Creation-Evolution Headlines
September 2008
photo strip

“You didn’t create yourself, so there is no way you can tell yourself what you were created for!  If I handed you an invention you had never seen before, you wouldn’t know its purpose, and the invention itself wouldn’t be able to tell you either.  Only the creator or owner’s manual could reveal its purpose.” 

—Rick Warren, from best-seller The Purpose-Driven Life (Zondervan, 2002), p. 18.  The chapters starts with a quote by Bertrand Russell, atheist, who said, “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.”
AstronomyBiomimeticsBirdsBotanyCell BiologyCosmologyDating MethodsDinosaursEarly ManEducationEvolutionFossilsGenetics and DNAGeologyHealthHuman BodyIntelligent DesignMammalsMarine LifeMediaOrigin of LifePhysicsPolitics and EthicsSETISolar SystemTheologyZoology     Awards:  AmazingDumb       Note: bold emphasis added in all quotations unless otherwise indicated.
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Search
 
This month marks the 8th Anniversary of Creation-Evolution Headlines.  This would be a great time to send us a line if you discovered the site in the last year or so.  It can be pro or con, but should include your name, city and occupation. Your name will not be shown, and you will not be put on a mailing list.  Write here with your brief comment.
  Watch for the Recycle logo to find gems from the back issues!

How the Evolution Story Became Like Jellyfish   09/30/2008    
Sept 30, 2008 — “How the [blank] got its [blank]” is the template for story titles imitating Rudyard Kipling’s Just-So Stories: i.e., How the Camel Got His Hump and How the Leopard Got His Spots.  Kipling wrote these as silly stories to entertain children, not to be taken seriously by scientists.  Knowing that creationists often criticize Darwinian explanations as Just-So Stories, was Amber Dance being sarcastic or whimsical when she titled her article on Nature News “How the jellyfish got its sting”?  Apparently the latter (or neither) because she dove into the genre forthwith: “From a bacterium, surprisingly.
    The article discussed apparent evidence for widespread lateral gene transfer among multicellular animals.  In particular, a French team supposed jellyfish got the toxin in their stinging cells from bacterial genes.  Comparing genomes, they deduced that the same gene jumped between cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, and anemones), sponges, worms and fungi.  The team lead said, “horizontal gene transfer is often neglected, and could sometimes be more important than we thought.
    If true, this scrambles attempts to understand common descent.  It’s understandable that other evolutionists didn’t want to take that plunge.

“There are other explanations for the incongruencies they see in the tree,” agrees Casey Dunn, an evolutionary biologist who studies phylogenetic problems at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
    For instance, the gene could be vertically transferred from a distant progenitor, before being lost from some organisms.  Or, it may be possible that more than one animal independently evolved the gene; such sequence conversion is not unheard of, Dunn says.  “At the end of the day, it will probably take far more data to paint a conclusive picture of what’s happening.
    Rabet responds that since the PGA synthase gene is approximately 1000 bases long, it is statistically unlikely to be the product of multiple distinct genes converging on the same sequence.
    And if the gene was lost from all but the cnidarians and a few other animals, it must have disappeared from all related organisms.  “It’s possible, but we need to imagine a lot of lost genes,” he says.
The Stuff Happens Law thus becomes the null hypothesis, unless one wants to fill the explanation with imagination of statistical unlikelihoods.1  Another alternative is to give up on evolution and explore alternatives.  Any chance of that happening? 
Using phylogenetic analysis, Rabet and his colleagues found that the cnidarian gene fits well into the bacterial family tree.  They also showed that the gene turns on in at least one jellyfish, Clytia hemisphaerica.  The same gene pops up in certain sponges, worms and fungi, suggesting it jumped between species more than once, the scientists say.  It is not yet clear how the transfer might have occurred, or why this particular gene would be so well-travelled....
Scientists are finding that horizontal gene transfer, once thought to be the domain of single-celled critters, is not uncommon in the animal world, says Syvanen.  “Horizontal gene transfer with the animals is going to turn out to be more widespread than anybody believes now.  When that realization comes down, it will definitely change the way people think about evolution.
The answer seems as slippery as the jellyfish they were studying.  But the stinger-gene of evolution shows up everywhere, even when it has to hop around who knows how.
1.  See online book for a calculation that the probability of getting one gene is one in 10236.
With the new Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week cartoon, we welcome Brett Miller to our website talent pool.  His drawing of Emperor Charlie’s New Clothes removes all need for comment (click image for larger version).  Watch for his occasional eye-catching graphics in days to come.  Thanks, Brett!  Your cartoon made our day.
See more of Brett’s work at EvidentCreation.com.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyGeneticsDarwinismDumb Ideas
Did This Dino Have Bird Breath?   09/29/2008    
Sept 29, 2008 — Birds are the only vertebrates with a unique one-way, flow-through breathing system that includes hollow bones.  Their unique respiratory system is part of the set of features that allows flying with its need for rapid metabolism.  Science news outlets are clucking wildly about another putative missing link between dinosaurs and birds: “Meat-eating dinosaur from Argentina had bird-like breathing system,” announced PhysOrg, for instance.  Does the evidence fly?
    The original paper in PLoS ONE is much more subdued.1  Paul Sereno and team found an allosaur-like dinosaur with more hollow bones than usual, which they interpreted to be associated with air sacs.  Air sacs are a feature of the avian lung system, but not the only feature; nor is this the first dinosaur fossil with “pneumatized” (hollow, air-filled) bone.  The big sauropods like Diplodocus had them.  Opinions differ on what function they served in the dinosaurs: thermal regulation, weight reduction, balance and other functions are possibilities unrelated to respiration.
    Sereno’s team has been examining this fossil for 12 years.  In short, they found more of hollow bones than usual in this dinosaur, some in the thoracic region.  Using this evidence as a launching pad for speculation, they devised a four-stage hypothesis on how the avian lung might have evolved.  They did not claim that this dinosaur had a bird-like breathing system, despite the headlines.
    The following excerpts from the paper give a feel for the conservative tone of the authors about their find:
  • Evidence from the fossil record for the origin and evolution of this system is extremely limited, because lungs do not fossilize and because the bellow-like air sacs in living birds only rarely penetrate (pneumatize) skeletal bone and thus leave a record of their presence.
  • Principal findings: We describe a new predatory dinosaur from Upper Cretaceous rocks in Argentina, Aerosteon riocoloradensis gen. et sp. nov., that exhibits extreme pneumatization of skeletal bone, including pneumatic hollowing of the furcula and ilium.  In living birds, these two bones are pneumatized by diverticulae of air sacs (clavicular, abdominal) that are involved in pulmonary ventilation.  We also describe several pneumatized gastralia (“stomach ribs”), which suggest that diverticulae of the air sac system were present in surface tissues of the thorax.
  • The advent of avian unidirectional lung ventilation is not possible to pinpoint, as osteological correlates have yet to be identified for uni- or bidirectional lung ventilation.
  • The origin and evolution of avian air sacs may have been driven by one or more of the following three factors: flow-through lung ventilation, locomotory balance, and/or thermal regulation.
  • As a result of an extraordinary level of pneumatization, as well as the excellent state of preservation of much of the axial column and girdles, Aerosteon helps to constrain hypotheses for the evolution of avian-style respiration.
  • The capacity of the cervical air sacs to invade centra to form invaginated pleurocoels may have evolved independently in sauropodomorphs (sauropods) and basal theropods and appears to have been lost several times within theropods.
  • The osteological or logical correlates needed to support some of these inferences have been poorly articulated, which may explain the wide range of opinions on when intrathoracic air sacs like those in birds first evolved and how these relate to ventilatory patterns.
  • Based on the osteological correlates we have assembled (Table 4), we would argue, first, that until we can show evidence of the presence of at least one avian ventilatory air sac (besides the non-ventilatory cervical air sac), it is problematic to infer the presence of flow-through ventilation or a rigid, dorsally-attached lung.  Second, we know of no osteological correlates in the gastral cuirass that would justify the inference of abdominal air sacs.  Potential kinesis of the gastral cuirass and an accessory role in aspiration breathing potentially characterizes many amniotes besides nonavian dinosaurs.  The absence of gastralia in crown birds or in any extant bipeds also hinders functional inferences.  And third, it is not well established that abdominal air sacs were either first to evolve or are functionally critical to unidirectional ventilation.
  • Avian lung ventilation is driven by muscles that expand and contract thoracic volume by deforming the ribcage and rocking a large bony sternum.  Basal maniraptorans have many of the features associated with this ventilatory mechanism including a large ossified sternum, ossified sternal ribs, uncinate processes a deepened coracoid that contacts the sternum along a synovial hinge joint.  By contrast Aerosteon and the abelisaurid Majungasaurus lack these featuresDoes that mean that maniraptorans had evolved unidirectional lung ventilation?  Or does it indicate only that the maniraptoran ribcage functioned in aspiration breathing more like that in avians?  We do not know of any osteological correlates that are specifically tied to uni- or bidirectional lung ventilation (Table 4), which may explain the range of opinion as to how and when avian unidirectional lung ventilation first evolved.
  • The factors driving the origin and evolution of the functional capacity of avian air sacs and lung ventilation remain poorly known and tested.
After the fossil was described with its typical taxonomic details, the paper primarily contained a good deal of speculation on the origin of the avian lung system, with no firm conclusions.  The authors discussed problems with all existing theories.  The most optimistic claim they could make was stated as follows: “In sum, although we may never be able to sort out the most important factors behind the origin and evolution of the unique avian pulmonary system, discoveries such as Aerosteon provide clues that help to constrain the timing and circumstances when many of the fundamental features of avian respiration arose.”  Such a statement merely assumes that avian respiration “arose” by evolution somehow.  The “wide range of opinions” within the evolutionist community undermines the confident claims in the popular press.  It also shows that non-evolutionary explanations for the unique system that enables birds to soar gracefully in the air were completely ignored.
    For problems with bird lung evolution theories, see an article on CMI that reviewed Michael Denton’s use of the topic to argue against Darwinism in his classic book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.  A diagram of the bird respiratory system is shown in the article.  Carl Wieland on CMI (PDF file) also critiqued an earlier claim (2005) that hollow bones in some dinosaurs revealed an evolutionary link to the avian lung.
1.  Sereno et al, “Evidence for Avian Intrathoracic Air Sacs in a New Predatory Dinosaur from Argentina,” Public Library of Science ONE, 09/30/2008, 3(9): e3303 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003303.
The bluffing about evolution in many science news reports is shameful.  Search on Aerosteon and you will find examples, like this one on InTheNews.co.uk: “Dinosaurs: Breathed like birds.  A carnivorous dinosaur with a bird-like breathing system has provided more evidence of the connection between the two groups of animals separated by millions of years.”  The whole article is fluff.  “Palaeontologists are now satisfied Aerosteon provides the evidence needed to seal the connection with birds,” it ends.  One cannot bluff about fluff.
    National Geographic must have panicked at our expose, so they cranked out a propaganda piece immediately announcing, “New Birdlike Dinosaur Found in Argentina.”  They even put imaginary feathers on it: “The new dinosaur probably had feathers, but did not actually fly,” they said (cf. 06/13/2007).  OK, so we went hunting for feathers in the original paper.  “The fossil evidence for intrathoracic air sacs now closely overlaps that for feathers, which had evolved in coelurosaurian theropods most likely for heat retention.”  That was the only mention of feathers.  This appeal to imaginary feathers was followed by more storytelling in lieu of empirical evidence:
Air sacs may have initially been employed as an antagonist to feathers in theropod thermoregulation.  Although this hypothesis has been criticized for lack of empirical evidence in living birds, air sacs have been implicated in avian heat transfer and/or evaporative heat loss, and Aerosteon and many other theropods had a body weight more than an order of magnitude greater than that for any living bird.  A thermoregulatory role for the early evolution of air sacs in nonavian dinosaurs should not be ruled out without further evidence from nonvolant ratites.
Can you believe that?  They invented imaginary feathers out of thin air for this big heavy meat-eater to compensate for imaginary air sacs that they presume existed near its hollow bones.  So now their evolutionary magic produced two imaginary thermoregulatory systems competing with each other – what, for survival of the coolest?
    For the fun of it, let’s grant them air sacs and even imagine with them a respiratory system that had some birdlike features; after all, any two vertebrates, like mice and camels, or frogs and penguins, are bound to have similarities as well as differences, depending on what you decide to focus on for the moment.  Paul Sereno told National Geographic that the beast didn’t fly (obviously, unless you can imagine wings on a T. rex), so NG concluded, “even though this species was birdlike [sic], feathers and air sacs didn’t necessarily evolve for flight.”  So their point is... ?  All the hype about feathers was supposed to reinforce the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs.  They were practically ready to name this thing Tweety Rex, and now they seem to be telling us this beast evolved air sacs for a completely different function, about which no one is sure, and it was an evolutionary dead end anyway.  Even NG’s accompanying slide show didn’t show feathers.  The only suggestion of a birdlike respiratory system was in slide 2, where colored regions represent the imaginary air sacs in the thorax. 
But excuse me, Mr. Scientist sir, did any of that soft air-sac material fossilize?  “Evidence from the fossil record for the origin and evolution of this system is extremely limited, because lungs do not fossilize and because the bellow-like air sacs in living birds only rarely penetrate (pneumatize) skeletal bone and thus leave a record of their presence.”  Are you telling me there was no direct evidence for the air sacs in this dinosaur?  “Some of its postcranial bones show pneumatic hollowing that can be linked to intrathoracic air sacs that are directly involved in lung ventilation.”  They can be, you say, but how strong is the inference?  “We do not know of any osteological correlates [fossil evidence] that are specifically tied to uni- or bidirectional lung ventilation (Table 4), which may explain the range of opinion as to how and when avian unidirectional lung ventilation first evolved.”  But isn’t a unidirectional lung ventilation system the primary distinguishing feature in birds?  Are you telling the court that this is all inference, not evidence?
The tale gets more speculative and implausible with each lawyer’s question.  Darwin’s defense attorneys are sweating in their seats.  NG quoted a colleague admitting, “It shows that evolution is not a chalk line—there are many dead ends.”  Being interpreted, this means evolutionists can always concoct a story for any possible combination of data.  (Chalk is erasable, you know.)  We think a scientist who wants to feather his monster should produce the feathers in the fossil, not draw feathery dragons on the chalkboard and tell the press that it “probably had feathers.”  Chalk lines are supposed to be snapped to a level that has been carefully measured.  So he’s right; evolution is not a chalk line; it’s a crooked crack in the wall of a theory that is about to collapse.  Don’t build to it.
    We brought you extended quotes to illustrate the difference between original sources and the news media hype.  The lesson: always check out the original data.  The authors with the bones in their hand usually know better than to make any outlandish claims to their colleagues.  In front of reporters, though, they lose restraint.  Reporters go ape to praise Darwin.  For example, Live Science, that perennial Darwin billboard, shouted Extra! Extra! “Bus-sized Dinosaur Breathed Like Birds.  A huge carnivorous dinosaur that lived about 85 million years ago had a breathing system much like that of today’s birds, a new analysis of fossils reveals, reinforcing the evolutionary link between dinos and modern birds.”  That, in turn, got passed around to all the major news outlets as gospel truth.  This is bad breath, not bird breath.  The sound of flapping dino-feathers is only the pompons made of synthetic material manufactured for the Darwin Party cheerleaders.
Next headline on:  BirdsDinosaursFossilsEvolution
Tip: The rest of the story on Tiktaalik the fish-a-pod, on Evolution News: a “retroactive confession of ignorance.”

Darwinists Root for Obama   09/28/2008    
Sept 28, 2008 — Ministers in churches are not allowed to promote political candidates, even though they do not take government money.1  Scientists, who often do take federal money in the form of grants, openly take positions on the presidential candidates they feel will further their interests.  Is this proper?
    Both Nature and Science this week did extensive reporting on the presidential and vice-presidential candidates.  While the magazines and the organizations behind them do not receive tax money directly, they act as the leading voices of scientists who are largely supported by grants, and thus they stand to profit directly from the level of funding a President supports.  Nature’s editorial bluntly stated, “The most worrying thing about a McCain presidency is not so much a President McCain as a Vice-President Palin.”  Their concern was over her opposition to embryonic stem-cell research, and the claim that “She is a creationist” (but see Evolution News).  In fact, Nature went out of its way to point out the differences between Obama and McCain on the issue of intelligent design, quoting Obama’s answer with apparent satisfaction:

I believe in evolution, and I support the strong consensus of the scientific community that evolution is scientifically validated.  I do not believe it is helpful to our students to cloud discussions of science with non-scientific theories like intelligent design that are not subject to experimental scrutiny.
This was contrasted with McCain’s stance quoted in absentia that “I believe in evolution.  But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also.”
    Nature also voiced a strong partisan stance in its lead editorial:
McCain has courageously bucked his party’s more parochial viewpoints in the past, as when he fought for a cap-and-trade system long before it was politically popular.  But his selection of Palin as a running mate suggests a new-found willingness to pander to his party’s far-right wing.
Science Now proudly published a list of Nobel prize winners who support Obama and noted his strong commitment to science funding, while pointing out McCain’s apparent lack of specificity about spending for science.  Other subtle biases could be found, such as Nature’s diagram of seven smiling science advisers for Obama, compared to five frowning science advisers for McCain.  Science quoted an anonymous academic lobbyist without providing a comeback: “Obama has thousands of advisers, and McCain has two guys and a dog.”  This begs the question that more is better.  Even if the numbers were true, two wise advisers might be preferable to a thousand self-serving lobbyists.  No such slurs were applied to Obama, who instead was praised for his promises to double science funding.  McCain only got some faint praise for indications he might end “the Bush Administration’s war on science.”  No mention was made that taxpayers foot the bill and might have an opinion about how their money is spent.  In fact, the word “tax” was nowhere to be found in Jeffrey Mervis’s report in Science that began, “When it comes to soliciting scientific advice, Barack Obama welcomes a cast of thousands, whereas John McCain plays it close to the vest.”
    Perhaps the most blatant insertion of anti-religious philosophy into presidential politics was a book review in Nature by Jerry Coyne (U Chicago).  Nature had invited several scientists to recommend books on science for the candidates to read.  Here was Coyne’s recommendation:
There is a crisis in scientific literacy in the United States: only 25% of Americans accept our evolution from ape-like ancestors, yet 74% believe in angels.  Republicans make it worse by proposing that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public-school science classes.  Anyone aspiring to be president should have a basic acquaintance with evolution and with the masses of evidence that it’s not just a theory, but a fact.  Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species comes to mind, but it is outdated and written in turgid Victorian prose that is uncongenial to modern readers.  Future US leaders should read a short, popular work that lays out the evidence for evolution and dispels the spectres of creationism and intelligent design without dwelling on religion.  Sadly, no book fills this niche.  My attempt, Why Evolution is True (Viking, 2009), will be published only after the election.  Until then, I suggest Richard Dawkins’s brilliant exposition of natural selection.  If a presidential candidate doesn’t accept evolution after reading this book, there is no hope.
In the same series, Kevin Padian (UC Berkeley) recommended a book that compared George Bush’s science policies to those of Stalin’s favored scientist, the charlatan Trofim Lysenko.  Speaking of McCain, Padian said, “His record on some science issues has been good, but his recent opinions, from energy to creationism in schools, have been drifting towards those of Bush.”  This seems to imply he thinks McCain’s opinions are drifting towards those of Stalin.  Lysenko had promoted pseudoscientific farming policies that resulted in famines that killed millions of people in Russia and China.  Padian failed to mention that Lysenko’s policies stemmed not from religion, but from his Lamarckian views of evolution (which Stalin felt were concordant with communist philosophy).
    It appears that scientific societies have no qualms about voicing their views on presidential politics.  Their views tend to be overtly pro-liberal, pro-Democrat, anti-conservative, and anti-Republican.  It’s noteworthy that they do not hesitate to apply the label “far right” to Republicans, but never apply the opposite phrase “far left” to Democrats.
    Many pastors, though, especially conservatives, seem to feel it is somehow illegal to mention the name of a candidate from the pulpit.  They fear it violates some supposed principle of separation of church and state, though in the Bill of Rights, the Establishment Clause is a restriction on government, not on churches.  America had a long history of political speech in the pulpit till in 1954, then-Senator Lyndon Johnson (a liberal Democrat) snuck in a “gag order” in an IRS bill that forbade endorsement of political candidates by ministers in church services (see Traditional Values Coalition article posted on FreeRepublic.com).  Conservatives have criticized this IRS rule as a wanton act of government intimidation against ministers who are guaranteed the rights of free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly in the Constitution.
    What will happen to pastors today who attempted to defy that order remains to be seen (see LA Times article).  The Alliance Defense Fund, a legal organization devoted to defending the religious liberties of Americans (example), had declared September 28 “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” to encourage pastors to defy the gag order and speak out on the positions of the candidates on moral issues.  At least 33 pastors took up the challenge.  The ADF describes this as not getting the pulpit into government, but getting the government out of the pulpit.  A senior legal counsel for ADF explained, “No one should be able to use the government [e.g., the IRS] to intimidate pastors into giving up their constitutional rights.”2
    CBS News reported the story after church Sunday, ending with a quote by Barry Lynn (Americans United for Separation of Church and State) that “you cannot turn your church or charity into a political action committee.”  No one thought to ask if that rule applies to scientific institutions like the AAAS (publisher of Science) – also a tax-exempt, non-profit organization.  A document on the AAAS website says the organization does not engage in lobbying or political activities.  But then, neither do most churches.  If the AAAS can print lengthy editorials mentioning candidates by name, when they clearly stand to benefit from policies of candidates they prefer, should that freedom be denied pastors and church leaders, who tend to have strongly held convictions about the moral values that elected officials can influence?  Barry Lynn seemed to be implying that voicing an opinion from the pulpit on a candidate’s moral values is indistinguishable from turning the church into a political action committee.  The question then becomes, should there also be separation of science and state?  When a tax-exempt scientific society urges political involvement, has it turned into a political action committee?
    While pondering that question, look what Science did last week.  It printed an editorial by former Congressman John Edward Porter, once chairman of the House Appropriations committee responsible for funding all federal health programs.  Like a fired-up preacher, Porter wrote with fervor to scientists in the AAAS congregation about the failures of the current administration and the need to learn the positions of candidates on science.  Porter even recommended scientists run for office.  “If all you do is vote,” he said, “you’re definitely not doing enough.  Get off your chair, do something outside your comfort zone, and make a difference for science.  All of us must be creative about what we can do to make a difference for the things we believe in.  Now is the time.”

1.  Tax exemption is not taking federal money; it is an application of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.  Freedom from being forced to pay money is a very different thing than receiving money.  On matters of property, health, safety and secular matters, churches do abide by applicable laws and tax policies.
2.  It should be noted that churchgoers have the freedom to change churches if they don’t like what a minister says; in fact, one of the presidential candidates has been roundly criticized on that point for not leaving a church whose pastor openly ridiculed a certain former president and his candidate spouse.  To many pastors, the fact that there were no tax consequences for that church illustrates a biased application of the IRS gag order.
Interesting that Coyne ridicules the majority of Americans who believe in angels, while he believes in spectres.*  Too bad he didn’t get his little sermon book published in time for the election.  Anything he writes has a high probability of backfiring.  Who wants to bet that Why Evolution is True will showcase examples of microevolution, which is not controversial even among young-earth creationists, but will then extrapolate microevolution recklessly into molecules-to-man macroevolution?  Don’t hold your breath that Coyne will deal honestly with Darwin’s enigmas, like molecular machines, the origin of life, the fine-tuning of the universe, complex specified information in DNA, and the Cambrian Explosion.
    We hope several things are evident from this story: the lack of objectivity among scientific institutions; their far-leftist leanings (they adore Obama, who is the most liberal member of the Senate); their obstinate refusal to distinguish between intelligent design and creationism despite years of clarification by ID advocates; their illogical conflation of scientific literacy with acceptance of Darwinism; their identification of Darwinism and atheism with their political persuasion; their ability to lie with impunity in print about what ID leaders advocate in education; and the level of vitriol they can display toward religion.  They might barely tolerate a theistic evolutionist who prostrates himself before the Shrine of Darwin, but will explode in wrath against any member of the meaningless class labeled “People of Faith” who dares to suggest that a Designer (no matter how vaguely characterized) might interact with the world in any way.
    This is the way of the People of Froth (09/26/2005 commentary).  Add to that their pattern of refusing to publish opinions from the conservative or pro-ID side, and one has grounds to question their objectivity.  Isn’t objectivity a core value of science?  Where is it?  Is this how scientists and their institutions ought to behave?  Observe.  They exercise their political advocacy with the help of your tax money, but would forbid that freedom to ministers.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsReligion and TheologyEducationIntelligent DesignDarwinism
*Coyne can’t get out of logic jail by accusing us of reifying his figure of speech.  He may not be calling creationism and intelligent design actual spectres (demonic spirits), but what are they if not concepts?  Concepts and angels are not made of particles.  He can’t assume matter in motion created everything, then turn around and judge concepts that require reference to matters of truth, knowledge, morality and logic.  These realms are not reduceable to particles.  Our Spectre Inspector, therefore, still finds Coyne guilty as charged: a hypocrite floudering in mid-air without a leg to stand on.
  Codes within codes: alternative gene splicing may be common, from 09/23/2005.

Fastest Squirt Gun in the Fungi   09/26/2008    
Sept 26, 2008 — A paper on PLoS One described the highest-speed flights in all nature: the spore discharge mechanisms in certain fungi.  A dozen scientists in Ohio worked to capture the action on ultra-high-speed cameras.  It took 250,000 frames per second to reveal how fast the projectiles accelerate.  The answer: from 20,000 to 180,000 g (where g = the acceleration of gravity).  One species launches its projectiles at almost 2 million meters per second squared – winning the title of “fastest recorded flights in nature.”
    In their introduction, they discussed the variety of ways that fungi disperse their spores.  Their language sounds downright military: “Mechanisms include a catapult energized by surface tension that launches mushroom spores, the explosive eversion of a pressurized membrane in the artillery fungus, and the discharge of squirt guns pressurized by osmosis.”  Well, maybe squirt guns are for kid’s playground battles, but army engineers might learn a few things from these lowly fungi.  That’s why the authors said the study of spore-discharge mechanisms has implications for biomimetics (the imitation of nature).  Who else would want to imitate this?
    The four species of fungi studied live on cow manure.  They need to launch their spores out far enough onto the grass so that cows will eat them and spread them around.  Each species has variations on the mechanism, but basically, the spores are ejected in a mass (either in a fluid or solid), within a sporangium, or capsule.  The sporangium usually separates during flight..  This trick, reminiscent of a spacecraft ejecting its cover after achieving orbit, allows the spores to minimize viscous drag on the ascent, then disperse on descent and landing.
    How are such superlative accelerations achieved?  The answer lies not only in the structure of the catapults, but in the viscosity of the specific sugars and ions in the spore capsules.  The liquids allow the build-up of 4.4 atmospheres of turgor pressure.  As the “pressurized squirt gun” undergoes a “controlled and rapid rupture,” almost none of the energy is lost to friction.  The “supremely fast movements” represent a “a series of remarkable feats of natural engineering,” they said.
    Engineers might be curious how these feats were designed.  Their answer was, simply, they “have evolved.”  The authors stated this twice: “A variety of spore discharge processes have evolved among the fungi,” and, “Squirt gun mechanisms are responsible for launching spores at the highest speeds and are most common in the Ascomycota, including lichenized species, but have also evolved among the Zygomycota.”


1.  Yafetto et al, “The Fastest Flights in Nature: High-Speed Spore Discharge Mechanisms among Fungi,” Public Library of Science ONE, 3(9): e3237 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003237.
It evolved because it evolved – this is the theory of evolution in a nutshell (see 05/25/2005).  This is sufficient to explain the origin of any feat of natural engineering.  It evolved.  Darwin sure simplified biology, didn’t he?  Scientists used to have to produce explanations the hard way, with logic and evidence.  Now, a simple two-word answer suffices for everything in the world that used to inspire awe, wonder, curiosity and motivation.
Next headline on:  PlantsBiomimeticsEvolutionAmazing Facts
Trees Communicate with Aspirin   09/25/2008    
Sept 25, 2008 — Trees talk to each other in a chemical language (02/21/2006), but till now, no one realized they sound an alarm with aspirin.  Trees emit a vaporous form of aspirin when under stress, reported Science Daily, that talks on the ecological network.  This was an unexpected finding.
    Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research theorized that the methyl salicylate vapor, one of hundreds of volatile organic compounds (VOC) emitted by plants, is a distress signal.  It may put the plant or tree into a kind of high-alert mode, stimulating immune responses, and it may also signal neighboring plants to be on guard against a climactic or invasive threat.
    Scientists knew that methyl salicylate was produced by plants, but did not realize till now that plants emit significant quantities of it into the atmosphere, and use it for signaling.  The team detected the aspirin when studying VOCs in a California walnut grove.  “These findings show tangible proof that plant-to-plant communication occurs on the ecosystem level,” a co-author of the study said.  “It appears that plants have the ability to communicate through the atmosphere.”
    If farmers can learn to read the chemical signals in vapors emitted by plants, they may gain a new way to quickly gauge the health of their crops before damage becomes visible.
The article did not mention evolution.  Here is another amazing fact, right under biologists’ noses, that was unknown till now.  If an observable, measurable phenomenon in the present can escape detection for so long, how can biologists speak so glibly about factors in mythical worlds millions of years ago?  How could a communication network among brainless plants evolve?  This was discovered by good old-fashioned field work.  Taxpayers donated funds for the research.  Darwin donated nothing.
Next headline on:  PlantsAmazing Facts
Making Earths the Natural Way   09/24/2008    
Sept 24, 2008 — Creating a solar system is as easy as spinning a dust cloud around a star.  Before long, rocky orbs will emerge from the dust as platforms on which life can evolve.  Is it that simple?  We know now that planets surround a number of other stars – perhaps most of them.  Textbooks and artwork make the process seem as natural as add dust and stir, but real world planetary scientists have some challenges to work out.
  1. Light shieldsEurekAlert reported earlier this month problems with oxygen.  Ratios of oxygen isotopes in a meteorite are very different from those in all other solar system bodies, including the Earth, moon and Mars.  A leading theory that UV photoshielding would yield the anomalous ratios was tested and found to be wrong.  Did a nearby supernova seed the early nebula with the isotopes?  That’s too unlikely and ad hoc an explanation for most scientists.  One other theory is being tested, but the article was titled, “Theory of the sun’s role in formation of the solar system questioned.”
        Science Daily provided more detail.  One researcher for the Genesis mission, that collected samples of the solar wind, commented, “You can see the ratios of the isotopes brought back by Genesis, but that doesn’t tell you how they came about.  The isotope ratios themselves don’t tell you why they were different in the early universe than they are today, so there’s lots more science to do in the laboratory.”
  2. Comet upsetsAstrobiology Magazine reported on the surprise discovery that comets are not the pristine objects from the fringes of the solar system as was long thought (12/27/2007, 01/25/2008).  “Observations from this sample are changing our previous thinking and expectations about how the solar system formed,” a Stardust mission researcher said.  Models now have to worry about how material can migrate radially across the disk.  “This really complicates our simple view of the early solar system,” said another.  The apparent mixing of material near and far from the sun is “causing a revision of theories of the history of the solar system.”
        Science Daily agreed.  “Chemical clues from a comet’s halo are challenging common views about the history and evolution of the solar system and showing it may be more mixed-up than previously thought,” the subtitle read.  A Stardust team member explained, “They were originally hoping to find the raw material that pre-dated the solar system.  However, we found many crystalline objects that resemble flash-heated particles found in meteorites from asteroids.”  Such heating was supposed to be impossible beyond the “frost line.” a theoretical radius beyond which volatiles in the early solar system would have frozen into comets, never to heat up again till tugged toward the sun long after their formation.
  3. Demolition derby:  Watching planets form would take a long time, but watching them get destroyed is quick and easy.  Space.com and Science Daily reported the collision of two Earth-like planets around a sunlike binary star 300 light-years away (an apocalyptic ending for any life there).  Benjamin Zuckerman of UCLA said, “Astronomers have never seen anything like this before.  Apparently, major catastrophic collisions can take place in a fully mature planetary system.”  Astronomy Picture of the Day posted the artwork of the proposed collision.  (Actually, the collision was inferred from dust, not witnessed.)
        OK, so planets destroy each other, but does this observation provide any evidence for how they form?  Not exactly; the article mentioned theories that our moon formed from a collision, and that the dinosaurs went extinct because of a collision.  They surmised that the planets that they think collided were in the final stages of its dust disk’s evolution.  But there seemed to be more surprise than confirmation of theory.  For one, they were surprised planets could form at all around a binary star.  For another, they were surprised to see a collision in such a mature system: “How do planetary orbits become destabilized in such an old, mature system, and could such a collision happen in our own solar system?” asked one.  The observations here seem to relate more directly to planetary destruction models, not planetary formation models.
  4. Shooting gallery:  Last month, Science Daily reported on computer simulations at Northwestern University.  Results showed that our solar system is “pretty special” to have ended up with nice, stable rocky planets in nearly circular orbits inside the habitable zone.  Even assuming that planets can coalesce from a dust disk, most of the time wild things happen: the star eats up the planets, the large bodies fling the small bodies out of the system, and the remaining ones end up with elongated orbits that would prohibit life.  Out of a hundred runs on “very powerful computers,” none of the systems ended up like ours except under Goldilocks conditions – ones that were “just right.”  The senior author of the report commented on what they learned: “We ... know that the solar system is special and understand at some level what makes it special.”
To add a little optimism, Space.com published a report that makes planet formation sound simple.  “Solar systems under construction” was the cheerful title of an article about observations of three stars where planets might be forming.  Trouble is, “The researchers did not actually see any planets.”  They inferred their presence from properties of the dust disks.  Gaps in the dust where planets might exist were determined indirectly, and “they used planet-formation models to project the presence of alien worlds.”  Unfortunately this begs the question whether the planets, if there are any, actually formed from the dust, because the model was made to simulate planet formation, not planet destruction.
What we see in the above examples are destructive processes, not creative ones.  The creative ones exist only in the minds of the scientists and in their contrived models.  It may make someone feel good to imagine worlds forming naturally.  It may conform with their world view: an evolving universe, full of evolving stars, with evolving planets, on which life emerges and evolves.  Everything happens naturally (whatever that ambiguous word means).  If it feels good, call it a belief.  Science, however, demands we stick with observations that are measurable and repeatable.  Thomas Kuhn would look at the number of anomalies in current models and predict a paradigm shift.  Sidney Harris would look at the number of miracles inserted into the models and draw a cartoon.
    There are numerous problems with solar system formation theories we have addressed before (e.g., 03/21/2006, 08/06/2004, 02/03/2004, 09/22/2003, 11/20/2002).  This time, notice primarily that there is no way to distinguish between whether we are seeing planets forming out of dust disks, or pre-existing planets grinding down into dust disks.  The latter would seem to comport better with well-known processes of thermodynamics and probability.  Dust particles lack the gravitational mass to accrete and grow.  It is much more plausible that disks erode into dust rather than self-assemble into planets.
    Simplistic models need not apply.  Chondrules, comets, and coincidences that make life possible must be explained with observation, measurement and repeatable experiments.  A model is not evidence.  One cannot assume what needs to be proved.  Let the scientific empiricist show his evidence; until then, we must classify planet formation theory what it is thus far: a belief, not a science.
Next headline on:  Solar System
  Survival of the Nubbiest: evolutionists criticize another evolutionist’s Just-So Story, from 09/27/2004.

Designed for Health   09/24/2008    
Sept 24, 2008 — Recent science reports on physiology and health contain suggestions of intelligent design as well as challenges to evolutionary theory.

  1. “Amazingly elegant, amazingly precise and very complicated” kidneys:  Scientists studying the effects of hypertension on kidneys have found that ATP acts not only as an energy source but an extracellular messenger.  It’s involved in helping arterioles constrict to the right size in the glomeruli where the filtering of blood plasma takes place.  According to Science Daily, one team member who is “trying to figure out how this all fits together” was struck by the “amazingly elegant, amazingly precise and very complicated” processes involved.
  2. Bee nice:  The thought of a bee sting makes us shiver, but honeybee venom contains a molecule scientists can use to study hypertension.  Science Daily reported that a molecule called terpianin can restrict the flow of potassium ions out of a particular membrane channel.  This may allow medicines to adjust the level of salt reabsorption by kidney cells, and thus treat high blood pressure.
  3. Got stem cells?  Scientists have found a source of multipotent stem cells right on the cell walls of blood vessels.  Science Daily reported that these adult stem cells apparently have the “unlimited potential to differentiate into human tissues such as bone, cartilage and muscle.”  Advances in regenerative medicine are within sight with this discovery.  One researcher described what may be soon be possible: “These cells can be extracted easily and painlessly from convenient sources such as fat tissue, dental pulp, umbilical cord and placental tissue, then grown in culture to large numbers and, possibly, re-injected into the patient to heal a broken bone, a failing joint or an injured muscle.”  The ingredients have been right inside you all along.
  4. Clear eyes:  “Every tissue has evolved unique adaptations that allow it to perform specialized functions.” began a paper in PNAS.1  “Such adaptations are especially evident in the lens of the mammalian eye, where many of the usual cellular metabolic pathways have been sacrificed to achieve one overriding goal: transparency.”  The paper explained that one of the aquaporins (membrane water channels, 12/20/2001, 04/18/2002) in lens cells acts slower than others in its family.  That slow flow in aquaporin AQP0, though, has a function: “We hypothesize that the structural features leading to low permeability may have evolved in part to allow AQP0 to form junctions that both conduct water and contribute to the organizational structure of the fiber cell tissue and microcirculation within it, as required to maintain transparency of the lens.”
Of the four reports, only the last mentioned evolution.  The authors did not explain, however, how evolution produced the adaptation: they only assumed that since the “unique adaptations” that are “especially evident” in the lens cells they studied, they must have evolved that way: e.g., “Specifically, we suggest that this low permeability may be an evolutionary adaptation that allows AQP0 to promote intimate cell adhesion by forming mechanically stable junctions.”  Again, “Thus, low permeability may represent an evolutionary adaptation that allows AQP0 to play a dual role in water transport and cellular adhesion.”
    Moreover, the authors pointed out that two particular amino acid substitutions are “conserved [i.e., unevolved] throughout most of vertebrate evolution”.  Birds have just one of the amino acid substitutions, but they are higher up the presumed evolutionary tree than frogs.  This means the other substitution would have had to revert backward if evolution had occurred.  Furthermore, the authors did not consider the possibility that the slight sequence difference in birds might provide a functional adaptation for their aquaporins to support vision while flying.
1.  Jensen, Dror, Xu, Borhani, Arkin, Eastwood, and Shaw, “Dynamic control of slow water transport by aquaporin 0: Implications for hydration and junction stability in the eye lens,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print September 11, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0802401105.
The references to evolution in the PNAS paper are useless.  As is so typical, the Darwinspeak provides only an aftermarket narrative gloss on the scientific content so as to preserve the philosophy of naturalism.  Evolution doesn’t perform any function in the body of scientific knowledge.  It’s like a tumor.  Human brains and science will be much healthier after undergoing a radical Darwinectomy.*
Next headline on:  HealthHuman BodyIntelligent Design
*CEH radiation therapy, with its gentle non-invasive beams of truth, is known to be a relatively painless and effective alternative treatment for shrinking Darwin tumors, provided the patient continues exposure on a regular basis.

A reader wrote in: “I’d already had my radical Darwinectomy years ago.  But I can personally vouch for the ongoing medicinal benefits of regular doses of CEH radiation therapy to help purge any residual evolutionary cancer.  And it’s great for the heart, too (Proverbs 17:22).” – a PhD biologist in Australia who was a former atheist.

End of the Neanderthal Myth?   09/23/2008    
Sept 23, 2008 — A grim Neanderthal face stares out from the cover of the October 2008 National Geographic Magazine.  Coinciding with the cover story is a TV special, Neanderthal Code, about the Neanderthal genome.  Both are replete with artwork from the magazine’s army of illustrators charged with putting flesh on bones and bringing lost prehistories to life.  The magazine’s cover title emphasizes a certain word: “The Other Humans: Neanderthals Revealed.”  That word other is the center of a long-standing belief that appears to have collapsed.  Were they really distinct from modern humans?  What do we mean by “other”?
    Conjectures and cave stories about Neanderthals have been legion.  The conventional wisdom for over a century (though less so recently) has been that Neanderthals were stocky, brutish and intellectually inferior beings who were supplanted by the leaner, smarter modern humans moving into their space.  Neanderthals had brawn; moderns had brain.  Who hasn’t seen artwork of fur-clad grunter-hunters chasing after mammoths in the ice age?  Though National Geographic entertained some of the latest controversies about Neanderthals, they chose a bad time to label them as “other.”  A commentary in PNAS today has essentially removed the last argument for calling them different.1  The title is right to the point: “Separating ‘us’ from ‘them’: Neanderthal and modern human behavior.”
    Pat Shipman (anthropologist, Penn State) began her commentary with a tone of remorse, as if ready to confess to a kind of paleontological racism:
Neanderthals have always been treated like the poor relation in the human family.  From the recognition of the first partial skeleton from Feldhofer, Germany, in 1856, Neanderthals made scientists uneasy.  Initially they were viewed as too physically apelike to fit into Homo sapiens and too brutishly primitive to have been capable of modern human behavior.  Now, new information on Neanderthal adaptations has come from Gibraltar, an island where an adult Neanderthal cranium and pieces of a Neanderthal child’s skull were found previously.  As reported in this issue of PNAS, evidence from Vanguard and Gorham’s caves indicates that Neanderthals used unexpectedly modern and complex subsistence strategies.
Most anthropologists had already brought Neanderthals well within the human circle 10/25/2007).  Erik Trinkaus, for instance, believes that Neanderthals and modern humans interbred (08/02/2007).  Most accepted them as good hunters, dexterous, social, artistic and successful in just about every way – no “poor relation” to modern humans.  It has been known for a long time that their skull capacity was, on average, larger than ours.  Still, many anthropologists just couldn’t give up the notion that they were – well, maybe not stupid, but – not as sophisticated as moderns in terms of social behaviors, creativity, and living strategies.
    Shipman challenged that last argument for classifying Neanderthals as “other.”  Evidence from the Gibraltar caves shows that they possessed all four complex behaviors thought characteristic of modern humans: (1) broad use of land resources, (2) sea fishing and hunting, (3) use of small scale resources, and (4) scheduling resource use by the seasons.  This revelation came with some emotion.  “That modern human subsistence behaviors would show up among archaic humans like Neanderthals, even as late as ~28,000 B.P.,” she remarked, “is startling.”  What does it mean?
    Basically, it means the anthropologists have been wrong about our brethren all along.  It undermines the notion that Neanderthals were the losers in competition with more modern, more sophisticated Homo sapiens sapiens.  Notice her last question:
Paleoanthropologists currently debate whether any set of attributes of material culture can distinguish between modern and archaic human behavior.  In particular, McBrearty and Brooks challenge the paradigm that there was an abrupt “human revolution” ~40,000 years ago in Europe that marked the invasion of modern humans and the onset of modern behavior (but see ref. 16 for another view).  In Gibraltar, Neanderthals and modern humans apparently shared similar or identical “modern” subsistence practices at ~28,000, yet Neanderthals were clearly outside of the range of morphological and genetic variability of modern humans.2  If behavior did not separate “us” (modern humans) from “them” (Neanderthals), what did?
In addition, she asked, if Neanderthals and modern humans lived and worked side by side at Gibraltar with the same subsistence strategies, why did they go extinct?  Shipman ended by saying, “Answers to these questions are likely to be elusive.”  Her only hope was that “more research into carefully chosen, meticulously excavated, and thoughtfully analyzed sites may be one way to begin to find them.”

1.  Pat Shipman, “Separating ‘us’ from ‘them’: Neanderthal and modern human behavior,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published September 22, 2008, doi:10.1073/pnas.0807931105.
2.  This claim needs to be understood in context.  For one thing, if Neanderthals were indeed capable of interbreeding with modern humans, they were fully human.  Also, the NG article quotes Ed Green commenting on the Neanderthal genome, “We know that the human and chimpanzee sequences are 98.7 percent the same,3 and Neanderthals are much closer to us than chimps, so the reality is that for most of the sequence, there’s no difference between Neanderthals and [modern] humans.”  The differences amount to half a percent – but even then, how representative are our samples of Neanderthal DNA?  How well do we know the genetic diversity among the entire Neanderthal population?  Statistical claims like these are bound to be overturned by more data.
3.  It is unfortunate that NG did not challenge Green’s reiteration of the false yet often-assumed statistic that only 1.3% separates human and chimpanzee DNA (see 06/29/2007, CMI #1 and CMI #2).
The answers aren’t elusive at all.  It’s only evolutionary blinders that obscure the obvious to those who refuse to see.  Creationists aren’t surprised.  They feel vindicated
    The whole human evolution story is a farce.  Think about this, for starters: now that we know Neanderthals were the mental equivalents of modern humans, evolutionists would have us believe that these people lived among and hunted all the big mammals for over 100,000 years – ten times all recorded human history – and in all that time never learned to ride a horse (11/09/2007, 08/16/2008) or plant a farm or build a city.  Is that even remotely credible?  Even when “modern humans” showed up 30,000 years ago it supposedly took them 22,000 years to figure it out.  Does that match anything you know about our curious, inventive species?  In the Darwin paleofantasyland scenario (02/22/2008), some lucky mutation must have just switched on abstract language (02/21/2008), architecture and agriculture out of nowhere (02/22/2008), because archaeology shows these abilities full blown from the start.  Who can believe the evolutionary tales any longer?  Look how goofy they can get (see 05/29/2008, 05/02/2008, 10/28/2007).
    The next day after Shipman’s commentary, National Geographic News tried to do damage control.  Their article repeated the same fictional plot line, this time with feeling: “Neanderthals and modern humans are distinct species that split from a common ancestor several hundred thousand years ago.”  This was followed by “Test your Neanderthal knowledge with our online quiz,” which being interpreted, means, “Let’s make sure your indoctrination level is safe before we reveal the next admission.”  This was followed by an astonishing backtrack:
Why modern humans thrived and Neanderthals ultimately failed has long been a topic of scientific intrigue, and previous research had suggested that the ability to exploit marine resources was one of the defining characteristics for the success of modern humans.
    But the new research may eliminate sophisticated foraging skills from the list of potential advantages unique to humans.
    “I don’t think that the success of one or the other had to do with subsistence, with the way they hunted or fed,” Finlayson said.
    “There may be other factors coming into this, or it may just have been a question of luck.
Emphasize that word intrigue (def: “to accomplish or force by crafty plotting or underhand machinations”).  Pay attention: this quote is a complete admission of ignorance.  “It could be this factor, it could be that factor, it could be Lady Luck”  (cf. 03/18/2008).  What kind of scientific explanation is that?  Attributing events to chance is no better than appealing to the Stuff Happens Law (see 09/15/2008 commentary).  A cartoon on EvidentCreation (2nd cartoon) illustrates the principle.  Ignorance is not science, even if you use the methods of science to explore the extent of your ignorance.  What does the word science mean?  Knowledge.  The know-nothings (02/22/2008) have no claim on science, white lab coats notwithstanding (cf. 05/06/2008).  The Darwin diviners (07/26/2008 commentary) only surpass the Babylonians in the sophistication of their ignorance.
    The BBC News tried to rescue a bad situation in their report with a quote from Chris Stringer [Natural History Museum, London]: “So there still is an element of superiority,” [Where!?]  “but it is a much more finely balanced one now” [What!?]  “This is yet another difference that had been proposed between Neanderthals and moderns which now disappears.”  That’s falsification, folks!  Where is that finely-balanced superiority they just talked about?  It just disappeared, along with their credibility.  Again, no remorse, and no repentance for their entrenched fossil racism.
    Live Science quoted Clive Finlayson of the Gibraltar Museum as a spoiler: “Deep down there is this idea that modern humans are cognitively superior and therefore able to outcompete Neanderthals.  I suppose we’ve thrown a bit of a spanner in the works by showing that Neanderthals were doing exactly the same thing.”  Of course, he wasn’t surprised, he said.  He’s been arguing for many years that Neanderthals “were as intelligent as modern humans with similar behaviors.”  OK, so how exactly are the Darwinians supposed to run that flag up the pole?  Big help he is.  This is the same guy who told NG the modern humans won out by chance – not by natural selection.  This abandons any grounds for making human evolution a theory based on laws of nature; it reduces to the Stuff Happens Law.
    The rest of National Geographic’s too-little-too-late article resorts to the usual evolutionist misdirection tactic of handing out promissory notes for evolutionary futureware:
To resolve the issue, Marean recommends a systematic comparison of Neanderthal and human seafood collection at sites with similar availability.
    “Were Neanderthals [exploiting seafood] like we expect they would if they were modern?  And if they weren’t, then the question is: Why?” he said.
    “We could be getting into something interesting there, for sure.”
Veddyyy inteddesting, yah, foor shoor.  Do you get angry at admissions like this?  You should.  Think how much damage has been done by the Neanderthal myth.  For over a century, school children have been indoctrinated into a vision that Neanderthals were some kind of pre-modern, human-but-not-quite product of evolution that the superior moderns (like us and the Europeans) knocked out of the race.  Countless posters, artist reconstructions, museum dummies and TV specials have told and re-told this myth for decades.  National Geographic Magazine has been one of the worst repeat offenders.  Where is their shame?  Any sign of remorse?  None whatsoever.  They still portray their organization as a beacon of scientific knowledge, leading us into a glorious future of understanding our origins.
    Neanderthal Man was one of the last in the famous parade of hominids leading to the ultimate product, us.  The iconic evolutionary march of progress to Thoroughly Modern Man (and Millie) has been the subject of countless cartoons.  But it’s not funny.  This has been bad science.  It has been perpetrated with an agenda to make evolutionary philosophy appear scientific.  Now, after all that propaganda, they ask, if behavior did not separate “us” from “them,” what did?  The answer is obvious.  Nothing!
    Imagine the myths that could have been spun with the bones of living humans from differing parts of the world.  Put a Watusi skeleton next to an Eskimo in the Museum of Man, and just imagine the yarns you could spin.  That is basically what has happened here.  Extreme members of the same species have been put side by side, and a fictional fable has been foisted on the unsuspecting for over a century.  Long ago it was noted that you could give a shave and a suit to a Neanderthal Man, have him walk down a New York sidewalk, and nobody would notice, even without the shave.
    It’s not science that led culture down this primrose path.  It was the Darwinians – those usurping materialists who have a psychological need to force every bit of evidence into a moyboy (09/16/2005) scheme of progress from particles to people via mindless, undirected, purposeless natural processes of evolution.  They are a blight on science.  Real scientists, who find cures for disease and peer into the workings of the cell, and explore space and seek to understand the laws of physics and chemistry that bring us technological advances – God bless them all – owe nothing to these pretenders.  Like parasites, the Darwinians sap the resources of their host and use it for their own advantage.  And did you notice?  These are the same people who most vehemently breathe fire against the scientists who actually have the resources to explain the origin of life and human history (the creationists).
    Let this fact melt into the folds of your cerebrum: the Darwinians were wrong again for 150 years! – just like they have been wrong about the origin of life, the fossil record, and the genetic code.  What major discovery did not hit them like a complete surprise? (the DNA code, the complexity of the cell, Mendel’s laws, the Cambrian explosion, living fossils, “convergent evolution” everywhere, to name a few examples).  What prediction did they make that has not been falsified? (e.g., molecular phylogeny, ease of self-assembly of molecules into a cell, unlimited genetic variation, evolution of the horse, life on Mars, and much more – read the back issues).  Their scientific theory is all vaporware and futureware.  Their scientific method is just-so storytelling (02/22/2008).  Their list of scientific accomplishments is a list of failures and deflated hype – a growing midden of discarded ideas, piling up and stinking to high heaven.  Their scientific legacy is a ghastly record of intolerance, arrogance, destructive doctrines and crimes against humanity.  How can real scientists stand being associated with these incorrigible miscreants?  (miscreant, n., adj.: depraved, behaving badly, scoundrel, reprobate.)  What have they done for you lately, you true scientists out there?  They are destroying your good reputation.
    Take Darwin and evolution and the Victorian myth of progress out of the 19th century, and what might have happened?  Creationists would have looked at the robust skeletons dug up from the field of Christian hymnwriter Joachim Neander (see 10/26/2001), and interpreted them as fully human without a blink.  Creationist historians would have fit them into Biblical history after Babel, looking into the Table of Nations for clues.  Creationist geneticists would have recognized the propensity for exaggeration of features with inbreeding of family groups.  Creationist anatomists (like Jack Cuozzo) would theorize that the skeletons represented long-lived humans, just like the Bible said existed around the time of the Flood.  Creationist geologists would have not been misled by myths about humans evolving from apes over millions of years, and so would have felt no pressure to fit these humans into a long, stretched-out timeline.  Creationist anthropologists would not have called it “startling” to find them using the same hunting and subsistence strategies as other tribes at Gibraltar.  Who would have been more correct?  Who would have felt more comfortable with the evidence?  The fate of the evolutionist is to be constantly startled by facts that don’t fit their plot line.
    Stop calling our ancient dead forebears Neanderthals – they were people.  Stop the “us” vs “them” racist rhetoric; they were our brothers.  This final collapse of the evolutionary Neanderthal Myth should arouse a call for accountability.  Americans are all up in arms right now about high-profile managers of money funds who mismanaged affairs terribly, causing major economic catastrophes, yet profited by their misdeeds to the tune of tens of millions of dollars in salaries and pensions.  The evolutionists should pay for what they have done.  It’s time to defrock them of their white lab coats, charge them with impersonating a scientist (09/30/2007) and send them packing.  Don’t let them say that science is marching on and correcting itself.  This was a painful, totally unnecessary, 150-year detour.  Don’t let them say more research will figure it out.  They cannot be trusted any more.  Don’t let them say this is just how science works.  Science is supposed to be a search for the truth.  Don’t let them say this was just an academic correction.  It seduced the minds of millions of school children.  It destroyed people’s faith.  It was all lies, lies, lies!  Citizens who love science should get really angry right about now.
    Channel that righteous anger into constructive action – like cleaning house at the Science Academy.  One effective method is to cut off the flow of money for evolutionary research and other oxymorons.
Next headline on:  Early ManFossilsDating MethodsEvolutionary Theory
Leaves Don’t Fall; They’re Pushed   09/22/2008    
Sept 22, 2008 — Rocks may fall (thus the need for warning signs on highways), but leaves are pushed off of trees by a genetic program.  The process, called abscission, has been mysterious for a long time.  A team from the University of Missouri has mapped out, for the first time, the abscission pathway in one plant.  Being this is the first day of fall, it would be worthwhile to think about the processes behind autumn’s colorful cascade of leaves.
    The opening paragraph in PNAS1 shows why leaf fall doesn’t just happen.  Look at just a few of the processes involved:
Abscission is a physiological process that involves the programmed separation of entire organs, such as leaves, petals, flowers, and fruit.  Abscission allows plants to discard nonfunctional or infected organs, and promotes dispersion of progeny.  At the cellular level, abscission is the hydrolysis of the middle lamella of an anatomically specialized cell layer, the abscission zone (AZ), by cell wall-modifying and hydrolyzing enzymes.  Thus, abscission requires both the formation of the AZ early in the development of a plant organ and the subsequent activation of the cell separation response.
Gene knockout experiments showed that proteins missing from a signalling cascade formed plants deficient in abscission ability.  “A growing paradigm in signal transduction pathways,” they explained, “features receptor modules that perceive signals and modules such as MAPK cascades that relay and amplify this information to downstream effectors.”  Because little is known about this signalling process, they studied it in the common lab plant Arabidopsis (a European/Asian herb also called thale cress).
    A press release about the study posted on PhysOrg was titled, “When leaves fall, more is occurring than a change of weather.”  That can be illustrated by the researchers’ ending paragraph.  It shows they uncovered the workings of only a small part of a very complex process:
Multiple gene products, including potential signaling ligands, membrane receptors, protein kinase cascades, regulators of hormone responses, and transcription factors have been implicated in the regulation of abscission in plants.  We have demonstrated, by several different lines of evidence, that there is a signaling cascade (Fig. 5B), from putative ligand (IDA) to receptors (HAE HSL2) to cytoplasmic effectors (MKK4, MKK5, MPK3, and MPK6), which function together to control cell separation during abscissionAdditional gene products are also likely to play important roles in abscission and the relationships between them and the signaling pathway outlined here remain to be determined.  However, based on the genetic interactions between IDA, HAE, HSL2, MKK4, and MKK5, it seems that this core signaling cascade is an important regulator of floral abscission.
All this for something we take for granted this time of year: colorful leaves drifting by the window.
1.  Cho, Larue, Chevalier, Wang, Jinn, Zhang, and Walker, “Regulation of floral organ abscission in Arabidopsis thaliana,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print September 22, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0805539105.
The autumn leaves drift by my window,
The autumn leaves of red and gold;
I dream of genes and MAPK modules,
Of signal pathways yet scarcely told.
When evolutionists continue to proclaim glib generalities about how plants evolved this and animals evolved that, it’s essential to look in detail at some of the structures and processes they’re talking about.  Even something as common as leaf fall is not simple.  The plant has to sense the time of year.  It has to signal the nucleus to translate genes and produce the right proteins in the right quantities.  These form a cascade of signals, with feedback loops, that instigate changes in cell adhesion.  The right cells have to start separating in the right order.  Simultaneously, the photosynthetic organs have to shut down.  The changes in pigments have to be expressed to provide plant protection (10/27/2007).  The stems have to weaken so the leaves will drop only when the plant has enough resources for the coming winter.  These are just a few considerations behind the programmed, coordinated, environmentally-responsive genetic program devoted just to this one operation.
    The PhysOrg article tried to explain why leaves fall.  “Aged leaves, for example, may be shed to facilitate the recycling of nutrients, ripening fruits dropped to promote seed dispersal and infected or diseased floral organs discarded to prevent the spread of disease.”  Whoa... that’s teleology-talk.  Stop right there on that first suggestion.  How could a tree plan its own recycling program?  After the leaves have dropped, the nutrients are gone.  They’re lying on the ground.  it doesn’t make any sense to say that the plant facilitated a recycling program, nor that it was trying to promote its own seed dispersal, or trying to prevent the spread of disease.  The plant is a brainless machine programmed with these functions.  If you don’t believe computers can emerge and program themselves, then plants cannot do such things, either.  Such subtle personification fallacies are ubiquitous in evolutionary literature.  Plants do these things because they were programmed to do them.
    Many questions remain.  How does the whole plant know to change color all at once?  Since abscission also relates to fruit and seed dispersal, how does the abscission program know when the seed ripening program has completed?  How do the stems on maple seeds loosen at precisely the time when the seeds, that work like marvelous propellers in the wind, are ready to fly?  Let’s teach our kids to see beyond the surface properties of nature into its marvelous secrets.  This is good inoculation against dogmas that would have them believe complex programmed operations just happen.
    Suggested visual resources: Journey of Life and Wonders of God’s Creation from Moody Video, and Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution from Exploration Films.  Or, take a walk in the woods for a 360-degree, surround-sound demonstration.
Next headline on:  PlantsGeneticsAmazing Facts
  Galileo dies (09/21/2003 – the spacecraft, not the scientist), leaving behind a legacy of puzzling discoveries at Jupiter.  Back on Earth, idolatry re-invades the land of Israel, from 09/26/2003.

Questioning Earth’s Privileges   09/20/2008    
Sept 20, 2008 — Two articles this week downplayed considerations that would make the Earth seem like a special place in the universe.  Both have ties to NASA.
    Are life-friendly stars limited to a narrow band in the galaxy called the Galactic Habitable Zone (GHZ)?  NASA-supported Astrobiology Magazine cast doubt on the idea.  Citing a study by a doctoral student at the University of Washington, the article claims stars can migrate in the galactic disk and end up at radial distances very far from where they formed.  If that is true, it must not be a requirement for a star to be in the GHZ to obtain the heavy elements necessary for rocky planets and life.
    The article does not mention the work of Guillermo Gonzalez (a former U of Washington assistant professor) who proposed the GHZ, but references at the end of the article point to a 2001 entry on Astrobiology Magazine that entertained his GHZ hypothesis as a “very, very interesting idea.”  Since then, many remember, Gonzalez was “expelled” from Iowa State (05/22/2007, bullet 5), for his involvement with the intelligent design movement – in particular, his co-authorship of an ID book The Privileged Planet (06/24/2004) and appearance in a documentary of the same name.
    Gonzalez never suggested that the radial extent of the GHZ was well constrained.  In Privileged Planet, he used it as just one of many cosmic “coincidences” that suggest the universe is designed to permit scientific discovery.
    On a related subject, Edna DeVore asked on Space.com “How rare is the Earth?”  She didn’t answer the question.  Instead, as co-investigator for the upcoming Kepler mission that will search for earth-like planets, she encouraged citizens to write NASA an email that will be placed on the spacecraft.  Anyone can submit a 500-word statement about the search for planets like Earth”  DeVore (who is also Director of Education and Outreach for the SETI Institute) did not mention anything about Johannes Kepler, for whom the mission is named.  Though interested in the possibility of other inhabited worlds, Kepler was a strong Protestant Christian who would most likely have stood with Gonzalez arguing that our world was intelligently designed.

This new NASA propaganda article is a weak response to the GHZ hypothesis.  For one thing, it is a half-truth as a counter-argument.  The abundance of heavy elements only applied to the outer edge of the GHZ.  The inner edge may have plenty of heavy elements, but it has other problems – radiation, collisions and no clear view of the cosmos.  In addition, the article did nothing to constrain the locales where a star could get its heavy elements.  Presumably there is still a GHZ outside of which stars could not gather enough heavy elements for rocky planets.
    Even if one were to grant that stars can migrate radially, it does not eliminate or reduce the argument for intelligent design of the Earth.  Assume for the moment the evolutionist’s timeline and origin stories.  One has to ask why our planet’s location just “happens” to be at a prime location between the spiral arms for an unobstructed view of the distant universe just in time for the rise of modern science to take advantage of the situation.
    The GHZ argument is not a clincher by itself.  It is one of a number of independent evidences that collectively point to the reasonableness of the design explanation.  Watch the film to see how the combined evidence makes a compelling case that even materialists like Paul Davies and Robert Jastrow could not ignore.
    DeVore needs to watch it, too.  She parroted the typical Copernican myth: “It’s been about four centuries since Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo began to displace the Earth from the center of the universe,” she claimed.  “Less than one hundred years ago, we discovered that the sun was not near the center either, and that the Milky Way galaxy was just one of billions of galaxies and that the universe has no center.”  Not only is this a misrepresentation of the views of three great Christian theists, it is a distortion of the Copernican revolution.  Watch the film and you will learn why.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemStars and GalaxiesCosmologySETIIntelligent Design
Liberals Less Skittish than Conservatives, Study Claims   09/19/2008    
Sept 19, 2008 — A study by scientists at University of Nebraska claims that conservatives are more easily startled than liberals, reported National Geographic News.  The results, partly funded by the National Science Foundation and published in Science,1 referenced a 2006 paper from Evolution and Human Behavior that had claimed “feelings of disgust and fear of disease have been suggested to be related to political attitudes.”
    The findings were disputed by other scientists quoted in the NG article, who thought the results could be interpreted various ways.  The reactions could have been due to different causes, they said, than the researchers assumed.  See also Science Daily’s summary that was published Sept 22.
1.  Oxley et al, “Political Attitudes Vary with Physiological Traits,” Science, 19 September 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5896, pp. 1667-1670, DOI: 10.1126/science.1157627.
Makes perfect sense.  Conservatives are more likely to be alert, sober, clothed and in their right minds.  That’s why the liberal participants were cool and loose with scientists wasting their tax money on dumb projects.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsDumb Ideas
Good read: Mollie Hemingway on the Wall Street Journal argues that the ostensibly pro-science atheists act and think more irrationally than the Christians they ridicule as scientifically illiterate.

Ant What it Used to Be   09/18/2008    
Sept 18, 2008 — A new species of subterranean ant discovered in Brazil is so weird, biologists have classified it as the sole representative of a new subfamily.  The alien creature has been whimsically named Martialis heureka: “the ant from Mars.”  An article about it in Nature News said, “It adds a new branch to the ant family tree which split off from the others extremely early in the family’s evolution.”  Trouble is, it doesn’t look anything like a wasp, from which ants supposedly evolved (see picture on National Geographic).
    This has thrown ideas of ant evolution into a bit of a quandary.  Christian Rabeling, the discoverer, found that this ant did not fit into the existing taxonomy.  Scientists are calling this a relict species of a sister family they have named Martialis.  The original paper in PNAS says, “On the basis of morphological and phylogenetic evidence we suggest that these specialized subterranean predators are the sole surviving representatives of a highly divergent lineage that arose near the dawn of ant diversification and have persisted in ecologically stable environments like tropical soils over great spans of time.”  That makes it essentially a living fossil.  Like the duck-billed platypus is to mammals,” explained Nature News, “it’s clearly a cousin to other ants, yet a weird and ancestral version that took its own evolutionary direction early on.”  This must be what the title of the paper means when it says the discovery “sheds light on early ant evolution.
    A look inside the paper, though, reveals a few problems with the confident assertions about evolution:

A robust phylogeny is indispensable for elucidating the evolutionary origin of ants and for exploring the selective forces that have produced their extraordinary specializations.  Previously published studies, however, led to contradicting views of early ant evolution, in part because of high levels of morphological convergence, the secondary loss of characters, and a lack of informative paleontological data.  As a result, numerous taxa have been proposed as the most basal lineage.
Recent attempts to find a robust phylogeny have now been dealt another challenge with the discovery of M. heureka.  Their phylogenetic tree shows it on its own branch, all by itself.  Another problem is revealed deep in the paper: “Second, the basal ant lineages seem to have originated in a relatively short period, potentially making the unambiguous resolution of their relationships quite difficult and sensitive to methodological error.”  The only suggestion of light being shed on ant evolution by this discovery is that it turns their attention away from the idea ants evolved from wasps.  What they expected, and what they found, were pointing in opposite ways:
Our phylogenetic analyses, combined with the inferred biology of M.  heureka, suggest that the most basal extant ant lineages are cryptic, hypogaeic foragers, rather than wasp-like, epigaeic foragers (Fig. 3).  This finding is congruent with recent molecular studies, which previously suggested the Leptanillinae, another subfamily of subterranean predators, to be sister lineage to all extant ants.  This result has puzzled ant systematists for two reasons.  First, Wilson et al.’s classic study of the Mesozoic amber ant Sphecomyrma postulated that the ancestral ant was a large-eyed, wasp-like, ground forager, creating a strong expectation that the most basal extant ant lineages would also be epigaeic foragers, presumably similar to Sphecomyrma.  Second, the Leptanillinae [blind foragers in Africa] share common morphological and behavioral characteristics with the Amblyoponinae, implying the monophyly of this group.  In contrast, our results and recent molecular systematic studies suggest that blind, subterranean, specialized predators, like Martialis, the Leptanillinae, and some poneroids, evolved early during ant diversification.  We hypothesize, that once these hypogaeic predators adapted to their specialized subterranean environment, their morphology and biology changed little over evolutionary time because their hypogaeic habitat has likely been ecologically stable and provided a refuge from competition with other, more recently evolved, ants.  It is important to note that no definitive statement about the morphology and life history of the ancestral, Mesozoic ant can be derived from our current knowledge about the surviving basalmost ant lineages, because the relative probabilities of evolutionary transitions between epigaeic and hypogaeic habits are uncertain.
They explained that the supposition that ants evolved from wasps relies on ambiguous data subject to alternative hypotheses.  One other problem with their suggestion that ants evolved from wasps is that Martialis would make the ant hypogaeic [underground] foraging evolve three times.  That’s why they are suggesting the basal ant was already a hypogaeic forager.  “The exact nature of the ancestral ant remains uncertain,” though, “given that the propensity for repeated evolution of a hypogaeic lifestyle may be higher than for reevolution of an epigaeic lifestyle.”
    In short, no clear light seems to have been shed on ant evolution by this discovery.  It was a complete surprise.  What other surprises lie in store?  “This discovery hints at a wealth of species, possibly of great evolutionary importance, still hidden in the soils of the remaining rainforests.”
    Stefan Cover, a curatorial assistant at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, had a more humble view.  In the Nature News article, he said that Martialis “jars us out of going with our familiar conceptions... This is a lesson that we could probably import into studies of other groups.
1.  Rabeling, Brown and Verhaugh, “Newly discovered sister lineage sheds light on early ant evolution,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print September 15, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0806187105.
We can suggest some other studies of other groups where evolutionists could import this lesson: how about the Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae and Animalia? (the five kingdoms of taxonomy).
    The discoverers put their weird little ant in a jar, but maybe the scientists need to be put in one, because Martialis “jars us out of going with our familiar conceptions,” Cover said.  While they’re safely in a jar out of harm’s way (unable to harm us, that is), let’s hunt for more rainforest species with great evolutionary importance.  Jarring evolutionists is fun.  Every new discovery jars them into realizing their neat little schemes are wrong.  They’re like blind hypogaeic foragers, digging around in their own dirt, thinking every new surprise is shedding light on evolution.
    That phrase – “Shed[ding] light on evolution” – yields thousands of hits on Google.  We’ve examined dozens of those claims right here.  Can you remember one that has turned up a single photon?  The truth is they are walking in a darkness of their own making.  The light they need to see is the flashing red stop light next to the “Wrong Way” sign they missed back in 1859.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyEvolutionary Theory
  In 2002, planetary scientists were wringing their hands over Io, wondering where this moon gets the heat for its super-hot lavas (09/27/2002).  Any better explanations in the six years since?  Nope; and now they have Enceladus to worry about (08/04/2007, bullet 3).

Is Dinosaur Diversity an Artifact of Headline-Hunting?   09/17/2008    
Sept 17, 2008 — Many dinosaurs classed as different species are actually the same animal with different names, a publication of the Royal Society announced.  Read two news reports on this, however, and you will get two different opinions about how serious the problem is.
    Rex Dalton in Nature News sounded the alarm: “One hundred and thirty-five years of questionable judgments, some driven by a lust for headlines, have left dinosaur nomenclature in disarray, according to two new studies.”  His article, “In search of Thingummyjigosaurus,” claims that nearly half the names given to dinosaurs have errors.  “The high error rate is not just a problem for fossil hunters; it is a warning that scientists should take extra precautions when identifying new species as they assess modern biodiversity, too, says [Michael] Benton.”  Benton [U of Bristol], author of one of the studies, said “It is a bit scary” to think that there are so many misnamed species.  16% of dinosaur names are duplicates, the study found, and another 32% have other classification problems.
    The BBC News downplayed the seriousness of the problems.  It says most of the errors were made by self-promoting headline seekers in the early years of dinosaur hunting; “My research suggests we’re getting better at naming things; we’re being more critical; we’re using better material,” Benton told the BBC.  Another source of error has been the fragmentary nature of the evidence.  Paleontologists often have to classify a fossil based on just a hip or leg bone or vertebra.  In spite of these difficulties, “modern practice is now very good,” the BBC claimed.
    Still, the BBC acknowledged that the ramifications of bad classification can be serious.  “There’s no point somebody such as myself doing big statistical analyses of numbers of dinosaur species through time – or indeed any other fossil group – if you can’t be confident that they really are genuinely different,” Benton told the BBC.  Accuracy is important for all biodiversity studies.  “People have also been looking at our current knowledge of mammals and insects and other animal groups and asking the simple question: are the species totals and lists we use for important conclusions – including to give political advice about endangered species – are they correct?” Benton asked.  “There’s been a big debate about vast extinctions among amphibians.  We have to know what the species are first, before we can talk about that.”

This is the inverse of a long-lost cartoon.  A museum curator in Mexico shows a patron the skull of Montezuma.  Another smaller skull nearby prompts a question about whose it was.  “That,” the curator announces confidently, “is the skull of Montezuma as a little boy.”  There was a case of classifying two individuals as one man.  This is a case of classifying like objects as different species.  Think of the fun they could have with dogs and cats.
    Classification is a human game.  Classification can have impact on human psyches and politics.  Remember that when you see a Thingummyjigosaurus in the museum, it might just be a Artifactofnomenclaturasaurus by another name.  But make no mistake.  That Bullfrogus headlineus in the path of construction is an endangered species.  Quick, pass a law!
Next headline on:  DinosaursPolitics and Ethics
The Prevolution of Evolution: Life Marches In   09/17/2008    
Sept 17, 2008 — There’s a new word preceding the E word evolution.  Two Harvard scientists have made up a new word, prevolution, to describe a supposed stage before replication when natural selection was helping evolution evolve.  What does prevolution act on?  Simple, silly: prelife.
    Martin Nowak and Hisashi Ohtsuki titled their paper in PNAS, “Prevolutionary dynamics and the origin of evolution.”1  By defining life in terms of evolution, they set the stage for a continuous process of evolution from chemicals to man, with information just appearing along the way.  Their abstract makes it all sound very straightforward.
Life is that which replicates and evolves.  The origin of life is also the origin of evolution.  A fundamental question is when do chemical kinetics become evolutionary dynamics?  Here, we formulate a general mathematical theory for the origin of evolution.  All known life on earth is based on biological polymers, which act as information carriers and catalysts.  Therefore, any theory for the origin of life must address the emergence of such a system.  We describe prelife as an alphabet of active monomers that form random polymers.  Prelife is a generative system that can produce information.  Prevolutionary dynamics have selection and mutation, but no replication.  Life marches in with the ability of replication: Polymers act as templates for their own reproduction.  Prelife is a scaffold that builds life.  Yet, there is competition between life and prelife.  There is a phase transition: If the effective replication rate exceeds a critical value, then life outcompetes prelife.  Replication is not a prerequisite for selection, but instead, there can be selection for replication.  Mutation leads to an error threshold between life and prelife.
So life just marches in like the saints.  It builds scaffolds.  It crystallizes like ice out of water.  What’s the problem?  Their mathematics show it must be so.
    It remains to be seen whether other scientists who have sweated over the origin of life will buy their definitions and descriptions.  A look inside their paper shows the usual math and graphs.  Mathematical derivations, however, often rely on initial conditions that are assumed.  What are they assuming?  Here’s where the word crops up:
  • We assume, for simplicity, that all sequences grow in one direction.
  • At first, we assume that the active monomers are in a steady state.
  • For “supersymmetric” prelife, we assume that a0 = a1 = alpha/2, and ai = a for all other i.
  • Let us now assume that some sequences can act as a templates for replication.
  • Fig. 3 shows the competition between life (replication) and prelife.  We assume a random prelife landscape where the ai values are taken from a uniform distribution between 0 and 1.  All sequences of length n = 6 have the ability to replicate.
  • All fundamental equations of evolutionary and ecological dynamics assume replication, but here, we have explored the dynamical properties of a system before replication and the emergence of replication.
Is the scheme rigged to achieve the result?  “Traditionally, one thinks of natural selection as choosing between different replicators,” they said; indeed, replication has usually been understood as a prerequisite for natural selection.  Nowak and Ohtsuki offer a different approach.  “In the present theory, however, we encounter natural selection before replication.”  How?  Because they envision information carriers competing for resources in the chemical soup.  By inventing a concept of prelife, they can have natural selection occurring “within prelife and between life and prelife.”  In this way, natural selection “is not a consequence of replication, but instead natural selection leads to replication.”  This inverted scenario requires some unpacking.
    First of all, what do they mean by information?  They defined “prelife” as “an alphabet of active monomers that form random polymers.”  No information so far.  But then they said, “Prelife is a generative system that can produce information.”  Let’s follow their use of that word (information) in the paper.  The paper began by admitting that “Evolution needs a generative system that can produce unlimited information.  Evolution needs populations of information carriers.”  But did they ever define what they mean by information?  It appears they include too much in their picture: “we can define a prebiotic chemistry that can produce any binary string and thereby generate, in principle, unlimited information and diversity,” they said.  “We call such a system prelife and the associated dynamics prevolution (Fig. 1).”  It is doubtful that most theorists would consider the set of all possible random strings as information.  By lowering the standard of information, they have helped themselves to “information carriers” that can compete on a stage of “prevolution” of “prelife.”
    How plausible is this?  It appears they have indiscriminately considered any polymer that “outcompetes” the others (by being more abundant) to be a contender leading to life.  What if, however, the leading polymer – even if it can replicate – tends toward clumps that precipitate on the seafloor, till all available resources are used up?  It would seem that one cannot assume that all sequences of building blocks are equally pregnant with life possibilities.  Abundant replicators can lead to a dead end.  At some point the leading polymer in the race for life has to contain functional information.  The set of polymers capable of acting as templates of their own replication, furthermore, seems much smaller than the set of all polymers.
    Their model is highly theoretical.  They made no claims what the polymers are made of.  Are the molecules made of RNA, DNA, PNA, or TNA?  Are they one-handed?  Math notwithstanding, models must at some point come to grips with real chemicals in a real solvent in a real environment.  It is to be expected that real molecules will be much more intransigent than hypothetical ones.  Their conclusion makes it clear that their scheme works only on a chalkboard:
We have proposed a mathematical theory for studying the origin of evolution.  Our aim was to formulate the simplest possible population dynamics that can produce information and complexity.  We began with a “binary soup” where activated monomers form random polymers (binary strings) of any length (Fig. 1).  Selection emerges in prelife, if some sequences grow faster than others (Fig. 2).  Replication marks the transition from prelife to life, from prevolution to evolution.  Prelife allows a continuous origin of life.  There is also competition between life and prelife.  Life is selected over prelife only if the replication rate is greater than a certain threshold (Fig. 3).  Mutation during replication leads to an error threshold between life and prelife. Life can emerge only if the mutation rate is less than a critical value that is proportional to the inverse of the sequence length (Fig. 4).  All fundamental equations of evolutionary and ecological dynamics assume replication, but here, we have explored the dynamical properties of a system before replication and the emergence of replication.

1.  Martin A. Nowak and Hisashi Ohtsuki, “Prevolutionary dynamics and the origin of evolution.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Published online before print September 12, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0806714105.
Have you ever in your life come across a more bold, bald collection of highfalutin nonsense than this?  You can’t just make up words and assume what needs to be proved in an argument.  You can’t just help yourself to concepts foreign to your worldview and manipulate them mathematically to guarantee the outcome you want.  If we were to follow their example, we could prove anything.  Let’s demonstrate the evolution of gnomes, for example.
PreGnome Dynamics and the Origin of Garden Gnomes

Gnomes are beings that inhabit gardens and hide under toadstools.  Here, we formulate a general mathematical theory for the origin of gnome.  All known gnomes are made of terracotta and are found in gardens.  Therefore, any theory for the origin of gnomes must address the emergence of such a system.  We describe pregnome as an alphabet of terracotta ostracons that form random shapes.  Pregnome is a generative system that can produce gnome parts.  Pregnome dynamics have selection and mutation, but no replication.  Gnomeness marches in with the ability of replication; Ostracons act as templates for their own replication.  Pregnomeness is a scaffold that builds gnomes.

You get the idea.  When you weren’t looking, they snuck in design concepts like information, competition, error, scaffolds, templates and information carriers.  Well, of course!  With a hole that big in the intransigent walls of chemistry, no wonder life just marches in (09/04/2008).
    The flaws in this exercise are legion.  They envisioned polymers as simple as binary digits (1's and 0's) that somehow can be “activated” and join up into chains.  They claimed that any random string of binary digits carries information.  They claimed that life is merely something that replicates and evolves.  Well, fire does that.  It replicates rapidly.  It evolves, too.  Feed it some different elements and it will turn all kinds of colors.  It adapts to the environment.  According to their definition, it must be alive.  In this land of made-up words, we can call an oil spill prefire.  They considered anything that outnumbers something else as having been “selected” without any consideration of whether it can do anything, like breathe or eat or move or write sonnets.  According to their definition, natural selection selects bubbles in soapy water, and favors ice over dew on your windshield when the temperature drops.
    Here is your tax money at work.  This paper was partially funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.  Japanese people will be honored to know that funding also came from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.  Those interested in the interaction between science and religion will also get a warm feeling in their hearts to learn that this bit of secularist, materialist, mechanistic propaganda was supported by the John Templeton Foundation.  We hope the atheists at Nature will give the Foundation a pass this time (08/28/2008).
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeEvolutionDumb Ideas
Short-Term Flings at Saturn’s Rings   09/16/2008    
Sept 16, 2008 — The Saturn system is assumed to be 4.5 billion years old like the rest of the solar system.  What mean the delicate dances of ring particles that have been observed by Cassini lately?  One would think moons and particles had pretty much settled into a stable old age by now, but no: some things change on a daily basis, and Cassini’s cameras are catching the action.  The question is, how long can this go on?  Is the dance marathon at Saturn setting new records?
    A Cassini press release shows gouges in the narrow F-ring that scientists say are evidence of a collision.  And just a couple of days earlier, another Cassini press release published pictures of delicate ring arcs among two of Saturn’s small moons, Anthe and Methone.  “This is further evidence that most of the planet’s small, inner moons orbit within partial or complete rings,” the article says.  Are they exceptions to a rule of stability and senescence?  No again; “The intricate relationships between these ring arcs and the moons are just one of many such mechanisms that exist in the Saturn system.”
Update 09/18/2008: Another Cassini press release shows the G-ring arc rounding the ansa.  The article describes the destructive processes at work: “Micrometeoroids collide with the large particles, releasing smaller, dust-sized particles that brighten the arc.  The plasma in the giant planet’s magnetic field sweeps through this arc continually, dragging out the fine particles and creating the G ring.”
Notice how rarely the scientists ever address the age question.  It seems hard to believe that interactions this delicate and dynamic could persist for billions of years.  Before spacecraft got there, scientists expected things to be simple and stable and old.  Things like ring arcs, thousands of ringlets, ring spokes and ring collisions caught them by complete surprise.  Why are they silent on the question about whether such phenomena could last that long?  As with biological evolution, the answers are worded as vague promissory notes: “Understanding these interactions and learning about their origins can help us to make sense of what we are seeing in the Cassini images.”  They need help, all right, especially with sense.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating Methods
  Teachers: check out the list of images from 09/21/2006 you can collect to teach students the difference between accidental resemblances and real designs.  This exercise could also help many adults improve their discernment.

Looking for Laws to Make Darwinism Scientific   09/15/2008    
Sept 15, 2008 — Science needs natural laws.  Darwinian laws that have been put forward by evolutionists contain so many exceptions and complexities, they seem to have a bad case of physics envy.

  1. Coping with Cope’s Rule:  Evolution tends to make animals larger over time – except when it makes them smaller.  In Science,1 Kaustuv Roy lamented the perils of this principle that animals evolve toward largeness, known as Cope’s rule.  It has some examples but plenty of exceptions.  If Cope’s rule were a law of nature, wouldn’t we find lots of giants?  “Instead, most species tend to be small to intermediate in size, with few in the smallest and largest size classes.”
  2. Bergmann’s suggestion:  Maybe Cope’s rule is offset by a competing principle.  This happens sometimes in physics when two forces compete with each other.  Bergmann’s rule says that animals grow larger in colder climates.  Polar bears grow larger than black bears, for instance.  Again, this is too simplistic, Roy argues:
    Translating these “rules” into predictions about trajectories of size evolution is not straightforward.  If bigger really is better, then we should have a world full of giants, yet most species are small.  Clearly there are costs to getting bigger, which prevent a runaway Cope’s rule.  Such costs involve complex interactions among a multitude of factors including development time, population size, and patterns of resource use.  In addition, the temperature-size rule [Bergmann’s rule] suggests that the external environment, which changes in a complex and nonlinear manner over geologic time, is also important in driving size evolution.  So, not surprisingly, simple process-based models of size evolution (such as one based on energetics) have not been widely accepted.
    As if that weren’t complex enough, “There is also the problem of scaling up from observations at the population level to macroevolutionary trends in size,” he said.  It is unclear whether models built on samples from a few generations (living or extinct) will hold up “across geographically separated populations and macroevolutionary time.”  The uncertainty about these “rules” of body size evolution make it difficult to quantify the apparent influence humans are having on large animals today.
  3. Extinction rules or rules going extinct?  Three Turkish scientists brought up problems with measuring extinctions.  There are no agreed-on measures of how “great” an extinction event was.  Writing in PNAS,2 they said that even since Cuvier proposed multiple catastrophes, and on through the time of Lyell to the present, “it has remained controversial as to how completely and how fast those disappearances occurred,” they said.  “Interpretations about the nature and origin of these fluctuations in the progression of life have long been bedeviled by uncertainties as to what constitutes a mass extinction and which mass extinction is ‘greater’ or ‘lesser’ than any other.”  The fact that these authors proposed a quantitative scale highlights the fact that no one had done it successfully before.  Here’s how they ended their discussion:
    Great extinctions are generally less catastrophic than widely thought: they are generally Lyellian, only exceptionally Cuvierian.  When they are Cuvierian, as the end-Cretaceous extinction so obviously was, and as the present one so alarmingly is, they stand out among the other, more mundane, Lyellian ones.  It is not profitable to study extinctions in isolation, among few taxa, in few sections and in limited time frames.  They are simply parts of one continuous evolution of the entire earth system and must be studied as such.
    And yet, aside from the admitted uncertainties and complexities of defining an extinction event and measuring its magnitude, can there really be natural laws governing events as random and unpredictable as catastrophes? 
  4. Know your limits:  Evolutionists from UK and UC (University of California at Santa Cruz) pulled some reins on how much can be generalized from in vitro evolution models.  Some scientists, for instance, study populations of E. coli in a Petri dish and watch what happens when bacteriophages invade.  Can the results be generalized into laws of co-evolution?
        Writing in Nature,3 the team began by asking, “Given the difficulty of testing evolutionary and ecological theory in situ, in vitro model systems are attractive alternatives; however, can we appraise whether an experimental result is particular to the in vitro model, and, if so, characterize the systems likely to behave differently and understand why?
        They optimistically proposed a mathematical model that was concordant with one experimental result.  So far, so good, but can that be extended to other experiments?  They provided several cases where outcomes could be very different depending on the host, the parasite, the resources, and the genetics of the system.  Their explanation for different results in different conditions seemed convincing, but their ending paragraph seemed to suggest that a model for one experiment cannot easily be extrapolated to others without auxiliary hypotheses.  These seems to make it difficult to establish any laws of co-evolution:
    Given the above explanation, it is perhaps not surprising in retrospect that what is found for T7E. coli interactions need not be true for other biologically viable modes of host-parasite co-evolution.  These results show how appropriately framed mathematical models aligned with experimental analysis can obviate the need to presume typicality of one model within a class.
  5. Contingency vs Law:  It would seem that contingency is the opposite of natural law.  Attributing events to chance is about as explanatorily useful as saying “Stuff happens.”  That’s about all that a team from the American Museum of Natural History was able to say, though, about the evolution of dinosaurs.  Writing in Science, they found that the famous “evolutionary radiation” of the dinosaurs did not follow any rule of size trends, superiority, character evolution or morphological disparity.  “The results strongly suggest that historical contingency, rather than prolonged competition or general ‘superiority,’ was the primary factor in the rise of dinosaurs.”  Stuff just happened.  Such a premise flies in the face of many a textbook and TV documentary.
        The paper was summarized by PhysOrg, which titled its article, “Luck gave dinosaurs their edge.”  Team member Steve Brusatte was quoted saying, “For a long time it was thought that there was something special about dinosaurs that helped them become more successful during the Triassic, the first 30 million years of their history, but this isn’t true.”  In the AMNH press release, team member Michael Benton said, “Many people like to think that evolution is progressive: mammals are better than dinosaurs because they came later.... So it may be hard for us to accept that dinosaurs achieved their dominant position on earth largely by chance, just as mammals did when the dinosaurs were later wiped out by a meteorite strike.”  Maybe the new phrase for Darwin should be “Survival of the luckiest.”  But, then, if fitness cannot be correlated with evolutionary success, what becomes of any Darwinian claim to having established a new law of nature?  What is natural selection selecting?  What is survival of the fittest judging as fit? 
  6. Lucky information:  This list concludes with a reminder that David Deamer said this about the origin of the DNA code: “I think genetic information more or less came out of nowhere by chance assemblages of short polymers.” (See the 09/10/2008 entry.)
If evolutionary biology struggles with discovering natural laws, surely something as physical as geology should do better, right?  Not so fast; in Science last week,4 Susan L. Brantley (Penn State) struggled with the complexities of determining the lifetime of something right under our feet: the soil.  Soil is obviously important to humans for economic reasons.  It also is easily available for study.  But you would be surprised how many complicating factors there are when trying to calculate how fast it forms, how long it lasts, and how fast it erodes.  Her opening paragraph only suggested the complexity of it all:
Soils constitute the topmost layer of the regolith, the blanket of loose rock material that covers Earth’s surface.  An open system such as soil or regolith is sustainable, or in steady state, only when components such as rock particles are removed at the same rate they are replenished.  However, soils are defined not only by rock particles but also by minerals, nutrients, organic matter, biota, and water.  These entities--each characterized by lifetimes in regolith that vary from hundreds of millions of years to minutes--are often studied by scientists from different disciplines.  If soils are to be maintained in a sustainable manner, scientists must develop models that cross these time scales to predict the effects of human impact.
Sure enough, each one of these ingredients of soil can increase or decrease at vastly different rates.  Attempts to date a sample soil in Puerto Rico by cosmogenic nuclides has underscored the problem: how typical is it?  A scientist needs to know the input rate, the erosion rate, the penetration depth and many other things which turn out to vary by several orders of magnitude in different soils.  In Africa, for instance, the technique doesn’t work.  And that is only one factor.  If you study a soil based on its nitrogen input-output rate, or its water retention, or its minerals you can get vastly different results.  “When scientists within a discipline study soils, they generally focus on one of these time scales while ignoring faster and slower processes,” she said.  Can a scientist assume a sample is in a steady state?  Whether any ecosystem reaches steady state, she said, is controversial: “If it is possible, steady state is a complex function of the extent and frequency of disturbances such as fires and insect infestations.”  What other factors enter the equation?  It appears that defining natural laws of soil evolution that will fit any meaningful set of diverse soils is unattainable.  “For example, present-day and long-term denudation rates for catchments or soils have been shown to be equal across time scales in some cases, as required for sustainable soils,” she said, but added, “In other cases, the long-term and present-day denudation rates do not agree, perhaps because of variations in ecosystems, climate, glacial effects, extreme events, or human impact.”  How, then, can humans predict what will happen?  It’s kind of like debates about global warming: “Just as we use global climate models today to project future climate change, we will eventually be able to use global soil models to project future soil change,” she ended optimistically.
1.  Kaustuv Roy, “Dynamics of Body Size Evolution,” Science, 12 September 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5895, pp. 1451-1452, DOI: 10.1126/science.1163097.
2.  Sengor et al, “A scale of greatness and causal classification of mass extinctions: Implications for mechanisms,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print September 8, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0805482105.
3.  Forde et al, “Understanding the limits to generalizability of experimental evolutionary models,” Nature 455, 220-223 (11 September 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07152.
4.  Susan L. Brantley, “Geology: Understanding Soil Time,” Science, 12 September 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5895, pp. 1454-1455, DOI: 10.1126/science.1161132.
In science it is fairly rare to reduce a phenomenon to simple, neat laws.  Physics has arguably been the best example – you can write the physical laws of the universe in equations on a sheet of paper – but even there, complications and difficulties arise (see 06/30/2008, for instance).  Maybe you’ve seen one of those science toys that pits gravity against magnetism: a pendulum wobbles chaotically as it tries to fall but hits magnetic repulsive forces.  The laws of gravity and electromagnetism are easily expressed mathematically, but it would be a huge challenge to predict the path of the pendulum.  How much more so when dealing with all the complex factors involved in ecology and evolution?  Don’t use the comeback, Darwinists, of the “Law of Natural Selection.”  Go re-read the entry on “Fitness for Dummies” from 10/29/2002.
    One feels a bit of pity for the evolutionary biologist doing his or her best to capture nature’s exigencies in models, equations and natural laws.  It seems a hopeless task.  Valiantly they continue on, but the above examples highlight the quandary.  One may never know all the factors that come to bear on a problem, or their relative influences, or their rates of action, or their interactions and feedbacks.  Yet the NCSE and other pro-Darwin groups constantly parade the supposed priority of evolutionary theory over design or creation on the basis of its explanatory power with reference to natural laws.  OK: show us the laws.  Can they name any one evolutionary law or rule that is not plagued by exceptions, controversy and counter-claims?  And when they have to admit that most evolution occurs without any apparent reason – the Stuff Happens Law – does that qualify as science?  Honk if you find this defense convincing:

Why the Stuff Happens Law is Scientific

  • It is reductive: all events can be reduced to this law.
  • It makes predictions: Stuff will happen.
  • It is universal: Stuff always happens.
  • It is normative, not just descriptive: Given matter in motion, stuff must happen.
  • It is falsifiable: If nothing happens, the law has been disproved.
  • It is practical: If something happens, you know you will find stuff around.
  • Corollaries can be derived from it: e.g., Stuff happens at the worst possible time, Bad stuff happens to good people, Murphy’s Law, etc.
Impressed?  Darwin’s laws of nature are about as helpful to the understanding of nature as the Stuff Happens Law.  Your science might be healthier with a bit of Cole’s Law (i.e., thinly sliced cabbage).
Next headline on:  Evolutionary TheoryDating MethodsDinosaursGeology
Anglican Official Says Church Should Apologize to Darwin   09/14/2008    
Sept 14, 2008 — The Church of England official feels the Church should apologize to Charles Darwin for having been too slow to accept his ideas in the 19th century.  The statement, to be posted on a website promoting Darwin’s views, reads:
Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still.  We try to practise the old virtues of ‘faith seeking understanding’ and hope that makes some amends.
According to The Telegraph, the statement was written by Malcolm Brown, the church’s director of mission and public affairs.  He believes the church repeated the mistakes of the Catholic church in their treatment of Galileo.
    Brown’s statement also considers “anti-evolutionary fervour” an “indictment” on the church.  Regis Nicoll on Breakpoint exclaimed, “An apology to a dead man by a dead church about a theory that is dead wrong.  Astounding!”  Lord Ickenham, “someone who has had an ongoing struggle with the Anglican Communion his entire adult life, and to whom the current, obvious, and slow-motion destruction of the entire historical Anglican Church brings no joy,” wrote some thoughts on what is going on in a blog post at Uncommon Descent.
    Meanwhile, the Royal Society is up in arms over finding out its education director, Professor Michael Reiss, allegedly suggested that creationism could be discussed in science classes if students bring up the subject, reported The Guardian.  The interview that started the ruckus can also be found at The Guardian, where he labeled creationism (including intelligent design) a “non-scientific way of seeing the world.”  Even though he overtly denied that creationism had scientific merit, apparently his policy on politely reasoning with students instead of ridiculing them was too mild for some.  Next day, the BBC News reported that Reiss stepped down from his position as director of education under pressure from the Royal Society – despite the fact that he felt his opinion had been misinterpreted.  What he meant, the article said, is that “his experience had led him to believe it was more effective to include discussion about creationism alongside scientific theories such as the Big Bang and evolution – rather than simply giving the impression that such children were wrong.”
    The Royal Society itself believes that if a student brings up the subject, the teacher should be free “to explain why evolution is a sound scientific theory and why creationism is not, in any way, scientific,” so their reaction appeared hypocritical to some.  The BBC quoted a professor of science and society at Imperial College who feels the Royal Society diminished itself by pressuring Reiss to step down.  “This individual was arguing that we should engage with and address public misconceptions about science – something that the Royal Society should applaud.”
    An even sterner editorial on First Post said the Royal Society has become the Rotten Society.  Robert Matthews accused the Royal Society’s intemperate purge of an Anglican society (who is no creationist) as a madrassa-like intolerance.  “Fundamentalism is spreading across science,” he said, “with zealots ready to attack anyone who dares question the accepted teaching – be it the unquestionable importance of animal experiments or the unimpeachable evidence for dramatic global warming.”
    The most detailed account of the controversy was published by Nature News.  Reiss’s critics seem to admit that he was well qualified for the job and never advocated teaching creationism in science class.  The Royal Society was initially supportive but then pressured him out when an angry letter from three Nobel laureates called for his resignation.  Even atheist Richard Dawkins, who believes his religious ties disqualified Reiss from a leadership position, lamented the action, saying “to call for his resignation on those grounds comes a little too close to a witch-hunt for my squeamish taste.”
    Creationism survives in England despite the hostility of evolutionists in the scientific societies.  In fact, Reiss said in the audio recording for The Guardian that the number of creationists coming into UK science classrooms is on the rise.  Julian Joyce published an article in the BBC News entitled, “Who are the British creationists?”  The article centered on the Genesis Expo, a creationist museum in Portsmouth, but also mentioned the row over Michael Reiss’s statement and the Anglican Church apology.
Oh, puke.  Such obsequious prostrations to the Bearded Buddha like Brown’s apology only encourage the proliferation of dogmatism like that of the Rotten Society wigheads.  If you have connections to the UK Anglican church this is reason enough to get out.  We must point out that the apology is the opinion of one church official, not necessarily all of them, and does not necessarily represent the views of the rank and file in the dying, diminishing UK churches.  Many Anglican churches around the world operate independently of the British hierarchy.  Still, where is the outcry from other leaders and from the membership?  The silence is deafening.  It’s a default acquiescence to Brown’s views.
    The Royal Society, founded largely by Puritans, has devolved into an arm of the modern Darwinist totalitarianism, in which even mentioning the C word creationist is grounds for expulsion.  Reiss is no creationist but had the audacity to suggest it might be good policy to sentence teachers to less than the usual punishment for crimethink.  He apparently failed to remember the policy: creationists are not even worth the expenditure of their contempt (05/12/2008, bullet 5).  Aren’t you proud of the leaders of science these days.  If their intolerance can even make Dawkins squeamish (hinting that he still feels a debt somewhere to Christian virtues like fairness), you know things are rotten.  It’s time to clean house and send in the reformers.  How about Sarah Palin?
    How did it come to this?  Answer: amnesia and ingrown reinforcement of lies.  They’ve got their history all wrong.  Galileo was not a victim of faith vs science (see biography) – and especially not Darwin.  In Victorian England, the Anglicans jumped onto the Darwin bandwagon wholeheartedly.  In fact, they had jumped onto the evolutionary bandwagon when Robert Chambers published his evolutionary myth Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation in 1845.  Darwin biographer Janet Browne noted the “remarkable flexibility of the Anglican church when faced with evolutionary issues” by pointing to Anglican theologian Charles Kingsley, who endorsed Darwin’s theory within the pages of The Origin itself (Charles Darwin: The Power of Place, p. 96; see more on Kingsley at CMI).  In addition, the Archbishop of Canterbury was defending writers like Darwin who were attacking the foundations of church doctrine.  After Darwin’s death, the Church of England welcomed his body into Westminster Abbey.  Except for a few conservative theologians like Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, the main Anglican critics of Darwin’s theory were the scientists, like Sedgwick and Owen, who understood the danger of attributing God’s hand to blind, undirected process of chance (see article at CMI).
    And they’ve got their science all wrong.  Darwin subverted science by dismantling the requirements of evidence and opening the door to storytellers (12/22/2003 commentary) and empowering his fellow secularists to usurp the Academy and expel any opportunity for scientific criticism of his views (05/12/2008).
    And they’ve got their theology all wrong.  Darwin could not have employed reason, nor argued for the truth of propositions and the values of honest investigation, without plagiarizing Christian theological presuppositions that give meaning to these concepts.  Had he been consistent with his own presuppositions, he would have grunted nonsense to get meaningless sex at the mercy of his animal past.
    If the Anglicans really had faith seeking understanding, they would rewrite the statement as follows: “Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you and the world an apology for accepting your views uncritically and failing to foresee the damage that accrued to our church, culture, society, politics, law, education, philosophy, theology and general well-being of the millions of individuals your damnable doctrines relegated to the category of the unfit.  Though too late to help the 148 million people killed by state-sponsored democide under regimes inspired by your false and pretentious claims (11/30/2005), we try to practice the old virtues of ‘speaking the truth in love’ and so hope that by raising awareness of the deadly power of lies we can make some amends.”
    Leaders of other churches without hobbles and blinders on might do well to make this their official proclamation before the scientific societies parade their Emperor Charles in new clothes next year (02/11/2008).
Next headline on:  DarwinismBible and TheologyEducation
Turing Test Stands: Your Brain Outperforms Computers   09/14/2008    
Sept 14, 2008 — What is the speed of thought?  Computer speeds are measured in megahertz and gigahertz, but that’s only part of the story.  The ability to compute an answer to a problem depends on the programming, too.  How does the brain compare with our best computers?  A scientist from UC San Francisco and one from the Salk Institute teamed up to address that question in Current Biology.1  “Our goal here,” they wrote, “is to compare the capabilities and speeds of the brain with those of modern-day computers.”
    To start with, the brain has over three times as many synapses per microliter (a billion) as a modern computer chip with 300,000,000 transistors per microliter.  Brains also have wires (neurons) that are 10 times shorter, on average, as those on computer chips.  They explained the main difference (at least as far as structure is concerned):
The difference between brains and computers arises not so much in the size of the elementary computer elements as in their numbers: where a modern microprocessor chip has 109 transistors, the human brain contains about 1014 [100 trillion] synapses (and a brain uses about as much power as a microprocessor).  A state of-the-art microprocessor could have close to 30 km of total wire connecting its transistors, where the brain has 3 to 4 x 105 km of wire (most of which is axons).  The brain’s total wire, then, is about the same as the mean distance from the earth to the moon (a little less than 4 105 km).  Clearly, although the sizes of the basic computer elements are not so different between brains and computers, what is vastly (a million fold) different is the number of elements.
Now to processing speed.  If a pulse in a neuron is assumed to represent an instruction, the brain wins again: 1011 (100 billion) instructions per second, a hundredfold more than that of a computer with multiple cores.  (The computer catches up in gigahertz processing speed what the brain exceeds in numbers of synapses.)
    So far, they’ve only been talking components.  Major differences between the brain and a computer appear when the architecture is considered.  Computers use a von Neumann architecture, in which the central processing unit (CPU) is segregated from the memory.  This forces computer CPUs into a one-instruction-at-a-time straitjacket.  Each instruction requires calls to memory, and each component has to keep in sync with the master clock.  The brain, by contrast, is the master of flexible multiprocessing.  They explain:
Neural circuits have no need for a central clock to keep actions exactly synchronized because any neural circuit in the brain has its own instructions embedded in the circuit itself: whenever it is presented with information, the circuit knows just what to do with it.  Because the brain is not bound by the Von Neumann architecture, exactly what a particular neural circuit computes can be modified on the fly without reference to other circuits (as when we shift our focus of attention from one thing to another) and can also remember things for a lifetime (how to ride a bicycle).
Another major difference is that the brain is massively parallel and computers are not.  Look at a shape – like a star.  The computer has to examine each pixel and calculate its relationship to the neighboring pixels (or to standard shapes) before figuring out what it is; a little girl can see it all at once and know what it is instantly.  Humans can handle enormous quantities of data all at once.
    Nagarajan and Stevens admit that computer designers have been making enormous improvements.  Parallel processing is all the rage these days.  In time, they may catch up with the brain; but for now, “The problem with emulating the brain’s massive parallelism, however, is that we are not even close to being able to use the increased hardware power efficiently,” they said.
    This is not to disparage computers.  They are better at some things.  They can perform repetitive tasks with high reliability, for instance, while brains, working probabilistically, get distracted, bored, or make errors..  This is good, though, for another reason: redundancy.
The four times out of five that information about a nerve impulse arriving at a synapse is not relayed on to the target cell by a synapse could be viewed as errors, but in fact synapses are designed this way.  Neural circuits are highly redundant, with the same information arriving simultaneously at many synapses on different neurons so that, on average, neural components are predictable, in the same sense that a fair coin is predictable: you never know on a given flip whether heads or tails will turn up, but you can be sure that there will be very close to 500 heads out of a thousand flips.
An added benefit of this redundancy is high fault tolerance.  We don’t have to worry when one neuron goes bad.  One bad transistor in a computer, though, can be catastrophic.  You can lose neurons as you age and still “function at a high level.”  Here’s another “design” feature in your head: “Because of another brain design principle, the fact that neurons with the same function are located close to one another in the brain (this is called the doctrine of localization of function), the brain is much more tolerant to random death of neurons than it is to focal injury (such as a bullet wound or a stroke).”
    They’re not done yet.  Neurons can alter the strength of their signals without a hardware upgrade.  They can do this by changing the probability of transmission through a particular neuron on the fly.  And here’s another big brain bonus: scalability:
There is a final big difference between the designs of computers and brains considered here.  Every time the performance of a computer circuit is improved, major design changes are necessary.  Even modest alterations, like modifying the thickness of the wires on the computer chip, mean the computing components on the chip must be rearranged (a very difficult process).  For evolution to work, however, neural circuits must have what is called a scalable architecture.  This means that the computing performance can be improved by simply increasing the number of components and enlarging the circuit in accordance with the original design.  Brain circuits generally have scalable architectures so that, for example, we are not even aware of the usual two to three fold differences in the size of brain areas from one brain to the next.
That fleeting reference to evolution seemed out of place amidst all the talk of design principles.
    In conclusion, they calculated the speed of thought.  Unfortunately, as discussed above, comparing computers to brains is like comparing apples to oranges (or Macintoshes to geniuses).  One way to compare them is to have them run the same benchmark test.  Here’s one: identify faces.  The human brain shines here.  We can outperform computers at face recognition by an order of magnitude with higher accuracy.  But remember – that’s with a brain that is also doing many other things simultaneously.  Giving a special-purpose computer the same task is cheating.  Realistically, “One of the most difficult things for a computer to do is to extract objects from a visual scene, but we do this so rapidly and effortlessly that we are not even aware that it is hard.”
    Another benchmark is the famous Turing test: the “thinking” test.  If a questioner could not tell the difference between a human answer and a computer’s answer, the computer passes: it becomes indistinguishable from a thinking person.  The authors refer here to a Turing test the computer has so far not been able to beat: the CAPTCHA operation.  You’ve probably logged into secure websites where the computer presented you with a distorted word on a scrambled background that you had to identify and retype.  Why do site designers do that to you?  Because they know that computers have a terrible time getting the answer right.  “The ease with which CAPTCHAs can be developed exposes obvious gaps between capabilities of computers and the brain.”
    Speaking of CAPTCHA (which stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”), Science had a triumphant-sounding paper about computer scientists who have figured out how to harness the collective power of millions of human brains.  Since we humans are so good at CAPTCHA, the team decided to “re-CAPTCHA” some of our spare resources.  Humans are performing about 100 million CAPTCHA operations a day anyway, so why not take advantage of all that processing power?  It’s kind of like how SETI@home uses idle cycles from millions of computers.  By adding a second word needing recognition to each CAPTCHA site, reCAPTCHA takes just a few fractions of a second of your time to help digitize books!  How?  There are massive projects underway to digitize libraries.  These efforts employ optical character recognition (OCR) to convert photocopied pages to computer-coded characters, so they can enjoy all the benefits of search engines and cross-references.  Unfortunately, OCR often has trouble recognizing words.  These unknown words are farmed out to reCAPTCHA sites for humans to interpret.  A clever cross-checking mechanism makes sure the answer is not bogus.  The human-deciphered answer is correct over 99% of the time, compared to OCR’s success rate of 80% or so.  It’s almost funny how these designers speak of the brain with its “wasted human processing power” being put to good use.  But they really do have human benefit in mind.  “We hope that reCAPTCHA continues to have a positive impact on modern society by helping to digitize human knowledge,” they said in conclusion.
    And so, in conclusion, we return to Nagarajan and Stevens who, in their conclusion, speculated on whether computers will ever catch up with the human brain.  Progress in computer design has certainly been impressive (Moore’s Law and all), “but we believe the problem is not computer power and ability to program parallel machines, but rather our nearly total ignorance about what computations are actually carried out by the brain,” they said.  The last word: “Our view is that computers will never equal our best abilities until we can understand the brain's design principles and the mathematical operations employed by neural circuits well enough to build machines that incorporate them.
1.  Naveen Nagarajan and Charles F. Stevens, “How does the speed of thought compare for brains and digital computers?”, Current Biology, Vol 18, R756-R758, 09 September 2008.
2.  von Ahn, Maurer, McMillen, Abraham and Blum, “reCAPTCHA: Human-Based Character Recognition via Web Security Measures,” Science, 12 September 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5895, pp. 1465-1468, DOI: 10.1126/science.1160379.
Now wasn’t that an absolutely satisfying, fascinating, thrilling journey into your head, and a classic look at intelligent design science at work?  Don’t show this to Eugenie Scott or she’s likely to have a cerebral hemorrhage.  How many mutations did that take?
    Wow!  Scientists admit it: the brain is built on design principles.  It is a massively parallel, robust, fault-tolerant machine that has kept the Turing Test challenge intact throughout decades of rapid, phenomenal computer design.  Its design can be compared with computers that we design – and it is far superior.  How on earth can anyone believe for a millisecond that this wonder just happened?  And consider: they didn’t tell the half of it.  The scientists vastly oversimplified things.  Your brain is handling millions of subconscious operations at the same time you are thinking about this article, or identifying a face or a CAPTCHA word.  Give a supercomputer all that simultaneous work and it would melt down.  A computer has to be plugged in or recharged, but you can wander the globe.  Your computer takes several minutes to boot up, but you can be awake and aware instantly.  It has to be protected from liquids, but you can dive into a pool with your CPU not shorting out.  And it runs on potatoes! (a favorite quip of A. E. Wilder-Smith, our Scientist of the Month).
    Think!  If “design principles” are required to understand the brain’s operation, of what purpose or value (or credibility) is evolutionary theory?  While you’re at it, think about the conundrum of a brain thinking about itself—or a brain thinking about the conundrum of a brain thinking about itself.  If some day a computer can fool a judge into thinking it is human, will that computer really be self-aware?  Will it experience love, worship, beauty, or truth?  Robots in Star Trek probe these questions, but the fact is, we design computers, and computers don’t design us (except in science fiction).
    Get real.  Think.  If design principles were active in our creation, then there was a Designer who employed those principles.  This includes the hardware and the software.  You would not be able to consciously think about anything without an embedded BiOS (Bible Input-Output System) that the Designer built in, which gives you the preconditions for intelligibility of the world.  Everyone has it.  You couldn’t run the thinking application without it.  But just as a good computer can be tricked into running malware (malicious software), a created being can be tricked into thinking its brain is a product of evolution.  That is necessarily false.  The brain could not even run that malware without the BiOS.
    When you’re infected with this deep-seated, entrenched virus, or any of the other malware that information terrorists inserted into the global shipment, the only solution is to recognize that fact, then wipe, reinstall, and patch.  Fortunately, outstanding technical support is just a call away (Isaiah 55:6-9) – and it’s free, straight from the Designer himself.  Operations Manuals are also freely available by request (see BlueLetterBible and Bible Gateway, or that book in your hotel room drawer).
    Got cycles?  Think, then thank.  Worship.  CAPTCHA the thrill of the Psalmist who exclaimed, “I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14, italics added).
Next headline on:  Human BodyIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
Star Death Amazing – but Puzzling   09/13/2008    
Sept 13, 2008 — Twinkle, twinkle, little stBOOM!  The explosions of some dying stars are so powerful yet so rapid, mere measurements seem inadequate to describe them.  Two death-star events were reported in recent articles.  Despite the bravado of textbook orthodoxy, the articles both mentioned that astronomers really don’t understand what’s going on all that well.
    Eta Carina is one of the most intriguing stars in the southern sky.  Its twin-lobed, bloated bubble blown out by the eruption of 1843 has given it the name the Homunculus Nebula (see dazzling photograph on Astronomy Picture of the Day for June 17).  The 1843 bubble, and another estimated to be a thousand years old, have been well known.  Astronomers recently detected, however, a newer, more powerful eruption that is catching up to the bubble.  National Geographic News reported that this material is moving outward at 1.5 million miles per hour.  It is so energetic it borders on the power of a supernova – the explosion that usually ends a large star’s life.  Is this a supernova imposter?  Team lead Nathan Smith (UC Berkeley) commented, “It means, essentially, that we still don’t fully understand what is going on in the deep interiors of massive stars shortly before they die.”
    If you think that boom was big, wait till you hear about the latest gamma-ray burst that was seen March 19.  Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions in the universe.  They were only discovered in the late 1960s.  EurekAlert said this one, numbered GRB 080319B, was aimed directly at earth.  Good thing it was 7.5 billion light-years away.  Its jets were blasting material our direction at 99.99995 percent the speed of light, the article claims.  Within 15 seconds of detection by the orbiting Swift satellite, it had become bright enough to be seen with the naked eye – even from that astronomical distance.  That’s powerful.
    Red dwarf stars, like soldiers, slowly fade away.  Larger stars shed their outer envelopes fairly calmly before retiring as white dwarfs.  Supernovas explode, growing to maximum brightness over a few days or weeks, and then dimming for months as they form neutron stars, pulsars or black holes.  Gamma-ray bursts are the flashbulbs of the cosmos.  Most appear for 10 seconds or less.  Some can flash as brief as a few thousandths of a second.  That’s why it took so long to discover them; you have to be looking at the right place at the right time.  Moreover, astronomers did not realize anything could be so energetic.
    Do astronomers understand these colossal explosions?  They certainly have models.  National Geographic explained, though, that “As a star’s core collapses, it creates a black hole or neutron star that, through processes not fully understood, drive powerful gas jets outward.”  When the jets impact gas previously ejected in earlier explosions, they heat the gas, which astronomers detect as afterglows.  Some astronomers still find it so hard to believe that explosions this bright can be seen from billions of light-years away.  They have argued that they must be nearby objects.  It’s almost unfathomable that any process could produce so much energy so quickly.
    The narrow beams of the burst are emitted from the poles of the spinning star or black hole.  Astronomers believe an ultra-fast component of the beam from GRB 080319B beam was just 0.4 degree across.  Because this rare “jackpot” burst was aimed right along our line of sight, it is providing astronomers with new data – and more questions – as they seek to understand these astonishing explosions.
Data on scientific objects is always incomplete.  The explanations about them, therefore, are also necessarily incomplete.  If star death, which can be observed in a flash, is poorly understood, how about star birth which, because theory says it takes millions of years, cannot be observed from start to finish?
    Astronomers piece together stages of star birth from actual stars presumed to be at different stages.  The charts and explanations sound convincing.  One must ask, though, whether this approach assumes what needs to be proved.  Deciding that stars evolve, and then putting them into an evolutionary sequence, is circular reasoning.  We can see stars age.  We can see them die.  But we can only theorize from laws of gravity, diffusion, viscosity, nuclear physics, quantum mechanics and other principles what a gas cloud would do, given millions of years.
    Stars are not irreducibly complex structures like those in biology.  They do not contain information.  It seems reasonable to trust models of star birth from well-known laws that have been amply confirmed in the lab.  There are many examples in the history of science, though, when plausible models turned out to be wrong.  Usually, the real world proves more complex than the models.  If we struggle with modeling processes that can be observed in a flash, we should at least retain a certain level of humility about scientific models of unobservable processes, and hold them in a tentative way.
Next headline on:  AstronomyAmazing Facts
  Find a handy-dandy list of Darwinist talking points against intelligent design in the 09/02/2005 entry, “Is Intelligent Design the New Cussword?”  If you find this one depressing, read the prior 09/02/2005 entry, “How Proteins Build Teeth Like Glass on a Mattress.”

Sea: the Light   09/13/2008    
Sept 13, 2008 — Some of the most abundant unicellular organisms in the ocean are diatoms.  Physicists are eagerly studying the optics of their pill-box-like shells, because they can manipulate light in surprising ways.  Imitation of diatom light tricks may lead to biosynthetic devices like improved drug delivery systems and solar cells, an article on the BBC News said.
    The “intricate designs of their silica shell walls” are not just geometrically pleasing (03/19/2002) and strong (02/19/2003) and artistically awesome (07/21/2004).  Scientists have found that they strongly diffract light.  Their optical qualities may work to spread the light evenly throughout the cell bodies of these organisms whose light-harvesting chloroplasts depend on light.  Maybe this accounts for the particular patterns on species of diatoms that come in “all shapes and sizes” and inhabit almost every body of water on the planet.
    The article speculated about the evolution of diatoms.  “Why have diatoms evolved these nanostructures?” reporter Elisabeth Mitchell asked.  The even diffusion of light seemed to offer a satisfactory explanation for her.  She added one line, though, that wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:Nature started to evolve complex colour and light manipulating systems during the Cambrian explosion – about 500 million years ago.”
    Moving right along, Current Biology1 mentioned another creature with a remarkable ability to respond to light – in this case, moonlight.  The creature is the Palolo worm of the South Pacific.  Foster and Roenneberg were talking about lunar effects on biological behavior when they said,

One well known example will suffice to illustrate lunar related rhythms in the animal world.  The Palolo worm (Eunice viridis) is found on several coral islands near to Samoa and the Fiji Islands.  The palolos reproduce by swarming during the last quarter of the moon in October and November.  The terminal parts of their bodies drop off and float over the surface of the water, releasing sperm and eggs.  The natives of the Samoan Islands have known this for centuries and predict the date and time of day when the emergence occurs so that they can be ready to catch the worms for food.  Studies have attempted to determine whether it is the direct effect of lunar illuminance which stimulates swarming.  This seems unlikely because cloudy or clear whether [sic] conditions have no effect on the spawning date.  Furthermore, the Palolo worm lives at depths of 3-5 metres within coral rocks, where moonlight would not easily penetrate.  Studies in an allied species of polychaete worm have demonstrated that moon-related rhythms in behaviour continue in isolation from any environmental influence.  Collectively the data suggest that the Palolo worm and other polychaete worms have an endogenous circa-lunar timer.
In other words, these sea worms don’t need to see the moon to know when it’s up.  They can tell when it is just the right hour of the right month of the right time of the year to come up and spawn.  As for what kind of accurate lunar calendar it uses, and how it arose, they didn’t say.  Another paper by Wilcockson and Zhang in Current Biology2 discussed sea creatures that adjust their biological rhythms to the tides: “crustacea, annelids, molluscs, fish and even a few insects.”  As to how that kind of timekeeping evolved in such a diverse array of creatures, they could only speculate, “Moreover, marine animals pre-date their terrestrial relatives and the question arises as to whether circadian clocks could have originally evolved from tidal oscillators?
    Speaking of the moon, do we exhibit lunar rhythms?  Foster and Roenneberg denied that the moon affects human behavior.  They discounted all the urban legends about human “lunacy” and said, “there is no convincing evidence that the moon can affect the biology of our own species.... the moon appears to have no effect upon our physiology.”  As evidence, they provided a table of studies that disprove all alleged effects of the moon on human behavior and biology, despite the ongoing strong beliefs of many people to the contrary.  “If an individual expects certain behaviours to occur with the full moon,” they said, “then selective recall and/or selective perception will reinforce this view.”  Humans are strongly responsive, though, to the 24-hour day – as any jet-lagged businessman can attest.  How that evolved, they could only speculate.
1.  Foster and Roenneberg, “Human Responses to the Geophysical Daily, Annual and Lunar Cycles,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 17, 9 September 2008, Pages R784-R794, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.07.003.
2.  Wilcockson and Zhang, “Circatidal Clocks,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 17, 9 September 2008, Pages R753-R755, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.06.041.
Human biology can be affected by the moon by intelligent design.  Didn’t Foster and Roenneberg realize that the Jews were commanded to the blow the ram’s horn each new moon?  Doesn’t the sight of a full moon generate design and purpose to sit by the lake on a date?  Isn’t the phenomenon of a lunar or solar eclipse a cause for intelligent humans to purposefully go outside and view the awesome sight?  Only when thinking of humans as biological robots can a scientist say there is no influence.  A mind with choice can do what genes alone cannot.
    Human minds can also investigate nature and appreciate the design in creatures that exhibit optical perfection and accurate timekeeping.  One might notice that diatoms and worms are among the simplest of organisms (but see 10/01/2004), lacking the brain power to plan, design and execute the systems embedded within them.  It is sad that some observers believe in implausible miracles.  There are plausible miracles, you see.  One that is implausible is that optical perfection sprung into existence in a Cambrian explosion.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyPhysicsBiomimeticsIntelligent DesignHuman BodyAmazing Facts • Dumb Ideas
Animals Got Rhythm; Scientists Don’t   09/12/2008    
Sept 12, 2008 — Here’s a biological puzzle with plenty of room for young researchers to solve: the workings of biological rhythms.  All animals respond to rhythms in periods of hours, days, weeks, months, and years, but as George E. Bentley (UC Berkeley) wrote in Current Biology,1 how they do it is only partially understood.  “Sometimes the questions are simple and the answers are complicated,” he ended his article.
    And complicated it is.  Here’s just a portion of the caption to one of his diagrams called “Proposed novel pathways of photoperiodic timing in birds and mammals” to glaze your eyeballs:
(A) A diagrammatic representation of the proposed novel pathway for photoperiodic timing in birds.  (1) The light signal enters the brain via the skull and is detected by extra-retinal, deep brain photoreceptors (2), the exact identity and location of which are not yet known.  Long day lengths induce TSH and Dio2 expression (3) in the pars tuberalis (red) and mediobasal hypothalamus, respectively, thereby causing a local increase in T3.  This increase in T3 is conveyed via an unknown pathway to promote the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from neurons (4) in the pre-optic area.  GnRH then induces the release of gonadotropins luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland into the bloodstream to cause gonadal activation (5).  Note the lack of involvement of melatonin in this proposed pathway, even though the pineal gland in birds is light-sensitive in its own right. 
(There will be no quiz.)  That was just the bird part.  A different complex system exists in mammals.  But the complexity does not end there.  Animals, with their widely differing gestation periods, exhibit many variations on the theme.  Some respond to melatonin and thyroid hormones in different ways, at different rates, and from different parts of the brain.  There appears to be no unifying mechanism.  From hamster to elephant, animals have not told evolutionists what rules or natural law govern their rhythms (see footnote 3 for two attempts). Bentley commented, “However exciting and potentially important these recent findings might be from the perspectives of ecology, physiology and evolution, it’s obvious that they do not provide us with the full picture.  For example, how is this common mechanism tweaked so as to cause short-day breeding in some species and long-day breeding in others?”  He did not explain who or what does the tweaking.
    Bentley’s article was one of several in a special issue of Current Biology devoted to the phenomenon of animal and plant rhythms.  In an Editorial in the same issue,2 Albert Goldbeter (U of Brussels) began, “The development and harmonious functioning of an organism depend on the exquisite coordination of myriad intertwined biological processes.”  Just one of those is biological timing.  Animals need to know when to eat, when to sleep, when to hibernate, when to reproduce, and much more.  “The period of biological rhythms spans more than ten orders of magnitude, from a fraction of a second up to tens of years,” he added.  These rhythms are tightly coupled to regulatory processes in the cell and the animal as a whole.
    Only now are scientists beginning to understand the multiple feedback loops and regulatory processes that begin at the molecular level and extend up to the visible behavior of a whole population.  This is a field ripe for systems biology – a new approach to biology that keeps the big picture in mind.  Goldbeter explained: “Because rhythmic behavior cannot be ascribed to a single gene or enzyme, and rather constitutes a systemic property originating from regulatory interactions between coupled elements in a metabolic or genetic network, cellular rhythms represent a prototypic field of research in systems biology.”  For instance, the big-picture look has revealed a phenomenon called the limit cycle.  This concept is a central figure in the study of biological rhythms, he said.  How do limit cycles work? 
Models help unraveling the dynamics of cellular rhythms and show that sustained oscillatory behavior often corresponds, in the concentration space, to the evolution toward a closed curve known as a limit cycle.  Cycling once around this trajectory takes exactly one period.  The closed trajectory is generally unique in a given set of conditions, and is particularly stable as it can be reached regardless of initial conditions.
His use of evolution here (one of only two mentions in the two papers) does not refer to Darwinian evolution, but to the unfolding of the limit cycle as a consequence of multiple inputs.  The only other mention of evolution, by Bentley, was only a passing reference – and that in the most general terms (see quote in paragraph 2, above).  Other papers in the series mentioned evolution only in passing; only two tried to discuss it in some detail, with questionable success.3
    In his final paragraph, Goldbeter described the pervasive and intertwined nature of biological rhythms with an analogy.  Again, don’t cram for a quiz.
The ubiquity and physiological significance of biological rhythms can be illustrated by one last example, which shows how rhythms are often nested in a manner reminiscent of Russian dolls.  In the process of reproduction, several rhythms play key roles at different stages and with markedly distinct periods.  Fertilization of an egg triggers a train of Ca2+ [doubly ionized calcium] spikes that are essential for successful initiation of development.  Prior to these Ca2+ oscillations of a period of the order of minutes, ovulation requires appropriate levels of LH and FSH established through pulsatile signaling by GnRH with a period close to one hour (the response of pituitary cells to GnRH also involves high-frequency Ca2+ oscillations).  The ovulation cycle is itself periodic, and takes the form of the menstrual cycle in the human female.  Capping these various periodicities, in many animal species reproductive activity varies according to an annual rhythm controlled by the photoperiod, through modulation of the circadian secretion of melatonin.  In a final manifestation of the ticking of the biological clock, ovulation stops at menopause.  At the very core of life, the reproductive process highlights the deeply rooted links between rhythms and time in biological systems.

1.  George E. Bentley, “Biological Timing: Sheep, Dr. Seuss, and Mechanistic Ancestry,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 17, 9 September 2008, Pages R736-R738.
2.  Guest editorial by Albert Goldbeter, “Biological rhythms: Clocks for all times,” Current Biology, Vol 18, R751-R753, 09 September 2008.
3.  A quick word search on “evolution” in the other six papers in the series found only two discussing it in some detail.  One European team’s analysis, however, did not explain how these complex systems actually originated by mutation and natural selection.  They provided only a just-so story on how the different mechanisms in different groups of animals might have been related ancestrally.  Their language glossed over the origin of a multitude of complex systems with phrases like “the evolution of” and “the development of” sprinkled with doubt-words like probably, likely, may have and our interpretation.  They also spoke of the “flow of information” and repeatedly mentioned function without explaining those design-theoretic concepts in Darwinian terms.  Overall, it was clear they were assuming evolution rather than demonstrating it; they assumed that natural selection was capable of providing whatever structure that the “evolutionary pressures” were demanding.  Here is their complete citation (reiterated with diagram in their Figure 4); it can be considered representative of the other 5 papers in the series that mentioned evolution (most of them with just a passing reference that was not germane to their subject matter, and some with contrary evidence and damaging admissions). 
The unusual direction of information flow described here probably reflects an ancestral mechanism preceding the evolution of a separation between the hypothalamus and pituitary and the development of a local portal blood system linking the tissues.  In ancestral vertebrates (Figure 4, left), it is likely that photoreceptor expression in multiple sites in the central nervous system (CNS) served discrete principal functions: control of vision (lateral eyes), circadian rhythms (pineal structures), and photoperiodism (deep brain and pituitary).  In mammals (Figure 4, right), photoreceptor loss has led to the lateral eyes’ assuming all light-sensing functions, with pineal melatonin secretion becoming a humoral relay for photoperiodic information to pituitary and deep-brain sites.  Additionally, distinct regions of the ancestral brain have become specialized for different functions, notably the hypothalamus for integration of environmental cues and the pituitary for hormone production.  Our interpretation is that photoperiodic control has been assumed by TSH expression at the PT-brain interface, allowing information encoded in the melatonin signal to reach hypothalamic sites.  Birds may be viewed as an intermediate scenario in which compartmentalization of endocrine control into sites of integration (hypothalamus) and output (pituitary) has occurred, but extraretinal photoreceptor sites persist.  The highly derived state of the photoperiod-transduction pathway in mammals may well reveal the constraints imposed by their nocturnal ancestry.
Hanon et al, “Ancestral TSH Mechanism Signals Summer in a Photoperiodic Mammal,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 15, 5 August 2008, Pages 1147-1152.

The other paper that discussed evolution in detail arguably only spun just-so stories uneasily in the face of contrary evidence:

A re-evaluation of the role of the TTFL [transcriptional/translational feedback loops] in eukaryotes is underway.  Can the cyanobacterial clock system [a complex clock in the simplest of unicellular organisms] tell us anything about clocks in eukaryotes?  Eukaryotic circadian genes have no detectable homology to kaiABC sequences, so if there is an evolutionary relationship between the bacterial and eukaryotic systems, it is so diverged as to be genetically invisible.  But what about the possibility of convergence to a fundamentally similar biochemical mechanism?  It might seem implausible that clocks of independent origin would converge upon an essentially similar core PTO [post-translational oscillator] made more robust by an overlying TTFL.  However, the advantages that accrue to the cyanobacterial system by having a post-translational mechanism at its core are also relevant to eukaryotic clocks.  For example, individual mammalian fibroblasts express cell-autonomous, self-sustained circadian oscillations of gene expression that are largely unperturbed by cell division in a fashion reminiscent of cyanobacteria.  Could the necessity for imperturbability, even when buffeted by the massive intracellular changes provoked by cell division, provide an evolutionary driving force for circadian clock mechanisms to converge on a relatively similar core mechanism?  The results from cyanobacteria, combined with recent results from eukaryotic systems that do not easily fit into the original TTFL formulation, embolden such speculations.
Foster and Roenneberg, “Human Responses to the Geophysical Daily, Annual and Lunar Cycles,” Current Biology, Vol 18, R816-R825, 09 September 2008.
Clocks within clocks within clocks – wouldn’t William Paley be astonished.  Pay no mind to those Darwinian storytellers in the footnotes; they are assuming 99% of what they need to prove, and still scrambling to come up with plots that thinking people would not laugh at.
Next headline on:  MammalsBirdsAmazing FactsEvolutionary Theory
Naturalism and 9/11   09/11/2008    
Sept 11, 2008 — It’s been seven years since the horrific terrorist attacks in America woke up everyone to the reality of evil.  Secular, naturalistic evolutionists must of necessity explain evil as an artifact of pointless, aimless, purposeless acts of nature.  Did the September day that changed the world change the aims or rhetoric of the scientists and educators who are determined to keep all mention of God out of our schools and scientific institutions?
  1. What’s the point?  Hanna Kokko (U of Helsinki) was interviewed in Current Biology.1  After using an example of “how short-sighted evolution can be” to ridicule intelligent design and the “intelligence of the designer,” she was asked, “aren’t there bigger problems in the world?”  So, turning to profundity, she quoted Bertrand Russell on the value of pure research.  She then preached on the value of thinking long-term (which is ironic, considering she had just described how short-sighted evolution can be).  We ought to consider our long-term impact on the environment, she said.  That prompted a follow-up question that seemed out of place in an exclusively pro-Darwin magazine:
    But scientists surely aren’t saints themselves are they?
    No, we fly too much but at least there is a certain honesty about it: we tend to admit that.  We’re a bit as selfish as the others, but at least we get some wicked pleasure out of saying it aloud.  We ought to complain when society hasn’t established sensible rules that serve the long-term interests of people.
    Kokko did not explain how the long-term interests of people can be reconciled with the needs of the environment, or how the morality-tinged words saint, honesty, wicked and selfish entered into the Darwinian vocabulary – except with this short anecdote, hinting that she is aware of the conundrum:
    My cousins recently looked at the proofs of a popular Finnish book on evolution that I’ve coauthored.  I was perhaps expecting them to comment on my claims that evolution has something to do with our troubled relationship with the environment, or challenge my views on how we can live humanely ‘despite’ being products of natural selection.  But what they asked me was far simpler.  They were simply baffled about where I got all this information; who told me all these cool stories?
    Safely off the hook, Kokko went on to praise the value of science education, and to admire the younger generation of Finnish students, who “show a far greater acceptance of evolution than older ones” and “are also more environmentally aware.”  So we never got to hear how she reconciles moral and theological values with the short-sighted blindness of natural selection.  Would she have grounds for calling the terrorist attacks evil?

  2. Superstition for better fitnessNew Scientist published an interesting twist on evolution: Darwin’s theory of natural selection helps explain why people believe nonsense.  Avoiding black cats and ladders and rubbing a rabbit’s foot are no longer moral failings, but rather adaptive strategies sustained by evolutionary forces.  Interestingly, the article refers to the work of the aforementioned Hanna Kokko, who, with colleague Kevin Foster of Harvard, “sought to determine exactly when such potentially false connections pay off.”  Superstition can be good for you, in other words.
        As if to pre-empt creationist ridicule for this idea, the article continued, “Rather than author just-so stories for every possible superstition – from lucky rabbit’s feet to Mayan numerology – Foster and Kokko worked with mathematical language and a simple definition for superstition that includes animals and even bacteria.”  The definition was not given by New Scientist, but the mathematical rule boils down to this: “As long as the cost of believing a superstition is less than the cost of missing a real association, superstitious beliefs will be favoured.”  (They admitted, later in the article, that this rule does not always hold.)
        Their rule seems to rely on a philosophical assumption, however.  “Real associations” can only be alleged if one presupposes the correspondence theory of truth – the confidence that our sensory perceptions correspond to external reality.  Some theologians have argued that this presupposition cannot be derived from naturalism.  It requires reference to eternal truth, which in turn requires an eternal Truth-giver, or God.
        Surprisingly, New Scientist gave the last word to a critic of the Foster-Kokko hypothesis.  One can almost hear philosophers and theologians smirking in the background:
    However, Wolfgang Forstmeier, an evolutionary biologist at the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology in Starnberg, Germany, argues that by linking cause and effect – often falsely – science is a simply dogmatic form of superstition.
        “You have to find the trade off between being superstitious and being ignorant,” he says.  By ignoring building evidence that contradicts their long-held ideas, “quite a lot of scientists tend to be ignorant quite often,” he says.
    But then,our background philosophers and theologians ask, isn’t Forstmeier begging the question?  How does he define ignorance without presupposing the correspondence theory of truth?  And how is contradicting oneself viewed as bad, if natural selection can produce superstitious beliefs and call it fitness?  In the end, this article did not address the origin of evil, either – let alone grounds for labeling something like 9/11 as evil.  Could not superstition be judged a means of attaining fitness from the terrorists’ point of view?

  3. Those evil creationistsScientific American seems to be able to smell evil even if they can’t define it.  It’s those creationists trying to get their views in the science classrooms.  Suspects included VP nominee Sarah Palin (cf. Evolution News #1 and #2), Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, and the Discovery Institute.  Their crime: using buzzwords, rhetorical shifts, faulty reasoning (“They have this idea that it’s a zero-sum game, so anything you can do to knock evolution down actually promotes creationism without having to say the word”), and retooled approaches to sneak creationism into the classroom (but see Evolution News).
        The article failed to explain, though, why any of this is bad in Darwin’s universe.  After all, “evolution is the linchpin of modern biology, explaining everything from antibiotic resistance in bacteria to the progression of species found in the fossil record,” the article said.  If evolution explains everything, surely it could explain the fitness of the majority of the human population that wants creationism to get a fair hearing.  On what moral grounds, then, or by what force of natural selection, could the NCSE resist these efforts?  Robert Crowther responded to this article for Evolution News.

  4. Teaching points:  As stated in the update to yesterday’s entry (09/10/2008), a consortium of scientific societies is planning a big public forum to promote evolution.  A key goal of the meeting is to explain why intelligent design is not science.  Needless to say, no advocates of ID were invited on the panel.  This seems a continuation of the pro-Darwin strategy immediately after 9/11.  PBS aired a series on Evolution with no explanation for moral evil, and no opportunity for opposing views to get a hearing (see 09/18/2001).
It appears that the naturalistic evolutionists have not changed since 9/11.  In most cases when they talk about morality, (1) every moral condition is to be explained by amoral natural processes, including terrorism; (2) they presuppose values that are difficult to account for in Darwinian terms, and (3) morality notwithstanding, they preach that creation and intelligent design are to be sternly opposed – as if they are evil.
    For those who want to hear both sides, a stimulating online debate is in progress.  Opposing Views.com seeks to air the best arguments of “verified experts” on both sides of controversial issues.  This month’s debate is “Does intelligent design have merit?”  Visitors can not only read the views of senior fellows of the Discovery Institute (cf. Evolution News) going up against the NCSE and Americans United, but can vote on who is winning and submit their responses – something Casey Luskin at Evolution News is rallying readers to do.
1.  Q & A: Hanna Kokko, Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 17, 9 September 2008, Pages R726-R727, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.06.042.
Once you unmask the naturalist’s quandary that nothing he or she says can make any judgments about truth or morality, it’s over.  If we hit the buzzer every time they borrowed Judeo-Christian concepts and words, they would not be able to get an edge in wordwise, or vice versa.
Next headline on:  EducationEvolutionIntelligent DesignPolitics and EthicsBible and Theology
  Remembering 9/11: Revisit our hymn tribute the day of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the day after the 09/10/2001 entry. Remember how Nature (09/19/2001) and NASA (09/14/2001) suddenly got religion in the face of evil for a brief period?  Do you remember the bad timing of PBS that tried to air its Evolution series just a week later? (09/18/2001, 09/24/2001, 09/28/2001).  Browse the Sept 2001 page for other stories that emerged from the news about the attack.

Are You Too Dumb to Understand Evolution?   09/10/2008    
Sept 10, 2008 — Astrobiologist David Deamer believes that life can spontaneously emerge without design, but he thinks lay people are too uneducated to understand how this is possible, so he gives them the watered-down version of Darwin’s natural selection instead, which he knows is inadequate to explain the complexity of life.  That’s what he seemed to be telling reporter Susan Mazur in an interview for the Scoop (New Zealand).  Is the lay public really too dense for the deeper knowledge of how evolution works?

Suzan Mazur: Change of subject.  Why does NASA promote natural selection as the only mechanism of evolution in its literature – for example, in Astrobiology Primer, whose editor is a priest, and on television in the program Origins of Life?

David Deamer: NASA is speaking to the general public.  They’re just trying to keep it simple and explain evolution to people who may not know much about it.

Suzan Mazur: But there are other mechanisms contributing to evolution.  The public is not being told about this.  Not informing the public is not really serving the public.

David Deamer: The Astrobiology Primer and the Origins of Life program are intended for a lay audience.  Biologists agree that life started simple and became more complex through a natural process, and at the most general level we call that process evolution.
    If I were teaching an advanced class in evolutionary biology to a college level audience, they would have enough preparation to deal with the other aspects that go into the evolutionary process beyond Darwin’s initial explanation.  It takes a lot of background to understand the details that contribute to the evolutionary process.
    For instance, the Altenberg 16 you have written about are professional biologists who are trying to go beyond the simplistic explanations that involve nothing more than natural selection.  They are bringing to the table ideas that require considerable knowledge to understand their argument.
    I certainly wouldn’t want to state that natural selection is the only process driving evolution, but if I am going to explain what that means my audience needs to have enough information to understand the questions that are being raised.

Susan Mazur has written about the Altenberg 16 before (03/07/2008, 08/29/2008), asking some of its participants hard questions about why the “Darwinian establishment tapeworm” continues to “feed unenlightened information to the public at public expense” about how evolution works.  She responded to Deamer’s rationalization by suggesting that the public would accept evolution more “if the science was where it should be.”  That’s when Deamer revealed another reason for keeping the truth from the public:
David Deamer: I get the point.  Unfortunately, creationists have politicized the science so much that the very fact of evolution is being questioned.
    Perhaps this is why scientists tend to fall back on the bedrock of Darwin’s basic concepts when they speak in a public forum.  No one denies the factual basis of evolution, but we are still learning how evolution takes place, particularly in animal and plant populations in ecosystems.
    I have debated creationists and intelligent design people in public forums, and my impression is that they are not looking for scientific truth.  Instead they are working to advance their political aim, which is to get Christian fundamentalism taught in public schools as an alternative to evolution.
Mazur responded that some scientific societies have a kind of fundamentalism of their own.  They are “unnecessarily conservative, stick together, protect their foundation grants instead of recognizing the validity of alternative mechanisms and advancing the science.”  To her, scientific “fundamentalism” feeds the creationist perspective.
    Deamer seemed exasperated.  “No matter what we do, the creationists are going to focus on things we don’t know and forget about all the things we do know.”  To him, the creationist threat appears to justify giving the lay public a watered-down version of evolutionary theory that not even he believes himself.
    Mazur persisted.  She pointed to independent researchers whose papers get rejected simply because they take an unorthodox approach.  Deamer denied this.  He pointed to the views of Gunther Wachtershauser, whose views on the origin of life were outside the mainstream, but were given serious consideration by the insiders.  He mentioned the unconventional views of Stephen Jay Gould (punctuated equilibria) and E. O. Wilson (sociobiology).  He did not mention, however, that all these ideas assume naturalism.
    The interview moved on to other topics, but at one point Mazur asked Deamer about the origin of the gene.  “I think genetic information more or less came out of nowhere by chance assemblages of short polymers,” he said.  He dodged a question about Darwin’s falsifiability test.  Darwin had said that if any organ had been found that could not have been formed by successive slight modifications, his theory would absolutely break down.  Deamer said he didn’t know enough about what Darwin meant by that to make a knowledgeable comment.
    Speaking of knowing, a search on the words know or knowledge provides few examples of things Deamer thinks he knows.  The strongest claim was in response to Mazur’s question whether astrobiology has yielded any knowledge in the 10 years since it began.
Yes, absolutely.  Astrobiology has put life on the Earth into a larger context of our solar system and our galaxy.  The origin of life on Earth is likely to be a universal process, and that’s why we are so excited by the discovery that Mars once had shallow seasPerhaps in the next decade we will have clear evidence that life began there as well, by the same process of self-assembly that we discussed earlier.
    It also has given us a vast amount of information about the history of life on the Earth.  We now know that oceans were present well over four billion years ago, and there is evidence for life in the isotopic record that goes back about 3.8 billion years ago.
A context does not refer to a specific scientific fact, however, and most of the findings he mentioned refer to geology, not the origin of life, which is his specialty.  Scrutinizing his answer for things he knows requires bypassing the likely and perhaps statements.  What remains are claims about earth history that are largely theory-laden with evolutionary assumptions.  As for his specialty, the self-assembly of molecules prior to life, he pointed to soap bubbles as an example, but admitted that his examples of self-assembly are downhill energetically.  Life, by contrast, uses energy to produce complexity.  “If self-assembly is a spontaneous, energetically downhill process, I would define self-organization as a step up from self-assembly in which more complex structures, including living organisms, use energy to organize themselves into functional aggregates.”  Did he have any examples of this occurring in nature?  No; that’s when Mazur changed the subject and asked him that question about how evolution is communicated to the lay public.
Update 09/11/2008: EurekAlert announced two public programs to be aired next month in Houston at a “large scientific conference” on how to teach evolution “in plain language.”  There will be a teacher forum and public forum.  For the free public forum, “A panel of experts will give a non-technical presentation on the latest geological evidence for evolution, the finding of ‘missing’ links, the importance of understanding evolution to modern societies, the nature of science, and why intelligent design should not be considered science.”  The Geological Society of America is one of five societies hosting the event.  No critics of Darwin’s natural selection or of evolutionary theory will be on the panel (see GSA announcement).  Teachers will be given free copies of the NAS booklet “Science, Evolution, and Creationism” without any rebuttals, such as those published by the Discovery Institute (see Evolution News).
    These one-sided presentations run counter to public sentiments.  Evolution News republished a 2006 Zogby Poll that showed 69% or respondents agreeing with the statement, “Biology teachers should teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it.”  Only 21% felt that only Darwin’s theory should be taught.  But even if they got their way, that minority would be promoting a distorted view of evolution (Darwin’s natural selection) according to David Deamer and Susan Mazur.
Come on, David, we can handle it.  Give us your best shot.  Many readers of Creation-Evolution Headlines are highly educated and can take the advanced-wizard version of evolutionary theory instead of the watered-down Astrobiology Primer and other NASA propaganda.  While you’re at it, show us some experiments of self-organization better than soap bubbles.  We stopped playing with those as kids.  We can’t remember any of them generating information out of nowhere by chance, either.
    Do creationists really just harp on what evolutionists don’t know, and ignore what they do know?  You be the judge.  Read eight years of articles with the leading evolutionary biologists speaking their own words in their own journals, and ask them, like Colin Patterson, did (see ARN) “Can you tell me anything about evolution, any one thing that is true?”  In 2008 you will still get the same answer he got: silence.  Oh, you may get some bluffing, generalities, analogies (09/04/2008) and bandwagon arguments that all scientists believe it.  You may get appeals to what we might find out in the far distant future if they keep getting their funding.  But for things they can point to that they know are true about evolution, they know less than nothing, because things they thought they knew turned out to be wrong.  Need some proof?  Revisit these entries: 09/05/2008, 08/23/2008, 08/11/2008 – and those are just from the past month.
    Some day when the Darwin house of cards collapses, and the books are opened, interviews like this are going to sound shameful and despicable.  The wizards who peep and mutter behind closed doors and deceive the public with half-truths and big lies are not going to have any recourse, because it will require integrity to be a scientist.  For those who excuse their misdeeds on the grounds that their opponents have a political agenda, well, guess what: that criticism cuts both ways.  Who butters your bread, D.D.?  Who you gonna vote for?  Why are so many of your colleagues liberal Democrats?  Why are they so adamant about keeping DODO in the schools? (Darwin-Only, Darwin-Only).  Is that not an agenda?
    The myth of the bias-free, politically-neutral scientist in the white lab coat went out with World War I.  Let’s focus, shall we, on who makes the better case based on logic and the evidence.  That person doesn’t need to misrepresent his case for the lay public.
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeEvolutionary TheoryIntelligent DesignEducation
Flightlessness Evolved Four Times   09/10/2008    
Sept 10, 2008 — An article on Science Daily claims that the famous flightless birds – African ostriches, Australian cassowaries and emus, New Zealand kiwis and South American rheas – are unrelated.  There was no flightless common ancestor.  They lost their ability to fly independently, scientists say, because of “parallel evolution.”
    This would also mean that emus are more closely related to flying birds than they are to ostriches – even though they resemble ostriches.  A conventional evolutionary idea is a casualty of this view.  “Previously,” the article explains, “the ratites [including emus] were used as a textbook example of vicariance, a term that describes the geographical division of a single species, resulting in two or more very similar sub-groups that can then undergo further evolutionary change and eventually become very distinct from one another.”  This flightless ancestor was thought to inhabit an ancient continent named Gondwana (see 09/08/2008), which split into Africa, South America, Australia and New Zealand.  Its descendants evolved into their characteristic forms, the textbooks said.
    The new genetic analysis (part of the NSF “Assembling the Tree of Life” Project) suggested to evolutionists that flying birds flew to the new continents after the breakup of Gondwana, and lost their flying abilities independently.  That raises new questions, the article said: “For example, why did these birds evolve into such similar organisms in such different environments?”  They did not even think to ask such a thing before now.  “But nobody would have asked that question without the type of data we’ve collected, which raises the question in the first place.”
Flightlessness is a loss of function – a downward trend – that is easier to explain than flight, a gain of function.  Even so, notice how evolutionary theory and geological speculation about millions of years led scientists down a primrose path to folly.  It was not the data that led to the textbook evolutionary view: it was the absence of data.
    One needs to ask of what value evolutionary theory was in the first place.  Why does one need to even continue thinking Darwinly after so many upsets?  The remarkable similarity of emus and ostriches (despite their genes) might lead an independent thinker (not drunk on Dar-wine) to propose that they were independently created.  If science is supposed to follow the evidence, why not at least consider the possibility?
Next headline on:  BirdsGeneticsEvolutionary Theory
Enjoy the Wednesday funnies at Uncommon Descent.  Today’s episode: “The God Gene,” by John Cleese: a hilarious look at reductionist skits-o-phrenia.

Comet Conundrums Resist Bluffing   09/09/2008    
Sept 9, 2008 — Scientists may claim they are learning about the origin of the solar system, but the fine print shows them scratching their heads.  This is apparent in a couple of discoveries about comets this week.
    One Science Daily article is entitled, “Comets Throw Light On Solar System’s Beginnings.”  Scientists at the UK’s national synchrotron lab in Oxfordshire had a chance to examine particles from Comet Wild-2 returned from the Stardust spacecraft.  The unsuspecting reader would expect to see confirmation of a theory revealed in the body of the article, but the opposite is found:

Dr John Bridges, from the Space Research Centre, explains the results, ‘Comets are starting to look a lot more complicated than the old dusty iceball idea.  For one thing Wild-2 contains material, like chromium oxides, from the hot inner Solar System – so how did that material get mixed in with a comet which has spent most of its life beyond Neptune?  It suggests that there has been major mixing of material from inner and outer parts of the Solar System in its earliest stages.
X-ray signatures of iron oxides in the particles also suggested to the scientists that “there could have been small trickles of water that deposited these minerals.”  The scientists suggested that impacts melting the ice on the comet might have produced these signatures, but no explanation was given how the comet got its mixture of cold and hot ingredients from vastly different parts of the solar system.  If light is being thrown on the solar system’s beginnings, it hasn’t been reflected back yet.
    Another Science Daily article trumpets, “Astronomers Discover Missing Link For Origin Of Comets.”  What U of British Columbia scientist Brett Gladman found was a highly inclined object orbiting the sun at 35 AU with high eccentricity.  Its inclination (104°) is beyond perpendicular to the plane of the planets, so its orbit is classified as retrograde.  Gladman and his team tied this object in with theories about objects that formed in the theoretical Oort cloud as opposed to those that formed in the plane of the solar system.  “This discovery may finally show how they transition from the Oort Cloud to become objects like Halley’s Comet,” he said.  The article ended with his team trying to nail down the orbit to higher degrees of precision.  It is not clear how such measurements lead to the ending sentence: “They will then begin unravelling the archaeological information trapped in the orbit of this highly exceptional member of the trans-Neptunian population.”
Good grief, you can’t do archaeology on orbits.  What are they looking for, a clay tablet?  Pottery?  Archaeology is a science of intelligent design.  These people want to steal ID concepts for secular, materialistic theories impossible to confirm by observation.  It seems that evolutionary bravado has infected all branches of science these days.  The people of fluff like to swagger and bluff, but connecting lab stuff to historical huff is tough – and as science, we rebuff, is not good enough.  The observations without the stuffing will suffice.
Next headline on:  Solar System
  Three examples from Sept.2004 on how intelligent design is good for science: 09/22/2004 and “robust engineering” in the cell, 09/16/2004 on how tRNA was discovered by thinking along design principles, and how Paley appears vindicated by the discovery of gears in a biological clock, 09/15/2004.

Modeling Just-So Stories for Earth History   09/08/2008    
Sept 8, 2008 — Models are only simulations of reality.  In science, they have a long history of simplifying complex physical phenomena in an attempt to understand them.  Many times, empirical evidence can correct a model.  The model then becomes a more accurate simulation, and can even provide additional insights and make predictions.  Can modeling work for the unobservable, unrepeatable past?
    A story posted on Space.com has a title like a Kipling fictional story: “Why Early Earth Did Not Freeze.”  Reporter Aaron L. Gronstal for Astrobiology Magazine addressed a well-known puzzle in climate history: how the early earth prevented a deep freeze.  According to stellar evolution theory, stars like our sun begin with much lower luminosity.  Four billion years ago, the sun would not have had enough energy to keep Earth’s oceans from freezing.  Yet evolutionists and geologists believe that the earth had liquid oceans at least as early as 3.7 billion years ago.  This is the “faint young sun paradox.”  Geophysicists and climate historians have proposed more “greenhouse effect” or meteor bombardments to warm the earth, but without convincing success.  Most doubt that there could have been enough carbon dioxide, methane or ammonia to provide a space blanket.
    Gronstal reported models by German scientists that reduce the amount of carbon dioxide required to heat the earth.  “The model showed that a partial pressure of only 2.9 millibars of CO2 would have been needed during the late Archaean and early Proterozoic periods in order to bring the surface temperature of the Earth above freezing,” the article said.  “This result, although contrary to previous studies, agrees with current geological data.”  The paradox thus disappears.
    Whether this claim will have ripple effects on assumptions about the impact of carbon dioxide remains to be seen.  Will it renew fears about global warming?  What does it mean to other geological periods when life was present?  And a question for philosophers of science: what was driving the model – the physics, or the assumptions of stellar and geological theories?
    Another geology news story is shaking up the world – so to speak.  National Geographic News claimed that continents get pushed, not sucked, into place.  This new idea, “contrary to accepted theory,” rearranges ideas about a theoretical supercontinent named Pangaea that split up 200 million years ago on the evolutionary timeline.  This “provocative” new theory pictures the continents moving back-and-forth like an accordion, instead of by the suction of deep ocean basins.  Maybe a superplume of magma in the mantle is the driving force.
    Yet the article includes doubts that geologists know any of this, because like the climate story above, it is based on models:

This accordionlike action, dubbed the Wilson Cycle, has been recognized for more than 40 years, but the forces responsible for it are unknown.
    Moreover, if current models thought to be responsible for these movements were applied to a 500-million-year-old Earth, they would not produce Pangaea in the right configuration.
    Why this reversal happened is unclear, and that’s disconcerting, [J. Brendan] Murphy said, because even though Pangaea is the best studied of the supercontinents, “something happened that we don’t understand.”
Murphy agreed that his model is “speculative.”  Applying the model forward, he said it makes Earth’s future “a lot more fun to study” even though he could never know the outcome, because a new supercontinent wouldn’t form for 75 million years.
    National Geographic quoted Murphy explaining where continental motion fits into grand schemes of evolution.  “Most people believe that for at least the last two and a half billion years, the Earth’s history has been dominated by the amalgamation, breakup, and reforming of supercontinents,” he said.  “It really is an underpinning of the evolution of the planet.
    The new ideas were reported also in a short article in Science Daily called “Pangaea Conundrum.”
With the faint-young-sun story, we have another case of a contradiction that should have falsified a belief being circumvented by tweaking a simulation.  And with the Pangaea story, we have geologists playing games on the job.
    This is like what the evolutionary biologists do with their in silico organisms (imaginary life-forms that can evolve in ways real organisms never could).  Climate is very complex and difficult to model, even for today’s weather.  Can these scientists really know what carbon dioxide did to the earth 3.9 billion years ago, without going back there in a time machine?  How many other factors (clouds, outgassing, feedback mechanisms) could have swamped the effects of carbon dioxide? (for instance, see this article on EurekAlert that explores possible effects of giant ocean eddies that might have a “profound influence on marine life and on the earth’s climate”).  How justifiable is it to run present observed continental motions back recklessly for billions of years into the past?  The observation-to-assumption ratio is so small it is like homeopathic medicine – one molecule of data in a swimming pool of speculation.
    Models that cannot be checked with empirical data become playgrounds for storytellers.  Never are these astro-geo-biologists content to follow the evidence and say, “Well, I guess the earth couldn’t be as old as that.”  No way; they have their timeline, with its mythical Late Heavy Bombardment, First Oxygenation Event (after the mythical Origin of Life), mythical supercontinents Pangaea, Rodinia and Gondwana (which sound like characters in an earth religion), and all the subsequent Darwinian fables that ride on top.  When a contradiction threatens the Grand Myth, they can always invent simulations that can be tweaked and forced sufficiently to match their hard-core, unalterable beliefs about billions of years and evolution.  Models become their carts before the observational horse.  Who needs a horse?  They have horseless carriages, driven by the gas of imagination, polluting the atmosphere of knowledge.
    Whether this is Model A or Model T, we don’t know.  Even a broken flivver can be pushed if it won’t go on its own and the horse is going in the other direction.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemGeologyPhysics
Resurrecting Stalin’s Ghost   09/07/2008    
Sept 7, 2008 — Most people feel there are certain historical figures off limits for praise.  Hitler and Stalin are probably two of the most infamous.  Believe it or not, a new Russian textbook is trying to portray Stalin in a more positive light.  The UK Daily Mail reported that the textbook portrays the tyrant’s mass murders as “entirely rational.”
    Millions were shot, exiled, starved and imprisoned during Stalin’s reign of terror, especially during the “Great Terror” of the 1930s.  In addition, Stalin carefully controlled a “cult of personality” that deceived the masses into thinking of him as a great savior of Russia.  It took years of “De-Stalinization” under successive premiers to uncover the extent of the terror Stalin had inflicted on the nation.
    Apparently the current Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin wants to portray Stalin in a more positive light.  The textbook he approved stresses Stalin’s extensive library and rationalizes his purges as understandable given the historical situation.  Critics, naturally, are up in arms over this attempt to whitewash what they consider one of the most evil dictators in history.
    The 08/01/2008 entry contained a recounting in Nature of the rivalry between honorable geneticist Dmitri Vavilov and Stalin’s choice for scientist, the charlatan Trofim Lysenko, which resulted in Vavilov’s murder and the starvation of millions of Russians in the Ukraine.  This week in Nature,1 two Russian scientists wrote in to comment.  The Vavilov affair was just one of many atrocities committed by the Stalin regime.  The two correspondents sounded ready to fight any tinge of whitewash or rationalization:
To call Stalin’s agricultural collectivization policy a “consolidation of land and labour” is an awful understatement: an estimated 10 million productive peasants and their families were exiled or imprisoned from 19291933.  Stalin was hardly “desperate to feed thousands of citizens dying of starvation” when these were the same people he starved and murdered while sending Russian grain abroad.
The correspondents also took issue with Nature’s apparent moral equivalence of Stalin with science policy in Western democracies.  “Saying that ’even now, politics continues to trump good science’ should not be taken as equating murderous dictators with democratic governments.
1.  Victor Fet and Michael D. Golubovsky, “Vavilov’s vision for genetics was among Stalin’s many victims,” Nature 455, 27 (4 September 2008) | doi:10.1038/455027a.
Stalin’s regime was so unspeakably horrible, we must never let generations forget.  It makes no sense to focus entirely on Hitler’s six million victims when Stalin murdered at least 20 million, machine-gunned whole towns, forced people into miserable lives of hard labor, starved millions in the Ukraine to death, incarcerated millions more in the Gulag, destroyed churches and murdered tens of thousands of clergymen, and purged rivals almost at random with a coolness and disdain that is fearful to contemplate. 
    While inflicting this unspeakable harm, Stalin lavished wealth on himself and basked in the worship of masses of peasants duped by his propaganda into thinking he was saving their mother country.  Throughout his career he was actively involved, through the Comintern and propaganda, in spreading communism in the West and East.  Had not a stroke cut him down in 1953, he could have toppled many other governments and instigated a nuclear war against Europe and America.
    We remind readers that Stalin was a diehard Darwinist.  Upon finding and reading Darwin’s Origin of Species in seminary, Stalin became an atheist, reversed his career plans for the Russian Orthodox Church, and entered politics, where, through intrigue and crafted relationships, he took the legacy of the intensely radical, murderous Vladimir Lenin (another atheist Darwinist) into his own hands.
    Every dictator accomplishes some good things and has some nice moments.  But in light of these atrocities, is that useful or necessary to review?  Saddam Hussein could look pretty handsome and polite in meetings with foreign dignitaries.  So what?  His overall reputation for evil swamped any good traits.  Stalin achieved some impressive modernization and industrialization of the Soviet Union.  He repulsed Hitler’s advances (though late and poorly planned, with horrendous human cost).  He collected art and left some impressive buildings.  When such things were done on the backs and graves of millions of his countrymen, it hardly deserves listing them, especially when a free government under beneficent leaders might have achieved the same or better without such horrible human cost.  There’s no rationalization for evil.
    The only one exceeding Stalin in pure evil was Chairman Mao in China, Stalin’s ally, who murdered up to 77 million through state-sponsored terror (11/30/2005).  But after awhile the body count begins to sound academic.  The ideas that resulted in the worst genocides in modern history – in all of human history – came from the poisoned well of Darwin, who led people to think of mankind adrift in a chance universe without God.  In Darwin’s meaningless universe, the individual as a creation of God faded away like a dream.  In its place came The State.  Is anyone surprised that Marx, Lenin and Stalin, all Darwin-lovers, began a genre of cold-blooded despots the likes of which history had never seen?  The despots of Cambodia, Cuba, Rwanda, Vietnam, and North Korea (which remains one of the scariest and most brutal governments in the world) all admired Hitler and Stalin as role models.
    With American universities still infiltrated with Marxist-Darwinists, with prominent Darwinists pushing atheism in the name of science (08/28/2008), and with Nature insinuating that there is moral equivalence between Stalinist Russia and President Bush’s policies on science funding, maybe you get a sense of why services like Creation-Evolution Headlines play a vital role in our times to remind us that bad ideas have consequences – real consequences, where it hurts.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsBible and Theology
Butterfly Wings Xeroxed   09/06/2008    
Sept 6, 2008 — If you can’t build it, copy it.  Scientists have had a hard time reconstructing the photonic crystals that make butterfly wings shimmer with light (01/29/2003), so they made, in effect, a carbon copy.  PhysOrg described how scientists at Penn State made impressions of the regularly-spaced geometric shapes from a butterfly wing and transferred it to glass, leaving a “positive mold that looks the same as the butterfly wing from the top.”  Maybe instead of biomimetics this could be dubbed biomimeographics.
    What do they want to do with their replicated photonic crystal?  They have their eyes on semiconductor devices, infrared sensors, solar energy concentrators and other things no one has thought of yet.  What they know is that the “structural color” reflected by these crystals will be pure and intense.  That’s bound to be useful or just pretty.
True science seeks to understand a natural phenomenon with observation, equations and experiments, with an eye toward improving human life.  It’s not necessary to tell a story about how the butterfly invented a technology that human intelligence can photocopy but not yet engineer.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
  Comet inventory comes up short (09/03/2003) and other cometary woes (09/12/2003).

How Not to Prove Positive Selection   09/05/2008    
Sept 5, 2008 — Erase all that evidence for positive natural selection in the genes you’ve read about.  It’s all misleading confusion based on “certain poorly conceived statistical methods,” argues Austin L. Hughes, an evolutionary biologist at the University of South Carolina.  Writing a commentary in PNAS,1 he accused, “Thousands of papers are published every year claiming evidence of adaptive evolution on the basis of computational analyses alone, with no evidence whatsoever regarding the phenotypic effects of allegedly adaptive mutations.
    Why would Hughes make such a damning statement among colleagues of the National Academy of Sciences, who are overwhelmingly pro-evolution?  The reason: he wanted to praise a new study that does it right.  In the same issue of PNAS,2 a study by Yokoyama is “solidly grounded in biology,” Hughes said.  Instead of presenting “more of the same” evidence of positive selection without tying it to adaptation at the phenotypical level, this paper related changes in visual pigment genes to actual benefits for the organism.
    More on that later.  What’s interesting about evolutionary claims in perspective is that Hughes presented this paper as if it were a rarity, a first step in the right direction after decades of error.  “Sequences of DNA provide documentary evidence of the evolutionary past undreamed of by pioneers such as Darwin and Wallace, but their potential as sources of evolutionary information is still far from being realized,” he began.  “A major hindrance to progress has been confusion regarding the role of positive (Darwinian) selection, i.e., natural selection favoring adaptive mutations.”  That’s when he criticized the methods in “thousands of papers” that rely on “certain poorly conceived statistical methods” that fail to show how the genetic changes relate to adaptive benefits to the organism in its ecological niche.
    Hughes described how the typical paper uses an “unwarranted generalization” from one classic case in which relative frequencies of synonymous and nonsynonymous mutations3 seemed to be related to selectional pressure.  Since then, evolutionists have recklessly applied instances of dN > dS as evidence of positive selection.  This assumption is “demonstrably false,” Hughes argued, because due to the stochastic nature of mutations, such inequalities are just as likely to occur by chance, without any adaptive value.  “Yet, despite their shaky foundations, numerous publications have used these methods as the basis for claims of positive selection at the molecular level.”  In fact, using the Yokoyama et al paper to test the codon-based methods and Bayesian methods so often used in the literature, Hughes found them to be “100% off-target.”  The mutations putatively showing positive selection, in other words, bore no relation to the ones Yokoyama et al found to be adaptive.  “These results support the theoretical prediction that, because of the faulty logic in their underlying assumptions, codon-based focus mainly on statistical artifacts rather than true cases of positive selection.”  Has he just falsified “thousands of papers ... published each year”?
    Hughes is not done with his bombshell barrage yet.  Next, he criticized Neo-Darwinism itself – at least some widely-held assumptions about its record in the genes:

Contrary to a widespread impression, natural selection does not leave any unambiguous “signature” on the genome, certainly not one that is still detectable after tens or hundreds of millions of years.  To biologists schooled in Neo-Darwinian thought processes, it is virtually axiomatic that any adaptive change must have been fixed as a result of natural selection.  But it is important to remember that reality can be more complicated than simplistic textbook scenarios.
Adaptive change can occur by simple genetic drift, for instance.  Hughes suggests that some of the genomic changes for visual pigments occurred by this method.  But then, how is an evolutionary biologist to find genetic evidence for positive selection at all?  Hughes is merciless in his conclusion:
In recent years the literature of evolutionary biology has been glutted with extravagant claims of positive selection on the basis of computational analyses alone, including both codon-based methods and other questionable methods such as the McDonald-Kreitman test.  This vast outpouring of pseudo-Darwinian hype has been genuinely harmful to the credibility of evolutionary biology as a science.  It is to be hoped that the work of Yokoyama et al. will help put an end to these distressing tendencies.  By incorporating experimental evidence regarding the phenotypic effects of reconstructed evolutionary changes, this study sets a new standard for studies of adaptive evolution at the molecular level.  In addition, by providing evidence that non-Darwinian and Darwinian processes are likely to be involved in the evolution of adaptive phenotypes, it points the way toward a new, more realistic appreciation of the evolutionary process.
Since Hughes put such a high value on the paper by Yokoyama et al,2 treating it as if it were the guiding light among thousands of papers lacking credibility, it bears taking a closer look.  The authors started immediately with assumptions based on evolution that they admitted are difficult to prove:
Vertebrate ancestors appeared in a uniform, shallow water environment, but modern species flourish in highly variable niches.  A striking array of phenotypes exhibited by contemporary animals is assumed to have evolved by accumulating a series of selectively advantageous mutations.  However, the experimental test of such adaptive events at the molecular level is remarkably difficult.
The authors referred to the evolution of visual pigments as “the deepest body of knowledge linking differences in specific genes to differences in ecology and to the evolution of species.”  This makes their subject matter the best case available for testing evolution with molecular methods.  They extracted rhodopsins from 5 deep-sea fish and compared them to 35 types of animals.  As Hughes had indicated, they showed that the standard codon-based, statistical inferences to positive selection are misleading.  This was a major emphasis in their paper.  In fact, four of their five major conclusions related to how traditional methods of assessing positive selection can be misleading.
    Then, using mutagenesis experiments, they purported to show that adaptive sensitivity to particular wavelengths of light in specific environments “evolved on at least 18 separate occasions.  These highly environment-specific adaptations seem to have occurred largely by amino acid replacements at 12 sites, and most of those at the remaining 191 (~94%) sites have undergone neutral evolution.”  In other words, evidence for genetic drift (neutral changes) swamped evidence for positive selection by 94%.  But even then, they started by assuming that the “ancestral” rhodopsin, which they “engineered” using evolutionary assumptions and mutagenesis, started with a maximal sensitivity to 500 nm light.
    Clearly, Cambrian-age ancestral rhodopsin is not available for study.  The ancestral rhodopsin on which their conclusions depend, therefore, was manufactured by them in the lab, based on their assumptions of evolutionary ancestry, millions of years, and the positions of animals in a phylogenetic tree, assuming the rhodopsins had diversified by natural selection.  The reasoning seems circular.  Even so, genetic drift was far more evident than positive selection.  And, to fit the data, they had to conclude that genotypes appeared and reappeared multiple times without any particular trend.  They said, “To complicate the matter further, evolutionary changes are not always unidirectional and ancestral phenotypes may reappear during evolution.
    Since no clear evolutionary pattern became evident without evolutionary assumptions,4 therefore, it is difficult to see how this paper could be judged any more objective than the thousands of papers Hughes criticized.
1.  Austin L. Hughes, “The origin of adaptive phenotypes,” (Commentary, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published September 3, 2008, doi:10.1073/pnas.0807440105.
2.  Yokoyama, Tada, Zhang and Britt, “Elucidation of phenotypic adaptations: Molecular analyses of dim-light vision proteins in vertebrates,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published September 3, 2008, doi:10.1073/pnas.0802426105.
3.  Nonsynonymous mutations in a gene change the amino acid in the resulting protein.  Synonymous mutations do not, because some some of the 64 possible DNA codons have “synonyms” that code for the same amino acid (there are only 20 amino acids in most proteins).
4.  E.g, notice the evolutionary assumptions in this excerpt from the paper: “The ancestors of bony fish most likely used rhodopsins with [lambdamax-s (maximum sensitivity wavelength)] of ~500 nm (Fig. 1).  What types of light environment did these ancestors have?  The origin of many early vertebrate ancestors is controversial [i.e., the Cambrian explosion], but that of bony fish ancestors is clear [referring to a 1988 text on Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution].  The fossil records from late Cambrian and early Ordovician, ~500 Mya, show that the ancestors of bony fish lived in shallow, near-shore marine environments (3032).  Therefore, pigment a must have functioned as a surface rhodopsin and its lambda-max would be consistent with that roleInterpolating from the ancestral and contemporary rhodopsins, it is most likely that pigments bd and fh (lambdamax ~ 501502 nm) were also surface rhodopsins, pigment i (496 nm) was an intermediate rhodopsin, and pigments e, j, and k (480485 nm) were deep-sea rhodopsins (Fig. 1).  From their predicted lambdamax-s, it is also likely that pigments q, r, s, and v were intermediate rhodospins [sic] and pigment u was a deep-sea rhodopsin (Fig. 1).... Based on the four types of dim-light vision, vertebrates show six different evolutionary paths (Fig. 1)....”  Later, they gave a Lamarckian description: “When moving into new dim-light environments, vertebrate ancestors adjusted their dim-light vision by modifying their rhodopsins.”
Wow.  The damage to evolutionist credibility from these two papers can hardly be overstated.  Hughes just wiped away stacks and stacks of papers that Ken Miller and Eugenie Scott might have piled up in a courtroom to demonstrate the overwhelming evidence for evolution, then he held up a very weak paper as the best example yet.  We looked into that paper and found nothing but evolutionary assumptions buttressing evolutionary assumptions.
    Consider how weak their best evidence is.  They were talking about animals that already had eyes, retinas, optic nerves, brains and all the other organs and functions that support vision.  The only parameter that they studied was the wavelengths of light to which particular rhodopsin molecules are maximally sensitive, between 482 and 505 billionths of a meter.  But as we know from many phenomena in biology, compensating mechanisms are often at work.  It would be impossible to prove that a fish with a rhodopsin most sensitive to 489 nm would be any better evolved than one with a rhodopsin most sensitive to 502 nm, because the ganglion cells or optic nerve might compensate for the slight shift in sensitivity.  All we observe is that living fishes today are marvelously adapted to their particular ecological niches.
    We’re only talking about virtually indistinguishable shades of green light, folks!  Are you impressed with the creative power of natural selection?  Are you impressed with scientists’ ability to demonstrate evolution at the molecular level?  During the hundreds of millions of years in which animals supposedly evolved from trilobites to philosophers, the best evolutionists can show are slight changes to sensitivity to green light in just 12 positions in one protein molecule out of the thousands of exquisitely-adapted enzymes essential for vision.  Even then, the “evolution” demonstrated is predominantly from mutational drift, with no particular functional trend, and the changes (we are told) appeared, disappeared, and reappeared 18 times.  At the most optimistic, the changes they’re talking about are microevolutionary.  Even staunch young-earth creationists would have no difficulty believing that changes this small might occur in a few thousand years.
    Nothing the evolutionists have produced as evidence for natural selection (after the purge of papers by Hughes) is sufficient to distinguish between creation vs evolution models.  Should evolution be the only view sanctified in the schools?  Hughes was right on when he said that the “vast outpouring of pseudo-Darwinian hype has been genuinely harmful to the credibility of evolutionary biology as a science.”  He did nothing to repair the damage, and by pointing to an insipid paper as the best example yet after decades of hype, he actually made it worse.
    This effectively undermines everything the evolutionists have told us about divining evolutionary history in the genes (e.g., 06/13/2003, 04/30/2005).  Where else could we see it?  In the fossil record?  Ha! (07/21/2003), 05/21/2004, 05/10/2008).
    Undoubtedly the Darwin Party will spin this situation in their favor, by making it an illustration of the progress of triumphalist materialist secularist science.  For 8 years now, CEH has been exposing the charades behind the curtain where Charles the Extravagant, the Wizard of Flaws, and his loyal munchkins dupe people into thinking that evidence for evolution is overwhelming.  This is a prime example.  Now you know.  Get the word out!  Expose the charlatan!  We need to get out of this mythical fantasyland (09/04/2008) and back to the real world!  The Kansas School Board is counting on you!
You’re off to shame the Wizard, the Blunderful Wizard of Flaws
You’ll find he is a Wimp of a Wiz if ever a Wiz there was
If ever, oh ever, a Wimp there was the Wizard of Flaws is one because
Because, because, because, because, because
Because of the blunderful spins he does
You’re off to shame the wizard, the Blunderful Wizard of Flaws.
Use your brain.  Take courage.  Have a heart.  And bark, Toto, bark!
Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryGenetics
See the Friday funnies on The Onion.

Spore Game: Evolution or ID?   09/04/2008    
Sept 4, 2008 — Spore is a highly-anticipated computer game that just came out.  Evolutionists are claiming it as a model of how life evolves – but intelligent-design advocates are calling it an ID game, pure and simple.  Who’s right?
    Carl Zimmer, a science writer, is among those counting Spore points for Darwin.  His blog entry from Discover Magazine leads to an article on the New York Times sporting a large depiction of Tiktaalik, the alleged fish evolving legs (04/06/2006).  In “Gaming Evolves,” Zimmer gets evolutionary biologists to comment on the game.  The reviews are positive but mixed.  They enjoy the game, but Dr. Richard Prum commented, “The mechanism is severely messed up.”  Presumably it does not accurately depict the neo-Darwinian mechanism of natural selection acting on random mutations.  The game only touches on some of the big questions of evolutionary biology, Prum continued: What is the origin of complexity?  And how contingent is evolution on happenstance?  Nevertheless, he feels that if it helps players ask these questions, “that would be great.”
    Spore was written by Will Wright, author of the popular game SimCity and its spin-offs.  Wright was motivated by the work of evolutionary biologists and prior simulations like Avida (05/08/2003) and Evarium.  In Spore, he wanted to “give players an experience of life and the universe across billions of years, from microscopic creatures to interstellar civilizations.”  So he invented a virtual landscape that allows players to create organisms that mate and evolve and deal with the unexpected.  The question remains: is this evolution or intelligent design?
    The game avoids the problem of the origin of life by starting with spores from outer space.  Then, players exercise choice and direction over what happens:

The game begins with a meteorite crashing into a planet, sowing its oceans with life and organic matter.  Players control a simple creature that gobbles up bits of debris.  They can choose to eat other creatures or eat vegetation or both.  As the creature eats and grows, it gains DNA points, which the player can use to add parts like tails for swimming or spikes for defense.  Once the creature has gotten big and complex enough, it is ready for the transition to land.
    On land, the creatures can grow legs, wings and other new parts.  And it is at this point that some of Spore’s features really shine.  Mr. Wright’s team has written software that can rapidly transform creatures in an infinite number of ways, as players add parts and alter their size, shape and position.
In other words, players don’t need to sit and wait for millions of years with hands off; the game puts control in their hands in time-lapse.  Is that evolution?  Furthermore, it is doubtful if Wright would take kindly to hear his software attributed to chance and necessity.  Nevertheless, he feels that the balance between cooperation and competition designed into the game is what drives the emergence of complexity in the wild.
    Meanwhile, over at the SETI Institute, Frank and Jill and the other alien-hunters are going nuts playing Spore games during work hours, building Mr. Alien Potato-Head and other imaginary creatures.  Seth Shostak, director, is even joining in the fun.  He wrote for Space.com that it’s not only fun, it could inspire young people to become scientists (hopefully SETI members).  “When you’re young, it’s the inspiration that counts – the emotional appeal,” he said proudly.
    Some evolutionists, though, have noticed the chinks in the claim the game represents evolution.  They might be worried the “design flaws” (so to speak) could be exploited by members of the intelligent design community.  They seem eager to state up front, therefore, that Spore is not quite like “real” evolution.  Zimmer explained on page 3,
Even as scientists praise Spore, they voice concerns about how the game does not match evolution.  In the real world, new traits evolve as mutations arise and spread gradually through entire populations.  Winning Spore’s DNA points does not work even as a remote metaphor.
    “I do hope that it doesn’t confuse people as to what evolution is all about,” said Charles Ofria, a computer scientist at Michigan State University and a creator of Avida.
    Spore may also mislead players with the way it is set up as a one-dimensional march of progress from single-cell life to intelligence.  Evolution is more like a tree than a line, with species branching in millions of directions.  Sometimes species become more complex, and sometimes they become less so.  And sometimes they do not change at all.  “There’s no progressive arrow that dominates nature,” Dr. Prum said.
    These caveats notwithstanding, Dr. [Thomas] Near [Yale] hopes that Spore prompts people to think about the evolutionary process.  “This may be totally off about how evolution works, but I’d much rather be dealing with a student who says, ‘O.K., I have no problem with evolution; I think about it the same way I think about gravity.’”  If it does that, it’ll be great.”
This seems to imply that Spore does not have value in convincing non-believers in evolution, but only in reinforcing the convictions of those who already have “no problem with evolution.”
    Another scientist who liked Spore in spite of its faults was Neil Shubin, discoverer of Tiktaalik (04/06/2006) and author of Your Inner Fish (01/16/2008)  He didn’t mind its differences with nature.  It’s only a game, he reminded everyone.  “It is not identical to nature, but it is a world that evolves, that changes and where the players are part of those processes.”  Shubin was especially pleased with the Tiktaalik that he and Wright “designed” in Spore, if one will pardon the expression.  But if players can design body parts and direct what happens, is it really a world that evolves?
    Seth Shostak revealed that the game’s creator “has frequently visited the SETI Institute, and says he drew inspiration for the new game from its various research programs.”  Will Wright had a curious metaphor for his game.  He called it “manure to seed future scientists.”
Since future scientists are presumably human beings and not plants, it is disgusting to spread manure on them.  Will Wright may be a clever inventor like Wilbur Wright, but in the unforgiving air of critical analysis of evolution, his invention won’t fly.  Adding a lot of hot air underneath violates the rules.
    It’s no wonder evolutionists love this game.  They live in Fantasyland, where Tinker Bell helps them wish upon a star, and all their Darwinian dreams come true.  They love digital organisms, not real ones.  They flourish in a playground where imagination is king.  They don’t want students to learn about evolution; they want them to have an experience of it.  They want their minds to soar off into millions of mythical years where miracles happen, given enough time.  If they really wanted a real-world simulation of evolution, they would turn the computer off and shake it for a million years.
    The perceptive onlooker sees intelligent design all over the place (cf. 11/14/2006).  It took ID to build the hardware.  It took ID to write the software.  It takes ID for the players to guide the outcomes according to their own purposes and plans.  And all the complex organs – wings, lungs and legs that Spore conjures up on demand – are conveniently pre-designed in software modules.  To really simulate Darwin’s scenario, how about we take the players’ hands off the controls and throw in a few random mutations in the code from time to time.
    The awarding of “DNA points” to fake organisms unmasks the hype that somehow Spore represents evolution.  In nature, who rewards anyone?  Survival is not a reward.  The last man standing is not necessarily going to be rewarded with wings.  It’s the origin of innovative function that is the problem.  Wright designed an evolutionary algorithm to solve the problem, but it presupposes a purpose and direction that nature cannot provide.  As William Dembski proved in No Free Lunch, no evolutionary algorithm, when stripped of auxiliary information, is superior to blind search.  The giving of awards to help evolution represents the insertion of auxiliary information into the system – a form of cheating.  With deft analogies and rigorous mathematical reasoning, Dembski reduces all evolutionary algorithms to blind search, and then shows mathematically that getting complex specified information at the complexity level of life by blind search is less probable than the universal probability bound of one chance in 10-150 – i.e., it will never happen.
    Evolutionists deceive themselves into thinking this game has anything to do with evolutionary theory.  Then they deceive players and students quite literally by enticing them to “think about the evolutionary process” with a game that is literally saturated with intelligent-design requirements.  Chalk this up as another example of the “useful lie” tactic with which evolutionary manure is spread on the unsuspecting (e.g., 06/29/2007).
    If you’re a vegetable (e.g., a couch potato), you might enjoy the fertilizer.  Future sentient scientists, however, need nutritious food, exercise, sound reasoning, ethics and a valid education about the real world – not manure.
Next headline on:  EvolutionIntelligent DesignMediaEducationSETIDumb Ideas
TIP: A website to bookmark and pass around: ApologeticsDVDs.com.

Fully Gecko 40 Million Years Earlier?   09/03/2008    
Sept 3, 2008 — Amber, or fossilized tree sap, usually contains remnants of insect parts.  One piece, mined in the jungles of Myanmar, contained the foot of a gecko – alleged to be 100 million years old.  That’s 40 million years older than the previously claimed oldest gecko fossil.  This critter may have skittered under the feet of dinosaurs.  Maybe it even hitched a ride by walking on the underside of a Diplodocus.
    Examination of the foot pads shows the same lamellae that give modern geckos their ability to walk across ceilings.  To Science Daily, this could only mean one thing: “that geckos were definitely in Asia by 100 million years ago, and had already evolved their bizarre foot structure at that time.”
    The discoverers from Oregon State and the London Natural History Museum estimate the juvenile specimen could have grown to about a foot long as an adult, comparable to living species.
    Speaking of the Spiderman abilities of the gecko, the article stated that “Research programs around the world have tried to mimic this bizarre adhesive capability, with limited success.”  How did this inimitable ability arise?  “It’s not known exactly how old this group of animals is, and when they evolved their adhesive toe pads.
    But does this fossil really provide evidence that evolution produced a gecko, with its innovative adhesive feet?  Certainly not directly.  The specimen was 100% gecko – and it appeared 40 million years earlier than evolutionists thought, according to their own timeline.  It’s not clear, therefore, how or why this fossil is “shedding additional light on the evolution and history of these ancient lizards that scampered among the feet of giant dinosaurs then and still are common in tropical or sub-tropical regions all over the world.”

If you are tired of the evolutionists’ tiptoe dance around falsification with the falsetto jingle that the latest discovery is “shedding more light on evolution,” then let’s all shout in basso profundo, “Let there be light!”  The light is shining, but it is shining everywhere except on evolution.
    Fossil after fossil has proven older and less evolved than any honest evolutionist would have predicted.  Nowhere do we find them evolving into something else.  All their equipment is there from the start.  At first appearance, this gecko was all gecko, just like the first bat was all bat (02/16/2008), the first frog was all frog (05/28/2008), the first bombardier beetle was already armed and dangerous (09/23/2007), the first horseshoe crab was all horseshoe crab (01/28/2008), the first platypus was all platypus (11/27/2007), the first penguin was all penguin (06/26/2007), the first jellyfish was all jellyfish (11/02/2007, the first crustacean was all crustacean (10/04/2007), and the first comb jelly was all comb jelly (04/03/2007), and on and on anon etc. and so forth.  In each case, the evolutionary paleontologist declares that the fossil is “shedding light on evolution.”
    Let’s follow the light, then.  If trends keep up, every kind of animal will trace its ancestry to the Cambrian or before.  They will all be seen to burst onto the scene, fully formed, without ancestors.  The light shed on evolution will show it to have been essentially instantaneous.  In the asymptotic limit, evolution under the lights will be seen clearly.  It will come into sharp focus.  It will read: CREATION.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyFossilsEvolution
Cellular Machines Work Like Cameras, Winches and Turboprops   09/03/2008    
Sept 3, 2008 — The discovery that cells are filled with molecular motors is one of the major achievements of late 20th-century molecular biology.  Biochemists routinely use the word “motor” when describing cellular processes, because, in fact, machines made of protein actually do use energy to perform work.  Now we have a new hybrid science – biophysics – that analyzes the kinetics of tiny machines that work just like human-sized ones, but at scales a billion times smaller.
    The diversity of forms these motors take, and the efficiency of their operations, is really quite astonishing.  Here are just a few recent examples from the literature.
  1. Camera Iris:  One of the many gate motors in the cell membrane acts like a camera iris.  Biochemists in Scotland studied a mechanically sensitive channel named MscS in the E. coli bacterium.  At 3.45 angstrom resolution (a third of a billionth of a meter), they found that the protein coils in this channel, which opens in response to mechanical energy, twist in a way that opens and closes like the iris of your eye.  The motion breaks a vapor lock, they said; “This motion is akin to the opening of camera iris.”  The side chains move apart “in a manner reminiscent of the plates of a mechanical camera iris.”  In conclusion of their paper in Science,1 they said:
    The opening and closing of channels is central to biology, yet is still poorly understood at a molecular level.  The use of mutants with modified gating kinetics may prove a widely applicable approach to crystallize different channel conformations.  By combining functional data with an open structure of the MscS channel, we have described the transitions between closed and open forms that involve tilting and separation of the transmembrane helices reminiscent of a camera iris.
  2. Winch:  Like men pulling together, cell motors can team up to pull cargo along.  The two primary transport motor types, dynein and kinesin, actually “walk” step-by-step on filaments.  Like African women with baskets on their heads, these machines attach to vesicles and other cargo and carry them to their destinations.  Scientists are finding that more often than not they work in teams.
        This is an active area of research with many questions.  William Hancock (Penn State) reviewed what is known in a Dispatch in Current Biology.2  He asked some of the questions: “how many motors need to be turned on or off to trigger directional switching?  And what sorts of regulation and cooperative interactions underlie the complex oscillations of chromosomes seen during metaphase?”  As if individual motors were not complex enough, he said, “While understanding the characteristics of the individual motors involved in these processes is important, there is clearly another level of complexity that needs to be considered when developing realistic physical models of these processes.”
  3. Flagellum motorboat:  Observers of the evolution controversy will immediately recognize the bacterial flagellum as the mascot of the intelligent design movement (02/10/2003, 07/11/2003, 10/27/2004).  Evolutionists are just as astonished with this outboard motor, present in one of the “simplest” forms of life, but continue to believe it evolved somehow.  An example is Dr. Flagellum himself, Howard Berg of Harvard (07/11/2003, 08/19/2005, 06/24/2008).  This man who knows the most about the physics of the flagellum published a handy-dandy Q&A article about the flagellum in the Aug. 26 issue of Current Biology.3
        Some quick facts from his Quick Guide: It is “remarkably small rotary electric motor” with a drive shaft, rotor, stator, bushings, universal joint, mounting plate and switch complex.  It runs on proton motive force or sodium ions that come through the cell membrane through specialized channels.  It responds to chemical gradients with higher rotation.  “At high loads, eight or more force-generating elements are active, each generating the same torque.”  Some 20 protein parts make up the motor base, but many additional parts are involved during its construction.  The motor is built from the inside out with parts added in a strict sequence:
    There are a number of checks and balances in this process, the most dramatic of which involves an antibody-like factor that blocks expression of late genes, which encode the filament protein FliC, the Mot proteins A and B, and the various components of the chemotaxis pathway.  When motor assembly reaches the level of the hook, this factor is pumped out of the cell by the flagellar transport apparatus, relieving suppression of late-gene transcription.  At about the same time, the export apparatus switches from transport of components of the rod and hook to the hook-associated proteins and filament.  Ingenious mechanisms are involved in supplying raw material at the base of the motor, in rod and hook-length control, and in pumping hook and filament subunits through a 2 nm pore along the motor axis.  In Escherichia coli and Salmonella, the energy required for this export is supplied by an electrochemical proton gradient (protonmotive force)Remarkably, the filament grows at its distal end.
    (Links to animations of this process can be found in the 11/02/2005 entry).  Berg continues: the motor can turn both directions, and stop in a millionth of a rotation.  It usually reverses direction once per second.  This allows the organism to alter direction quickly.  The viscosity the bacterium feels in water is similar to what you would feel swimming in molasses.  The propeller has variable pitch.  Rotation is likely driven by conformational changes of protein parts between the 26 units comprising the ring.  The flagellum usually spins at 100Hz (6,000 RPM), but can go 300Hz (18,000).  Flagella with sodium-ion drive can go five times faster (~100,000 RPM).
        Berg did a little calculation of how much force the motor generates.  If ramped up to our scale, he said, it would be about 5 horsepower per pound – “That’s roughly the power per pound generated by a turboprop airplane engine.”  Unlike the airplane engine, though, the flagellum doesn’t get hot: “the motor is water-cooled and thermal diffusion is very efficient over small distances, so its temperature remains very close to ambient.”
        Asked if the flagellar motor is good for anything, Berg remarked, “If you are a bacterium, a great deal: a lot of energy is expended in building such a machine so that a cell can find essential nutrients.  For humans, very little so far, except to illustrate how extraordinary nanotechnology can be.
Of the articles cited above, only Berg’s discussed evolution.  He compared the flagellum to the simpler, needle-shaped Type III Secretory System (TTSS; see 04/17/2007, bullet 11, and 01/05/2007).  “Some argue that the flagellar rotary motor evolved from the needle structure, but it was probably the other way around, since flagellated bacteria existed long before their eukaryotic targets,” he said.  This puts the more-complex machine first – opposite what evolutionary theory would predict.  “Perhaps they evolved from a common ancestor,” he continued.  But then he asked, “What was the rotary motor doing before the helical propeller was invented, if indeed that was the order of events?  Serving as a secretory apparatus that acquired the ability to spin? Packaging polynucleic acids into virus heads?  Food for thought.
1.  Wang, Black, Edwards, Miller, Morrison, Bartlett, Dong, Naismith and Booth, “The Structure of an Open Form of an E. coli Mechanosensitive Channel at 3.45 Angstrom Resolution,” Science, 29 August 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5893, pp. 1179-1183, DOI: 10.1126/science.1159262.
2.  William O. Hancock, “Intracellular Transport: Kinesins Working Together,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 16, 26 August 2008, Pages R715-R717, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.07.068.
3.  Howard Berg, “Quick guide: Bacterial flagellar motor,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 16, 26 August 2008, Pages R689-R691, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.07.015.
Food for thought, indeed.  OK, so chew on it.  Howard Berg wants us to think that the complete rotary engine existed for some other function before it was co-opted by the bacterium as an outboard motor.  That’s like believing a water-cooled, precision-assembled, variable-pitch, reversible, switch-controlled, highly efficient 5HP/lb airplane turboprop engine composed of 40 essential parts just “emerged” from nowhere until an airplane chassis “emerged” that used it to fly.  We thought about it.  We chewed on it.  We ruminated on it.  We masticated it.  We munched, crunched, chomped, chawed and gnawed it to pulp.  Bleagh.  So we spit it out and had some SOLID* food for thought instead.
*Smart Ones Like Intelligent Design.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
  The world depends on a tiny machine.  What is it?  See the 09/06/2002 entry.

Amazonia Supported a Cosmopolitan Civilization   09/02/2008    
Sept 2, 2008 — Today’s naked, spear-hunting tribes in the jungles of the Amazon live in the shadow of a complex society that once thrived there.  By increasing their scope from the single site to the wider region, archaeologists from Florida and Brazil have discovered a cosmopolitan culture that left large earthworks and evidence of complex urban societies.  Their work was published in Science.1
    Charles C. Mann, commenting on the paper in the same issue of Science,2 describes some of the dozens of earthworks or “geoglyphs” that have come to light:

Shaped like circles, diamonds, hexagons, and interlocking rectangles, the geoglyphs are 100 to 350 meters in diameter and outlined by trenches 1 to 7 meters deep.  Many are approached by broad earthen avenues, some of them 50 meters wide and up to a kilometer long.  The geoglyphs “are as important as the Nazca lines,” Ranzi says, referring to the famed, mysterious figures outlined in stone on the Peruvian coast.  But even though the Acre geoglyphs had been observed 20 years before, “nobody still knew anything about them.
Archaeologists had focused on the impressive structures of the Inca, such as Machu Picchu, but for most of the 20th century, had believed the Amazonian rain forest was too harsh, and the soil too poor, to allow for sophisticated societies.  That belief has been eroded by the emerging evidence of widespread transformation of the environment for urban culture.  Mann continues:
The new findings show that the region was “a cosmopolitan crossroads” between the societies of the eastern Amazon and the Andes, of whom the most famous were the Inka, says Susanna Hecht, a geographer at the University of California, Los Angeles: “You have every language group in lowland South America represented there.”  She adds, “It was a major cultural center--and it’s incredible that this is just coming out.
The early Amazonians had extensive agriculture, growing crops on large raised mounds of soil.  Tens or hundreds of thousands of people must have been involved in sustaining their systems.  They built canals straight as an arrow for up to 7 km.  They built causeways to adjust to annual floods.  One researcher said that early evidence “shows a few key forest islands in control of a vast network of communication and interaction covering 550 square kilometers: as large as many early states.”
    The function of some structures is not clear, but the implications are: till now, archaeologists had missed a major complex society that existed from about 1000 BC to the time of the conquistadors.
“The immediate response is that they were symbolic places,” says [Peter] Stahl [Binghamton University], “But that’s the old archaeological canard: If you can’t figure out the function of something, you say it was for ritual.
    The late arrival and ubiquity of the geoglyphs may indicate that some type of cultural movement swept over earlier social arrangements.  “But whatever was there, these societies have been completely forgotten,” says anthropologist Guillermo Rioja, director of sustainable development and indigenous peoples for the Pando.  “It’s only been 400 years since they vanished.  Why does nobody here know anything about them?  They were living here for such a long time, and nobody knows who they were.
In a related news article,3 Mann discussed the work of Heckenberger et al that shows evidence of urban planning in the western Amazon basin.  They found “garden cities” with well-planned road networks covering 30,000 square kilometers (an area the size of Belgium) dating from about 1250 AD.  Rather than avoid wetlands, the early city planners built roads and causeways over them, that were “amazingly straight”.  People could walk between the hamlets in just 15 minutes.  There may have been 50,000 people enjoying the network of medium-sized garden cities.
    Rioja added a comment that says more about educated archaeologists than their supposed primitive subjects: “The idea is that the tribes in the lowlands were living like animals in the wild,” Rioja says.  “When you tell them that there were great, important civilizations here in the western Amazon, they don’t believe it.  But it’s true.
    Two weeks earlier in Science,4 Asif A. Ghazanfar was reviewing a book by Daniel Lord Smail called On Deep History and the Brain.  Smail’s book tries to bridge a gap between prehistory and recorded history, via neuroscience and evolutionary biology.  In his review, Ghazanfar summarized the evolutionary perspective that replaced Genesis:
In essence, “prehistory” refers to the thousands of years before civilization, when history supposedly did not move.  Historians came to such an idea through a mixture of ignorance and practicality.  Into the 19th century, European historians turned to the Book of Genesis; later scholars, forced to reckon with deep geological time and evolution by natural selection, were more creative.  The spirit of their arguments for ignoring deep history is reflected in a sentence Smail quotes from the historian Mott Green: “At some point a leap took place, a mutation, an explosion of creative power--the ‘discovery of mind,’ or the ‘birth of self-consciousness’--interposing a barrier between us and our previous brute, merely biological existence.
Smail and Ghazanfar reject this notion that evolution switched from Darwinian to Lamarckian modes at the dawn of civilization.  Smail’s thesis is that human history is like Hutton’s geology: a seamless process of directionless change: “humanity’s deep history has no particular beginning and is driving toward no particular end.”  The neurophysiological changes and new brain-body states “have their roots in our primate and other vertebrate ancestors.”  When we make faces, for instance, others pick up on the emotional meaning of our expressions, and social hierarchies emerge.  None of this means evolution is heading somewhere, according to Smail:
These have deep phylogenetic roots.  Although the neural responses may not have changed much across time, the means by, and contexts in, which dominance and submission are felt and exploited by people in a society are culturally specific.  More generally (and without our being aware of it), emotional and physiological ups and downs are exploited in different ways in different cultures--for pleasure, for inflicting harm, etc.--through different associations.  Smail dubs the varying forms of culturally specific instruments that drive brain-body responses “psychotropic mechanisms.”  These include mood-altering practices, behaviors and institutions generated by human culture, foods like coffee and chocolate, our interactions with others through social hierarchies or religions, and self-stimulation through novels or roller coasters.  Importantly, the exploitation of brain-body states by cultures is not intentional nor does it have a goal.
    On Deep History and the Brain is a small book with big ideas: that human history is linked in deep time by the physiological mechanisms that we share with our vertebrate ancestors and that the historical “progress” and “acceleration” we detect are in fact directionless series of ongoing culturally specific experiments with psychotropic mechanisms.
Maybe this could be called the Starbucks theory of human evolution.  Key to Smail’s thesis is a belief in “deep time” and Darwin’s unguided, purposeless sequence of random changes that, without purpose, led us from vertebrate quadruped to upright city planner.  But how could he have any empirical evidence for this?  By definition, it is “pre-history,” which is equivalent to “pre-observer.”
1.  Heckenberger, Russell et al, “Pre-Columbian Urbanism, Anthropogenic Landscapes, and the Future of the Amazon,” Science, 29 August 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5893, pp. 1214-1217, DOI: 10.1126/science.1159769.
2.  Charles C. Mann, “Archaeology: Ancient Earthmovers of the Amazon,” Science, 29 August 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5893, pp. 1148-1152, DOI: 10.1126/science.321.5893.1148.
3.  Charles C. Mann, “The Western Amazon’s ‘Garden Cities’,” Science, 29 August 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5893, p. 1151, DOI: 10.1126/science.321.5893.1151.
4.  Asif F. Ghazanfar, “Cultural Evolution: Briding the Gap,” Science, 15 August 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5891, p. 914, DOI: 10.1126/science.1162481.
Ask yourself if these findings fit a creation view of history better than an evolutionary view.  Evolutionists would have us believe that modern humans, indistinguishable from us in brain capacity, stature and probably language, have been inhabiting our small globe for 100,000 years – maybe even 300,000 years.  Yet in that vast stretch of time, multiple times the length of all recorded history, not one of them learned to ride a horse, build a city or use symbolic communication till some unknown mutation(s), without purpose or goal, switched on these capabilities full-blown, only a few thousand years ago.  Furthermore, evolutionists would expect primitive, stone-age cultures to be on the way up toward European measures of intellectual fitness.  At least, that’s how Darwin’s followers understood things in Victorian England and on the Continent (ideas now considered very incontinent).
    Creationists, on the other hand, believe humans were created from the beginning with intelligence, abstract reasoning, aesthetics and language.  Adam’s kids were already skilled at herding and farming, had a conscience, and an innate sense of their obligation to God.  The next generation was already working metals making musical instruments.  After the Flood, it wasn’t long before the rising population was building a tower to reach heaven.
    Wherever humans have gone, they have managed to work the environment to their advantage.  Some environments only permitted a subsistence economy, but no real empirical evidence suggests humans were stuck on hunting and gathering for tens of thousands of years.
    Here in the New World, long before Columbus lay claim to it in the name of a European king and queen, urban civilization on an advanced scale had existed.  Before the ancient Greeks had learned to stop fighting themselves long enough to invent the polis, people were taming Amazonia with large earthworks, building canals and causeways and farms that could sustain tens of thousands of people.  They were communicating long distances with other cultures.
    In the post-Babel account, the confusion of languages forced people to segregate and disperse.  People began exploring the globe.  They took their knowledge of technology and culture with them, adapting it to their particular tastes and environments.  They took with them their innate mental abilities.  This all happened not so very long ago.  Consider that when European mountain men encountered Native Americans, many took squaws as wives – and had children.  Why had not there been some Darwinian adaptive radiation and origin of species among populations over the epochs since they became geographically isolated?  Why were they able to communicate with symbolic sign language quickly, and learn one another’s languages and ways?  Why indeed.  It’s because there is only one race – the human race – whose history is short, and has been recorded by ancestors skilled at abstract reasoning and language from the beginning.  Eons of grunting “prehistory” between different mythical species of humans exist only in the imaginations of Darwinists.
    The emigrants who arrived in today’s Brazil before 1000 BC rose to the challenge of their new home and figured out what to do.  We see evidence of their solutions.  Before long they were building urban centers, cooperating on building projects, inventing techniques to tame the land for their use, and communicating across many miles.  It all fits human nature as we know it.
    The head-hunting cannibals encountered by 19th- and 20th-century Darwinists were not slower-evolvers outdistanced by proud Europeans.  It appears more likely they are degenerate relics of once advanced societies.  The knowledge of the true God had become corrupted over the generations.  Power-hungry kings and shamans learned how to exploit myth and superstition to keep people under control, such as the grotesque human sacrifice and ethnic cleansing extolled among the Inca (07/10/2007).  Even so, a deep inner sense of the Almighty One, above all the invented gods, remained.  Missionaries have encountered this on many occasions (read Eternity in Their Hearts by Don Richardson).  Intelligent, capable humans with a fallen spiritual nature: this is what the Bible predicts, and this is what we find.
    The sense of surprise among the archaeologists at this new evidence is instructive (see also last month’s surprise discovery about a Sahara society).  Evolutionists maintain their mythology in spite of the evidence.  Every objective measure shows that mankind has always been Homo sapiens sapiens throughout its short tenure on this planet.  “They don’t believe it, but it’s true.”
Next headline on:  Early ManBible and Theology
Vice Presidential Candidates: You Have a Choice   09/01/2008    
Sept 1, 2008 — When it comes to feelings about creation vs evolution between the American vice-presidential candidates, voters will have a clear choice.
    Reporters are digging for information on the surprise Republican nominee, Alaska governor Sarah Palin.  Answers in Genesis collected statements from the press about her position on the teaching of evolution in public schools.  She indicated support for teaching both sides if the debate comes up in class, but not mandating the teaching of intelligent design.  As for her personal position, she stated clearly, “I believe we have a creator.”  AIG did not consider any of these strong indicators of a Biblical creationist position, but at least one that tolerates openness in the public debate.  Massimo Pigliucci though, commenting on this at Live Science, considered Palin’s stance on science education “worrisome.”  He asserted that “creationism is simply not even in the ballpark of the best ideas ever produced by humanity.”  (Presumably, he considers evolution as a top contender.)
    The situation is very different on the Democratic side.  According to Bill Sammon at Fox News, Joe Biden gave reporters an earful when asked about creationism.  “Biden ... used unusually strong language to ridicule those who believe in creationism or intelligent design,” Sammon said.  Biden exclaimed, “I refuse to believe the majority of people believe this malarkey!
If Biden wants to attract votes, it doesn’t seem politic to alienate the majority of people.  Diplomacy does not seem to be his strong point.
    A hot-headed vituperant responded to Sammon’s article with this gem of reasoning: “I also use strong language to ridicule the creationist idiots who still believe in intelligent design MAGIC in the 21st century.  Nobody is more uneducated, gullible, and just plain stupid than the creationists.”
    Here’s a suggestion on how to respond to this kind of pronouncement when you encounter a self-made philosopher.  Use the J. P. Moreland approach.  Listen patiently while the vituperant blows his credibility, then look him or her in the eye, and calmly but firmly ask, “Excuse me sir/madam, do you have an argument?” After a short pause for the quizzical look, continue, “because I’m waiting for one.  If you have a point to make, make it.”
    Get the vituperant on the defensive to make a rational argument based on evidence.  (This assumes you have been setting a good example.)  If the combatant takes the challenge and states a proposition, good.  That can be debated, using evidence and logic.  Don’t put up, though, with ridicule.  Stand up to it.  Demand respectful, rational dialogue, and maybe you will win mutual respect.  If he or she storms off muttering, then – well, you’ve won something else: the whole shootin’ match.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsIntelligent DesignEducation


Scientist of the Month

Click on Apollos, the trusty
Find our articles in:
     
Dutch  Spanish  Russian
Guide to Evolution
Feedback
Write Us!

“I totally enjoy the polemic and passionate style of CEH... simply refreshes the heart whith its wonderful venting of righteous anger against all the BS we’re flooded with on a daily basis.  The baloney detector is just unbelievably great.  Thank you so much for your continued effort, keep up the good work.”
(an “embedded Linux hacker” in Switzerland)

“I love to read about science and intelligent design, I love your articles.... I will be reading your articles for the rest of my life.”
(an IT engineer and 3D animator in South Africa)

“I discovered your site about a year ago and found it to be very informative, but about two months back I decided to go back to the 2001 entries and read through the headlines of each month.(I cheat, I have my computer read it to me while I’m working and jot down references to look at later) What a treasure house of information! ... One thing that I didn't expect when I first encountered your web site was that it would get me to think about my relationship with God, but surprisingly there have been many occasions where you've either quoted scripture or given glory to God where my eyes have been opened to an issue in my life or my spirit has been lifted up to see the awesomeness of God.... One last thing, as I’ve been reading through the website, and visiting the links its fascinating to read how history of the creation-evolution debate has unfolded over the past eight years, and how you have been very balanced and thoughtful in your analysis, with no embarrassing predictions, or pronouncements or unwarranted statements, but a very straightforward and sometimes humorous analysis of the news relating to origins and the Word of God.”
(a database engineer in New York)

“I discovered your site several months ago.... I found your articles very informative and well written, so I subscribed to the RSS feed.  I just want to thank you for making these articles available and to encourage you to keep up the good work!”
(a software engineer in Texas)

“Your piece on ‘Turing Test Stands’ (09/14/2008) was so enlightening.  Thanks so much.  And your piece on ‘Cosmology at the Outer Limits” (06/30/2008) was another marvel of revelation.  But most of all your ‘footnotes’ at the end are the most awe-inspiring.  I refer to ‘Come to the light’ and Psalm 139 and many others.  Thanks so much for keeping us grounded in the TRUTH amidst the sea of scientific discoveries and controversy.  It’s so heartwarming and soul saving to read the accounts of the inspired writers testifying to the Master of the Universe.  Thanks again.”
(a retired electrical engineer in Mississippi)

“I teach a college level course on the issue of evolution and creation.  I am very grateful for your well-reasoned reports and analyses of the issues that confront us each day.  In light of all the animosity that evolutionists express toward Intelligent Design or Creationism, it is good to see that we on the other side can maintain our civility even while correcting and informing a hostile audience.  Keep up the good work and do not compromise your high standards.  I rely on you for alerting me to whatever happens to be the news of the day.”
(a faculty member at a Bible college in Missouri)

“Congratulations on reaching 8 years of absolute success with crev.info.... Your knowledge and grasp of the issues are indeed matched by your character and desire for truth, and it shows on every web page you write.... I hope your work extends to the ends of the world, and is appreciated by all who read it.”
(a computer programmer from Southern California)

“Your website is one of the best, especially for news.... Keep up the great work.”
(a science writer in Texas)

“I appreciate the work you’ve been doing with the Creation-Evolution Headlines website.”
(an aerospace engineer for NASA)

“I appreciate your site tremendously.... I refer many people to your content frequently, both personally and via my little blog.... Thanks again for one of the most valuable websites anywhere.”
(a retired biology teacher in New Jersey, whose blog features beautiful plant and insect photographs)

“you [sic] will never get scientific respect if you insist upon using tower [sic] of babel [sic] type myth as true science, you [sic] can attack darwinians [sic] as long as you wish , [sic] but unless you talk evidence not [sic] nonsense no true scientist will hear you, pls. [sic] refer to (biblicalunitarians)for [sic] truth,may [sic] god [sic] help you to see the truth.”
(a scientist in the UK, who backed off the rhetoric when challenged, and then read the 09/05/2008 article and said it was wonderful and made him very happy.  Later he wrote, “i am very proud to tell you that i read ALL previous CEH subjects, i hereby re-confirm that CEH is very much needed in our time of deceit and (fact free fantasy!!!!), this is not an complement [sic], it is solid fact”)

“I don’t remember exactly when I started reading your site but it was probably in the last year.  It’s now a staple for me.  I appreciate the depth of background you bring to a wide variety of subject areas.”
(a software development team leader in Texas)

“I want to express my appreciation for what you are doing.  I came across your website almost a year ago.... your blog [sic; news service] is one that I regularly read.  When it comes to beneficial anti-evolutionist material, your blog has been the most helpful for me.”
(a Bible scholar and professor in Michigan)

“I enjoyed reading your site.  I completely disagree with you on just about every point, but you do an excellent job of organizing information.”
(a software engineer in Virginia.  His criticisms led to an engaging dialogue.  He left off at one point, saying, “You have given me much to think about.”)

“I have learned so much since discovering your site about 3 years ago.  I am a homeschooling mother of five and my children and I are just in wonder over some the discoveries in science that have been explored on creation-evolution headlines.  The baloney detector will become a part of my curriculum during the next school year.  EVERYONE I know needs to be well versed on the types of deceptive practices used by those opposed to truth, whether it be in science, politics, or whatever the subject.”
(a homeschooling mom in Mississippi)

“Just wanted to say how much I love your website.  You present the truth in a very direct, comprehensive manner, while peeling away the layers of propaganda disguised as 'evidence' for the theory of evolution.”
(a health care worker in Canada)

“I’ve been reading you daily for about a year now.  I’m extremely impressed with how many sources you keep tabs on and I rely on you to keep my finger on the pulse of the controversy now.”
(a web application programmer in Maryland)

“I would like to express my appreciation for your work exposing the Darwinist assumptions and speculation masquerading as science.... When I discovered your site through a link... I knew that I had struck gold! ....Your site has helped me to understand how the Darwinists use propaganda techniques to confuse the public.  I never would have had so much insight otherwise... I check your site almost daily to keep informed of new developments.”
(a lumber mill employee in Florida)

“I have been reading your website for about the past year or so.  You are [an] excellent resource.  Your information and analysis is spot on, up to date and accurate.  Keep up the good work.”
(an accountant in Illinois)

“This website redefines debunking.  Thanks for wading through the obfuscation that passes for evolution science to expose the sartorial deficiencies of Emperor Charles and his minions.  Simply the best site of its kind, an amazing resource.  Keep up the great work!”
(an engineer in Michigan)

“I have been a fan of your daily news items for about two years, when a friend pointed me to it.  I now visit every day (or almost every day)... A quick kudo: You are amazing, incredible, thorough, indispensable, and I could list another ten superlatives.  Again, I just don’t know how you manage to comb so widely, in so many technical journals, to come up with all this great ‘news from science’ info.”
(a PhD professor of scientific rhetoric in Florida and author of two books, who added that he was “awe-struck” by this site)

“Like your site especially the ‘style’ of your comments.... Keep up the good work.”
(a retired engineer and amateur astronomer in Maryland)

“I really enjoy your website, the first I visit every day.  I have a quote by Mark Twain which seems to me to describe the Darwinian philosophy of science perfectly.  ‘There is something fascinating about science.  One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.’  Working as I do in the Environmental field (I am a geologist doing groundwater contamination project management for a state agency) I see that kind of science a lot.  Keep up the good work!!”
(a hydrogeologist in Alabama)

“I visit your website regularly and I commend you on your work.  I applaud your effort to pull actual science from the mass of propaganda for Evolution you report on (at least on those rare occasions when there actually is any science in the propaganda).  I also must say that I'm amazed at your capacity to continually plow through the propaganda day after day and provide cutting and amusing commentary....  I can only hope that youthful surfers will stop by your website for a fair and interesting critique of the dogma they have to imbibe in school.”
(a technical writer living in Jerusalem)

“I have enjoyed your site for several years now.  Thanks for all the hard work you obviously put into this.  I appreciate your insights, especially the biological oriented ones in which I'm far behind the nomenclature curve.  It would be impossible for me to understand what's going on without some interpretation.  Thanks again.”
(a manufacturing engineer in Vermont)

“Love your site and your enormous amount of intellectualism and candor regarding the evolution debate.  Yours is one site I look forward to on a daily basis.  Thank you for being a voice for the rest of us.”
(a graphic designer in Wisconsin)

“For sound, thoughtful commentary on creation-evolution hot topics go to Creation-Evolution Headlines.
(Access Research Network 12/28/2007).

”Your website is simply the best (and I’d dare say one of the most important) web sites on the entire WWW.”
(an IT specialist at an Alabama university)

“I’ve been reading the articles on this website for over a year, and I’m guilty of not showing any appreciation.  You provide a great service.  It’s one of the most informative and up-to-date resources on creation available anywhere.  Thank you so much.  Please keep up the great work.”
(a senior research scientist in Georgia)

“Just a note to thank you for your site.  I am a regular visitor and I use your site to rebut evolutionary "just so" stories often seen in our local media.  I know what you do is a lot of work but you make a difference and are appreciated.”
(a veterinarian in Minnesota)

“This is one of the best sites I have ever visited.  Thanks.  I have passed it on to several others... I am a retired grandmother. I have been studying the creation/evolution question for about 50 yrs.... Thanks for the info and enjoyable site.”
(a retiree in Florida)

“It is refreshing to know that there are valuable resources such as Creation-Evolution Headlines that can keep us updated on the latest scientific news that affect our view of the world, and more importantly to help us decipher through the rhetoric so carelessly disseminated by evolutionary scientists.  I find it ‘Intellectually Satisfying’ to know that I don’t have to park my brain at the door to be a ‘believer’ or at the very least, to not believe in Macroevolution.”
(a loan specialist in California)

“I have greatly benefitted from your efforts.  I very much look forward to your latest posts.”
(an attorney in California)

“I must say your website provides an invaluable arsenal in this war for souls that is being fought.  Your commentaries move me to laughter or sadness.  I have been viewing your information for about 6 months and find it one of the best on the web.  It is certainly effective against the nonsense published on Talkorigins.org.  It great to see work that glorifies God and His creation.”
(a commercial manager in Australia)

“Visiting daily your site and really do love it.”
(a retiree from Finland who studied math and computer science)

“I am agnostic but I can never deny that organic life (except human) is doing a wonderful job at functioning at optimum capacity.  Thank you for this ... site!”
(an evolutionary theorist from Australia)

“During the year I have looked at your site, I have gone through your archives and found them to be very helpful and informative.  I am so impressed that I forward link to members of my congregation who I believe are interested in a higher level discussion of creationist issues than they will find at [a leading origins website].”
(a minister in Virginia)

“I attended a public school in KS where evolution was taught.  I have rejected evolution but have not always known the answers to some of the questions.... A friend told me about your site and I like it, I have it on my favorites, and I check it every day.”
(an auto technician in Missouri)

“Thanks for a great site!  It has brilliant insights into the world of science and of the evolutionary dogma.  One of the best sites I know of on the internet!”
(a programmer in Iceland)

“The site you run – creation-evolution headlines is extremely useful to me.  I get so tired of what passes for science – Darwinism in particular – and I find your site a refreshing antidote to the usual junk.... it is clear that your thinking and logic and willingness to look at the evidence for what the evidence says is much greater than what I read in what are now called science journals.  Please keep up the good work.  I appreciate what you are doing more than I can communicate in this e-mail.”
(a teacher in California)

“Although we are often in disagreement, I have the greatest respect and admiration for your writing.”
(an octogenarian agnostic in Palm Springs)

“your website is absolutely superb and unique.  No other site out there provides an informed & insightful ‘running critique’ of the current goings-on in the scientific establishment.  Thanks for keeping us informed.”
(a mechanical designer in Indiana)

“I have been a fan of your site for some time now.  I enjoy reading the ‘No Spin’ of what is being discussed.... keep up the good work, the world needs to be shown just how little the ‘scientist’ [sic] do know in regards to origins.”
(a network engineer in South Carolina)

“I am a young man and it is encouraging to find a scientific ‘journal’ on the side of creationism and intelligent design.... Thank you for your very encouraging website.”
(a web designer and author in Maryland)

“GREAT site.  Your ability to expose the clothesless emperor in clear language is indispensable to us non-science types who have a hard time seeing through the jargon and the hype.  Your tireless efforts result in encouragement and are a great service to the faith community.  Please keep it up!”
(a medical writer in Connecticut)

“I really love your site and check it everyday.  I also recommend it to everyone I can, because there is no better website for current information about ID.”
(a product designer in Utah)

“Your site is a fantastic resource.  By far, it is the most current, relevant and most frequently updated site keeping track of science news from a creationist perspective.  One by one, articles challenging currently-held aspects of evolution do not amount to much.  But when browsing the archives, it’s apparent you’ve caught bucketfulls of science articles and news items that devastate evolution.  The links and references are wonderful tools for storming the gates of evolutionary paradise and ripping down their strongholds.  The commentary is the icing on the cake.  Thanks for all your hard work, and by all means, keep it up!”
(a business student in Kentucky)

“Thanks for your awesome work; it stimulates my mind and encourages my faith.”
(a family physician in Texas)

“I wanted to personally thank you for your outstanding website.  I am intensely interested in any science news having to do with creation, especially regarding astronomy.  Thanks again for your GREAT website!”
(an amateur astronomer in San Diego)

“What an absolutely brilliant website you have.  It’s hard to express how uplifting it is for me to stumble across something of such high quality.”
(a pharmacologist in Michigan)

“I want to make a brief commendation in passing of the outstanding job you did in rebutting the ‘thinking’ on the article: “Evolution of Electrical Engineering” ...  What a rebuttal to end all rebuttals, unanswerable, inspiring, and so noteworthy that was.  Thanks for the effort and research you put into it.  I wish this answer could be posted in every church, synagogue, secondary school, and college/university..., and needless to say scientific laboratories.”
(a reader in Florida)

“You provide a great service with your thorough coverage of news stories relating to the creation-evolution controversy.”
(an elder of a Christian church in Salt Lake City)

“I really enjoy your website and have made it my home page so I can check on your latest articles.  I am amazed at the diversity of topics you address.  I tell everyone I can about your site and encourage them to check it frequently.”
(a business owner in Salt Lake City)

“I’ve been a regular reader of CEH for about nine month now, and I look forward to each new posting.... I enjoy the information CEH gleans from current events in science and hope you keep the service going.”
(a mechanical engineer in Utah)

“It took six years of constant study of evolution to overcome the indoctrination found in public schools of my youth.  I now rely on your site; it helps me to see the work of God where I could not see it before and to find miracles where there was only mystery.  Your site is a daily devotional that I go to once a day and recommend to everyone.  I am still susceptible to the wiles of fake science and I need the fellowship of your site; such information is rarely found in a church.
    Now my eyes see the stars God made and the life He designed and I feel the rumblings of joy as promised.  When I feel down or worried my solution is to praise God the Creator Of All That Is, and my concerns drain away while peace and joy fill the void.  This is something I could not do when I did not know (know: a clear and accurate perception of truth) God as Creator.  I could go on and on about the difference knowing our Creator has made, but I believe you understand.
    I tell everyone that gives me an opening about your site.  God is working through you.  Please don’t stop telling us how to see the lies or leading us in celebrating the truth.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.”
(a renowned artist in Wyoming)

“I discovered your site a few months ago and it has become essential reading – via RSS to Bloglines.”
(a cartographer and GIS analyst in New Zealand)

“I love your site, and frequently visit to read both explanations of news reports, and your humor about Bonny Saint Charlie.”
(a nuclear safety engineer in Washington)

“Your site is wonderful.”
(a senior staff scientist, retired, from Arizona)

“I’ve told many people about your site.  It’s a tremendous service to science news junkies – not to mention students of both Christianity and Science.  Kudos!”
(a meteorology research scientist in Alabama)

“...let me thank you for your Creation-Evolution Headlines.  I’ve been an avid reader of it since I first ‘discovered’ your website about five years ago.  May I also express my admiration for the speed with which your articles appear—often within 24 hours of a particular news announcement or journal article being published.”
(a plant physiologist and prominent creation writer in Australia)

“How do you guys do it--reviewing so much relevant material every day and writing incisive, thoughtful analyses?!”
(a retired high school biology teacher in New Jersey)

“Your site is one of the best out there!  I really love reading your articles on creation evolution headlines and visit this section almost daily.”
(a webmaster in the Netherlands)

“Keep it up!  I’ve been hitting your site daily (or more...).  I sure hope you get a mountain of encouraging email, you deserve it.”
(a small business owner in Oregon)

“Great work!  May your tribe increase!!!”
(a former Marxist, now ID speaker in Brazil)

“You are the best.  Thank you.... The work you do is very important.  Please don’t ever give up.  God bless the whole team.”
(an engineer and computer consultant in Virginia)

“I really appreciate your work in this topic, so you should never stop doing what you do, ’cause you have a lot of readers out there, even in small countries in Europe, like Slovenia is... I use crev.info for all my signatures on Internet forums etc., it really is fantastic site, the best site!  You see, we(your pleased readers) exist all over the world, so you must be doing great work!  Well i hope you have understand my bad english.”
(a biology student in Slovenia)

“Thanks for your time, effort, expertise, and humor.  As a public school biology teacher I peruse your site constantly for new information that will challenge evolutionary belief and share much of what I learn with my students.  Your site is pounding a huge dent in evolution’s supposed solid exterior.  Keep it up.”
(a biology teacher in the eastern USA)

“Several years ago, I became aware of your Creation-Evolution Headlines web site.  For several years now, it has been one of my favorite internet sites.  I many times check your website first, before going on to check the secular news and other creation web sites.
    I continue to be impressed with your writing and research skills, your humor, and your technical and scientific knowledge and understanding.  Your ability to cut through the inconsequentials and zero in on the principle issues is one of the characteristics that is a valuable asset....
    I commend you for the completeness and thoroughness with which you provide coverage of the issues.  You obviously spend a great deal of time on this work.  It is apparent in ever so many ways.
    Also, your background topics of logic and propaganda techniques have been useful as classroom aides, helping others to learn to use their baloney detectors.
    Through the years, I have directed many to your site.  For their sake and mine, I hope you will be able to continue providing this very important, very much needed, educational, humorous, thought provoking work.”
(an engineer in Missouri)

“I am so glad I found your site.  I love reading short blurbs about recent discoveries, etc, and your commentary often highlights that the discovery can be ‘interpreted’ in two differing ways, and usually with the pro-God/Design viewpoint making more sense.  It’s such a refreshing difference from the usual media spin.  Often you’ll have a story up along with comment before the masses even know about the story yet.”
(a system administrator in Texas, who calls CEH the “UnSpin Zone”)

“You are indeed the ‘Rush Limbaugh’ Truth Detector of science falsely so-called.  Keep up the excellent work.”
(a safety director in Michigan)

“I know of no better way to stay informed with current scientific research than to read your site everyday, which in turn has helped me understand many of the concepts not in my area (particle physics) and which I hear about in school or in the media.  Also, I just love the commentaries and the baloney detecting!!”
(a grad student in particle physics)

“I thank you for your ministry.  May God bless you!  You are doing great job effectively exposing pagan lie of evolution.  Among all known to me creation ministries [well-known organizations listed] Creationsafaris stands unique thanks to qualitative survey and analysis of scientific publications and news.  I became permanent reader ever since discovered your site half a year ago.  Moreover your ministry is effective tool for intensive and deep education for cristians.”
(a webmaster in Ukraine, seeking permission to translate CEH articles into Russian to reach countries across the former Soviet Union)

“The scholarship of the editors is unquestionable.  The objectivity of the editors is admirable in face of all the unfounded claims of evolutionists and Darwinists.  The amount of new data available each day on the site is phenomenal (I can’t wait to see the next new article each time I log on).  Most importantly, the TRUTH is always and forever the primary goal of the people who run this website.  Thank you so very much for 6 years of consistent dedication to the TRUTH.”
(11 months earlier): “I just completed reading each entry from each month.  I found your site about 6 months ago and as soon as I understood the format, I just started at the very first entry and started reading.... Your work has blessed my education and determination to bold in showing the ‘unscientific’ nature of evolution in general and Darwinism in particular.”
(a medical doctor in Oklahoma)

“Thanks for the showing courage in marching against a popular unproven unscientific belief system.  I don’t think I missed 1 article in the past couple of years.”
(a manufacturing engineer in Australia)

“I do not know and cannot imagine how much time you must spend to read, research and compile your analysis of current findings in almost every area of science.  But I do know I thank you for it.”
(a practice administrator in Maryland)

“Since finding your insightful comments some 18 or more months ago, I’ve visited your site daily.... You so very adeptly and adroitly undress the emperor daily; so much so one wonders if he might not soon catch cold and fall ill off his throne! .... To you I wish much continued success and many more years of fun and frolicking undoing the damage taxpayers are forced to fund through unending story spinning by ideologically biased scientists.”
(an investment advisor in Missouri)

“I really like your articles.  You do a fabulous job of cutting through the double-talk and exposing the real issues.  Thank you for your hard work and diligence.”
(an engineer in Texas)

“I love your site.  Found it about maybe two years ago and I read it every day.  I love the closing comments in green.  You have a real knack for exposing the toothless claims of the evolutionists.  Your comments are very helpful for many us who don’t know enough to respond to their claims.  Thanks for your good work and keep it up.”
(a missionary in Japan)

“I just thought I’d write and tell you how much I appreciate your headline list and commentary.  It’s inspired a lot of thought and consideration.  I check your listings every day!”
(a computer programmer in Tulsa)

“Just wanted to thank you for your creation/evolution news ... an outstanding educational resource.“
(director of a consulting company in Australia)

“Your insights ... been some of the most helpful – not surprising considering the caliber of your most-excellent website!  I’m serious, ..., your website has to be the best creation website out there....”
(a biologist and science writer in southern California)

“I first learned of your web site on March 29.... Your site has far exceeded my expectations and is consulted daily for the latest.  I join with other readers in praising your time and energy spent to educate, illuminate, expose errors.... The links are a great help in understanding the news items.  The archival structure is marvelous....  Your site brings back dignity to Science conducted as it should be.  Best regards for your continuing work and influence.  Lives are being changed and sustained every day.”
(a manufacturing quality engineer in Mississippi)

“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.”
(a hike leader and nature-lover in Ontario, Canada)

“...just wanted to say how much I admire your site and your writing.  You’re very insightful and have quite a broad range of knowledge.  Anyway, just wanted to say that I am a big fan!”
(a PhD biochemist at a major university)

“I love your site and syndicate your content on my church website.... The stories you highlight show the irrelevancy of evolutionary theory and that evolutionists have perpetual ‘foot and mouth’ disease; doing a great job of discrediting themselves.  Keep up the good work.”
(a database administrator and CEH “junkie” in California)

“I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your article reviews on your website—it’s a HUGE asset!”
(a lawyer in Washington)

“Really, really, really a fantastic site.  Your wit makes a razor appear dull!... A million thanks for your site.”
(a small business owner in Oregon “and father of children who love your site too.”)

“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.”
(a business owner in Somerset, UK)

“I continue to note the difference between the dismal derogations of the darwinite devotees, opposed to the openness and humor of rigorous, follow-the-evidence scientists on the Truth side.  Keep up the great work.”
(a math/science teacher with M.A. in anthropology)

“Your material is clearly among the best I have ever read on evolution problems!  I hope a book is in the works!”
(a biology prof in Ohio)

“I have enjoyed reading the sardonic apologetics on the Creation/Evolution Headlines section of your web site.  Keep up the good work!”
(an IT business owner in California)

“Your commentaries ... are always delightful.”
(president of a Canadian creation group)

“I’m pleased to see... your amazing work on the ‘Headlines’.”
(secretary of a creation society in the UK)

“We appreciate all you do at crev.info.”
(a publisher of creation and ID materials)

“I was grateful for creationsafaris.com for help with baloney detecting.  I had read about the fish-o-pod and wanted to see what you thought.  Your comments were helpful and encouraged me that my own ‘baloney detecting’ skill are improving.  I also enjoyed reading your reaction to the article on evolution teachers doing battle with students.... I will ask my girls to read your comments on the proper way to question their teachers.”
(a home-schooling mom)

“I just want to express how dissapointed [sic] I am in your website.  Instead of being objective, the website is entirely one sided, favoring creationism over evolution, as if the two are contradictory.... Did man and simien [sic] evovlve [sic] at random from a common ancestor?  Or did God guide this evolution?  I don’t know.  But all things, including the laws of nature, originate from God.... To deny evolution is to deny God’s creation.  To embrace evolution is to not only embrace his creation, but to better appreciate it.”
(a student in Saginaw, Michigan)

“I immensely enjoy reading the Creation-Evolution Headlines.  The way you use words exposes the bankruptcy of the evolutionary worldview.”
(a student at Northern Michigan U)

“...standing O for crev.info.”
(a database programmer in California)

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

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

“One of the highlights of my day is checking your latest CreationSafaris creation-evolution news listing!  Thanks so much for your great work -- and your wonderful humor.”
(a pastor in Virginia)

“Thanks!!!  Your material is absolutely awesome.  I’ll be using it in our Adult Sunday School class.”
(a pastor in Wisconsin)

“Love your site & read it daily.”
(a family physician in Texas)

“I set it [crev.info] up as my homepage.  That way I am less likely to miss some really interesting events.... I really appreciate what you are doing with Creation-Evolution Headlines.  I tell everybody I think might be interested, to check it out.”
(a systems analyst in Tennessee)

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

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

“Thanks for your time and thanks for all the work on the site.  It has been a valuable resource for me.”
(a medical student in Kansas)

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Love your commentary and up to date reporting.  Best site for evolution/design info.”
(a graphic designer in Oregon)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Featured Creation Scientist for September


A. E. Wilder-Smith
1915 - 1995

The Intelligent Design Movement is big news today, but did you know much of the scientific reasoning behind it came from a European organic chemist?  William Dembski, author of several key books in the ID movement, credits Dr. A. E. Wilder-Smith for the inspiration to make the study of origins his life’s work.  Dean Kenyon, the evolutionary origin of life researcher turned creationist, called Dr. Wilder-Smith one of the two or three most important scientists in his life.  Much of the literature coming out of the modern intelligent design movement contains echoes of powerful arguments made by A. E. Wilder-Smith decades ago.
    In his books and tapes, Arthur Edward Wilder-Smith stressed the importance of information in biology, stressing that the materialist’s formula for the life, energy + matter + time, was deficient because it left out the factor information.  He convincingly argued that the information in DNA, in its translation, had to follow a language convention which presupposed an agreement between parties needing to communicate with one another.  For example, he explained how SOS is a meaningless sequence of letters unless there has been a convention (a “coming together” agreement, in advance) that it is a signal for distress.  Similarly, the DNA triplet codon for alanine, GCC, looks and smells nothing like alanine, by itself.  Unless both the translation mechanism (the ribosome) and the DNA code both have a convention that GCC means alanine, it means nothing at all.  This, he explained, was prima facie evidence of intelligent design.
    He also argued effectively against Thomas Huxley’s old monkey-typewriter analogy, the claim that a million monkeys typing on a million typewriters would eventually produce Psalm 23 by chance, given enough time.  Wilder-Smith pointed out a fatal flaw that undermined the whole argument.  By showing that since the chemical reactions that would have led to life in a primordial soup are reversible, that fact rendered the analogy useless – in the monkeys’ case, if the letters fell off the page as soon as they were typed, no meaningful sequence would ever be produced.  Huxley, therefore, had cheated by claiming that the letters typed would remain on the page.  The laws of chemistry do not permit that sort of stability in chemical evolution scenarios.  With points like this, he argued that creation was scientific and naturalistic evolution was unscientific.
    As a highly qualified organic chemist, A. E. Wilder-Smith was uniquely positioned to critique so-called “chemical evolution.”  This kindly gentleman was merciless in his attacks on Miller, Oparin, Fox and other evolutionists who claimed to be making progress explaining life’s origin by chance and necessity.  His effectiveness stemmed not from vituperative ability or rhetoric, but rather – because of his intimate acquaintance with the facts of chemistry – from calm, rational dismantling of the philosophical and scientific assumptions underlying his opponents’ errors: i.e., from scientific arguments that could not be denied by any knowledgeable chemist.  Dr. Wilder-Smith was one of the first to emphasize the necessity for one-handed molecules to hold genetic information (see online book), and to apply the laws of thermodynamics and equilibrium to discussions of the origin of life.
    A. E. Wilder-Smith was one of few scientists in the world to have three earned doctorates.  He obtained his first Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry at Reading University, England in 1941.  A research scientist during the war, he subsequently became a fellow of the University of London, and then director of research for a Swiss pharmaceutical company.  After becoming a full professor at the University of Geneva, he earned a second doctorate in pharmacology there, and later, a third in pharmacological sciences at ETH, a senior university in Zurich, Switzerland.  In addition, he was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a NATO three-star general!
    Dr. Wilder-Smith was not only an expert on chemotherapy, pharmacology, organic chemistry and biochemistry, but a gifted teacher and popular public speaker.    He did not shy away from entering the lions’ den of the evolutionary establishment.  At a time when communism was strong and evolutionary science reigned with unchallenged bravado, he was like a Daniel with seemingly divine power to shut his opponents’ mouths.  Once, in a manner reminiscent of Paul turning the Pharisees and Sadducees against each other (see Acts 23), he got the better of a hostile audience of Finnish and Russian students by referring to a word that meant one thing in Finnish and another in Russian.  The Finns, who despised the Russians, were incensed to hear him claiming this word had the Russian meaning, but the Russians agreed with him.  As they were shouting at one another, the English jumped in and argued that the word was a meaningless syllable.  Thus the professor made his point effectively: without a language convention, a sequence of letters carries no information.  Dr. Wilder-Smith confronted communists with scientific arguments that undermined their political philosophy.  God only knows how much his work contributed to the eventual demise of communism, but it certainly affected numerous individual communists.
    A. E. Wilder-Smith is also probably responsible for Richard Dawkins refusing to debate creationists any more.  In 1986, Wilder-Smith and Edgar Andrews debated the two leading evolutionists in Britain, Richard Dawkins and John Maynard Smith, at Oxford – a lions’ den with the two strongest Darwinian lions in Europe.  Yet even there, over a third – perhaps half – of the staunchly pro-evolution audience voted that the creation side had won the debate.  The vote count became a contentious issue and subject of a cover-up and published lie by the AAAS (see article).  The evolutionists apparently were embarrassed that the creationists made such a strong showing.  For whatever reason, Dawkins no longer will debate creationists.  Reports from those in attendance say that, contrary to the ground rules of the debate, the Dawkins and Maynard Smith repeatedly attacked religion, while the creationists used only scientific arguments.  Dawkins himself had to be reprimanded by the moderator for attacking Wilder-Smith about his religious views.  At the end of the debate, Dawkins implored the audience not to give any votes to the creationists lest it be a “blot on the escutcheon of ancient University of Oxford” (an odd remark, considering Oxford was founded by Christians).  After the debate there was a complete cover-up by the University and the media.  Normally, Oxford Union debates are big news, given prominent publicity in the press, radio and television.  This one, however, which should have rivaled the historic 1860 Huxley-Wilberforce debate in importance, and indeed was even titled “The Huxley Memorial Debate,” was silently dropped from the radar screen.  In his memoirs, Dr. Wilder-Smith wrote, “No records of my having held the lecture as part of the Oxford Union Debate could be found in any library.  No part of the official media breathed a word about it.  So total is the current censorship on any effective criticism of New-Darwinian science and on any genuine alternative.”
    A sought-after public speaker, Dr. A. E. Wilder-Smith shared his insights with tens of thousands throughout America and Europe.  His rapport with audiences made them feel at home with even difficult scientific concepts as he would occasionally glance into their faces to see whether they “got it” and, if not, would ask who needed a term or concept explained before he went on.  With charming simplicity he could be found discussing comfortably everything from black holes to one-handed molecules, or Shannon information theory, time dilation, DNA transcription, AIDS, criminal psychology, history, natural theology, natural selection or why God allows suffering.  He was no mere talking head.  A devoted husband and father of five children, a devout born-again Christian, and an unquestionably capable scientist, he left no chinks in his armor.  To the consternation of his scientific colleagues, here was a young-earth creationist they could not pigeonhole as an ignoramus.  He could not only hold his own among the best of them, he could make his opponents turn tail and run for cover.  Wilder-Smith authored over 70 scientific publications and more than 30 books, some of which have been published in 17 languages and are still in print.  Many of today’s leading creationists consider him a major influence in their own intellectual development and call him a pioneer in anti-evolution arguments.
    Dr. A. E. Wilder-Smith appeared prominently in an award-winning creation film series called Origins: How the World Came to Be.  Still available from ChristianAnswers.net, this series keeps his wit and wisdom alive.  It’s a good way to become acquainted with the man and his message.  In one episode, he holds up a living plant and a dead stick to the energy of the sun and asks the viewer what is the difference.  If energy is all that is necessary to produce life, why does one grow, and the other decay?  Clearly, the energy must be directed through programmed instructions and conversion mechanisms to harness the energy for growth.  Such pithy illustrations using familiar objects are a good teacher’s art.  In another taped lecture (The Seven Main Postulates of Evolution), he holds up a sardine can.  Could life evolve from this can? he asks.  After all, it has all the ingredients necessary for life, because they were once alive.  It’s an open system, too: we can heat it or cool it any way we wish.  Everyone knows that nothing will happen.  If new life could originate from the can, he points out, the food processing industry would be in turmoil, because no one would be able to predict what new life-forms would be found in our food.  He drives the point home by asking what would happen if the genetic program for E. coli bacteria were inserted into the can: an explosion of life would result.  Clearly, matter and energy are insufficient to produce life under the best of conditions; the essential ingredient is information, in the form of the genetic instructions and processing apparatus to utilize the matter and energy to carry out the program.
    The time you are taking reading this short biography of a great creation scientist might be better spent listening to Dr. Wilder-Smith himself.  Fortunately, friends have made a website in his honor: WilderSmith.org, with information about his books, tapes, videos and articles.  So after reading this, go browsing and learn more; download some audio files and listen.  To know A. E. Wilder-Smith from his legacy of literature and lectures is to love him, not only as a great scientist and thinker, but as a winsome Christian man of integrity.  He had the look of a kindly grandfather.  His disarming personal appearance belied the sharp intellect inside.  His soft-spoken and unhurried speech, seasoned with wry humor, had a way of getting right to the heart of important issues and conveying difficult concepts in terms accessible to everyone.  A masterful teacher, he won the “Golden Apple” award three years in a row at the University of Illinois Medical Center for the best course of lectures.  The last one was inscribed, “He made us not only better scientists, but better men.”
    Despite his busy schedule, A. E. Wilder-Smith loved classical music and enjoyed hiking in the Swiss alps.  The music of Haydn’s Creation reminded him of God’s creativity described in Genesis.  Of his outdoor experiences he said, “In God’s beautiful nature, with the colorfully blossoming mountain meadows in front of you and the gigantic snow-capped ten thousand footers behind them, the murmuring brooks beside you and the ringing of the cow-bells around you, hearts automatically begin to admire God’s creation and wisdom and cannot but praise the intelligence behind such manifold beauty.”
    Read testimonials by scientists in the biography of A. E. Wilder-Smith by his wife Beate, entitled Fulfilled Journey: The Wilder-Smith Memoirs.  To find his books, enter "A E Wilder-Smith" in quotes in a book search on Amazon.com.  Inquire for audio tapes from Chapel Tapes, P.O. Box 8000, Costa Mesa, CA 92628, 800-272-WORD.


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.