Creation-Evolution Headlines
November 2008
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“The [Darwin] Exhibition treats the Darwinian Revolution as a single process dating from the Origin’s publication until today.  The implicit idea is that science moves ever forward in a continuous line of accumulating evidence.  But when that idea is tested against observed practice, the straight line transforms into a non-linear landscape of exotic shapes, with numerous dead ends and dramatic battles, whose direction at any point in time is contested.” 

—Hiram Caton, “Getting Our History Right: Six Errors about Darwin and His Influence,” Evolutionary Psychology 2007.
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Go to the Ant, Thou Farmer   11/30/2008    
Nov 30, 2008 — We humans boast too much.  Agribusiness?  Ants have it down to a science.  “One of the most important developments in human civilisation was the practice of sustainable agriculture,” stated Science Daily.  “But we were not the firstants have been doing it for over 50 million years.  Just as farming helped humans become a dominant species, it has also helped leaf-cutter ants become dominant herbivores, and one of the most successful social insects in nature.
    The article discusses how ants have not only perfected the art of growing crops in their nests, but keeping them pest-free.  They have symbioses with fungi and bacteria that produce antibiotics, preventing the spread of diseases that would destroy their colonies.  Their disposal system is also very elegant.  “So how exactly does an ant go about forming partnerships with a fungus and a bacterium?” the article asked.  Answer: “No one really knows.
    What they do know, in their own minds, is that evolution explains everything.  “Darwin was right about how evolution can affect the whole group” stated another article on Science Daily decorated with a photo of marching ants.  They get bad Marx, though, for their opening line:

Worker ants of the world, unite!  You have nothing to lose but your fertility.  The highly specialized worker castes in ants represent the pinnacle of social organization in the insect world.  As in any society, however, ant colonies are filled with internal strife and conflict.  So what binds them together?  More than 150 years ago, Charles Darwin had an idea and now he’s been proven right.
The punch line is that a scientist at McGill University “discovered how evolution has tinkered with the genes of colonizing insects like ants to keep them from fighting amongst themselves over who gets to reproduce.”  Does this idea Dr. Ehab Abouheif called “reproductive constraint” really enhance Darwin’s vitae? 
The existence of sterile castes of ants tormented Charles Darwin as he was formulating his Theory of Natural Selection, and he described them as the “one special difficulty, which at first appeared to me insuperable, and actually fatal to my theory.”  If adaptive evolution unfolds by differential survival of individuals, how can individuals incapable of passing on their genes possibly evolve and persist?
    Darwin proposed that in the case of ant societies natural selection applies not only to the individual, because the individual would never benefit by cutting its own reproduction, but also to the family or group.  This study supports Darwin’s prescient ideas, and provides a molecular measure of how an entire colony can be viewed as a single or “superorganism.”
Some prominent evolutionary biologists, however, are not convinced that natural selection can act on groups, as EvoWiki explains (see also 08/26/2004, 05/31/2004, 05/31/2007 and 03/21/2008).  In fact, Marek Kohn just wrote a lengthy piece for Nature News about the “unending debate” between evolutionists about whether selection acts on individuals or groups.  The rift is deep.  “Group-selection thinking is perceived by some as not just an abuse of natural selection but also a denial of it,” on the one hand, but for others, “it is the individualistic perspective that betrays influences from outside science.”  For Science Daily to claim that this story “proves” group selection, therefore, seems premature.
The ant farm was fun till Charlie and Tinker Bell showed up (03/16/2006).
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyAmazing FactsDarwin and Evolution
An Evolutionary Fly in the Turtle Soup   11/29/2008    
Nov 29, 2008 — A new fossil turtle was found.  Is it a missing link?  That depends on whether you believe the popular press or the scientists.
    National Geographic News and Science Daily both led off with the missing link angle, complete with an artist reconstruction of the fossil turtle found in China named Odontochelys.  “Since the age of dinosaurs, turtles have looked pretty much as they do now with their shells intact, and scientists lacked conclusive evidence to support competing evolutionary theories,” Science Daily announced, leading up to the tour de force: “Now with the discovery in China of the oldest known turtle fossil, estimated at 220-million-years-old, scientists have a clearer picture of how the turtle got its shell.”  Little in the way of controversy was reported to alter this statement.  It’s another evolutionary success story.
    Nature,1 however, titled its piece, “Turtle origins out to sea.”  This isn’t a missing link, argued Robert J. Reisz and Jason J. Head: it’s a challenge to evolutionary theory.  “The evolutionary relationships and ecology of turtles through time, and the developmental and evolutionary origins of the shell,” they said, “are major controversies in studies of vertebrate evolution” and this fossil does not resolve them.  It apparently has an undershell but not a top shell.  It has a full set of teeth instead of a beak.  Like many fossils of extinct animals, it has some features that appear primitive and others that appear derived (evolved).  The discoverers put forth one evolutionary interpretation: “The authors infer, therefore, that the plastron evolved before the carapace, reflecting the timing of shell ossification during embryonic development in living turtles.”  Reisz and Head, however, had a different take:
Although this evolutionary scenario is plausible, we are particularly excited by an alternative interpretation and its evolutionary consequences.  We interpret the condition seen in Odontochelys differently — that a carapace was present, but some of its dermal components were not ossified.  The carapace forms during embryonic development when the dorsal ribs grow laterally into a structure called the carapacial ridge, a thickened ectodermal layer unique to turtles.  The presence of long, expanded ribs, a component of the carapace of all turtles, indicates that the controlling developmental tissue responsible for the formation of the turtle carapace was already present in Odontochelys.  The expanded lateral bridge that connects the plastron to the carapace in other turtles is also present, implying that the plastron was connected to the laterally expanded carapace.  Thus, an alternative interpretation is that the apparent reduction of the carapace in Odontochelys resulted from lack of ossification of some of its dermal components, but that a carapace was indeed present.
    This interpretation of Odontochelys leads us to the possibility that its shell morphology is not primitive, but is instead a specialized adaptation.  Reduction of dermal components of the shell in aquatic turtles is common: soft-shelled turtles have a greatly reduced bony shell and have lost the dermal peripheral elements of the carapace.  Sea turtles and snapping turtles have greatly reduced ossification of the dermal components of the carapace, a condition similar to that seen in Odontochelys.
If Reisz and Head are right, then, this is an advanced, specialized turtle.  The absence of the carapace is a secondary loss – not a turtle on the half shell evolving into a fully-housed modern turtle.  “Given the similarities between its shell morphology and early growth stages in living turtles, a simple truncation of carapace ossification, in which the adults retained juvenile features (paedomorphosis), could have been a developmental mechanism in the evolution of the reduced carapace.”  Loss of a feature is not the kind of evolution Darwin envisioned.  Somehow, they found a way to put a positive spin for Darwin on this fossil anyway:
Regardless of the primitive or derived nature of its shell, Odontochelys is in evolutionary terms the most ‘basal’ turtle yet found.  Its discovery opens a new chapter in the study of the origins and early history of these fascinating reptiles.  Both interpretations alter our views of turtle evolution: Odontochelys either represents the primitive ecology for turtles, consistent with the hypothesis that the turtles’ shell evolved in aquatic environments, or it represents the earliest turtle radiation from terrestrial environments into marine habitats.  Either way, these ancient turtles demonstrate yet again the value of new fossil discoveries in changing our understanding of vertebrate history.
Both interpretations may alter their views of evolution, therefore, but evolution itself was never subject to falsification – no matter how opposite the two interpretations.
1.  Robert J. Reisz and Jason J. Head, “Paleontology: Turtle origins out to sea,” Nature 456, 450-451 (27 November 2008) | doi:10.1038/456450a.
2.  Li et al, “An ancestral turtle from the Late Triassic of southwestern China,” Nature 456, 497-501 (27 November 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07533.
Aren’t animals with a full set of teeth more advanced than those with just a beak?  Teeth are extremely complicated structures that must develop according to a strict timeline and fit on the top and bottom.  The beak on most turtles works well for them, but how can they say that this is evolution?  Look at all the problems that remain: they don’t know if turtles evolved as land animals or aquatic animals (see the 11/22/2008 story last week).  They don’t know if this fossil was primitive or advanced.  And they wonder why turtles have not changed significantly since the age of dinosaurs.  Where is the evolution?
    They confess, as the authors of the original paper stated, that “The origin of the turtle body plan remains one of the great mysteries of reptile evolution.”  One proposed intermediate that is subject to multiple interpretations is not going to help.  The fossil record should be filled with intermediates.  This species was apparently happily playing in the water, fully adapted to its habitat, not evolving like the evolutionary story you just heard.
    Evolutionists arrange their scientific explanations so that they can’t lose.  Why do they always get their explanations published?  Their controversies can consist of opposite stories: It’s a transitional form!  No it isn’t – it’s an advanced, specially adapted animal!.  No matter what, alternative explanations are never even heard.  Why do they always shut out their critics?  Because they have mastered the art of Calvinball: change the rules dynamically so that Charlie always wins.  Gag if you think this is a bad way to do science.
Next headline on:  FossilsMarine BiologyEvolution
  Eyesight: more reasons to be thankful, from 11/24/2005.

Knowledge of Light Is Power   11/28/2008    
Nov 28, 2008 — Now that engineers are becoming adept at manipulating materials at the scale of billionths of a meter, they are taking first steps toward using a power source familiar to plants: light.  Science Daily described the first humble attempts to get light photons to drive nano-sized machines.
    The article did not mention whether photosynthesis provided any inspiration for the research, but it is well known that plant chloroplasts are able to harvest single photons for energy with optimal efficiency.  These engineers realize their first attempts have a long way to go.  The light intensity they are using is a million times stronger than sunlight.  “It took more than 60 years to progress from the first transistors to the speed and power of today’s computers,” the article stated.  “Creating devices that run solely on light rather than electronics will now begin a similar process of development, according to the authors.”

More power to them.  How about a little humility, though, considering that their technology can’t hold a candle to the light-harvesting abilities of blue-green algae?  The paradigm of our time is that time and chance accomplished a feat that is taxing the design capabilities of the human brain, the most complex arrangement of matter in the universe.
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignBiomimetics
It Takes a Stellar Village   11/27/2008    
Nov 27, 2008 — Do galaxies embark on a purpose-driven life?  The language in an article about galaxy evolution in Science Daily makes such seamless use of personal terms with natural processes, it’s hard to know where the data ends and the interpretation begins.
    “Galaxy Zoo, which uses volunteers from the general public to classify galaxies, and the Space Telescope A901/902 Galaxy Evolution Survey (STAGES) projects have used their vast datasets to disentangle the roles of ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ in changing galaxies from one variety to another,” the article said.  We are told that galaxies move from the wilderness to the suburbs, that some of them are “hiding” their star formation, and that some are like heavyweight fighters.  Some galaxies were murdered by strangulation.
    The article also makes it seem that the data confirm a theory of galaxy evolution: “‘Missing Link’ Discovered,” the title announced triumphantly.  All the people did was classify a lot of galaxies by color and shape.  A few of the galaxies were observed in infrared light.
This article is typical of how many press releases go far beyond the evidence to pretend scientists understand something.  They know, we are led to believe, when star formation turned on and off, how galaxies moved around over billions of years, and into which pigeonhole in the classification scheme each galaxy fits (see the problems with classification schemes in the 10/29/2008 commentary).  “The next step for both teams is to find out exactly what shuts off the star formation, by looking inside the galaxies themselves,” the article ends.  Didn’t we see astronomers playing this game back in the 1930s, with completely different results?  When data are hard to come by, and when processes exceed the lifetime of human civilization, scientific hubris becomes indistinguishable from myth.
Next headline on:  CosmologyAstronomy
How Floppy Feet Produced Marathoners   11/26/2008    
Nov 26, 2008 — A picture of a muscle-bound furry gibbon adorns a story on Science Daily that claims, “Floppy-footed Gibbons Help Us Understand How Early Humans May Have Walked.”  The story describes how two European researchers photographed the footwork of wild gibbons to find connections to human evolution.  It turned out that gibbon footfalls are very different from ours, but evolution came in for the explanation anyway.
The first thing that [Evie] Vereecke noticed was that the animals don’t hit the ground with their heels at the start of a stride.  They move more like ballerinas, landing on their toes before the heel touches the ground.  Analysing the gibbon foot computer model, Vereecke realised that by landing on the toes first they were stretching the toes’ tendons and storing energy in them.  According to Vereecke, this is quite different from the way that energy is stored in the human foot.  She explains that our feet are built like sprung arches spanned by an elastic tendon (aponeurosis) along the sole of the foot.  When we put weight on our feet, the arch stretches the aponeurosis, storing elastic energy to power the push off at the end of a stride.
    And there were more differences between the gibbon and human walking patterns at the end of a stride.  Instead of lifting the foot as one long lever, the gibbon lifted its heel first, effectively bending the foot in two to form an upward-turned arch, stretching the toes’ tendons even further and storing more elastic energy ready for release as the foot eventually pushes off.
So what does these differences imply for theories of human evolution?  Vereecke was “quick to point out” that there are marked differences between the feet of gibbons and the earliest humans in the fossil record.  She alleged, though, that both walk on “two flexible feet” and this was close enough to generate an evolutionary connection: “it is possible to walk quite efficiently with a relatively bendy foot and that our ancestors may have used energy storage mechanisms that are similar to ours, despite their dramatically different foot shapes.”
    Science Daily added an opening synopsis to the evolution-drenched title that earned Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:
The human foot is a miracle of evolution.  We can keep striding for miles on our well-sprung feet.  There is nothing else like them, not even amongst our closest living relatives.  According to Evie Vereecke, from the University of Liverpool, the modern human foot first appeared about 1.8 million years ago, but our ape-like ancestors probably took to walking several million years earlier, even though their feet were more ‘floppy’ and ape like than ours.
The research was published in Journal of Experimental Biology, 2008; 211 (23): 3661 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.018754.  For more on human superiority in distance running in mammals, and the physiological specializations involved, see the 11/18/2004 entry.
A miracle of evolution.  It’s a miracle an evolutionist could say something that stupid.  (On second thought,...)  Darwinists stumble all over their own feet because their foundation is floppy.
Next headline on:  Human BodyMammalsEarly ManDumb Ideas
  China’s evolution-based campaign against human rights, from 11/30/2004.

Far-Out Science   11/25/2008    
Nov 25, 2008 — The following list of bizarre stories coming from science news outlets is jarring on two fronts: it shows how little scientists understand, and calls into question what counts as science these days.  Some stories illustrate one or the other; some both.

  1. Roar of the aurora aura:  Both Saturn and Mars turned up auroras that are mystifying scientists.  Electromagnetism was pretty much figured out in the 19th century – so they say, but theory did not predict an aurora this large in the area where it was found on Saturn’s north pole.  It didn’t predict the perfect geometric hexagon of cloud formations there either.  On Mars, physicists did not expect the planet’s patchy magnetic field to be strong enough to generate an aurora.
  2. Grape big puzzle:  If the BBC News story is correct, the Cambrian Explosion problem just got worse.  Fossil trackways previously thought to be evidence for Precambrian worms might have been made instead by grape-sized single-celled protozoans moving millimeters per day.  If so, that means there were no bilaterian organisms lighting the fuse for the explosion of life forms to come.
  3. In the beginning, hydrogen:  If atomic hydrogen was the most abundant element coming out of the big bang, why is there so little of it at 11.5 billion light-years?  PhysOrg puzzled over that: “If anything, hydrogen was expected to be more abundant so early in the life of the Universe because it had not yet been consumed by the formation of all the stars and galaxies we know today.”  Was it all plasma back then? the article asked.  If so, what would that do to theories of galaxy evolution?
  4. Wild wild web:  Orb-web spiders go nuts in space, spinning webs in chaotic patterns.  Space.com shows a picture. 
  5. Gut feeling:  There are 10 times more species of micro-organisms in your colon than scientists thought, Science Daily reported.
  6. Secret networkNew Scientist reported on “previously unknown way in which animal cells can communicate with each other.”  A nano-network of tubes apparently provides a path for proteins to move from cell to cell. 
  7. Fuel economy:  Oil may not come from squishing dinosaurs, but from a fungus acting on biomass, reported Live Science about a fungus that is highly efficient at making biofuel directly.  “In fact, it’s so good at turning plant matter into fuel that researchers say their discovery calls into question the whole theory of how crude oil was made by nature in the first place.
  8. Paranoia:  They’re out to get us.  The aliens are everywhere.  The universe is teeming with them.  That was not printed in New Schizophrenic; it was printed in New Scientist.  You don’t even need a habitable zone any more.  Just add water, a little heat, and presto: life.  It doesn’t seem to bother these scientists that there is no empirical evidence for it.
  9. Cool your GW jets:  One of the most forward-looking and futuristic scientists of our age, who has had no trouble imagining life on frozen worlds and aliens able to harvest all the light of their dimming stars in huge spheres, doesn’t buy global warming.  Freeman Dyson, who taught physics for 41 years at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, and has received 21 honorary degrees, is unimpressed by the models and methods of the Global Warming consensus, reported Town Topics, a Princeton newsletter.  Dyson thinks the proponents of anthropogenic global warming are “tremendously dogmatic.”  The self-styled rebel warned an audience that “When science gets rich it becomes political.
  10. What’s yanking on my spacetime fabric?  Something’s out there.  We can’t see it and don’t know what it is – but it’s tugging on the universe, said National Geographic News.  The culprits could be anything: “As bizarre as you could imagine—some warped space-time,” the protagonist said.  On the other hand, though, it could be “something dull.”  Whatever it is, finding it was a “great surprise” and would require “explaining the unexplainable.”  There’s hope, though; “Not everyone is ready to rewrite physics just yet.”
  11. An unexpected link?  Are the half-lives of radioactive elements constant?  Science News spent four pages last week examining the possibility that decay rates are influenced by the sun.  The editor even commented on the article; “Maybe radioactivity hasn’t revealed all its mysteries,” he said.  He recounted several instances in the 20th century when consensus views about radioactivity were overthrown.  “To be sure,” Tom Siegfried said, “there’s no reason yet to throw out the nuclear physics textbooks.”  Human error is often the problem – not the laws of physics.  “But you never know.  Radioactivity has a way of revealing some of nature’s best-kept secrets.”
  12. Quantum indeterminism:  Is the whole edifice of quantum physics about to come unglued?  PNAS published a paper by Aage Bohr, the fourth son of Niels Bohr, who with two colleagues is upsetting the atomic world view.  In its place, they offered a geometric world view, “which recognizes the occurrence of events, clicks in counters [as in radioactive decay], coming without a cause, referred to as fortuitous.”  They hastened to explain why this is not the death of science.  But what would a traditional cosmologist or historian of science think of the following:
    Through fortuity, space–time invariance itself thus acquires a hitherto unrecognized role.  Departing from the norms of physical theory, the uncaused click is not a measurement of something, and the reality mirrored in the distributions is the geometry of space time itself, and not a property of an imagined object.  The geometric world view involves only the dimensions of space and time, and the absence of an irreducible dimension of mass is seen as the result of the discovery of new physical phenomena.  Accordingly Planck’s constant has no place in fundamental theory and is seen as a relic of dimensions that have become superfluous.
Considering what scientists have told us is true about some of these things before, how can anyone trust what they are telling us now?  Scientific truth ain’t what it used to be, and maybe science isn’t, either.  If the mission statement of science ever was to follow the evidence where it leads, without bias, toward gaining understanding of the workings of nature, what happened?
    A new book on the history of science reviewed by Thomas F. Gieryn, a sociologist at Indiana University, in Science, 1 may provide insight.  The book is The Scientific Life: A Moral History of a Late Modern Vocation by Steven Shapin (University of Chicago Press, 2008).  Shapin examined the difference between academic science (going on in the research universities) and corporate science (out to make a profit).  Both groups distrust each other; Shapin “is impatient with cultural commentators and academic social theorists who align virtue only with a ‘pure science’ ideal and university-based inquiry and who often treat industrial and entrepreneurial science (or science done in big teams at state facilities) as corruptions of what makes science and scientists ‘good.’”
    The idealized vision of the pure scientist is largely gone, most philosophers of science admit these days.  The ivory tower vs the greed-motivated entrepreneur is too simplistic; “surely reality is somewhere in between,” Gieryn said, agreeing with Shapin.  For instance, university scientists are subject to some of the same pressures and selfish motivations of the corporate researcher, such as being “distracted by teaching and endless committees and where the need to refresh one’s grants speeds up the treadmill as it forces research agendas to align themselves with mandates of funding agencies.”
    What sets a good scientist apart, then?  Shapin called his book a “moral history” of science for a reason.  A prerequisite for good science, regardless of venue, is personal character and morality:
What makes Shapin’s attention to industrial and entrepreneurial research so compelling is how different today’s technoscience looks when contrasted with histories in which pure science in universities becomes the gold standard.  In these other sites of science, Shapin finds the paradox that gives the book its spring.  Research managers at Bell Labs or General Electric judge scientists not only on their impressive credentials and technical skills but also by their personal dispositions for working well in large, variegated, transient, and loosely organized teams.  Venture capitalists must, in the face of massive uncertainties about whether an invention will yield profits, rely on character judgments about the personal trustworthiness and dedication of this particular scientist or engineer, who may differ little from a thousand others in terms of bench skills or academic achievements.  The Scientific Life provokes us to discard worn-out understandings that science outside universities is necessarily aberrant and that the credibility of scientific knowledge no longer depends upon moral judgments about the experts who make reality claims.  In that task, the book succeeds masterfully.
In other words, character counts.
1.  Thomas F. Gieryn, “History of Science: Who Scientists Are Now,” Science, 21 November 2008: Vol. 322. no. 5905, pp. 1189-1190, DOI: 10.1126/science.1166262.
Last month we saw Dyche Mullins say that what sets a good scientist apart is intuition – trusting one’s instincts (10/21/2008).  And then we asked why that makes science any more special than football coaching or prosecuting a case or hunting.  Notice that Gieryn just referred to “experts who make reality claims” (i.e., scientists), but are you convinced by the reality claims in the 12 stories above?  Some of these scientists wouldn’t know reality from Reality TV.  If asked to define reality philosophically, it is doubtful they could defend what they believe as being really real.  They couldn’t tell us where their presuppositions stop and their empiricism begins.  If what they told us yesterday was scientific fact is now obsolete, how are we to trust what they are telling us now?
    A common tactic of the leftist secularist Darwin-worshiping crowd is to call their critics “anti-science.”  That mud won’t stick.  If by science they mean its original intent of “knowledge” gained by honest pursuit of the truth, following the evidence where it leads, then no one could be more pro-science than the Darwin doubters.  They are willing to risk reputation and even livelihood for standing up to dogma masquerading as scientific knowledge.  But if by science the Darwinists are talking about the institutions of ivory-tower elitists who enforce consensus with punishment, then any honest citizen should be anti-that.  Michael Crichton, the best-selling author who died this month, bravely told a group of scientists in 2003 what one of their own would be afraid to say: “There is no such thing as consensus science.  If it’s consensus, it isn’t science.  If it’s science, it isn’t consensus.  Period.”  This lecture, available from Stephen Schneider at Stanford, was a refreshing break from the herd mentality of the academic environment.
    Gieryn and Shapin did not describe good science in terms of its methods, its institutions and its libraries.  They boiled it down to character: personal trustworthiness, honesty, and the ability to make moral judgments.  Doesn’t that apply to every scholarly endeavor?  The same character requirement should apply to the historian, the lawyer (don’t laugh; there are some honest lawyers), the philosopher, the theologian, the architect, the teacher – indeed, to everyone.  Each of us makes truth claims sometimes.  By definition, one cannot pursue truth without honesty.  Did you ever find honesty mentioned in the scientific method?
    Science’s claim to privilege is supposed to depend on its way of acquiring knowledge of the natural world.  As we have seen, though, the word “natural” is slippery and ill-defined (11/09/2008).  Science overlaps with many other fields of inquiry.  The word is broadly applied in areas where it probably does not belong.  The institutions that encapsulate science encapsulate other things, not all of them savory, and some true science occurs outside the capsule.  For instance, when you find a scientist positing entities that cannot be detected even in principle, or punishing a colleague who doesn’t go along with the consensus, or appealing to the Stuff Happens Law to explain something, is that person doing better science than a citizen researcher, just because he or she wears the scientist label or has a degree in science?  A dishonest scientist does not deserve any more respect than a devious lawyer or a shaman.  To be really pro-science, you must be pro-honesty.  Since honesty does not emerge from matter in motion, that rules out many scientists-so-called who have excluded the Source of honesty from their world view.
Next headline on:  CosmologyPhysicsFossilTerrestrial ZoologyHuman BodyCell BiologyPolitics and Ethics
Raise Money by Accomplishing Nothing   11/24/2008    
Nov 24, 2008 — Frank Drake is being honored on Space.com by the SETI Institute as the “Father of SETI,”  His reputation is providing an opportunity for a fund raiser.  For a lot of money, you can spend time with a celebrity whose accomplishments are questionable.
It’s not often you get the opportunity to hang out with a legend!  Spend some quality time with Frank Drake, the founder of modern SETI, and author of the Drake Equation.
    At a donor level of $50,000 - 100,000, you can spend one to two days with Frank, as he takes you behind the scenes to the optical SETI experiment at Lick Observatory, and explains both the science and the technology.  A personalized tour of this observatory would be special in itself.  Doing so in the company of Frank Drake is not just a rare opportunity: it’s unique.
What some may consider unique, however, is the lack of measurable accomplishment for a celebrity scientist.  His achievements have been more motivational than empirical.  He founded a search for “signals of intelligent origin” in space that has found nothing since his first attempt in 1960.  In addition, his well-known “Drake equation” that purports to calculate the number of intelligent civilizations in the galaxy is simply a list of requirements for naturalistic evolution put into quasi-authoritative algebraic terms.  The factors are so little known, however, that famous origin-of-life researcher Stanley Miller once remarked that one could put any values one chooses into the equation and the result would be just as valid as any other one’s estimate. 
The Drake Equation is a joke.  It’s nothing more than a propaganda tool for atheistic cosmology, using visualization to give an air of scientific authority to ignorance.  He left out the only term that can bring the possibility of life above absolute zero: intelligent causation.  Only a fool would throw good money at ignorance (10/12/2007).
    The most egregious thing in Drake’s know-nothing resume (08/22/2008, 05/01/2008, 08/17/2007, 02/11/2007, 01/24/2007) has been the founding of a society that is dead-set against intelligent design (02/20/2007), while employing intelligent design principles in its core strategy (12/03/2005).  SETI should be renamed the Search for Evolutionary Tricks of Imagination (04/17/2008, 04/01/2008, 03/17/2008).  Thanks to Brett Miller for illustrating this in another clever cartoon.
Next headline on:  SETIIntelligent Design
Tip Link: Is evolution good for medicine?  Read what Dr. Michael Egnor wrote on Evolution News.

Nature Can’t Wait for Darwin Day   11/23/2008    
Nov 23, 2008 — Darwin Day (Feb. 12, 2009) is months away, but Nature devoted a special issue to it this week.  The cover story, Darwin 200, includes 15 articles and features, some of which are available to the public.  Features include a list of celebrations and exhibitions around the world, including a re-enactment of Darwin’s voyage on a “modernized replica” of the HMS Beagle.  The voyage will be a floating field trip beamed to classrooms worldwide.
    The lead Editorial, “Beyond the Origin,” contained the expected creation-bashing and touting of Darwin’s theory as the greatest idea in history, but it ended with a curious theme: synthetic biology will allow the origin of life by intelligent design, though Darwin’s law of natural selection will continue to rule biology. 

By the time the 200th birthday of On the Origin of Species is celebrated, the life under study by science may well no longer be united by common ancestry in the way that all life is today.  In that sense, Darwin’s view of the world will have been superseded.  But whether that life exists around another star or in a bioreactor, it will still evolve, if given leave to, according to the simple and awe-inspiring algorithms of natural selection.
    The essay of Dobzhansky’s quoted earlier bears the now-famous title “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”.  That is so close to being an analytical truth – a necessary implication of what life itself is – that we can be certain it will continue to be true into the future.  But that certainty in no way limits the diversity and sheer wonder of what we will find on the voyage that Darwin began.
The celebratory euphoria in this editorial was quenched somewhat by another article in the special issue by Janet Browne, historian at Harvard and authority on Darwin.  Although calling Darwin’s theory a “magnificent achievement” offering “remarkable explanatory power for 150 years,” she found some dirty laundry in the political history of Darwinism.1  Noting that “it is worth remembering that scientific anniversaries also provide an opportunity to push an agenda, and even to adapt the past, so telling us what we like best to hear,” Browne revisited prior Darwin celebrations in 1882, 1909 and 1959 to see what happened then.  She found an interesting phenomenon: Darwin celebrations tended to be agenda-driven attempts to shore up a theory in crisis:
  1. 1882:  When Darwin died, his supporters used his “funeral as propaganda.”  Concerned at the time over criticisms that Darwin’s views were hostile to religion, Thomas Huxley and crew hastened to get him buried in Westminster Abbey.  Why?
    The funeral service and many obituaries stressed that Darwin was not an atheist.  He was instead described as a good man, committed to truth and honesty.  This was true, but it was also valuable propaganda at a time when relations between science and religion were intensely fraught.  The men of the Royal Society used Darwin’s funeral as a way to reassure their contemporaries that science was not a threat to moral values, but rather was becoming increasingly important in the modern world.
  2. 1909: The 50th anniversary of the Origin found Darwin’s theory in decline.  New views on genetics, fossils and orthogenesis were undermining his views on gradual change, implying instead a goal-directed path of descent and even teleology.  “The 1909 commemorations, organized by a small group of naturalists and Darwin family members from the University of Cambridge, provided a way to reassert the primacy of natural selection against other evolutionary rivals,” Browne said.
  3. 1959:  The bombastic Darwin Centennial hosted by the University of Chicago in 1959 was another attempt to whitewash Darwin, Browne argued. 
    This Darwin anniversary was held at the University of Chicago in Illinois, in a symposium that pointedly celebrated the integration of genetics and population statistics with selection theory.  Ten years earlier, this integration had almost taken the form of a political treaty.  Putting it bluntly, field naturalists were eager to re-establish their value in an increasingly laboratory-based world.  Prominent naturalists such as Ernst Mayr managed to get geneticists and statisticians to agree that evolution could take place on three levels: in molecules; in the flow of genes through populations; and in the environmental world of organisms undergoing competition and natural selection.  In 1942, Julian Huxley invented the phrase ‘modern synthesis’ to combine genetics with natural selection, and Mayr’s key work within this synthesis, Systematics and the Origin of Species from the Viewpoint of a Zoologist (Columbia Univ. Press), was published.
    In addition, the Darwinites “in effect created modern Darwinism by emphatically rejecting any form of Lamarckism” in the context of the cold war:
    In 1959, socialist Russia had only recently withdrawn from Lamarckism in genetics, and the idea was strongly associated in US minds with the cold-war struggle.  The delegates also rejected the idea that the fossil record shows signs of directed evolution, and expanded Darwinian thought to cover the evolution of mind and behaviour.  During the conference, Julian Huxley, the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley, gave a secular sermon in the style of his grandfather, and provocatively declared that religious belief was merely a biological feature of evolving mankind.
    This was about the same time, contrary to many people’s impressions, that the Darwin Finch story became a prop for evolutionary theory.  Mayr and Huxley had encouraged David Lack to spend time in the Galapagos observing the finches.  “It was only after this ... that the finches sketched by Darwin became collectively known as Darwin’s finches, and were held up as the first and most remarkable evidence of evolution in real organisms in a natural setting.
So instead of being spontaneous occasions to appreciate a universally-accepted hero of science, previous Darwin celebrations, Browne argued, were political ploys by advocates with an agenda.  The question becomes, will history repeat itself in 2009?
But biologists will also surely use the occasion, once again, to affirm the truth and elegance of Darwinism in the face of criticism, this time from those who prefer a creationist view of the world.  Evolution by natural selection has suddenly become a highly contentious idea, especially in the United States.  Creationist proponents abound in the US school-board system, opinion polls highlight the public’s belief in a divine origin for humankind, and ideas about intelligent design are widely circulated.  Against this, Darwin has become the figurehead for rational, secular science, and Darwinism the main target of the fundamentalist movement spreading across the globe.  Attacks extend beyond arguments over the Bible.  To criticize Darwinism is a forceful way to express anxieties about the growing power of modern science and the perceived decline of moral values in society.  To try to poke holes in Darwin’s argument is to express dislike not just for evolutionary theory but also for science itself.
    There is some irony in this situation.  Looking back to Darwin’s funeral in 1882, Darwin’s Christian qualities, his stature as a man of truth and honesty, were brought to the fore.  He was celebrated as a man whose religious doubts were an integral part of his wisdom and insight; few critics made personal attacks on his social virtues.  Now, his heroism in modern science is seen by many as an offence to religious values.  It goes to show just how diversely Darwin and his theory have been perceived and used over the years. 
Browne, author also of the award-winning biography Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Princeton, 2002),2 quipped in conclusion, “Darwin himself would surely be amazed by how differently we have chosen to celebrate his anniversaries.”
1.  Janet Browne, “Birthdays to remember,” Nature 456, 324-325 (20 November 2008) | doi:10.1038/456324a.  This article requires a subscription.
2.  Search on the keywords "Janet Browne" for quotations from this outstanding book in previous entries.
Expressing anxieties?  Expressing dislike for science itself?  Moi?  Au contraire; we are just helping shed light on evolution.  Thanks to Brett Miller for this cartoon exposè that illustrates our 12/22/2003 commentary so well (click on the icon at right for the full cartoon).  It will come in handy often, every time the Darwin Party uses some piece of contrary evidence to claim it is “shedding light on evolution” – their favorite big lie (e.g., 09/18/2008, 09/03/2008).  We love light at CEH.  Celebrate Darwin Day in style – turn on the floodlights, and shed the light all around.
Next headline on:  Darwin and Evolutionary TheoryIntelligent DesignTheologyPolitics and EthicsMedia
  Darwin was his own best pedagogue; or is that demagogue?  Revisit the 11/21/2003 entry.

Turtle Vaults Over 65 Million Year Evolutionary Hurdle   11/22/2008    
Nov 22, 2008 — The Scots are bragging about their latest missing link – a swimming turtle.  The BBC News could hardly contain the excitement over this claim to evolutionary fame: “The new species forms a missing link between ancient terrestrial turtles and their modern, aquatic descendants,” the article said.  But along with celebration, there were admissions of ignorance:

“Why did turtles enter the water?  We have no idea.  It’s a mystery – like asking why cetaceans went back into the sea,” said Jérémy Anquetin, of the department of palaeontology at the Natural History Museum.
    “Little by little, we are filling the gaps.
    “Now, we know for sure that there were aquatic turtles around 164 million years ago.
    “Eileanchelys may represent the earliest known aquatic turtle.
    “It is part of a new revision we are having about turtle evolution”....
   “This new turtle is very exciting”, said Dr Walter Joyce, an expert in turtle evolution, formerly of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University.
    “Keep in mind that a 65 million year gap used to exist in the fossil record between the oldest known turtles from the Late Triassic and basically modern turtles in the Late Jurassic.”
Additional revelations about the gap came up: the differences between the fossil and modern freshwater turtles are minor – “small differences” in cranial anatomy.  The fossil was found in a state of “exceptional preservation” in alternating series of mudstone, shale and limestone, with sharks, salamanders and rare lizards and dinosaurs in the same strata.  Joyce made another admission of doubt about the evolution story: “Finally, although it is really difficult to assess the ecological habitat preferences of turtles, the authors make a compelling case that by this stage in evolution turtles had started moving into aquatic habitats.”  As to why they did so, Anquetin had just said, “We have no idea.”
The BBC got one thing right: the gap was in the evolutionary story, not in the real world.  A turtle found exceptionally preserved in sediments along with other creatures – a turtle so similar to modern freshwater turtles it looks “like the ones you can buy in the pet shop” with only minor differences in the internal cranial structure; a few samples stuffed into a 65 million year gap in the evolutionary fable that is undergoing revision anyway – why are we supposed to believe the spin that this helps explain turtle evolution?  This proposed “missing link” does not help fill the Credibility Gap.  About the only thing you can believe in the story is Anquetin’s confession, “We have no idea.”
Next headline on:  FossilsTerrestrial ZoologyDinosaursEvolutionary Theory
Selfishness and Responsibility Are Just a Game   11/22/2008    
Nov 22, 2008 — It’s become increasingly common for evolutionists to explain human behavior in terms of games.  Another entry in this genre was published by Science Daily, which began, “‘Game theory’ is used to predict the behaviour of individuals when making choices that depend on the choices of others.  First developed as a tool for understanding economic behaviour, game theory is increasingly used in many diverse fields, ranging from biology and psychology to sociology and philosophy.”
    Researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Bristol devised a mathematical model and applied it to humans, in order to provide “a new explanation as to why a wide range of personality traits has evolved in humans and other social species.”  Their basic idea is that if you seed the mathematical model their colleague developed with variation and monitoring by others, a diversity of selfish and cooperative individuals popped out as an artifact. 
  In evolutionary terms, this trend is self-perpetuating: variation begets more variation, increasing the gap between those who trusted and co-operated, and those that exploited trusting individuals....
    Although the model focuses on individuals, the findings have implications for understanding whole societies  They are also significant because they offer an explanation as to why variation has evolved in human beings and other social species.
They seem to be implying that politics, economics, law, national security, charity, and love have now all been subsumed under the game of evolution.  But does a game really qualify as a scientific explanation?  It seems to suffer the same flaw as natural selection: just as selection implies a selector, a game implies a game-maker who sets up the rules.  Is that not what they did with their mathematical model? 
OK, let’s play their little game.  Let’s punish these non-cooperators for exploiting the gullibility of individuals.  How could they complain?  We’re just more clever at the game than they are.  While they are scratching their heads about our strategy, we move in for the checkmate: pointing out that, by sacrificing their own queen of rationality, they have exposed King Darwin to self-refutation.  For more detail, read the entries from 10/02/2008, 06/03/2008, 05/02/2008, 04/23/2008, 03/21/2008, 03/12/2008, 02/03/2008, and 01/20/2008 – and that’s just from this year.  It gets so tiring to beat the evolutionists at their own game all the time when we’re trying to get some work done.
Next headline on:  Evolutionary TheoryPolitics and EthicsDumb Ideas
Is Darwinian Environmentalism an Oxymoron?   11/21/2008    
Nov 21, 2008 — There’s something magnetic about letters to the editor.  We feel attracted to the responses of readers to what magazines print – especially when a mini-debate takes place and the author of an article replies.  In PNAS this week,1 two scientists aired a friendly squabble about the meaning of “biodiversity” and whether humans should defend it.  Darwin found himself square in the middle of the issue.
    Ivan Couée,1 a researcher in the Ecosystems-Biodiversity-Evolution section of the French National Center for Scientific Research, took issue with something Michael Novacek of the American Natural History Museum had said.2  Novacek had discussed the complex issues involved in dealing with public perception of the need to conserve biodiversity.  Couée said that scientists, in their attempts to define norms and values for the public, often tend to present the conservation of every species as “an absolute obligation.”  Then he nailed worldview issues at the core of these values; he could see creationists valuing conservation, but how does an evolutionist do so?
Certain visions of nature, as sacred creation, as precious patrimony, as optimally functioning system, or as aesthetics, all of which are static visions, may justify all-out systematic conservation.  On the other hand, evolutionary biology gives a radical lesson of utmost modesty not only to mankind, but also to the concept of nature itself.  Chaos, historical haphazards, tinkering, heterogeneity, random processes, and erratic fluctuations have resulted in the chemistry of molecular reproduction as a mechanism that has generated a myriad of life forms, known or unknown to us, emerging and disappearing, competing or sharing, essential or redundant for ecosystem functioning.  A fundamental consequence of evolutionary biology may be that, stricto sensu, biodiversity and conservation are oxymoronic words, which is likely to result in real confusion in the public.  Evolutionary biology should therefore be taken into account to a much greater extent in order to be much more cautious with words such as “conservation” and to develop a dynamic approach to biodiversity management.
PNAS gave Novacek the mike for his rebuttal.3  He denied that “sacred creation, patrimony or other such values” require conservation of biodiversity, though proponents of those views do sometimes appeal to them.  His article was just part of a series “actually dealing with the biodiversity loss in an evolutionary context,” he said.  And he agreed that evolutionists must take a dynamic approach to an evolving ecosphere “in ways that go beyond simply preserving biodiversity writ large.”  Nevertheless, he couldn’t get away from preaching that something must be done:
For example, the implementation of plans for corridors and networks that link local populations of plants and coral reef species are practical solutions based on evolutionary principles, mindful of the reality that we cannot preserve all regions, all habitats, and all species.  Not all factors are known or outcomes predictable with precision.... Evolution entails randomness, heterogeneity, and other factors that Couée mentions that frustrate our forecasts of Earth’s environmental future.  Still, urgency dictates a straightforward effort to mitigate the current massive destruction of biodiversity.  The word “conservation” may have problematic connotations, but by any other name there remains an acute need for a broad public as well as scientists to recognize the biodiversity crisis and to do something about it.
But did he answer the question?  Couée said that biodiversity and conservation are oxymoronic words to an evolutionist.  In a fluid, dynamic world of speciation and extinction, what basis does an evolutionist have for saying anything should be conserved?
1.  Ivan Couée, “Conservation and biodiversity: Potential oxymoron and public misunderstanding,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, print November 19, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0808294105.
2.  Novacek MJ (2008), “Engaging the public in biodiversity issues,” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:11571–11578.
3.  Michael J. Novacek, “Reply to Couée: Biodiversity conservation by any other name,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print November 19, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0809261105.
You know what the real oxymoron is: “consistent evolutionist.”  The concept of evolution (random, directionless, eternal change) is the opposite of consistency.  These letters reveal that evolutionist cannot live with the implications of their beliefs.  When you hear their urgent moral imperatives rising above their Darwinspeak, the choked voice of the imago Dei within them is struggling to be heard.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsCreation and TheologyEvolutionary Theory
  Six problems with the planetesimal hypothesis the textbooks don’t tell you about, and five more with the leading alternative hypothesis, from 11/20/2002.

Sponges Use Fiber Optics for Interior Lighting   11/20/2008    
Nov 20, 2008 — Sponges are among the simplest of multicellular organisms, but they contain an advanced human technology: fiber optics.  In a case of reverse biomimetics, scientists have determined that one of the products of proud human engineering was already at work in a lowly sponge.
    Fiber optical properties of sponge spicules was already known, as in the case of the Venus flower basket sponge (04/05/2006, 07/08/2005, 03/01/2004).  But that was found by transmitting laser light along the spicules of dead sponges.  Now, reported Science Daily, Italian scientists have demonstrated that living sponges indeed transduce light with their spicules.  This presumably provides illumination into their dark interiors where photosynthetic organisms harvest the light to produce energy.
    A photo accompanying the article shows fibers grouped into bundles that widen into trumpet shapes on the exterior.  These appear to gather as much light as possible to funnel inside.

A spicule is a small, needle-like crystal.  I expect you’ll agree it’s peculiar that spicules pick Yule colors to transmit.  Find spicule four times in the previous sentence.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
Unique “Orphan Genes” Are Widespread; Have No Evolutionary Explanation   11/19/2008    
Nov 19, 2008 — We often hear about the similarities between genomes, but what about the differences?  There’s a growing realization that groups of animals have genetic orphans – genes that are unique to that line (see 01/02/2003).  These genes have no evolutionary homology or kinship to genes from other lineages.  How did they arise?  And what do they do?
    A German team examined orphan genes, also called “taxonomically restricted genes” (TRGs) in two species of hydra.  They found that the hydra-specific Hym301 genes do something: they affect tentacle formation.  Knockout experiments and alteration of expression of Hym301 genes clearly caused changes in tentacle length and arrangement.  Their work was published in PLoS Biology1 and was summarized by Science Daily.  They felt their experiments demonstrate that orphan genes are not baggage but are involved in the specific morphological character of the organism.
    How do orphan genes arise?  Their explanation was hidden in a passive-voice verb that basically says it just happens: “Given that Hym301 genes are without homologs in eukaryotic genomes outside Hydrozoa, they might have been specifically acquired in this animal group.”  But how were they acquired, and who acquired them?  Their next sentence could not even ascribe the acquisition to natural selection: “An important step that remains to be demonstrated is the role of natural selection in fine tuning of expression of Hym301 genes or their gene regulators for this lineage-specific adaptation.”  If natural selection is only fine-tuning what was already there, it could not be responsible for the origin of Hym301.  This was the only mention of natural selection in the paper.
    References to evolution in the paper were oblique, vague, and otherwise unhelpful for macroevolutionary theory.  For example,
  • Understanding the molecular events that underlie the evolution of morphological diversity is a major challenge in biology.
  • Our data indicate that novel genes may play a role in the creation of novel morphological features, thus representing one way how evolution works at the genus level.  Appearance of novel genes may reflect evolutionary processes that allow animals to adapt in the best way to changing environmental conditions and new habitats.
  • Models for evolution of TRGs [taxon-restricted genes] have been proposed and the significance of their evolutionary contribution to ecological adaptation has been postulated.  Despite this, TRGs are poorly studied and little understood, in large part because the lack of homology confounds attempts to determine the putative function of the protein.
  • Thus, although progress has been made towards understanding the molecular mechanisms controlling the evolution of morphology, many questions remain to be addressed: What genes are differentially expressed in two closely related species and how many?  Do the differences occur predominantly in structural or regulatory genes?  Do novel genes play a role in generation of morphological novelties?  And, ultimately, what is the genetic basis of species-specific morphologies?
  • Our data show that morphological diversity at the genus level can be generated through changes in the spatial and temporal deployment of genes that are not highly conserved across long evolutionary distances.  We also propose that losses and duplications of those novel genes among closely related species may be one of the driving forces leading to morphological diversification in the genus Hydra.
  • So far, the evolutionary significance of TRGs has not been widely recognized.
  • The data provide experimental support for the hypothesis that novel genes are involved in specific ecological adaptations that change over time and that such genes serve as the raw material for microevolutionary divergence.
  • The observations show that regulatory evolution may act not only by modifying expression domains of conserved genes, but also by spatial and temporal changes in the deployment of TRGs, and that TRGs can be integrated with conserved developmental regulators to form functional signaling cascades.
  • Therefore, future research on these species may provide novel insights on how TRGs are involved in the evolution of the corresponding adaptive traits.  Although it is difficult to generalize from this example, comparing morphogenetic processes in different Hydra species seems to promise new perspectives on how nature fine-tunes morphogenesis [the origin of body plans].  Discovering not only the similarities but also the molecular differences between different organisms might yield intriguing clues in the mechanisms responsible for evolutionary changes.
But again, they did not say where the TRGs come from.  If evolution deploys them for microevolutionary fine-tuning within genera, that still does not explain how they arrived in the first place.  Our online book shows that complex genes cannot be expected to pop into existence by chance.
    Maybe this is just a little problem for Darwin, though – if orphan genes are very rare.  How common are they?  The author’s summary states that “every group of animals also has a small proportion of genes that are extremely variable among closely related species or even unique.”  They elaborated on that “small proportion” in paragraph two: it is a “substantial fraction” of the genome –
There is, however, one much less appreciated source for the creation of morphological novelties.  All genome and expressed sequence tag (EST) projects to date in every taxonomic group studied so far have uncovered a substantial fraction of genes that are without known homologs.  These “orphans” or “taxonomically restricted genes” (TRGs) are defined as being exclusively restricted to a particular taxonomic group.  For example, analysis of the phylum Nematoda [roundworms] has identified more than 20% of genes that were nematode-unique TRGs.  The draft genome of Ciona intestinalis revealed that nearly one-fifth of the genes were orphans.  A comparison between the genome sequences of Schizosaccharomyces pombe and Saccharomyces cerevisiae [yeast] showed about 14% of the predicted proteins to be unique to Sc. pombe and 19% unique to Sa. cerevisiae.  In Drosophila, [fruit fly] TRGs include indispensable regulators of development such as bicoid and spatzle.  Recent comparative data on the genomes of 12 Drosophila species revealed that about 2.5% of genes are not present outside of the genus Drosophila and, therefore, have most likely arisen de novo.  An even larger proportion of lineage-specific genes have been detected in the genome of Tribolium [a beetle].  In bacteria, the cumulative number of orphans identified does not appear to be leveling off, although hundreds of complete genome sequences have been already analyzed.
The authors gave no suggestion that these orphan genes developed from precursors by an evolutionary process.  Notice, for instance, this sentence about TRGs: “Their functions and origins are often obscure,” and later, “Therefore, we consider the members of the Hym301 family as TRGs, which have most likely originated within the class Hydrozoa and expanded in the genus Hydra.”  The phrase most likely originated is silent on the question of how, and from where.  A similar dodge phrase is have arisen, as illustrated in the final Discussion section: “The sequencing of a large number of eukaryotic and bacterial genomes has uncovered an abundance of genes without homologs, classified as TRGs and has shown that new genes have arisen in the genomes of every group of organisms studied so far including humans.”  Their experiments provide no clues about where these genes came from.  Again, they said, “The observations also extend earlier findings of an abundance of TRGs in organisms from prokaryotes to animals.”
    The question of the origin of orphan genes was left to others: “Therefore, future research on these species may provide novel insights on how TRGs are involved in the evolution of the corresponding adaptive traits.... Discovering not only the similarities but also the molecular differences between different organisms might yield intriguing clues in the mechanisms responsible for evolutionary changes.”  Science Daily was no help, either.  The article also just hoped that the finding will be “pointing the way to a new, more complete understanding of how evolution works at the level of a particular group of animals.”  It concluded, “Emergence of ‘novel’ genes may reflect evolutionary processes which allow animals to adapt in the best way to changing environmental conditions and new habitats.”  But how does evolution explain emergence?  Stuff happens?
1.  Khalturin, Anton-Erxleben, Sassman, Wittlieb, Hemmrich and Bosch, “A Novel Gene Family Controls Species-Specific Morphological Traits in Hydra,” Public Library of Science Biology, Vol. 6, No. 11, e278 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060278.
If you are not yet convinced that evolutionary theory is a mishmash of bluffing and obfuscation, in which scientists play mind games with word games, then please read this paper and explain how evolution was of any help at all in understanding this phenomenon.  While they were busy finding homologies (good grief, even these authors referred to Darwin’s finches), a major obstacle to evolution was right there in front of them, but they ignored it: orphan genes are “poorly studied and little understood,” they said.  Well, go study them, for crying out loud!  Here is a finding that amounts to falsification of Darwinism and confirmation of creationism (limited variation within created kinds), and these authors tiptoed around the bad news with carefully-crafted passive verbs built on the assumption that evolution might explain it somehow, provided you are willing to wait for the vaporware and futureware that is perpetually on back order.  “Their functions and origins are often obscure,” we are told.  They “emerged” somehow.  We need an emerge-ncy end to obscur-antism.
    Their passive verbs most likely originated, have arisen and might have been acquired are nothing more than appeals to miracles.  Our online book shows that the chance origin of genes and proteins cannot happen, and will not happen, any time or place in this universe or any other.  The miracle of creation seems almost natural by comparison.  Evolutionary theory needs to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy, because no scientific bailout is forthcoming.  The creationist creditors, who founded modern science, want their assets back.
Next headline on:  GeneticsEvolutionary Theory
Proteins Can Tie Knots   11/18/2008    
Nov 18, 2008 — Your job today is to invent a chain that can tie itself in a knot.  The chain can contain little magnets and electrical parts, but when you let go of the ends, a knot will spontaneously form.  This means that one end must form a loop and the other end must thread the loop.  Give up?  Maybe you should learn how cells do it.
    There are certain chains of amino acids coming out of the ribosome translation machine that will tie a perfect trefoil knot (picture) every time.  This knot becomes embedded deep within the overall structure of the protein.  A trio of women scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine tried to figure this out.  Writing in PNAS,1 they only made small progress.  All they could say was that the knot tying seems to occur early on, when the chain is loose.  The tightening of the knot and the rest of the folding occurs slowly thereafter.  They mutated certain amino acids to watch what happened but that’s about all they could figure out at this point.
    The protein they studied, YibK, is one of the simplest knot-tying proteins.  They mentioned others with even bigger tricks:
The alpha/beta-knot methyltransferases (MTases) are a family of homodimeric proteins that exhibit an unusual trefoil knot deep within in their native structure.  Such knots are particularly impressive because they are defined by the path of the polypeptide backbone alone and therefore require that a considerable segment of protein chain (at least 40 residues) has threaded through a loop.  The question of how such complex topologies arise during protein folding is an intriguing one, and is of growing importance with the increasing number and complexity of knotted structures observed.  In addition to trefoil knots, a highly intricate figure-of-eight knot and a knotted structure with 5 projected crossings have been observed.  Consequently, when contemplating how a given polypeptide chain might fold, the possibility that it might knot must also be considered; if a global solution to the protein-folding problem is to be found, the puzzle of how such knotted structures form must be solved.
Evolutionary theory played no role in their investigation.
1.  Anna L. Mallam, Elizabeth R. Morris, and Sophie E. Jackson, “Exploring knotting mechanisms in protein folding,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, published online before print November 17, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0806697105.
A protein that can tie a figure-of-eight knot (picture) blindfolded with no hands: amazing.  The Darwinians can’t even do that eyes-open with their baloney.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
  How the deaf hear music, from 11/27/2001.

Desperately Fleeing God in Cosmology   11/17/2008    
Nov 17, 2008 — Does the fine-tuning of the universe require belief in God?  Or will multiverse theory allow for a self-perpetuating, eternal, godless cosmos?  Tim Folger explored this topic in an interview with Andrei Linde, a cosmologist currently at Stanford, in Discovery Magazine.  The opening line sums up the controversy: “Our universe is perfectly tailored for life.  That may be the work of God or the result of our universe being one of many.
    Folger and Linde stated repeatedly and emphatically that our universe appears designed.  They discuss the multiple fine-tuning coincidences, like the mass of protons, that would rule out stars and life if they were just 0.2% more massive than they are.  “We have a lot of really, really strange coincidences, and all of these coincidences are such that they make life possible,” Linde says.  Folger asserted that physicists dislike coincidences.  To avoid them, some cosmologists have been driven to postulate that our universe may be just one of many.  We just inhabit one of the very, very rare lucky ones where the constants of physics came together by chance to permit life:

Call it a fluke, a mystery, a miracle.  Or call it the biggest problem in physics.  Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multi­verse.  Most of those universes are barren, but some, like ours, have conditions suitable for life.
    The idea is controversial.  Critics say it doesn’t even qualify as a scientific theory because the existence of other universes cannot be proved or disproved.  Advocates argue that, like it or not, the multiverse may well be the only viable non­religious explanation for what is often called the “fine-tuning problem”–the baffling observation that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the emergence of life.
    “For me the reality of many universes is a logical possibility,” Linde says.  “You might say, ‘Maybe this is some mysterious coincidence.  Maybe God created the universe for our benefit.’  Well, I don’t know about God, but the universe itself might reproduce itself eternally in all its possible manifestations.”
Those interested can read the whole article, where Linde and others elaborate on the pros and cons of the multiverse hypothesis.  One line on page 3 stands out.  Bernard Carr, a cosmologist at Queen Mary University in London, said, “you might have to have a fine-tuner.  If you don’t want God, you’d better have a multiverse.”  Linde admitted in the end that he cannot predict whether the multiverse hypothesis will gain traction any more than he can know anything at all: “What can you predict?  What can you know about the future?”
The prophet Amos teased those in his day thinking wrongly about the day of the Lord’s judgment: “It will be as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him!” he said.  “Or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him!” (Amos 5:19).  If Linde thinks he can escape God by running toward naturalistic cosmology, the bear of ultimate questions will gnaw on the bones of his speculation.  If he runs into the house of the multiverse, the serpent of ultimate causation will bite his circular reasoning.  The multiverse cannot escape from the question, “Why is there something instead of nothing?”
    The multiverse conjecture abandons science and reason.  It throws up its hands and puts faith in the Stuff Happens Law: anything can happen, anywhere, anytime, without any reason, and we can never know why (see 09/15/2008 commentary).  Linde may feel comfortable that this law fits in with his own Hindu background, but he cannot call it science.  See the 10/23/2008 commentary about the “naturalism-of-the-gaps” fallacy.
    A feeling of desperation runs through the article: isn’t there some way we can escape the obvious that God created this fine-tuned universe?  Their cure is worse than their ailment: stuff happens.  May as well give up on rationality altogether with that kind of explanation.  The Stuff Happens Law may disqualify as a scientific law, but the Law of Human Depravity has 100% predictive success.  Paul explained, “there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:11-12).  Without God providing a way back to reason through His Son Jesus Christ, (Romans 5), we would be running from God from one fantasy to another forever.
    If you have never read Paul’s treatise to the Romans, you should see how very modern it sounds in light of this article.  Notice especially Romans 1:18-24.  Send your local multiverse cosmologist a “No Excuses” T-shirt.
Next headline on:  CosmologyTheologyIntelligent Design
Biblical Archaeology News   11/16/2008    
Nov 16, 2008 — Amidst the turmoil of the Middle East, teams of archaeologists quietly work and uncover things that make history come alive.  Some findings have to survive years of debate.  Among the following stories are hints that Bible skeptics are on the defensive.
  1. Teaser: will David sling the critics?  Near the traditional spot where David slew Goliath, a piece of pottery was found with writing on it.  It dates from the time of David and Solomon, making it one of the earliest inscriptions in Israel ever found in situ.  What will it reveal?  Nobody knows for sure, but one archaeologist has teased everyone by exclaiming, “This is going to be VERY EXCITING!!!!”
        News media caught wind of this in late October (see BBC News and National Geographic) and wondered if it will provide proof that King David really existed (see NG video).  David has been under attack – not by Goliath or Philistines, but my minimalists who have claimed the Bible stories about him are mere legends.  The site where the pottery shard was discovered was apparently a fortress overlooking the Valley of Elah.  Called by the modern name Khirbet Qeiyafa, it might have been the Ephis Dammim mentioned in II Samuel 17:1.  See Arutz Sheva for picture of the ostracon and the discovery site.
        Translation of the inscription is expected to take months.  In the meantime, the scholars are sworn to secrecy.  Todd Bolen on Bible Places has provided the most detail and best balanced reporting about the Khirbet Qeiyafa inscription.  He blogged about it Sept 15, Oct 21, Oct 29, Oct 30 and Oct 31.  Bolen is a professor in Israel who has extensively photographed the country and knows the site and excavators.
  2. The King speaks:  Did King Jehoash of Judah speak to the world on a piece of pottery?  or was the inscription a clever forgery?  Controversy has surrounded the Jehoash inscription for over 5 years (06/19/2003, 04/21/2003) because it was found in the shop of an antiquities dealer.  Todd Bolen reported on Bible Places Blog for Nov. 14 that five scholars have now declared it authentic.  For details on the evidence behind their conclusion, see BibleInterp.com; the page has a translation of the message carved in Hebrew on the pottery shard that celebrates the offerings for repair of the Temple (see II Chronicles 24).  More information about the inscription controversy can be found at BibleInterp.com.
  3. James was here:  Hershel Shanks of the Biblical Archaeology Society is crowing that the trial alleging the James Ossuary is a forgery is falling apart.  The ossuary inscribed with “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” was found in 2002 (10/21/2002), but its authenticity has been on trial ever since.  The official position of the IAA (Israeli Antiquities Authority) has been that it is a forgery, but supporters feel the analysis has been incomplete and their views have been marginalized.  Shanks has not let go of the story for years in Biblical Archaeology Review and has repeatedly criticized the IAA for its refusal to heed the conclusions of scholars for the defense.  Now that the IAA’s forgery trial is collapsing, the supporters of the ossuary’s authenticity have been vindicated, Shanks said.  Read his report and decide.  Bible Interpretation also has the latest news.
  4. If I had a Hammer:  A segment of a wall in Jerusalem dating from the time of the Hasmoneans, descendents of Judas “The Hammer” Maccabeus (of Hannukah fame), has been brought to the daylight after 20 centuries.  See Science Daily for picture and story.
  5. Hearing and earring:  Sometimes archaeology happens by accident.  A beautiful earring of gold, pearl and emerald that looks like it was picked up at a modern Jerusalem fashion store was found in a parking lot – but it’s at least 1600 years old.  National Geographic has a picture of it.  It once graced the ear of some wealthy Roman-era noblewoman.  Bible Places has links to other articles about the find.
  6. Post-Babel apostasy:  A burial site from a cave in Galilee, said to be that of an elderly female shaman from the Natufian period, was reported by several sources including Science News and National Geographic.  The articles date the Natufian culture from 15,000 to 11,000 years BCE, but dating becomes increasingly uncertain prior to the first written records.  If people were already opposing the true God at Babel after the Flood, it is conceivable that cults and shamans arose quickly as people dispersed into the regions described in the Table of Nations (Genesis 10).  Secularists who deny that interpretation must nevertheless face the fact that from earliest times humans show a propensity for spirituality.  As Craig Hazen of Biola quipped on the new DVD The Case for Faith, humans should not be labeled Homo sapiens, the wise man, but rather Homo religiosis – the religious man, because in every culture throughout history, people have shown a need for reconciliation with the gods or God, sensing a spiritual vacuum in the heart.
Biblical archaeology news must be approached cautiously, because the press sometimes hastens to inflate possible connections with Scripture.  Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, said that a water tunnel found in old City of David excavations is the route Joab used to conquer Jerusalem (II Samuel 5).  Todd Bolen tried to cool these jets with caution on Bible Places Blog on Nov. 4 by saying, “The solution is not to refuse to make connections to the Bible, nor to deny that the Biblical record is historically accurate, but instead to carefully study all of the evidence, avoiding unwarranted and premature sensationalistic headlines”  But that cuts both ways, he continued: “more often it is scholars on the other side who use a scrap of evidence as complete and compelling proof that the biblical story is false.  Abuses on one side do not justify abuses on the other.”
The Khirbet Qeiyafa pottery shard is bound to be significant already for three reasons: it dates from the time of David, it was found in situ, and it bears an inscription – a rare treasure in Biblical archaeology.  It would be inappropriate for CEH to speculate on the significance of the inscription for corroborating the historical David till it has been translated and published, but when that happens, we will be quick to measure it on the exciting-o-meter.
    Those who think all religions are the same should ponder the wealth of historical detail supporting the Bible.  The Bible is not just a book of aphorisms emanating from the imagination of a guru.  It is a work by 40 diverse authors covering a span of 15 centuries, yet it maintains one theology, one morality, and a unified story of redemption from creation to the final judgment and eternal blessing.  It contains a wealth of narrative history that can be cross-checked against independent sources.  The Bible contains hundreds of place-names from Iran to Spain, many described in detail that can be seen today: the Gibeon Pool, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the sacred precinct at Dan, the synagogue at Capernaum, Lachish, Megiddo, Hazor, Jezreel and Jericho to name a few.  Jerusalem itself is filled with historical sites described in the Bible from the time span of Abraham to Paul – almost 2200 years.
    Debates continue about interpretation of the evidence, but the fact that so much evidence exists, and that a good deal of it has outlived the skeptics, should factor into one’s evaluation of the Bible’s trustworthiness compared to other religious writings.  Josh McDowell in Evidence That Demands a Verdict, citing Sidney Collett’s book All About the Bible, quoted M. Montiero-Williams, a professor of Sanskrit, who said this about Eastern religious texts which he had studied for 42 years: “Pile them, if you will, on the left side of your study table, but place your own Holy Bible on the right side—all by itself, all alone—and with a wide gap between them.  For, ... there is a gulf between it and the so-called sacred books of the East which severs the one from the other utterly, hopelessly, and forever ... a veritable gulf which cannot be bridged over by any science of religious thought.”
Next headline on:  Bible and TheologyDating Methods
Cell Chaperone Is an Optimized Two-Stroke Machine   11/15/2008    
Nov 15, 2008 — Proteins need a protected space to fold, and the cell provides it: the GroEL-GroES chaperone (see 05/05/2003, 06/07/2006, and 02/13/2007).  More details keep coming in about this “protein dressing room” as scientists continue to probe its secrets.  Two new papers in PNAS by a team at University of Maryland and College Park reveal that this is no passive cavity.  The system acts like a two-stroke engine with two timers.1,2 
    John P. Grason et al have examined the machinery in action, and found truly amazing properties in this tiny but complicated system.  We’ll try here to reduce their complex jargon into easily-pictured analogies.  To picture GroEL, think of two donut-shaped rings, studded with electronics, that stack on top of one another.  We’ll call them cis and trans.  The cis ring on the bottom has a floor, while the trans ring is open.  When stacked, they form a barrel-shaped cavity.  On top, another protein called GroES fastens and forms a protective cap.  Now we have something like a scuba diver’s emergency decompression chamber, if you can picture it.
    A good decompression chamber is going to keep the patient inside long enough, but not too long.  Humans can control their chambers, but how does a sightless nanomachine do it?  The answer: through the use of timers.  There are two timers in the GroEL-GroES system that operate independently.  Working together, they optimize the time the protein inside has for folding, without letting the prima donna hog the dressing room when others need to use it (sorry for the mixed metaphors).  How the system accomplishes this is truly astonishing.
    Deploying ATP energy, the two rings twist back and forth against each other, creating strain.  They undergo a two-stroke cycle: starting in phase, then twisting 180° with respect to each other, then back again.  The authors call the stages taut (T) and relaxed (R); when cis is taut, trans is relaxed, and vice versa.  Their two-stroke cycle time is dependent on the protein inside the barrel and on the presence of ATP and potassium ion.  This gives the operation some flexibility.  The protein in the dressing room isn’t unnecessarily rushed, and the chamber isn’t wasting energy when no one is inside.  The other timer, though, is like a countdown timer with no mercy.  In the floor of the cis ring, a second timer running on ATP has a time limit that starts when the lid closes.  When the timer hits zero, the protein is booted out, folded or not (see footnote 3).
    Working together, these two timers optimize the protein folding time.  The variable timer, like an idling engine, goes to work when the protein enters.  It tries to adjust its time to the needs of the protein inside.  But if the protein doesn’t finish folding in the 3-to-4 second window of the second timer, it gets ejected.  It can, however, come back in for a second try.  The protein can keep trying, in fact, till it succeeds or gives up and gets recycled by the trash collection process (a “very sophisticated recycling system” described this week on PhysOrg).  Here’s how the authors describe how the timers interact:
In the absence of SP [substrate protein inside the cavity], the chaperonin machine idles in the resting state, but in the presence of SP it operates close to the speed limit, set by the rate of ATP hydrolysis by the cis ring.  Thus, the conformational states [i.e., twisting motions] of the trans ring largely control the speed of the complete chaperonin cycle.
What this means is that every actor gets a shot at the dressing room, but those with more costuming and make-up (i.e., more complex proteins) get more time – within limits.  If it exceeds the upper limit it has to go back outside and wait for another turn.  The authors called this flexible mechanism, which coordinates a variable timer with a non-variable timer, “iterative annealing.”  They said iterative annealing is “simply a biological example of a well known and widely used principle of optimization.”  Maybe public shower operators could learn something here.
    Analogies have their limitations, but to show that we are not making this up, here is the summary explanation in their own words.  Look for a hint of excitement in their discovery:
The picture of the chaperonins that emerges from our work is that of a machine equipped with a timer, the trans ring, poised to respond to the appearance of SP [substrate protein inside the cavity] but otherwise idling in a quiescent state.  We note that Nature’s design of this 2-speed protein machine minimizes the hydrolysis of ATP in the absence of SP.  However, it maximizes the number of turnovers and minimizes the residence time available to the encapsulated SP to reach the native state, design principles well suited to the operation of an iterative annealing device.
How did this system arise?  One of the papers began with an oblique reference to evolution that raises more questions than it answers: “As with many other cellular machines, the chaperonin nanomachine has evolved to operate at variable speed in response to biological demand.”  This puzzling statement seems to imply teleology – a sin in the world of Darwinian explanations.  In neither paper, however, did the authors speculate on how a blind, purposeless process could have produced an optimized system as functionally efficient and complicated as the GroEL-GroES chaperone.  Quite the contrary.  The quote above used the word Design twice.
Note: Both papers are categorized as Open Access and can be read in their entirety online; see footnotes.
1.  Grason, Gresham, Widjaja, Wehri and Lorimer, “Setting the chaperonin timer: The effects of K+ and substrate protein on ATP hydrolysis, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print November 6, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0807429105 (open access article).
2.  Grason, Gresham and Lorimer, “Setting the chaperonin timer: A two-stroke, two-speed, protein machine,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print November 6, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0807418105 (open access article).
3.  The famous adventurer John Muir as young man invented a bed that would raise up when the alarm went off, putting the surprised sleeper on his feet.
Don’t get too mad at Dr. Grason for putting the E-word into the paper.  If he hadn’t paid homage to Charlie’s Totalitarian Regime, he might have been Expelled.  At least there is progress: the D-word outscored the E-word two to one.  What a great day it will be when scientists are free to express joy at the designs they explore without having to say stupid things like “it evolved” (05/25/2005 commentary).
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
  Read one of our early stories from 11/14/2000.  Does the Darwinian theme sound familiar?  Has anything changed?

Poison Planet Was Life’s Training Ground   11/14/2008    
Nov 14, 2008 — Navy Seals go through “Hell Week” in their training to become warriors.  The radical hardships they endure help prepare them for missions that will call on their deepest resources of courage and determination.  These men of the elite special forces also become experts in dealing with explosives.  Can molecules do the same, with a little training?  Dr. Friedemann Freund of the SETI Institute believes that deadly poisons in the early earth gave emerging life a Hell Week of billions of years to prepare them for existence with the most reactive element in the air: oxygen.
    Dr. Freund’s article for SETI Thursday on Space.com, might turn off the casual reader due to the chemical equations and the technical analysis of hydroxyls, peroxides and banded iron formations.  He did start it with a teaser line, though: “Living on a planet with an oxygen-rich atmosphere we tend to forget that our planet is an anomaly.”  The chemistry details were provided to demonstrate that early life would have had to deal with reactive oxygen species (ROS), including peroxides.  These energetic molecules rip and tear into biological molecules like DNA and protein.  Many readers may have quit before the interesting part at the end.  That’s where Dr. Freund intimated that a little Hell Week training gave life the ability to deploy oxygen in metabolism – without getting blown up in the process.

Thus we come to the tentative conclusion that, through weathering and electrochemistry, peroxy in rocks provided enough oxidation power to change the course of our planet’s history.  Over the course of 1.5 to 2 billion years, peroxy forced the early Earth to slowly but inextricably become ever more oxidized.  Along the way dangerous Reactive Oxygen Species [ROS], constantly produced at rock-water interfaces and during peroxy hydrolysis, challenged the early microbes, archaea and bacteria.  As Dr. Rothschild so aptly put it, the ROS might have provided a “training ground” for those early micro-organisms to learn how to deal with oxygen.  They developed the basic enzymatic defenses, which our bodies still use today to fend off the detrimental side effects of our oxygen-based metabolism.
    Thus, while the Earth was still overwhelmingly reduced [i.e., oxygen-depleted], eukaryotes joined the archaea and bacteria.  Under the onslaught of those ROS, the eukaryotes “learned” how to survive in an oxygen-spiked environment long before free O2 gas appeared in Earth’s atmosphere.  At some point the eukaryotes learned how to take advantage of the large chemical energy that oxygen can provide.  They adapted to do oxygenic photosynthesis, to tap the energy in O2.  This lead [sic] to the Great Oxidation Event and to plenty of free O2 in Earth’s atmosphere that made our planet livable for us...and it all started with water and a little-known solid state reaction in the rocks.
It seems ironic that after Dr. Freund had employed chemical equations based on the laws of chemistry that he would end up imagining molecules overcoming those same natural laws through the exercise of courage and determination.  And regarding oxygenic photosynthesis, a process so elaborate that today’s biochemists struggle to comprehend it, he imagined the earliest eukaryotes had a simple motto: Just do it.  The Navy Seals have quite a different motto: The only easy day was yesterday.
Sometimes the comments in an article do all the work of commentary for us.  You didn’t realize that simple cells have all the courage, determination and ingenuity of elite special forces, did you?  Sure; they face their challenges, adapt, learn and develop protocols for handling explosives, all without a brain or a purpose.  Maybe the SETI Institute people need to search for a little extra-terrestrial intelligence about five feet above the terrestrial surface they are standing on.
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeGeologySolar SystemSETIDumb Ideas
Polishing Darwin’s Icons   11/13/2008    
Nov 13, 2008 — Finch beaks, peppered moths, transitional forms – the standard props for evolution have been scrutinized ad infinitum for decades.  Can anything new be said about them?  Find out in these recent articles.
  1. Peppered moths:  The peppered-moth story just about collapsed when investigators realized that the famous pictures that adorn textbooks were staged, because the moths do not normally reside on tree trunks, but in the branches.  Other critics pointed out that no evolution occurred – just shifts in abundances of existing varieties of the same species.  Moreover, it was never proved that changes in coloration were related to predation by birds.  Seeing this icon under assault was enough to make staunch evolutionist Jerry Coyne feel like discovering Santa Claus was really his dad (07/05/2002).
        Nevertheless, another peppered-moth paper appeared in PNAS recently.1    The authors did not add anything of substance; they only provided evidence that a shift in populations across a region requires many generations.  The notable aspect is what was lacking: no mention of the controversy, no mention of the critics who found flaws in the previous studies (like Judith Hooper, 06/25/2004), and no indication that the peppered moth evidence is useless for evolution anyway.  Quite the contrary.  Kettlewell (who glued moths to tree trunks) was cited favorably, and the article began triumphantly, “Historical datasets documenting changes to gene frequency clines are extremely rare but provide a powerful means of assessing the strength and relative roles of natural selection and gene flow.”
  2. Darwin’s finches:  The Galapagos finches are to Darwinism what the Statue of Liberty is to America: the leading light of evidence for natural selection.  What they are not, Jonathan Wells argued in Icons of Evolution, is evidence for macroevolution, because the changes oscillate back and forth with no real trend either way.  Furthermore, after all the flutter of scientific papers, the finches are still finches.  Most varieties on the islands are still interfertile.
        It seems it would be hard to add anything to the work of David Lack and Peter and Rosemary Grant, work that covers decades of observations (03/04/2008 bullet 4, 07/14/2006).  Nonetheless, PhysOrg reported on work by a team from University of Massachusetts at Amherst that “Offers Rare Glimpse Into How Species Diverge.”  What else is new?  Previous researchers had already shown that environmental changes can trigger adaptive changes, primarily in beak size and shape.  The team must have had fun figuring this out again, because one said, “Witnessing this dynamic tug of war among environmental factors is very exciting.”
        The punch line that deflates the excitement came at the end of the article:
    The behavioral ecologist points out that this process has been known to change in the other direction; one species can emerge where once there had been two, if environmental factors press in that direction.  Thus Podos and colleagues have not necessarily witnessed the birth of a new finch species at El Garrapatero.  In wetter years with more abundant food, selection may be less intense and medium-beaked populations may rebound.  But the researchers suggest that understanding the relative strength of disruptive selection in different environmental directions could provide key insights into the speciation process.
    They speak of “key insights” in future tense.  What, exactly, was demonstrated that was not already common knowledge?  Finch beaks change slightly depending on the food available.  That claim is not controversial even to creationists.  This team just stated two conclusions unhelpful to Darwin: that they didn’t observe any new species coming into being, and that two species can merge into one.  How did finches arise in the first place?  No researcher at the Galapagos has answered that question.  But that was Darwin’s question: the origin of species.
  3. Tiktaalik again:  Among the alleged transitional forms demonstrating “great transformations” in evolutionary history, Tiktaalik is a relative newbie.  Neil Shubin’s 2006 discovery of an alleged tetrapod ancestor made a splash on TV and became the centerpiece of his book, Your Inner Fish.  This fossil, however, is only one contender for the title (e.g., 10/20/2006).  Shubin’s pet fish-a-pod is not wholeheartedly endorsed by other paleontologists; nor do paleontologists look for a straight-line series leading from one body form to another as they did in the days of belief in orthogenesis.  As with other alleged transitional forms, Tiktaalik contains a confusing mosaic of features evolutionists consider primitive and derived.  Casey Luskin on Evolution News showed reports of other scientists claiming that the quality of this evolutionary icon is poor in retrospect.
        Last month’s paper on Tiktaalik in Nature2 did not make as much of a splash.  Shubin and team claimed more transitional features in the cranium.  National Geographic endowed it as the fish with the first neck, and Science Daily dressed it up in a series declaring the hyomandibula is shrinking toward becoming an ear bone (cf. 03/19/2007).  Other than that, very few mentioned this latest claim.  We’ll have to wait and see if the quality of the icon has improved.
Not one of these papers mentioned the controversial aspects of the icons.
1.  Saccheri et al, “Selection and gene flow on a diminishing cline of melanic peppered moths,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, October 21, 2008 vol. 105 no. 42 16212-16217, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0803785105.
2.  Downs, Daeschler, Jenkins and Shubin, “The cranial endoskeleton of Tiktaalik roseae,” Nature 455, 925-929 (16 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07189.
Leftovers again.  High-profile criticisms, not just from creationists, have been leveled at these so-called proofs of evolution.  It would seem in the interest of publishers to air the controversies and deal with them, rather than present the icons as news.
Next headline on:  BirdsFossilsTerrestrial ZoologyEvolution
Young Lava Conflicts with Lunar Age   11/12/2008    
Nov 12, 2008 — The Japanese found what the Americans and Russians didn’t: young lava on the far side of the moon.  “Volcanoes shook up the far side of the moon for far longer than scientists thought,” reported National Geographic News on photos from the Japanese Kaguya (Selene) spacecraft (11/15/2007).
    Crater-count dating estimates the lava flows at 2.5 million years – far younger than the ancient times when volcanism was supposed to have stopped.  “Until recently, the prevailing belief was that lunar volcanism started soon after the moon formed, about 4.5 billion years ago, and ended about 3 billion years ago.”  Volcanism was supposed to have stopped earlier on the far side of the moon than the near side.
    A member of the team said, “The finding will lead the scientific community to reconsider the early geology of the moon.”  Volcanism will have to be considered as a recurrent feature over a much longer period.  “The thermal history of the moon is certainly more complex than originally thought,” another commented.
    A scientist from the Lunar and Planetary Institute said that crater-count dating is generally reliable (but see 10/20/2005, 06/08/2006, and 03/25/2008; also 05/14/2003).  “But without samples to constrain the calculations,” he admitted, “they are just estimates.”  Others rejoiced that a feast of new quality data is coming from our nearest celestial neighbor after a “data famine” for decades.
Update 11/14/2008: A reader pointed out that a similar article on Space.com says 2.5 billion, not 2.5 million.  Assuming 2.5 billion is the intended estimate, the original commentary below has been rewritten.  The major point, however, stands: features are much younger than previously thought. 
It’s important to understand the significance of reports that show features much younger than expected.  Evolutionists and old-earth creationists (OEC) are quick to retort that the data “still” show the earth to be far older than Biblical estimates.  Granted; young-earthers cannot, and do not, claim that things like the younger moon lavas prove the moon is young in the range of 10,000 years.  Is this a stand-off, then, where both sides have problems?  No: it opens up new questions we should be asking.
    What the astronomers and OECs fail to notice is that dates as young as even 100 million years cause the whole evolutionary yarn to unravel.  Creation does not require 6,000 years – many Bible-believers have learned to be comfortable with billions – but evolution absolutely requires vast ages.  If it becomes evident that the earth, the moon, and the solar system cannot be as old as claimed (notice this says cannot be as old rather than is younger), then evolution is dead.  The dating methods that evolutionists have relied on are also dead.  Dead, also, are the props that support the OEC comfort zone.
    To visualize how serious this is, imagine a rope 45 feet long that represents the assumed age of the solar system (4.5 billion years).  How long is 2.5 billion years, the estimated dates of the lavas on the lunar far side?  Half of that length.  Do the believers in vast ages really expect us to believe that a solid body like the moon, which should have cooled to inactivity long ago, was erupting that recently?  The problem is exacerbated by orders of magnitude when considering that other reliable reports have found evidence the moon is still active today (08/28/2007 bullet 6, 08/04/2007 bullet 1, 07/12/2007 bullet 5, and especially 11/09/2006).
    As we have stated before, it is easier to set upper limits than lower limits when dealing with ages.  To set an upper limit, you can look at a known process and extrapolate it back in time a reasonable amount.  You can take the known rate of mass loss on a comet, for instance, and calculate how long it would take to disappear.  The comet could be a lot younger – but you would be reasonably confident it could not be much older.  How can anyone set a lower limit?  It would require knowing all the possible histories for a phenomenon – something humans can never know.  It used to be commonly assumed, for example, that the formation of giant planets required millions of years.  This was touted as refuting young-earth beliefs.  Then, lo and behold, other scientists postulated that giant planets could form in a few hundred years (05/07/2001, 05/16/2003, 03/21/2006).  In any case, setting upper limits is more scientifically justifiable, because the observation to assumption ratio is lower (05/14/2003).  It avoids the “reckless drafts on the bank of time” that annoyed Lord Kelvin (07/02/2007).
    If the moon lavas were an isolated instance, perhaps the old-earthers could come up with a rescuing device.  They could suggest there was more initial radioactivity in the core than previously thought.  But the solar system is filled with phenomena that call the consensus date into serious question (e.g., 07/31/2008, 06/19/2008, 05/21/2008, 05/05/2008, 02/15/2008).   If the age of the moon were significantly reduced, even if just by half, it would ripple like dominoes throughout geology, planetary science and biology.  The evolutionary edifice at the end would topple over.  It would sweep the field clear of naturalistic, evolutionary explanations.  It would require a serious look at creation.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating Methods
  Should Obama drill for microbes to solve our energy woes?  Read the 11/18/2006 entry.

Lizard Hair and Other Fables   11/12/2008    
Nov 12, 2008 — In some science reports, it’s hard to tell where the data stops and the speculation begins.  In any case, evolutionary theory usually arrives in time to take credit for whatever happened in the unobservable past (cf. 08/24/2007).

  1. Bad hair jokeLive Science wants you to blame your bad hair days on lizards.  Why?  Because according to Jeanna Brynner, the origin of bad hair was “discovered” in our evolution from reptiles: “hair has its origins in stuff that used to make just claws.”  A frustrated female having a bad hair day adorns the article.
        A scientist at the Medical University of Vienna claims that he found genes for keratin in reptiles and birds.  Hair is also made of keratin.  “Our results suggest these components, the hair keratins, had an original role in the claws,” said Leopold Eckhart.  “We think this common ancestor of reptiles and mammals formed claws, and these claws were made of these keratins, which only later in mammals acquired an additional role in forming hair.”  Why human claws (fingernails) are not forming hair was not explained, or why a protein with multiple functions demonstrates evolution.  National Geographic News joined the act by saying, “Lizards, Birds Have Hair Genes.”  Its reporter, James Owen, confused cause and effect by claiming that hair was “one of the main evolutionary innovations that led to the rise of mammals.”  The first mammals already had hair, and no lizard with hair has been discovered except in imagination: “The very first whiskery hairs may even have sprouted on reptiles, Eckhart said, ‘However, I don’t think it very likely,’ he added,” maybe because the thought of a whiskered lizard next to a portrait of Charles Darwin might be too much.  In a more restrained moment, he said, “Actually, it may be more appropriate to call these proteins claw keratins, which later acquired an additional role in hair.”  Indeed, the abstract in PNAS suggested that “the evolution of mammalian hair involved the co-option of pre-existing structural proteins.”  Whether or not reptiles ever had “bad claw days,” the headline writers got their catch-lines anyway.
  2. Nonleaping lizards:  Speaking of reptiles, Science Daily spoke of “blisteringly fast” evolution in legless lizards.  Small skink lizards have rudimentary legs but mostly slither around in habitats where legs don’t help.  “It is believed that skinks are loosing [sic] their limbs because they spend most of their lives swimming through sand or soil,” said Adam Skinner of the University of Adelaide; “limbs are not only unnecessary for this, but may actually be a hindrance.”  Evolution was brought in for explanations: Skinner told the reporters that “evolution of a snake-like body form has occurred not only repeatedly but also very rapidly and without any evidence of reversals.”  He estimated complete limb loss in just 3.6 million years.  These “extensive changes in body shape over geologically brief periods” struck Science Daily as “blisteringly fast” even though it is not clear if loss of a functional part should be considered evolution in the Darwinian sense of innovations arising from a common ancestor.
  3. Dance of the veils:  Scientists in Flanders have been busy “raising the veil on evolution” by showing that a lab plant could be converted from an annual to a perennial.  Science Daily shared a press release from the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology where they deactivated two genes in Arabidopsis, a favorite lab annual, and got it to grow like a perennial, complete with secondary growth and wood formation.  These “late bloomers” show that only two genes separate annual growth habits from those of perennials, which the article said have “more evolved life strategies for surviving in poor conditions.”  Evolution got more credit at the end of the article: “Researchers have been fascinated for a long time by the evolution of herbaceous to woody structures,” it concluded.  “....This has probably been going on throughout the evolution of plants.  Furthermore it is not inconceivable this happened independently on multiple occasions.”
  4. Tentacles of evolution:  Scientists think they have found the common ancestor of all octopus species.  A simple-looking thing with eight tentacles adorns a BBC News report that starts, “Many of the world’s deep-sea octopuses evolved from a common ancestor that still exists in the icy waters of the Southern Ocean.”  This shows that the founders of the English language do not feel it necessary to latinize the plural into “octopi.”
        Why did octopuses evolve?  The tale is told: “Researchers suggest that the creatures evolved after being driven to other ocean basins 30 million years ago by nutrient-rich and salty currents.”  But can salt water really produce the specialized organs and behaviors of the octopus from a pre-octopus, whatever it was?  Don D’or of the Census of Marine Life project apparently thinks so.  He came up with an idea that the fresh-water contact with salt water created a “thermohaline expressway” that brought oxygen into the depths and allowed octopuses to evolve.  Jan Strugnell of the British Antarctic Survey looked at the deep-sea octopus and living species and “has been able to trace the timeline for their distribution back 30 million years to a common ancestor.”  More findings from the Census of Marine Life project were reported by Science Daily.
In none of these stories did the researchers explain how evolution produced the changes.  In each case, the data were submitted to an explanatory device, called evolution, to produce a speculation on how the currently-observed phenomena came to be.  This can be seen by the frequent reference to the power of suggestion: “Researchers suggest”... “Our results suggest”... followed by an evolution story.  No one ever seems to “suggest” that another interpretation might account for the same data just as well, if not better, than a time-and-chance explanation.  Often, the time-and-chance aspect of evolution is hidden in suggestions that the animals chose their own course of evolutionary progress: mammals co-opted reptilian keratin to make hair; octopuses evolved after being driven to distant ocean basins.
    Whether excusable rhetorical devices or not, such notions run contrary to the core principles of Darwinian evolution.  Darwin’s thesis did away with teleology.  He wrote On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection, not The Purpose-Driven Life.
There’s a message in the alternating entries about Darwinian storytelling and real discovery science.  Can you see it?  Read the next two entries.  If you find it, you will see it throughout eight years of reporting evolutionary antics in Creation-Evolution Headlines.  Not that it started eight years ago: it started in 1849 – and even before – whenever seekers of knowledge, tricked by Vain-Confidence, decided to take the shortcut through By-path Meadow.  So begins the woeful tale of Pilgrim’s Regress.
Next headline on:  Evolutionary TheoryTerrestrial ZoologyBirdsPlantsMarine BiologyDumb Ideas
Scientists Marvel at Enzyme Efficiency   11/11/2008    
Nov 11, 2008 — Many chemical reactions occur from simple collisions.  One atom may have spare electrons, another may need them.  Attracted by each other’s valences, the atoms collide and bonds form.  Not so with biological enzymes: these molecular machines owe their efficiency to their three-dimensional shapes.  Made up of hundreds of amino acids, enzymes have “active sites” where precise interactions occur.  Some even have moving parts that guide the molecules into the active site (e.g., 07/31/2004).  The substrate leaves the enzyme unchanged, ready for its next customer.  Scientists are finding that the precision of these machines is finely tuned.  Here are some astonishing examples from recent papers:
  1. The ultimate:  Man-made catalysts can’t match natural ones, said Anthony J. Kirby and Florian Hollfelder in Nature.1  One enzyme another team had measured, ketosteroid isomerase, is so precisely fitted to its substrate that a change of 10 picometers (where a picometer is 10-12 meters) is enough to decrease its efficiency.  The active site holds onto the substrate while another molecular switch transfers a single electron.
        “Available tools for protein engineering clearly lack the subtle touch that is required to prepare effective designer enzymes,” they said.  Our fumbling attempts at engineering protein catalysts are like trying to thread needles with boxing gloves on.  The best reaction rates of artificial enzymes we have designed, they said, are “still tens of billions of times smaller than those of many enzymes.”
  2. Gate police:  The ribosome, where proteins are assembled from RNA, is a kind of super-enzyme: a molecular machine where systems of enzymes work together to build proteins.  A paper in PNAS2 discussed the guard at the exit gate: how proteins coming out the exit tunnel are recognized and authenticated.
        First, a word about why this matters: “The ribosome is a large complex catalyst responsible for the synthesis of new proteins, an essential function for life,” they began.  They determined that the exit tunnel contains sensitive probes that “feel” the side chains of amino acids on the emerging protein.  There are little binding crevices and barriers that the substrate must pass by.  The transport experience coming out the tunnel could be different for different amino acid species, they said.
        One thing they found involved moving parts.  There is a kind of gate and latch mechanism; a turnstile, perhaps?  They tried to describe it: “we find rare events in which most of helix 24 [the gate] sways away from the tunnel’s entrance for a few picoseconds [trillionths of a second], leaving the exit clear, and promptly returns to its capping state as a valve that is closed but momentarily opens.”  Maybe this is doing a final checkout or keeping contraband from getting inside.  Whatever is going on, they thought it must be important: “we propose that ribosomal features at the exit of the tunnel can play a role in the regulation of nascent chain exit and ion flux.”  This exit tunnel is no concrete tube: it’s a “protein-sensitive channel” that aids in ensuring the product comes out right.
  3. Super slo-mo:  One enzyme reported in Science Daily can speed up a chemical reaction by 12 orders of magnitude.  On its own, the reaction would take 2.3 billion years3 – a good part of the assumed age of the earth.  With the enzyme it happens in milliseconds.  This sets a new record for enzyme efficiency: their previous record-holder, an enzyme “absolutely essential” for binding RNA and DNA, speeded up a 78-million year reaction into thousandths of a second.
        The current enzyme under study is “essential for both plant and animal life on the planet,” Richard Wolfenden [U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill] said.  “What we’re defining here is what evolution had to overcome, that the enzyme is surmounting a tremendous obstacle, a reaction half-life of 2.3 billion years.”
A major puzzle from the third article was how the enzyme could have originated in the first place:
Without catalysts, there would be no life at all, from microbes to humans,” he said.  “It makes you wonder how natural selection operated in such a way as to produce a protein that got off the ground as a primitive catalyst for such an extraordinarily slow reaction.
He may not have the answer, but studying such enzymes “allows biologists to appreciate their evolution as prolific catalysts, Wolfenden said.”  See also the 05/06/2003 and 02/13/2004 entries.
1.  Anthony J. Kirby and Florian Hollfelder, “Enzymes under the nanoscope,” Nature Vol 456 No 6, November 2008, pp. 45-46.
2.  Paula M. Petrone, Christopher D. Snow, Del Lucent, and Vijay S. Pande, “Side-chain recognition and gating in the ribosome exit tunnel,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print October 22, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0801795105.
3.  This is the “half-time,” the time for half the substrate to be consumed.
This is such wonderful science – it is astounding that scientists can even measure such tiny structures working at such infinitesimal speeds – and to think that these molecular machines have been there all this time with their jaw-dropping performances is a great thrill.  You can just feel the evolutionists’ pain, can’t you? (or gullibility; see 01/12/2004).  Wolfenden struggles to imagine how natural selection could have produced an enzyme for an essential biological reaction vital to all life that speeds up a reaction from 2.3 billion years to milliseconds.  He can’t imagine how the protein “got off the ground as a primitive catalyst for such an extraordinarily slow reaction.”  One thing we know about the ground: things fall down onto it; they don’t spontaneously get up from it and go to work without directed energy and purpose.  At this stage of chemical evolution, remember, there is no natural selection (see 01/26/2008).  NS requires replication – accurate replication.  Without intelligent design, Wolfenden and other evolutionists have no recourse but chance.
    The movie Expelled has a funny cartoon showing Richard Dawkins trying to win the cell lottery.  He’s at a slot machine that he can’t get to come up with the winning combination to create life.  As he is kicking the stupid machine in frustration, the camera pans out to a room filled with hundreds of slot machines vanishing into the distance where, to win, he must get them all to succeed together.  As our online book shows, that cartoon is an understatement!
    So pity the evolutionist.  Not only will he never win, he can’t really enjoy the wonderful feeling of appreciation that comes from honoring the Creator of technologies like these.  Do you?
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyOrigin of LifeIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
Evolution in Person   11/10/2008    
Nov 10, 2008 — For a blind watchmaker, Evolution is quite the seer.  Science articles often personify Evolution into a wizard and worker of miracles.  This is odd, considering that evolution is supposed to be an aimless, purposeless process of chance and necessity with no goals in mind.
  1. Evolution, the Learner:  Evolution learns from past environments, we are told by Science Daily.  Scientists at the Weizmann Institute believe that evolution learns its lessons so well it can parry them into inventions by digging into its bag of mistakes.  The article states nonchalantly, “evolution can learn the rules of the environment and develop organisms that can readily generate novel useful traits with only a few mutations.”
        The scientists admitted, however, that “The ability to generate novelty is one of the main mysteries in evolutionary theory.”  They came up with an idea of “facilitated variation” that supposedly brings useful inventions out of random changes.  At this point, though, their metaphor switched from evolution being the learner to the organism being the learner.  “They proposed that organisms can learn how previous environments changed, and then use this information for their evolutionary advantage in the future,” they said.  “For example, if the available seeds tended to vary in size and hardness along history, then bird species might have learned to develop beaks with an easily tunable size and strength.”  It got a little confusing: who’s doing the learning and inventing by chance?
        Computer software came to the rescue.  The scientists sprinkled “computational organisms” into an environment that changed randomly and one that changed systematically.  “The organisms evolved under varying environments stored information about their history in their genome and developed a special modular design.”  It was still not clear who earned the prize for the inventions: Evolution or the organism.  They felt confident, though, that their work will “bring us another step forward towards understanding how the ability to generate useful novelties evolve [sic].”
  2. Evolution, the aged sage:  Evolution’s got wrinkles.  This can only mean that it has grown wiser with experience through its many years of inventing.  “Evolution’s new wrinkle: Proteins with cruise control provide new perspective,” began an article on PhysOrg.  This article, though, spread the personification around even more.  Evolution, the organism, proteins, species and nature all were described in personal terms.  Princeton biologists elaborated on a suggestion by Alfred Russell Wallace in 1858 that species can put a “governor” on their own engine of evolution that can “steer the process of evolution toward improved fitness.”  Their joy at this insight knew no bounds: “The data just jumps off the page and implies we all have this wonderful piece of machinery inside that’s responding optimally to evolutionary pressure.
        Part of their support for this idea came from a realization that must be disturbing to traditional Darwinists: “Standard evolutionary theory offered no clues” about the “underlying cause for this self-correcting behavior in the observed protein chains.”  Personifying proteins helped overcome this difficulty: “proteins had developed a self-regulating mechanism, analogous to a car’s cruise control or a home’s thermostat, allowing them to fine-tune and control their subsequent evolution,” they said.  Developing a control mechanism might seem the opposite of chance, but the purposeful language is justified, they felt, appealing to Wallace contra Darwin for authority: “Unlike Darwin, Wallace conjectured that species themselves may develop the capacity to respond optimally to evolutionary stresses,” the press release states.  Some might be surprised that after 149 years of detailed evolutionary research, “Until this work, evidence for the conjecture was lacking.”
        Are they overthrowing Darwin, then?  Certainly not: “Such principles are fully consistent with the principles of natural selection,” they said.  “Biological change is always driven by random mutation and selection, but” – and here is where personification enters the picture again – “at certain pivotal junctures in evolutionary history, such random processes can create structures capable of steering subsequent evolution toward greater sophistication and complexity.”
These two articles have a couple of things in common that are illustrated in the following quote from the second article:
“The discovery answers an age-old question that has puzzled biologists since the time of Darwin: How can organisms be so exquisitely complex, if evolution is completely random, operating like a ‘blind watchmaker’?” said [Raj] Chakrabarti, an associate research scholar in the Department of Chemistry at Princeton.  “Our new theory extends Darwin’s model, demonstrating how organisms can subtly direct aspects of their own evolution to create order out of randomness.”
One commonality in the two articles was the attempt to insert direction into evolutionary theory, so that it does not wander about aimlessly, but is able to make progress toward “greater sophistication and complexity.”  The other was to admit that standard evolutionary theory has been inadequate to explain the origin of novelty.
The second article contains this incredible piece of absolute balderdash:
The scientists do not know how the cellular machinery guiding this process may have originated, but they emphatically said it does not buttress the case for intelligent design, a controversial notion that posits the existence of a creator responsible for complexity in nature.
Darwinist arrogance knows no limits.  They not only define ID wrong, setting up a straw man to knock down, they hide their ignorance behind emphatic bluster.
    If you took the personification fallacy out of both these articles, the claims would collapse like a paper tower without scaffolding.  If you rapped the knuckles of these scientists every time they applied personal terms and ideas like steering, goal-directed behavior, learning and control to inanimate objects, they would have nubs instead of hands by now.
    Natural selection has become a “Designer substitute.”  It may not be God anymore, but it retains many of His attributes.  No one can be a consistent materialist.  That is why Evolution is really a re-packaged form of pantheism – an “age-old” religion that should not receive preferred status in science or education.
Exercise:  Re-write the two articles, but purge them of all personal and teleological language.  Can they stand on their own?  If they seem to, inspect the revised articles again.  Make sure you didn’t omit any subtle references to personality, purpose, or planning.
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignEvolutionDumb Ideas
  Treat yourself to a dozen living wonders in the 11/04/2005 entry.

Defining Nature Produces a Dilemma   11/09/2008    
Nov 9, 2008 — The evolution wars often revolve around the word “nature.”  Evolutionists insist that science must use natural instead of supernatural explanations.  It seems obvious that before arguing such issues, one must first define nature.  That is not easily done, wrote a scientist at the University of Bergen in a letter to Nature.1
    Fern Wickson’s point was closer to the mundane than to any realm of angels.  She asked how we define nature for purposes of environmental stewardship.  Specifically, what role do human beings play?

Your Editorial ‘Handle with care’ (Nature 455, 263–264 2008)2 notes that many people define ‘nature’ as a place without people, and that this would suggest that nature is best protected by keeping humans far away.  You question the value of this negative definition, arguing that “if nature is defined as a landscape uninfluenced by humankind, then there is no nature on the planet at all”.
    This may be true.  However, if we define nature as including humankind, the concept becomes so all-encompassing as to be practically useless.
We have a problem here.  Wickson explained that as an ecologist, she views humans as “embedded” in nature rather than separate from it.  Even in the city, the food we eat and the products we consume are intertwined with the planet and other organisms.  This view creates other problems, though, as she thought more about it: nothing humans do can be considered unnatural:
In this case, an atom bomb becomes as ‘natural’ as an anthill.
    A dilemma therefore arises.  If nature is somewhere that humans are not, we lose sight of the fact that we are just another species intimately intertwined in the complex web of biological systems on this planet.  However, if we place ourselves within a definition of nature, the definition then becomes essentially meaningless by extending to everything on Earth.
Wickson could think of no answer to this dilemma.  She ended her letter with a question: “Is there a better definition of nature?”
1.  Fern Wickson, “What is nature, if it’s more than just a place without people?”, Nature 456, 29 (6 November 2008) | doi:10.1038/456029b.
2.  Editorial, “Handle with care,” Nature 455, 263-264 (18 September 2008) | doi:10.1038/455263b.
How about “Nature is everything that God created.”  For a word that gets bandied about recklessly assuming intuitive comprehension, for a word that forms the crux of debates about whether creationism should be excluded from schools, “nature” is as slippery as an eel in greased hands.  Wickson has pointed out a delicious dilemma that undermines not only the environmental movement, but materialism itself.  What is the place of the human observer?  If nature is what humans are not, this destroys evolutionism, because it makes humans somehow special.  If nature is what humans are embedded in, then nothing in the universe is “un”natural.  We would have no choice but to accept the evil humans do.
    Do you see how this dilemma can be extended all the way into the so-called supernatural realms?  Excluding humans from nature puts our concepts and philosophies into a higher plane than mere existence: the realm of the intellectual, spiritual and eternal – things that cannot be circumscribed by matter in motion.  But including humans in the definition of nature washes away all moral categories.  This frustrates the daylights out of the environmentalists and anti-nuclear protestors who want to chasten humans for their transgressions.  What meaning would such protestations have if not to an immaterial conscience?
    Genesis has the solution.  We were created along with all of nature and given physical bodies like the animals, but God breathed into mankind the breath of life, and man became a living soul.  That is why only humans even think about environmentalism, stewardship, right and wrong.  To the materialist we say: you will never escape the horns of your dilemma without acknowledging your Creator.  Stewardship implies moral categories like understanding and responsibility.  Submit to God; then, and only then, we can rationally discusses how best to fulfill our responsibilities to Him and His creation.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsTheology or PhilosophyHuman Body
Proving the Obvious   11/08/2008    
Nov 8, 2008 — The well-known IgNobel Prizes are awarded each year for silly, useless research projects (see Improbable Research).  There seem to be a lot of contenders that may never win the prize, but get reported anyway.  One can only wonder why the reporters aren’t putting these on the funny pages:
  1. Well duhScience Daily reported that serial cohabiters are less likely to marry.  The article contained highfalutin jargon and ended in a moral appeal: “Understanding the myriad motivations of cohabiters may be more important than ever, especially if cyclical serial cohabiting couples with children have increased among recent cohorts as a percentage of all cohabitations.”  Maybe they just need to go to church.
  2. Bully pulpit:  Bullies seem to get pleasure out of seeing others in pain, another article in Science Daily reported.  In case you didn’t know that, researchers at the University of Chicago produced fMRI scans to prove it.  One fMRI image not taken was when the bully saw the principal coming with a big paddle.
  3. Male egos:  Guys tend to become body-conscious when looking at fashionable women, a communications expert at University of Missouri discovered.  One can only wonder what her college-age male subjects were thinking when she showed them various magazines of sexy women as part of her science project.  All in the name of science; she even had a control, watching their reactions when they looked at magazines of male models.
Some researchers seem to think that their fellow human beings can be treated like lab rats (the Ratomorphic Fallacy; see reductionism).  Typically they ignore morals completely and expect that human behavior is reducible entirely to genes and neurons.  They might get consistent results, but does that justify the conclusions?  It may be that non-material causes are vastly more significant while still giving reproducible results.  And the ethics of putting human subjects in compromising situations, even if they are willing, cannot be ignored.
What is the message you give a serial cohabiter when you study his behavior in sterile laboratory terms?  That it is normal; he’s just born that way.  A bully getting his brain waves photographed gets no punishment.  Should our dear female researcher at U Mo be allowed to extend her research into the male response to porn?
    Let’s think about pure research.  Pure research is often justified passionately by scientists, and for good reason: some of our most valuable discoveries have come when researchers did not have a goal in mind.  There are many historical cases of this.  A typical example offered is that a researcher studying some fungus in a rain forest might discover a cure for cancer.  This is all fine and good, but is it a license to study anything and everything?  A little reflection shows that this can become absurd.  Scientist Sam, let’s say, has spent 20 years studying the cries of animals when he steps on their feet.  He’s catalogued the cry of the sheep, goat, beaver, muskrat, hedgehog, guinea pig, human child and truck driver (and he has the scars to prove it).  For each of these observations, he has recorded the voiceprint on a sonogram and taken measurements in decibels.  Next, he wants to add the lion, bear and alligator to his growing collection.  He also has plans to compare the responses on different continents and do each animal again as a juvenile and an adult.  Researcher Ralph, meantime, is cataloguing every sand grain in the Sahara with calipers and a mass spectrometer.  You get the point.
    The silly stories above beg numerous questions.  Do we really need a scientist to tell us the obvious?  Can scientists sometimes miss the most important causal factors?  Is sterile science the only way, or the best way, to gain understanding?  Can scientific explanations become absurdly simplistic?  Does research on human subjects carry an implied moral message?  When does research on human subjects transgress the boundaries of propriety?
    Pure research is valuable, but don’t fall for the fallacy that it should be unrestricted.  No scientist ever approaches a body of data without assumptions.  Every research project implies a motivation.  And not everything doable is worth doing.  A good sermon on faithfulness is worth a ton of “scientific” papers about cohabitation.  Good parenting is worth a decade of “scientific” research on bullies.  And sometimes sexual attraction in a test tube just loses something essential.  “What is this thing called love?” may be one of those questions science can never answer without destroying it.
Next headline on:  Dumb IdeasHuman BodyEthics or Politics
Body’s Junk Is Useful Stuff   11/07/2008    
Nov 7, 2008 — What’s the difference between junk and stuff?  The jokester replies that stuff is the junk you throw away, and junk is the stuff you keep.  When it comes to stuff in your body that scientists have called junk, you had better keep all of it, because your life may depend on it.
  1. Junk DNA:  The term “junk DNA” sounds so last-millennium these days.  An article on PhysOrg is one among many that have claimed “‘Junk’ DNA Proves Functional.”  Repetitive strands, seemingly lacking in information, have been shown to be crucial either in regulating genes or providing binding sites for RNA transcription machines.
  2. Junk Brain Cells:  Glia cells outnumber the more fashionable neurons in the brain.  They have been relegated to junky roles like scaffolding.  Not any more: Science Daily reported that “Without Glial Cells, Animal Lose Their Senses.”  It appears that glial cells pull the strings behind the scenes like a skilled marionette artist.  This effect is even seen in little bitty roundworms.  Subjects without glia lost the ability to maintain their shape, respond to odors and absorb certain dyes.  “The results were striking,” when glial cells were removed from a worm’s amphid, a sensory organ containing glia and neurons.  “The absence of glia affected at least one of these three properties in each of the neurons, suggesting that glia not only regulate all of these properties but that they specifically regulate them in different neurons.”
Not all body parts are essential for survival.  Humans could probably get by without fingernails or color vision.  It was once popular to list all the apparently nonfunctional structures in the human body as useless leftovers of our evolutionary past.  The list has dropped to near zero today, though some evolutionists continue the tradition.  But if a structure proves to have a purpose, even a small one, at any stage in life, the reason for calling it “junk” evaporates.  We probably all have some junk we can safely dispose of, though: excess body fat.
Hang on to your stuff they’re calling junk – some day they may change their mind and call it good stuff.  The default position in biology should be that if it’s there, it’s needed.  That position fits perfectly well with intelligent design.  Considering that evolutionists once thought your pituitary gland, coccyx and tonsils were vestigial organs, their position can be considered dangerous.  Their latest entries in the evolutionary junk bin, glia and non-coding DNA, have now been relabeled as functional.  ID has had a steady winning streak in this game.  Wiggle your ears if you agree.
Next headline on:  Genetics and DNAHuman BodyIntelligent Design
  It’s enough to make you want to be a creationist, an astrobiologist joked to NASA scientists and engineers about problems with origin-of-life research.  No kidding: read about it in the 11/05/2004 entry.

Serving Up Life on the Rocks with a Twist   11/06/2008    
Nov 6, 2008 — We’ve heard theories life arose in a primeval soup, around hot deep-sea vents, around volcanoes and other hot spots; why would anyone consider the origin of life in ice?  A scientist in Spain has suggested life may have started in ice.  The title to the Science Daily write-up finds this to be the ultimate divination: “Could Life Have Started In Lump Of Ice?  Very Cold Ice Films In Laboratory Reveal Mysteries Of Universe.”
    Julyan Cartwright, a researcher in Spain, has taken beautiful pictures of ice structures.  Colleagues have been impressed.  Beautiful or not, what does ice have to do with life except for sharing two letters of the alphabet?  The article diverged briefly onto a discussion of thin films for industrial applications, then came back to the L-word.  Ice films on dust particles may be abundant in space.  Ice has water, which is necessary for life.  But even more strange, ice can “look” biological.  Shapes that resemble worms and palm leaves can emerge from amorphous ice if it quick-freezes onto rock under certain conditions.
    After first cautioning scientists not to conclude from these shapes that they are evidence of life, Cartwright then proposed a connection anyway:

On the other hand the existence of lifelike biomimetic structures in ice suggests that nature may well have copied physics.  It is even possible that while ice is too cold to support most life as we know it, it may have provided a suitable internal environment for prebiotic life to have emerged.
    “It is clear that biology does use physics,” said Cartwright.  “Indeed, how could it not do?  So we shouldn’t be surprised to see that sometimes biological structures clearly make use of simple physical principles.  Then, going back in time, it seems reasonable to posit that when life first emerged, it would have been using as a container something much simpler than today’s cell membrane, probably some sort of simple vesicle of the sort found in soap bubbles.  This sort of vesicle can be found in abiotic systems today, both in hot conditions, in the chemistry associated with ‘black smokers’ on the sea floor, which is currently favoured as a possible origin of life, but also in the chemistry of sea ice.”
The article ended by calling this an “intriguing idea” that the European Science Foundation should explore further.  “This may provide a new twist to the idea that life arrived from space,” it said.  “It may be that the precursors of life came from space, but that the actual carbon based biochemistry of all organisms on Earth evolved on this planet.”
We may have to go for “Stupid Evolution Quote of the Day” at this rate.  Look cross-eyed if you have heard anything dumber in the last week from a scientist.  How do we dumb thee?  Let us count the ways.
  1. Miracles:  The article uses the emerge-ncy miracle word all over the place.  Give physics “a suitable environment for prebiotic life to have emerged,” and scientists can study “when life first emerged.”
  2. Find the ID:  The article said that “nature may well have copied physics.”  And you thought physics was natural.  Apparently not; physics is now the designer, and nature needs to copy it.  In biomimetics, scientists copy life’s designs.  Here, they have turned it inside out: “On the other hand the existence of lifelike biomimetic structures in ice suggests that nature may well have copied physics.”  Check out the self-referential fallacy.
  3. Ana-logic:  Shapes in amorphous life looks like worms and palm trees, they tell us.  Well obviously, then, since ice and biology both use physics, the ancestors of palm trees and worms must have emerged from the physical shapes in ice.  This is a non-sequitur wrapped in an analogy.
  4. Icy gloss:  To consider vesicles in ice and soap bubbles as containers for prebiotic life is a flamboyant generality that sidesteps the problem of active transport.  Containers, you recall, are death traps to prebiotic molecules unless the happy molecules can be protected and the angry ones kept out (01/17/2002, 04/11/2006). 
  5. Blind faith:  The article uses could and may seven times.  Is this science?  We have thirty seconds; tell us what you know.
  6. Lukewarm ideas:  Vesicles may have formed at hot black smokers, we are told, and they may have formed in ice, too.  Take your pick.  Don’t you remember your physics?  Ice floats.  How is the ice container going to get to the black smoker at the bottom of the sea, or vice versa?  But then, when the ice container touches the hot water, guess what?  Entropy.  If biology uses physics, as you say, this could be a problem.
These and other fallacies easily earn this story the SEQOTW prize.  We are told that Cartwright’s fantasies put “a new twist to the idea” that life arrived from space or by some other physical process without design.  It must be a blast being an astrobiologist in Europe.  You get to dance The Twist, play Twister, and sip your Darwine Twister cocktail.  Simultaneously.
Next headline on:  Origin of LifePhysicsDumb Ideas
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What an Obama Presidency May Mean for Origin Science   11/05/2008    
Nov 5, 2008 — Needless to say, the scientific institutions are thrilled that their favorite candidate won.  Editorials in both Nature and Science showed little objectivity about politics in the last few weeks.  Part of this is due to Obama’s promises to fund science heavily, including $150 billion to fight global warming with alternative energy (see Nature News).  Another reason for their support is that Joe Biden referred to intelligent design as “this malarkey” (09/01/2008) while both John McCain and Sarah Palin have made statements, albeit weak and non-specific, in favor of giving students opportunities to hear alternatives to evolution.
    The Nature News article also took note of the narrow passage of California’s Proposition 8, which put into the state constitution the statement “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”  What this has to do with science, or how this will “affect the nation’s research” (the stated purpose of the article) was not explained.  The stem-cell initiative in Michigan also passed 52-48% (see 10/15/2008).  According to New Scientist, Obama has promised to lift the ban on embryonic stem cell research anyway, whether or not it is necessary.  A recent article on Live Science indicated that current techniques can “reliably reprogram adult cells into iPS [induced pluripotent stem cells] rapidly and can forego the need to rely on mammalian embryos to generate pluripotent stem cells.”
    Most initiatives to restrict abortion failed, such as California’s Proposition 4 which would have required parental notification for abortions on minors (defeated narrowly) and Colorado’s Amendment 48 which would have defined someone a ”person” at the moment of conception (defeated overwhelmingly).  Obama is a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood and has never voted for any abortion restrictions, including partial-birth abortion.  Late Republican ads criticized him for supporting infanticide by voting three times against bills that would provide health care to babies surviving botched abortions.  Backed by a Democratic Congress, it is likely Obama will sign a Freedom of Choice Act that will remove all restrictions on abortion, including partial-birth abortion.  This will sweep away decades of pro-life efforts to protect the unborn.  If Obama is able to put liberal judges on the Supreme Court and other federal courts, Roe vs Wade is likely to stand, and maybe even expand, for decades to come.
    Many decisions hostile to intelligent design, or supportive of unlimited abortion and gay marriage, have come from the courts.  Republicans in the past have tended to rubber-stamp liberal judges appointed by Democrats (such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg), while Democrats have tended to “Bork” conservative nominees (as Joe Biden did to Robert Bork) or delay their hearings, sometimes for years.  If this happens under a Democrat-controlled Congress and Presidency, the courts could turn even more liberal than they are now.
    Most education reforms are debated at the state level in school boards and legislatures.  Opponents of intelligent design will have strong presidential and congressional advocates in Washington, though, along with the backing of empowered scientific institutions.  It may become increasingly difficult for Darwin-doubters to get a hearing.  Emboldened scientific institutions and academies may also “expel” Darwin-doubters with increased fervor and less opposition (see the movie Expelled, now on DVD, and Slaughter of the Dissidents).
    The popular vote for Obama was not overwhelming, though, and many may have voted for the novelty of seeing a person of color elected President for the first time.  Some may have been so disgusted with Washington-as-usual, or with the war in Iraq, or were fearful of the economic collapse, to grasp at anyone who could promise “change we can believe in.”  Their votes for Obama may not translate into support for unlimited abortion, gay marriage, socialized health care, embryonic stem cell research or expensive global warming programs that could cripple the economy.  Often the realities of the world temper a candidate’s promises once in office.  Disillusionment among the electorate often quickly sets in after the euphoria of victory has passed.  Obama promised to be the president also of the large minority who voted for McCain/Palin.  He promised to listen to them.  Good intentions or not, he may have no choice but to move toward the center on some issues.  As a newcomer he cannot afford to ignore the advice of military chiefs and seasoned Republican advisers.  The economic crisis may force him to back off on some of the expensive programs he promised.  An international crisis, as his running mate Joe Biden predicted, could change everything.  How this all plays out remains to be seen.

This is a nation where citizens are king.  Those of you who want a culture of life and a nation of free speech in science will have to speak out and work harder than ever before.  Many times in history have been far worse than this.  It is never a time for despair in God’s kingdom.
    Take a breather now that this emotional roller-coaster ride is over.  Take a walk in the woods.  Calm your soul with the beauty of creation.  The birds, animals and plants still know their Maker and do His bidding.  The Earth still orbits in its privileged life-giving zone in space.  Your molecular machines, genetic code, organs and senses still are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Take confidence in the fact that the facts of nature are impervious to lies and distortions.  The evidence will still be there.  We still have free speech.  CEH is not going away.  You can still gather evidence, think, reason, debate and exercise your citizen’s right to have an influence.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsEducationHealth
VOTE!  HELP RIGHTEOUSNESS PREVAIL (November 4, 2008)
When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices;
And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.
By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted,
But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
Proverbs 11:10-11
Darwin’s Prognosticators   11/04/2008    
Nov 4, 2008 — Scientists at Rockefeller University think they can one-up Darwin.  According to Science Daily, they think they can predict evolution’s next best move.  Evolution is supposed to be aimless, so it is not clear how they think they can predict chance or decide what is best.  The dubious nature of their quest, however, is only exceeded by the chutzpah in their hype:
Biologists today are doing what Darwin thought impossible.  They are studying the process of evolution not through fossils but directly, as it is happening.  Now, by modeling the steps evolution takes to build, from scratch, an adaptive biochemical network, biophysicists Eric D. Siggia and Paul Francois at Rockefeller University have gone one step further.  Instead of watching evolution in action, they show that they can predict its next best move.
    In Darwinian evolution, even the slightest, infinitesimal beginnings can lead to tools as complex as the human eye.  But how do innovations like these get started and propagated by natural selection when their raw material is merely individual random genetic mutations?  By looking at the series of mutations in evolutionary space, Siggia, head of the Laboratory of Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics and Paul Francois, a postdoc in his lab, now provide a computational answer to one of Darwin’s biggest questions.
They generated an algorithm that, “like Darwinian evolution, showed no mercy.”  Only the fittest networks were allowed to survive and reproduce.  Apparently it did not occur to them that the algorithm they wrote was doing the selecting by intelligent design:
Francois and Siggia found that certain mutations automatically increased a network’s fitness and thus were immediately selected.  “When you look at systems like the eye or structures like the human spinal cord, you think how could these have evolved from a simple network,” says Francois.  In their current study, Siggia and Francois looked at how a complex biochemical network could evolve, and an answer came together: It is built through a specific series of mutations that is repeated over and over again, from scratch, every time they restart their simulations.
    “So this is really the idea,” says Francois.  “From one step to the next, you know, more or less, evolution’s next best move.  In our simulations, that’s what we see.”
But can you really get something for nothing?  William Dembski proved in No Free Lunch that no evolutionary algorithm works better than blind search when intelligently-inserted auxiliary information from the side door is disqualified from the algorithm (09/04/2008 and 11/18/2002 commentaries).  When you see an evolutionary simulation making progress toward a goal, you can be sure of one thing: someone’s cheating.
Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week would not do justice to the insanity of this article, so this new original cartoon of the Bearded Buddha, drawn for CEH by Brett Miller, is awarded for a more appropriate level of disgrace (click cartoon for larger version, complete with sacrifices).  If Obama and Biden get their way, public school students will line up at the shrine and make their offerings.  Now, quickly, for your mental health, read the next entry (11/03/2008).
Next headline on:  Darwin and Evolutionary TheoryDumb Ideas
  Those who grew up with National Geographic magazines featuring the Leakey family showing off the latest ape-men may be dismayed to read the sequel: see 11/05/2003.

Biological Complexity Continues to Astound   11/03/2008    
Nov 3, 2008 — There’s more going on in your thinking apparatus than you think.  New scientific discoveries continue to unfold new layers of complexity and control.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Meta-code:  Your body has codes directing codes.  Geneticists were initially dismayed to find only 20,000 to 30,000 genes in the human genome.  “We were expecting that something as sophisticated, complex and intelligent as ourselves would have about a hundred thousand genes at least,” said one geneticists quoted in Nature News.  Something has happened since, “restoring the dignity of complexity to the human genome.”  It’s called alternative splicing.  A given gene can produce multiple RNA transcripts, depending on how the pieces are assembled.  These, in turn, can produce vary different protein machines: “This process, called alternative splicing, can produce mRNA molecules and proteins with dramatically different functions, despite being formed from the same gene.”  The report on Science Daily that two proteins coming from the same gene can have opposite functions, depending on how they are spliced and in what cells they are expressed.
        The potential for expansion of the DNA code is huge; one gene in fruit flies, reported Nature News, is thought to generate over 38,000 protein products.  Only about 6% of human genes, it turns out, produce a transcript from a linear strand of DNA.  Most others put together parts from different locations on the chromosome.  With alternative splicing, it’s possible that dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of different products can be produced from the same gene.  This begs another question: what code is directing the assembly of these pieces of DNA code?
  2. Motor memory:  Your long-term memory may depend on little cellular trucks that run on cellular highways.  These trucks haul neurotransmitters to the junctions between neurons, keeping the junctions active.  Read all about Science Now.  This begs a question: who is the dispatcher?
  3. Rewind repair:  Another molecular machine has been discovered that fixes unwound DNA.  “When your DNA gets stuck in the unwound position,” an article on Science Daily says, “your cells are in big trouble, and in humans, that ultimately leads to death.”  This “rewinding machine” takes a damaged portion of DNA and rewinds it into the familiar double helix.  In effect, it does the opposite of the helicase machine that unwinds DNA for transcribing.  The machine, named HARP, uses ATP, the universal energy currency of the cell.
        The UCSD scientists were “astounded” to find out how this little machine works.  “It didn’t occur to us that such enzymes even existed,” they said.  “In fact, we never knew until now what happened to DNA when it got stuck in the unwound position.”  Good thing the machine knows what to do.  Failure to heal unwound DNA leads to fatal diseases; yet it cannot interfere with the other helicases that legitimately unwind DNA for transcription.  This begs another question, though: what tells this machine where the damage is and how to fix it?
The last article said that the discovery is spurring the scientists to look for more DNA-healing machines.  Here was a whole class of proteins they didn’t even know about.  “This will open up a whole new area of study,” said one team member.  “There are very few enzymes known that alter DNA structure.  And we’ve discovered an entirely new one.  This was not expected to happen in the year 2008.  We should have found them all by now.”  Young scientists should take encouragement: “The field potentially can be fairly large.  And as more and more people discover additional annealing helicases, this field will expand.”
    The palpable excitement in their tone required a look at the original paper in Science.1  Yusufzai and Kadonaga called their machine a “molecular zipper” and said, “the pleiotropy of HARP mutations is consistent with the function of HARP as an annealing helicase that acts throughout the genome to oppose the action of DNA-unwinding activities in the nucleus.”  By pleiotropy, they mean that mutated HARP genes can cause problems all over the place.  They identified one disease, SIOD (Schimke immuno-osseous dysplasia), that can actually be traced to mutations in HARP.  The genetic disorder leads to dwarfism, a damaged immune system and early death.
    The HARP machine is ubiquitous in the nucleus, they said, because the possibilities for DNA winding errors are ubiquitous.  Helicases might fail, or bubbles in double-stranded DNA might form spontaneously.  Without repair machinery available, the DNA transcribing and duplicating machines could fail.  “In this manner, HARP would be able to promote the proper functioning of the cell by catalyzing the rewinding of the stably unwound DNA,” their paper ended.  “More generally, HARP would serve as an opposing force to the numerous DNA-unwinding activities in the nucleus.”
1.  Timur Yusufzai and James T. Kadonaga, “HARP Is an ATP-Driven Annealing Helicase,” Science, 31 October 2008: Vol. 322. no. 5902, pp. 748-750, DOI: 10.1126/science.1161233.
None of these articles needed, referred to, or owed anything to evolutionary theory.  This was the good old science at work: uncovering the mechanisms of the world, as if it were designed, and seeking to understand the workings of nature.  In fact, the third article says this: “The discovery represents the first time scientists have identified a motor protein specifically designed to prevent the accumulation of bubbles of unwound DNA.”  If that does not presuppose intelligent design, what does?  And how did cells get along before chance found a way to invent a powered repair machine for DNA?
    Earlier scientists like Leeuwenhoek and Pasteur would have been pleased and thrilled to learn about the levels of complexity being revealed in the cells they only knew as black boxes.  There is plenty of work for design-motivated scientists to discover.  We will all benefit from their grand openings of the black box.
Next headline on:  Human BodyGeneticsCell Biology
Tip Link:  Is natural selection natural?  Neil Broom, a biomaterials researcher at University of Auckland, argues it isn’t.  In a penetrating essay on Metanexus, “Does Nature Suggest Transcendence?”, he shows how materialists unintentionally sneak intentionality into their supposedly materialistic explanations.    Excerpt:
I think it is fair to say that at one popular level the expression natural selection serves as a kind of mantra, an almost magical utterance that quickly allays any doubts a skeptic might entertain.  It is uttered with power and authority when any kind of biological achievement required to be explained, and in the currency of a wholly material world.  My argument is that the claim that natural selection explains the extraordinary (read life processes) while drawing only on the ordinary (read material processes), is not only bad science, it is also contradicted by the very narrative the materialist seems compelled to employ to present his or her story of life.
Solar System Surprises   11/02/2008    
Nov 2, 2008 — In the last few days and weeks, more amazing discoveries were made about bodies in the solar system.
  1. Mercury:  Results from the second flyby of Mercury on Oct. 6 by MESSENGER were announced Oct 29.  This pass covered more “hidden” territory that had never been seen before, bringing the coverage to 95%.  According to Space.com and Science Daily, the spacecraft uncovered several “oddities.”
        For one thing, the western side seen for the first time is 30% smoother than the eastern side.  One crater was buried in solidified lava 12 times the height of the Washington Monument.  Reactions from scientists: “We need to think hard about why that’s actually the case,” said one.  “That’s an awful lot of volcanic material in one place for such a little planet.”  The laser altimeter measurements will help quantify the topographic relief scientists observed.  National Geographic News elaborated on why “huge volcanic eruptions” is surprising for this planet smaller than Jupiter’s Ganymede and Saturn’s Titan.
        Another “knock-your-socks-off” observation was that Mercury’s magnetic field has a strong interaction with the solar wind, casting a long tail on the night side.  For a world that was thought to be too small and dead to possess a magnetic field at all, Mercury was shown to have a symmetric dipole field.  Furthermore, it is closely aligned with the rotation axis – another difficulty for theory.  In addition, atoms of magnesium, sodium and calcium were detected in the planet’s tenuous atmosphere.
        For more interpretation of the new images, see the Planetary Society report.
  2. Enceladus:  The little moon of Saturn that creates its own ring around the planet by erupting ice particles out of its interior just got another visit on Halloween.  Cassini performed another tricky “skeet shoot” operation to image the surface while rotating during the fast flyby.  A blog by the team allows you to share the anticipation and relief of another successful pass.
        Pictures arriving Saturday show the best-ever views of the fissures at the south pole.  They have been posted at JPL and at Ciclops, the imaging team’s website.  Locations of known geyser plumes are circled on the snapshots.  One particular hi-res image shows that the surface is peppered with boulders and criss-crossed by fine fractures.  Are the ice blocks lobbed out of the fissures by eruptive activity?  Why is one plume not aligned with the tiger stripes?  As of this posting, very few interpretations have been posted.
        Cassini has additional flybys planned (the next is a year from now), but because of seasonal orbital characteristics and illumination, it will be a long, long time before any spacecraft can get images this good of this “fabulous place,” ISS team leader Carolyn Porco said.  A blogger on Unmanned Spaceflight calculated that to be around the year 2025.  In the meantime, these images and the data from the other 3 flybys of 2008 are sure to be featured in many scientific papers to come.
Meanwhile, on Mars, the twin Mars Exploration Rovers are getting their own National Geographic TV special tonight to celebrate five years roving the red planet.  At Mars’ north pole, the Phoenix lander is struggling to eke out as much science as possible before winter, reported Space.com.
Those who realize just how difficult it is to get images like these will appreciate more than ever the privilege of being among the first human beings to see such wonders from distant lands.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemGeologyAmazing Facts
Antimatter Or Anti-Consensus?   11/01/2008    
Nov 1, 2008 — Where’s the antimatter?  If the universe began in a big bang, there should be equal amounts of matter and antimatter.  Instead, there is only regular matter as far as our telescopes can see.  (If antimatter were present, the annihilation of antimatter and matter would give a characteristic gamma-ray signature.)  This is a big matter; the missing antimatter has been a conundrum for decades.  Now, a new study using the Spitzer Space Telescope, reported on Science Daily, confirms that far, far too little is present.
    Observations of the Bullet Cluster “rule out any significant amounts of antimatter over scales of about 65 million light years, an estimate of the original separation of the two colliding clusters,” the article said of the largest-scale study ever done in an environment that is an “excellent test site” for the search.  All they saw was only three parts per million.
    The article ends by claiming that if antimatter is discovered, it might tell scientists something about inflation and how long it lasted.  This new study, however, places tighter constraints on the possibility of such a discovery.
Even if they did find antimatter, it would not tell them anything about inflation.  Remember the skeleton that Sean Carroll let out of the inflationary closet? (05/11/2006).  He said that inflation does not get rid of the fine-tuning problems it was invented to solve: “the conditions required to start inflation are less natural than those of the conventional Big Bang.”
    It’s time for cosmologists to call off the search for missing dark matter, missing dark energy and missing antimatter, and to start searching for antimaterial explanations for the fine-tuned cosmos we have found.
Next headline on:  Cosmology
  A pulpit-pounding sermon on why you should believe in the Big Bang, from 11/02/2002.


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Featured Creation Scientist for November


Thomas Young
1773 - 1829

Like Euler, Thomas Young was one of those rare individuals with such awesome intellectual powers it makes one marvel at the potential in one human brain.  And if one thinks intelligence leads to skepticism, Young would disagree.  He maintained his childlike faith and moral uprightness throughout his all-to-brief life of 56 years.  A good short biography of Thomas Young was written by Dan Graves in Scientists of Faith (Kregel, 1996).

Ready to marvel at Young’s mind?  At age two he could read, and by age four he had read through the Bible twice.  While a teen, he could read Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Persian, Syriac, and Chaldean.  At 14 he was tutoring others on the classics.  By age twenty he had also learned French, German, Spanish, Arabic and Italian.

While a teen he also taught himself calculus, studied the sciences, learned how to construct his own optical devices, and learned medicine.  He also studied art and learned to play the flute.  He was not a complete nerd, either; he could also ride horses, sing, and dance.  Once he walked over 170 miles to see an art exhibition.

Young is remembered for a number of major discoveries and accomplishments as an adult scientist.  He is considered the founder of physiological optics—the practice of relating optics to the biology of the eye.  He postulated that astigmatism was due to defects in the cornea, for instance, and predicted that the retina responds to color with three types of sensors.  He was the first to do a double-slit experiment in optics, demonstrating that light had the properties of a wave: the two beams interfere like waves, he found, producing a diffraction pattern on a screen.

In addition, Young began use of the term energy in a published work in 1807 in which he developed a physical concept of energy.  He also developed a mathematical constant describing elastic energy, still known as Young’s Modulus (though it owes a debt to work by Leonhard Euler 80 years earlier).  Basically, it allows engineers to calculate the strain on a material when a known stress is applied (or vice versa), independent of the geometry of the material.  This revolutionized engineering strategies, according to Wikipedia.

Young's literary skills were brought to bear in an important task: the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone which had been discovered in 1799.  He was the first to translate the complete text – adding Egyptian hieroglyphics to his phenomenal grasp of languages.  In addition, he studied the tides, revised a nautical almanac, classified diseases, devised a way to estimate doses of medicine for children, studied the heart and arteries, developed a way to tune instruments, produced actuarial tables for insurance, and wrote over 60 articles for the Encyclopedia Britannica.  Thomas Young was a true polymath – an expert at just about everything.

Graves describes Young as joyful, truthful, morally upright, happily married and focused.  He attributed his success to the religious tenets he was taught as a child.  Raised a Quaker, he later joined the Church of England, but remained somewhat private about his faith.  Graves sums up his life by saying, “Thomas Young’s joyful pursuit of knowledge, his impeccable moral character, and his zest for living life to its fullest make him a scientist of faith well worth remembering.”


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

A Concise Guide
to Understanding
Evolutionary Theory

You can observe a lot by just watching.
– Yogi Berra

First Law of Scientific Progress
The advance of science can be measured by the rate at which exceptions to previously held laws accumulate.
Corollaries:
1. Exceptions always outnumber rules.
2. There are always exceptions to established exceptions.
3. By the time one masters the exceptions, no one recalls the rules to which they apply.

Darwin’s Law
Nature will tell you a direct lie if she can.
Bloch’s Extension
So will Darwinists.

Finagle’s Creed
Science is true.  Don’t be misled by facts.

Finagle’s 2nd Law
No matter what the anticipated result, there will always be someone eager to (a) misinterpret it, (b) fake it, or (c) believe it happened according to his own pet theory.

Finagle’s Rules
3. Draw your curves, then plot your data.
4. In case of doubt, make it sound convincing.
6. Do not believe in miracles – rely on them.

Murphy’s Law of Research
Enough research will tend to support your theory.

Maier’s Law
If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.
Corollaries:
1. The bigger the theory, the better.
2. The experiments may be considered a success if no more than 50% of the observed measurements must be discarded to obtain a correspondence with the theory.

Eddington’s Theory
The number of different hypotheses erected to explain a given biological phenomenon is inversely proportional to the available knowledge.

Young’s Law
All great discoveries are made by mistake.
Corollary
The greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.

Peer’s Law
The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem.

Peter’s Law of Evolution
Competence always contains the seed of incompetence.

Weinberg’s Corollary
An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.

Souder’s Law
Repetition does not establish validity.

Cohen’s Law
What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts – not the facts themselves.

Harrison’s Postulate
For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.

Thumb’s Second Postulate
An easily-understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex, incomprehensible truth.

Ruckert’s Law
There is nothing so small that it can’t be blown out of proportion

Hawkins’ Theory of Progress
Progress does not consist in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is right.  It consists in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is more subtly wrong.

Macbeth’s Law
The best theory is not ipso facto a good theory.

Disraeli’s Dictum
Error is often more earnest than truth.

Advice from Paul

Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.

I Timothy 6:20-21

Song of the True Scientist

O Lord, how manifold are Your works!  In wisdom You have made them all.  The earth is full of Your possessions . . . . May the glory of the Lord endure forever.  May the Lord rejoice in His works . . . . I will sing to the Lord s long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.  May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord.  May sinners be consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more.  Bless the Lord, O my soul!  Praise the Lord! 

from Psalm 104

Maxwell’s Motivation

Through the creatures Thou hast made
Show the brightness of Thy glory.
Be eternal truth displayed
In their substance transitory.
Till green earth and ocean hoary,
Massy rock and tender blade,
Tell the same unending story:
We are truth in form arrayed.

Teach me thus Thy works to read,
That my faith,– new strength accruing–
May from world to world proceed,
Wisdom’s fruitful search pursuing
Till, thy truth my mind imbuing,
I proclaim the eternal Creed –
Oft the glorious theme renewing,
God our Lord is God indeed.

James Clerk Maxwell
One of the greatest physicists
of all time (a creationist).

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(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!!”
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“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.”
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“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.”
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“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.”
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(Access Research Network 12/28/2007).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I wrote you over three years ago letting you know how much I enjoyed your Creation-Evolution headlines, as well as your Creation Safaris site.  I stated then that I read your headlines and commentary every day, and that is still true!  My interest in many sites has come and gone over the years, but your site is still at the top of my list!  I am so thankful that you take the time to read and analyze some of the scientific journals out there; which I don’t have the time to read myself.  Your commentary is very, very much appreciated.”
(a hike leader and nature-lover in Ontario, Canada)

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

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

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

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

“Thank God for ... Creation Evolution Headlines.  This site is right at the cutting edge in the debate over bio-origins and is crucial in working to undermine the deceived mindset of naturalism.  The arguments presented are unassailable (all articles having first been thoroughly ‘baloney detected’) and the narrative always lands just on the right side of the layman’s comprehension limits... Very highly recommended to all, especially, of course, to those who have never thought to question the ‘fact’ of evolution.”
(a business owner in Somerset, UK)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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