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Paleys Watch Found in Bacteria 10/31/2008
Oct 31, 2008 A clock with cogs, gears and ratchets that keeps accurate time
what more could William Paley wish for? The 18th century natural theologian used
the illustration of stumbling upon a watch in a heath as an example of reasoning from
design to a Designer as from watch to watchmaker.
Skeptics like David Hume challenged such reasoning of the natural theologians as a mere argument from
analogy: living things are very different from mechanical
machines, he argued. One can only wonder how their debate would unfold with the
discovery of a ticking watch inside one of the simplest forms of life.
Scientists have long wondered how living things keep time.
We are all aware of our own natural cycles throughout the day. Organisms without
eyes and ears, though, like bacteria, also keep time with diurnal cycles. How do
they do it? The secret has only been coming to light in the last few years
Johnson, Egli and Stewart wrote a review article in Science this week that
describes what is currently known about the circadian clock present in cyanobacteria.1
They could not help but use mechanical terms for this biological machinery.
It began right in their opening paragraph:
An endogenous circadian system in cyanobacteria exerts pervasive control
over cellular processes, including global gene expression. Indeed, the entire
chromosome undergoes daily cycles of topological changes and compaction.
The biochemical machinery underlying a circadian oscillator can be reconstituted
in vitro with just three cyanobacterial proteins, KaiA, KaiB, and KaiC. These
proteins interact to promote conformational changes and phosphorylation
events that determine the phase of the in vitro oscillation.
The high-resolution structures of these proteins suggest a ratcheting
mechanism by which the KaiABC oscillator ticks unidirectionally.
This posttranslational oscillator may interact with transcriptional and translational
feedback loops to generate the emergent circadian behavior in vivo.
The conjunction of structural, biophysical, and biochemical approaches to this
system reveals molecular mechanisms of biological timekeeping.
Conformational change is jargon for bending, springing, unfolding and other
kinds of motion that take place as the proteins operate. Proteins are therefore
the moving parts of the clock.
Later, they spoke of cogs and gears in the clockwork mechanism
evident in the Kai-ABC proteins. Each protein, in turn, is made up of multiple
parts, composed of hundreds of amino acids. KaiC, for instance, is a barrel
mechanism with two donut-shaped rings, each made of six toothed parts that make it
look like a gear wheel. The clock runs on ATP energy pellets. It accumulates
hydrogen bonds through phosphorylation events that force it to tick like a
ratchet in one direction. It keeps an accurate 24-hour cycle, releasing its
energy for the next round in conjunction with feedback loops from the nucleus and
cytoplasm. These, in turn, affect what genes are expressed by the transcribers
in the nucleus and translators in the ribosomes.
In his description of the clock posted last April on
Reasons to Believe,
Dr. Fazale Rana described how the KaiA and KaiB parts interact
with KaiC like a rotor and wing nut.
He made the same connection to Paley. Describing this as a biochemical watch
on a heath, he showed how it refutes David Humes criticism of natural
theology. The discovery of molecular machines like the circadian clock have
revitalized the watchmaker argument for the existence of God, he said.
The Science article pointed out that several questions remain.
How is the clock robust against temperature fluctuations? Does the eukaryotic
clock, which employs very different molecular systems, operate on similar design
principles? They referred to evolution twice, but only in a very indistinct, indirect way:
The benefit of a clockwork that is imperturbable even when
buffeted by the massive intracellular changes of cell division could have provided
an evolutionary driving force for convergent circadian clock mechanisms among
These sentences, however, merely assume that evolution produced the machines in
the first place. Since the clocks are present in some of the simplest forms of life,
it would seem a grand challenge to believe that a blind, directionless process
stumbled upon all this interacting, mechanical system by chance. Incidentally,
they pointed out that each cell has 10,000 KaiC proteins. If it is difficult
to imagine getting one clock by chance, imagine getting 10,000 that tick together.
The challenges ahead, they ended, are to delve deeper into the
molecular nature of its temperature compensation ... and to discover if the clocks
in our own cells have attributes that are similar to those of bacteria.
We now recognize KaiABC as a dynamically oscillating nanomachine
that has evolved to precess unidirectionally and robustly.
1. Johnson, Egli and Stewart, Structural Insights into a Circadian Oscillator,
31 October 2008: Vol. 322. no. 5902, pp. 697-701, DOI: 10.1126/science.1150451.
Oh, for the sight of David Hume and Charles Darwin
being confronted with a ticking clock inside a simple cell.
We can get an idea of their reaction, though, by looking at the fact that the
three authors of this review, after having described an intricate mechanism of oscillators, ratchets
and feedback loops, attributed it all to evolution. The many biochemists
aware of these and other exquisite molecular machines follow suit. In spite
of overpowering evidence for design, their minds are made up: they will follow
Charlie to the bitter end and die with him rather than acknowledge design.
A swarm of bee stories abuzz with design, from 10/27/2006.
The Apostle Paul said in Romans 1 that the evidence for God
and His attributes is
clearly seen in creation, so that men are without excuse. Each generation has
evidence of sufficient clarity for its knowledge base. For the Romans and
Egyptians, the diurnal cycles of the sun, moon and stars have been more than sufficient
to remove their excuses for unbelief and mistaken belief. For todays scientists,
the diurnal cycles of nanoscopic protein clocks throughout life is more than sufficient.
The true challenge ahead is not just to delve deeper into the molecular nature of
the design we already see, but to hold it up for display and preach the implications,
so that it takes effect in the human mind as Paul said,
casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against
the knowledge of God (II Corinthians 10:5; cf.
Next headline on:
FrankenTitan Comes to Life 10/30/2008
Oct 30, 2008 Theres electricity at Titan, the large moon of Saturn.
That can only mean one thing: life! Electricity Found on Saturn Moon--Could It Spark Life?
asked a headline on National
Geographic News by Rebecca Carroll. Visions of spark discharge tubes in a
mad scientists lab arise in the imagination. Recently identified electrical
activity on Saturns largest moon bolsters arguments that Titan is the kind
of place that could harbor life.
Carroll quickly pointed out that at -350° F, any Titanian life
would not resemble life as we know it. Initial indications of
electrical activity in the thick atmosphere of this unusual moon have been
confirmed in data from the Huygens Probe that landed in 2005
01/21/2005). With that spark of imagination,
the L-word leaped up from the reporters table:
But a new study reports faint signs of a natural electric field in Titans
thick cloud cover that are similar to the energy radiated by lightning on Earth.
Alas, the water required for life is locked up in rock-hard ice. The precursor molecules
formed by lightning acting on hydrocarbons could go no further without water, Bada said.
But then perhaps the ice could melt under certain circumstances. Maybe
a meteor impact would melt the ice long enough for interesting things to happen.
Lightning is thought to have sparked the chemical reactions that
led to the origin of life on our planet....
Jeffrey Bada, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, believes
the process that allowed lightning to spark life on Earth is universal
and could happen in many environmentsincluding on Titan.
Confirmation earlier this year of Titans hydrocarbon lakes
makes the Saturnian moon the first place other than Earth where open bodies of
liquid have been found.
Hydrocarbons are organic molecules, and the fact that they
exist in large quantities on Titan suggests that life could take root there
under the right conditions.
Titans water is currently frozen into chunks as hard as granite. If those
ice rocks were to melt, however, the environment could become
more hospitable to the building blocks of life.
Juan Antonio Morente of the University of Granada in Spain, the lead author of the
study, seemed less enthusiastic about the possibility of life on Titan. He said
that Titan is exposed to deadly cosmic rays because it lacks a stable magnetic field.
Without stable protection from radiation, Morente said, the existence of
life is very unlikely.
With liquid water, the planet could host the formation of amino acids
and then full proteins, which drive all biochemistry and set the stage
for more complex molecules.
I look at Titan as a big, frozen, prebiotic casserole,
Bada said, referring to the state before the emergence of life.
The idea that life could be widespread in the universe,
I think, is very credible.
In all, Carroll used the L-word life 11 times in her short
585-word article. It seems strange Carroll would focus on life now when discussing
Morentes paper. For one thing, its not news; the paper was published
in June.1 And the team never used the L-word in
the paper. Apparently Jeffrey Bada,2 a well-known origin-of-life researcher
at Scripps, who was not involved with Morentes study, made the
statements about electricity, hydrocarbons and life recently or maybe Carroll
was looking for a story with a tie-in to Frankenstein right before Halloween.
1. Morente, Porti, Salinas and Navarro, Evidence of electrical activity
on Titan drawn from the Schumann resonances sent by Huygens probe,
Volume 195, Issue 2, June 2008, pages 802-811, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2008.02.004.
The only statement in the paper that comes close to the idea of life on Titan is
in the first paragraph: Lightning activity would considerably increase the
probability of organic and pre-biotic molecules being formed.
2. Jeffrey Bada was part of another Halloween prank last week: see the
Creepy. To learn about the real Frankenstein, listen to this
Truth is stranger than fiction.
Scientific Terms Can Obfuscate, Not Enlighten 10/29/2008
Next headline on:
Origin of Life
Oct 29, 2008 When scientists classify things and use scientific terms,
are they really shedding light on nature and natural history? Its possible
they may just be glossing over their own ignorance, suggested three articles in
Nature last week. They underscore cases where subjective human conventions are
falsely assumed to correlate with external realities. They lead us to ask,
what do we mean by meaning?
- Words demean things: Apparently the editors of Nature have
had it with certain clichés. One editorial, published also on
pointed out the ambiguity of popular words and phrases used in scientific papers
and by science reporters. The editorial began,
To a great extent, science is about arriving at definitions.
What is a man? What is a number? Questions such as these require substantial
inquiry. But where science is supposed to be precise and measured, definitions
can be frustratingly vague and variable.
As examples, the editorial reviewed the terms
paradigm shift, tipping point, race, epigenetic, complexity, stem cell, consciousness
and significant. Those terms may seem intuitively obvious but in fact
have multiple definitions. For the word consciousness to have meaning,
for instance, there must be a physical basis for it but none has been found.
And significant is in the eye of the beholder, despite mathematical crutches
like p-values that lend a false air of confidence in scientific results.
Scientists often use a 5% confidence level as a measure of significance.
That number, though, is an arbitrary convention and often a useless one:
Even if a result is a genuinely statistically significant one, it can be virtually
meaningless in the real world. A new cancer treatment may significantly
extend life by a month, but many terminally ill patients would not consider that
outcome significant. A scientific finding may be significant without
having any major impact on a field; conversely, the significance of a discovery might
not become apparent until years after it is made. One has to reserve
for history the judgement of whether something is significant with a capital S,
says Steven Block, a biophysicist at Stanford University in California.
- Class warfare: What do we mean by a class of objects? Take
terms like species and planet: which objects belong in the class, and which are
excluded? Its not always easy to decide, said Jeffrey Parson and Yair
Wand in an essay in last weeks Nature.1
The authors illustrate problems with these two examples. Look at the conflict
over Pluto: is it a planet, a minor planet, or a plutoid? Depending on
which properties of objects in space are considered useful to humans,
it could be any one of these things yet Pluto itself
hasnt changed. Plutoid is a recently made-up word about a class of objects
of which Pluto is the best-known example. Just because the International Astronomical Union declares
that from henceforth and forevermore Pluto is a plutoid, that does little more than
provide a consensus for human beings and their nomenclature. Similarly, the
term species contains considerable uncertainty, as even Ernst Mayr realized
when he tried to define a species as a class of organisms that can produce fertile offspring (the
biological species concept). Too bad that doesnt work for
the vast majority of organisms asexual microbes and fossils.
Some classifications can lead to false and even fatal
results. Consider the word disease, which originally just meant discomfort
or not at ease. The classification of diseases has usually been centered on etiology,
or causes of disease. These fall into 3 subclasses: genetic, environmental or
pathogenic. For nearly 40 years, the authors said, doctors misdiagnosed
ulcers because they could not bring themselves to believe that a bacterium, H. pylori
was capable of living in the acidic environment of the stomach. When
considering the reasons why the bacterial hypothesis was missed for such a long time
(and then not readily accepted), the main problem was the misattribution of the
property cannot grow in the acidity of the stomach to the class of bacteria,
they explained. Re-evaluating this fundamental property involved
a major mind-shift that was difficult to accept.
Classification is a human enterprise. The authors gave an evolutionary
spin on this skill: Classification ... is recognized as an evolved mechanism
that supports survival. Supposedly it helps humans get food and shelter.
They did not ask whether lions and lizards needed to evolve the mechanism to sort out
their food and shelter, too. They tried to distinguish between
categories and classes by defining the former as a group of
objects with shared properties, and the latter as a category that allows humans to infer
further information consistently over a reasonable time period.
A little reflection, however, shows that they have simply
substituted the word class for a meta-category with the same difficulties.
The information that can be inferred from a class is simply a collection of objects with
shared properties things that humans find useful. Their final paragraph,
though, revealed that they are aware of the main pitfall of classification: it
happens in the mind, not in the external world.
Taking a classification perspective on scientific discourse suggests a sequence of questions to ask when studying a domain of phenomena. What are the properties of interest of these phenomena? Are there stable sets of properties common to these phenomena? Are there stable relationships in some of these sets? And finally, and most importantly, what is the evidence or rationale that these relationships reflect the true nature of the phenomena? This perspective has two important implications. First, scientists should make every effort to ensure that the assumed relationships among properties are indeed correct. Second, rather than arguing over which of several classification schemes is preferable, researchers should recognize that several correct and useful schemes can coexist. And overall, scientists should recognize that classification happens in the mind and, as a result, it can be influenced by beliefs and emotions. This is where science can go astray.
- The human element: The lead editorial in Nature last week
brought these lessons home to the human species. What does it mean to be
human? the editors asked.2 The Delphic oracle may
have advised Know thyself, but that is often hard to follow, they said.
Watch the editors balance their confidence in Darwins ability
to help us know ourselves with doubts about the evidence:
Modern science can help, but using it to uncover truths about ourselves
can also be fraught with difficulty. Consider, for example, that an important
first step towards understanding contemporary human behaviour establishing
the evolutionary context in which it emerged means piecing together
odd scraps of evidence left by our hunter-gatherer ancestors tens of thousands
of years ago. The paucity of data makes it all too easy to come up with untested,
and even untestable, Darwinian versions of Rudyard Kiplings Just So Stories.
After acknowledging that sciences just-so chickens have come home to roost,
the editors resurrected an old conflict that illustrates the impossibility of speaking objectively
about ourselves without wandering into politics:
Another major challenge for researchers is being objective about a topic as philosophically, politically and ethically charged as human nature. Take the sociobiology wars of the 1970s and 1980s. Left-wing scholars rejected biological explanations for phenomena such as gender roles, religion, homosexuality and xenophobia, largely because they feared such explanations would be used to justify a continuation of existing inequalities on genetic grounds. The resulting debates became hugely political.
The editors clearly think that evolutionary theory deserves to be a unifying
theme, but have just cast doubt on the evidence behind it and the pragmatics of using
it. They attribute the problems to the complexity of our species and the lack
of interdisciplinary communication. In a belief that their magazine can help, they
said they are starting a series of essays which, though they might make for
uncomfortable reading, will try to draw lines between human evolutionary
prehistory and the complex societies we live in. The first was by Pascal Boyer about
the evolution of religion. Did it accomplish its purpose?
See our review in the 10/26/2008 entry.
The combustibility of the interface between science and society is one major reason for the extraordinary fragmentation of research that tackles human behaviour. In part because of the sociobiology battle, most social scientists still steer clear of using evolutionary hypotheses. And even researchers who do work under the unifying framework of evolution tend to fall into distinct camps such as gene-culture co-evolution or human behavioural ecology their practitioners divided by differences of opinion on, say, the relative importance of culture versus genes.
1. Jeffrey Parson and Yair Wand, A question of class,
455, 1040-1041 (23 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/4551040a.
2. Editorial, A look within,
455, 1007-1008 (23 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/4551007b.
It was good for Nature to point out these
problems with scientific terminology. Unfortunately, their brains are so
completely sold out to Darwin they are incapable of looking in the mirror.
Thats why one moment they can be admitting the evidence is so scanty it
gives ease to untested, untestable Just-So Stories about human evolution, then
the next moment they give their editorial blessing to a stupid Just-So Story about the evolution of religion
Darwin Myths Debunked By Darwinist 10/28/2008
Philosophy of science is a vital topic for anyone interested in
science or apologetics or both. In philosophy of science you learn to ask
questions that scientists themselves rarely ask. Consider the important
topic of classification, brought up in bullet 2 above. Scientists too flippantly
invoke class terms that are totally subjective when scrutinized. For instance,
what is a predator? We think we understand the term, but in the class of
predators you can find snails, tigers, and even the Venus Flytrap. The
differences between these objects in the class predator seem more
significant than the property they share: that they eat animals. In addition, each
object belongs to multiple other classes that either distinguish it or include
it: organism, vertebrate or invertebrate, plant or animal. The class you
focus on is the one that is useful at the moment. If you are playing Twenty
Questions, for instance, the categories initially useful to you are animal,
vegetable or mineral, where animal could be anything from a flatworm to
a giraffe, vegetable could be anything from algae to a redwood tree, and mineral
could include diamonds and space stations. A corollary of this
idea is that classes are most often human constructs not ways of dividing
up the world as it really is, or as Plato is said to have worded it, carving
nature at its joints. Some classification systems (like the periodic table) do reflect
real differences that are out there in the world (although isotopes, ions and
subatomic particle schemes cloud the picture somewhat); many other classification systems
are purely arbitrary. Like Parsons and Wand said above, scientists should
recognize that classification happens in the mind and, as a result, it can be
influenced by beliefs and emotions.
In his excellent lecture series on philosophy of science for
Teaching Company, Jeffrey L. Kasser used a humorous illustration. He
invented a word broccosaxodile, which he defined as anything that is broccoli, a saxophone,
or a crocodile. While one might question the usefulness of such a composite classification,
he asked if it is any less meaningful than predator which, as we said, includes
things just as diverse. Predator is just a shorthand word for a
composite category that we could just as well call a snail-tiger-VenusFlytrap.
Lets add another example: what is a fossil?
If you immediately picture bones in rock, you are ignoring the fact that fossils can include
whole insects in amber complete with their soft tissue, footprints, petrified wood,
and mere impressions of jellyfish or leaves, like shadows, without any bones at all.
Fossils are not permanent, either: the dinosaur trackways in the entry below
(10/28/2008) are eroding and will eventually disappear.
In that sense, a corpse in a morgue is a fossil, or the ashes of a cremated person
sitting in a bottle in the heartbroken spouses bedroom. (Not to be morbid,
but it is almost Halloween.)
A classification is meaningless
without a context in which the term is useful to some human being for a subjective
purpose. There is nothing objective about a class if you want to think of
it as referring to something that is out there in the world which
scientists discover without bias. This should be a lesson to
evolutionists who think they are talking objectively when they use class terms like
missing link, transitional form, ancestors, phylogenetic tree, homologous traits
or innovation. Such terms are employed for their utility in this
case, the utility of making evolutionary theory appear scientific.
Application. Lets apply what weve learned to a Biblical
example some find embarrassing. Many skeptics have ridiculed the Bible for classifying bats with birds in
Leviticus 11:13-19 (see EvidentCreation.com).
OK, their point is? This classification was amply useful to Moses, who was
helping the Israelites distinguish what they were allowed to eat. The property
apropos to their circumstances was clean and unclean edible animals.
Moses, or God for that matter, was under no obligation to use modern scientific taxonomy
for the purpose. In fact, it would seem much more helpful to Israelites
wandering in the wilderness to point out which
of those things flying around in the dark was safe to eat. Those of you who have
camped in the desert know that swifts and bats can look very similar in the way
they dart about. Formally, we can say that the property at issue in the class being
defined was flying things call them volant vertebrates
if it makes you feel better not whether the things had fur or feathers
or laid eggs. Moreover, it would be an unfair disparagement of the mental capabilities
of people who grew up in the advanced Egyptian
civilization and their well-educated leader to assume they didnt know the
difference between birds and bats. We mustnt be chauvinistic.
They probably possessed more savvy about nature than the typical modern couch potato.
Exercise. Teachers and home-school parents: here is an opportunity to
introduce your precocious young thinkers to some philosophy of science.
Have them invent categories similar to broccosaxodile (above) and make lists
of objects that fit. Is the category useful in some way? Does it allow
inferring additional information? Which members belong to other categories?Next headline on:
Philosophy or Theology
Silly categories: Make up your own silly category and defend its usefulness:
vege-toy-mobiles, dirt-bike-chocolate, sister-TV-cotton
(anything that is either a sister, a television, or made of cotton), etc.
Trivial categories: Round things, small potatoes, friends, food, containers,
pets, creeping things, rhyming words, oxymorons, shapes, etc. Think of more.
In what circumstances are these useful categories? What are examples of extremely
different things that can fit in the same category? Can you dream up a story
to explain how the category evolved?
Scientific categories: omnivore, migratory species, gene, hybrid, moon, cloud,
field, particle, wave, force, reagent, network, factor, family, biome, ecosystem,
riparian dweller, marine invertebrate, intelligent life, sentient being.
List some extremely different objects that fit into the same category. Pick an object
in the category and list what other categories it belongs to. How well does the category
reflect distinctions in the external world? What kinds of observations are
required to make the distinction? Who does the observing?
When is the category useful and not useful? Are the evolutionary stories told about
these classes the only possible ways to understand them? What does understanding
mean without the preconditions of immaterial concepts, reason, truth, and mind?
Oct 28, 2008 An aura of legend has enveloped the memory of Charles Darwin.
To many, the white-bearded father of evolutionary theory was like a saint on a white horse,
rescuing science from an age of superstition. The true history is much more
Darwin Day is coming next February 12. It marks Darwins
200th birthday and also the 150th anniversary of the publication of his Origin of
Species. The Darwin Exhibition, a multi-million-dollar display produced by
the American Museum of Natural History
(09/22/2005), is making the rounds of major museums,
culminating in the 2009 Darwin Bicentennial year.
Hiram Caton (Griffith University, Australia)
felt compelled to pen Getting Our History Right when he saw the
Exhibitions devotion to the legend at the expense of fact.
Here are six mythbusting theses Caton defended in his article:
Where did Hiram Caton print this Darwin-deflating piece?
Not in a creationist magazine, but in Evolutionary Psychology.1
He is no creationist; he just worries that distorting publicity can backfire.
As a cadre who bear a public trust to get the facts right,
he ended, we are obliged to correct misrepresentations directed to schools
at a time when evolution is under challenge.
Besides, science history that includes the quirks, baseless claims, cheating, and battles
is more engaging than the sanitized history
meant to instill unquestioning acceptance.
- Publication of the
Origin was not a sudden (revolutionary) interruption of Victorian societys confident
belief in the traditional theological world-view.
- The Origin did not revolutionize the
biological sciences by removing the creationist premise or introducing new principles.
The Origin did not revolutionize Victorian public opinion. The public considered Darwin
and Spencer to be teaching the same lesson, known today as Social Darwinism, which,
though fashionable, never achieved dominance.
- Many biologists expressed significant
disagreements with Darwins principles.
- Darwin made little or no contribution to the
renovation of theology. His public statements on Providence were inconsistent and the
liberal reform of theology was well advanced by 1850.
- The so-called Darwinian revolution was, at the public opinion level,
the fashion of laissez-faire economic beliefs
backed by Darwin and Spencers inclusion of the living world in the economic paradigm.
1. Hiram Caton, Getting Our History Right: Six Errors about Darwin and His Influence,
www.epjournal.net 2007. 5(1): 52-69.
What, exactly, are we supposed to be celebrating
next year? Ineptitude? The gullibility of the public? The
power of fashionable ideas to distort history? The inability of
reasonable scientists with their significant disagreements to stop bad ideas
at their onset? Darwin Day can still be a worthy holiday if we make these
the lessons. We agree with Caton; first, we have to get the facts right.
Darwinists refute ID claim about irreducible complexity! See the
Next headline on:
Darwin and Evolutionary Theory
Monster Mash 10/28/2008
Oct 28, 2008 Just before Halloween, its time for tricks and treats
about monsters in the fossil record. Heres a list of recent stories
about scary beasts:
Its clear that dinosaur hunting is still a popular sport for
paleontologists, especially ones with vivid imaginations.
- Dino Dance: Are these potholes tracks or weathering marks?
Daily were among news outlets reporting a new interpretation of formations
by a grad student at the University of Utah in Navajo Sandstone near a popular
called The Wave.
Winston Seiler claims the round holes represent tracks of three different kinds
of dinosaurs, complete with tail drag marks. Other dinosaur tracks are
known in the area; this one is unusual for the number and density of tracks,
what Seiler calls a trample surface.
Geographic also joined the dance party.
Update 11/10/2008: The party dispersed when some
science cops showed up. PhysOrg
reported that A group of paleontologists visited the northern Arizona wilderness
site nicknamed a dinosaur dance floor and concluded there were no dinosaur tracks
there, only a dense collection of unusual potholes eroded in the sandstone.
One of the co-authors of the dance floor thesis agreed to work with the skeptics:
Science is an evolving process where we seek the truth, she said.
So she turned around and changed the dance to The Shake: This is how science
works, and well have to see how it shakes out in the end.
- Hornblower: The unusual head crests on duckbill dinosaurs were
used for shouting, claim scientists in a report on
Science and PhysOrg.
The nasal passages on lambeosaurs and corythosaurs connected with passages in the head crest to
produce resonant, bellowing calls (see diagrams on
Daily). The pitch of the calls probably deepened as the dinosaurs
aged. Perhaps they had a tonal language for communication, with special
calls for Run for your lives! A T. rex is coming! Veteran
dinosaur hunter Jack Horner (Montana State) noted that, Its difficult to infer the function
of structures in an extinct dinosaur when there is so little resemblance to any living animal.
- Taking the plunge: How do you interpret dinosaur tracks that
gradually fade away? The track-maker must have gone for a swim, reported
Daily. Debra Mickelson of University of Colorado even thinks she knows
what they were doing going out to sea to feed, 165 million years ago.
- Migrants: Dinosaurs werent the champion migrators of the
ancient world, contrary to the usual view, said Phil Bell (U of Alberta) in a report on
Daily. How could he and colleague Eric Snively figure that out?
They calculated the energy requirements for a herd of herbivores like
Edmontosaurs, and believe it would have limited their travel to 3000 km round trip
half the previous estimate.
- Microsaur: We tend to think of dinosaurs as mighty tyrants of the
early earth, making the ground shake with every step.
Daily reported the finding of the smallest dinosaur ever seen.
The juvenile Heterodontosaurus (mixed teeth) had a skull less than two inches
long and would have weighed less than two sticks of butter. Its
likely that all dinosaurs evolved from carnivorous ancestors, said co-author
Laura Porro (U of Chicago); Since heterodontosaurs are among the earliest
dinosaurs adapted to eating plants, they may represent a transition phase
between meat-eating ancestors and more sophisticated, fully-herbivorous
- Megasaur: A dinosaur graveyard has been found in Utah, reported
Science. Remains of a large number of herbivores were found, including
one well-preserved skeleton and a 5-foot humerus from a brachiosaur, one of the
largest dinosaurs known. Tracks have also been found. Another surprise
was a Deltapodus stegosaur previously known only from Europe.
How did brachiosaurs get so huge? Another story on
Science claims they ate high-energy foods whole, without chewing.
- Sniffer rex: Halloween wouldnt be quite the same without mention
of everyones favorite dinosaur nightmare: the Tyrannosaurus rex.
A report on Live
Science claims the monsters had a good sense of smell vital for hunting
down prey. They believe this based on the size of the opening in the skull
where the olfactory bulb an organ of smell was located.
The article speculated on evolution of birds from dinosaurs:
Most of todays birds have keen eyesight but lack a good nose, suggesting
smell became less important at some point in birds ancestral history,
the researchers said.
Dinosaurs are for kids including the grown-up kind. Who doesnt
enjoy learning about this large and varied class of extinct animals that roamed the whole
earth? Imagining things is fun, too. Just dont confuse it with
science. There are limits to how much can be known about dinosaurs from
their tracks and bones. We dont know, for instance, their favorite
dance steps, to say nothing of how they decided to give up meat, reduce their
noses and fly like Tweety rex. The beasts are scary enough without
the evolutionary monster tales around the campfire.
Bible Was Right: Edom Thrived in Solomons Time 10/27/2008
Next headline on:
Oct 27, 2008 High-precision radiocarbon dates have confirmed that Biblical
Edom was active with industrial-scale metal production in the 10th and 9th centuries.
Archaeologists publishing in PNAS said,1
The methodologies applied to the historical IA archaeology of the Levant have
implications for other parts of the world where sacred and historical texts interface
with the material record. In other words, sacred and historical texts
should sometimes be taken seriously not dismissed out of hand.
The authors viewed their results as a challenge to recent minimalist
re-interpretations of the Bible that try to relegate the stories of David and Solomon
to myths and legends by saying that Israel was too tiny to support the wealth and
power described in the Bible. They also challenge the ridicule that has been
heaped on those who took the Bible as a reliable guide for archaeologists.
Heres how they started their paper:
In 1940, the American archaeologist Nelson Glueck summarized
his extensive 1930s archaeological surveys in Transjordan in his
book The Other Side of the Jordan, asserting that he had
discovered King Solomons mines in the Faynan district (the
northern part of biblical Edom), ~50 km south of the Dead Sea in
what is now southern Jordan. The period between the First and
Second World Wars has been called the Golden Age of biblical
archaeology when this subfield was characterized by an almost
literal interpretation of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible, HB) as
historical fact. Archaeologists such as Glueck metaphorically carried
the trowel in 1 hand and the Bible in the other, searching the
archaeological landscape of the southern Levant for confirmation
of the biblical narrative from the Patriarchs to the United Monarchy
under David and Solomon to other personages, places, and events
mentioned in the sacred text. Beginning in the 1980s, this paradigm
came under severe attack, primarily by so-called biblical minimalist
scholars who argued that as the HB was edited in its final form
during the 5th century (c.)BC, any reference in the text to events
earlier than ca. 500 BC were false. Accordingly, the events
ascribed to the early Israelite and Judean kings from the 10th-9th
c. BCE were viewed as concocted by elite 5th c. BCE editors of the
HB who resided in postexilic times in Babylon and later in Jerusalem.
Some of the casualities [sic] of the scholarly debate between the
traditional biblical scholarship and biblical minimalists has been the
historicity of David and Solomonthe latter of which is traditionally
cross-dated by biblical text (1 Kings 11:40; 14:25; and 2 Chronicles
12:2–9) and the military topographic list of the Egyptian Pharaoh
Sheshonq I (Shishak in the HB) found at the Temple of Amun in
Thebes and dated to the early 10th c. BCE (5).
The researchers carefully dated carbon-bearing materials from the site discovered
in 2005 (see 02/18/2005) as a candidate for the
massive copper-mining operation of Edom described in the Bible. The
paper describes in detail the methods they used: carbon dating charcoal pieces
from the site with high precision equipment. Some of the dates stretch well
before 1000 BCE before Davids kingdom. The paper contains pictures and sketches of
the complex smelting operation with its copper slag mounts found at the likely
site of Biblical Edom across the Arabah from southern Israel.
....The 14C dates associated with
smelting debris layers from Faynan reported here demonstrate
intensive 10th–9th c. BCE industrial metallurgical activities conducted
by complex societies.
The analytical approach advocated here argues for an historical
biblical archaeology rooted in the application of science-based
methods that enables subcentury dating and the control of the
spatial context of data through digital recording tools.
The researchers concluded that the
revisionist, minimalist dates of 7th century BCE are no longer tenable.
What are the implications?
These new data indicate the need to revisit the relationship between the
early IA history of the southern Levant [eastern Mediterranean] among other
things. Perhaps other minimalist dates will be falsified under the new scientific
techniques used by this team thus lending credibility once again to the
practice of digging with a Bible in one hand, a trowel in the other, and a
radiocarbon dating machine back in the lab. In their words,
the question of whether King Solomons copper mines have been
discovered in Faynan returns to scholarly discourse.
The day after our entry on the Levy et al paper appeared,
Daily posted its report and other news sites followed.
Geographic News reported that some of the funding for the project came from
the National Geographic Society. Todd Bolens
Places Blog contains pictures of the site and links for more information.
Places Blog posted another report from an archaeological dig relating to the time
of David and Solomon: Biblical Gath, home of Goliath. The team excavating Tell es-Safi
used joint on-site analytical methods unparalled at ANY excavation in Israel,
and in fact, in the world, Todd Bolen, a professor in Israel for 11 years, said.
After reviewing the teams report, he added, For many reasons, this excavation looks like it will be
extremely beneficial for archaeological and biblical studies.
1. Levy et al, High-precision radiocarbon dating and historical biblical archaeology in southern Jordan,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
USA, published online before print October 27, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0804950105.
Bible scholars will surely find this paper
interesting. Theres something satisfying about debunking the
debunkers. Congratulations to National Geographic News, usually a Darwinist
propaganda bullhorn, for giving a fair report on the story without disparaging the Bible in the
process. Time to minimize minimalism in Biblical archaeology. Minimalists?
Dont need em in Edom.
Habitable Zones Are Not Forever 10/27/2008
Next headline on:
Oct 27, 2008 A new realization has broken on the astrobiological community:
planetary habitable zones have no fences. Michael Sherber wrote for Astrobiology Magazine
that planets around low-mass stars tend to be pulled out of the habitable zone toward
the star. They have just a billion years before migration can pull them in and cook them.
Planets around small mass stars may only have a billion-year window during
which life can form. He did not indicate whether that life would be very
happy, though, knowing a fiery hell awaited it. Habitability is not a
permanent property of a planet, the article said.
Rory Barnes (U of Arizona) who thought about this, wondered if it
could be a test of the Gaia Hypothesis something he termed a grand
picture of evolution. Maybe the lifeforms could adapt as the planet migrates
inward by altering the planets climate and geochemistry. Maybe we could
even learn how life mitigates disasters and adapts to climate change,
Meanwhile, Clara Moskowitz at
had more optimistic news. Some planets once thought inhospitable might actually
be able to support life. The [habitable] zone may not be so fixed,
it turns out, she said. Some extrasolar planets that one might
assume are too cold to host life could in fact be made habitable by a squishing
effect from their stars, a new study found. If the planet has an oblong
orbit, the tidal heating would heat it up. Maybe this could melt the ice of
a planet outside the zone and give it hope for life. Maybe it could start
volcanoes and plate tectonics. Thats a lot of maybes. One thing
we know: it all comes together just right where we live: Plate tectonics is
a definite boon for life, she said, because stirring up the surface
layers helps to regulate the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, since
rock absorbs CO2 from the air.
That perfect balance helps a planet maintain that just right
Quiz question: what is an evolutionists
favorite word? Oh, you want a free hint? Maybe, baby.
How do plants wax their leaves? Its an elaborate task. Its much
easier for an evolutionary biologist to make up a fable about it and win Stupid Evolution Quote
of the Week see 10/27/2004.
Next headline on:
Snails Walk on Water 10/27/2008
Oct 27, 2008 Why is that scientist staring at a snail? Hes
watching a miracle: walking on water. This is not our exaggeration: Matt
Kaplan on National
Geographic News entitled his article, How Snails Walk on Water Is a Small Miracle.
If we can figure out the trick, we might be able to make little robots do it
even if we dont know why we would want to yet, other than it would be cool.
Snails are small enough to be naturally buoyant, but needless to say,
getting traction on water is a challenge. The snail apparently does this by
making small ripples. The ripples are just the right size to give the snail
traction without breaking the surface. Its a unique method of propulsion
unknown till Eric Lauga, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the
University of California, San Diego, decided to investigate.
For a human to do this would require shoes as big as a football
field, the article said.
Many capabilities of animals and plants
seem miraculous to us, but we sometimes use the word too carelessly.
Jesus walked on water barefoot or on sandals. Thats a real miracle.
Evolutionizing Religion: Whos Assuming What? 10/26/2008
Next headline on:
Oct 26, 2008 Findings from cognitive psychology, neuroscience,
cultural anthropology and archaeology promise to change our view of religion,
said Pascal Boyer in Nature.1 His essay
summarized studies that offer an evolutionary explanation for mankinds
propensity to embrace religion. We can probe the shared assumptions
that religions are built on, however disparate, and examine the connection between
religion and ethnic conflict, he said. Lastly, we can hazard a
guess at what the realistic prospects are for atheism.
Boyer weaved together evolutionary explanations for several features
seemingly common to all religions: belief in things for which there is no evidence,
ritual, morality, metaphysics, and social identity. There is no one place
in the brain, a religious center, he said. Rather,
religious thoughts seem to be an emergent property of our standard cognitive
capacities. Just as the brain was not made specifically for music, politics,
ethnic groups and family relations, religion is just an emergent response to
super stimuli, he said. Religious concepts and activities
hijack our cognitive resources, as do music, visual art, cuisine, politics,
economic institutions and fashion. In evolutionary terms, the brain
evolved for skills to aid survival, but religion simply takes advantage of those cognitive
faculties and meshes them in an unexpected way. The mind has myriad
distinct belief networks that contribute to making religious claims quite natural
to many people, he said.
Central to Boyers case are that religious people make tacit assumptions
they never notice. They may be able to describe their core beliefs,
But cognitive psychology shows that explicitly accessible beliefs of this
sort are always accompanied by a host of tacit assumptions that are generally
not available to conscious inspection. The details of religious
beliefs may differ, he said, but the tacit beliefs underlying all religious are
remarkably similar. To him, this can only mean that we have similarly
evolved brains that exercise the tacit assumptions in diverse ways.
He began his essay with
a listing of various reactions to the scientific study of religion:
Is religion a product of our evolution? The very question
makes many people, religious or otherwise, cringe, although for different
reasons. Some people of faith fear that an understanding of the
processes underlying belief could undermine it. Others worry
that what is shown to be part of our evolutionary heritage will be interpreted
as good, true, necessary or inevitable. Still others, many scientists
included, simply dismiss the whole issue, seeing religion as childish,
Those human minds, we can safely assume he believes, are also products of evolution.
Throughout the article, Boyer promotes the idea that gods and beliefs are not real,
but rather manufactured by the cognitive and social psychology of humans and their
evolved brains. Imagining supernatural beings may be a natural way,
he said, for human products of evolution to process information:
Such responses make it difficult to establish why and how religious thought is so pervasive in human societies an understanding that is especially relevant in the current climate of religious fundamentalism. In asking whether religion is one of the many consequences of having the type of brains we come equipped with, we can shed light on what kinds of religion come naturally to human minds
The findings emerging from this cognitive-evolutionary approach challenge two central tenets of most established religions. First, the notion that their particular creed differs from all other (supposedly misguided) faiths; second, that it is only because of extraordinary events or the actual presence of supernatural agents that religious ideas have taken shape. On the contrary, we now know that all versions of religion are based on very similar tacit assumptions, and that all it takes to imagine supernatural agents are normal human minds processing information in the most natural way.
Implicit in this idea is the position that atheism is a more scientific world view.
His last paragraph, though, gives little hope for his fellow atheists to gain a
foothold in the culture: the evolutionary deck is stacked against them.
Some form of religious thinking seems to be the path of
least resistance for our cognitive systems. By contrast, disbelief
is generally the result of deliberate, effortful work against our natural
cognitive dispositions hardly the easiest ideology to propagate.
For previous entries on the evolution of religion, see
1. Pascal Boyer, Being human: Religion: Bound to believe?,
455, 1038-1039 (23 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/4551038a.
How otherwise intelligent people can continue to be so blind
to their own biases after decades, nay centuries, of philosophers and theologians
and logicians pointing them out, is stunning.
Nature has just published another in a long series of
self-refuting essays. A freshman CEH
reader can probably refute this article in a sentence or two. If not, you need
to apply yourself to stopping by here more often.
The Life and Death of Oxygen 10/24/2008
What is it about their brains that predisposes evolutionists to think
this way? You notice that we put the shoe on the other foot. Thats
fair, because to him, we are all equally evolved. By what standard of measure
can he insist that his tacit assumptions are better than anyone elses?
By the standards of science? Ha! Only if he is a logical positivist
another self-refuting belief system. If this is not obvious, go back and read Wolperts ideas
from the 10/16/2008 entry and the commentary
on logical positivism from 05/10/2007 before
continuing. If Boyer assumes that testable predictions render
evolutionary psychology scientific, he has not learned about the dubious logic of
predictive success in science. Its the main reason Karl Popper rejected
predictive success as a criterion of science, and promoted falsification instead.
(Falsification, alas, was also later rejected as a foolproof criterion.)
Boyer came close to recognizing the self-refuting nature of his
beliefs by mentioning people who worry that what is shown to be part of our
evolutionary heritage will be interpreted as good, true, necessary or inevitable.
(For elaboration on that point, see the
bullet 5.) He should be worried. To
what universal standard could he appeal to decide that religion is an emergent
property of the brain, but science is not? And why would he lament
that atheism is hardly the easiest ideology to propagate? At least he admitted it is an ideology.
But to what universal moral standard would he appeal to say that propagating his atheistic world view would
be a good thing? He said that science may one day find that religion
contributed to fitness in ancestral times. On what grounds, then, can he
say it hijacked mans cognitive abilities? If it produced fitness,
it is just as much an intrinsic benefit to human evolution as the brain itself.
is plagued with other fallacies. For one, he
generalizes all religions, no matter how
opposite, in a highly simplistic manner: he puts the witch doctor and the Oxford
Scholar into the same fundamentalist bucket, also a form of
ridicule. By excepting his own reasoning
from those of religious nuts, of course, he has also divided the world into
us-vs-them, the either-or fallacy: i.e., you
either belong to the People of Science or to the People of Faith (whatever that
broad-brush category means). Students want extra credit can hunt for
begging the question fallacies,
the post-hoc fallacy, misuse of
The card-stacking fallacy is
notable in this article. He only offered three responses to the idea that
religion evolved: (1) Worry by religionists that it will undermine their beliefs.
(2) Worry by evolutionists that religion, if part of our evolutionary heritage,
will be seen as good, true, necessary or inevitable. (3) Disgust by
scientists that religion is childish, dangerous nonsense.
Why did he not consider the possibility that theologians and knowledgeable
scholars will consider his evolutionary theory or religion to be regarded
as childish, dangerous nonsense? Is that not what we have just illustrated?
Another example of his card stacking
was to list only things like ritual, metaphysical beliefs, social identity and
moral codes as the characteristics of religion. Why didnt he mention
evidence and apologetics? Those things may be lacking in the cultic
or ritualistic religions, but the Bible is filled with historical references that
can be cross-checked, and appeals to remember what the people knew to be true from
evidence, reason and eyewitness testimony. Paul and Peter claimed to
be eyewitnesses of the risen and glorified Christ and emphatically denied that they were
following cleverly devised fables. They also warned people against falling for
fables. If Boyer likes prediction so much, he should consider the prediction
Paul made in II Timothy 4:4
that in the last days people will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths,
of which evolution is a prime example, because the evidence for God is clear from
1:18-20). Peter, similarly, predicted the coming of belief in
uniformitarianism. He predicted that mockers would deny the evidence for creation and the flood
Peter 3:3-9). Do those predictions count? Must be consistent.
Boyer and his fellow atheistic evolutionists arrogate to themselves the chair of
science, but have no floor to put it on: not a scientific floor, or a philosophical
floor, or an evidence floor. He needs the Judeo-Christian floor to be able to
reason about truth, morals, and evidence at all. Like Yoda, he speaks ex cathedra from some
exalted plane above the rest of humanity, telling us about our tacit assumptions
while ignoring his own (08/13/2007).
He tells others what makes them tick without understanding that what makes him
tick is rebellion against his Creator. He couldnt
slap his Fathers face without first sitting in His lap. Pascal
Boyer should sit quietly like a good boy and read Pascal.
Next headline on:
Oct 24, 2008 The oxygen in our atmosphere has the energy equivalent of
20 thousand billion billion hydrogen bombs. To maintain the oxygen level
in our atmosphere, that amount of energy would have to be spent in manufacturing
molecular oxygen every 4 million years (a thousandth the assumed age of the earth).
Now that we have your attention, lets think about the role
of oxygen and life. The statistics above were estimated by Paul G. Falkowski
and Yukio Isozaki in Science this week.1
Unlike nitrogen, which is inert, oxygen is lively it oxidizes, or burns
things not only in fire, but in cells, where the element must be handled
gingerly by molecular machines to avoid damage. Thats also why you
take antioxidants in your food. Keeping oxygen away from the
primordial soup at the origin of life is understandably a serious problem
Evolutionary biologists do not believe earths oxygen is primordial (i.e.,
that it formed when the earth formed). They believe it was generated by
living organisms when they evolved to use oxygen for electron capture in metabolism.
This conveniently keeps oxygen out of the picture at the origin of life (though
some atmospheric oxygen forms spontaneously by the dissociation of water).
Oxygen could also be sequestered from the air in continental rocks: silicates,
carbonates and sulfates.
Oxygen reached levels of 10 to 30% only in the last 550 million years, evolutionists say.
Its 4-million-year lifetime is 0.4% the estimated 1 billion
year lifetime of the atmospheres most abundant gas, nitrogen.
How did oxygen, with its relatively short lifetime, become the second most abundant
gas in the atmosphere? The story is not as simple as it might first appear,
said Falkowski and Isozaki. One has to calculate when and how it was first
generated, and how it persists in its high concentration.
Some oxygen is continuously formed by the breakup of water molecules
by ultraviolet light in the atmosphere (at least till ozone forms and shields the upper
atmosphere from excess UV). If biology is the source, how does life produce
it from water and minerals?
The overwhelming source of O2 on Earth is photobiological oxidation of water; neither the evolution nor the mechanism of this process are completely understood. Apparently it arose once in a single clade of bacteria and was then appropriated via a single event, in which one cell engulfed another (endosymbiosis) to form a new symbiotic organism. The latter became the progenitor of all photosynthetic eukaryotes, including algae and higher plants.
They stressed that this arose once most likely because of the improbability
that a large protein complex of oxidation machinery could
arise by chance. Nevertheless, assuming plants and bacteria produce it, the
equation is balanced by the animals that consume it:
The core of the oxidation machinery is photosystem II, a large protein complex containing four manganese atoms that are photocatalytically oxidized to create electron holes upstream.
On time scales of years to millennia, these reactions are closely coupled to the reverse process of respiration, such that net production of O2 is virtually nil. That is, without burial of organic matter in rocks, there would be very little free O2 in the atmosphere. Hence, the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis was a necessary but not a sufficient condition to oxidize Earths atmosphere.
So the second problem is getting molecular oxygen up to the level of 10-30% that
has been maintained for 500 million years. If a small amount is subducted
into the mantle by plate tectonics, or captured in stable continental rocks,
an atmospheric excess could be built up to a stable concentration without
runaway production. The balance between burial of organic matter and its oxidation,
they said, appears to have been tightly controlled over the past 500
million years. This balance requires an ongoing
process of long-term storage within the earth. The picture becomes complicated
by the fact that volcanoes can re-release oxygen back into the atmosphere.
The presence of O2 in the atmosphere requires an imbalance
between oxygenic photosynthesis and aerobic respiration on time scales of millions
of years, they said; hence, to generate an oxidized atmosphere, more organic matter must
be buried than respired.
How well do scientists know how oxygen concentration has varied over
geologic time? Perhaps surprisingly, not very well. Comparison
of isotopes in carbonates and sulfates provide clues. They believe the initial
oxygen concentration produced by the first photosynthetic bacteria was quite low.
It rose when eukaryotes appeared, and then, according to the evolutionary timeline,
became much more abundant in the Neoproterozoic corresponding to the period just before
the Cambrian Explosion. The eukaryotic oxygen increase would have had to
coincide with enhanced subduction in the lithosphere.
Was the Cambrian Explosion a cause or effect of the rise of oxygen?
They suggested the latter: The burial of large amounts of organic carbon
over the past 750 million years is mirrored in a substantial rise in atmospheric
O2, which may have triggered the Cambrian explosion
of animal life.
Another balance of geology and biology would have had to occur in the
Carboniferous. The doubling of oxygen production by trees and ferns had to be balanced by
further increases in burial efficiency they said. How the continental
plates coordinated their behavior with the evolution of plants, they did not say.
Throughout the remainder of earth history, this balance was maintained within comparatively
narrow limits 10 to 23%. The relatively narrow range of variability
suggests tight controls on the rate of burial and oxidation of organic
matter on Earths surface. They did not say who or what is controlling
these rates, other than to say that the burial of organic carbon is roughly
balanced by oxidation and weathering.
How valid is this story? They think the broad picture is understood,
but the details remain sketchy particularly, how photosynthesis splits water,
how oxygen concentration is controlled in the atmosphere.
Could Woodward W. Fischer in Nature help the story?2
How good is the evidence to support the rise of the first photosynthetic bacteria?
Go back to Archaean time, the interval of Earths history between about
4 billion and 2.5 billion years ago, he began, and were in
largely unknown biological territory.
While Fischer was concerned primarily with debunking claims of eukaryotes
too early for comfort (i.e., before the rise of atmospheric oxygen), his report contained
reason to doubt the validity of the timeline. The new evidence may remove an
embarrassing puzzle of how photosynthesis could arise 300 million years before the rise
of atmospheric oxygen, but
does it close the gap between the morphological and molecular-fossil records
of the evolution of eukaryotes? he asked himself.
He answered himself, Not yet. Other scientists are not
conceding the debunking of 2.7-billion-year-old photosynthesis. A news item
about this on Nature
News agrees the debate is far from over.
For problems with oxygen at the birth of the solar system, see
bullet one of the 09/24/2008 entry.
1. Paul G. Falkowski and Yukio Isozaki, The Story of O2,
24 October 2008: Vol. 322. no. 5901, pp. 540-542, DOI: 10.1126/science.1162641.
2. Woodward W. Fischer, Biogeochemistry: Life before the rise of oxygen,
455, 1051-1052 (23 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/4551051a.
OK; how convinced are you that the evolutionary
storytellers are compelled by the evidence to embrace their billions of years
saga of a history they cannot observe? Its a magical history, in which
complex oxidation machines arise by some unspecified natural magic.
(Note that if something arose once, it is not following a natural law).
Read about the fast-forward scanner on a translating machine in the
10/23/2003 entry. Where is it?
In your body, working as you read this.
Lacking evidence, they can build models that include the natural
magic built-in. By tweaking parameters here and there, and trying to debunk
contrary evidence, they can get it to work sort of. It continues to
amaze them how finely balanced it is.
So much for this space fantasy.
The atmosphere on Darwins imaginary world is too rarefied
to breathe. Lets head back to the real world.
Next headline on:
Physics and Chemistry
Origin of Life
Minding the Brain, or Braining the Mind? 10/23/2008
Oct 23, 2008 Theres a battle brewing over who controls your brain:
nature or your mind. Materialist scientists are recognizing that creationists
are getting a foothold on this hill and declaring war over the brain,
according to an article in
Scientist. Psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz fired this salvo:
Materialism needs to start fading away and non-materialist causation needs
to be understood as part of natural reality.
Amanda Gefter, author of the article, also took note of the book
The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul
by OLeary and Beauregard. Schwartz and Beauregard were among the
speakers at an international symposium in Manhattan called Beyond the Mind-Body
Problem: New Paradigms in the Science of Consciousness. Gefter listed
several fronts in the war to reclaim the mind: Schwartz and Beauregard are
part of a growing non-material neuroscience movement, she
explained. They are attempting to resurrect Cartesian dualism
the idea that brain and mind are two fundamentally different kinds of
things, material and immaterial in the hope that it will make room in
science both for supernatural forces and for a soul.
After giving adequate white space for proponents of the non-materialist
view (including Angus Menuge, J. P. Moreland and the Discovery Institute),
Gefter clearly wanted to throw her vote to the reigning materialist paradigm
on this matter of mind. She commented on an experiment Schwartz
used to support the independent existence of mind, saying, these experiments
are entirely consistent with mainstream neurology the material
brain is changing the material brain.
In the middle of her article, Gefter got really serious:
Clearly, while there is a genuine attempt to appropriate neuroscience, it will not influence US laws or education in the way that anti-evolution campaigns can because neuroscience is not taught as part of the core curriculum in state-funded schools. But as Andy Clark, professor of logic and metaphysics at the University of Edinburgh, UK, emphasises: This is real and dangerous and coming our way.
To Gefter, the debate is just a quibble over words:
He and others worry because scientists have yet to crack the great mystery of how consciousness could emerge from firing neurons. Progress in science is slow on many fronts, says John Searle, a philosopher at the University of California, Berkeley. We dont yet have a cure for cancer, but that doesnt mean cancer has spiritual causes.
And for Patricia Churchland, a philosopher of neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego, it is an argument from ignorance. The fact something isnt currently explained doesnt mean it will never be explained or that we need to completely change not only our neuroscience but our physics.
The attack on materialism proposes to do just that, but it all turns on definitions. At one time it looked like all physical causation was push/pull Newtonianism, says Owen Flanagan, professor of philosophy and neurobiology at Duke University, North Carolina. Now we have a new understanding of physics. What counts as material has changed. Some respectable philosophers think that we might have to posit sentience as a fundamental force of nature or use quantum gravity to understand consciousness. These stretch beyond the bounds of what we today call material, and we havent discovered everything about nature yet. But what we do discover will be natural, not supernatural.
Andy Clark continued his tone of alarm over this battle, calling the intelligent-design
position an especially nasty mind-virus because it piggybacks
on some otherwise reasonable thoughts and worries. He argued that it
is a non-sequitur to leap from the empirical
evidence that we can change our brains with our minds to the conclusion that the
mind is non-material. That doesnt follow at all, he said,
applying his material brain to the process of logic.
Theres nothing odd about minds changing brains if mental states
are brain states: thats just brains changing brains.
Gefter became enough alarmed over this new front in the creation-evolution
battle to suggest some strategy.
If people can be swayed by ID, despite the vast amount of solid evidence
for evolution, she worried, how hard will it be when the science
appears fuzzier? She reminded scientists of criticisms that they
have already been too lax in teaching the public about evolution. Its time to get on offense.
Maybe now they need a big pre-emptive push to engage people with
the science of the brain and help the public appreciate that the brain
is no place to invoke the God of the gaps.
Apparently the irony of this article was completely
lost on Amanda Gefter and her materialist experts. They were all using
their minds to argue and debate about immaterial concepts. If nothing more
was happening than molecules bouncing around in their skulls, how could they
even know what they were saying?
Another Strange Chinese Fossil Found: Dinosaur or Bird? 10/22/2008
Remember when Mom, Dad, or some other childhood mentor showed you that
when you point an accusatory finger at someone else, three other fingers are pointing back at you?
Clark just lectured us on logic. Flanagan just lectured us on
definitions. Gefter just lectured us on God-of-the-gaps arguments.
All three have just shot their little finger-guns right back into their own
skulls. Example: Gefter dismissed Schwartzs empirical evidence that
the mind can change the brain by saying, the material brain is changing the
material brain. OK, class, whats the next question?
Think about it (yes, think), [Jeopardy tune plays], and the bell rings
Aha! Who is making the material brain change the material brain?
And who is observing the change?
Now, if you
think that is just a logical trick, you have to realize that without a person
doing the changing, no one would ever know a change had occurred. This is
a mind-body problem that cannot be so easily swept away. If you could
shrink yourself to the size of a cell and wander through the brain, you would
no more see thought than if you wandered through Big Ben could you see time.
Time and thought live in the conceptual realm, not the material realm.
Suppose you walked through a computer chip like a pedestrian on the streets of
London. Would you see Boolean logic? Oh, you might see
certain switches light up, and perhaps you could perceive electrons
in a diode or transistor junction flowing one way instead of the other.
But it is not the chip that would be sensing that logic is occurring: it would be
you, the Observer. The operation of a physical system is not the same as
concept behind the system. A system cannot tell itself the purpose of the
system in a way that brings understanding. That takes a Person.
Consider: if Amandas mind is not directing her argument, how could she
have any free will to believe that her argument is true, and that ID is so false it
should be pre-empted? And to what is the pre-emptive strike referring, if
not some well-intentioned but misguided appeal to immaterial truth and morals?
Gefter and Flanagan dismissed this all as quibbling over definitions.
But look at the fingers pointing right back at them: they suggested that any
possible concept might be enveloped within the words material or
natural even things like sentience, a quantum-gravity theory of
consciousness, or any future discovery of science. These stretch
beyond the bounds of what we today call material, and we havent
discovered everything about nature yet. But what we do discover will
be natural, not supernatural. This is a rescuing device to
end all rescuing devices. No matter what the evidence, they can envelop
it, like The Blob, into their materialistic worldview.
OK, lets push that envelope. Suppose they find irrefutable
evidence for angels. Will they call them material? Will they be a part
of the natural universe? Even God has a divine nature.
The word nature or natural is so slippery it can mean a dozen different
things including immaterial things like natural laws (Note: material things may
obey natural laws, but laws are not material). Materialists constantly invoke
non-material things in their reasoning: mathematics, abstract logic, scientific
methods to name just a few. They also frequently make reference to unobservable
entities information, feedback, signal transduction, classification, reason, honesty
and much, much more. They help themselves to immaterial concepts and stuff them into
their materialist bag, oblivious to who is doing the classifying.
God-of-the-Gaps: J. P. Moreland, who was mentioned in Gefters
article, has three comeback arguments to the perennial charge that Christians
fill gaps in scientific knowledge with appeals to God. Paraphrasing, he says,
(1) Christians would not expect there to be many gaps. The Biblical worldview
indicates that the world runs according to predictable patterns (natural laws)
most of the time. In fact, it is only the Biblical worldview that makes
sense of the concept of natural laws. (2) Some gaps are getting wider.
Scientific discoveries about the cell and the origin of life and the fine-tuning
of the universe are resisting all attempts at materialist explanations.
We should follow the evidence where it leads. If that evidence is pointing
to design, so be it. (3) Materialists are just as guilty of the charge.
Whenever some incredibly-complex mechanism is discovered in a cell, for instance,
they assume that natural selection produced it, or assume that some day in the
future, a material cause will be discovered. This is nothing more than
The material/spiritual and natural/supernatural distinctions are
false dichotomies. They cannot stand up to
a half-hour of scrutiny by a skilled philosopher. What it boils down to is
this: naturalism is anything and everything that allows a scientist (or a party
animal on drugs) to avoid responsibility to their Maker. Thats the
real argument from ignorance. They can believe
in space aliens or unobservable multiverses anything, no matter how crazy,
as long as they never have to bow the knee and confess, Thou art worthy,
O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power, for Thou hast created all things,
and by Thy will they exist, and were created
You can put
a brain into a jar of formaldehyde, and you can throw a used computer onto a junk pile,
but the concepts of mind and design, like Halloween ghosts, will always find the
materialists haunted house and come back to join the party.
Next headline on:
Theology, Philosophy or Religion
Oct 22, 2008 Feathers and wings are among the most distinguishing characteristics
of birds. Integumenary features have been found on some dinosaur
fossils, and true feathers have been found on some strange-looking extinct birds.
The news media often try to marry the two into a committed relationship using
exaggerated artwork. They have been found imagining
feathers on fossils where the data are dubious or even missing
06/13/2007). What makes a structure a true
feather? When does it support linking an unknown species into an evolutionary
relationship to birds?
The latest case involves a strange fossil from China reported in
Nature.1 Dated Middle to Late Jurassic in age, it is one
of the earliest species to sport integumentary structures (see
10/12/2005), but it was nearly contemporary
with early birds having true feathers. The media reports typically announce
a feathered dinosaur has been found (e.g.,
New feathered dinosaur discovered and
Geographic First Dinosaur Feathers for Show, Not for Flight?)
though some titles leave other interpretations open (e.g.,
Science, Bird-Like Dinosaur Sported Bizarre Tail Feathers).
Instead of allowing for the possibility that unrelated species had similarities,
the articles often state matter-of-factly that birds evolved from dinosaurs.
The BBC article was the most blatant in this regard, referring to the critical
transition from dinosaurs to birds and quoting a paleontologist at Londons
Natural History Museum stating, It provides fascinating evidence of
evolutionary experiments with feathers that were going on before small
dinosaurs finally took to the air and became birds.
The original paper did use the word feathers for the structures
in the fossil of the new pigeon-sized creature from the Middle or Late Jurassic
they named Epidexipteryx, but a closer look
shows some findings that may not help the evolutionary scenario.
The Live Science article elaborated on Mark Norells comments about diversity
- None of the structures were pennate feathers, that is, with barbs and
barbules from a central vane. The integumentary structures fell into two categories:
- Shafted feathers Connected to the last ten tail vertebra were found two
membranous structures consisting of parallel shafts that each branch once.
Each shaft has a thin unbranched vane of material, like a coating, along a central rachis.
The result appears as four long nearly-parallel rods that join at the base.
Collectively they are nearly as long as the skeleton of the creature. Mark Norell
(American Museum of Natural History) commented, These seem to lack that main
shaft down the middle and are just a really long collection of very long,
- Non-shafted feathers These are rows of integument
found outside the outline of skeleton, presumably from the skin. They
all end in parallel rows of barbs, nothing like the cross-cutting structure of
bird feathers; the BBC article calls it a fluffy, down-like covering.
The authors stated, the free distal barbs of Epidexipteryx
arise from the edge of a membranous structure (Fig. 2b, c, d, d'), an arrangement
that has never previously been reported.
- Some of the structures bear similarities to those on Jeholornis, a creature interpreted
as being capable of powered flight (see 07/24/2002).
- The authors allowed for the possibility that this creature was
secondarily flightless i.e., that it once had feathers like
a bird, but lost them; if so, it was not evolving from a dinosaur into a bird.
- The authors suggested that the feathers on Epidexipteryx were used for
display, not for flight, but the LiveScience article hypothesized they
likely helped the creature balance on tree branches.
- The animal had a curious mosaic of traits. National Geographic remarked,
Epidexipteryxs anatomy seems to be a hodgepodge of features taken
from a variety of animals. It seems to have been the platypus of
the Jurassic an improbable mixture of traits from different groups.
- Since the creature had a surprising combination of physical features
(BBC News), it should not be envisioned as a transitional form from one lineage to
another. The BBC News article
complicated the evolutionary story by stating, The discovery adds
yet more complexity to the early history of the era when small meat-eating
bipedal dinosaurs evolved into birds. The evidence, therefore,
makes the explanation more complex, not simpler, in contradiction to Occams Razor.
- The evolutionary date is too late to represent a pre-bird. The BBC article
said, whereas other feathered dinosaurs [sic] date from after
the appearance of the first known bird, this fossil appears to be much closer in age,
so it opens a new window on the evolutionary events at the critical transition
from dinosaurs to birds. Live Science says that the dates are uncertain;
at best it was slightly older than Archaeopteryx. If it
was nearly contemporaneous with a fully-feathered bird that was most likely
capable of powered flight, it could not be a pre-bird, bird ancestor or missing link.
- The evolutionary link to birds is only inferential. Live Science quoted
one of the authors saying, Although this dinosaur cannot be the direct
ancestor for birds, it is one of the dinosaurs that have the closest
phylogenetic relationship to birds.
- Mark Norell hinted that this fossil has more to say about diversity, not evolution.
Things more primitive than this have fully formed feathers he said.
This is just some weirdo kind of thing this animal has.
As scientists and others discover more and more dinosaur fossils with bird-like features,
the picture of such creatures is becoming more complex, said Norell, who
was not involved in the current study.
To infer evolutionary relationships, scientists conduct two kinds of studies. One is
the cladistic study, that measures the number of specific characteristics in a
fossil or creature, like the angle of its pelvic bone or ratio of skull length to
skull width, and scores it in relation to other similar creatures. The other,
when possible, is the genetic study of DNA similarities and differences.
Assuming that common descent is true, they produce phylogenetic diagrams of
ancestral relationships based on degree of similarity. Norells comments
suggest that among a highly diverse set of organisms, the possibility of subjective
inferences to ancestry is high meaning that other inferences are legitimate,
depending on which similarities are measured, and the relative weights
assigned them by human minds.
Just like the bird diversity we have living today goes all
the way from hummingbirds to ostriches to toucans, its incredibly diverse,
Norell said during a telephone interview. Now were starting to
see that sort of diversity extends not only in birds but also in the close bird
relatives [which] were just as physically diverse as modern birds are.
1. Zhang et al, A bizarre Jurassic maniraptoran from China with elongate ribbon-like feathers,
455, 1105-1108 (23 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07447.
The artists renditions go far beyond the
evidence: theyve put vibrant colors on the alleged feathers and given the
creature a whole life and personality. The structures cannot be called feathers except
by stretching the definition of the term. The tail structures look like long
rods. The down-like coating could be flayed skin, given that the
creature was exceptionally well preserved. It may represent a mutant dodo-line
of ancient birds that went extinct, or a member of a subclass of dinosaurs that
shared the most similarities with birds without being related to them.
How Not to Teach Evolution 10/21/2008
Scientists should be very careful about making inferences about any
complex set of data. The bones do not jump up and announce that they were
evolving into birds. The supplementary data in the paper show nearly 300
traits that had to be compared to make a cladistic analysis. The significance
of any one of them requires a human judgment. Which traits are you going to
focus on? Humans share traits with this fossil, too: vertebrae, teeth,
radius and ulna, and many organs not visible from the bones. It is conceivable
that the scientists in another civilization might consider size, habitat, lifestyle or some
other characteristic to be the overriding concern in their way of classifying things.
What kind of inferences would they draw? Complexity, diversity and mosaics
of traits throw simplistic schemes into disarray. How would you rearrange your
Evolutionary Tree of Tools if somebody handed you a Leatherman tool with a
knife, screwdriver, pliers and scissors in a leather pouch?
Even granting, for the sake of argument, the most generous leeway
to the evolutionists and calling the structures on this thing feathers does not help their story.
Other feathered birds were nearly contemporaries. If this was an evolutionary
dead end, where is the highway? A collection of dead ends may keep you
busy, but is not going to get you anywhere.
Next headline on:
Oct 21, 2008 Current Biology usually interviews a scientist for each
issue. In the October 14 issue,1 the subject was
Dyche Mullins, a molecular biologist at UC San Francisco. His story of how
evolution was taught in high school should make teachers and parents take notice.
After the usual anecdotal fluff about what kind of cookies he likes
and what bicycles he prefers, Mullins was asked what turned him on to biology after
so many years (he did not become interested till graduate school).
Good question. In part, it was the way I was taught biology in high school. My teachers refused to teach anything about evolution. In fact, the only time I remember hearing the E word in high school was when we dissected frogs. After explaining to a room full of queasy kids how understanding the anatomy of a frog could help us understand the basics of human anatomy, the teacher paused thoughtfully and said, Now Im not talking about evolution here, so dont go home and tell your parents that Im teaching evolution. And that was it. The rest of high school biology was just a collection of evidence supporting Dobzhanskys claim that Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution. We collected insects and looked at pine cones, and we had a hamster that we taught to go to the bathroom through a hole in the side of its cage. That was pretty much it. Biology seemed more like an eccentric hobby than a coherent body of knowledge. Mercifully, we were spared any discussion of Intelligent Design....
In the ellipsis, Mullins had described his educational diversion into physics and mathematics.
Apparently his teachers on those subjects did a better job, because he dove into
them headlong with gusto. What made him turn back to biology was seeing living systems
for the first time as computer-controlled machinery:
I started reading more deeply in biology and realized just how flawed my early education had been. I read Darwin and I discovered T.H. Morgan and Max Delbrück and the Phage Group. The only advantage of coming to biology so late was that I found almost everything that I learned new and exciting. Reading about solving the genetic code, thirty years after the fact, made me as excited as if it was happening at that moment, in a lab down the hall. I was astounded by the calcium ATPase: a single molecule that can discriminate, with remarkable specificity, between similar divalent cations and use chemical energy to pump calcium against a 10,000-fold concentration gradient.
To my engineers mind, a living cell was now just a complex, feedback-controlled system.
I could imagine writing equations to describe biochemical pathways, cellular functions,
and, eventually, entire living cells. Nowadays this kind of thinking would be
called systems biology. And while it is not exactly the way I approach
biological problems in my lab now, it was the kind of thinking that made biology intelligible to me.
When outside the lab, Dyche takes off the white coat. You can watch him ham it up
with comedy country blues boys on YouTube,
singing, Man of Constant Sorrow.
1. Q&A, Dyche Mullins, Current
Biology, Volume 18, Issue 19, 14 October 2008, pages R895-R896, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.07.056.
Biology teachers should have constant sorrow, too
after reading this story. This is how to turn a bright young inquiring mind into a
self-contradicting smart aleck. Cant this blues boy realize that
complex, feedback-controlled systems dont just happen? This man of constant
sorrow can stare at intelligent design right in front of his face, like that biological
machine that can discriminate, with remarkable specificity, between similar
divalent cations and use chemical energy to pump calcium against a 10,000-fold
concentration gradient, and turn right around and praise Darwin and
Dobzhansky. Step back a second and realize how insane this is. This same
dude would never step into a computer room and insult the designers, but can
stare at even more complex systems and call them cobbled jumbles of time and chance.
Its enough to make you want to yank his beard and knock on his skull and
ask, Anybody home? (Caution: Do NOT do that to anybody except yourself,
women and obsessive shavers excepted.) The interviewer, as usual for Current Bilge,
just slurps it all up like fine whine.
Cell beats computer at backups 10/23/2002
and folding 10/15/2002.
Teachers: pay attention. You cannot solve the creation-evolution
controversy by ignoring it. This does more harm than good. Students
want answers. They are curious about evolution. Those from religious
homes may be worried about it, while those from secular humanist homes may have
moms and dads ready to sue. You cannot push this subject off. One cannot
understand modern history or science without understanding Darwin. The next
Dyche Mullins in your classroom will remember how you sloughed off the subject as
if it were taboo, then a Darwin dogmatist in college will sweep him off his feet
with visions of the alluring explanatory power of evolution.
In private or home schools,
the solution is simple: teach all about Darwinism all its strengths and weaknesses,
the stuff the textbooks leave out. In public schools, the courts and the
school boards have often become so paranoid they will try to persecute or dismiss
any teacher who teaches scientific facts about Darwin, like they did to Roger
DeHart. Sometimes the thought police go after not what you say, but what they think your
motivation is. You have to know your principal, your state, and your school
board. Thankfully some states are passing academic freedom laws. Many
teachers have found the right way to present Darwinism honestly without dogmatism.
Who could fault that? Science is supposed to be the opposite of dogmatism!
Dont expect all parents and school boards to be rational, though, on this hot topic;
the Discovery Institute can provide
valuable help for negotiating the fine legal lines involved. Whether public or private
or home school teacher, your goal is to help students become familiar with the evolutionary theory
in its historical, political and scientific contexts; to understand the arguments Darwin
and his critics have made, and while at the same time to develop critical thinking skills
to be able to separate dogmatic claims from scientific evidence.
Lets use this entry also to cogitate on the nature of science.
We tend to pigeonhole subjects into watertight categories: a scientist is someone
who does science, and science is what scientists do. Is that necessarily the case?
When Mullins is clowning around with the country band, is he doing science then, just
because he is a scientist by profession? Obviously not. All right, then;
is he doing science from the moment he steps into the Science Building on campus
till the moment he goes home? Maybe some of the time. Not on coffee breaks.
But then, maybe some flash of scientific insight will come to him when he gazes at
the swirls of cream in his cup. Is it when he is writing a proposal or scientific
paper? Is it when he is tediously jotting down readings in his lab book while
his mind is on the American League championships? Is it anything he does because
he belongs to a professional scientific society, while the bird watcher outside does not?
These questions help to dissolve prejudices about The Scientist.
For Dyches view on what makes a person a good scientist,
lets look at his answer to the last question about what advice he
would give a student seeking a career in biology. Get ready for a surprise.
Advice is a tricky thing. When I started my lab I picked out a set of mentors:
three successful scientists to whom I ran with all my vexing questions.
I soon found that, no matter what the question, I always got three different (and
often contradictory) pieces of advice. One of those pieces of advice, however,
usually resonated more than the others and thats the one I would follow.
So my advice would be to get as much advice as you can from as many different sources
as possible. And remember that much of it will be bad advice, or at least bad
advice for you, even if the source is an eminent and successful scientist.
You need to trust your instincts.
Notice something interesting: this is all about intuition. You thought
that science is following the scientific method. Here, Mullins is saying
that science is all about instinct! Then you and me are scientists whenever we
listen to a lot of advice, discard the advice that doesnt resonate, and trust our
instincts. You can imagine a lawyer or hunter or coach
giving the same advice to his students. What scientific method is Mullins
following when he gathers as much advice as he can, then trusts his instincts?
Certainly a politician can do that. Notice he said that no two of them [scientists]
approach a problem in the same way, run their labs the same way, or are
successful for the same reason. There is no one way to do science!
A corollary is that anybody who gets good advice and trusts his instincts has
just as much right to call himself a scientist as Mullins does, because there is
no method, or process, or secret formula that makes what Mullins does more
scientific than what any other careful investigator does.
As Andrew Murray once told me, Think about all the scientists you know.
No two of them approach a problem in the same way. No two of them run their
labs the same way. And no two successful scientists are successful for the
Oh, but you may be thinking, Mullins has a degree in science.
He passed all the educational requirements. He joined a scientific society.
He is smart, well trained and experienced: this grants him membership in The Science Guild. That may
be all well and good, but we repeat the question: when is he doing science, and when is he not
doing science? We remind our readers that some of the greatest scientists
in history never went through those qualifications. They learned at home or
from personal experience. They were mavericks and outsiders. Some
were scorned by the Science Guild in their day and not vindicated till after
they died. Should they be classed as non-scientists because they were outside
the Guild? Of course not. Science only became highly professionalized
and institutionalized in relatively recent times.
The word scientist did not even exist till William Whewell coined the
term in 1832.
Science is one of those vague words that means too little by
attempting to stand for too much. Are we to grant the same prestige to
political science and economic science as we do to physics? How about the
far-out theoretical physics that still has no observational evidence?
Is psychology science? Science of mind? Scientology? Clearly
some distinctions are in order!
In the original sense of the word, science means
knowledge. The word requires no set method, schooling or membership.
Knowledge welcomes all seekers and rejects some SINOs (scientists in name only). While we should respect
the degree of rigorous education that professional scientists have mastered, and the experience they
have gained, and any useful or enduring findings they have made, we should keep these
distinctions in mind. When Dyche Mullins dismissively disparages intelligent
design while staring it in the face in a cell, he is not doing science: he is doing
ridicule. When he falls in love with Darwin
but never studies the problems and contrary arguments, he is taking things on
authority. He deserves no more respect for
uninformed opinions than a cultist or gambler. Dont respect a scientist when he
acts unscientifically, and dont ignore a person lacking a PhD in Science when
he seeks knowledge in an honest, systematic, informed way.
A lay person with common sense on the right track may achieve more science
(knowledge) than a professional pursuing a wrong track. Being a professional scientist
does not grant legitimacy to whatever that person does or says that is not observable,
testable, and repeatable. And knowledge is certainly a goal that any honest observer
in search of the truth can hope to attain.
Next headline on:
Miller-Frankenstein Ghost Rises from the Dead 10/20/2008
Oct 20, 2008 Stanley Miller died last year, but his friendly ghost lives on.
Famous for his Halloweenish spark-discharge apparatus that brought naturalism to
life, Miller subsequently began to doubt the simplistic primordial soup
vision that took on a life of its own, making apparitions in many a textbook.
He realized that improbably atmospheric conditionsa reducing atmosphere of
methane and hydrogen without oxygenwere required. Nevertheless,
the sparks in the flask made an indelible mark on the public consciousness even
if Miller himself and his colleagues struggled with the harsh realities of
Millers ghost appeared this month in Science.1
Jeffrey Bada (Scripps Institute) and team are awarding him posthumous honors for
finding more amino acids than previously thought. In addition, they say,
volcanoes may have provided the reducing conditions for amino acid formation:
Geoscientists today doubt that the primitive atmosphere had the highly reducing
composition Miller used. However, the volcanic apparatus experiment suggests
that, even if the overall atmosphere was not reducing, localized prebiotic
synthesis could have been effective. Reduced gases and lightning
associated with volcanic eruptions in hot spots or island arc-type systems could have
been prevalent on the early Earth before extensive continents formed. In these
volcanic plumes, HCN, aldehydes, and ketones may have been produced, which,
after washing out of the atmosphere, could have become involved in
the synthesis of organic molecules. Amino acids formed in volcanic island systems
could have accumulated in tidal areas, where they could be polymerized by
carbonyl sulfide, a simple volcanic gas that has been shown to form peptides
under mild conditions.
Could or may appears five times in series in this hypothetical scenario,
meaning each could depends on the previous could. Nevertheless,
Clara Moskowitz got so excited over this news, she titled her report on
Science, Volcanoes May Be Original Womb of Life. This, of
course, begs the question of how the volcano got its life as a mother, but thats
beside the point: around a volcano, the team sees all the ingredients: hydrogen,
methane, and lightning. It seems only a matter of time before Nature would
cry, Its ali-i-i-i-ve!
1. Johnson, Cleaves, Dworkin, Glavin, Lascano and Bada,
The Miller Volcanic Spark Discharge Experiment,
17 October 2008: Vol. 322. no. 5900, p. 404, DOI: 10.1126/science.1161527.
The tenacity with which naturalists cling to their
icons would put a Buddhist monk to shame. There are SO many problems with
the Miller scenario, we weary ourselves to keep repeating them (search "Stanley
Miller" in the search bar). Well give them a whole earth made
up of amino acids, combining and recombining at fantastically rapid rates (see
online book): no life is going to happen. Amino acids are nothing. They
are common little molecules, many of which are thermodynamically probable under certain
natural conditions. Some are found in meteorites. Its not
the building blocks that characterize life. Its the way they are
organized. Its the way they perform functions. Organic chemists
have to go to great lengths to get some of the building blocks under carefully
controlled conditions. Surely Bada et al are not suggesting that
amino acids formed on land, perhaps on lava flows far from the oceans Miller required.
They can always dream up a scenario that keeps the molecules hopeful, but by the time
they try to get the building blocks to join up in one-handed configuration and actually do something
without a genetic code to direct them, they have to tweak the scenario to the point
of absurdity. Matter is fecund only in the imaginations of naturalists who
will not permit information and direction into their world view.
Journalist Advises Scientists to Tell Stories 10/18/2008
Their fascination with that phrase building blocks of life
becomes more absurd with each announcement. We have been told that water is
a building block of life, and tailpipe soot is a building block of life.
Why stop there? Why not call protons building blocks of life? or quarks? or superstrings?
The laws of chemistry militate against the formation of a functional biological
apparatus. In the lab, most of the organic ingredients for life have to be carefully shielded from oxygen.
Millers amino acids, even around Mother Volcano, would be subject to hydrolyzing
radiation, oxidation, thermal destruction and dilution. Astrobiologists have to imagine
protected enclaves that could somehow concentrate and protect the exceedingly low yields.
Since amino acids do not polymerize in water, they have to imagine alternate waves
of wetting and drying that somehow avoid washing the precious gems into the vast
diluting sea (11/19/2004,
04/08/2008). Then there need to be the right clay
minerals to act as templates (but this wont work; see
What if the next lava flow covers it up? Sorry. What if harmful cross-reactions
dominate, as they would? Sorry. What if one wrong-handed amino acid
joins the chain, as is immensely more probable (online book)?
Sorry. Its a sorry tale at every turn: improbabilities piled on
improbabilities far beyond the limits of credibility.
Dont mistake commotion for progress. You can listen
to Robert Hazens cheerful Teaching
Company series Origins of Life in which he describes in detail all
the commotion in origin-of-life studies, with nothing at the end to show for it than naturalistic
bluffing, hope and hype. The characters doing OOL research
look like the bad guys in Home Alone trying to burglarize lifes secrets,
only to come back with bumps and bruises and burned hands. Theres even
an international organization of the burglars, ISSOL
(newly renamed the International Astrobiology Society), that gathers every 3 years
to pool their ignorance and share tales of woe about their latest bruises in the lab.
Its members comprise a Whos Who (or Who Cares) of all the big names in the field.
Go ahead. Browse the dozens of abstracts from their Summer 2008 gathering at
Florence, that began
with the obligatory sacrifice to Stanley Miller, and
you will find everything from confident claims to frustration and dead ends,
each hopeful sign falsified a few pages later. Is this science?
What if any other group of zealots suffered this many losing confrontations with
Miller was usually more honest about the difficulties of finding
how life originated than many of his disciples. His greatest success was
not in solving any of the problems, but in producing a
visual propaganda tool that facilitated
the dissemination of a useful lie (05/02/2003).
Thats not a legacy any self-respecting scientist should wish to have.
Next headline on:
Origin of Life
Oct 18, 2008 Caltech may be the egghead capital of America. The prestigious
university where Einstein and Feynman hung out may be weak in sports and arts,
but is unsurpassed in science and engineering. Caltech graduates are so adept
with mathematics and advanced physics, many of them would probably have a hard time
at parties telling their relatives and friends what they do for a living.
To avoid making others think they live on an alien planet, ABC/NPR journalist Robert
Krulwich has an idea: tell stories.
Krulwich gave the commencement address this past June. His
remarks were just printed in the fall issue of Caltechs quarterly magazine
and Science (E&S). The opening caption reads, Stories matter,
and in a nation where belief in alien abductions is on the rise while belief in
evolution is on the decline, the best way to defend science is to tell your
friends a good story. Newton, he explained,
was private and secretive to a fault, whereas Galileo
knew how to serve up an engaging tale. Stories are a must when communicating
science to party-goers and reporters (though those two groups are not mutually
More importantly, he said, the Caltech graduates are not going
to be able to win against pseudoscience unless they can outdo it in storytelling.
What pseudoscientists did Krulwich have in mind?
Scientists need to tell stories to nonscientists,
because science storiesand you
know thishave to compete with other stories
about how the universe works, and how
it came to be. And some of those other storiesBible stories,
movie stories, mythscan be very beautiful and very compelling.
But to protect science and scientistsand
this is not a gentle competitionyouve got
to get in there and tell your version of how
things are, and why things came to be.
From there he launched into details of Adnan Oktars lavishly-illustrated
Atlas of Creation that has been sent free to schools across Turkey and
Europe. Its written in clear and simple
language, using fabulous pictures, and the
pictures are designed to prove that fossils
show no evidence of evolution. This is definitely bad, Krulwich
argued, using Oktar, a Muslim, as his prototypical creationist.
We all know about creation-science
movements in America. But what you may
not know is that such movements are
spreading all over the world.
Krulwich appealed to Galileos Dialogues Concerning the
Two World Systems as an example of effective storytelling. Then he
used some dialogue between nitwits on Friends to illustrate the scientific
illiteracy of the general public. Metaphor to the rescue: Stories with gripping visuals
and good punch lines, stories that make
intuitive sense, that make sensual senseto
your eyes, to your ears, to your touchcan
convince, he preached. They have power.
For recent examples befitting modern sciences penchant for
abstruse disconnection from reality, he pointed to the well-known
Schrödingers Cat illustration, and to how a visitor to the Grand Canyon
might bring its vastness down to earth with a line from Loren Eiseley,
the magnificent violence hidden in a raindrop.
Krulwich saved his best example for last. He referred to
Mary Schweitzers research on medullary bone in dinosaurs, and how it
compared with ostrich bone (see 06/03/2005).
It could be dull scientific stuff until it is dressed in the storytellers art:
So Mary and her two assistants collected
the dead ostrich, which was in the farmers
backhoe bucket, and drove it back to Raleigh,
and what do you know? The former
ostrich had been a pregnant former ostrich,
and the bones looked pretty similar. The next
year, Mary published a paper in Science
with the dinosaur bone right next to an emu
bone, which looks even more like Bobs.
And since then, another T. rex, this one
in Argentina, was found to have the same
calcium structuremore evidence that
when you look deep inside dinosaurs and
deep inside birds, what you see is very, very
similar. Which gives us yet another reason
to think that the robin in your front yard is an
itty, bitty dinosaur.
A published address cannot reveal the audience reactions, but the
fact Krulwich was invited, and Caltech published the address in its
magazine, would seem to indicate the administration at least
approved of his case for storytelling.
If your nonscience friend listens to that
story, and leans in a little, and hears how
scientists work with bones and dead birds
in buckets, patiently looking for patterns, you
have just placed a sword in her hand. The
next time somebody tells her that scientists
are know-it-alls who toss off opinions, that
science is an elitist plot, she would think,
welllll, but I did hear this story . . . and the
scientific method gets a little more defense,
a little protection.
But better than that, the next time your
friend sees a robin, shell see, I hope, more
than a robin. Shell glance at a little bird
pecking for worms on the lawn, and shell
travel 70 million years back to a time and
a place that creationists say did not exist,
but now, because of your story, your friend
has a pregnant tyrannosaurus in her head
with the unfortunate name of Bob. Which
makes robins and sparrows and chickadees
and crows and all birds just a little more
amazing, and a little more delightful to look
at. Which means, you win. The creationists
cant beat delight. You have smote them
with your story.
Robert Krulwich does have a point.
There is a place for metaphor and narrative in science. We use it often
in our commentaries (for a recent example, see the last paragraph of the
entry, below). Good teachers, preachers and public speakers know the
power of metaphor in rhetoric. Rhetoric was one of the classical and
medieval skills taught to all students. An academic field known as
rhetoric of science emerged after Thomas Kuhns 1961 thesis, to
explore the ways in which rhetoric aids persuasion within paradigms and by
challengers; the book Doubts About Darwin
was built on Dr. Thomas Woodwards PhD thesis that explored the interplay
of rhetoric around the emerging Intelligent Design Movement. Rhetoric of
science departments even have their own vocabulary, and plenty of examples in
the history of science to draw from. There are cases to be made that some
important scientific paradigms were won or lost by the power of rhetoric.
Thought Experiment: Watch a standing-ovation performance of
Arthur Benjamin, the Mathemagician, in action on
Ask yourself: did natural selection produce this mental power for (1) sex,
(2) food, (3) defense, or (4) none of the above? Extra credit: derive
this ability from hydrogen.
This is all very interesting and fine. Scientists ignore
rhetoric at their peril. Its not persuasion thats the problem;
its propaganda. Here is where Krulwich erred.
We often accuse the Darwinists of engaging not just in storytelling per se, but
in just-so storytelling, which is made-up stuff. Scientific explanations, even when
aimed at Joe Six-Pack or Joe the Plumber, are supposed to be based in evidence
and logic. Often, Darwinists trade in fables concocted to save their
paradigm, even when faced with incriminating evidence.
Krulwich committed several propaganda errors in his address.
First, he divided all humanity into two classes (the either-or
fallacy): scientists (e.g., those with
honesty, brains and integrity, like Caltech graduates) and the rest of humanity,
including scientific dunces like Phoebe on Friends, those who believe in
alien abductions, Adnan Oktar, creationists and Bible believers. He followed
this with some fear-mongering about how
powerful the bogeymen are: this is not a gentle competition, he said,
giving the students a sword to conquer them.
After having consigned all non-Caltech-scientists to absurdity, it
conveniently allowed him to set up a straw man
to push over with very few ergs of energy. He should read the material of
the great creation scientists and best of the ID philosophers. Thats
what we do here: we take on the leading Darwinists in their leading publications.
We challenge their Goliaths. Why does Krulwich associate
creationism with the dimwits on a TV sitcom? Let him sit down with the PhDs
(some from Caltech and MIT and Cambridge) who deny Darwin, and learn a little
about his own vulnerability. Then he gave a vastly
oversimplified view of science (the old
truth-seeker in the white lab coat using the scientific method,
whatever that is). Doesnt he realize that view went out in the 1950s?
Finally, his sample story about robins being itty-bitty dinosaurs, besides being downright silly,
sidestepped the major point of Mary
Schweitzers work: that finding soft tissue and medullary bone in a dinosaur
essentially falsifies the belief they are 65 million years old.
He swallowed the Darwine to the dregs without tasting it first or submitting it
to qualitative analysisthe very thing
a good scientist is supposed to do. Consider the flaw, also, in his logic
that similarities prove ancestry (see circular
reasoning). If you look deep enough into a mans
DNA and a bananas DNA, you can find all kinds of similarities. Darwinists
pick and choose the kind of similarities they like, which they call homologous
traits or make
up terms like convergent evolution and analogous traits to explain the others
whatever it takes to maintain their belief in Darwins metaphorical Tree of Life.
Its rigged to protect their belief system from falsification.
Overall, Krulwich gets the gong for giving advice built on
So while we do not challenge him on the usefulness of being
able to communicate scientific ideas effectively using narrative, we hope the
graduating seniors of Caltech were discerning enough to smell the baloney in the
As for Krulwichs line, The creationists cant beat
delight, this has to be one of the biggest lies
of the year. Creationists, like Louis Louis
Pasteur stand amazed at the work of the Creator. You could
not find a happier group just look at the number of praise songs they have
about creation. Compare this with the vitriol of the Darwinist People of Froth
and there is no contest. Then, Krulwich said, You have smote them with your
story. In a way, hes right. Were dumbfounded at the
thought of a journalist telling scientists to fib, and with bad grammar at that.
For more on the power of metaphors to mislead as well as inform,
see Metaphors Bewitch You in the
Next headline on:
Bible, Theology or Philosophy
How Cells Thread a Needle 10/17/2008
Oct 17, 2008 Your challenge today is to invent a machine that can push a wet noodle through a straw.
It cant pull it. First it has to grab the end, then push it through
without breaking it. Oh, and theres a catch; the straw has a plug at the far end
and a constriction inside. Give up? Maybe you should watch how cells do it.
The mechanism was described by Anastassios Economou in Nature this week.1
Cells have to do this kind of thing all the time, so they have
specialized machinery for the task. The wet noodles are protein chains in their
unfolded state. The straws are narrow channels through membranes that are
normally in a plugged configuration. Just outside the straw entrance are several
precisely-fitted proteins that first attract the chain and cradle it gently
between two halves that swivel shut. As one half tilts, it causes the constriction
in the tunnel to open up. The two parts then fit together like hands, and
use a powered motor to gently send the noodle through.
Economou included a schematic diagram of the five-part mechanism that pushes the
proteins through. (He included a couple of stylized hands to show how the
delicate grasping and pushing is done.) Heres the caption:
This simplified representation is based on both earlier studies and the new findings. In this cut-away view of the membrane, the SecA motor lies flat against the cytoplasmic side of the SecY channel (yellow), and consists of a two-domain ATP-powered engine (light and dark blue) and two business-end domains (green and magenta; depicted as hands). a, Initially, the channel pore is sealed by both a constriction halfway through it and a mobile plug domain (not shown) near its exit. The pre-protein-binding domain of the motor (magenta) is in the open state, exposing an elongated corridor that connects to the entrance of the channel. This open state is seen in structures of the isolated motor. b, Swivelling this domain around its stem would allow it to embrace a secretory protein chain. At this stage, a finger (green) from the second hand of SecA might be in close contact with the chain. c, When ATP (not shown) is present, the engine conformation changes and the finger could move upwards, pushing or dragging the protein chain into the pore. This motion, or other conformational changes, leads to the opening of the pore.
Details of this mechanism have only recently come to light. It appears
that the machinery puts a gentle stretch on the chain a few links at a time.
Think how earthworms stretch and compress to move through their underground tunnels.
The scientists believe that the SecA-SecY machinery uses a similar technique to
propel the protein chains through the channel. For really long chains, the machinery
can repeat the cycle over and over.
Economou described how difficult it is to observe these nanoscopic
machines at work. Solving structures of membrane proteins is not a trivial pursuit,
he said. There are many questions and projects remaining. The ultimate
one, mentioned in his final sentence, is determining the dynamics of this
astonishing cellular nanomachine.
1. Anastassios Economou, Structural biology: Clamour for a kiss,
455, 879-880 (16 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/455879a.
Evolution was not mentioned in this paper.
The scientists studied this process in those highly-evolved, large, complex animals
known as... bacteria.
Does life use the element boron? Indeed it does; read about an amazing molecule that
makes plants stand tall, from 10/26/2001.
OK, Charlies got a problem here. There are half a dozen
protein machines involved in this process. They rotate, swivel and fit together
in precise contact. They are driven by ATP fuel pellets. The machines
must apply the energy precisely for function: in the right direction, in the right
amount, at the right time. Could chance produce such a complex machine?
(Bacteria, in the evolutionary fable, are among the earliest and simplest life-forms to
appear on the early earth.)
Do the math. SecA contains 802
amino acid residues; SecY contains 436. Our online book
calculated that getting a 400-unit protein chain by chance would be one in 10240,
even under unnaturally favorable circumstances. That number is already way, way, way
beyond the universal probability bound (i.e., it would never happen anywhere in the
universe), and we dont even have one protein of this multi-protein complex.
If by some wildly, radically, absurd stretch of imagination chance arrived at the
right sequence for SecY (the shorter of the two proteins), it would be incredibly
more unlikely to get the larger one, SecA, which is not only twice as long, but has
to fit like lock and key with the first one. Each of these protein parts is
like that. They all have to work together. Calling this irreducibly
complex is an understatement. The machine parts dont just happen
to show up at the cell membrane by a random walk and work together for the first
time. They were designed to do what they do, and they do it exquisitely.
Evolutionists would have us believe that natural selection tinkers
with whatever parts are available, and complexity just happens. Sooner or later,
though, if you carry that logic too far, you wind up tinkering
with nothing. You could tinker with an existing radio, for instance, to make
it pick up new wavelengths, but how far back can you push the tinkering
metaphor back until you have nothing but a few random pieces of plastic and wire lying around?
The metaphor also suffers from implicit personification,
as if the parts would even want to do such things. Humans impose their sense
of design on molecules that have no ability to plan ahead and work together, and
no reason to do so. Left to themselves, they would randomize.
Economou has given us occasion to discuss economics.
The bankruptcy of evolutionary theory becomes more evident with each new investigation.
Trying to bail it out with public credulity is not going to make it recover.
The Darwin Party oligarchy needs to stop tinkering and tampering, remove its protectionist
barricades, and let free inquiry have its way. Intelligent design has the intellectual
capital to inject into the logic markets. Liquidity will result, knowledge
banks will open up, and public confidence will stabilize the scientific institutions.
Freedom to invest in the best explanations, wherever the evidence leads,
will once again usher in a prosperous era of bullish science.
Next headline on:
Nonsense and Nonscience 10/17/2008
Oct 17, 2008 For an enterprise that prizes itself on objectivity and careful
thought, science occasionally makes some outlandish claims. Here are some
things that slipped past the scientific method into the popular news media.
For proof that humans are not the only animals who can ramble on endlessly
about things they dont know, watch this funny clip called Creature Comforts
What Its All About on
YouTube by Aardman Animations.
- As good as it gets: Steve Jones says men have stopped evolving.
Better enjoy what you have, because its not going to get any better, reported
PhysOrg. Jones said
mutations may come to the rescue. The short article contained only a small hint
of doubt about all this: Thats good news for those who like the human
race just as it is, though perhaps bad news if humans need to evolve to meet some
unexpected challenge down the road, the science as yet not backed up by
other research suggests.
- Monster sex: Some paleontologists seem to think they can deduce
sex appeal from bones. A particularly monstrous looking horny-headed dinosaur
reported by National
Geographic is a case in point. Speaking for the male of the species, the
reporter said, Despite their less-than-cuddly appearance, researchers believe
other Pachyrhinosaurs would have found the sharp adornments appealing.
- Close your eyes and listen to nothing: Science
Daily told about physicists who are trying to listen to dark matter.
No one has seen it, but they think maybe if they listen to the acoustic patterns of
WIMPs they can hear it.
Much of our understanding until now has been hypothetical, the article
stated in a quizzical oxymoron.
- Buddha for peace: What is Buddhism doing in the
American Medical Association? PhysOrg
advised us on how to ease the stress of bailouts, recession, and depression:
Enter the meditative practice of mindfulness. Born of Buddhist roots,
its increasingly recognized as a measure to calm the minds chatter and
elevate the brains thinking and organizational processes.
Apparently the psychologists didnt think to give Christians equal time, such
as performing a controlled experiment on
- Arrrrrrgh, capitalism: Not sure how this story got into
Daily, but economist Peter Hayes at the University of Sunderland is trying
to argue that the corporate business economy indeed modern democracy
is a legacy of Long John Silver and Blackbeard. No kidding: the roots
of modern democracy were not in Britain or the USA, but were the corporations
which were created on pirate ships during the golden age of buccaneering.
Free-market economists must be shivering in their timbers.
- God in the dock: Apparently Live
Science had no qualms about straying into theological and legal matters. The ostensibly
scientific news outlet reported that a judge in Nebraska threw out a mans lawsuit
against God. On what grounds? the Almighty wasnt properly
served due to his unlisted home address. The plaintiff, by the way,
is a state senator who skips morning prayers during the legislative session
and often criticizes Christians. He has 30 days to decide whether to appeal the ruling.
In a case like this, though, to whom does one appeal?
Talk is cheap. Thats because the
supply is greater than the demand.
Science Cannot Validate Itself 10/16/2008
These stories illustrate that modern science has become a cult.
Any wild idea gets a free ride, as long as it is un-creationism and anti-Christian.
Show your Darwin Party badge at the door, recite the Standard Hate against
creationism, and you can get free access to the press, who will lap up whatever
you say like groupies, ask you no questions, and then pass it along unfiltered to the public.
Atheists and socialists get on the fast track to the microphones.
Except for the last animated goodie, the stories above were all from
leading science news outlets. Remember this when we show you their latest
findings on evolution.
Next headline on:
Politics and Ethics
Oct 16, 2008 Science is an unbiased, objective, disciplined,
cooperative method for progressively uncovering truth about the natural world.
Thats the way most of us were taught to think about it in school.
Further reflection, however, produces a host of questions rarely discussed in science class.
How does science differ from other unbiased, objective, disciplined,
cooperative methods of inquiry? What is special about scientific logic?
To what does science refer? How much impact does our humanness and our
relationships have on scientific theories? What is the
scientific method? How is science to be distinguished from pseudoscience?
Are all branches of science worthy of the same respect? What constitutes a
scientific explanation? If our best theories are only tentative, how can we
ever know when we have a grasp on reality that is unlikely to be overturned or subsumed
under a greater theory? These and many other questions can keep philosophers
of science in the Humanities departments busy for years (but with less grant money).
Working scientists dont often pay them much attention. Maybe they should.
Nature1 printed a rare excursion into philosophy of
cast severe doubt on the ability of science to ever grasp reality with sufficient
confidence to say we have arrived at understanding of the cosmos.
P.-M Binder, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii in Hilo, explored the reasonings of David
Wolpert, known for his work on the No Free Lunch theorems.3
He sought to explore the nature and limits of scientific reasoning.
Wolpert demonstrated in a recent paper4 that the entire physical
Universe cannot be fully understood by any single inference system that exists
within it (Binders words). If that sounds like something Turing or Gödel would say, it is.
Wolpert is not the first to demonstrate fundamental limits on human
knowledge. Heisenbergs Uncertainty Principle is a famous example.
Gödels Incompleteness Theorem is another: it placed fundamental limits on
the ability of mathematical theories to validate themselves.
Wolpert follows in this tradition with impossibility results.
He proved with mathematics and logic that in the Universe of sequences
of events that follow natural laws, no two strong inference machines can be strongly inferred
from each other. His conclusions are independent of any particular natural laws
employed in the inference.
This means that science can never know everything: just almost
everything in the best case. When you know one inference well, there
will always be at least one other category of inference that will be unclear or
ambiguous. Example: the equations of chaos theory can perform pretty well
in predicting outcomes of seemingly disorganized systems that have a strong
attractor, at least up to an acceptable level of accuracy. The catch is:
the method cannot validate the equations themselves. What Wolpert has done,
in his own words, is demonstrate impossibility results in scientific
logic that can be viewed as a non-quantum-mechanical uncertainty
In short, science cannot validate itself. Science will never
produce a theory of everything. Gone are the optimistic 18th-century traditions of Laplace
that, given knowledge of each particles position and momentum, future outcomes
could be predicted with any desired degree of certainty. The Uncertainty Principle,
generalized into scientific logic by Wolpert, has shown that the more
precise an observer measures one quantity (or inference), the more uncertain becomes the other.
Gone also are claims that given a long enough lever and a place to stand, one
could move the world. That standing place will always be wobbly.
1. P.-M Binder, Philosophy of science: Theories of almost everything,
455, 884-885 (16 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/455884a.
2. Two articles in The Scientist this month affirm that philosophy of science
is neglected in science education these days: one by
James Williams on
What Makes Science Science? and
a follow-up by Richard
Gallagher on Why the Philosophy of Science Matters. Both
articles, unfortunately, appear to espouse a narrow view that resembles logical
positivism. This view would be considered indefensible by many philosophers today after the
Kuhnian Revolution of the 1960s and the Science Wars of the 1990s.
Both also arrogated objectivity to establishment scientists
while denigrating creationists and others as ideologues.
One respondent caught Summers in name calling.
Summers backpedaled somewhat, acknowledging his own dogmatism and the fallibility of science.
3. For background on the No Free Lunch theorems, see William Dembskis
book No Free Lunch,
Rowman and Littlefield, 2002, esp. section 4.6.
4. David H. Wolpert, Physical limits of inference,
237, 1257–1281 (2008), doi:10.1016/j.physd.2008.03.040.
Science is truth, chants
Finagles Creed; Do not be misled by facts!
The limitations of scientific inference explored by Wolpert must hit thinking
scientists like a rude awakening. Its
like dreaming of climbing a mountain only to find oneself going up a down escalator.
The Truth about the Universe will forever remain beyond the reach of science.
Take a chance! Click here.
No viruses or malware... we promise.
Binder ended on a confident note that science
might still be converging on a close approximation of reality. Oddly,
he ended by showing that two subjects in fundamental physics are beset with shortcomings:
the standard model of particle physics, and the so-far intractable problem of
uniting quantum mechanics with gravity. But then he said optimistically, in conclusion,
It is possible, though, that these various theories, along with all that
we have learned in physics and other scientific disciplines, will yet merge into
the best science can do: a theory of almost everything.
Almost is not good enough. There will always be something
else you cannot know. Like Ken Ham quips: if you cant know what you
dont know, you cant know what you do know; and if you cant
know what you do know, you might know very little.
To which we add: how could you ever know whether the most important
puzzle piece lies outside your world view, in the inference machine that
cannot be inferred from within your system? Maybe, for instance, the
most important piece lies in theology.
Next headline on:
Philosophy and Theology
Selling Stem Cells to Voters 10/15/2008
Oct 15, 2008 If you thought embryonic stem cell research became moot after
researchers found they could induce skin cells to become pluripotent, these
news stories show the push is still on to open up more funds for
embryonic stem cells. A ballot measure in Michigan is a bellwether for
how scientists still feel about these tantalizing objects in a Petri dish,
so near yet so far due to ethical concerns.
Research on adult stem cells continues apace.
reported that skin stem cells show more versatility than thought. They can
divide actively and transport themselves through skin tissue. One member of
the research team at Karolinska Institute in Sweden said, The stem cells
dont behave at all in the way we’d previously thought, and are found in
unexpected places. Were now investigating the part played by the stem
cells in the wound-healing process and the development of basal cell carcinoma,
the most common form of skin cancer. Its only when the signaling
system goes awry perhaps due to mutations that cancer results, the article
- Talking points: To educate voters about a proposal on the Michigan
ballot that would remove restrictions on embryonic stem cell sources, the
of Michigan issued a press release called, Five things you should know
about stem cell research. The goal of the article is to encourage citizens
to vote yes on Proposal 2 for more access to embryonic (ES) stem cells, regardless whether
some aspects of embryonic stem cell research may pose an ethical or moral
dilemma for some people.
Summarized, here are their five selling points:
In support of the second point, Sean Morrison of the university said,
The embryos that are used for research are microscopically
small clumps of cells, smaller than the period at the end of a sentence
on a piece of paper. They have no specialized tissues of any type; theres
no nervous system, theres no heart, there are no limbs. These are
clumps of cells that oftentimes in a fertility clinic dont develop in a
healthy manner and that doctors would not be willing to implant in patients.
- Scientists agree its crucial to move ahead on all
types of stem cell research: ES, iPS, and adult.
- The embryos represent the earliest stages of development. They consist of
undifferentiated blobs of cells that never grow into a fetus.
- Adult stem cells are only supporting actors in the quest for treatments.
- Induced pluripotent stem cells, though exciting, are not ready for prime time,
because cancer-causing viruses are required to reprogram the cells into stem cells.
- Michigan scientists want access to their own embryonic stem cell lines instead
of having to get them from out of state.
The fourth point about the use of viruses for iPS cells was contradicted by an
August story in Science
Daily that said viral insertion is no longer necessary; a drug-like molecule can do the job.
- Blame to go around:
showed that its not just ES researchers that can get embroiled
in scandals. A paper about adult mesenchymal stem cells faces retraction after
other researchers could not replicate the work. The authors are charged with
manipulating images. The one being investigated said he made
honest unintentional errors.
- Premises of promises: Science
Daily article last month involved studying the causes of Down Syndrome
with the use of embryonic stem cells. Researchers in London observed what
happened to embryonic stem cells from genetically-engineered mice with an extra
chromosome 21. The study did not use human embryonic stem cells.
Nothing was said, furthermore, about how the study could lead to a treatment,
other than hoping it might lead to clues some day.
Daily reported that a major hurdle for producing iPS cells has been overcome.
Scientists at the Salk Institute succeeded in boosting the efficiency of the
reprogramming process by 100 times, while cutting the time in half. They
were able to get results from keratinocytes from a single hair from a human scalp.
This not only provides a practical and simple alternative for the generation
of patient- and disease-specific stem cells, which had been hampered by the low
efficiency of the reprogramming process, but also spares patients invasive procedures
to collect suitable starting material, since the process only requires a single
Look hard for any justification of the use of
human embryos in these articles. What is it about human embryos that continues to
drive scientists passion to own them? If iPS cells and adult stem cells
can provide essentially everything they wanted to accomplish for human treatments,
and if mouse embryos can be studied for theory, why this insatiable lust for human
embryos? Were you impressed by any of their rationalizations?
Tooth Evolution Theory Lacks Bite 10/14/2008
Consider some background issues. First of all, there is still
only hype to hope for cures from ES cells. All the actual treatments are coming
from adult stem cells. Second, fraud is a general concern in scientific
ethics and does not bear specifically on stem cell research. Any case of fraud,
even in celestial physics, deserves to be investigated. The researchers in
the adult stem cell case claim they made innocent mistakes. Even if proven
blameworthy, they did nothing on the scale of the Hwang scandal
In that case, the gold rush to be first drove the Korean scientists to stretch the truth.
Adult stem cell research, however, has been showing success for years.
The me first motivation was lacking.
To the heart of the matter: look at the U of Michigans five selling points for Proposal 2
on the November 4 state ballot. What can you find there other than
greed and selfishness? The scientists cannot point to anything that ES cells
will do to help humans, other than make their unethical work easier and pad their
resumes. To show this, lets rephrase their points to sell Nazi-style human
experimentation on imbeciles. Imagine yourself in the 1930s listening to eugenicists
advocate Proposal 2X that would loosen up restrictions on human research that
some people might find morally objectionable:
Five Things You Should Know About Imbecile Research
Notice how the press release downplayed the moral issues. It emphasized the word some:
But some aspects of embryonic stem cell research may pose an ethical or moral
dilemma for some people. Who are the some people, if not the
dimwitted citizens of Michigan who dont understand that some university professor
stands to make a lot of money or win a Nobel Prize?
- Scientists agree it is crucial to move ahead on imbecile research.
- The imbeciles are not fully developed. They have no skills as philosophers or artists, nor will they ever be implanted in a university classroom.
- Volunteers with average IQs are only supporting actors in the quest for treatments.
- Volunteers with average IQs are not ready for prime time, because it is difficult to get them
to sign the release documents without coercion.
- Michigan scientists want access to imbeciles without having to go to Germany.
Embryos are just microscopically small clumps of cells,
Morrison tells us (the reductionist fallacy).
If size is the issue, then all of us are mere specks of dust
compared to the planet we live on. Embryos have no specialized tissues or organs,
he said, ignoring the fact that they have the complete genetic code to build those organs.
Children do not have their secondary sexual characteristics, either, if complete
development is the criterion for humanness. The ES cells are going to be thrown away
by fertility clinics anyway, he argued. God help us when utility becomes the
standard for human worth. The comatose, mentally retarded, elderly and disabled
will have reasons to fear The Science Lab with that kind of ethic.
Only Judeo-Christian morality, that deems human life sacred because we
were created in the image of God, can save science from the Law of Unintended Consequences
if all restrictions are eventually lifted from embryonic stem cell research.
Arguing that fertility clinics should send their discarded embryos to science labs
begs the question whether they should have been created in the first place, and
removes the Judeo-Christian barricade to the slippery slope. Suppose, for comparison, we applied
the pragmatic utility argument to aborted fetuses.
Women are going to get abortions anyway, advocates could argue; wouldnt it
be better to get some scientific benefit from the discarded babies? A macabre market for fetal
body parts would be created. More women would get abortions, because Planned
Parenthood could lure its victims with the line that they would be helping Science.
Abortions would skyrocket, and human life would be cheapened.
ES research advocates lure citizens to bite the bill by dangling
the loaded word science in front of it.
Those little cells in the Petri dish seem abstract, tiny, and impersonal.
But though they have no limbs or hearts or brains yet, they are completely human.
They contain all the genetic instructions for a full-grown human being. That
embryo has the potential to be a concert violinist, a charity worker, a businessman
creating hundreds of jobs, a mother, a president, or a scientist
some day. You were once an embryo. Would you have wanted your zygote to
be discarded or cut up? Whatever the Creator has allowed or disallowed in His own
sovereign plan for the biological fate of humans is His business; it is not mans to usurp.
Oh, but you dont believe in God? Then to whom are you going to grant the
power to decide who gets the right to life? Dread giving that power to any
man: his next victim could be you.
Civilization has, for the time being, reacted against the dark days
of eugenics that classed some humans as imbeciles to justify treating them as
subhuman. Dehumanization has always been a halfway house to eradication. We must regard any
attempt to dehumanize human beings as opening a Pandoras Box of terrors.
The Judeo-Christian padlock keeps it closed. If scientists desire complete freedom
to work on their fellow human beings as objects instead of persons with inherent
dignity, we have the perfect place for them to set up their ES lab:
Next headline on:
Politics and Ethics
Oct 14, 2008 The hardest substance in your body is your teeth. The
varieties of teeth among vertebrates is astounding, from the tiny incisors in a mole
to the bone-crushing scimitars on a T. rex. Many fossils are known only
from their teeth. One would think teeth are the best-studied objects in
evolutionary theory, but a recent paper uncovers a near absence of explanation
about how they arose.
Soukup et al started the confession with a paper in Nature
that essentially falsified the two leading theories for the origin of teeth.1
Georgy Koentges (U of Warwick) followed up in the News and Views section of Nature by
almost throwing his hands up.2 First, he said that
the development of teeth in the embryo is a contentious question about
which we know too little. It might be surprising to layman that
something observable in the lab the development of teeth in the embryo
remains obscure. The subjects of tooth embryology and
tooth evolution are related, because evolutionists look where teeth develop for
clues about tissues that natural selection might have co-opted for the first teeth.
But if tooth development is obscure, theories of tooth evolution stand on shaky gums.
In evolutionary terms, tooth-like structures such as the
denticles that appear as a ubiquitous feature on the body armour of early
vertebrates might have preceded the advent of jaws
proper. The staggering histological diversity of such structures has
led to byzantine systems of classification of vertebrate hard tissues, and
in turn to serious differences of opinion. The acrimony of
these debates has scaled linearly with the lack of experimental embryological
evidence about the underlying process.
Debate has squared off over two opposite opinions that were either coming or going:
The presence of denticles on the body of early jawed vertebrates led to speculation that, early in vertebrate evolution, embryonic ectoderm moved into the mouth and initiated organized tooth rows there. In contrast to this outside-in view of events is the inside-out theory. This theory holds that the evolutionary origins of teeth started in the mouth or pharynx and are linked to the presence of embryonic endoderm. An outward migration of cells, or a co-option of a pharyngeal tooth-forming program in a part of the outer body surface, would have to occur to explain the presence of denticles on the outer covering of sharks and other more basal vertebrates.
Well, that notion has been shot down, Koentges continues: Soukup et al.
now provide experimental grounds to debunk such ideas by testing the spatial
distribution of ectoderm and endoderm in relation to erupting teeth.
They found in certain amphibians that it doesnt matter whether the teeth emerge from
mesoderm or ectoderm: somehow the resulting teeth end up just the same. Notice
the evolutionary implications of this dramatic finding
Both theories hinge on the idea that there is an inherent difference in the inductive power of ectoderm and endoderm, and that migration of one or the other is the crucial factor in tooth formation. Implicit in this is the notion that tooth and denticle anatomy reflects embryonic origins that is, that actual tooth or denticle histology can reveal which embryonic tissue was the key source.
....the authors show that there is no relationship between ectodermal and endodermal
origin and the shape or nature of the resulting teeth at least at the point
when such teeth become visible. The enamel of teeth can be of ectodermal, endodermal
or mixed origin. This is a dramatic finding. It means that
one cannot infer relative distributions of ectoderm and endoderm from tooth or
denticle anatomy even in a living species, let alone in a fossil.
Did he have any good news to come to the rescue? If so, its in future tense.
All he left were a pile of more questions:
Nonetheless, Soukup and colleagues study removes the basis for theories depending on co-option processes that would require migration of epithelial cells, and redirects future research. We need to study the molecular co-option of tooth or denticle genetic programs, a process that might have occurred several times independently in the history of jawed vertebrates. Which gene-regulatory regions are involved in switching on key regulators of tooth or denticle initiation in both epithelial and mesenchymal tissue? How, where and when did these genomic regions evolve? Are the same regions driving expression in ectoderm and endoderm? Are the regions involved in patterning denticle fields also used for organizing feathers and hair? And where are the atoms of information that initiate, position and shape a tooth or denticle, and make its internal structure different from that of a dermal bone?
There wont be any simple answers, he continued: only combinations of factors.
That concept of information cropped up again: finding the answer will require
new experimental and bioinformatics approaches.
Koentges ended by distracting attention from his embarrassment with a few mixed metaphors:
Cracking such hard technical nuts will require strong intellectual
teeth as well as robust body armour, given the vigour of opinion on this subject.
1. Soukup et al, Dual epithelial origin of vertebrate oral teeth,
455, 795-798 (9 October 2008)| doi:10.1038/nature07304.
2. Georgy Koentges, Developmental biology: Teeth in double trouble,
455, 747-748 (9 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/455747a.
Ha! This is rich. Look carefully: did
you find any explanatory power for evolution in this story? No; it was all hand-waving
and misdirection. He waffled: it might be outside-in, it might be inside-out, but whoa!
The paper found both are wrong, so maybe its downside-up, upside-down, or
over the rainbow. For all this time, we listened to those grandiose tales of How the T. rex
Got Its Teeth and other fables, and they never told us there was nothing empirical to back them up.
They cant even look down in the mouth and find out whats going on in
a developing salamander right now. How many years has it been since Charlie proposed
natural selection as the explanation of all explanations? All we see are
questions and empty speculations.
Imitating whiskers for science, from 10/04/2006.
Making up words is not explanation. Look at
what Georgy did. Hes got miracle-words everywhere. He spoke of
the advent of jaws. That sounds downright churchy. Jaws
became flesh, and dwelt among fish. Its surprising the Darwin Party
doesnt celebrate Bite-mas in their Byzantine classification temple.
It must be hard to celebrate when the acrimony of these debates
scales linearly with the lack of experimental embryological evidence about
the underlying process of evolution. Since the acrimony requires robust
armor, you can bet the lack of evidence must be huge. This is an inverse
relationship: less evidence, more acrimony. Do the new math.
In the set of scientific explanations, this means evolution is the empty set.
Theres plenty more miracles in their story. While divining
the pudding (10/09/2008), they see the ectoderm moving into
the mouth, where it initiated tooth rows there. Well, great.
Who did the initiating? Did it initiate the program on purpose? Was it
following a master plan? No; they would say. It was just another miracle
of chance that worked. Isnt scientific explanation wonderful; the
Stuff Happens Law is always there when you need it.
Next, we are told that the
evolutionary origins of teeth started in the mouth... and are linked to
the presence of embryonic ectoderm. It evolved because it evolved.
Then, as part of the hand-waving calisthenics, An outward migration of cells, or a co-option of a pharyngeal
tooth-forming program would have to occur because, according to the puddingoscopy readout,
evolution needs to explain both shark skin and shark teeth. Tooth-forming
program? Who was the programmer? Whence come the atoms of information
that flow into teeth or into denticles? Does information have any meaning without
The workout turns intense with extreme jawboning exercises: We need to study the molecular co-option of tooth or denticle
genetic programs, a process that might have occurred several times independently in
the jawed vertebrates. Wow; thats real miracles fer ye, o ye of little faith.
What is co-option, if not a sleight-of-mind personification
of intelligent design? Its the old the Tinker Bell defense. The evolution fairy
decided that jaw ectoderm needed a
little bite, so zap! a tooth was born. Do you have any idea how complex a mouth full
of teeth is? Each tooth has roots, blood vessels, dentin, enamel, a precise shape for
its function, and a matching tooth on the other jaw, to say nothing of genetic programs to
assemble them at the right time and replace baby teeth with permanent teeth.
To assume that they will just occur (note the miracle word) not once but
several times independently is absurd. Since Georgy needed every trick in the
evolutionary explanation cookbook, he even threw in a little Haeckel recapitulation theory
for taste: Implicit in this is the notion that tooth and denticle anatomy
reflects embryonic origins that is, that actual tooth or
denticle histology can reveal which embryonic tissue was the key source.
Thats ontology recapitulates phylogeny, in case you missed it. But Mr. Scientist,
Sir, were kind of tired of notions. When are we going to get your scientific explanation?
(Notions are found in fabric stores near the sewing machines. If you use
notions without strong empirical fabric, whatsoever you sew you shall also rip.)
The real howler of miracle-words was mentioned so surreptitiously you might
have missed it. He spoke of the inductive power of ectoderm and endoderm.
Clearly, Georgy was not talking about logical induction here. He was talking about
some mystical power in tissue cells that could induce them to evolve into teeth.
If there is a more blatant case of pulling a rabbit out of a hat (in this case,
a hard tooth out of squishy cells), then clap wildly for the magic show. This is circumlocution
pretending to be scientific explanation. Its as comical as Molieres satire on Aristotelian
explanations when the doctor in one of his plays explains why opium induces sleep
because it has a dormitive virtue. In the same way, this Doctor
Koentges put his readers to sleep by hypnotizing them to envision tooth evolution occurring
as a result of the inductive power of ectoderm or endoderm cells. To put it
simply, he is saying, evolution occurs because of the evolution-inducing power of material
substances. Pray tell how this improves on animism.
The Darwinists are so clever. They hide their miracles in highfalutin
words. They shield their faith with cryptic jargon. These are the same
people who turn around and accuse religious people (especially
the dastardly creationists) of using God-of-the-gaps logic whenever they cant
explain something. Creationists and ID advocates, we are told, bring science
to a halt by just appealing to faith and saying, God did it, I believe it, that
settles it. Come now. Lets play find the hypocrite.
Reality check time. Turn off the reruns of the Darwin Charade Parade,
stop looking at the cheerleaders (09/29/2008
commentary), and examine whats left.
Speculation. Dramatic findings that long-held theories are falling by the wayside. New unanswered
questions. Byzantine systems of classification (is this the Dark Ages?).
A rare honest admission that one cannot infer relative distributions of
ectoderm and endoderm from tooth or denticle anatomy even in a living species,
let alone in a fossil, meaning that any hope of reconstructing the evolution
of teeth is doomed from the start. More vaporware. More futureware.
This, folks, is the magic of evolutionary explanations: its all bombastic oratory
about change we can believe in, without a plan or a policy that will work in the
hard, cruel world of reality. Thats why you have to believe in it.
Wishful thinking, if strong enough, eases the pain when you hit bottom.
When in doubt, look tough. Cracking
such hard technical nuts will require strong intellectual
teeth as well as robust body armour, Koentges said, given the vigour of
opinion on this subject. He hasnt seen anything yet.
Just when he thought this was only intramural warfare, the Visigoths showed up over
the horizon (05/09/2006)
Unlike the obese and lazy Darwin Party animals, they dont use plastic teeth and
cardboard armor. They look disciplined, determined, and armed to the teeth.
For combat over the truth of the tooth, theyre prepared for a bite to the finish.
General Dawkins rallies his troops out of their drunken stupor, bluffing
that the Visigoths are a pushover because they trust in
faith instead of science. Better have some bite
behind the bark; and remember, let not the one who puts
his armor on boast like the one who takes it off.
Next headline on:
Plants Have Thermostats 10/13/2008
Oct 13, 2008 Plants, being stuck in the ground, have few options when it gets
hot. They may not be able to move into the shade like animals, but they know
how to cope. They have a built-in thermostat that acts like a fire prevention
Daily tells the story.
Researchers at Michigan State identified a protein named bZIP28 that
lives in the cell around the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), a bundle of tubes and tunnels
that acts like a protein assembly, storage and distribution center. This
little protein acts something like a firehouse dog on a
leash, tied to the walls of the ER. When the temperature reaches a certain
point, the leash is cut, and the dog runs off into the nucleus, where he barks,
so to speak, and sets off a chain reaction. The bZIP28 protein is
anchored in the endoplasmic reticulum, away from its place of action, an
MSU biochemist said. But when the plant is stressed by heat, one
end of bZIP28 is cut off and moves into the nucleus of the cell where it can turn
on other genes to control the heat response.
Researchers found that cells without the firehouse dog died when the
temperature rose above a certain level. Another researcher on the team
remarked, Were finding that heat tolerance is a more complex process
than was first thought.
Science makes progress when researchers leave the
shrine of Darwin and examine the details of plants and animals with design in mind.
Now that we are beginning to unravel the complexities of just one subsystem of
plants, the heat response, we might be able to engineer it to allow desirable
plants to grow in arid climates for the good of the people. This is how
science should be done.
SETI Could Find Design in Neutrinos 10/12/2008
On a somewhat related note,
News printed a feature story about growing farms in the city. Why not?
Rooftops and special greenhouse skyscrapers could turn jungles of steel into generators
of fresh air, flowers and food. Hydroponics allows growing many plants in water
without soil. Imagine getting fresh tomatoes from the building
next door instead of a thousand miles away. Even barges and abandoned buildings
could be put to use, while farmland can get a Sabbath rest or be returned to its
native forest ecology. Upward farming: once the engineering and cost
challenges are worked out, this could become a sensible green trend to help humans
and their plant friends co-exist.
Next headline on:
Oct 12, 2008 Most of the scientists involved in SETI research are very
antagonistic to Intelligent Design. Nevertheless, they find the design
inference perfectly natural when looking for ways to comb through
natural phenomena for intelligently-designed signals.
Two new methods for detecting alien messages were reported by
News in the Oct. 11 issue.1 Both involve teasing
intelligent causes out of patterns of neutrinos instead of tuning into the celestial
radio dial. One method involves Cepheid variable stars. The regular
pulsing of these stars could be altered by aliens if they could send beams of
neutrinos into their cores. If timed just right, the well-known period-luminosity
relation would be altered. The target star would stand out because its predicted pulsation
rate and amplitude would appear artificially modulated.
Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute likes this idea of star tickling
If it could work, then this is an answer to one way to build an
omnidirectional beacon. It would be an example of an almost natural
signal that would get captured in a survey of the universe by an emerging
technology, thats us, and finally recognized in a database by some
curious grad student.
The method has a couple of drawbacks. It would require an incredibly
advanced civilization to be able to do this. Another drawback is the
low message content. Only the barest hint of intelligent design would be
detectable. Still, the message would beam out in all directions and thereby
reduce the luck factor of finding the needle in the cosmic haystack.
Another method aliens could use would be to send a coded message
of dots and dashes with neutrino beams. Since neutrinos are broadband, the
detector would not have to know the transmission frequency. An alien
civilization might reach us from 20 light years if they could generate the
100-trillion electron volts necessary. Even then, our state-of-the-art neutrino detectors
might only find 7 to 10 muons per year. If we missed some dots and dashes
we might not know it was a message, but at least we could tell where they were
Both these methods rely on inferring design in natural phenomena.
The aliens would not be transmitting on a spiritual wavelength. They would
be modulating existing natural phenomena with the intent to convey a message.
SETI researchers feel comfortable with the idea that detecting design in these
venues is a proper scientific endeavor.
The article includes a picture of the woman astronomer who discovered
the period-luminosity relation for Cepheid variables, Henrietta Swan Leavitt
(see our bio). This law opened up astronomy
to measurement of distant objects.
1. Ron Cowen, With a twinkle, pulsating stars could deliver signals from ET,
News 174:8 (Oct 11, 2008), p. 5-6.
SETI researchers still do not get it.
They employ exactly the types of scientific reasoning used by the Intelligent
Design community to justify the design inference as scientific. ID claims
that intelligent causes can be separated from natural causes by means of a
design filter design is the last-resort inference when chance and natural
law have been ruled out. Would not the SETI people do the same?
Birds Need Beaver 10/11/2008
In fact, they would probably work hard to rule out natural law first. They would
see whether an altered Cepheid belongs to a new class of naturally pulsating
stars. Natural law would probably be their default hypothesis. The
astrophysicists would go to work on theories to explain the Cepheids that dont
fit the current theory. Only as a last resort would the improbable hypothesis
of an intelligent cause be considered. The same is true for the neutrino
Even so, this article makes it clear that SETI researchers would feel
justified in inferring intelligence from natural phenomena. So do forensic
scientists, cryptographers, and archaeologists. There is nothing new,
really, in the ID approach. People have employed ID reasoning ever since
ancient Sumer and beyond. ID just formalized the logic behind the way we
separate intelligent causes from natural causes. The identity of the designer
is not the question. A coroner may have no clue who the murderer was when
deciding a crime victim did not die of natural causes. A cryptanalyst may
not be able to read the message or know its purpose when determining that a
string of bits is too improbable to have originated by chance. The reasoning
is the same in any field where design principles are used: whether studying the
contours of a possible stone tool, the marks on a cliff in an unknown language,
or the information content in DNA. The ID Movement is really a call for
fairness. Whats good for SETI should be good for biology.
SETI has no recourse in counter-claiming that the aliens evolved by
natural causes. You cant tell anything about the aliens from the
content of their message. Even if they were to tell us they evolved, how
could we know they were telling the truth? Jill Tarter would have no way to
tell that demons were not out there lying to her for the fun of watching her
trip over herself on the way to the phone to tell the world she had found another
case of the evolution of intelligence. Liars can be clever. We
are here to serve man, their cookbook says. More
likely, though, the whole world would just miss the message.
This illustrates another important ID principle. The Design
Filter can leak false negatives, but never false positives. A false negative
means that something might be designed but we didnt detect it.
Modern art doesnt look designed sometimes, and a murderer might have committed
such a perfect crime that the coroner thinks it was a natural death. In the
same way, could SETI know whether all Cepheid variables have been tweaked by aliens?
No way. The aliens could be in cahoots. They could have a standard
of tweaking Cepheids that misleads us novices on earth into thinking that the stars are just obeying a natural
law. We would not see the design that is there: thats a false negative.
The Design Filter is impervious to false positives, however. If the stringent
criteria for design are met, a scientist can be certain it was designed.
Once natural law and chance are ruled out, and a match to an independently specified
pattern is found, it clinches the case: the phenomenon was designed.
ID has set the criteria so high, its overkill. IDs
standards are much higher than those stated in the Science News article.
If it is fair for SETI to theoretically infer design from a few neutrinos,
and if an archaeologist is allowed to infer design from a sharp-edged rock, and
a court of law can convict a felon based on evidence that is beyond reasonable
doubt, then all scientists should be willing to consider the overwhelming
evidence for design in astronomy and biology. They should not rule out the design
inference due to prejudice. Design detection is as neutral as an input in
computer software passing a series of if-then statements.
The identity of the designer is downstream from that decision node.
Next headline on:
Oct 11, 2008 Things go better with Beav around.
Daily has a delightful entry about the ecological benefits that beaver ponds
provide for migratory birds. It says that beaver are not just beneficial for
our feathered friends; they are vital. Because of the rich streamside habitat
that grows around beaver ponds, the formula is simple: the more dams, the more birds.
The Wildlife Conservation Society studied
this subject in Wyoming and along the eastern Sierra Nevada of California, where mountain
streams rush down steep rocky canyons. The beaver ponds help slow down and soak up
the water. This helps maintain wetland habitats for a wide variety of animals and plants.
Beaver are an essential ecosystem engineer, said co-author Steve Zack
of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Beavers help repair degraded
stream habitats and their dams and associated ponds recharge local water tables
and create wetlands. With our changing climate likely to mean increasing
droughts in the West, managing ways to allow watersheds to act more
like sponges will be a challenge. Beaver are a powerful tool to
be considered for that, and the associated benefits to other wildlife
add to their value.
Early American pioneers valued beaver for their fur. The beaver wars
among competing trapping outfits in the 1800s nearly led to their extinction in the Rocky Mountains
and Sierras. Fortunately, beaver have made a strong comeback in many areas, but
some still consider them a pest, the article said, when they gnaw down trees and flood
property. The study hoped to show that beaver are very important to
wildlife and to reviving the natural function of streams. Humans also
benefit from their work (see 02/25/2008,
Beaver also provide recreational value. Its fun to watch the little engineers at
work in our national parks and forests.
The article includes a picture of a beaver dam
in Lundy Canyon along the eastern Sierra. For a little visual vacation,
your trusty reporter has posted a picture he took in August a few miles south
of there along McGee Creek. Note the lush
habitat all around the pond. Can you spot the beaver house?
Read about stars as bizarre as a grown man in a crib,
Quiz questions: (1) What is the plural of beaver? (2) What are the young
called? (3) How big was the largest beaver in the fossil record?*
Next headline on:
*Answers: (1) Both beaver and beavers are acceptable.
(2) Kits. (3) The North American Giant Beaver, one of the largest rodents
that ever lived, grew as large as a grizzly bear and probably weighed 300 pounds or more.
Deep Life Is Right at Home in Total Darkness 10/10/2008
Oct 10, 2008 It seems every year scientists find organisms thriving in
environments thought too inhospitable for life. A new word was coined for
these organisms: extremophiles lovers of the extreme. Two recent
discoveries push the envelope of extreme environments almost to the deep limit.
Scientists immediately latched onto possible astrobiological ramifications of the second story:
- Pressurized fish: The bottoms of the deep ocean trenches of the Pacific have
never been photographed till now. It took Oceanlab, a robotic submarine,
five hours just to reach
bottom 7700 meters down, almost five miles below the surface.
It is completely dark down there. The pressure is so high 8000 tonnes per
square meter it would be like 1600 elephants piled on a car. The temperature
is freezing. Imagine the astonishment of scientists finding schools of snailfish
happily feeding in social groups. The picture is there on
The director of Oceanlab said, Its incredible.... We thought the deepest
fishes would be motionless, solitary, fragile individuals eking out an existence in
a food-sparse environment, but they were agile, not fragile. The
images show groups that are sociable and active possibly even families
feeding on little shrimp, yet living in one of the most extreme environments on Earth.
- Gold strike: Science
Daily also reported one-of-a-kind microorganisms living in a gold mine 1.74 miles
below ground. These organisms are not part of a food chain. The subsist
entirely on hydrogen and sulfate produced by radioactive decay of uranium.
They live in total darkness, with no oxygen.
The genome of this microbe shows that it shares many genes with Archaea, many species
of which also live in extreme environments like hot springs. This species
appears to live in solitary confinement in the crust of the earth where no nutrients
from the biosphere reach it.
The microbe was named Desulforudis audaxviator. Its genome
was found to be a superset of the raw essentials. It has 2,157 protein-coding
genes, more than the 1500-some-odd genes of streamlined bacteria. This surprised the
scientists: The genome was not as streamlined as might be expected of an organism
living in what is presumably a very stable environment. It
contained everything needed for the organism to sustain
an independent existence and reproduce, including the ability to
incorporate the elements necessary for life from inorganic sources, move freely,
and protect itself from viruses, harsh conditions, and nutrient-poor periods
by becoming a spore. Apparently this is the only species living in the habitat
of a deep gold mine in South Africa.
One question that has arisen when considering the capacity of other
planets to support life is whether organisms can exist independently, without
access even to the sun,says [Dylan] Chivian [Berkeley Labs].
The answer is yes, and heres the proof. Its sort of philosophically
exciting to know that everything necessary for life can be packed into a single genome.
Yet no one was suggesting these microbes originated there on their own.
They likely became adapted to the dark depths from progenitors on the surface having
the full complement of genetic information required for life.
During its long journey to the extreme depths, evolution has equipped
the versatile spelunker with genes many of them shared with archaea,
members of a separate domain of life unrelated to bacteria that allow it to
cope with a range of different conditions, including the ability to fix nitrogen
directly from elemental nitrogen in the environment.
Yet if the microbe
was like a spelunker, it took the equipment with it from the surface and jettisoned
some unnecessary cargo along the way. That
makes this a case of devolution, not evolution. Natural selection could
have intensified existing genes that work in the environment, and removed
the useless ones. If astrobiologists are to use this earthly example as a model
for self-sustaining life on other planets, the lesson is that complex life with
large genomes is required before
streamlined editions adapted to extreme habitats could survive. That must
be the deduction unless they could prove D. audaxviator was the original life form
from which all the biosphere evolved a hypothesis they would probably not support,
given the common evolutionary assumption that life originated in earths oceans.
Evolution has equipped the versatile spelunker
with genes.... Oh, please. No
fairy tales while we are trying to
appreciate the wonders of creation. Its like stocking fools gold in
a gold mine, or dousing a deep-battered fish dinner with ipecac.
A Turtle Missing Link: Are We Missing Something? 10/09/2008
Next headline on:
Genetics and DNA
Origin of Life
Oct 9, 2008 Everyone knows the iconic drawing of the parade of human evolution
(see 09/23/2008 commentary); now, its turtle
counterpart is making the rounds. An article on
Scientist shows the march of progress from lizard to turtle. The title
says, Fossil reveals how the turtle got its shell. Something is
missing from the article, though: a picture of the fossil. There is also no
clear placement of this fossil in a lineage preceding turtles.
Finding a description of the fossil requires weeding through a number
of claims about turtle evolution: e.g., Over millions of years, rows of
protective armour plates gradually fused together and to the reptiles vertebrae,
eventually creating a complete shell and Turtles ultimately originated
from something that looked like an armadillo. (Note:
armadillos are mammals.) Nevertheless, the article owned up to the fact that
the chain is missing, not just the link:
A newly identified fossil could explain one of evolutions biggest mysteries
the origin of the turtles shell. And whatever the value this fossil
provides in solving this mystery, the fragments only suggest that
the earliest turtles didnt have much of a shell at all.
So what is the empirical evidence in the story? Two paleontologists
from natural history museums, Walter Joyce from Connecticut and Spencer Lucas of
New Mexico, found pieces of a thin-shelled
turtle in Triassic strata. Not only is the shell very thin, the dorsal rib bones are not
attached to it. Another paleontologist, who called this a crucial new discovery,
said, This new guy is an animal that belong [sic] to the lineage of turtles.
Guillermo Rougier (U of Louisville) continued, its a proto-turtle in a way.
The evolutionary story begins to weaken on close inspection.
This same paleontologist had found other Triassic turtles with complete shells.
Wikipedia, which is usually staunchly pro-evolution,
had to fill in the origin of turtles with guesswork: The earliest known fully-shelled turtle
is the late-Triassic Proganochelys, though this species already had many
advanced turtle traits, and thus probably had many millions of years
of preceding turtle evolution and species in its ancestry.
In the New Scientist article, no mention was made if the new fossil precedes the
earliest one. And surprisingly, it ends with an admission that turtles, like so
many other animal lineages, appear abruptly in the fossil record and persist for
millions of years. There may be dramatic variations on the theme, but no
transmutation into another body plan.
The article also failed to account for the
possibility that this fossil was a mutant or degenerate descendent of a fully-shelled
ancestor. Considering this specimen to be a turtle on the half shell (i.e.,
missing link), also seems poorly
supported if there is no compelling hypothesis for why the turtle lineage embarked on
the pathway to shelldom in the first place:
Exactly why turtles evolved their shell remains a mystery, Joyce says.
A full shell might offer added protection and stability. And the proof
could be in the pudding their body plan is the worlds oldest,
changing little over 200 million years. For some reason just
being a turtle is an idea that came along
and just really works, he says.
Joyce apparently thinks that chance is a perfectly adequate scientific explanation.
The idea just came along; it worked, so it remained unchanged for 200 million
Joyces comment is so worthy of the SEQOTW prize, he gets to share it with
Gill Bejerano (see next entry). Can you believe what the Darwinists get away
with in science these days? If we are to understand this article, chance came
up with an idea (stop right there). Does your pet rock ever come up with
ideas? How about the dust devil sweeping over the highway? Furthermore,
this idea came by pure chance. Here we have the Darwinians resorting to the
Stuff Happens Law again (see 09/15/2008
commentary). Then they tell us that such ideas, emerging by chance,
are so good, so wondrously engineered, that for some reason naturalism knows what,
chance decides they work very well. So here Lady Luck is not only an
inventor but the judge of the invention.
Its Fun Seeing Evolution Falsified 10/08/2008
How do we know this is a great idea? Well, they say, the proof is
right there: in the pudding.
This opens up a whole new method of divination
for the Darwinian soothslayers
(Note: sooth means truth).
Well call it puddingoscopy. Lady Luck looks into her pudding and finds
proof, Joyce says. The angle of the folds and bubbles, the color and
texture, or some other attributes of unknown character, provide her with clues.
An idea flashes into her mind.
Her imagination tells her it will work. She fleshes out the details,
records it in genetic information, and there it remains: a best-seller for 200 million years.
What were witnessing here is not the origin of turtles, but rather the
origin of new chapters in Darwins
Just-So Storybook (09/30/2008). This one,
How the Turtle Got Its Shell, is always printed in
hardback: perhaps for protection and stability. For some reason,
just being a turtle is an idea that came along and just really works.
Just? In science, plagiarizing intelligent design for Lady Luck should
be considered very unjust. CEH declares a citizens arrest (see
Next headline on:
Oct 8, 2008 Mysterious Snippets Of DNA Withstand Eons Of Evolution
is the strange title of an article on
Gill Bejerano and Cory McLean from Stanford are wondering why large non-coding sections of DNA
are very similar, or ultraconserved, from mice to man (see
theory would expect that non-functional genetic material would mutate more rapidly
than genes. Yet for unknown reasons, the ultraconserved segments stay the same
throughout the mammal order. Experiments have shown that mice with these sections
deleted do just fine. Why would natural selection purify these regions if they
are not essential for survival? No one knows.
Bejerano had a comment about this finding that goes against the
expectations of evolutionary genetics:
Evolution is a lot of fun, said Bejerano, who plans to continue
the investigation into what the ultraconserved segments might be doing.
You answer one question, and five others pop up. But one of
the most rewarding things to me is the fact that were developing a growing
appreciation for how much these regions actually matter.
He said it was very surprising that the ultraconserved elements showed
no effect on the mice when deleted. In some ways it just doesnt make sense.
Would you count on an evolutionist to know what
makes sense? Their pet theory can be falsified right before their eyes,
and instead of weeping in remorse, they call it fun.
Is radiometric dating a pure science? Take a look at how it is actually done,
from the 10/06/2004 entry.
Suppose van Helmont called it fun when Francesco Redi showed that
mice do not spontaneously arise from straw. Spontaneous generation
is a lot of fun. You answer one question, and five others pop up.
Nobody denies that Fantasyland is fun. Its just that we appreciate it
for its escapism, not for how much it actually matters.
Next headline on:
Are We Getting Biased Science? 10/07/2008
Oct 7, 2008 Much more scientific research is being done than ever gets
reported, say three researchers in a story reported by
High-impact journals tend to report selectively from a large field of medical and
laboratory research. As a result, only a small proportion of all research
results are eventually chosen for publication, and these results are unrepresentative
of scientists repeated samplings of the real world. This gives a very
distorted view of scientific research, they said. They feel it is a
moral imperative to fix the way scientific research is judged and
There is a strong likelihood that the Darwin-loving
mainstream journals give inordinate publicity to evolutionary papers. If
the journals printed a true sample of the actual laboratory research that goes on,
the science-to-Darwin ratio (like the signal to noise ratio) would probably shoot
way up. Science would sound much sweeter and clearer without the constant
noise of evolutionary static.
Walk the Ediacara Two-Step 10/06/2008
This is the Darwin Partys pump-and-dump scheme. They
artificially inflate the value of evolutionary research, then dump it on the
unsuspecting public who think they are getting unbiased science. This
devalues science for everyone.
Next headline on:
Politics and Ethics
Oct 6, 2008 Controversy is swirling around claims that footprints have been
found in rock 30 million years earlier than the Cambrian explosion. The press release on
shows a picture of parallel rows of dots that a team from Ohio State claims look
like footprints of a worm-like or millipede-like animal. The rocks are said to
be 570 million years old. That puts them in the so-called Ediacaran strata of
the Precambrian, where only frond-like
organisms unrelated to any modern body plans have been found. Even the discoverer,
Loren Babcock, is only reasonably certain the patterns are biological.
He expects others will be skeptical.
The pictures dont look convincing.
If they prove to be tracks, it doesnt help the evolutionists, anyway.
Worms and millipedes are already highly-complex organisms. Imagine how much
genetic information is required for an animal to walk with multiple legs.
Dark Energy May Be an Optical Illusion 10/05/2008
Without the bodies
of the track-makers visible, no claims can be made these represent transitional forms.
It appears the authors have not ruled out other more mundane explanations.
This claim needs much better evidence.
Next headline on:
Oct 5, 2008 Cosmologists can get rid of the burden of their worst imponderable
substance, dark energy, if they are willing to jettison the Copernican Principle.
reported thinking by a team of Oxford physicists who make the apparent acceleration
of the universe an artifact of our viewing position. When distant galaxies are
viewed without the assumption that earth occupies no privileged position, dark energy
How radical is this suggestion? It replaces one outrageous
belief with one even more so: Although dark energy may seem a bit contrived to some,
the Oxford theorists are proposing an even more outrageous alternative, the
article said. They point out that its possible that we simply
live in a very special place in the universe specifically, were in a
huge void where the density of matter is particularly low. The suggestion
flies in the face of the Copernican Principle, which is one of the most useful
and widely held tenets in physics. This suggestion may shock many
scientists. The Oxford team hopes to test the idea. See also the
about another team that called the Copernican Principle into question.
Its always error-prone to try to rescue a theory
with ad hoc appeals to imponderable substances. The Oxford team may be off the
wall, but their off-the-wallness is only a matter of degree from the consensus theory
of dark energy. This article also points out that astronomers dont know
as much as they claim they do. The uniform distribution of matter and the
Copernican Principle are shown to be assumptions not observations.
Rocks reclassified from one extreme of the geologic column to the other in the blink
of an eye, from 10/01/2003. Some of earths
oldest rocks from the Archean (3.5 billion years) were reinterpreted by geologists
to be on the youngest end of the timeline yet had been used for years
by geologists to deduce surface environments on the early earth.
Next headline on:
Living Better Bioelectrically 10/04/2008
Oct 4, 2008 Electric eels are inspiring a new generation of fuel cells.
reported that a remarkable fusion of engineering and biology may lead to tiny
electronic devices that run on biologys own energy currency, ATP.
Engineers long have known that great ideas can be lifted from Mother Nature,
but a new paper by researchers at Yale University and the National Institute of
Standards and Technology (NIST) takes it to a cellular level.
The voltage-generating cells in an electric eel are called
electrocytes. They work by pumping sodium and potassium ions in and out of
the cell membrane through specially designed channels or gates (see
01/17/2002). The cells
are then stacked in series, to build up voltage, and in parallel, to build up
current. The result? An electric eel can generate 600 volts
enough to knock a horse off its feet
Geographic). Electric eels and other forms of electric fish use their
powers primarily at lower levels for navigation
(05/05/2004), communication, and even courtship (see
The Yale-NIST team is using a systems biology approach
(08/21/2003), considering the
overall context of function, to understand and build on biological technology.
Of seven types of channels in the cell membrane, the specifications of each are
being examined: reaction time, density in the membrane, and more.
Nerve cells, which move information rather than energy, can fire
rapidly but with relatively little power, the article said, whereas
Electrocytes have a slower cycle, but deliver more power for longer periods.
Tweaking the specs in engineering models allow bio-engineers to optimize voltage
production for human applications.
The article not only ignored evolution completely, it seemed positively
fixated on design. Applying modern engineering design tools to
one of the basic units of life, they argue that artificial cells could be
built that not only replicate the electrical behavior of electric eel
cells but in fact improve on them, the body of the story began.
David LaVan, NIST engineer, put it this way: Do we understand how
a cell produces electricity well enough to design oneand to
optimize that design? This is reverse engineering which
implies intelligent design. An engineer has to see and appreciate design
to want to emulate it.
In this case, engineers dont have to copy the design with
their own components made from scratch, as with gecko-foot tape (see
They can take parts from existing
off-the-shelf technology and adapt it for human-designed applications. They
can use engineered proteins to build membranes. They can tailor bacteria or
mitochondria (cellular powerhouses) to produce ATP for energizing the reactions.
They can modify electrocytes to produce continuous electrical current instead of pulses.
An interesting question comes to mind. If an extraterrestrial
engineer were to land in the lab and study the eel and the biological electronics
designed by humans, would it know where the evolution stops and the intelligent design begins?
Answer: yes, it would know that evolution stopped
at the science door and intelligent design produced the whole show. Evolution
as a concept would be the trash can for explaining mistakes and degeneration.
Your Tax Dollars at Work for Darwin: NASA has awarded five-year grants,
averaging $7 million each, to 10 research teams from across the country to study
the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe,
There is no life known beyond the Earth. Is there any other tax-funded government
program that gets $70 million for producing nothing in the way of evidence to justify
its existence? (Dont ask.)
Nerve cells ... move information rather than energy.
Did you catch that? Your body is wired for the intranet as well as for
power. Let CEH help empower you to get
good information flowing.
Next headline on:
Bangin Around to Get Something New Under the Sun 10/03/2008
Oct 3, 2008 Youve heard of the Big Bang, and the Cambrian Explosion.
Now, to get the solar system started, astronomers have added a Little Bang to move
things along in the naturalistic path from nothing to everything.
Daily, Space.com and
PhysOrg all reprinted a press release
from the Carnegie
Institution claiming that a nearby supernova led to our solar system.
Alan Boss thinks hes gotten the devil out of the details. A nearby
supernova, you see, was needed in the model for two reasons: to get our suns
birth cloud to gravitationally collapse, and to seed it with isotopes like iron-60,
whose short-lived daughter radionuclides are found in some meteorites. These
two requirements did not work well together. Until this study,
Boss explained, scientists have not been able to work out a self-consistent
scenario, where collapse is triggered at the same time that newly created isotopes
from the supernova are injected into the collapsing cloud. By fine-tuning the
explosion in his computer model, Alan Boss and team found a way to keep the right
Students of solar system cosmogony may not have realized that the
supernova-shock model was so plagued with difficulties. A 10-year-old conundrum regarding
the need to heat by compression at the same time the cloud cools by radiation
has left serious doubts in the community about whether a supernova shock
started these events over four billion years ago or not, one astronomer commented.
But now, Boss has hope again. This is the
first time a detailed model for a supernova triggering the formation of
our solar system has been shown to work, he admitted. We started
with a Little Bang 9 billion years after the Big Bang.
Well, that just makes our planet even more privileged than ever
to have had such a fine-tuned explosion nearby to gently deliver our baby sun. Better
not expect this to have happened so delicately around other stars. Alan Boss,
you may recall, rocked the astronomical community a few years ago by proposing his
heretical disk-instability model for the origin of planets, as opposed to the conventional
slow gravitational accretion model, which was struggling with the problem of planetary
migration (see 03/21/2006).
Tip Link: Enjoy the adventures of Dr. Norbert Smith
(PhD Zoology), the Doc Gator,
at God of Creation.com
Check out his Evolutionary Nightmares section.
Why this evolutionary fascination with explosions? Its all they have,
folks. In the absence of a designing intelligence, they have to look at what
remains: chaos, chance and violence. From bangs and booms and flotsam and jetsam
the most graceful and elegant examples of design known to man just magically
emerge by chance. And they call creationists stupid-stitious.
At least creationists have more fun. They are in church
praising God, the supreme Architect of our fine-tuned universe, using their whole being
body, mind and emotions in joyful celebrations with highly-skilled musicians employing
finely-crafted instruments, singing out with all their might the glories of One
who knows how to employ controlled energy toward purposeful ends:
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the Universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee:
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Meanwhile, in dreary laboratories, morose naturalists, their minds lost
in imaginary worlds, trying in vain to get their brains to emerge from a
series of explosions, drone on:
Talkin to myself and feelin old,
Sometimes Id like to quit,
Nothin ever seems to fit;
Nothing to do but frown;
Reinin in my models always gets me down.
Next headline on:
Reducing Human Behavior to Natural Laws 10/02/2008
Oct 2, 2008 Can human behavior be reduced to natural laws that science can
study in a morally neutral way? Darwin sought to incorporate all aspects of
the living world, including behavior, in natural laws that were amenable to
scientific explanation. Evolutionary biologists and neuroscientists continue
in that tradition today. Consider two recent examples in the literature
that described how human behavior evolves.
Both studies involved experiments with human subjects who were paid to take part
in games devised to study the behavior in question.
- One nation, under Darwin: PhysOrg
published a short article 9/24/08 about how a strong leader can benefit society.
In a study that looks at the evolutionary role of leaders in society, the
researchers explored how having a leader in charge with the power to punish
works better than spreading responsibility through the entire group.
They said that a leader who punishes cheaters and freeloaders increases the cooperation
and riches for everyone.
The article talked about how strong leadership benefits
the greater good, but failed to mention if the model applies equally well
The lead author, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Culture, Cognition and Evolution,
was probably not thinking about the exquisite methods of punishment of leaders like
Stalin or Kim Il Sung. Natural laws, however, are indifferent to morals. It could be argued
that their strong leadership did accomplish their national goals quite effectively.
In fact, political scientists often point out that dictatorships are the most
efficient forms of government much more so than democracies and republics
with their inevitable delays from long debates, power struggles and drawn-out campaigns.
- Evolutionary utopia: Another study was aware of the possibility of
mass murder. Cultural boundaries have often been the basis for discrimination,
nationalism, religious wars, and genocide, began a paper in Science
last week.1 Little is known, however, about
how cultural groups form or the evolutionary forces behind group affiliation
and ingroup favoritism. This shows right off the bat that they were
looking for evolutionary forces, not moral or intelligent causes, behind such effects.
In fact, the paper remained fairly dispassionate about favoritism (which could entail
genocide). Note the word meaningless in their next sentence:
Hence, we examine these forces experimentally and show that arbitrary
symbolic markers, though initially meaningless, evolve to play a key role
in cultural group formation and ingroup favoritism because they enable a
population of heterogeneous individuals to solve important coordination
problems. So its also a paper on the evolutionary emergence
The paper approached human poopulations amorally. A sample population
might involve two races at war, communists vs capitalists, or identical people with
red shirts and blue shirts it doesnt matter, as long as what happens
as they interact is explainable in terms of evolutionary forces.
The authors were not looking for the thoughts and philosophies and morals of the
individuals as having any explanatory power; its all about how a population
evolves. Presumably this could explain ant behavior as well as human behavior.
The symbolic markers that were a key element in their model were
extremely generic: This process requires that individuals differ in some
critical but unobservable way and that their markers be freely and flexibly chosen.
Once the markers are identified, markers become accurate predictors of behavior.
A natural law is born:
The resulting social environment includes strong incentives to bias
interactions toward others with the same marker, and subjects accordingly show
strong ingroup favoritism. When markers do not acquire meaning
as accurate predictors of behavior, players show a markedly reduced taste for
ingroup favoritism. Our results support the prominent evolutionary hypothesis
that cultural processes can reshape the selective pressures facing individuals
and so favor the evolution of behavioral traits not previously advantaged.
What do they mean by meaning? They asked this question later in the paper:
How does symbolic meaning emerge in the absence of fiat?
(Fiat, presumably, involves intelligent causation.) Their evolutionary
theory produces meaning out of meaninglessness: Interestingly, mixing players
with different expectations, which creates the original problem, also creates a potential solution,
they answered. It does so by producing small amounts of covariation
that can feed back into the system and accumulate dynamically.
This is meaning at its most rudimentary, biological, content-free level. Any covariation
that becomes self-reinforcing becomes a measure of meaningfulness. If the
players on the game board start cooperating around an arbitrary symbolic marker,
no matter if they are computer soldiers in a war game, bacteria in a petri dish or
human slaves, then meaning has emerged in this dispassionate world of
evolutionary explanation. One only has to follow the dynamical outcome.
In their experiments on human subjects playing contrived games, These results
indicate that players showed a general tendency to couple behaviors and markers,
they continued. Notice how content-free and values-free the generalized
laws were described: This tendency, however, was strongest when a player hit
upon a successful behavior-marker combination, and it was further reinforced
and amplified in the marker-maintained treatment when the marker was
not prevented from acquiring meaning. Meaning, here, is not
meaning in the traditional sense of semantics. It is self-reinforcing behavior linked to
a symbolic marker that brings out the unobservable differences in a population.
Ostensibly, all the researchers were trying to do is understand why
humans tend to rally around symbols. Why do people cheer for their flag when
the flag initially was just a piece of colored cloth? Moral principles, values,
propositions, philosophies and theologies have nothing to do with it, from their
perspective. Its just the way evolutionary forces produce outcomes.
Notice how generic the language is:
These results show how the evolution of cultural groups can reconstitute the social environment and produce selection for an ingroup bias that was not initially advantageous. If selective pressures of this sort were common in past human societies, a plausible outcome would arguably be a relatively inflexible bias leading individuals to prefer others similar in some symbolic dimension. This idea is consistent with much research showing an astonishing willingness for subjects to exhibit ingroup favoritism when groups are based on trivial, short-lived distinctions.
They performed more experiments to see if the favoritism might have been biased
beforehand. They ran correlation coefficients, charted measurements on graphs,
and did other scientific things. Conclusion: evolutionary forces are sufficient
to explain what happened. Trivial groups evolve into cultural groups.
Any symbolic markers, however trivial and meaningless, provide rallying points for
unobservable differences between individuals in populations to express themselves.
In their final paragraph they put this all into perspective. Think of how
many complex human situations, how many battles, cross-town rivalries, special-interest
clubs, fads and cultural revolutions are now explainable in terms of simple evolutionary laws:
The research on intergroup processes indicates that people have a willingness to show ingroup favoritism, and in particular this holds even when groups are trivial and evanescent. This research tradition has generally examined neither the evolutionary mechanisms behind group formation nor the impact of these mechanisms on ingroup favoritism. We implemented an experiment in which the significance of groups had to arise, if at all, endogenously, thus providing an evolutionary foundation for ingroup favoritism. In this setting, trivial groups remained trivial under certain circumstances, but under other circumstances they developed into cultural groups composed of individuals who shared both behavioral expectations and symbolic markers signaling group affiliation. Ingroup favoritism was strongly associated with cultural groups but not with trivial groups. Our experiments made exclusive use of coordination games, which serve as a kind of generic proxy for strategic settings with multiple equilibria. Many strategic settings are characterized by multiple equilibria, and thus the dynamical processes examined here have potentially broad significance. The mechanisms implicated in the evolution of human prosociality, for example, often produce multiple equilibria, and so cooperation is a behavioral domain with considerable scope for the path-dependent evolution of groups with different norms and expectations. In this sense, cooperation can be analogous to coordination. Even more generally, whenever people have a shared interest in distinguishing among themselves in terms of their unobservable information, whatever that means in a given situation, the logic behind the evolution of cultural groups holds.
1. Efferson, Lalive, and Fehr, The Coevolution of Cultural Groups and Ingroup Favoritism,
26 September 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5897, pp. 1844-1849, DOI: 10.1126/science.1155805.
If any of you were swayed by the claims in these
papers, you need a serious deprogramming session, kind of like soldiers being deloused
after returning from a jungle. If you dont see yet how these articles
are logically self-refuting and morally pernicious, please, get on your thinking cap.
You will need it because the evolutionists just removed it. They said you dont
need it any more because you are just a victim of evolutionary forces.
Somehow they are immune to the evolutionary forces acting on them, because they
belong to the Yoda Order of the Disinterested and Detached Scientifically Wise Wizards.
This is an ingroup favoritism they must maintain, as evolutionists on a higher plane
than the rest of us, lest we on the playing field look at them and accuse them of writing their papers
only because evolutionary forces made them do it. That would be their undoing.
It is vital, therefore, that they maintain their illusion of objectivity.
Brain Candy as Tiger Milk 10/01/2008
Undoubtedly they could point to plenty of examples of strongly-held
group loyalties around meaningless markers: skin color, favorite food, team flags, arbitary national
allegiances (for instance, whether the Sicilians should have allied with
Rome or Carthage), and whether to join the Lions Club or the Loyal Order of Moose. People have an
innate ability to identify with fellowships, wear the uniform, and rally behind the
standard of their favorite group identity, no matter how profound or silly.
Watch political conventions and observe the crazy ecstasy of crowds cheering on their standard-bearer.
Think about Lincoln demoting indecisive generals and choosing strong, ruthless generals
willing to punish non-cooperators and get the job done.
A defender of the two studies above might argue, doesnt it make sense to try to
understand these human tendencies scientifically? The authors might deny our
charge of promoting themselves to the Yoda Order of the Wise. They might say, We are
humans like the rest of you. We acknowledge we have these tendencies ourselves.
Were not making moral judgments.
We feel that by investigating scientifically, with controlled experiments,
what makes us act the way we do, how group loyalties emerge, and why we look to
strong leaders, we can avoid some of the pitfalls of ignorance about these matters
and approach problems in ways more likely to avoid conflict and bring about peaceful solutions.
By understanding our social dynamics, we can try to make the world a better place.
Once we understand the evolutionary tendencies that influence our actions,
we can learn to control them, and thus avoid some of the racism
and genocide that has plagued human history. Why are you criticizing this?
Whats the matter with you? Arent you the pernicious ones who would
interfere with the progress of science?
Such criticisms make some sense from a Judeo-Christian perspective.
They make absolutely no sense from an evolutionary perspective. The claims and
questions in the previous paragraph borrow heavily from Judeo-Christian presuppositions
and values: honesty, fairness, truth, beauty, peace, understanding, morality.
Remember, the evolutionist believes everything consists of particles in motion obeying
natural laws (which cannot be construed as laws in a designed or moral sense,
but only as patterns in experience). Its as if these researchers burglarized
the Judeo-Christian house, stole all the tools and utensils and furniture, raided
the refrigerator, then took it to Darwins house and served up a feast for their
friends they never could have cooked up out of their own resources. Thats
why their explanation is not just dumb, but pernicious. Theyre bloomin
Now if they want to become Christians, we can talk. We can reason.
We can discuss the pros and cons of their propositions, some of which may be partly
accurate (though ignoring the intellectual aspect of human behavior is bound to
produce error). We can let them recast their theory, provided they strip out all
the evolution talk and reference their sources. Since Jews and Christians
believe humans are made in the image of God, it is possible for people to use their
eyes to study the eye, their hands to study the hand, and their minds to study the
mind. Animals and plants do not do such things. Your cat may look in the
mirror, but it does not come up with a theory of cat behavior and write it up in a
scientific journal. Cats do not have self-awareness, abstract reasoning ability,
language, ontology, epistemology, moral philosophy and all the other prerequisites
for explanation. Animals dont explain things; they just operate. They may memorize patterns
and learn behaviors that reward actions, but they do not deal in concepts.
They do not ponder meaning in life and ultimate reality.
As human beings with an imago Dei (image of God), we have the
mental and spiritual resources to operate in the conceptual realm. At the same time, we have
physical natures we share with the animals (stomachs, kidneys, vertebrae, etc.).
But in what organ does self-awareness and abstract reasoning reside? Our dual
nature produces confusion to evolutionists, but the spiritual and intellectual
(non-physical) nature is uniquely human. We are persons. This is what allows humans,
and humans alone, to observe and explain their own behavior. As created beings,
we can observe (and sometimes laugh at) those behaviors that reflect our shared
properties with animals: talking like a crow, following the herd, strutting like a
peacock, loafing like a sloth, and pigging out at the dinner table. It is the fallacy of
reductionism to suppose that our physical nature
entails our spiritual nature. Honesty, truth, courage, explanation, morality
these and many other qualities that make a man a man instead of a mouse refer to
eternal realities. What is true or moral unless it refers to that which is unchanging, permanent,
universal, necessary, and certain? You cant get that from randomly moving
particles, patterns in experience, or any combination of the two.
in evolutionary explanations for human behavior is worse
than reductionism. It ignores the most important aspects of humanness.
We praise those people who subject their physical appetities and natural propensities to
their spiritual values: the soldier who ignores his pain to rescue a comrade, the student
who suppresses his desire to go to a party to finish a term paper, the leader who
suppresses his fear to confront an evil, the young person who waits for marriage,
the voter who studies the issues instead of following the party line,
the man or woman who reasons instead of reacting to fleshly passions.
Are you a man or a beast? the question emphasizes the point.
Our humanity consists in reasoning, planning, believing, choosing and acting based
on concepts and values often contrary to what the flesh wants. Only humans can exercise
self-control. You have to have a self to control it. A dog or horse or dolphin will
do amazing feats to be rewarded by its trainer, but that is not self-control; it is
trainer control. The animal gets an immediate reward. Does your dog plan
for retirement and write up a will?
Ignoring the key distinguishing marks of
humanity to explain human behavior by mystical evolutionary forces as if
we are pinballs in a game is completely misdirected if not silly. It is also self-refuting.
Its like explaining books from the chemistry of paper and ink, and then
writing a book about it with a stolen Judeo-Christian pen. Add to those sins
the evolutionists complete lack of moral judgment. Their explanation draws no distinctions;
to them, if cooperation is achieved, thats good (notice that they cannot completely
erase the concept of good). The evolutionary forces and laws care nothing
about the means by which cooperation is achieved. Stalin is the moral equivalent of Reagan.
Let the prisoners in the Gulag weep in silence. Let them abandon any appeal to their
fellow man or to heaven for justice. Justice! That word is completely
absent from the Darwin Dictionary.
These researchers, because they retain a shadow of that image of God,
continue to trade in concepts. They cannot do that as consistent evolutionists.
If they want to be consistent, let them screech and scratch and watch each others
behinds (see National
Geographic for an edifying exploration of that). The moment they want to
appeal to explanation as if it might be true, they deserve to be sued for
worldview plagiarism. In court, the bailiff will make them swear on the Bible to tell the truth,
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help them God.
Next headline on:
Oct 1, 2008 Observation: the human brain appears able to use lactate as
fuel instead of glucose during strenuous exercise (see
Science Daily). Deduction:
From an evolutionary perspective, the result of this study is a no-brainer.
Imagine what could have or did happen to all of the organisms that lost their wits
along with their glucose when running from predators. They were obviously a light
snack for the animals able to use lactate.
This gem was from Gerald Weismann, editor of the FASEB journal in which the
study was published.
Weissmann did not explain why humans didnt evolve some means to circumvent this
threat of becoming crunchy brain candy to tigers a little hot sauce surprise
in the cerebellum, perhaps. But then, it would be tough for the victim
possessing that innovation to pass on his genes. Presumably one can only
imagine what could have or did happen when one loses his wits.
This is the same Gerald Weismann that won SEQOTW
two months ago for updating Darwin with On the Origin of Tumors by Natural Selection
This time, Weissmann was absolutely right. From an
evolutionary perspective, it was a no-brainer.
Is it the evolution of folly, or vice versa? Take a trip back in time to the
and you decide.
Next headline on:
Scientist of the Month
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|Guide to Evolution
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 were
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.... What a treasure house of information!
....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.
(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. Its 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 youve 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)
I dont remember exactly when I started reading your site but it was probably
in the last year. Its 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)
Ive been reading you daily for about a year now. Im 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 dont 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
(Access Research Network
Your website is simply the best (and Id dare say one of the most important) web sites on the entire WWW.
(an IT specialist at an Alabama university)
Ive been reading the articles on this website for over a year, and
Im guilty of not showing any appreciation. You provide a great service.
Its 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 dont 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
(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,
its apparent youve 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
(an amateur astronomer in San Diego)
What an absolutely brilliant website you have. Its 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)
Ive 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 dont 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
(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)
Ive told many people about your site. Its a tremendous service to
science news junkies not to mention students of both Christianity and
(a meteorology research scientist in Alabama)
...let me thank you for your Creation-Evolution Headlines. Ive 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 appearoften 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,
(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! Ive 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 dont 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 evolutions 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. Its such a refreshing difference
from the usual media spin. Often youll 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 cant 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 dont 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, Ive
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 dont know
enough to respond to their claims. Thanks for your good work and keep it
(a missionary in Japan)
I just thought Id write and
tell you how much I appreciate your headline list and commentary. Its
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
(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! Im 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 dont 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.
Youre 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 cant tell you how much I enjoy your article reviews on your
websiteits 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 laymans 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)
Im 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 dont know. But all things, including the laws of nature, originate from God....
To deny evolution is to deny Gods 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, Ive found that many of them do
not stay current with relative information. I love the almost daily updates to
your headlines section. Ive 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 cant wait for the next update. Thats 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. Ill 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 weve 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
(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 thats been going on. Now, Im 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 theyve 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 youre 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)
Im a small town newspaper editor in southwest Wyoming. Were pretty
isolated, and finding your site was a great as finding a gold mine. I read
it daily, and if theres nothing new, I re-read everything. I follow links.
I read the Scientist of the Month. Its the best site Ive 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 lifes education has been a lie!!!
Ive 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...Ive 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, Ive found it. 2. You have balanced fun with this topic. This is hugely valuable! Smug Christianity is ugly, and I dont 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. Thats 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
(a project manager in New Jersey)
Ive 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 youre 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.
Its incredible I dont know how you do it.
I cant 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 Darwins 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
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 cant stop reading it....
I also enjoy your insightful and humorous commentary at the end of each story. If the evolutionists
blindness wasnt 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, Im 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. Ive 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 dont 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 thats 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
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
dailyarchives 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,
Ive 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?
Isnt 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)
Ive had your Creation/Evolution Headlines site on my favourites list for
18 months now, and I can truthfully say that its 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. Im 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
(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 Im not being presumptuous in suspecting
the existence of contributions from a Truth Underground comprised of
dissident college faculty, teachers, scientists, and engineers. If thats
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)
Im from Quebec, Canada. I have studied in pure sciences and after in actuarial mathematics.
Im visiting this site 3-4 times in a week. Im 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.
(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. Its great
to see real science directly on the front lines, toe to toe with the
pseudoscience that's mindlessly spewed from the prestigious
(a biology student in Illinois)
Ive been checking in for a long time but thought Id 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.
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.
Im 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
(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 readers
(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. Im a
Christian that is interested in science (Im 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 Ive 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)
Ive 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 dont 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
(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)
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 its 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
(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
(a reader from Scottsdale, AZ)
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 seevery
much. I really appreciate a decent, calm and scholarly approach to the
whole issue... Thanks ... for this fabulous
It is refreshing to read your comments. You have a knack to get to the heart of
(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
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? ... Im 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. Ill 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 Scientist for October
This month we want to point to a biography written by Dr. Jerry Bergman about
a Nobel Prize winning microbiologist, Dr. Werner Arber.
Please go to ICR to read the
story of a living eminent scientist who affirmed that only the
existence of a Creator God is a satisfactory solution to the problem of biological origins.
Update: Dr. Arber heard about ICR's article and responded that he is not a Darwin skeptic, but
a believer in biological evolution. A subsequent dialogue between Arber and Bergman followed
to clarify their positions and representations. This has been reported in a subsequent article
on ICR by Lawrence Ford. The bottom line is that Arber does not consider himself a Darwin skeptic
or an advocate of intelligent design. He has not rescinded, however, his 1993 statement that when considering the requirements for assembling complex structures at the origin of life,
The possibility of the existence of a Creator, of God, represents to me a satisfactory solution to this problem.
If you are enjoying this series, you can
learn more about great Christians in science by reading
our online book-in-progress:
The Worlds Greatest
Creation Scientists from Y1K to Y2K.
A Concise Guide|
You can observe a lot by just watching.
First Law of Scientific Progress
The advance of science can be measured by the rate at which exceptions to previously held laws accumulate.
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.
Nature will tell you a direct lie if she can.
So will Darwinists.
Science is true. Dont be misled by facts.
Finagles 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.
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.
Murphys Law of Research
Enough research will tend to support your theory.
If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.
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.
The number of different hypotheses erected to explain a given biological phenomenon
is inversely proportional to the available knowledge.
All great discoveries are made by mistake.
The greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.
The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem.
Peters Law of Evolution
Competence always contains the seed of incompetence.
An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.
Repetition does not establish validity.
What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts not the facts themselves.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.
Thumbs Second Postulate
An easily-understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex, incomprehensible truth.
There is nothing so small that it cant 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.
The best theory is not ipso facto a good theory.
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
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,
Wisdoms 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 readers convenience,
and does not necessarily constitute endorsement of
the material or its authors, owners, or sponsors.|