of Natural Selection.  He is a big, fat cheater.  He should feel guilty.  He should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, right here in Darwin’s Court.
    The defense attorney points out to the prosecutor that the Law of Natural Selection is that everybody plays, and anything goes.  The judge sits there dispassionately, not paying any attention.  In a world where anything goes, nobody’s guilty.
    Evolutionists routinely describe any situation, no matter how perverse or unfair to one side, as Darwinism in action.  Was it unfair for Cambrian predators to emerge and feed on soft-bodied organisms?  No; the prey just invented hard shells.  Was it unfair for a meteor to wipe out 90% of Permian life?  No, the survivors actually flourished in the newly-cleared playing field.  Was it unfair for hominids to grow bigger brains and think of new ways to terrorize their fellow creatures?  No, that is what led to philosophy, civilization and Darwinian theory.  Darwinists frequently talk of evolutionary “arms races” in this dog-eat-dog, Calvinball world where selfishness rules, a Hobbesian war of all against all.
    Why is Conover worked up, therefore, about what happens to a few fish?  Don’t worry, they’ll evolve.  Is he worried that they won’t be able to evolve fast enough?  Don’t worry; evolution can run as fast or slow as a Darwinian wants.  But what if they go extinct?  It just means they weren’t fit.  But what if humans artificially lower their fitness?  Sorry, we don’t understand the word artificial.  Everything is natural selection in the big picture.  But what if future fish populations consist only of runts?  Runts are fine.  Some animals grow large, some grow small.  Some mature fast, some mature slow.  Some diversify rapidly, some not at all for hundreds of millions of years.  What’s the problem?
    Maybe Conover is concerned about runts because he likes seafood.  That’s the only explanation that makes any evolutionary sense, because it is sufficiently selfish and irrational.  But for him to feel that humans might be doing something wrong or unnatural by changing the rules – that’s his conscience talking.  Darwin had nothing to say about conscience.  Become a Christian; then we can talk about acting as good stewards to preserve the environment for the wonderful creatures God made.  After all, a certain group of fishermen once left their nets to follow Someone who promised them a nobler purpose – to become fishers of men.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyPolitics and EthicsEvolution
  Lab experiments falsify neo-Darwinism (again), from 11/29/2004.

Monkey See, Monkey Rationalize   11/10/2007    
It’s a quirk of English that rational and rationalize have opposite meanings.  Be that as it may, the latter may have evolved into to the former, according to a story in the New York Times.  A monkey study using children as control subjects seems to indicate that Capuchin monkeys, like us, occasionally rationalize bad choices.
    Expecting animals to exhibit subsets of human behaviors may be one thing, but the article transformed the monkeyshines into a tale of human evolution:

For half a century, social psychologists have been trying to figure out the human gift for rationalizing irrational behavior.  Why did we evolve with brains that salute our shrewdness for buying the neon yellow car with bad gas mileage?
The results of experiments with the monkeys were equivocal.  Nevertheless, reporter John Tierney chose the interpretation that rationalizing bad choices, also called cognitive dissonance, has positive evolutionary value; it conserves energy that would be spent second-guessing our bad decisions.  But then, how would we know this is not his own sour grapes for dismissing intelligent design?
The compulsion to justify decisions may seem irrational, and maybe petty, too, like the fox in Aesop’s fable who stopped trying for the grapes and promptly told himself they were sour anyway.  But perhaps Aesop didn’t appreciate the evolutionary utility of this behavior for humans as well as animals.
For assuming evolution, for promoting a monkey’s wisdom over Aesop’s, and for elevating cognitive dissonance as a Darwinian virtue, we award Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week to Mr. John Tierney.  Congratulations; enjoy your trip.
No sour grapes here.  We love it when the Darwinists make fools of themselves.  As for us, we try to ration our rashness.
Next headline on:  DarwinismMammalsDumb Ideas
The Brain Evolved!... Didn’t It?   11/09/2007    
Evolutionary neurologists are so absolutely sure the human brain is a product of evolution from lower primates over millions of years, they are able to talk openly and frankly about problems with the particulars.  But in reading some of their own reviews of current ideas, it is not clear which has been evolving: the brain or evolutionary theory itself.  Here are a few recent cases where Darwinian boldness and anxiety exhibit a kind of left-brain, right-brain split.
  1. Disappointed Darwinist:  A book review this month in Psychiatry Online, a publication of the American Psychiatric Association, is our first split-brain case study in theoretical Darwinism.  Lewis A. Opler reviewed The Evolving Brain: The Known and the Unknown by R. Grant Steen.  To begin with, he cheered Steen’s knockout blow to the contender, intelligent design:
    The author of this book, a neurophysiologist in the field of psychiatry, has superbly described breakthroughs in basic neurobiology, debunked “intelligent design,” and both argued and demonstrated the need for cross-disciplinary collaboration to address issues such as consciousness, creativity, and self-knowledge.
    Nevertheless, when it came to explaining brain evolution, Opler came away hungry:
    Paradoxically, given its title, the only area that I felt was not handled expertly was in its handling of how and why evolution had chosen usHomo sapiens, with our large prefrontal cortex and our increased plasticity and capacity for learning and communicating—to be the rulers of planet EarthPossible answers include intelligence, language, communication, theory of the mind, and activation of pleasure circuitry because of affiliative behavior—all lead to collaboration and sociality of our species.
        But what external changes emerged 50,000 years ago allowing this to give us a selective advantage?  Evolutionary theory itself has evolved, and this is not addressed.  Specifically, whereas early models suggest that individual traits gradually take over because of their conferring an increased chance of procreating by their host, punctuated equilibrium argues convincingly that speciation confers stability, with new species emerging only when external factors throw ecosystems into disequilibrium.  A clear example of this, supported by the fossil and geographic record, is the sudden end of the dinosaurs after a meteor hit Earth rendering it uninhabitable by dinosaurs and giving mammals a selective advantage.  So what factors gave us, the intelligent afilliative communicator, a leg up?  Did a planet lacking an adequate food supply select us because we, by virtue of our ability to collaborate, could hunt in tribes and follow game, as well as develop societies where agriculture and breeding of other animals could occur?  I do not know.  But I had hoped that Dr. Steen’s book about the evolving brain would answer such questions.
    At the end of the review, the contrast could not be more stark: “Steen unequivocally delivers a slam-dunk victory for evolution over intelligent design.  But I kept waiting for cutting-edge neurobiology and psychology to meet cutting-edge evolutionary theory, and this did not occur.
        Opler joked that “if great science is revolutionary, it follows that good science should be at least subversive—the book is at least subversive” [selah].  What would Opler think of the recent development that his clearest example of disequilibrium producing punctuated change—the death of the dinosaurs by a meteor—is now being seriously challenged? (10/31/2007, bullet 6).  That might subvert the revolution itself.

  2. The ancient brain:  A glaring Toumai skull (04/14/2005) decorated two book reviews in Nature earlier this month.1  Dean Falk was so confident of evolution she did not mention any non-materialistic alternatives except as historical anecdotes; nevertheless, both her reviews contained ample seeds of doubt.  Falk was sure that On Deep History and the Brain, by Daniel Lord Smail, had rendered creationist stories to the dustbin of intellectual history:
    He first describes how the discovery and implications of deep time2 by geologists, biologists and naturalists in the mid-nineteenth century were the undoing of the sacred idea that humankind began relatively recently in the Garden of Eden.  Historians then shifted from a sacred to a secular beginning – the rise of civilization in Mesopotamia.  Thus, laments Smail, the Palaeolithic continued to receive short shrift and still needed to be ‘historicized’.  After all, humans who did not keep records still had a past.  He has a point.
    But how would we, today, know that humans who did not keep records existed?  This could seem like proposing that the space aliens who once lived on earth, but did not keep records, still had a past.  Would that have a point?  A past must be demonstrated with some kind of evidence, not merely asserted.  Was Smail able to historicize a missing record, to bring a lost history into our cognizance?  What data would he use?
    Smail examines the rupture that continues to separate prehistory from recorded history, together with the historiographical, epistemological and theoretical obstacles that have kept them apart.  He explores the importance of biology in shaping cultural evolution, offering an interesting take on the nature/nurture dichotomy with his suggestion that lamarckian mechanisms displaced darwinian ones when human culture started to develop.
    This sounds like a mere suggestion, and a controversial one at that.  As if lamarckism were any help, it seems additionally unhelpful that Smail next proceeded to debunk evolutionary psychology.  Then, he offered only alternatives that “may” have explained evolution: “Palaeolithic societies, for example, may have developed a range of mood-altering practices such as song, dance, ritual, and ingestion of mind-enhancing substances.”  Maybe humans expanded their minds with drugs, in other words.  Students may like this suggestion, but it may not sit well with their parents.
        But if our ancestors developed these practices, and by this point possessed the physical equipment for intelligence, could not these practices be considered a form of “intelligent design” that evolutionary theory somehow snuck under the radar?  Where did it come from?  Falk did not explore this paradox, but was disappointed that the book provided so little hard evidence for brain evolution: “Although this is an enjoyable and creative book, it is not quite what I expected,” she said.  “There are no endocasts or sulcal patterns here, no Brodmann’s area 10, or debates on brain size versus cortical reorganization (although Hobbits receive a brief mention).”  Its value was only in its “suggestion” that “neurophysiological underpinnings of moods, motivations, and so on, were important during hominin cultural and neurological evolution,” even if these people left no records for us to ever know.

    If that book left Falk feeling unfulfilled, the next was even more starved for evidence.  James R. Hurford’s The Origins of Meaning: Language in the Light of Evolution walked into the “intellectual minefield” of the evolution of language.  Falk thought that Hurford did a great job, but problems were evident from the outset.
        Chief among them were the reliance on suggestions rather than hard evidence.  In the treatment of animal cognition, “Hurford shows that the seeds are there, and were probably present in our ancestors, providing fodder for natural selection” even if the details are sketchy or non-existent.  The doubt-words may, might and suggests pepper the review.  Did the ability of many animals to infer animacy in objects lead to our theory of mind?  Perhaps.  Did simple two-way communication among hominins lead to grammatical complexity later?  Maybe.  Was the mother-infant interaction asymmetrical enough to be the focus of intense selection?  Possibly.  Whether these “suggestions” postdict what happened to hominids, they leave unexplained why animals in similar situations did not develop complex language.  It seems all that Hurford was able to deliver was a kind of intellectual peep show, not rigorous explanation:

    There are some titillating nuggets in this book, such as a discussion of how the FOXP2 gene was mistakenly accepted as the ‘magic bullet’ responsible for language evolution.  Even better is the extent to which academics from different countries use language competitively to show off – guess where Americans rank?
    It is not clear how these nuggets contribute to the evolutionary savings account.  Many evolutionists have championed the FOXP2 gene as a magic bullet; now, Hurford is yanking that prop.  And if academics are merely showing off with language, what does that say about the reliability of their truth claims?

  3. The social brain:  One more example from Science3 (Sep. 7) shows that theories of brain evolution struggle with real-world budgeting.  Advocates begin to sound like the loyal accountant, stuck with a depressing profit-and-loss statement, trying to accentuate the positive while simultaneously staying realistic.
        R. I. M. Dunbar and Susanne Shultz considered social factors that might have contributed to brain evolution, but again, may and might seasoned an article of rampant suggestions and few certainties.  One particularly damaging oversight in the evolutionary budget was admitted early on:
    ....Although it is easy to understand why brains in general have evolved, it is not so obvious why the brains of birds and mammals have grown substantially larger than the minimum size required to stay alive.
        Traditional explanations for the evolution of large brains in primates focused either on ecological problem solving or on developmental constraints....
        On closer examination, most of the energetic explanations that have been offered identify constraints on brain evolution rather than selection pressures.  In biology, constraints are inevitable, and crucial for understanding evolutionary trajectories, but they do not constitute functional explanations—that is, just because a species can afford to evolve a larger brain does not mean that it must do so.  Proponents of developmental explanations seem to have forgotten that evolutionary processes involve costs as well as benefits.  Because evolution is an economical process and does not often produce needless organs or capacities, especially if they are expensive to maintain, it follows that some proportionately beneficial advantage must have driven brain evolution against the steep selection gradient created by the high costs of brain tissue.  In this respect, most of the ecological hypotheses proposed to date also failNone can explain why primates (which have especially large brains for body mass, even by mammal standards) need brains that are so much larger than, say, squirrels, to cope with what are essentially the same foraging decisions.
    This explains Dunbar and Schulz’ predilection for social explanations for brain evolution instead of ecological explanations: i.e., “The SBH [social brain hypothesis] proposes that ecological problems are solved socially and that the need for mechanisms that enhance social cohesion drives brain size evolution.”  So how do social explanations fare, by comparison?  Can they balance the selection budget, drive brain evolution forward, and make a profit?  Bad news: hoped-for income is offset with rising expenses: “Nonetheless, whatever its advantages, group living incurs substantial costs, both in terms of ecological competition and, for females, reproductive suppression.”
        The complexity of any evolutionary accounting just went up accordingly.  The SBH was conceived for primates; correlations of theory with data for other groups have produced “somewhat mixed results,” they admitted.  The relationship between brain size and sociality, if anything, is qualitative, not quantitative.  “These findings suggest that it may have been the cognitive demands of pairbonding that triggered the initial evolution of large brains across the vertebrates” was one proposal.  Another interesting anecdote, mentioned almost as a distraction for faithful couples to flirt with, is that monogamous pairs seem to have bigger brains.  So far, though, all these suggestions are post-hoc attempts to infer causes from measurements of living animals based on circumstantial evidence.  Worse, they merely assume evolution rather than demonstrate it in a way that would convince a skeptic.
        Dunbar and Schulz puzzled over why only anthropoid apes and humans have a robust relationship between social group size and brain size.  Is it because there are complex ways for them to bond with one another?  “This suggestion merely adds to the puzzle of social bonding,” they admitted, wondering, “What is it about social bonds that is cognitively so demanding?”  Is it that monogamy is a risky commitment?  Is it that post-natal care requires loyalty by both parents?  As if no other explanations were on the table, they forfeited: “Which of these two has been the key driver for brain evolution, or whether both have been equally important, remains to be determined,” they said.  “It has become apparent that we lack adequate language with which to describe relationships, yet bondedness is precisely what primate sociality is all about.”  Yet it would seem that without adequate language in which to pose an explanation, no explanations can be forthcoming.
        They delved into other issues and puzzles, which we do not need to explore in detail here, but fitness advantages for larger brains seem hard to explain socially and neurologically.  They entertained a few recent suggestions about specific neurotransmitters and genes, but then ended in complete exasperation and called for a time out:
    Each of these has been seen by their respective protagonists as the holy grail for understanding both social cognition generally, and, in particular, for explaining the differences between humans, apes, and monkeys.  There is no question that these are individually important and novel discoveries, and they undoubtedly all play a role in the nature of sociality.  However, there is a great deal more to how and why humans are different from other apes, or why apes are different from monkeys.  We will need better studies of cognition and behavior to answer these questions.  More important, perhaps, is one key point: Species differences in a handful of very small neuronal components do not explain the apparent need for massive species differences in total brain size.  Most of these studies fall into the same trap as the developmental explanations for brain size did in the 1980s: They mistake mechanistic constraints for evolutionary function.  It is unclear why this point continues to be ignored, but we will still have a lot of explaining to do about volumetric differences in brains.
    At this point it would be overkill to ask what relevance brain size has to intelligence in the first place.  Not only does this hark back to the discredited assumptions of Paul Broca and other 19th-century racists, it seems to be irrelevant based on observations of living people with diminutive brains (e.g., 07/22/2007).  Consider that the world’s largest and smallest dogs were photographed together recently.  Despite the tiny dog’s diminutive brain compared to that of the big dog, both seem to have all the required hardware for dog operations (see Daily Mail).  Crows and other birds with much smaller brains seem to outperform chimpanzees at tool use.  And the power of computer chips has paralleled their miniaturization – by intelligent design, uncontrovertibly, in this case.  If it’s quality rather than quantity that counts, it would seem the preoccupation with brain size as a marker of evolutionary progress is vastly overblown.  Abort, retry, fail?
Given the standoff in evolutionary explanations,4 how about a radical alternative?  It’s not really radical; in fact, it is time-tested, logically coherent and self-evident.  It enjoyed epistemic priority throughout the classical, medieval and Enlightenment periods.  It is the non-reductionist position that the mind is non-material; the brain is an instrument of a spiritual reality that, while constrained by matter, cannot be reduced to its material components.  A new book has dusted off this long-accepted truism and explored it within the findings of modern neurobiology.  Written by neuroscientist Mario Beauregard and journalist Denyse O’Leary, The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul is getting lively and enthusiastic reviews on Amazon.com.  Perhaps the soul of science tomorrow will be the science that welcomes back the soul.
1.  Dean Falk, “Delving into the ancient brain,” Nature 450, 31-32 (1 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/450031a.
2.  In his book The Great Turning Point, Dr. Terry Mortensen examined the historical roots of old-age geology.  He provides quotes that Hutton, Lyell and others did not ‘discover’ long ages but stipulated them a priori by overtly discounting from their method any reliance on Biblical history.
3.  R. I. M. Dunbar and Susanne Shultz, “Evolution in the Social Brain,” Science 7 September 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5843, pp. 1344-1347, DOI: 10.1126/science.1145463.
4.  Readers may wish to review the 09/09/2007 entry on this topic.
There are two arguments you can make right off the bat with a believer in brain evolution, even with no knowledge of neurons or hominids.  One is an adaptation of Gödel’s theorem: a system cannot be proved within its own axioms.  A system, like mathematics, requires external presuppositions for verification.  Any reductionist theory of mind that invokes only particles in motion is doomed to failure.  You can study all the electrons in a cathode ray tube till the cows come home, and never discern that a story is being projected from a writer’s mind to a receiver’s mind.  C. S. Lewis argued that to “see through” something is not the same as to see it.  Similarly, we can study neurons forever in finer detail than ever, and fail to see what is really going on.  Sure, the neurons react in response to whatever is moving them, but you cannot find the mover in the physical components.  Only by inferring the presence of an agent external to the system are you able to uncover the true explanation for the system.
    The second argument is that evolutionary explanations for the brain are self-refuting.  Recall the Yoda Complex from the 09/25/2006 commentary.  A Darwinist cannot sneak outside his brain and propose a theory he expects to be taken rationally as something that might be true, if he or she is claiming that the brain is only molecules molded by evolutionary forces.  It matters not whether the forces are ecological or social; as long as they are materialistic, evolutionary rationality collapses under its own assumptions; it vanishes into smoke.  Only by proposing the external existence of immaterial realities like Truth and the laws of logic can anyone propose a rational proof of anything.  Christians, naturally, have such assumptions as their preconditions of argument.  Evolutionists have none, and must be rebuked when caught plagiarizing the axioms of their opponents.
    If that point is conceded, the Christian view has its own challenges.  Why are humans not perfectly rational, and why do individuals vary in rationality?  Why does our intelligence and rationality age with our bodies?  Why can an injury, a drug, or dementia turn a rational person into a vegetable?  What is mental illness?  An analogy may help approach these difficult questions.  Picture a wild wolf, roaming free and in full possession of its capacities – the master of its turf.  Then imagine a captive wolf, tied to a tree, distracted by pheromones from a she-wolf, occupied with scratching fleas, catching diseases, and having to sleep a lot and be fed.  Its capacities are constrained from what they could be.  Or imagine a private helicopter tethered to its parking block.  The engines can run, the blades can turn, the instruments will register, and it might even be able to hop a few feet off the ground before its tether pulls it back.  In the same way, our human souls are constrained by our physical ties to the Earth (and Christians would add, to our sinful natures).  Beware, also, any hidden assumption that all souls are created with equal abilities even if they were freed of bodily constraints; we are, after all, finite.  Limited as our rational are, the fact that we respond to social pressures and appetites is no argument that the soul is an illusion, or that rationality evolved from its physical components.
    Evolutionary stories about how our brains evolved from animal ancestors are speculative flights of fancy that strain credibility.  We all know that recorded civilization only goes back a few thousand years, yet evolutionists propose that physically modern humans have existed for at least 100,000 years – maybe four times that.  They expect us to believe that something happened around 50,000 years ago that was like the proverbial light bulb over the head, and man suddenly became rational, artistic, and capable of abstract thought.  But even then, they expect us to believe another 20,000 years or more passed before any of these people learned how to ride a horse, plant a garden, write on a piece of pottery or build a city.  Such imaginary eons are multiples of the length of all recorded history, during which time comparably-equipped humans have advanced from grass shacks to lunar excursion modules.  How can anyone swallow such a tale?
    Remember, evolutionary biology is searching for natural laws, and laws have to apply to all animals.  How come no other creatures on earth, including those with comparably sized brains relative to body size, and capable of tool use (like crows), developed abstract reasoning, art and true semantic language?  On top of that, they try to ascribe these Eureka moments, in which virtual miracles occurred, to genetic mutations—mistakes!  Anybody who tries to argue that rationality is a mistake should be considered rashly mistaken.
    Darwinian explanations for the brain are about as comforting as those of hijackers who, having bound and gagged the pilot and crew, get on the intercom and assure the passengers everything is under control.  They laugh and celebrate their triumph over the flight crew, whom they hated and judged were unworthy of operating the plane.  Almost simultaneously, practical issues assert themselves, and they begin whispering to one another, “Anybody know where this plane was headed?  Do any of you know how to land this thing?”
    The solution is obvious: untie the pilot and let him apply his intelligence to a highly intricate, functional, and clearly designed machine.  Then go to flight school like he did.  The interpretation of this parable is left as an exercise.  He who has a brain to think, let him think.
Next headline on:  Human BodyEvolutionary TheoryIntelligent Design
Science Journals Rally Anti-ID Army   11/08/2007    
Language in science journals is typically restrained, genteel and erudite.  Editorials value diversity and inclusion, rarely painting any issue black or white.  There are two issues, though, that let loose the raging bull: (1) policies that jeopardize funding, and (2) creationism.  As illustrations of reactions to the latter, consider two articles this week that snort and paw the ground:
  1. Atheist army:  “Call to atheists” was the title of an editorial by Nigel Williams in this week’s Current Biology.1  One might, at first glance, expect this would be a call for restraint amidst the recent bombastic claims of certain popular atheists, such that science be not sullied by association with intolerance.  Not so; Williams was their army recruiter
    As the media begin increasingly to focus on analyses of the US presidential candidate hopefuls, many people are now beginning to think about the consequences of the end of the Bush era.  For researchers many potential changes loom.... the dominance of the Christian right under Bush has now been challenged by a new campaign to raise the voices of the US’s estimated 25 million atheists.
        Britain’s champion atheist, Richard Dawkins, is spearheading a campaign to challenge the dominance of religion in everyday life and in politics, insisting that the atheists deserve to be heard too.
    On that last note, Williams portrayed atheists as a “downtrodden” group who need political clout, which might seem a little odd, considering that at least in science teaching at public schools the feared religious right has almost zero influence.
        The article, accompanied with a large photo of Dawkins with pensive and determined gaze, gave copious room for the outspoken atheist to specifically ridicule the Bible.  If this was a journalistic report, as the heading suggested, it provided no opportunity for balance or rebuttal by any non-atheist – certainly not by one who should know both sides, former atheist Antony Flew (10/29/2007) – speaking of whom, ID leader William Dembski wrote that he likes the old atheists better (see Uncommon Descent).
  2. Abstract expressionism:  Here was the depiction of creationists by Adam Rutherford in Nature this week: a bunch of threatening, thieving, feeble-minded, steamrolling, inept, unpleasant, nonsensical, sneaky, fig-leaf-wearing pseudo-intellectual fundamentalists who can’t face the overwhelming strength of the Darwinism-only policy as judicially upheld by that republican lutheran, Judge Jones, one of the 100 most influential people, portrayed as the hero he is by the prestigious Nova in a rigorous television documentary upholding science and reason.  (Summarized for succinctness.)2
        Rutherford had recently seen Judgment Day by Vulcan Productions, a Nova presentation airing this month about the Dover trial, funded by pro-evolution billionaire Paul Allen (10/12/2007).  Overjoyed with it, he painted his review all-black vs all-white, us-vs-them, noble-reason-vs-dangerous-fundamentalism to the point of near obscenity (on another occasion, Rutherford once called pro-ID astrobiologist Guillermo Gonzalez a “crap scientist”).  Creationism and intelligent design were doused with equal torrents of acid rain.  And, to poison the wells of rebuttal, he snuck in a line about the upcoming film Expelled, calling it the work of “comedian” Ben Stein, who “duped” certain evolutionists to appear in it.  Nothing duplicitous in Judgment Day, of course: “Judgment Day is just the sort of thoughtful programming that celebrates how sensible people – faithful and otherwise – can use science and reason to combat fundamentalism.
The Discovery Institute was quick to launch a few missives of its own, to intercept some of the damage expected from what they consider a very biased presentation.  These are listed at IntelligentDesign.org, a new website hub for ID resources and information.  Traipsing Into Evolution is another new site they hope will set the record straight about what happened at the Dover trial.  Readers of Nature and Current Biology, however, get the anti-creation, anti-ID, pro-Darwin, pro-atheism free along with the scientific content they subscribed for.  It is doubtful those who read the journals will be aware the rebuttals even exist.
1.  Nigel Williams, “Call to Atheists,” Current Biology Volume 17, Issue 21, 6 November 2007, Pages R899-R900.
2.  Adam Rutherford, “Television: Dover trial documentary screens,” Nature 450, 170 (8 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/450170a.
There you have it: reason, open-mindedness, fairness, dispassionate analysis of evidence – everything you have come to expect in a Science Journal, brought to you by people of froth (09/26/2005).
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignBible and Theology
Modern Nazi Killer Bears Darwin’s Standard   11/08/2007    
Another terrible school shooting imitating the Columbine rampage has occurred, this time in Finland (see CNN).  Before killing eight students and himself, the 18-year-old murderer stated in a rambling note, “I am prepared to fight and die for my cause.  I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection.”  He called himself “a cynical existentialist, anti-human humanist, anti-social social-Darwinist, realistic idealist and god-like atheist.
CNN, with its typical deductively-challenged propensity for the irrelevant non-sequitur, blames the gun: “Finland, which enjoys a strong tradition of hunting, has a high proportion of gun ownership, with two million firearms owned in a nation of only five million.”  TV news anchors interviewed psychologists, who portrayed the killer as among those disaffected youths who feel alienated and powerless – i.e., victims, so it’s our fault.  Funny; hardship didn’t seem to create psychopaths during the Depression – it made many appreciate what little they had, and work harder.  At times like this, students need psychobabble like they need a hole in the head.
    Why is no one pointing out the obvious fact that this killer, and the Columbine killers, saturated their minds with hate from radical rock, inspired by the purposelessness of a pointless, godless existence?
I’m your nightmare coming true
I am your worst enemy...
I am unrestrained excess.
His ability to buy a gun and post YouTube videos with his own videocam belies any claim he was disaffected.  He had excess, he never learned restraint, and was proud of it!  His problem was not self-esteem, but others-esteem and God-esteem.  Darwinism glorifies self as the agent of progress.  Fill a selfish, undisciplined young person’s ears with the screaming rock of pride, power, hate, death and destruction, and what do you expect?
    The Darwin Party will, of course, be indignant if we associate this lone killer with their belief system, so let us humbly ask them if creationist writing is producing sociopaths like this on a regular basis.  Let’s do the math.  How many have been murdered by advocates of Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you compared to advocates of Survival of the fittest?  Check the body count.  After Columbine and Helsinki, creationists can tally up the victims of Hitler, Stalin, Mao (11/30/2005), Pol Pot, Castro and Kim Jong Il, but why go on?  We already know, one death is a tragedy, 148 million is a statistic.
Stalin’s goons routinely shot far more people per day than this lone murderer did.  Sometimes he would give his henchmen quotas to meet.  They would go out and round up innocent victims at random and shoot them in cold blood.  Then, they would be very proud if they could report back to the Man of Steel, that same man who years before had torn off his seminarian robes and became an atheist after reading The Origin, that they exceeded their quota for the day.
Darwinian teachers can claim from their sanitized lecterns that evolutionary theory is not responsible for what people do, but like philosopher Greg Bahnsen warned, if the plane is going to Boston, there’s no getting off at Chicago.  Evolutionists need to take their world view to its logical conclusion.  Students are better at making connections than their teachers suspect.
    The article mentioned that one of the killer’s favorites was the anarchistic, antichristian rock song Stray Bullet by KMFDM:
I have come to rock your world
I have come to shake your faith
Anathematic Anarchist
I have come to take my place.
How much are you willing to bet this killer also just adored Pearl Jam’s Do the Evolution video (08/31/2006)?
I am ahead, I am advanced
I am the first mammal to make plans, yeah
I crawled the earth, but now I’m higher
Twenty-ten, watch it go to fire
Its evolution, baby, It’s evolution, baby
Do the evolution – Come on, come on, come on!
Undoubtedly the following was never found in his Favorites playlist:
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty the King of Creation.
O my soul praise him, for He is thy health and salvation.
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
Next headline on:  DarwinismPolitics and EthicsBible and Theology
MIT Cosmologists Take Our Advice   11/07/2007    
After getting a snubbing in our 02/21/2005 commentary, which advocated he and his MIT colleague Alan Guth take up truck driving, David Kaiser, took our advice – with a thinly veiled smirk:
Well, at least someone is still reading Science with a passion.  As for the rest of us in the cosmic-evolution business, we’ll just have to keep on truckin’.
This was the ending of an article by Kaiser in the November-December issue of American Scientist (not to be confused with Scientific American), a publication of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society.1
    In his article, Kaiser undertook to explain why creation groups, long targeting the biologists and geologists, have “only lately taken on physicists and cosmologists” after a long period of what he considers peaceful co-existence (e.g., Einstein, Lemaitre).  His two-fold conclusion was that (1) recent “bans on teaching the big bang” (only one ineffective and unrepresentative example given) have brought the abstruse issues of cosmology into the public awareness, and (2) the prestige of physics has plummeted since its pinnacle after World War II, in part due to funding cuts but also “physicists’ internal divisions and the obviously speculative nature of recent work” — thus a new “concerted attack” by critics who have “learned to leverage the power of the internet.”  That’s where CEH comes in:
I stumbled onto this thriving, wired network two years ago, after my colleague Alan H. Guth and I published a review of recent cosmological research in Science.  About a week after our article appeared, Guth received an e-mail message directing him to a rebuttal of our piece, posted on a creationist Web site.  That response included dozens of hyperlinks to like-minded “refutations’ of the big bang, inflationary cosmology, string theory and the rest.  These sites boasted high production values and good graphics.
Noting all the hyperlinks to creationist and intelligent design resources here, Kaiser seemed to have demonstrated a vast lightweight conspiracy to attack the hallowed halls of the cosmologists.  All that seemed necessary to demonstrate the point was to mention the advice about truck driving.
1.  David Kaiser, “The Other Evolution Wars,” American Scientist Vol 95, No 6), November-December 2007, pp. 518-525.
It was nice to get some compliments from Dr. Kaiser for the graphics and high production values, but of course he was not about to concede any point of substance to creationists.  That would be anathema inside The Guild, even a minor blush to the suggestion that a little shame might be in order.
    A little investigation by an unbiased observer, however, should reveal that modern cosmologists do not need any creationist help looking silly: viz., 07/27/2004, 03/11/2004, 06/20/2003, 06/18/2003, 05/02/2003, 08/16/2005, 07/23/2007, 04/13/2007, etc.  If they are worried about possible nonsense that might come from creationists, why not rein in the secularist popularizers, who are truckin' all over the sidewalk? (11/01/2007, 03/08/2007).
    Anyone familiar with the history and philosophy of science would surely realize that there is no way under God’s starry heaven to scientifically justify many of the things being claimed by modern cosmologists today.  To be off by 120 orders of magnitude, to require a universe composed of 96% imponderable substances and occult forces, and to seriously consider we each have clones in countless parallel universes is to invite scrutiny if not ridicule.  Much of that comes from within the ranks of The Guild already.  But then to posit a Cosmic Lottery with 101000 universes (none of which is observable even in theory) should turn the heads of any philosopher or logician.  It looks like a dodge from a clear inference of design, tantamount to escaping falsification with magic.  What would Popper think?
    It would have been nice to see a little humility, therefore, just a hint of a possibility that cosmologists might be on the wrong track and maybe should consider non-materialist alternatives seriously, like intelligent design.  If listening to creationists is beneath their dignity, how about listening to Paul Davies or Robert Jastrow who, both appearing in The Privileged Planet, acknowledged the design inference and the inability of materialism to account for it?
    Similarly, Astronomy columnist Bob Berman applied his own down-to-earth, common-sense analysis to the current situation.  Without creationist input as far we know, it was clear to him that cosmology needs a serious “time out” because “cosmologists are starting to resemble naked emperors parading before the mass media.”  He scorned how “each pronouncement is delivered with pomp and flair” when in fact it is a shameful display of arrogance and ignorance.  Instead of scientific rigor, imagination rules: “Throw the math this way, that way, tweak the equations, set fire to the physics building, nothing matters,” he exclaimed.  “It’s Alice in Wonderland meets Stephen Hawking.”  That was in 2004, but he just recently let the cosmologists have it between the eyes again (09/29/2007), indicating that nothing has improved: “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.
    That’s why we didn’t need to say much in the 2005 entry but to quote the wizards at length and let them air their own arrogance and fall on their own folly.  We hope the suggestion to take up truck driving was an act of mercy.
    Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strip is sometimes the perfect parody of adult misbehavior.  One story appeared in the collection There’s Treasure Everywhere (pp. 50-52) that seemed apropos.  (Note: The names might need swapping, because the materialist was Thomas Hobbes and the theist was John Calvin, but subsitute whatever living characters you think fit.)
    In this episode, Calvin has an assignment to write a paper that debates some issue.  He asks Hobbes for ideas.
Hobbes: What do you care about?
Calvin: I don’t care about issues!  I’ve got better things to do than argue with every wrong-headed crackpot with an ignorant opinion!  I’m a busy man!  I say, agree with me or go take a hike!  I’m right, period!  End of discussion.
Hobbes: Umm... right.
Calvin: There, see?  Everybody’s happy!
Still, the homework deadline looms.  Calvin has an idea – a Thinking Cap!  He finds a metal collander in the kitchen and sets to work.
Calvin: Next we’ll need to attach those 1 and 0 strings and a grounding string.
Hobbes: Why a grounding string?
Calvin: It’s like a lightning rod for brainstorms.  I want to keep my ideas grounded in reality.
Hobbes: I think you’re too late....
Work all completed, Calvin puts on the Thinking Cap and has Hobbes turn it on.  Click.  Brzap.  Nothing apparent happens, except Calvin claims he feels smarter already, and Hobbes perceives that Calvin’s head has grown larger.  The knowledge begins to flow:
Calvin: My powerful brain is unraveling the mysteries of the universe!  It’s amazing!  All natural laws can be reduced to one simple, unifying equation!
Hobbes: Really, what is it?
Calvin: Already my powerful brain is bored with such simple problems and is now working on why girls are so obnoxious.
Substitute creationists for girls and some remarkable parallels emerge in the local universe.
Next headline on:  Cosmology
  Some of the problems of building a solar system from a dust cloud, from 11/20/2002.

Mighty Mouse Has Arrived   11/06/2007    
Geneticists at Case Western Reserve University have genetically engineered mice that “can run five to six kilometres at a speed of 20 meters per minute on a treadmill, for up to six hours before stopping,” according to a report on the BBC News.
    Professor Richard Hanson explained, “They are metabolically similar to Lance Armstrong biking up the Pyrenees; they utilise mainly fatty acids for energy and produce very little lactic acid.”  They also live longer and mate later than usual.  The secret is in the powerhouses of the cell, which were made to multiply by overexpressing a certain gene:

“The muscles of these mice have many more mitochondria.  These are the little ‘engines ’ in the cell that produce energy.  For some reason, the number of mitochondria are around 10 times more than we see in the muscle of their littermates.
    If this technology ever spreads to humans, the Olympics will never be the same.
Olympics of the future will be won by those with the best genetic engineers, it appears.  If this kind of performance is possible, what might this suggest about ancient people?  Tales survive of mighty deeds done by people who lived for hundreds of years and had their firstborn in their 80's and after.  Maybe we are the 96-pound weaklings of the human race.  Let’s hope they can put this stuff into a diet cola or milkshake.
Next headline on:  MammalsGenetics
Winged Migration Grows Up   11/05/2007    
Scientists used to rely on metal bands on birds’ legs to find out how they got from here to there.  Now, they can glue tiny radio transmitters to their shoulders and follow them in real time.  What happened when Princeton scientists hijacked 30 white-crowned sparrows and took them from Seattle to New Jersey?  Age has its advantages, it turns out.  Read about it on PhysOrg and EurekAlert.
    The adults soon realized they were 3,000 miles off course, and adjusted their bearing to fly southwest toward their winter quarters in Mexico.  The juveniles, who had never flown home before, flew directly south.  This indicates that the chicks are born with an innate compass that works OK the first time, but experience helps the adults develop a global map that can make corrections.
    The white-crowned sparrow usually flies solo at night.  Upon release, all the birds seemed a little disoriented at first.  After a couple of days the adults converged on the correct orientation.
    The article did not say if the scientists were able to bring the lost youngsters home, because the devices apparently did not have receivers to which they could send commercials, like “Fly Southwest.”  Hopefully they will enjoy Florida.
Ongoing research into bird migration shows that it is a multi-faceted skill that employs magnetic fields, celestial navigation, smell, visual landmarks, and more.  How the chicks of the Pacific Golden Plover fly from Alaska to the tiny specks of the Hawaiian islands, alone, across open ocean, using only an innate compass, is one of those wonders of nature that defies evolution.  Time to enjoy Winged Migration again: a film whose photographic excellence and amazing content should adorn every home theater.  Looks great in HDTV.
Next headline on:  BirdsAmazing Facts
Developing Ear May Have Tuning Fork   11/03/2007    
What tunes up an embryo’s ears before it hears its first sound?  A new study suggests that support cells in the cochlea, long thought to be inert, have a role in tuning up the hair cells during development.  Experiments by Dr. Dwight Bergles and a team at Johns Hopkins suggest that cells in a tissue called Kolliker’s organ produce artificial tones that the developing hair cells use to get ready for a lifetime of hearing.  According to Science Daily,
Bergles acknowledges that his experiments beg the question of why a human or any animal would need to “hear” before birth.  He speculates that the ability to hear subtle differences, like the inflection in one’s voice, “requires a lot of fine-tuning based on where in the brain the nerves connect.  It could be that brief bursts of electrical activity in just a few nerve cells at a time help do that fine-tuning so the system works well.
The work was reported in Nature Nov. 1.1  Ian D. Forsythe, commenting on the paper in the same issue,2 said, “In the silence that precedes the onset of hearing in the developing auditory system, it seems that the cells of a transient structure known as Kölliker’s organ are capable of generating their own ‘virtual’ music.”
    Kolliker’s organ runs alongside the organ of Corti, which contains the hair cells that respond to sound waves in the cochlear fluid.  Apparently, the cells of this organ are able to pump ATP into the hair cells which bind to glutamate receptors, – the same receptors used in hearing.  This effectively mimics the effects of sound waves with “artificial” chemical tones.
    Forsythe explained that this is not random noise.  The tones are produced in a coordinated, controlled manner, to help the nerve cells develop a tone map in the brain before birth.  A more detailed explanation of this process is provided in footnote 3.3  See also EurekAlert.  David Tyler commented on the significance of this paper at Access Research Network.
1.  Tritsch, Yi, Gale, Glowatzki and Bergles, “The origin of spontaneous activity in the developing auditory system,” Nature 450, 50-55 (1 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature06233.
2.  Ian D. Forsythe, “Hearing: A fantasia on Kölliker’s organ,” Nature 450, 43-44 (1 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/450043a.
3.  Forsythe, Ibid., “So what do these results mean for our understanding of hearing?  A prerequisite for experience-dependent adaptation is that the spontaneous activity should be elicited in a coherent or simultaneous manner, thereby defining a related population of nerve fibres.  The observed synchronized activity in IHCs across a distance of around 60 micrometres, or 6–10 IHCs [inner hair cells] (and desynchronization between more distant IHCs), supports the idea that this activity may have a signalling function in defining the association between adjacent regions of the organ of Corti (tonotopy).  Inevitably, this activity would cascade onto each subsequent higher level of auditory processing, moulding the development of the central auditory pathways and refining connectivity between the nerve-cell junctions, or synapses.
    This process is important because in sensory regions of the brain, the afferent nerve fibres and their contacts with their target neurons maintain a topographic relationship with the peripheral sense organ through chemoaffinity mechanisms, which involve guidance molecules, and experience-dependent refinement.
How would this be explained in Darwinian terms?  The reproducing adults would have only carried on this trait had it been a lucky mutation in the embryo.  But the embryo had no knowledge of the outside world yet, nor the type of sounds that would be necessary to detect for survival.  Evolution cannot look forward nor backward.  It can only respond to immediate stimuli.  To the embryo, an ATP leak into a hair cell would seem a mistake, like an alarm instead of a tuning fork.  And the adult of reproductive age, years later, could not have selected for this trait – it had to already be functional to provide a survival advantage.
    Coming up with Darwinian stories after the fact is forced and superfluous.  Here is another observation of fine-tuning that rings out “design!”
Next headline on:  Human BodyAmazing Facts
  China: where evolution destroys human rights, from 11/30/2004.

Cambrian Jellyfish Found   11/02/2007    
It’s official: jellyfish were part of the Cambrian explosion.  National Geographic News has pictures of well-preserved jellyfish fossils from Utah that show even the “distinct bell shape, tentacles, muscle scars, and possibly even the gonads.”
    These fossils are dated by evolutionary standards at 500 million years old, into the period of the Cambrian explosion.  This nearly doubles the presumed age of the previously jellyfish fossils identified with certainty.  Not only that, the specimens appear to represent three different groups.
    What does this mean for evolutionary theory?  “If verified, these connections would suggest that jellies either evolved into their current, complex form very quickly around 500 million years ago, or they evolved slowly and have existed much longer than has been estimated.”  No sure evidence exists for Precambrian jellyfish or for any intermediate forms leading up to them.
    David Tyler commented on this paper in Access Research Network.  The original paper, with photographs, can be found on PLoS One.1  The discoverers explained that alleged cnidarians (a group including jellyfish) have been reported from time to time, but this was the first case of specimens with unambiguous diagnostic characters.  “The early divergence of cnidarians in animal phylogeny leaves little doubt of their presence in the Cambrian; however, there have been no previous reports of fossils possessing preserved characters diagnostic of particular medusozoan clades,” they said.  “The absence of preservation detail in medusozoan fossils has thus far hampered our knowledge of the extent of cnidarian diversity and complexity that existed during this key time in animal evolution.”  They surveyed the best-known examples, but concluded that the only Paleozoic fossils possessing clear diagnostic characteristics of jellyfish previously identified were in Pennsylvanian strata, considered 300 to 315 million years ago.  Middle Cambrian is dated at 515 m.y.a.
    Their best guesses identified the eight exceptionally-preserved specimens as members of three classes: Hydrozoa (hydra, hydroids and hydromedusae), Cubozoa (box jellyfish) and Scyphozoa (true jellyfish).  Some of these have muscles, stinging cell arrays, complex sexual organs and behaviors (including mate recognition and courtship), and complex eyes (see 04/01/2007, 05/13/2005).  The fossil specimens resemble living species.  Other families of cnidarians, furthermore, have also been identified in Cambrian strata – such as corals and sea anemones.  In their thinking, this could only mean one thing: “it suggests that the modern cnidarian classes had evolved by the Cambrian.  Further, some of these fossils share commonalities with modern cnidarian orders and families; this may indicate that a significant amount of diversification within the Cnidaria had also occurred by the Cambrian.


1.  Cartwright et al, “Exceptionally Preserved Jellyfishes from the Middle Cambrian,” Public Library of Science One, 2(10): e1121 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001121.
Of course, they never consider the logical possibility – that evolutionary theory has been falsified again, so living things must have been created.  “At half a billion years old, the fossils represent the oldest jellyfish ever found and push back the known existence of jellies 205 million years, scientists say.”  Well, if “scientists” say such things, what does that do to their credibility?  We have heard this line so many times before, even three times just last month (10/30/2007, 10/04/2007), 10/03/2007).  Give up, evolutionists!  It’s over.  You can’t hide behind the “scientist” badge and say stupid things.  Now you are pushing pure mythology on people and talking like BabbleOnion soothslayers.*
Next headline on:  FossilsMarine LifeEvolutionary Theory
*sooth (n., archaic): truth.
Myths from Hell   11/01/2007    
Many speak of God’s green earth and rejoice in its beauty, but James Trefil tells us it was born from hell.  In his article in Astronomy (Dec 2007), entitled, “Earth’s Fiery Start” he spoke with eyewitness confidence:
Earth hasn’t always been a green and pleasant place.  In fact, our planet’s infancy was a violent, chaotic time.  When you visualize the hellish conditions back then, it’s hard to reconcile it with the lush planet we see now....
In any case, once all this turmoil ceased, ... Earth settled down into a comfortable middle age – an age that allowed intelligence to evolve and ponder our planet’s tumultuous beginnings.
No doubt about it.  But how would he know?  Too bad the next article in the same issue puzzled over the recent discovery of a cosmic alignment of the solar system and cosmic background radiation (see 10/02/2007).  Dragan Huterer considered all the leading theories for this coincidence, only to conclude, “In each case, the explanation either introduces more coincidences than it solves, or else is simply not consistent with our knowledge of the solar system or the universe’s beginnings.”
In his casual causal tale of philosophy from fire and mind from mindlessness, Yoda Trefil mentioned the Bible only to treat it like mythology:
Conditions were so different back then that geologists refer to the first several hundred million years as the “Hadean” period, to conjure up ancient visions of hell.  In the words of University of Maryland geologist Roberta Rudnick, “The name is classical, but the image is biblical.”
Pick your myth: intelligence from a mindless hell, or “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).  If the former, explain how you could know it is intelligence.  Maybe pondering the 10/28/2007 Dilbert cartoon would help.
Next headline on:  CosmologySolar SystemDarwinismDumb Ideas


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    I continue to be impressed with your writing and research skills, your humor, and your technical and scientific knowledge and understanding.  Your ability to cut through the inconsequentials and zero in on the principle issues is one of the characteristics that is a valuable asset....
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“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....”
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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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“Your material is clearly among the best I have ever read on evolution problems!  I hope a book is in the works!”
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(a student in Saginaw, Michigan)

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“...standing O for crev.info.”
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“Just wanted to say that I am thrilled to have found your website!  Although I regularly visit numerous creation/evolution sites, I’ve found that many of them do not stay current with relative information.  I love the almost daily updates to your ‘headlines’ section.  I’ve since made it my browser home page, and have recommended it to several of my friends.  Absolutely great site!”
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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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“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 November


Edward Morley
1838 - 1923

This is the Morley of the famous Michelson-Morley Experiment, which failed to find an expected lumeniferous ether that might serve as a medium for light waves.  The result was vital to Einstein’s theory of relativity, in which Einstein treated the constancy of the speed of light as a fundamental principle of the universe in the development of his revolutionary ideas.

Here is what Dr. Don DeYoung wrote about Morley in his new book, Pioneers of Intelligent Design (BMH Books, 2006), p. 68:

His Congregational minister father home schooled Morley.  He later received training at Andover Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, and pastored a church in Ohio.  Morley also had an unusual ability to make precise experimental measurements.  He shared this talent with a generation of engineering students at Case Western Reserve Academy in Cleveland, Ohio.  Morley’s Christian testimony is shown in the creed that he wrote for his students at Case Western: “I believe Jesus Christ shall come with the clouds of heaven to judge the world in righteousness and that those who have believed in Him shall inherit eternal life through the Grace of God.”



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.