Creation-Evolution Headlines
December 2008
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“The materialistic philosophical basis for Darwinism and the inference that humans evolved by natural selection have been catastrophic to medicine.  Any genuine insight claimed by Darwinists ... is really gained by the relevant basic sciences (molecular genetics, microbiology, epidemiology), with no need for Darwinian just-so stories.  For the past century, Darwin’s only legacy to medicine has been eugenics.  Darwinists are hoping that the salient modern human evolutionary adaptation is amnesia.” 

—Michael Egnor, M.D., neurosurgeon, on Evolution News and Views Nov 24, 2008.
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Merry SETI Holidays   12/31/2008    
Dec 31, 2008 — How does the SETI Institute say happy holidays?  To find out, visit their year-end press release on Space.com.
    SETI Institute CEO Tom Pierson loaded his cheery year-end greeting with all kinds of moral terms.  In his short, upbeat article you can find references to gratitude, well-wishing, beauty, the human spirit, inventiveness, inquisitiveness, exploration, heartfelt thanks, gift-giving, understanding, humility, trust, promises, wisdom, pride, creativity, progress, discovery, significance, generosity, encouragement, quality, gratefulness, fellowship, helpfulness, happiness and industriousness.
    Pierson would probably be pleased if someone started the new year by adopting Jill Tarter in SETI’s “Adopt a Scientist” program (see previous week SETI Thursday column on Space.com).

You can’t get moral sauce from a Jill Tarter unless there is a soul inside.  This article reveals that SETI research is not being undertaken by neutral, objective, rational, mechanistic evolved animals, but by human beings made in the image of God.  Though turned aside toward false gods, and pursuing their own vain imaginations, the SETI seekers cannot help but reveal their created nature.
    Instead of adopting a SETI scientist, we suggest you make a New Year’s resolution to adopt some other things.  Adopt a love for the truth.  Adopt a passion for knowledge, which is the root meaning of science.  Adopt a stance of unyielding opposition against lies, even if the whole world seems to have gone crazy over Darwin in the days ahead.  And most of all, be adopted by your Creator (Ephesians 1).  Happy Truth Year.
Next headline on:  SETITheology and Morality
Handy Motor Found in Virus   12/30/2008    
Dec 30, 2008 — Your job today is to stuff a delicate chain into a barrel without breaking it and make it wrap neatly inside.  A tiny virus does this with helping hands, reported Purdue University.  A research team uncovered the mechanism of a “powerful molecular motor” that crams the viral DNA tightly into the capsid with the help of five moving parts.
    These are not real hands, of course; the captioned artist rendering whimsically shows five gp17 protein structures drawn to look like hands.  These structures are protein subdomains embedded in the ring-shaped motor mechanism.  The capsid, or viral container, acts like a hard plastic shell, protecting the DNA inside (see 05/07/2004).  Two rings on the opening hold the motor in place.  The gp17 subdomains take turns grasping the DNA and shoving it in.  Another analogy is that they work like pistons operating in sequence.  Using ATP energy pellets, they take advantage of electrostatic forces to gently but firmly transfer the DNA strand into the interior, where it coils in an orderly fashion.  The mechanism generates 20 times the force used by myosin, the motor in muscle.  The article claims that proportional to its size, the motor is twice as powerful as an automotive engine.
    The virus they studied is a bacteriophage – a virus that infects and destroys bacteria.  The cutaway diagram of the capsid shows the DNA wound neatly into a fabric-like pattern.  The researchers hope some day not only to understand viruses better, but to use their tricks for nanotechnology.  Someday man-made motors like these could deliver medicines to patients or power nano-sized machines.  First, though, they need to do basic research on how the viral motor works.  “This particular motor is very fast and powerful,” they said.  See also the 03/20/2007 and 10/18/2001 entries for earlier research on capsid motors.
Even viruses, which are not even alive by the definition of being able to reproduce independently, show incredible design.  They are too well designed to be accidents.  Why do so many viruses cause disease and death?  Actually, only a small fraction are harmful; most cause no harm and some are beneficial.
    Some creationists speculate that they all had a beneficial function originally: keeping bacteria in check or delivering genetic instructions to animals encountering a new environment.  After the Fall, they either were allowed to mutate into machines gone wild, turning on their customers, or were recast as agents of judgment on a world sentenced to death and hardship.  Can they prove this?  No; but what is the alternative for evolutionists?  First, they have to believe in miracles – that super-efficient, compact, powerful motors like this just appeared, arose or emerged (favorite Darwinian miracle-words) from nowhere.  Second, they have to deny that anything is evil or out of order.  In Darwin’s world, whatever is, is right.  A logical consequence is that it is vain to seek cures for disease.  So what if millions of humans die in a pandemic?  It just shows that viruses are more fit.
    If miracles and apathy don’t motivate you to swallow the evolutionary line, then look at the mechanism from a design perspective and figure out what it’s there for.  Basic research can reveal the mechanism.  Philosophy and theology can elucidate its purpose.  Engineering can look for applications.  Who needs Darwin, the guy who sits around telling miracle stories?
    The Purdue team obviously didn’t act like “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”  They had no need of that hypothesis.  The E-word failed to materialize in the press release or any of the writeups on other sites.  “Viruses, start your engines!” EurekAlert began its version.  “Researchers find what drives one of nature’s powerful, nanoscale motors.”
    If design is what you observe, then design will lead to the right explanation, which may lie outside the capabilities of science.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
World’s Largest Dino Graveyard Found   12/30/2008    
Dec 30, 2008 — China boasts the world’s largest known dinosaur graveyard, a report from China View claims.  Over 7,600 fossils have been found so far.  These include hadrosaurs, ceratopsians, ankylosaurs, and tyrannosaurids.  Though known since at least 1980, the area has yielded new fossil sections during mining operations.  “A 2m skull of a large ceratopsian was found here,” the news article said, “the first such discovery outside of North America.”
    How did the area preserve so many fossils?  “The geologists said there might have been a volcanic eruption that was fatal to the dinosaurs and later a flood that brought the fossils to their resting place.
    PhysOrg must have lost something in the translation from Chinese.  It claimed the “remains of an enormous ‘platypus’ were found there.  Undoubtedly this was a reference to a duck-billed dinosaur, the article explained, but then it went on to say it had a wingspan of 16 feet!  If you ever find a flying platypus that big, run for cover.
Add up enough local floods at the same time and you can get a global one.
Next headline on:  FossilsDinosaursGeology
  Can evolutionists and creationists agree on anything?  Try this entry from 12/26/2005.  But then that entry from Christmas the day before, and the week leading up to and after – it was a short truce.

Plants Heal Humans and Vice Versa   12/29/2008    
Dec 29, 2008 — Flowers in your hospital room do actually make you heal faster.  A study by Kansas State researchers reported by PhysOrg found that more patients recovered from abdominal surgery faster with flowers in the room.  It may be due to more than the psychological benefit of enjoying their colors, fragrances and the get-well wishes behind them: plants also moisten and clean the air of mold and germs.  Potted plants are more beneficial than cut flowers, the article said.  Patients also benefit from the positive activity of pruning and caring for their plants.
    Once out of the hospital, you might want to keep it up.  PhysOrg also reported that gardening is a good way for older adults to stay fit.
    Humans might be able to return the favor by donating a renewable resource to plants: their hair.  Another article on PhysOrg said that waste hair from barber shops and beauty salons can be packed into nutrient-rich cubes as fertilizer for crops.  It doesn’t help that much without other fertilizers but it works better than nothing.  Hair degrades into nutrients plants can use.

Here’s a science project you can do at home.  Use an electric razor or brush over one potted plant; leave another as a control.  If the plant dies, it might not falsify the theory; it just might mean you use too many chemicals on your hair.  Your precocious kid could do a science project testing different hair colors or animal furs.
    If this theory is right, we might get a nice symbiosis going with our house plants.  When you feed the plant your hair, it grows more vigorous, it cleans and humidifies the environment, making you healthier and thereby growing your hair faster.  It’s a win-win situation.  Love a potted plant today while you can; someday soon, you may be pushing daisies with more than just hair, or whatever is left of it.  Hair today, gone tomorrow.  We hope by then you will be doing fine in a better place (Warning: don’t assume!).
Next headline on:  PlantsHealthAmazing Facts
Language Evolved from Whistling   12/29/2008    
Dec 29, 2008 — Meet Bonnie, the whistling orangutan.  According to National Geographic News, she is giving evolutionary anthropologists something to talk about: the evolution of human language.  NG reported on a new theory:
Lead author Serge Wich of the Great Ape Trust of Iowa, said orangutans in Indonesia have been seen pretending to wash clothes.  “We know they are capable of imitating these motor skills, but we never had any good indication of sounds for vocalization,” said Wich, who presented his research on December 18 during a symposium at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.
    The next step is to study how flexible sound-learning is in apes and whether they can adjust their sounds—pitch and intonation, for instance—depending on the context, Wich said.
    “Those things are very important because they give us clues to understanding the evolution of human speech,” he said.
Charles Snowden of the University of Wisconsin, however, noted that Bonnie’s whistles are not as complex as those of some birds and dolphins.  “Until now there has been little evidence of direct imitation of vocalizations by a primate,” Snowden said.  “The really interesting question is why it is so difficult to find [more] good evidence of vocal imitation.
Everybody knows that birds evolved language from humans.  That’s why they parrot us.  Orangutans evolved whistling and clothes-washing from humans, too.  That’s why they ape us.
    You’ll notice that the honorable, reliable, rational, scientific, enlightened National Geographic Society had no qualms about printing the latest Darwinian silliness.  Maybe they should stick to taking photos; that’s about all they brag about these days.
Next headline on:  Early ManEvolutionDumb Ideas
History Debunks Scientism   12/28/2008    
Dec 28, 2008 — Science is not an honest quest for truth, said a scientist.  In a letter to the editor of Nature,1 William Burns of the University of Queensland dished out some dirt he shoveled up in new online archives of scientific journals.  It wasn’t pretty.
    Burns found 100 abstracts of articles written by Trofim Lysenko, the discredited Russian geneticist responsible for millions of deaths by starvation when his ill-advised Lamarckian theories made crops fail.  In a 1947 article Burns found Lysenko saying, “the opposition of bourgeois geneticists to this theory is attributed to their desire to justify capitalist exploitation, which is essentially a struggle within the human species.”  He found hundreds of articles by Chinese scientists praising Mao Zhedong.  He found 70 articles by Claus Schilling, a Nazi war criminal who conducted medical experiments on Dachau prisoners.  Then Burns made these comments:
These examples stand in contrast with the high-minded official version of science history that we read in textbooks.  As Thomas Kuhn remarked in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Univ. Chicago Press, 1962), science is like Big Brother’s society in George Orwell’s 1984constantly rewriting history to show itself in the best light.
History may have the last word, though, he said:
But will this censorship be possible when every politically motivated, unethical and demonstrably incorrect scientific article breaks out from dusty library storerooms to appear online?  How will anyone be able to believe that science is an honest quest for truth, when its inglorious past is a mouse click away?

1.  William Burns, Correspondence, “Online archives are revealing uncensored history of science,” Nature 456, 870 (18 December 2008) | doi:10.1038/456870b.
The answer, my dear Burns, is that online versions can be tampered with without anyone knowing.  Text can be altered, and digital images can be photoshopped.  The result could be even more dangerous: readers tricked into thinking they are reading unaltered documents.
    The Ministry of Truth can still rewrite history to achieve its ends.  If you don’t think this can happen, go ahead and trust the objective authors at Wikipedia.  The Darwinist MOT has already set up shop there (see Evolution News).
    It’s also possible that powerful interests will be able to filter errant mouse clicks from accessing sensitive information on the internet (see subversion).  You need to read our fierce, independent reporting on CEH while you can.
    One can only hope that some curious scientist someday will be combing through the wreckage of some dusty library storeroom, and discover something that might rescue honest science from groupthink during the reign of King Charles.  Maybe he will uncover an unburnt, uncensored, unaltered copy of Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.  Maybe this will lead to the discovery of the whole ARN catalog, and start a neo-ID movement after the last one was crushed by the DODO Tyranny and its memory was demonized.
    But like Doc reassured Marty in Back to the Future III, your future hasn’t been written yet.  Make it a good one.
Next headline on:  Politics and Ethics
  Four years ago: Human evolution was falsified (12/30/2004) but a University of Liverpool Darwinist didn’t get it (12/29/2004).  Meanwhile, the true Biblical Pool of Siloam was discovered (12/24/2004) and turned out to be much larger than thought (08/20/2006, 02/09/2007).

Cilium Likened to GPS   12/27/2008    
Dec 27, 2008 — A story on Science Daily says that the primary cilium, a protrusion on most human cells that looks like an antenna, acts like a GPS system.  They “orient cells to move in the right direction and at the speed needed to heal wounds, much like a Global Positioning System helps ships navigate to their destinations.”
    Not only that, says Soren T. Christensen (U of Copenhagen): “What we are dealing with is a physiological analogy to the GPS system with a coupled autopilot that coordinates air traffic or tankers on open sea.”  What happens is that the ciliar antennae act like beacons for an essential clotting factor.  They orient themselves to steer fibroblast cells to the wound site, promoting repair.  “The really important discovery is that the primary cilium detects signals, which tell the cells to engage their compass reading and move in the right direction to close the wound.”
    This exciting discovery falsifies an old evolutionary canard.  “Protruding through the cell membrane, primary cilia occur on almost every non-dividing cell in the body,” the article ended.  “Once written off as a vestigial organelle discarded in the evolutionary dust, primary cilia in the last decade have risen to prominence as a vital cellular sensor at the root of a wide range of health disorders, from polycystic kidney disease to cancer to left-right anatomical abnormalities.”

Great!  Another wonderful design-based discovery to beat down the Darwinists for their science-stopping assumptions.  Let’s pile these up for Darwin Day.  What a show it will be: Charlie will get boos, hisses and rotten tomatoes, while crowds gather at the ID show to see who gets gets Nobel Prizes and Breakthroughs of the Year (12/19/2008).
Project:  Browse through our 2008 stories for all the examples of Darwinism being an impediment to scientific progress, then list them after a quote by Eugenie Scott claiming that creationism is a science-stopper.  Then list all the major discoveries stemming from the search for design.  Your only challenge will be having too much material.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHuman BodyAmazing Facts
Comparing Geological and Biological Patterns   12/26/2008    
Dec 26, 2008 — Beehives have hexagons.  So do lava flows.  Is there any difference in how they form?  Science Daily shows a picture of polygon-shaped tops of basalt columns at the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland.  Similar formations are found in the Grand Canyon, at Devil’s Postpile in California, and in many places around the world.
    Researchers at the University of Toronto were able to study the formation rate of columns using corn starch, water, and a heat lamp.  They found that the size of the columns is a function of the rate of cooling.  This article did not explain, however, why the fractures form polygons.  A link in the article points to another Science Daily article from 2001 that said, “The configuration that minimizes the energy required to penetrate the interior turns out to be quasi-hexagonal---a regular pattern of hexagons, pentagons, and heptagons, as in the Giant’s Causeway.”  A researcher from Argentina does not think this explains everything about them, however, and denies that the only questions left in physics are at the subatomic level.  “Many fundamental open questions and mysteries still remain at the scale of our everyday experience,” Alberto G. Rojo remarked seven years ago.  “Patterns, both in inanimate and in living natural objects represent just one of those questions.
    A spectacular example of a pattern in living natural objects are the hexagonal hives of honeybees (picture).  A comparison of the pictures shows that beehive hexagons are more regular than those of the basalt columns.  Moreover, they are not produced by cooling of cracks following the path of least resistance, as if they were the output of a natural physical law; else all species of bees would build hives; some do not.  Instead, beehives are built up by certain living organisms containing the genetic instructions for hive-making.  Instead of dissipating energy by cooling, bees put energy into the system.  The result is a purposeful, structurally-sound system of cells they can use as incubators for their eggs.  The resemblance to basalt columns is only superficial.
    Another striking difference is that individual honeybees do not build the hexagons.  Only when a group of bees come together does the hive-making activity begin.  Andy Fletcher of TOK Seminars uses this as an example of complexity – the emergence of complex behavior among individual parts which do not exhibit the behavior alone, but only in groups.  Complexity, he says, is becoming the science of the 21st century.
One primary difference between organismic and inanimate patterns is in their information content.  Geological formations follow blind natural laws; biology encodes genetic instructions.  Learning to compare designed vs. non-designed structures is a worthwhile and important skill (see sample list in the 09/21/2006 commentary).
    The patterns in nature go deeper than this, however.  Saying that inanimate patterns lack information or intelligent design is too simplistic.  Inanimate patterns often exhibit precise mathematical relationships.  Why should a spiral galaxy and a hurricane’s spiral bear a relationship to the Golden Mean?  Why should they resemble the conch shell, which also has this relationship?  The Golden Mean is a ratio that converges from an infinite series of ratios of Fibonacci Sequence numbers.  Why should that odd series, consisting of integers that are the sum of the prior two integers, show up so often in nature – in pine cones and sunflowers and seashells, as well as in the vortex formed by water going down a drain?  And why should the beehive’s hexagonal pattern generated from genetic instructions converge on a similar pattern to that produced by laws of thermodynamics in solidifying rock?
    There are deeper patterns at work in the universe than we fully understand.  These patterns are not explainable by a blind, mechanistic, chance philosophy like Darwinism or materialism.  Understanding the particles (reductionism) is not helping us understand the collective order.  Atheists are baffled why a universe of quarks or strings would give rise to honeybees and fractals and the Golden Mean.  Theists expect an all-wise God to put his stamp of intelligent design from the top down, from the human brain to the subatomic particle.  That is what we find.  Let’s apply design-based heuristics to figure them out.
Visual Treat #1:  Gaze at a gallery of snowflakes photographed by Caltech physicist Kenneth Libbrecht on New Scientist.
Visual Treat #2:  Dive into a universe of patterns generated by the fractal Mandelbrot set on YouTube.  This series of patterns is generated by a mathematical equation whose output is chaotic and unpredictable, yet a similar shape keeps recurring on smaller and smaller scales.
Next headline on:  GeologyZoologyPhysicsIntelligent Design
This Day in History: Genesis from the Moon   12/24/2008    
Dec 24, 2008 — Forty years ago this day, Christmas Eve, a riotous and troubled world stopped in its tracks and held its breath.  The crew of Apollo 8, which had blasted off 3 days earlier in the new behemoth rocket Saturn V, masterminded by rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun, had reached orbit around the moon, and was about to speak to the world.
    Because of delays with the lunar lander, the mission planners decided to try a lunar mission earlier than first scheduled.  It would help them gain confidence with orbital maneuvers and keep ahead of the Russians.  It was a risky move that would involve several firsts: first manned use of the Saturn V (one of the most complex machines ever built by man), first manned lunar orbit, and farthest from Earth man had ever traveled.  Lunar orbit insertion was particularly risky.  The slightest mistake in calculation would have doomed the crew: either crashing them into the moon, or sending them off into space with no chance to get home.  Ground controllers were in blackout when the burn completed behind the moon.  A confirming voice from the spacecraft, slightly later than expected, sent a huge sigh of relief through mission control.  Apollo 8 was in orbit.
    For the next 20 hours the crew circled the moon 10 times.  They were the first humans to witness “Earthrise,” a sight of our blue marble, brimming with life, rising above the limb of a desolate, airless world (for a more recent image in HD, see the 11/15/2007 entry and Astronomy Picture of the Day).  The pictures Apollo 8 took were historic.  Those images were to alter man’s perception of his place in the universe, showing how precious our delicate jewel appeared against the blackness of space (see Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
    The world needed some good news.  1968 had been a disastrous year.  The Vietnam War escalated during the Tet Offensive, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy had been assassinated, millions of hippies were taking drugs and protesting the establishment, and anti-war activists were rioting in the streets.  What happened next on that Christmas Eve brought a precious moment of peace on earth, good will to men.  Calling long distance from the moon to planet earth, William Anders began a Christmas greeting like no other (follow along on YouTube).  As people around the world hushed and watched their TV sets, he said:
We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you.
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void;
and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good:
and God divided the light from the darkness."
Jim Lovell:
"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.
And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters,
and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament
from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven.
And the evening and the morning were the second day."
Frank Borman:
"And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place,
and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters
called he Seas: and God saw that it was good."
Borman then added, “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.”
An estimated one billion people listened to that greeting – the largest TV audience to date.  Somehow, everything took on a new perspective.  The war and the national boundaries faded into insignificance as the ancient words of Genesis, pronouncing goodness on the newly-created world, took center stage.  That moment captured the imagination of poets, journalists and authors for years.  An anonymous telegram to the astronauts after the mission said, “Thank you Apollo 8.  You saved 1968.”
    A commemorative stamp was issued showing Earthrise with the words, “In the beginning God...”  The story has been retold by John S. Gardner on National Review.  Background of that holy night can also be found at a NASA-Goddard web page.  A very lifelike and faithful re-enactment of the event can be seen in Tom Hanks’ HBO miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon, Part 4.
    The Apollo 8 Christmas Eve anniversary was mentioned today by the BBC News and Space.com and Astronomy Picture of the Day, but all three avoided mention of the Genesis reading.  It was mentioned, however, on Maryland Weather, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune and many other news outlets.  There will undoubtedly be many Apollo celebrations leading up to the 40th anniversary of the moon landing in July, but there was never a Christmas Eve quite like that one – a modern wish for a silent night, holy night, calm, brightness, and sleep in heavenly peace.
“Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, yet Your commandments are my delight,” says Psalm 119 of God’s healing Word.  “The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting; Give me understanding, and I shall live.”
    Even back then, a few sourpuss spoilsports got uptight about the government-funded Bible reading.  Madelyn Murray O'Hair, the famous atheist, tried to sue to keep the word “God” off the stamp, but the courts decided she had no jurisdiction.  Ha!  But can you imagine the uproar something like that would cause today?  The AmurkyOnes Untied, the NCSE dobermans and the “I'll-Sue-You” ACLU would be taking off in an imperial TIE Fighter to shoot them down.  The UN would come unglued and threaten America with sanctions.  Borman, Lovell and Anders might have decided it wasn’t safe to come back.
    The greeting was apparently conceived by the astronauts themselves, and surprised NASA as much as everyone else.  The Chicago Tribune claimed that the astronauts got the idea from the wife of a reporter friend.  NASA had only asked the three to “think of something appropriate to say.”  It worked.  The timeless words of Genesis 1 touched the hearts of a billion people wearied by war and conflict.  The image of a beautiful blue orb in the vastness of space fit those words as humans had never before sensed from such a perspective: “and God saw that it was good.”
    We trust most people can celebrate that event as one of the most beautiful gifts the space program ever sent home.  Too bad most people quickly forgot it and resumed their selfish, thankless, violent ways.  Keep the light shining.  Put this wallpaper on your desktop and tell your coworkers about the Apollo 8 Christmas Eve message.  And so to all our readers, we likewise extend our wishes for a good night, good providence, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you – all of you on the privileged planet.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemBible
  A built-in accelerator in your eyes, explained in the 12/30/2003 entry.  (The next two stories are pretty fascinating, too.)

Bat Evolution: The Play’s the Thing   12/23/2008    
Dec 23, 2008 — According to the Darwinian script, each animal evolved its particular adaptations from an ancestor lacking those adaptations.  Take bats.  They must have evolved their wings and sonar from mouse-like ancestors that lived on the ground.  Is it enough to imagine these things, or should we expect science to provide evidence that is what really happened?
    Scientific American published a story entitled, “Taking Wing: Uncovering the Evolutionary Origins of Bats.”  It sounds like the evidence has been uncovered, now to be revealed for the first time, and we are about to look at it.  Actually, reporter Nancy B. Simmons ended with this remarkable admission:

Despite many new discoveries about the rise of bats, mysteries remain.  Bat ancestors must have existed prior to the Eocene, but we have no fossil record of them.  Likewise, the identity of the closest relatives of bats is still unknown.  Investigators are also eager to learn when the bat lineage first became distinct from that of the other laurasiatheres and how much of early bat evolution and diversification took place in the northern continents versus the southern continents.  We therefore need fossils that lie even closer to the beginning of bats than Onychonycteris does.  With luck, paleontologists will find such specimens, and they will help solve these and other riddles about the origins of these fascinating animals.
Obviously this points back to Onychonycteris and the other “many new discoveries” that will have to support the evolutionary story across the remaining gaps.  What did the article say about these?  Simmons started off by discussing the wonder of bats as we see them today.  She admitted that “their ascension was hardly a foregone conclusion: no other mammal has conquered the air” with powered flight, though several mammals can glide on outstretched flaps of skin.  Powered flight puts severe requirements on many organs, though, and the echolocation found in 85% of these “superb fliers” puts additional anatomical constraints on the skull, mouth, ears and throat.  She spent some time describing all the factors involved after saying, “Indeed, exactly how these rulers of the night sky arose from terrestrial ancestors is a question that has captivated biologists for decades.”
    Then she went into her discovery this year of Onychonycteris finneyi in Wyoming, “the most primitive bat ever discovered” (see 02/16/2008 discovery report).  This bat, though possessing shorter forelimbs and longer hindlimbs than extant bats, was still fully capable of flight.  In fact, living mouse-tailed bats have a similar wing aspect ratio, she said.
    The main evolutionary question addressed by her find, then, was not how powered flight evolved, but whether it evolved first, or sonar first, or whether both flight and sonar evolved simultaneously.  Earlier fossils did not help in filling the gap, she argued, but Onychonycteris did not appear to have sonar.  The flight-first theoreticians win, she claimed.
    “Still, we lack fossils that establish how bats are related to other mammals,” she said in a section about the diversity of living bats.  Genetic studies do not show them related to other gliding mammals.  The nearest ancestors, “an ancient lineage known as Laurasiatheria” consists of “such diverse beasts as carnivores, hoofed mammals, whales, scaly anteaters, shrews, hedgehogs and moles,” – none of which are fliers (although there were flying whales in Disney’s Fantasia 2000).  This leaves a lot of evolutionary space unfilled:
Primitive laurasiatheres, however, were probably mouse- or squirrel-size creatures that walked on all fours and ate insects.  Laurasiatheres are thought to have evolved on the ancient supercontinent of Laurasia, which comprised what is now North America, Europe and Asia, probably in the late Cretaceous period, some 65 million to 70 million years ago.  The exact position of bats within this group is uncertain, but clearly a considerable amount of evolutionary change separates Onychonycteris and other bats from their terrestrial forebears.
    Some of this change from land dweller to flier may have occurred surprisingly quickly, if recent discoveries in the field of developmental genetics are any indication.  Though short by bat standards, the fingers of Onychonycteris are greatly elongated as compared with those of other mammals.  How could this elongation have evolved?
Good question.  Her answer?  Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs).  The genes for these limb-growing proteins are expressed differently in mice and bats.  If we can imagine gradual changes in gene expression of BMPs, then, we can imagine transitional forms, even if none are found in the fossil record:
It is therefore possible that a small change in the genes regulating BMPs underlies both the developmental and evolutionary elongation of bat wing digitsIf so, that might explain the absence in the fossil record of creatures intermediate between short-fingered, nonflying mammals and long-fingered bats such as Onychonycteris and Icaronycteris: the evolutionary shift may have been very rapid, and few or no transitional forms may have existed.
She apparently did not ask why differences in BMP expression didn’t lead to flying hedgehogs and cows jumping over the moon.  On the other hand, maybe they did; they just didn’t leave any fossils.  That the gap was filled in with imagination is underscored with her final paragraph, quoted above: “Despite many new discoveries about the rise of bats, mysteries remain....”
The only transitional bats in Darwin’s belfry are imaginary ones.  Darwin removed the requirement for hard evidence and replaced it with imagination.  That’s why nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution; if you can simply imagine the transitional forms that should be there but aren’t, you can make your theory come true without data.  Suddenly everything makes sense.  Data are such contrary things, anyway.  It helps, too, when you also rule that alternative views cannot be heard.  This was Hamlet’s undoing; Charlie conquered Claudius, took the throne, exiled Hamlet along with his righteous anger, canceled the play, and produced one of his own, featuring all kinds of fanciful chimeras like imaginary transitional bats taking wing.  It was a hit.  It had to be.  The subjects dared not fail to applaud, cheer and beg for encores.  His own play’s the thing to assuage the conscience of the king.  Now you know the rest of the play within the play.
Next headline on:  MammalsEvolution
Look see:  Your eyes’ fiber-optic waveguides illustrated by the UK Science Museum (see the 5/2/2007 entry).

Science Intrudes Into Morality   12/23/2008    
Dec 23, 2008 — The Pope recently declared that we need to save humanity from self-destructive behaviors, like homosexuality.  Can science intrude on questions of human behavior and morals?  New Scientist thought so; a blog entry today says the Pope “misuses science to attack homosexuality.”
    One would think that moral behavior would lie outside the field for a scientific news source, but online news editor Rowan Hooper went on, mocking the Pope’s claim that the church has a role in saving “human ecology” like scientists have a role in protecting tropical forests.  Hooper called this “a bizarre misunderstanding of science” and “religious values imposed on” a scientific subject.
    Justifying homosexuality with appeals to genetics, neuroscience and Darwinism, Hooper claimed that “genetic evidence” suggests homosexuality is “hard-wired before birth,” and that “The idea that homosexuality evolves by natural selection is also well supported.”  Pointing to homosexual behavior in animals, too, he said, “This all strongly suggests that it is an outdated metaphysics to insist on ‘the nature of the human person as man and woman’.”  Most people come in man or woman forms.  His complaint only makes sense if he is endorsing transgender identities and transsexual behavior as well as homosexuality – the whole gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender package.  Would he draw the line at any other sexual behaviors, like pedophilia, necrophilia or polygamy?  Apparently not.  If natural selection is capable of producing one non-reproductive behavior, why not others?  The word “moral” appears nowhere in his blog entry.
    Hooper called on ecologists and other scientists to complain about the Pope “misusing science to dress up outdated ideas,” which obviously includes the Pope’s reference to creation and a Creator.  It’s not an “outdated metaphysics,” the Pope had said, “if the church speaks to the nature of the human person as man and woman, and asks that this order of creation be respected.”

What business of it is New Scientist to lecture the Pope on morals?  You would think that is the province of a religious leader.  Who is he to talk about outdated metaphysics?  You would think that is the province of philosophy and theology.  The Pope was speaking to his own Curia, for crying out loud.  Do you understand what is going on?  You thought science dealt with ammeters and microscopes and polymerase chain reactions.  Wrong; New Scientist is not like Old Scientist.  It asserts its tyranny over all realms of thought.
    Thousands of good scientists quietly continue to do great research in their respective fields, but the scientific institutions of our day have dirty hands.  They have become part and parcel of the radical leftist, atheist, social-progressive empire that controls the courts, media, education, labor unions, the UN, journalism, Hollywood and science.
    Did you notice that Hooper justified a sexual behavior that religious (and rational) people have for millennia described as perverted with an appeal to natural selection?  Did you notice he said behavior is genetically hard-wired?  Well, then, out goes any argument based on reason.  You see, Mr. Hooper, natural selection made you say these things.  You can’t help it.  You thought you were preaching a polemic on rationality and values, but you are a captive of impersonal forces from your animal past.  If we wanted to really tease Mr. Hooper, we could say that to be consistent, he would have to agree that natural selection produced the Pope as a mechanism to save the human population from self-destruction.  It’s pointless to fight it, then.
    Consistency is apparently not a value to this dogmatic Darwinist.  Without consistency, though, one can prove anything; therefore one proves nothing.  Don’t talk to us about truth, then, Mr. Hooper, you have nothing to say.  Your reason has left you.  You want to model your life on the animals?  Fine; go out into the field, and live like a king of beasts.  We hope it doesn’t take seven years for you to stand up like a Man and get your reason back.
    This commentary is not endorsing the Pope; it is simply insisting that science stop looking silly by refuting itself.  The essence of being human is using your reason and conscience to guide your physical passions.  That reason is the basis for science; it presupposes intelligence, which presupposes judgment, which presupposes absolute truth and morals.  Science cannot breathe without these things.
    2008 may become known as The Year Science Died.  Or was that 1859?
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsDarwinian EvolutionTheologyMedia
Dream On, Astrobiology   12/22/2008    
Dec 22, 2008 — An astrobiologist at Open University (UK) has classified habitable worlds into four types, even though only one of them is known to have life.  Astrobiology Magazine reported the list by Jan Hendrik Bredehöft: earth-like, Mars-like, Venus-like and water-worlds. 
After considering all the facts, Bredehöft says our best bet to find extraterrestrial ecosystems is to hunt for Earth-like planets, after all.  However, he doesn’t think Earth-like worlds will necessarily have advanced life.
    “We don’t know whether the level of complexity or the size of organisms living on Earth is essentially a logical outcome of evolution or whether it is just some fluke experienced here,” says Bredehöft.  “Is having talking intelligent beings on the surface of the planet the pinnacle of evolution?  We just assume so because we like to see ourselves as something special.”
The article was echoed on Space.com.  While the search for exoplanets gets refined, people like Bredehöft just theorise.  What’s his “considered opinion” on the kinds of organisms we will most likely find?  “Probably something slimy.”
Grade this phrase: “logical outcome of evolution.”  Evolution is supposed to be this mindless, directionless, unguided, chance process.  The only logical outcome of chance is more chance.  Corollary: the only logical outcome of evolution is illogic (as illustrated above).  Corollary 2: the pinnacle of evolution is a fluke.
    A fluke is also a parasite.  Evolution, therefore, is parasitic on talking intelligent beings who assume they are something special.  Logical, Captain.
Next headline on:  CosmologySolar SystemOrigin of LifeDumb Ideas
Water, Water Everywhere   12/21/2008    
Dec 21, 2008 — A press release from the Max Planck Institute says that water has been detected at a distant quasar 11.1 billion light-years away – the farthest detection of water yet.  “The water vapour is thought to exist in clouds of dust and gas that feed the supermassive black hole at the centre of the distant quasar,” the press release said.  Because of gravitational lensing by a foreground mass, the team was able to make “this remarkable discovery.”  A co-author of the paper explained what this means: “This suggests that the water molecule may have been much more abundant in the early Universe than first thought, and can be used for further research into supermassive black holes and galaxy evolution at high redshift.”
This gives new meaning to the preamble in Psalm 148:1-5, “Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights!  ... Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light!  Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens!  Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created.”
Next headline on:  PhysicsCosmologyAstronomy
  Honesty is the best policy in science, too; but how did that evolve? 12/18/2002.

Which Evolution Should Be Taught?   12/19/2008    
Dec 19, 2008 — Two articles in Scientific American’s cover feature on evolution in preparation for Darwin Day (12/15/2008, 12/16/2008) quoted a favorite line by Dobzhansky, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”  Assuming a teacher or textbook writer wants to illustrate how true this proverb is, which evolutionary proposal should be presented?  Recent articles illustrate that there is still a wide variety of opinions on what evolution means and how evolution works – and whether Darwin contributed anything that has stood the test of time.

  1. Wallace’s Revenge:  Alfred Russell Wallace always got the short end of the stick compared to Charles Darwin, but a story in The Scientist claims he got something right Darwin didn’t.  What would that be?
    ...Wallace’s views have, for the most part, been deemed synonymous with Darwin’s.  And attribution to the founding theories of evolution has, on the whole, gone to Darwin.  A small phrase in Wallace’s original essay, however, was his alone: He suggested that certain organisms, or systems that make up organisms, have evolved a way to direct the course of their own evolution, rather than be purely subject to natural selection.  As a result, this mechanism could affect whether traits ever get expressed, and therefore subjected to the forces of natural selection.  Now, a century-and-a-half later, a group of Princeton University researchers say they’re the first to provide evidence to support Wallace’s claim.
    But if organisms can direct their own evolution rather than be subject to natural selection, that tends to undermine the universality of natural selection as a scientific law.  It almost looks designed to prevent evolution.  “Now the next question becomes: How did nature actually do this?” they asked.
        Notice how long it took to find this: a century and a half.  It seems any scientist predicting something that far in advance should earn more fame points.  Will this lead to a new movement to promote Wallacian evolution?
    Note:  Natural selection is not a force; it is a filter.
    Update 12/20/2008: The Wall Street Journal published an article by Tom Wright about the fight between the Darwinites and the Wallace-ites over priority and glory for the theory of natural selection.
  2. Punctuated equilibria:  Stephen Jay Gould is dead but not forgotten.  His contrarian views to the slow-and-gradual establishment consensus got air time again in Nature this week in a book review.1  The book being reviewed need not concern us; the opinion of Steve Jones, the reviewer, does.  His review bounces between praise and criticism of the man and his ideas.  Was Gould’s writing a pompous banter of obscure rhetoric or really onto something?  Jones did not find too much of lasting worth, but revealed some things about today’s consensus on Darwinism.  It seems the consensus has satisfied itself that Gould’s criticisms of slow-and-gradual Darwinism can be laid to rest with him.
        Debating Gould’s centerpiece of evolutionary theory, punctuated equilibria (which was motivated by the large and systematic gaps in the fossil record), Jones said: “Many biologists, by contrast, insist that what look like palaeontological leaps can be explained by simple Darwinism.”  And how is that?  Have the gaps been filled with new evidence?  No; rather, “To them, an instant in geology may represent almost an infinity in biology, leaving plenty of time for evolution by natural selection to do its normal job.”  This seems to excuse the lack of evidence with an appeal to imagination.
        Jones is a colorful writer.  Perhaps he can be excused for this overt personification: “The fact that nature must build on what it has, and not on what it wants, is still at the centre of evolutionary thinking.”  Darwin might have taken a double-take at that blatant teleological language.
        Jones left the impression that punctuated equilibria theory is passè, but he did praise Gould as a true genius and hero in one sense: “Gould was central to today’s awakening of public interest in the past.  He was also an invaluable ally in the fight against creationism, and spared no effort in opposing the endless attempts to insinuate stupidity into US schools.”
  3. Tree Evolution:  If trees evolved, can Darwin’s Tree of Life evolve, too?  Apparently so; a startling commentary in PNAS2 spoke of “Evolving Views on the Tree of Life.”  They didn’t say whether the views are evolving by intelligent design, but John M. Archibald (Dalhousie University, Canada) had some pretty alarming things to say about early evolution – particularly, the origin of eukaryotes (complex unicellular life all the way up to humans) from prokaryotes (bacteria).
    Next to life itself, the origin of complex cells is one of the most fundamental, and intractable, problems in evolutionary biology.  Progress in this area relies heavily on an understanding of the relationships between present-day organisms, yet despite tremendous advances over the last half-century scientists remain firmly divided on how to best classify cellular life.
    That statement seems breathtaking.  Teachers repeat the Dobzhansky quote like a mantra, but here, Archibald has spilled the beans about evolution: at a fundamental level, nobody gets it.  He has just said that the origin of life and the origin of complex life (eukaryotes) are No. 1 and No. 2 on the list of fundamental, intractable problems in biology.  Does this make sense in light of Dobzhansky?  It seems Mr. Darwin can’t make it to first base – or even get off home plate.  Archibald is not done yet:
    The conceptual and practical challenges associated with establishing a genealogy-based classification scheme for microbes have been fiercely debated for decades... and the literature is rich in philosophy and rhetoric.
    It seems a truism that science tries to leave rhetoric behind and get to the facts.  Yet the debates, he said, have been fierce for decades.  He went on to speak of the smashed hopes for finding evolution in the genes:
    The genomics revolution of the 1990s brought tremendous optimism to the field of microbial systematics: if enough genomes from diverse organisms could be sequenced and compared, definitive answers to questions about evolutionary relationships within and between eubacteria, archaebacteria, and eukaryotes would surely emerge.  More specifically, it should be possible to discern how eukaryotes evolved from prokaryotes (if indeed that is what happened), and perhaps even who among modern-day prokaryotic lineages is our closest ancestor.  Unfortunately, with the sequences of hundreds of eubacterial, archaebacterial, and eukaryotic genomes has come the realization that the number of universally distributed genes suitable for global phylogenetic analysis is frustratingly small.  Lateral (or horizontal) gene transfer has shown itself to be a pervasive force in the evolution of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes, and even if a “core” set of genes can be identified (and there is much debate on this issue), how confident are we that the phylogenetic signal in these genes reflects the vertical history of cells?
    Calling these “vexing questions,” he painted a very pessimistic picture that anything in evolution makes sense in the light of biology.  The best he could do was point to a promising paper by a colleague that resurrected a discredited view: the “eocyte tree” hypothesis.  The colleague ran some phylogenetic trees using various methods that seemed to converge on an origin of eukaryotes from eubacteria instead of archebacteria.
        This proposal, however, is like the proverbial string that breaks in the middle when you get both ends to meet.  “What are we to make of this conclusion?  The gulf between prokaryotes and eukaryotes is obviously enormous,” he commented, languishing in problems with the proposal.  In the end, he had to resort to the skeleton key in the evolutionists’ closet: imagination.  “At first glance this might seem problematic but it is not so difficult to imagine given that the ‘operational’ genes of eukaryotes are primarily eubacterial in origin, not archaebacterial.”  Operational – isn’t that a design word?  Then he mentioned “informational genes” – sure to perk up the ears of the ID crowd.
        Hope was in the proposal, but despair was in the air.  Listen to his tragic words: “The extent to which a small fraction of the genomes of living organisms can be used to trace the history of cellular lineages dating back >1 billion years will no doubt continue to be debated for years to come.”  He spoke of the sensitivity of phylogenetic analyses to “misspecification and compositional heterogeneity,” jargon for mistaking patterns for actual evolutionary history.  His concluding paragraph spoke of “tough phylogenetic problems” and the feeble hope the new proposal gives to “those struggling to understand the earliest events in the diversification of cellular lineages.”
        Observers of creation-evolution politics might well ask if this commentary could motivate a disclaimer for those simplistic drawings of the origin of life and Darwin’s Tree of Life in the school textbooks.
  4. Emergency emergentism:  The most radical evolutionary view practically stiffs Darwin.  Susan Mazur was interviewed once again on the New Zealand Scoop about the so-called Altenberg 16, a group of scientists who feel an overhaul of evolutionary theory is due (09/10/2008).  None of these leading biologists are creationists in any way, shape, or form.  Their view of the origin of species is that complex systems “emerge” by some kind of self-organizational principle in nature.  However plausible that may seem or not, they are adamant that the pro-Darwin, pro-natural-selection majority is out of touch with reality and clinging to power, not evidence.  Mazur said, “natural selection is viewed by more sophisticated scientists as political not a scientific concept.  At the time [of Darwin] it kind of fit in with the expanding colonialism of Victorian England.”   The paradigm shifters believe that evolution can be conceived without natural selection.  That would eliminate Darwin’s ideas as unfit and virtually extinct.
If nothing in biology makes sense without evolution, consider this: not one of Science magazine’s ten top entries for “Breakthrough of the Year” 3 concerned evolution, depended on evolution, mentioned Darwin, or mentioned evolution.  The Number One Breakthrough of the Year4 went to reprogramming cells to behave like stem cells (induced pluripotent stem cells) – a technique many believe renders embryonic stem cell research obsolete (see 12/17/2008).  Nothing in this year’s top scientific discoveries, therefore, needed the light of evolution to make sense.
1.  Steve Jones, “A wonderful life by leaps and bounds,” Nature 456, 873-874 (18 December 2008) | doi:10.1038/456873a; Published online 17 December 2008.
2.  John M. Archibald, “The Eocyte Hypothesis and the Origin of Eukaryotic Cells,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, PNAS December 23, 2008, vol. 105 no. 51, pp. 20049-20050; doi: 10.1073/pnas.0811118106.
3.  “Breakthrough of the Year: The Runners-Up,” Science, 19 December 2008: Vol. 322. no. 5909, p. 1768, DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5909.1768.
4.  “Breakthrough of the Year: Reprogramming Cells,” Science, 19 December 2008: Vol. 322. no. 5909, pp. 1766-1767, DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5909.1766.
It’s time to revise the Dobzhansky mantra in light of the facts of science.
  • Nothing in biology makes sense in the dark of evolution.
  • Nothing in evolution makes sense in the light of biology.
  • Nothing in evolution makes sense.
  • Nothing in emergence makes sense.
  • Nothing in punctuation makes sense in the light of equilibria.
  • Nothing in eukaryote ancestry makes sense in the light of prokaryotes.
  • Nothing in evolution sheds light on vexing questions.
  • Nothing in phylogeny makes sense in the light of genomics.
  • Nothing in "informational genes" makes sense except in the light of intelligence.
  • Scientific breakthroughs make cents (and dollars) without evolution.
  • Nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of Victorian colonialism.
  • Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of design.
  • Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of the evidence. (Jonathan Wells)
  • Nothing makes sense except in the light.
Feel free to send in your own version.  Evolution doesn’t shed light.  It needs light shed on it, because its proponents do their dirty work in the darkness.
    Let’s continue with a riddle.  First the answer: Steve Jones.  Question: What do you get when a bratty kid grows up and gains academic power?
    Categorizing every Darwin doubter in the world in the “stupidity” pigeonhole is cheap, easy, and sleazy.  Come on, Steve, off your pedestal and let’s turn the light on the evidence.  How about some rational discussion about the 3rd and 4th entries above?  Remember, nothing makes sense in the darkness of propaganda.
    Reader submissions:
  • Almost everything in biology is nonsense in the light of evolution.
  • Nearly everything in biology makes sense apart from evolution.
  • Nothing in evolution research makes sense except in the light of government funding.
  • Let there be light (Official motto of the University of California – Copyright UC Regents)
  • Creative juices do not make any sense unless one is making light of evolution.
Next headline on:  Darwin and Evolutionary TheoryOrigin of LifeEducation
Cassini Celebrates Season of Change   12/18/2008    
Dec 18, 2008 — It’s approaching equinox on Saturn.  Cassini is now well into its first extended mission, aptly dubbed the Equinox Mission, till Sept. 2010.  The Cassini Team just exhibited its snazzy new website.  It’s not all bells and whistles.  The science is ringing the phones off the hook.  Even without the pictures the following announcements could stop the presses.
    Once again, though, Saturn the Giant had to wait in the wings while a couple of moons stole the show.  Before yielding them the stage, Saturn wanted to announce that its ring spokes are back.  Exeunt.  Flourish.
  1. Titan:  Papers presented at last week’s AGU (American Geophysical Union) conference revealed several exciting new things about the second-largest moon in the solar system – the only one with a substantial atmosphere.
    1. Lake of the Clouds:  Midwesterners may be familiar with “lake effect clouds” around the Great Lakes.  Water vapor from lakes tends to condense over land downwind.  National Geographic News echoed reports by Cassini scientists that a similar effect may be occurring on Titan.  Evanescent methane clouds appear to form downwind of the lakes dotting the northern hemisphere.
    2. Volcano Not:  New radar images of the Ganesha Macula feature have disappointed volcanologists.  They hoped it would prove to be a cryovolcanic dome.  It wasn’t to be; the Planetary Society reported that the feature is irregular, with topographic highs and lows, unlike a dome.  Planetologists had hoped that eruptions from this and other candidate cryovolcanos would replenish the atmospheric methane.  A Cassini press release explained why this is significant: “Without replenishment, scientists say, Titan’s original atmospheric methane should have been exhausted long ago.”
    3. Volcanoes Yes?  BBC News quoted AGU scientists optimistic that cryovolcanos are common on Titan.  Two regions re-imaged over time show changes in brightness.  The Virtual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer team figures that ice-slurry flows 200 meters thick might be carving some of the channels seen.  The tentative detection of ammonia is another clue.  Scientists expect that ammonia would have to be erupted from the interior.
          Again, the significance of this relates to dating the age of the atmosphere: “Scientists like the idea of cryovolcanism because it is one way to explain why so much methane is retained in Titan’s atmosphere,” the article said.  “Without some means of replenishment, the moon’s original methane content should have been destroyed long ago by the Sun’s ultraviolet light.”  When they say long ago, they really mean long ago.  Some estimates put an upper limit on the lifetime of current methane at 100 million years – one forty-fifth the assumed age of the moon.  All the methane should have been gone 4.4 billion years ago.  Why is there methane still present today?
          The article ended with skepticism about the ammonia.  Not every planetary scientist accepts the interpretation of active eruptions on Titan.  One skeptic is Emily Lakdawalla, the blogger at the Planetary Society.  She provided a first-hand report from the AGU and did not find the evidence convincing.  Her detailed blog report is worth visiting for the detailed radar and VIMS images of the surface.  One thing that stands out in her report is a series of great questions about Titan posed by Jonathan Lunine, a Cassini scientist who has studied this mysterious moon for over two decades.  Among the questions:
      Titan has methane in its atmosphere, which should quickly be destroyed by solar radiation.  So it’s got to be replenished somehow.  Is cryovolcanism responsible?  Or something else? Where has all the ethane gone?  Where there’s methane, there should be ethane, but there isn’t much in the atmosphere or on the surface, though it’s been detected in one southern lake....
      Is there active cryovolcanism or geysering on Titan?  Has there been significant cryovolcanism in the past?  This is an area of particularly active debate.
      What is the origin of Titan’s mountains?  Are they a sign of internal geologic activity, or not?
      Is the primary degradation process fluvial erosion or burial? Titan’s surface has few obvious craters, so something must be erasing them.  Are they being eroded or buried?
      Four years of Cassini orbits have failed to answer these questions.  It must be remembered that scientists in the 1990s expected Titan to be covered in a global ocean of liquid ethane over half a mile thick (02/15/2008, 07/31/2008), due to accumulating condensation products from the steady breakup of high-altitude methane by the solar wind.

  2. Enceladus:  Titan’s equal in scientific interest if not size is the little moon Enceladus.  The BBC News and Jet Propulsion Lab both reported more evidence of activity on the surface.  Careful perusal of patterns in surface cracks led Paul Helfenstein of the Cassini imaging team to theorize that Enceladus has spreading centers comparable to those at Earth’s mid-oceanic ridge – only these operate like a one-way conveyor belt.  One-way spreading is rare on Earth and not well understood, he commented.  “Enceladus has asymmetric spreading on steroids.  We are not certain about the geological mechanisms that control the spreading, but we see patterns of divergence and mountain-building similar to what we see on Earth, which suggests that subsurface heat and convection are involved.”  Earth, however is a lot bigger.  Enceladus is about the width of Arizona.
        In addition, the famous geysers emanating from the “tiger stripe” fissures at the south pole must be on the move.  There are no geological differences along the cracks at the spots where ice is shooting out now.  It may be that the orifices get plugged, only to reopen at other spots along the fissures.  Ice appears to have fallen symmetrically on both sides of the cracks along their entire length.  This suggests the geysers continually move up and down along the tiger stripes.
        A Cassini press release last month provided more evidence that the geysers are coming from a subsurface ocean of liquid water.  An amazing upshot of this activity is that it affects Saturn itself:
    Enceladus’ output of ice and vapor dramatically impacts the entire Saturnian system by supplying the ring system with fresh material and loading ionized gas from water vapor into Saturn’s magnetosphere.
        “The ions added to the magnetosphere are spun up from Enceladus’ orbital speed to the rotational speed of Saturn,” said Cassini magnetometer science team member Christopher Russell of the University of California, Los Angeles.  “The more material is added by the plume, the harder this is for Saturn to do, and the longer it takes to accelerate the new material.”
    It’s a case of the tail wagging the dog.  This tiny moon puts out enough material to create a vast ring around Saturn, and its ions tug at the planet’s magnetic field and affect its rotation.  Such a thing was hardly imaginable before Cassini found it to be so.
        Where is the heat coming from?  Small bodies lose their original heat much more quickly due to the increased ratio of surface area to volume.  One participant in the Unmanned Spaceflight forum, where planetary scientists and their friends hang out, joked, “I wonder if there’s any way that Enceladus could have been impacted by an extrasolar AL26 [Aluminum-26, a short-lived radioactive isotope] mass sometime within the last several thousand years, which could be powering a short-term period of activity within the moon.”  Talk about an ad-hoc hypothesis.  Others referred to a recent paper in Nature that calculated internal tidal forces in a liquid ocean like that on Europa could be much greater than thought.  That does not explain, however, why other moons of comparable or larger size in the Saturn system are inactive.
        Whatever has been happening on Enceladus, it appears to have been going on for some time and moving around.  The moon is riddled with cracks and ridges from top to bottom – some of which may be relics of geyser activity in the past.  The E-ring produced by today’s geysers would vanish within decades without constant replenishment.  Cassini will surely be watching for variations in activity at every opportunity during the Equinox Mission.  If lucky, Cassini scientists may be able to keep watching till the next Saturn solstice – in 2017.
Pictures!  These science stories were accompanied by some of the most stunning images of the mission.  One particular Enceladus portrait is both beautiful and intriguing (for full resolution, go to the Planetary Photojournal).  Patterns of cracks seem to show episodic reorientations of geologic activity.  The lack of craters on many parts of this bright, active moon is surprising: “remarkable tectonic activity for a relatively small world,” the caption exclaimed.  That big crack in the north is over half a mile deep (another angle).  The image is a mosaic from 28 exposures.  Large icy grains have been artificially colored blue-green for analysis.  Browsing the image at high resolution gives one a personal flyover of an exotic world.
    Fly in even closer with the image called Tiger Stripes Magnified.  This is a mosaic of the highest-resolution images from the recent south-pole flybys, overlain on a lower-resolution image of the southern hemisphere.  A labeled version shows locations of known eruption plumes (circles) and the footprints of “skeet shoot” images taken August 10 (green) and October 31 (brown).  The footprints show that the surface of this little moon is cracked and folded down to the smallest scales.  It is also littered with boulders of ice the size of houses.  If these boulders were ejected by the geysers, they speak of remarkable force down deep.  Studying this mosaic at high res is an emotional experience.  It is the nearest we will probably get in this lifetime to staring down the throat of active geysers on an ice-blanketed world 800 million miles away.
    The Cassini Imaging Team website has additional images, maps, and diagrams for further study.  There’s even a rotating globe showing the angles of the geysers, and Paul Helfenstein’s movie of the spreading centers, showing his interpretation of how separated features appear to fit together when you move pieces around.  An updated polar mosaic of the entire southern hemisphere pulls all the data into a flat map with all the resolution one could want; even at quarter size, the view overflows the screen.  Finally, for those who like graphs and scientific detail with their pictures, the Nov. 25 CHARM presentation (Cassini-Huygens Analysis and Results from the Mission has a lot of interesting data (and pictures) in a Powerpoint/PDF presentation about Enceladus with the latest from the recent flybys.
Before Cassini got to Saturn, planetary scientists had an inkling that Enceladus would be a star of the show.  They were certainly not disappointed.  In fact, none of the targets – icy moons, Saturn, rings magnetic field, and Titan – have been anything less than astonishing.
    Cracks similar to those on Enceladus, with ice piled along the flanks, are visible on Jupiter’s moon Europa, another body thought to have a subsurface ocean of liquid water.  Could there be similar mechanisms at work?  The analysis will take years.  So far, it looks like Titan and Enceladus are giving pains to believers in billions of years.  For relief, try the fountain of youth.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating Methods
Who Wants Embryonic Stem Cells?   12/17/2008    
Dec 17, 2008 — Amazing treatments continue to spring forth from adult stem cells – the stem cells with no ethical qualms attached.  With adult stem cells easy to obtain doing so much good, why would anyone want embryonic stem cells (the stem cells with ethical qualms attached), when no usable treatments have yet been found?
Here are some recent success stories with adult stem cells:
  1. Nature presented evidence that a single adult stem cell in mice can grow a whole prostate gland.1 
  2. Another article this week in Medical News Today reported that esophageal stem cells in mice can grow into transplantable tissue.  Researchers at Penn State said, “The ultimate goal is to identify esophageal stem cells in a patient, grow the patient’s own stem cells, and inject them locally to replace diseased tissue with normal lining.”
  3. The New York Times reported that a patient received a transplanted windpipe.  The doctors were able to avoid tissue rejection by applying stem cells from the patient’s own bone marrow.
  4. Science Daily reported that a single adult stem cell can self-renew and repair tissue in a live mammal.
  5. The cure for heart disease may be circulating in your blood.  Science Daily reported in October that “New research from the University of Bristol brings stem cell therapies for heart disease one step closer.  The findings reveal that our bodies’ ability to respond to an internal ‘mayday’ signal may hold the key to success for long-awaited regenerative medicine.”  If they can just enhance the response of stem cells that are already circulating in the blood, they can attract the body’s in-house repair mechanisms to damaged sites.
        This is a case of applied intelligent design: “The team have [sic] made fascinating discoveries about our DIY repair systems and have translated them into practical use.  They’ve intelligently employed the body’s own strategies to develop a method that may take us a step closer to truly effective stem cell therapies for heart patients.”
  6. In a paper in Cell,2 two stem cell specialists reviewed findings that hematopoetic stem cells maintain two populations that reproduce differently.  This presents “evidence that cells may transition between the two kinetic states, establishing one subpopulation that is ready to proliferate and another that is a deeply quiescent reserve.”  This means that adult stem cells can be available throughout life for repair of tissues – and harvesting by medical researchers – striking “the balance needed for ongoing maintenance and a durable reserve providing long-term reconstitution.”
  7. (submitted by a reader)  Popular Mechanics reported an amazing lifesaving technology that could save soldiers on the battlefront.  “New research from DARPA could open the door to on-demand blood-cell manufacturing on battlefields and in hospitals,” it said.  “All medics need is a machine that uses a nanofiber that mimics bone marrow to turn a handful of stem cells into gallons of blood.”  This could someday render blood banks and Red Cross Blood Drives obsolete while providing safe, fresher blood to the injured.
  8. Science Daily last month summarized new advances in “using adult, embryonic stem cells for tissue regeneration.”  The only advances mentioned in the article, however, were from adult stem cells and “induced pluripotent stem cells” (see 11/05/2008), derived from adult somatic cells, that behave “like” embryonic stem cells without the need to create and destroy embryos.  The article also mentioned “progress” with “derivatives” of human embryonic stem cells, like pancreatic islet cells, that survived in mice (but didn’t help the mice, because they produced human insulin).  Successful treatments from adult stem cells, though, are many and varied: “Adult stem cells regenerate epithelia, brain tissue, muscle, blood and bone.  They have also been found in other tissues that normally scar after injury, such as myocardium, spinal cord and retina tissues.”
The embryonic stem cell research community, by contrast, still has nothing to show and is plagued with scandals.  Nature News reported that California’s governor Schwarzeneggar is outraged at the head of CIRM, the embryonic stem cell institute approved by voters (04/30/2008, bullet 3).  “The board of California’s state stem-cell agency has voted to pay its chairman a salary, even as the state plunges deeper into financial crisis.”  He’s asking for a half-million salary when the state is facing a “financial Armageddon” with a $15 billion budget deficit.
    Nature News also reported that the Vatican has reiterated its opposition to the use of human embryos for research, whether from aborted fetuses or human cloning; use of adult stem cells, though, is morally acceptable, the Vatican said.
    Science magazine,1 however, expressed the common position of many scientists who want embryonic stem cell freedom, ethics or not.  Constance Holden wrote,
U.S. researchers are eagerly anticipating the moment that President-elect Barack Obama takes office and sweeps away the Bush Administration’s restrictions on federal funding for research with human embryonic stem (ES) cells.  Scientists at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) are making no secret of their glee.  “I think everybody here is incredibly excited about the new Administration,” says Story Landis, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and chair of the NIH Stem Cell Task Force.
Researchers used to finding ways to circumvent the Bush restrictions will now have unfettered freedom to breed human stem cells (short of cloning humans for research), once Obama fulfills his promise to remove the restrictions by executive order as one of his first acts as President.  Scientists seem to maintain their lust for ES cells even though the momentum is with adult stem cell research, where nearly-miraculous results are becoming the norm.  According to Amy Comstock Rick, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research in Washington, D.C., “the field [of embryonic stem cell research] has an awfully long way to go.”
1.  Leong, Wang, Johnson and Gao, “Generation of a prostate from a single adult stem cell,” Nature 456, 804-808 (11 December 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07427.
2.  Raaijmakers and Scadden, “Divided within: Heterogeneity within Adult Stem Cell Pools,” Cell, Volume 135, Issue 6, 12 December 2008, Pages 1006-1008.
3.  Constance Holden, “Obama Transition: A Fresh Start for Embryonic Stem Cells,” Science 12 December 2008: Vol. 322. no. 5908, p. 1619, DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5908.1619.
Solomon said, “For whoever finds me [wisdom] finds life and receives favor from the LORD.  But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8:35-36).  In context, he had just been speaking of God’s wisdom and delight in creation.
Next headline on:  HealthPolitics and Ethics
  Browse the short entries from eight years ago on the Dec 2000 page.

Blame Hiccups on Your Inner Fish   12/16/2008    
Dec 16, 2008 — Why do humans get hernias and hiccups?  Neil Shubin says it’s because of your inner fish.  In the Scientific American series on Darwin, the discoverer of Tiktaalik was trying to show how evolutionary theory sheds light on human anatomy.  He looked back to fish and amphibians and found insight.
    “A glimpse inside the body reveals structures left inside of us during the course of evolution, which often seem a confused jumble, with arteries, nerves and other structures taking odd paths to get from one part of the body to another,” he said.  “....To make sense of our own bodies, we need to examine the history we share with everything from microbes and worms to fish and primates.”  In search for clues from “our fishy past and our mammalian present,” he pointed to gonads and nerves for the diaphragm that made more sense in fish anatomy.  Believing that existing patterns were adapted by evolution to changes in the primate body, he claimed that they wouldn’t have been designed this way from scratch, any more than a rewiring job in a building.

Our deep history was, at different times, spent in ancient oceans, small streams and savanna plains—and not office buildings, ski slopes or football fields.  This extraordinary disconnect between our past and present means that our body falls apart in certain predictable ways.  The major bones in human knees, backs and wrists arose in aquatic creatures hundreds of millions of years ago.  Is it any surprise, then, that we tear cartilage in our knees and suffer back pain as we walk on two legs or develop carpal tunnel syndrome as we type, knit or write?  Our fish and amphibian ancestors did not do these things.
    Take the body plan of a fish, modify it using genes altered from those that build the body of a worm, dress it up to be a mammal, then tweak and twist that mammal to make a creature that walks upright, talks, thinks and has superfine control of its fingers, and we have a recipe for disaster.  We can dress up this fish only so much before paying a price.  In a perfectly designed world—one without an extended historic legacy—we would not have to suffer from the infirmities of hemorrhoids or hernias.  Nor would our buildings be so expensive to renovate.
Shubin did not inventory fish maladies, or inquire whether Methuselah ever got a hernia after living 200 times longer than a fish.  His hypothesis seems to suggest that evolution is regressive.  Following his reasoning, the best-designed animals were the earliest ones.  Bad design has led to more maladies the higher one evolves up Darwin’s tree of life.  Maybe natural selection should have left well enough alone and not invented a Shawn Johnson or Michael Phelps.  It terms of design, it’s been all downhill since those happy days under the sea.
We can’t help but award multiple SEQOTW prizes this week, with all the contestants vying for attention in Scientific American’s Darwin Extravaganza.  We may have to go to SEQOTD.  Please notice; we don’t laugh at the Darwinists out of some perverse sense of satisfaction at irritating them.  We know they hate being laughed it.  We just can’t help it.  We laugh because they really are funny.  Let’s all sing like the fishies sing:
Adaptation always seems better in landlubber’s four-limbed physique
You dream of evolving up yonder, but that is a faulty mystique.
Just look at the world around you, right here on the ocean floor;
Such wonderful things surround you; what more is you lookin’ for?
Under the sea, Under the sea, Darwin, it’s better down where it’s wetter, take it from me. Up on the shore they walk on all fours, out in the sun they sweat in they chores, While we is a-breedin’ in de Garden of Eden under the sea.
Down here all the fish is happy, as off through the waves they squirts; The man in the office got hiccups, he sad ’cause his hernia hurts. But man in the jungle ain’ lucky, he in for a worser fate; One day when tiger get hungry, guess who’s gon’ be on de plate.
Under the sea, Under the sea, That’s why it’s hotter under the water Ya we in luck here down in the muck here Under the sea.
They take themselves so seriously – that’s what makes this so much fun.  Thank you, Neil, and all the Scientific American staff, for giving us one of the best comedy acts [hic] in a long time.  OK, we’ll get serious.  See?  We’re serious.  (chortle) (sniff) (snicker)  Honest!  (guffaw)  Sorry.  (pause, deep breath) (snort) (giggle) (choke)  We in luck here down in the muck here, under the sea... Yeeeee, HAW!
Next headline on:  Darwinian EvolutionMarine BiologyEarly ManDumb Ideas
Expel the Creationists   12/16/2008    
Dec 16, 2008 — Apparently Eugenie Scott of the NCSE is feeling no remorse from her appearance in Ben Stein’s documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, where she defended the actions of those who ruined careers, denied tenure, and deprived students and teachers of their academic freedom because they dared to question Darwin.  Her latest piece in Scientific American is as adamant as ever: the creationists, ever morphing their tactics by a kind of sinister evolution, need to be eradicated.
    With co-author Glenn Branch, Eugenie Scott summarized the history of creationism and the court cases that have stymied them.  Using the projection theme of a crook “donning a fake mustache” to hide his identity, Scott portrayed a shape-shifting bogeyman that can be shown no mercy but must be expelled.  The subtitle reads, “Creationists who want religious ideas taught as scientific fact in public schools continue to adapt to courtroom defeats by hiding their true aims under ever changing guises.”  After thoroughly discrediting the motives of creationists in Louisiana and Georgia who merely requested that students use critical thinking when exploring evolution, she explained why these apparently innocent requests deserved to be defeated: one doesn’t grant academic freedom to liars:
In the meantime, it is clear why the Louisiana Science Education Act is pernicious: it tacitly encourages teachers and local school districts to miseducate students about evolution, whether by teaching creationism as a scientifically credible alternative or merely by misrepresenting evolution as scientifically controversial.  Vast areas of evolutionary science are for all intents and purposes scientifically settled; textbooks and curricula used in the public schools present precisely such basic, uncomplicated, uncontroversial material.  Telling students that evolution is a theory in crisis is—to be blunt—a lie.
    Moreover, it is a dangerous lie, because Dobzhansky was right to say that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution: without evolution, it would be impossible to explain why the living world is the way it is rather than otherwise.  Students who are not given the chance to acquire a proper understanding of evolution will not achieve a basic level of scientific literacy.  And scientific literacy will be indispensable for workers, consumers and policymakers in a future dominated by medical, biotechnological and environmental concerns.
Creationists will continue their pattern of “steady misrepresentation,” she said, by finding new ways to chip away at Darwin’s theory of evolution.  What are honest citizens to do?  “But because the passage of such antievolution bills ultimately results from politics rather than science, it will not be the progress of science that ensures their failure to endure,” she said.  “Rather it will take the efforts of citizens who are willing to take a stand and defend the uncompromised teaching of evolution.
Eugenie, Eugenie, please.  This piece is so loaded with fallacies, lies and misrepresentations you should be ashamed of yourself.  Readers, look at this.  This lady knows better than to make such allegations.  She has heard numerous scholars and scientists who are not fundamentalist Christians make the same arguments against dogmatic Darwinism, among them David Berlinski, Steve Fuller and Ben Stein.  She has met face to face with Phillip Johnson and the leading lights of the intelligent design movement and various creationist organizations.  She knows these people are not crooks with fake mustaches.  In fact, she knows that most of them are nicer people than her fellow persecutors.  She knows many of them have more degrees in science than she does.  And she knows that no philosopher of science would defend the image of “science vs superstition” she is portraying.
    This piece has all the marks of a hit man knowing his job depends on showing the boss some blood.  As a full-time employee of an organization whose sole purpose is to keep creationism out of the public arena, do you think she could dare face her board of directors and contributors with anything less than enthusiastic loyalty to the cause?  Conscience be expelled; she is not going to draw her pay by feeling remorse for continuing one of the most egregious persecutions of scholars, scientists and citizens in recent history.  If that takes a few lies and misrepresentations, so be it.  (The best lies are calling your enemies liars, misrepresenting them as misrepresenters, and having an agenda to accuse them of having an agenda.)
    Eugenie, please.  Don’t you realize that any special interest group could use the tactics you keep using?  It’s never the Big Science Academy that has evil motives (don’t read those emails against Guillermo Gonzalez), it’s your straw bogeyman.  It’s never the Darwin Party that lies (don’t look at those Haeckel embryos); it’s only the bogeyman.  It’s never the DODO heads (Darwin-Only 2x) that misrepresents, changes tactics, and has an agenda – it’s only the bogeyman.  You know these people.  You know how nice and honest many of the persecuted outcasts are, and you know how cruel and heartless can be many of your comrades in arms.  You would rather befriend foul-mouthed P.Z. Myers than kind-hearted, wise old Phillip Johnson.  You would rather ruin a man’s career than listen to his scientific arguments for design.  You would rather sue a school than let them dare think that Darwin might have had less than the whole truth.  How can you look in the mirror in the morning?
    This charge of creationists only being politically motivated is so tiring.  It is so hypocritical.  If Eugenie’s special-interest group lost a court case, you know she would be the first to change tactics and put on a fake mustache.  If she were marginalized, you know she would be the first crying out for academic freedom.  If the Darwin Party were losing, you know she would be the first to demand the right to critically examine the majority’s claims and give both sides a hearing.  If the Dover case had gone against the NCSE, you could hear the screams of protest she would make about how defining science is no business of a Republican judge.  And if Eugenie’s rights were being systematically stripped away by a powerful institution, you know she would not willingly cede territory to tyranny without a political fight, no matter how hopeless the prospects for success might appear.  She would get into political contests and school board races and cling to the eroding cliff of intellectual freedom as long as she could.
    BUT – when she has the power to yank freedom from others, she is merciless:
  • Ms. Scott, we sincerely believe, on scientific and philosophical grounds, that Darwinism is deeply flawed.  Can we have equal time to present alternatives?  NO!  (11/08/2004)
  • OK, then; can have a few minutes per semester?  NO!
  • OK, then; can we let students know alternatives exist?  NO!  12/20/2005)
  • Is there any way for the D word design to be uttered in science class?  NO!
  • OK, forget the science class.  We assume we could teach both sides of the design debate in a philosophy class, right?  NO!  (01/25/2006)
  • How about teaching more evolution?  We could teach both the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinism, couldn’t we?  NO!  (05/13/2004)
  • Can a teacher at least refer to secular peer-reviewed journals that mention problems with evolution?  NO!  (09/12/2004)
  • Can a teacher put material at the back of the room for browsing, with no pressure or obligation?  NO!  (06/14/2005)
  • Surely you would allow a teacher to encourage students to think critically?  NO!  (06/16/2005)
  • Can a teacher mention that the textbook is presenting lies as evidence for evolution?  NO!  (07/25/2003)
  • Can we put a teeny tiny sticker in the textbook asking students to think with an open mind?  NO!  (04/09/2004, 01/06/2007)
  • Can we mention there are books in the school library with different views?  NO!
  • Can we teach evolution by the textbook, but perhaps mention a little about the factual history of Darwin’s influence on politics?  NO!  (03/25/2007)
  • If students write papers critical of Darwinism on their own initiative, can they get a decent grade?  NO!
  • Can we promote academic freedomNO!
  • Can we complain when NCSE material claims Darwinism is compatible with religion?  NO!  (04/03/2006)
  • Can Dr. Darwin-Doubter get tenure if he doesn’t voice any of his doubts about Darwin in the classroom?  NO!  (05/22/2007)
  • After a Darwin-doubting professor has been expelled and lost his tenure appeal, can he get a job as a truck driver (example) to feed his family? We’ll get back to you....
If you want to get really shocked and angry at what the Darwin Pary has done to respectable scientists and teachers who dared to question Darwin, get the new book Slaughter of the Dissidents by Dr. Jerry Bergman – himself a victim of Darwinist discrimination.
    On top of all this, Ms. Scott routinely portrays herself as a poor, lonely freedom fighter against the powerful religious right.  She heaps scorn on those evil creationists, the only ones in town with an “agenda” who are nefariously trying to corrupt science and ruin America.  Does that profile fit Dr. Richard Sternberg, a double-PhD research scientist?  No way.  But look what she said when he was hounded out of the Smithsonian for allowing a pro-design paper to be published in a scientific journal according to the rules of peer review, leading to a Congressional investigation that concluded evolutionists on staff had created a hostile work environment to pressure him out.  Eugenie Scott graciously said this in response: Sternberg got what he deserved and should be glad something worse didn’t happen to him (see Evolution News #1, #2 #3).  It was shameful – but she was shameless.
    It must be an awful burden to bear on one’s conscience.  This humorless lady has to face looking back over her life some day and realizing she spent most of her years denying the majority of Americans the right to question dogma.  We can only hope she will open her beloved Daddy Darwin’s inspired scripture and read, “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”  That’s not only the American way.  Darwin was no American.  That’s the scientific way. 
Exercise:  Aim your Baloney Detector at Branch and Scott’s hit piece.  Scoring:  One point for each propaganda tactic, logical fallacy or smokescreen detected.  Two points for each lame excuse for Darwin-only “science.”  Three points for each allegation that is more justifiably aimed at the Darwin Party.  If this exercise gets you worked up, you can do something about it.
Next headline on:  Darwinian EvolutionEducationPolitics and Ethics
Sci Am Jumpstarts Darwin Day   12/15/2008    
Dec 15, 2008 — It’s not even Christmas or 2009 yet, but the cover stories on Darwin have started to hit newsstands.  Latest to feature a whole issue to Darwin is Scientific American.  Predictable themes are all there: Darwin was a genius, he was the greatest scientist in history, evolution is the keystone of all biology, and creationists are still trying to sneak their religion into biology classes.  But also included are some weird topics like whether robots can be programmed to be evil.
    The editors gushed over Darwin in one short article entitled, “Why Everyone Should Learn the Theory of Evolution” as if they hadn’t already since kindergarten. 
Charles Darwin did not think of himself as a genius.  “I have no great quickness of apprehension or wit which is so remarkable in some clever men ...” he remarked in one passage of his autobiography.  Fortunately for the rest of us, he was profoundly wrong in his assessment.  So on February 12 the world will mark the bicentennial birthday of a scientist who holds a rightful place alongside Galileo, Copernicus, Newton and Einstein.
    Darwin’s genius—and, yes, genius is the right word—is manifest in the way his theory of evolution can tie together disparate biological facts into a single unifying framework.  Evolutionary geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky’s oft-cited quotation bears repeating here: “Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution.”
Having uttered the Dobzhansky mantra, they proceeded to lament that Darwin’s iconic visage has not yet eclipsed that of Einstein in the public consciousness.  Who’s to blame for this insult?  The creationists, naturally:
Yet it is also worth noting during this anniversary year that Darwin deserves a lot better than he gets.  When the popular press needs an iconic image of a brilliant scientist, it invariably recycles the famous photograph of Albert Einstein having a bad hair day.... Darwin’s failure to achieve icon status is the legacy of creationists and neocreationists and of the distortion of his ideas by the eugenics movement a century ago.
The juxtaposition of blame makes it sound like creationists were behind eugenics; actually, eugenics was founded by Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton (CMI), and was supported by most leading evolutionists into the 20th century (CMI), which creationists found appalling.  Eugenical ideas persist under the radar to the present day among prominent evolutionists like Richard Dawkins (CMI).
    What more could Darwin inherit but the rest of the university?  The editors proceeded to laud David Sloan Wilson’s EvoS curriculum (12/21/2005) which extends the evolutionary “way of looking at the world” to “subjects as diverse as cancer, pregnancy, mate choice, literature and religion.
    Darwin’s Feb. 12 anniversary is an opportunity to push more evolution in education, they ended: “Natural selection and the complementary idea of how genes, individuals and species change over time should be as much a part of developing critical thinking skills as deductive reasoning and the study of ethics.”  It’s surprising they didn’t say that nothing in deductive reasoning and ethics makes sense except in the light of evolution.
The gushy, obsequious fawning over Caesar Darwin has just begun.  Brace yourself.  It’s going to be a long funeral.
Next headline on:  Darwin and Evolutionary Theory
  Get a train set for Christmas.  Actually, your body is already filled with them.  See the 12/02/2007 entry.

Darwin’s New Terror: Islamic Creationism   12/13/2008    
Dec 13, 2008 — The Darwinists must be feel like victims of a pincer strategy.  After years of hassling with American creationists and the Intelligent Design movement in the west, here come the Muslims on the east.  A couple of recent reports express the uneasiness evolutionists feel over the rise of anti-Darwin sentiments in Turkey and other parts of the Muslim world.
    The current rise of tensions started in 2007 when Adnan Oktar (a.k.a. Harun Yahya) sent an “unsolicited gift” to schools all over Europe: a lavishly illustrated 850-page Atlas of Creation attacking Darwinism (06/22/2007, 05/22/2008, bullet 2).  “The atlas was a timely notice that, although the last couple of decades have seen an increasing confrontation over the teaching of evolution in the United States, the next major battle over evolution is likely to take place in the Muslim world,” said Salmon Hameed (Hampshire College) in Science this week.1
    Hameed said Muslims have no consensus about evolutionary theory, but many distrust it because they feel it encourages atheism.  They tend to have a wider range of beliefs about creation than Bible-believing Christians.  But “Relatively poor education standards, in combination with frequent misinformation about evolutionary ideas, make the Muslim world a fertile ground for rejection of the theory,” he said. The essay was echoed in Live Science.
    Hameed said the Koran is less clear about creation than the Bible, leading to differences of interpretation:

Just as there is no monolithic Islam, there is no “official” opinion on evolution.  There are indeed verses in the Koran that talk about the creation of the universe and of the living beings on Earth, but specific details are often not laid out.  For example, the Koranic narrative of creation includes a 6-day account of creation.  The length of each day, however, is not clearly specified.  One day has been defined as “a thousand years of what you count” (32:5) or as “a day the measure of which is fifty thousand years” (70:4).  The resulting ambiguity leaves open the possibility of a very old Earth.  Indeed, young-Earth creationism is wholly absent in the Muslim world, and a universe billions of years old is commonly accepted.  On biological evolution, Islamic scholars and popular writers hold a wide range of opinions that represent a broad spectrum of culture and politics, from secular Turkey to the conservative monarchy of Saudi Arabia and the Muslim diasporas in Europe and in the United States.
Muslims have a history of accepting the idea of common descent dating back to medieval times, he said.  Today, though, fewer Muslims in Turkey, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia accept Darwin’s theory than Americans – even though their textbooks often present evolution as a fact, and their religious instruction does not often dispute it.  Depending on what the respondents understood by the word evolution, Hameed felt “These results paint a depressing picture.”
    Hameed further worried that better education, the internet and news about U.S. controversies over evolution are provoking Muslims to ask questions about Islam’s position on evolution.  Citing Yahya as the loudest voice in the debate in the Islamic world, Hameed argued that scientists cannot leave the initiative with the Muslim Creationists.  “Now is the time that these ideas are going to be solidified,” he warned.  “We can shape it.  There are positive ways to shape these ideas in which we can avert a mass rejection of evolution.”  For instance, “efforts that link evolution with atheism will cut short the dialogue, and a vast majority of Muslims will reject evolution.”  He suggested fomenting respect for science in general.
1.  Salmon Hameed, “Bracing for Islamic Creationism,” Science, 12 December 2008: Vol. 322. no. 5908, pp. 1637-1638, DOI: 10.1126/science.1163672.
Hameed claimed that Yahya got most of his material from ICR and the Intelligent Design movement.  Notice the one-way traffic.  This seems to indicate that few Islamic scholars have taken interest in studying the issue.
    Dogmatism is not going to help the Darwin Party win this one.  LiveScience declared the statement “human beings developed from earlier species of animals” a “scientific fact.”  Saying something is a fact doesn’t make it so.  And playing your cards to hide connections between atheism and Darwinism is strategy, not scholarship.
    Assuming Hameed is knowledgeable about the Koran, he said that the references to creation therein are ambiguous and subject to various interpretations regarding the antiquity of the earth and the means of creation.  The Bible is very clear.  This list of references leaves no doubt: creation ex nihilo is unambiguously affirmed by Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, the godly kings of Judah, Ezra, Daniel, Isaiah and the other prophets, Jesus, Peter, John, Paul and the entirety of Scripture.  God did not create by means of a slow and gradual evolutionary process.  He spoke the world and its creatures into existence by His fiat command (Psalm 33).
    If this were a debate over which religious text to trust vs. the authority of “science” (read, the Big Science institutional consensus), it could well result in endless warfare between fallible human beings who weren’t there at the beginning and don’t know everything.  Actually, the evidence from natural revelation (article) is sufficient for any individual willing to look at nature and listen to his or her conscience.  Paul (Romans 1, Acts 14, Acts 17), John (John 1) and David (Psalm 8, Psalm 19) said that the evidence for God is so crystal clear, people have no excuse: escaping the evidence requires running for cover.  Paul further elaborated that the revelation is sufficient to reveal the nature of God and His attributes.  This means that not just any god or intelligent designer will do: there is only One, who through His Son Jesus Christ, “lights every man that comes into the world” (John 1:9).  The problem is that people run from the light (John 10:1-18, John 3:16-21).
    Truth propagation does not require an Inquisition, an Islamic Jihad or a Darwinist Propaganda Strategy.  The Darwin Party and religious institutions should leave off the strategizing and tactical warfare, and just encourage people to shut up, open their eyes and ears, and listen to that revelation from their Maker that permeates creation and conscience.  Shining brighter is the light of His word: “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105); “The entrance of Thy Word gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (v. 130).  And now that the perfect light that was prophesied has come (Matthew 4:13-17), the Light of the World, we have all the light we need, and can shed its warmth to others (Matthew 5:14-16).  The light God gives brings love, joy, peace, humility, wisdom and understanding.  Light received brings more light.  Light rejected brings darkness.
Next headline on:  DarwinismIntelligent DesignBible and Theology
Evolutionary Mutualism Flutters   12/12/2008    
Dec 12, 2008 — A story on Science Daily is decorated with a butterfly collection.  Amazonian butterflies studied by an international team were chosen to test Darwin’s theory of mutualism – a kind of symbiosis in which two species benefit one another.  The test yielded a surprise.
    The idea going in was that sister species would evolve apart so as to minimize competition for scarce resources.  The work showed a surprise, however: “The work shows that some species of butterfly that live alongside one another have evolved in ways that, surprisingly, benefit both species.”  One would think they would separate or else compete.
However, this is not always the case.  The researchers show that butterfly species that have evolved similar wing patterns – which act as a warning to predators that they are poisonous – are often not evolutionarily close to each other.  Thus the similarity is not due to shared ancestry but is an evolutionary adaptation.  The similar pattern benefits both species, as predators will only need to learn once to avoid the signal – ‘learn’, in this context, being a euphemism for eating a poisonous butterfly.
Some of the unrelated species share the same habitat and fly at the same height, for example.  Instead of competing, they share the benefits of similar looks, the article said.  “The new paper shows that issues other than pure competition, such as protection from predators, can play an important role in evolution.” The scientists expected that the mimicry would pay benefits to the tasty species, but did not expect that both species would live alongside each other.
One can look at this story as a success for Darwin or a defeat for Darwin.  It provided an evolutionary explanation for an observation, but then again, it surprised the scientists.  That is why Darwin’s theory is so successful.  His idea allows for any data, even data opposite what was expected, to score points for the theory.
    The finding seems very un-Darwinian.  What happened to survival of the fittest?  Are they saying that two unrelated species in the same niche are equally fit?  What would Malthus think?  The scientists also failed to explain exactly how two unrelated species converged on the same patterns and behaviors.  Given such a bad track record, we won’t assume they know what relatedness means.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyEvolutionary Theory
Fish and Reptiles Converge on Magnetic Navigation   12/11/2008    
Dec 11, 2008 — Two very different kinds of animal both have outstanding ability to navigate by earth’s magnetic field: salmon and sea turtles.  A new hypothesis by scientists at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, published in PNAS,1 suggests that the young are “imprinted” with their local magnetic field signature at birth. 
From a navigational perspective, some of the most remarkable migrations are accomplished by marine animals that begin life in particular geographic areas, migrate across vast expanses of sea, and then return as adults to their natal areas to reproduce.  How such animals navigate back to natal areas across seemingly featureless ocean, and after absences ranging in duration from a few years to a decade or more, has remained enigmatic.  In this article we propose a new, unifying hypothesis to explain natal homing in two iconic long-distance migrants, salmon and sea turtles.  Specifically, we propose that these animals imprint on the magnetic field that exists at their natal area and use this information to return to their natal region years later, close enough for local cues (olfactory in salmon, unknown in sea turtles) to guide them more precisely to their spawning or nesting sites.  This magnetic imprinting hypothesis, which focuses on the movement ecology linkage between an environmental factor (the Earth’s magnetic field) and navigational capacity, also suggests the surprising possibility that rapid, naturally occurring changes in the Earth’s field occasionally exert a strong influence on ecological processes by altering animal movements.
The article was summarized by Science Daily.  In the original paper, the authors puzzled over how and why this amazing ability evolved:
Regardless of how it is accomplished, navigating hundreds or thousands of kilometers to reproduce in a particular geographic area does not appear to be advantageous when other suitable sites for reproduction often exist along the way.  The costs of such migrations appear considerable in terms of energy expenditure, stress, and risk.  For such a pattern to evolve, the benefits must be correspondingly high.  In evolutionary terms, natal homing presumably arose because individuals that returned to their natal areas to reproduce had greater success than those that tried to reproduce elsewhere.
This says little more than that the survivors survived.  All they could think of were special conditions in the environment that led to evolutionary success.  Turtles need to lay eggs on land.  The authors suggested that only a “tiny fraction” of beaches are suitable in terms of incline, temperature, accessibility and other factors.  For salmon, the need to lay eggs in fresh water causes them to seek out streams without unsurpassable obstacles.  It seems a stretch to imagine that so few habitats would work, but they tried:
To human observers, an irrational feature of natal homing is that animals often forego reproducing in suitable nearby areas to migrate long distances to their natal sites.  For example, some sea turtles feed in areas adjacent to nesting beaches used by their own species, but nevertheless migrate long distances to nest elsewhere; similarly, salmon on their way to their own natal rivers often swim past other rivers where large populations of conspecifics spawn.  From the perspective of the animal, however, assessing the suitability of an unfamiliar area for reproduction may be very difficult.  A turtle crawling out of the sea to nest probably cannot tell that a large population of raccoons is nearby and will consume her eggs after she departs, and salmon passing by the mouth of an unfamiliar river may be unable to determine whether there are suitable spawning grounds a hundred kilometers upstream, or instead an impassible waterfall.
    Under such conditions, in which suitable reproductive habitat is scarce and reproductive output can be strongly affected by factors that are difficult to assess, it is perhaps not surprising that natural selection has favored individuals that return to their natal areas to reproduce.  In effect, the very existence of an adult animal confirms that its natal area has the attributes needed for successful reproduction, an assurance that no other location can provide.
They did not ask if a salmon or turtle is capable of having a perspective or assessing anything, and they did not ask how the precision navigational ability evolved in the first place.  If some conspecifics managed to breed nearby, natural selection must have favored both long distance migration and staying near the feeding grounds.  Their hypothesis allows that changes in Earth’s magnetic field forces changes in breeding grounds.  If so, why did some species change and others stick with the old grounds?  And how did two very different kinds of animals converge on the same navigational skill?  With such puzzles to observe, they had to admit that even human animals find it “difficult to assess” such things.
1.  Lohmann, Putnam and Lohmann, “Geomagnetic imprinting: A unifying hypothesis of long-distance natal homing in salmon and sea turtles,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, December 9, 2008, vol. 105, no. 49, pp. 19096-19101, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0801859105.
The hypothesis does not even begin to explain the amazing feats of these animals.  Stating that they have a “navigational capacity” says nothing about how that capacity arose; it’s like Moliere’s doctor explaining why some drugs induce sleep is due to their possessing a “dormitive virtue.”  Saying that the “very existence of an adult animal confirms” that natural selection produced this ability is absurd.  I think, therefore I am; I am, therefore natural selection produced me, I think.
    Their obfuscation continued.  “Once it arises, natal homing has important implications for population structure,” they said.  Once it arises.  OK, tell us about that.  Apparently a miracle of chance pulled it out of a hat somewhere behind a curtain.  We are asked to imagine a salmon family in a certain river figuring out the navigation game.  “Once it arises,” we are told, the rest is easy.  Now we learn that they “have evolved specializations that enhance survival in the home river.”  More miracles just occurred when you weren’t thinking.  (Hint: they were hidden behind that passive voice verb.)  Now, Mr. Darwin provides us with a self-reinforcing marketing scheme: “Such adaptations may in turn reinforce the benefits of natal homing, inasmuch as fish that return to their home streams will be better adapted to their natal sites than to other areas, and strays will also be less successful than the local fish.”  But why?  Didn’t they tell us that conspecifics do just fine without the long navigation?  Strays succeed, they said.  Is a difference in the smell of a certain faraway stream in amounts of parts per billion really so incredibly adaptive that the species will go extinct unless they escape hungry bears and leap waterfalls for miles to get there?
    Then they told us that a certain small percentage of the population strays from the original breeding ground.  OK, then why do the traditionalists still pay the cost of going all the way to great-great-great-great-great-grandfather’s home if there is a workable shortcut?  One would think natural selection would favor those who take the easy way out.
    Listen to their mythical tale of The Prodigal Salmon, with natural selection playing the heroic Father Darwin, always welcoming the stray data into his explanatory arms:
From an ecological perspective, straying from natal areas is crucial because without it, new habitat would never be colonized [so what? who cares?].  For salmon, Quinn has hypothesized that straying and homing are under genetic control [intelligent design] and are maintained in dynamic equilibrium within species and populations.  According to this [dubious] reasoning, natural selection will favor [personification] precise homing in areas where spawning sites are of consistently high quality [judgment call] year after year.  In areas where the quality of spawning sites varies greatly in different years, however, natural selection should favor [personification] females [sexism; it takes a male’s help] which produce some offspring that home and others that stray; this strategy [intelligent design] maximizes the likelihood that at least some progeny will encounter favorable areas when they return to reproduce.
This is a passive explanation, not an active one.  “An effect is seen, therefore evolution must have been the cause.”  They don’t explain how the capability originated, nor what the “genetic controls” are and how they originated.  Maybe a small fry had a mutation and couldn’t get home, they explained next.  So?  This only means that other locations can work just fine for breeding.  We’ve all seen the photos of salmon leaping up waterfalls past bears only to arrive exhausted at grandpappy’s exact stream, with just enough energy to spawn and die.  Why pay that huge cost if there are plenty of maternity wards downstream?  And why didn’t natural selection favor salmon learning to breed out in the ocean?  If that had been observed, no doubt there would be an evolutionist ready with a story about how natural selection “favored” it.
    And didn’t they say that changes in the magnetic field can alter the animals’ ability to find their natal ground?  Indeed they did.  They said that reversals could cause “considerable ecological upheaval, as mass straying brings formerly isolated populations into contact and animals unable to locate their natal sites discover and colonize new areas (which subsequent generations can locate reliably as the field stabilizes and natal homing once more becomes possible).”  Count the miracles in that sentence.  Evolutionary miracle stories are like cigarettes.  Once you start exhaling them, it’s hard to quit.
    There are more evolutionary conundrums they did not even attempt to address.  Salmon can smell their spawning waters in parts per billion, and navigate many miles, past many obstacles, to the exact spot where they were once little fry freshly hatched years ago.  Turtles can navigate flawlessly across the sea.  Just having a magnetic imprint of the ”end point” doesn’t explain how the animals can sense the earth’s field with such precision and orient themselves from point A to point B to arrive at a precise beach or stream.  Their hypothesis does not explain how they time their journey to arrive weeks later, just past high tide, ready to lay eggs.
    Another most remarkable phenomenon is that this natal homing ability is perfected in two very different orders: fish and turtles.  In evolutionary theory, the trait would either have had to be gained by some miracle in a common ancestor of fish and turtles, then selectively retained in these two genera while other species lost the ability, or else it would have had to be “learned” independently by some nebulous idea of “convergent evolution.”  Fortunately the authors spared us the repetition of that miracle term.
    Evolutionists undoubtedly think this is wonderful work.  They slap themselves on the back and laugh about the stupid creationists who employ the God-of-the-gaps fallacy, while they have used “science” to explain the world: the creative art of narrative that evolved from campfire storytelling to its present level of sophistication.  Another puzzle in nature has been tamed by the wonder-working power of a time-honored scientific theory: natural selection, that profound idea that survivors survive.  Evolution has navigated the treacherous waters of confusing observation, and spawned fresh ideas that will grow and reproduce.  Evolution has proven itself, once again, to be adaptive to changing environments.  Hard questions may cause “considerable upheaval” to the theory, but there will always be some small-fry scientists able to find new storytelling habitats to colonize so that the population endures.
    All the while they were utilizing resources that had been provided them as a gift; neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Next headline on:  Evolutionary TheoryMarine BiologyZoologyAmazing Facts
  Need a fantasy break?  Tinker Bell appeared with her magic wand in the 12/11/2006 and 12/10/2006 entries.

Applying the Scientific Method to Prehistory   12/10/2008    
Dec 10, 2008 — What could be more scientific than the scientific method?  A scientist observes an unexplained phenomenon.  He or she gathers data, analyzes it, proposes a hypothesis to explain it, and tests it.  The results are published in a peer-reviewed journal.  Mission accomplished, right?  Here are two papers on very different phenomena – one dealing with the geology of Mars, one dealing with DNA.  Both papers follow the scientific method outlined above.  Do they succeed in explaining the phenomena?  If so, how trustworthy are the explanations?

  1. Mars strata.  Regularly-spaced strata were photographed by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at outcrops within the Becquerel crater on Mars.  Six planetary scientists considered reasons why repeating strata 10 meters thick would be piled into hundred-meter bundles with a 10:1 ratio.  “This repetition likely points to cyclicity in environmental conditions, possibly as a result of astronomical forcing,” they suggested in Science.1
        What kinds of astronomical forces are available?  The daily, yearly, and tidal cycles come to mind, but at Mars, there is also a tilting of the axis with a cycle of 100,000 years.  This cycle is further modulated by 2.4-million-year influences.  They chose the long-age cycles as the explanation for the sedimentary beds.  “If deposition were forced by orbital variation, the rocks may have been deposited over tens of millions of years.”  The conclusion was written up in a press release at Jet Propulsion Laboratory entitled, “NASA Orbiter Finds Martian Rock Record With 10 Beats to the Bar.”
        Nevertheless, the team had to make some assumptions before proposing their explanation.  They could not believe that 10-meter beds could accumulate in a year.  “In contrast, deposition at orbital frequencies (~100,000 years) assumes a modest average accumulation rate of ~100 µm per year,” they said.  “This value allows for alternating accumulation and erosion of sediment on shorter time scales, requiring only that the net deposition is roughly constant over long time scales.”  They also had to assume that the obliquity cycle was relatively constant, “although the ancient history is unknown because of the chaotic nature of the obliquity over long time scales.”  The pattern arose, the press release explained, through rhythmic variations in particle sizes due to changing winds as the climate varied by 10% each 100,000 year cycle, “or from how the particles were cemented together after deposition.”
        With an explanation in hand, the scientists offered some predictions that might extend interpretation of Martian history:
    The identification of quasi-periodic signals within these layered terrains provides a possible relative chronometer within the martian rock record.  Orbital variations stand out as a possible driver of the observed quasi-periodicity, although definitive identification of the cycles involved will require additional information.  Likewise, whereas an aeolian [wind-driven] scenario provides a clear link to orbital forcing, the specific formation model remains uncertain.  Determination of formation time scales ultimately provides a calibration for interpreting the geological history of Mars.  With the tentative but reasonable assumption that some water was required to lithify the Arabia deposits, the suggestion of orbital cyclicity implies that a hydrologic cycle may have been active at least intermittently over millions of years.  In contrast to the catastrophic surface conditions inferred from impact craters and outflow channels, this strong cyclicity observed in the martian rock record depicts a fundamentally more predictable and regular environment in the ancient past.
  2. DNA introns:  From the telescope to the microscope, we move to a scientific detective story involving DNA.  One of the mysteries of the genome is why genes are interspersed with non-coding regions, called introns, that must be cut out of the messenger RNA after transcription by a complex machine called the spliceosome (09/12/2002, 09/17/2004).2  This phenomenon has stumped evolutionists for years (09/03/2003, 03/09/2006).  A new paper by Catania and Lynch in PLoS Biology3 this week proposed a new hypothesis for the origin of introns.
        The hypothesis is too complicated to describe, but relies on competition between various protein cofactors that assist in the transcription process.  Genes are identified by start codons and stop codons.  If a premature termination codon (PTC) becomes inserted in a gene, rendering it non-functional, the cofactors and proofreading machines, along with natural selection, may cause introns to grow on both sides of it.  Introns result as an artifact of “crosstalk” between these factors.  A gene with a new intron can still remain active, even if its RNA transcripts are discarded by nonsense-mediated decay (NMD), a proofreading process.  “Such an allele can then be subject to positive selection for subsequent mutations that improve splicing of the modified region.”  Once the allele’s transcripts survive NMD, they can still be selected if the protein product retains some function.  As a result of this “intronization” process, they predict new introns will be short, and multiples of three, to preserve the reading frame.  “Unless excision of the newly intronized coding sequence has sufficiently large deleterious consequences,” they proposed, “the fixation of the novel intron may be either selectively neutral or promoted by natural selection.”  Their prediction of short introns in multiples of three appears to be borne out in six different eukaryote genomes they checked.
        Simple as this proposal seems, there are many complications.  Not all eukaryote genomes contain introns, and those that do have widely varying numbers of them.  In addition, there seem to be highly-conserved introns in non-coding regions of the genome (05/27/2004, 08/18/2007, 10/08/2008).  A scientific hypothesis has to be adequate for the exceptions as well as the rule.  They discussed how non-coding regions might gain introns: either they were once coding regions, or suffered from upstream premature start codons, or both.  As for introns in non-coding RNA genes, “it can be postulated that fortuitous endogenous events may on rare occasions promote splicing in noncoding RNAs, in such a way as to prevent more harmful secondary structures.”  And as for eukaryote genes lacking introns, perhaps they were lost at some point.  Or, perhaps they play a role in nuclear export of transcripts, and so are resistant to intron gain.  “Although it remains to be proven, it is possible that the relative abundance of these elements that inhibit splicing plays a role in establishing different levels of intron-richness between eukaryotic species,” they said.  Two different species of yeast, for instance, differ from 470 introns in one to 4,600 in another.  Fruit flies have 38,000; humans, 140,000.  They admitted early on that “Explaining the causes and functional implications of this uneven distribution requires understanding why spliceosomal introns exist in the first place and what the evolutionary origin(s) of these sequences are—a problem that has proved a conundrum for the past 30 years.
        In conclusion, they felt their “novel hypothesis” was at least a good start in explaining this puzzle:
    Despite the mutational hazard associated with intron presence and proliferation, we argue that, at least initially, introns might represent a favorable life line for an allele that has acquired an ORF-disrupting mutation.  In this sense, in-frame stop codons need not be dead ends, as often believed, but rather sequences that occasionally facilitate the evolution of eukaryotic gene structure, possibly favoring not only intronization, but also processes such as exonization (following a PTC loss).  Further experimental validation of our hypothesis would not only support the idea that intron birth/death rates depend on both the population-genetic and the intracellular environment, but also shed light on a surprising aspect of the evolution of eukaryotic gene structure, i.e., the ongoing, stochastic process of mutual conversion between exons and introns within genes.
Two papers selected from the science journals.  Though they deal with vastly different phenomena, they have several things in common.  They deal with singular prehistoric processes not subject to the usual scientific requirements of repeatability, observation and testability: i.e., even if aspects of the phenomena can be seen today or repeated in a lab, that would provide no guarantee that the gross phenomena were produced that way in the unobservable past.  In addition, the papers can be considered representative of today’s scientific approach to explaining natural puzzles that are presumably the result of natural causes acting over vast aeons of time.  The only data available for study in such cases is the collective effect of multiple causes that may, in some combination, have acted in the past.  This educated guesswork is what we perceive as normal science.
1.  Lewis et al, “Quasi-Periodic Bedding in the Sedimentary Rock Record of Mars,” Science, 5 December 2008: Vol. 322. no. 5907, pp. 1532-1535, DOI: 10.1126/science.1161870.
2.  Prokaryotes have “Group I” introns that are self-splicing; eukaryotes have “Group II” introns that are spliced by the spliceosome.
3.  Francesco Catania and Michael Lynch, “Where Do Introns Come From?”, Public Library of Science: Biology, Vol. 6, No. 11, e283 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060283.
“We don’t know enough about the unknown to know that it is unknowable.” – G.K. Chesterton.
“It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.” – Will Rogers.
    To the casual observer, these two papers represent noble activities of scientists seeking understanding.  We respect their abilities and in no way denigrate their efforts, nor fail to honor their scholarship.  It takes years of education, training, and experience to become knowledgeable enough to write on such subjects.  They associate with scholarly individuals.  They employ state-of-the-art equipment to gather the observations.  Nevertheless, we need to ask serious questions before just trusting their conclusions.  Namely: are their theories true?  If their theories are mere stepping-stones on the way to a more complete understanding, how far along does their work bring us?  How much farther is there to go?  Is it possible we will never know the answers?  If so, why should we have any confidence that partial answers are better than none, given the possibility that partial answers can be flat wrong?  And is the ability to gain understanding of nature limited to scientists?  Are the same methods, or different ones, potentially just as valid for non-scientists to employ in the search for understanding?  The Science Academy will always validate itself.  Its confident claims need to be cross-examined by the prosecution (philosophers of science) and adjudicated by a jury of their peers (fellow human beings), especially when they foot the bill.
    Thomas Kuhn, whose 1961 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions upset the apple cart of the perceived authority of science, described “normal science” as a puzzle-solving activity of workers within a paradigm.  These workers tend to be satisfied with the paradigm (which can be described as a presuppositional framework that defines what constitutes good science and what puzzles deserve to be investigated).  Scientists tackle puzzles that are assumed to have answers within the paradigm; they are not motivated to challenge the paradigm itself, Kuhn taught.  As such, the science community can be likened to a guild of interested parties who cheer one another along but marginalize others outside the paradigm.  Kuhn even suggested that scientists are incapable of understanding other paradigms, because they speak a different language: for example, a Newtonian means one thing by mass, but an Einsteinian means something quite different.
    The current feeling of many scholars is that Kuhn may have oversimplified things, but his ideas cannot be dismissed.  The Kuhnian Revolution spawned related fields like Sociology of Science, History of Science, and Rhetoric of Science – fields now enjoying their own academic departments at major universities.  These departments turned the scientific method on science itself.  They pulled the plug on the triumphal parade of science as an inexorable March of Progress toward The Truth.  Science now had to be treated like any other enterprise of fallible human beings.  Philosophers, sociologists, historians and rhetoricians sliced and diced science into little bits.  What do we mean by scientific discovery?  What do we mean by a scientific explanation?  What branches of science should be included in the science department--political science? economic science? science of mind?  The questions led to further attacks on the presumptive authority of science.  Prediction and falsification were thrown out as reliable indicators of scientific validity.  The Humanities departments rose up to dethrone the Science department.  Sociologists wrote papers and books on the way scientists “manufacture” reality; they analyzed the social and emotional factors that motivate them, and questioned the validity of their claims.  Postmodernism was born, as influential sociologists portrayed science as a mere text, subject to a number of equally-valid interpretations.
    The scientists struck back in the Science Wars of the 1990s and largely succeeded, more by force of rhetoric and endurance than by winning the debate.  Many scientists today recline comfortably in a posture called “scientific realism.”  Though more restrained in its epistemic reach than the now-discredited Logical Positivism of the 1930s, it still asserts to have reliable contact with Reality.  But scientific realism is still devilishly hard to defend in the post-Kuhn world.  Scientists presume their work relates to nature as it is, and so they tend to work like the positivists did.  They carry some of the same positivist baggage into their work: such as the assumption that everything in nature is the province of Science, and Science is better than other modes of inquiry.  (Don’t ask them what “Science” means, though, because no one has been able to define demarcation criteria between science and pseudoscience that keeps the good stuff in and the bad stuff out; nor can they describe a foolproof “scientific method” that is unique to the Science Department.)  In 2008, meanwhile, Science marches on, funded largely by the federal government, hoping the public has forgotten (or never heard of) the deep controversies over the nature of science.
    All that was a necessary prelude to asking questions about these two papers.  These papers are, in a sense, a call to respect by fellow human beings.  They want you, the reader, to acknowledge that the authors have hit on something approaching “the truth” about reality.  They expect you to assume that their explanations are valid for these phenomena whose effects are observable today, though the historical sequence is not.  We are to respect their opinions and speculations because they are, after all, scientists, and had to work hard and learn a lot to earn that title.  We should give honor to whom honor is due.  Honor, however, does not necessarily correlate with truth.
    We should notice first off that the puzzles they examined are not traditional scientific puzzles.  Faraday or Joule could repeat experiments on magnets and energy over and over and over.  Their experiments could be replicated by others.  The laws they described led to inventions – motors, space heaters, electromagnets – that validate their conclusions every day.  How, though, is one supposed to recreate and observe the history of Mars for supposed millions of years?  How are we to replicate the convoluted history of intronization, or know the time scale over which changes took place?  We see Mars now; we see introns now, but we don’t see what happened before.  Even the tiny timeslice available to us to watch present processes at work provides no guarantee other factors were not involved in the past.  The practicality of their opinions, furthermore, seems dubious.
    The scientist at this point will appeal to other factors to buttress the authority of the “scientific” approach expressed in these papers: the vast corpus of published work by other scientists, the track record of science, the collective expertise (and hence authority) of the scientific community, the value of peer review, the quality of their data, and the perceived value of their efforts as measured by the willingness of the government to fund their work, to name a few.  These factors may be fine for observable, repeatable, testable things in the present, but ask yourself if they really guarantee reliability for inferences about the unobservable past.  Remember that an obvious inference can be wrong.  Imagine a group of scientists searching for the prince in Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper.  They might spend most of their time interviewing candidates in the castle.  One might publish a detailed hypothesis about why the son of some nobleman is the best candidate.  Meanwhile, the real prince was out hobnobbing with beggars on the street.
    CEH wishes to help scientists and observers of science respect good scholarship, value knowledge and understanding, and appreciate the wonders of nature without treating the Science Academy as a priesthood.  These papers may have gotten their explanations right.  They could be very wrong.  When evaluating a scientific hypothesis or explanation, be aware of the following factors that have nothing to do with the truth of the explanation.
  • Hidden assumptions:  The Mars paper treated billions of years as a given.  The intron paper treated evolution as a given.  Neither assumption is a prerequisite for explaining the phenomenon.
  • Social pressure:  The maverick scientist is largely a myth.  Most scientists attend regular conferences with colleagues in their field.  Human desires for respect and recognition, and avoidance of being ostracized, can be powerful.  Peers can be tolerant of your being unconventional—to a point.  Some will think to the corners of a box; few may be willing to think outside the box.
  • Momentum:  The force of tradition can be powerful, even in the sciences.  Civil engineers usually build onto and adapt existing infrastructure (e.g., primary road patterns) rather than tearing down a city and starting over.  In the same way, the geologic column and the evolutionary tree of life are unlikely to be replaced just because of some contrary data or the wishes of a maverick.  It’s too hard to start over.  Think of all the books and papers that would be obsolete.  These factors tend to force thinking along certain paths irrespective of their validity.
  • Personalities:  Certain champions in science tend to garner a following like philosophers did in ancient Athens.  Their respect may be more due to their rhetorical skill than their contact with Reality.
  • Incompleteness:  We saw in the 10/16/2008 entry that science is incapable of validating itself.
  • Missing or misleading data:  You can never know what critical data is missing that would change the interpretation drastically.  Consider historians studying ancient Rome.  Without the text of Mark Antony’s speech at Julius Caesar’s funeral, or a recording of it, they can only infer what he said from the effects it had on the audience.  Shakespeare’s version may feel like a reasonable facsimile, but does it reflect what Antony actually said?  Who could possibly tell?
  • Misdirection:  The intron paper did not concern itself with the origin of genetic information and the elaborate machinery that translates it.  Those are arguably much more interesting questions.  The neo-Darwinist paradigm has already ruled on such matters, attributing any and all genetic information to mutation and natural selection.  The paradigm not only sets the agenda, it marginalizes all who doubt the creative powers of natural selection: e.g., those in the Intelligent Design movement, who are routinely criticized as being “outside of science” because they don’t ask The Right Questions.
  • Auxiliary hypotheses:  Both papers required auxiliary hypotheses to buttress the main hypothesis.  The Mars paper referred to climactic and fluvial factors that might have cemented the layers, but then turned and used the main hypothesis to inform the auxiliary hypotheses (i.e., the climate history of Mars).  The intron paper leaned on factors that might provide immunity to intronization.  It also expected that mutations and selection would reactivate genes silenced by introns, and postulated that large non-coding regions must have been genes in the past.  How many buttresses does it take before a reassessment of the soundness of the central edifice is called for?  Who makes the call?
  • Myth of progress:  Scientists often assume that knowledge is progressive and cumulative.  The observations may get more detailed, but the paradigm could be progressing only in the details.  Think of the dining and decorating getting better and better on a train headed the wrong way.
  • Mental pictures:  Scientists, like other humans, are subject to envisioning the world according to personal preferences.  Their mental pictures of how the world came to be, and how it operates, can bias their research and their approach to doing research.
  • Compartmentalization:  We tend to think of “Science” as a department unto itself.  Actually, its linkages to history, law, economics, philosophy, psychology, theology, rhetoric, and aesthetics are strong.  A corollary is that scholars in each of these other departments employ reasoning similar to that of the scientist.
  • Segregation:  Scientists tend to live in their own communes, working the fields for their mutual benefit.  If a scientist advances his or her department, gets more funding, wins a Nobel Prize or other recognition, that is considered a success—whether or not his findings are true.
  • Integration:  Once you are inaugurated into the ranks of The Scientist Guild (perhaps by earning a PhD, getting your first paper published, or getting hired at a research institution) is everything you do scientific from then on?  Does being a scientist make you an Authority?  We saw in the 10/21/2008 entry that it might just turn you into an insufferable know-it-all.
  • Fallibility of peer review:  The reviewers of a paper are just as human as the authors.  They are subject to the same biases and social pressures as the rest of us.  Criticisms of peer review have been growing in recent years: anonymous reviewers may reject a competitor’s paper; reviewers may be unwilling to validate radical departures from the paradigm; and reviewers may be unable or willing to check the facts sufficiently to prevent fraud.
  • Fallibility of references:  The Mars paper contained 32 references; the intron paper, 137.  This tends to impress readers and win credibility points.  We saw in the 3/17/2006 entry, however, that scientific journals can perpetuate bad ideas.  Authors tend to reference earlier papers as appeals to authority as surely as Medieval scholars referenced Aristotle.  Researchers lack the time to thoroughly read all those references, much less replicate their results.  References, therefore, valuable as they are to any scholar, can contribute to chains of reasoning that, true or not, become so strong they are hard to break.
  • Peer pressure:  “Publish or perish” and other social pressures (the desire to get published in high-profile journals or get listed as a co-author among respected authorities) might bias one’s ability to think clearly and independently about the phenomenon in question.
  • The money trail:  “Follow the money” is good advice in science as well as politics.  Big money is supporting research on global warming, embryonic stem cells and certain forms of cancer to the exclusion of other maladies.  Funding has no necessary connection to the validity or importance of the subject matter, but can have profound effects on the motivation of scientists.  When the NSF funds millions of dollars to study astrobiology or Darwin’s tree of life, do you think the recipients are going to come back and report that the whole exercise was a dead end?
  • Priority of the paradigm:  No one comes to a natural puzzle with a mind like a blank slate.  All the influences above contribute to approaching the puzzle with a bias.  The true solution to the puzzle could be very different from the solution the consensus is working on (see 05/01/2008 commentary).  For a dramatic example, read the quotes on a page from the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works about global warming.  CEH does not take a position on global warming.  But just imagine what colossal impact a collapse of the human-caused global-warming consensus could have on the public perception of science, considering that Al Gore won a Nobel Prize on the subject and the world is poised to take drastic economic measures because of the consensus, which appears to be jealously guarded by an institution (the IPCC); read the hysteria in a BBC News article and look for the word “progress.”
So what are we suggesting?  Toss out these papers as worthless speculation?  No: you do what any good scholar should do.  Apply critical thinking skills.  Follow the money.  Question assumptions.  Look for hidden biases and conflicts of interest.  Define the terms.  Understand the context.  Ask the right questions.  Separate observation from interpretation.  Respect the limits of knowledge.  Hold judgment tentatively, realizing that scientific revolutions happen.  Identify your authorities.  Prove all things.  Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.  Know them by their fruits.  Whatever is good, honorable, true and of good report, think on these things.  You didn’t learn that in science class.  You learned it in the Bible.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemGeologyDating MethodsCell BiologyGenetics
Nature Plagiarizes Behe’s Mousetrap   12/09/2008    
Dec 9, 2008 — The prevention of genomic instability – and cancer – can be attributed to a “complex mousetrap” mechanism, said Robert M. Brosh, Jr (Laboratory of Molecular Gerontology, NIH) in Nature.1  This not-so-subtle reference to Michael Behe’s irreducibly complex system described in Darwin’s Black Box even has a mousetrap illustration with the following caption:
The BLM protein complex consists of several components, much like a mousetrap.  With all the parts properly assembled, the mousetrap will operate efficiently and catch the mouse.  In this case, a DNA structure called a double Holliday junction is caught in the BLM complex.  Xu et al. and Singh et al. report the discovery of a component of this complex, RMI2, which stabilizes and orchestrates the action of the BLM complex, ensuring resolution of the double Holliday junction, and so promoting chromosomal stability.
Later in the text, he continues the analogy:
As for the significance of RMI2 to the BLM complex, for analogy let’s imagine a mousetrap.  It contains several components, including a spring, a platform, a hammer, a hold-down bar and a catchOmit certain components of the trap, and the device may still operate, albeit less efficiently.  With all of the components in place – including those with primarily structural roles such as the hold-down bar and the platform – the trap is most likely to catch the mouse.  Returning to the BLM complex: through its interaction with RMI1, RMI2 allows the ‘BLM–Topo-3alpha device’ to assume optimal stability and configuration so that it can efficiently catalyse the splitting of the double Holliday junction, and so prevent the escape of deleterious DNA structures that would lead to crossovers (Fig. 1).  RMI2 therefore seems to have an integral structural role in the BLM–Topo-3alpha device by orchestrating its action.
An easily missed reference after the phrase “and a catch” leads to a website by John H. McDonald that appears to refute Behe’s concept of irreducible complexity, showing that a “reducibly complex” mousetrap can still function.  No mention was made of Behe’s counter-refutation on Access Research Network, which graciously ends:
Darwinian scenarios, either for building mousetraps or biochemical systems, are very easy to believe if we aren’t willing or able to scrutinize the smallest details, or to ask for experimental evidence.  They invite us to admire the intelligence of natural selection.  But the intelligence we are admiring is our own.

1.  Robert M. Brosh, Jr., “Molecular biology: The Bloom’s complex mousetrap,” Nature
For Brosh to employ this well-known analogy for his own purposes, without giving credit to Behe, and then to slap Behe’s face with a link to a flawed refutation of Behe’s concept without giving him a chance to respond, is disgustingly irresponsible.  You would think the world’s leading science journal would demand proper citation.  What happened to academic ethics?
    Mousetraps are common, but Behe’s use of a mousetrap as a symbol of an irreducibly complex system in the cell is so well-known throughout the biological community, Brosh cannot argue that each writer has equal access to the common household item for illustrative purposes.  It’s interesting that his link to McDonald’s paper is a non-descriptive URL to the site, with no indication it leads to a refutation of Behe.  Twinge of conscience, perhaps?  The ARN article shows that Behe has the last laugh.  So should you, noting that Brosh did not even attempt to explain how the BLM complex arose by an evolutionary process.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHealthEthicsEvolutionIntelligent Design
Fly Swiftly   12/08/2008    
Dec 8, 2008 — The common swift is being eyed by aircraft engineers who want to go fast, high, and green.  Science Daily says these engineers are “inspired by nature.”
    Calling Apus apus a common “swift” is like calling an orange an orange.  They are swift!  These incredible birds dart about effortlessly and spend their lives almost always on the wing.  They eat, sleep and even mate in the air, the females only clinging to their cliff-side nests to lay and nurture their eggs.
    Shaker Meguid (U of Toronto) is particularly impressed by the rapid wing-morphing ability of the swift, which allows it to adapt the wing shape for the need of the moment: soaring, turning, diving, or hovering.  Could airplane wings do this?  Currently, aircraft are limited to clumsy ailerons and flaps.  Meguid’s team is using shape-memory materials with actuators on a tetrahedral-truss plan with spherical freely-rotating joints.
    If the morphing wings work, they could provide seamless wing shape modification in flight.  Benefits include better performance, maneuverability, lower cost, reduced pollution and quieter take-offs.
Sleeping and eating in the air is already common for humans on cross-country flights, but better leave mating in the air for the birds.  (You’d have to be swift.)
    “Design and build” is the motto of this engineering team.  This story has intelligent design written all over it.  The word evolution played no part in the research – unless, of course, you add the letters “Design R-” in front of it.
Next headline on:  BirdsBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
  Scientists know what science is, don’t they?  Certainly that should be true for the former president of the National Academy of Sciences.  Read the 12/11/2005 entry and score his reasoning.

Are Religious People Weird?   12/07/2008    
Dec 7, 2008 — Some scientists treat religious people as a class.  They put them in a test tube, so to speak, to see how they react to a stimulus, then write up the results in scientific papers.  The implication seems to be that these fellow humans of theirs are some kind of odd lot.

  1. Reactionary:  The BBC News reported on a finding by Nature Nanotechnology that “religious people tend to view nanotechnology in a negative light.”  One of the researchers stated a truism with a clinical touch: “Religion provides a perceptual filter, highly religious people look at information differently, it follows from the way religion provides guidance in people’s everyday lives.”  Buried in the article was an admission that religious people aren’t too dense to understand the science; it’s just that “talking openly about constructing life raises a whole host of moral issues” to them.
  2. Obscurantist:  Elena Cattaneo wrote a book review in Nature1 last month with the caption, “Misrepresentation of stem-cell science in Italy by political and religious groups is damaging that nation’s laws and the funding and perceived value of biomedical research.”  Throughout, the religious people were the ones portrayed as misrepresenting the science and standing in the way of progress: for instance, “In Italy and the United States, politicians are allowing religious ideas to influence the rules of a state and opposing science without clarifying the consequences to the citizens who have elected those politicians.”
  3. Gullible:  Adorned with a picture of a totem pole, an article in Science Daily explained a new approach by two anthropologists to “explain religious behavior.”  Their explanation centered on certain people’s “willingness to accept, without skepticism, the influence of the speaker in a way similar to a child’s acceptance of the influence of a parent.”  Belief in the supernatural was secondary to the power of kinship, they suggested.
Not all science reporting about religion is negative.  Science Daily reported last month that “a dose of God may help medicine.”  Another article on Science Daily summarized a study that claimed, “Attending religious services sharply cuts risk of death.”  That would seem to aid the population in the struggle for existence.  Other recent articles have claimed similar benefits: religion cuts marijuana use, prevents depression, or makes people more generous.  Typically, however, the researchers never take seriously their epistemic claims about reality.  The common assumption is that the domain of reality belongs to science.
1.  Elena Cattaneo, “Science, dogmas and the state,” Nature 456, 444-445 (27 November 2008) | doi:10.1038/456444a.
One group of human beings putting their fellow human beings into a pigeonhole and applying a label: does that sound scientific?  “Religious” is so broad a term, it is essentially meaningless.  Are atheists religious when they exercise faith in their disbelief in God?  Even if the scientists study the beaks of those in the religion pigeonhole with a magnifying glass, that does not mean they will necessarily arrive at rational conclusions.  The pigeons need to come out of their holes and reverse roles.  Let’s have some trained theologians put the scientists under the magnifying glass and analyze what makes them say strange things (e.g., 11/25/2008).  Dykstra’s Law, you remember, is commutative: Everybody is somebody else’s weirdo.
    Unquestionably there are religious people who do weird things.  So do some academics and sports fanatics.  The weird ones may be responding incorrectly to an inclination to believe in God that reflects something in their actual nature.  That would make denying that inclination irrational, even if certain distorted outworkings of that inclination among some appear “religulous.”
    The question is whether the domain of rational inquiry belongs only to those who abandon all references to absolutes in their epistemology and morality.  Deep, profound rational inquiry by the greatest minds into the nature of God and man has a long and fascinating history that cannot be pigeonholed into the category “religious.”  And arbitrarily restricting one’s domain to a sub-realm of causes incapable of providing coherence and consistency seems a little weird, does it not?  Some religious people are weird, as are some scientists.  Some, however, are wired.
Next headline on:  Theology
Thanks to Clam Design, Stronger Materials Are Coming   12/06/2008    
Dec 6, 2008 — Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs have produced a lightweight composite material 300 times stronger than its constituents.  How?  By taking inspiration from clams.
    The team, writing in Science,1 described nacre, the shiny mother-of-pearl found inside clam shells.  Because of the way it sandwiches crystalline aragonite with layers of protein (07/26/2004), nacre resists cracks more and more as strain is applied.  Here’s how the scientists marveled at this amazing material:
A prime example is nacre, which consists of 95 vol. % of layered aragonite (CaCO3) platelets bonded by a thin layer of organic material, yet exhibits a toughness (in energy terms) some three orders of magnitude higher than that of calcium carbonate.  The hard aragonite provides strength, but without a means to dissipate strain, nacre would be brittle; however, large inelastic deformation generated by interlayer shearing through the organic phase allows for such strain redistribution, so that toughness is achieved through viscoplastic energy dissipation in the organic layer associated with the controlled, yet limited, sliding of the aragonite layers over each other.  Although there is controversy over the mechanisms that restrain sliding—resistance from the lamellae nanoroughness, plastic deformation of the aragonite at the nanolevel, the organic layer acting as a viscoelastic glue, or from the presence of mineral bridges—the resulting toughness is remarkable.
Previous attempts to mimic this structure have only yielded strength increases about two orders of magnitude (07/05/2007).  The Berkeley team applied “this natural concept of hierarchical design” to ceramics with new techniques that employ controlled freezing of seawater ice crystals in the layering process.  The Lawrence Berkeley press release explained the process and has a picture of the roughened surface of the hybrid ceramic used in the manufacture.  They not only mimicked nacre’s natural lubricant between layers, but its brick-and-mortar structure, as shown in a second picture.  Of nacre, the press release said, “No human-synthesized composite outperforms its constituent materials by such a wide margin.”
    Everything they did was an “an attempt to replicate the microstructural design of nacre,” they said.  Nacre is “the often cited ‘gold standard’ in biomimetic design.”  Using ceramic alumina, they actually exceeded the toughness of nacre.  “We believe that this result illustrates the importance of hierarchical design in promoting toughening mechanisms at multiple length scales as a way to create materials with unique combinations of strength and fracture resistance.”  Nevertheless, they still respect the natural standard: “We believe that of the various hybrid materials that we have fabricated, this structure best mimics nacre.”  They succeeded in sandwiching tough ceramics between microscopic deformable layers with limited shear.  “The result is synthetic materials that, like nacre and bone, are far tougher than what could be expected from the simple mixture of their constituents.”  Even so, natural nacre still has some unsurpassed qualities: “At present, our materials contain too much of the soft phase, and our ceramic layer thicknesses are still somewhat coarse in comparison to nacre,” they said; “indeed, a reduction in the polymer content and refinement of the ceramic layers should improve strength and provide additional nanoscale toughening mechanisms similar to those acting in natural materials.”
    How did they feel about biomimetics in general?  “These results highlight the tremendous potential of the biomimetic approach and suggest promising strategies for structural optimization.”  Materials science will continue to improve – thanks to the lowly clam.
    See also the 07/08/2005 entry.  On a related subject, scientists found, to their surprise, that bone growth is regulated by a neurotransmitter, serotonin, in the small intestine.  The story is told by Science Daily.
1.  Munch, Launey, Alsem, Saiz, Tomsia and Ritchie, “Tough, Bio-Inspired Hybrid Materials,” Science, 5 December 2008: Vol. 322. no. 5907, pp. 1516-1520, DOI: 10.1126/science.1164865
Time for the quiz.  (1) How many times was biological evolution mentioned in these articles?  (2) How many times was the word design used?*
    The enamel in your teeth and the bones in your skeleton are constructed in a similar way.  Think about what might be possible with artificial nacre-imitating materials: ultra-tough lightweight aircraft, bringing more fuel economy without sacrificing safety; lightweight armor; new dental ceramics for oral surgery; better energy-absorbing yet lightweight auto exteriors.  The future looks bright for intelligent design science; tune in, turn on, drop out.  Drop out of the Darwin Party.  Turn on the engine of your new super-fuel-efficient biomimetically-inspired sports car.  Tune in to ID the Future.
*0, 7.
Next headline on:  BiomimeticsMarine BiologyPhysicsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
Cosmologists Taste the Forbidden Fruit   12/05/2008    
Dec 4, 2008 — Everyone agrees: our universe appears fine-tuned for human existence.  You have two choices: it was designed by God, or there is a multiverse (other universes we cannot detect).  Amanda Gefter is unhappy with that choice.  In New Scientist, she asked, why can’t we have more options?
    Calling the God-vs-multiverse choice a false dichotomy, she said, “Science never boils down to a choice between two alternative explanations.  It is always plausible that both are wrong and a third or fourth or fifth will turn out to be correct.”
    Choosing the God option, she said, would be to “abandon science itself.”  But she was also uncomfortable with the multiverse.  Irritated at creationist blogs and websites that consider the multiverse a “get-out-of-God-free card,” Gefter also took umbrage at their linking of evolution with moral evil.  She labeled any speculative hypothesis that avoided God as “science.”  A related story on New Scientist said that the amount of dark matter in our universe is finely tuned.  “It’s not just the nature of dark matter that’s a mystery,” the article began; “– even its abundance is inexplicable.”  This is a bit strange since it would be hard to know the abundance of something that is undetectable.  What is the explanation for this “tremendous coincidence”? the article asked, appealing to the anthropic principle.  “But if our universe is just one of many possible universes, at least this conundrum can be explained.”
Want to hear her speculation on what the third option might look like?  Here it is – we kid you not.  We quote the article so you know we are not making this up.
What might a third option look like here?  Physicist John Wheeler once offered a suggestion: maybe we should approach cosmic fine-tuning not as a problem but as a clue.  Perhaps it is evidence that we somehow endow the universe with certain features by the mere act of observation.  It’s an idea that Stephen Hawking has been thinking about, too.  Hawking advocates what he calls top-down cosmology, in which observers are creating the universe and its entire history right now.  If we in some sense create the universe, it is not surprising that the universe is well suited to us.
Let’s get this straight: either imagining universes we can never know is science, or believing that we are god is science.  But believing in a real God, who has the purpose and power to create a universe, and the omnipresence to be the Observer giving reality to phenomena (as philosopher George Berkeley argued), is not science.  OK, everyone, let’s sing:
When you wish upon a star, nature makes you what you are,
Anything your heart concocts is science true.
If your heart is in your dream, no proposal’s too extreme
When you hyper-speculate as scientists do.
Fate is kind, she gives reality,
The sweet fulfillment of our observing.
Like a bolt out of the blue, observation creates you,
When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.
Believers in this PAP or “Participatory Anthropic Principle” (i.e., the idea that we create the universe by observing it), apparently are willing to take credit for having brought into existence distant galaxies, with all their stars and planets and whatever – items they have never seen or will see – just because the universe we see from earth is a requirement for their existence.  Undoubtedly this is considered more scientific than the “name it and claim it“ preaching on some religious TV programs.
    Welcome to modern science Fantasyland.  This make-believe world, in which otherwise intelligent people employ the honorable label of science to abandon reason and common sense, and hide their eyes from the clear evidence of creation, where they can embrace absurd notions that fulfill an old temptation (“Ye shall be as gods”) to preserve their naturalistic religion, has only one explanation: Romans 1.
Next headline on:  CosmologyIntelligent DesignTheology
  Another reason to support the Academic Freedom Petition: see the 12/02/2004 entry.

Tiktaalik Not a Missing Link   12/04/2008    
Dec 4, 2008 — Has all the colorful artwork of the fish-a-pod been for naught?  Three European biologists claim that Neil Shubin’s famous Tiktaalik fossil, supposedly of a fish evolving into a four-footed land dweller (see 05/03/2006, 11/13/2008) which has garnered iconic status in the media (01/16/2008), is not a missing link after all.
    The situation is much more complex, argued Boisvert et al in a letter to Nature.1  Those who enjoy the full jargon can follow their reasoning:

The pectoral fin skeletons of Panderichthys and Tiktaalik share certain unusual features such as a blade-like radius and a longitudinal ridge-and-groove on the flexor surface of the ulna.  These can tentatively be interpreted as attributes of the ‘elpistostegid’ segment of the tetrapod stem lineage and thus ancestral for the tetrapod forelimb.  Given that recent phylogenies consistently place Panderichthys below Tiktaalik in the tetrapod stem group, it is surprising to discover that its pectoral fin skeleton is more limb-like than that of its supposedly more derived relative.  In Tiktaalik4, like in ‘osteolepiforms’ and rhizodonts (more primitive fish members of the stem group), the ulna and ulnare are of similar size.  The axis of the fin comprises two more elements distal to the ulnare, and the distal radials are arranged pinnately around this axis.  In contrast, in Panderichthys and tetrapods, the ulna is much longer than the ulnare, the ulnare is the last axial element, and the distal radials/digits are arranged in a transverse fan shape11 (Fig. 3).  It is difficult to say whether this character distribution implies that Tiktaalik is autapomorphic,2 that Panderichthys and tetrapods are convergent, or that Panderichthys is closer to tetrapods than Tiktaalik.  At any rate, it demonstrates that the fish-tetrapod transition was accompanied by significant character incongruence in functionally important structures.
Being translated, that last sentence says that if these fossils represent an evolutionary line from fish to tetrapod, the features are all mixed up and out of sequence – including the “functionally important structures.”
1.  Boisvert, Mark-Kurik and Ahlberg, “The pectoral fin of Panderichthys and the origin of digits,” Nature 456, 636-638 (4 December 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07339.
2.  Autapomorphic means a derived trait unique to any given taxon, i.e. shared by the ingroup taxa, but excluded from its outgroup taxa.  Convergent refers to traits that appear similar but are not phylogenetically related.
If this tale were told by Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story” would undo the first of the story.  It wouldn’t bother the evolutionists, though, because that’s what Darwinism is all about: telling a good story (12/22/2003 commentary).
Next headline on:  FossilsEvolutionary Theory
Bulletin: A new Creation Scientist of the Month has been added – check it out, and get inspired!

New Film: God of Wonders   12/03/2008    
Dec 3, 2008 — A new nature documentary with a gospel message, God of Wonders, has been released by Eternal Productions (see trailer at GodofWondersVideo.org).  The 85-minute film, described as “Exploring the Wonders of Creation, Conscience, and the Glory of God,” features beautiful nature photography narrated by various creation scientists and theologians, leading to a presentation of the gospel.  It is organized around four themes: God of Power, God of Wisdom, God of Justice, and God of Love. 

Having seen only the trailer, we cannot rate the entire production, other than to say that Eternal Productions did a good job on its prequel, A Question of Origins.  This film company is unashamed and uncompromising in its presentation of the scientific evidence as pointing to salvation in Jesus Christ.  For that matter, so was the apostle Paul (Romans 1:16-22).
    Need additional in-depth reasons for trusting the validity of the Christian world view?  Check out the phenomenal series from Focus on the Family, The Truth Project, featuring Dr. Del Tackett.  This outstanding teacher examines the Christian world view from all angles, including philosophy, history and science, in a 12-hour classroom setting interspersed with captivating video.  The Truth Project is geared for small-group settings and is marketed via a discipleship program, in which teachers motivate other teachers to start new small groups.  The production quality and content is excellent.  It’s a great stimulus for group discussion and just might lead to a deep transformation of your life.
Next headline on:  MediaBible and Theology
Another Attempt to Explain Life’s Handedness   12/03/2008    
Dec 3, 2008 — Life uses only single-handed (homochiral) molecules for proteins and DNA.  How that came about when mixtures of life’s building blocks contain equal amounts of both hands is a puzzle that confounds origin-of-life research.  Science Daily reported on new studies at the Argonne National Laboratory that show that molecules in space on a magnetic substrate exposed to X-rays can lead to an excess of one hand over the other.
    The article did not say how large the excess is, or whether it persists as the molecules land on earth.  It did state several times that this has been a big puzzle:
“Understanding how the molecules necessary for life originated is one of the most basic scientific questions in biochemistry,” Argonne chemist Richard Rosenberg said.  “Chirality plays a fundamental role in biological processes and researchers have been trying to discover the mechanisms that led to this property for years.
If “pre-biological molecules” on an iron meteorite were subjected to X-radiation, the spin polarization of secondary electrons on the substrate, interacting with molecules like amino acids adsorbed onto the substrate, might lead to an excess of one hand over the other, he explained.
    Still, Science Daily admitted that “The inception of chirality from the elementary building blocks of matter is one of the great mysteries of the origin of life.”  The best that origin-of-life researchers have been able to come up with is a slight excess of one hand over the other.
Biology uses 100% pure one-handed building blocks: right-handed sugars in DNA and RNA, and left-handed amino acids in proteins.  (The hand convention is purely a human rule about 3-D orientation of side groups on these molecules in geometric space.)  The two hands have equal probability of formation.  That is why natural mixtures contain equal amounts of each hand, and why biology stands out as the amazing exception.  There is no known natural mechanism to isolate one hand from the other without intelligent design.  A slight excess, usually a few percent, is not going to help, because one wrong-handed molecule on a chain ruins the chain.  In addition, there is no guarantee that the slight excess, if any, achieved under special conditions in space will be preserved and concentrated if the molecules survive entry through earth’s atmosphere.  More likely, they will racemize (i.e., randomize again into a 50-50 mixture).
    The article should be more honest about how difficult this problem is and not make it seem like progress has been made at understanding the origin of life.  “Possible Mechanism For Creating ‘Handedness’ In Biological Molecules” is the misleading title.  Are they kidding?  This is not even close enough to win at horseshoes.  Showing a picture of a man operating an X-ray photoelectron spectrometer is a distraction.  He’s got all one-handed molecules inside him.  The machine doesn’t.  He may be touching it, but there’s a huge gap between his hand and the machine, except that both show evidence of intelligent design.
    The handedness of biological molecules is only a mystery for those who make it so by insisting on an arbitrary rule that excludes intelligent causes.  Arbitrary rules are made by fallible humans.  You’ll notice that the man is operating the machine, and not vice versa.  And which object is asking the questions?
Next headline on:  Origin of LifePhysics
  Darwin the contortionist: listen to this story of mammal evolution from 12/03/2003 and see if it would convince a jury.

That Spring in Your Step Is Semi-Automatic   12/02/2008    
Dec 2, 2008 — Cross-country runners know the challenge of running on uneven terrain.  What they may not know is that they are executing one of the most difficult operations for robot designers: how to make an upright, walking machine make rapid decisions on irregular surfaces without falling.
    Monica Daley of the Royal Veterinary College wrote about this last week in Current Biology.1

We know quite a lot about how humans and animals run over completely level, uniform surfaces – conditions that can be easily studied on a track or treadmill.  Yet, the real world is much more complex, requiring frequent stride-to-stride adjustments to deal with bumps, holes and obstacles in the road.  What strategies do runners use to keep moving forward when the going gets rough?  Only recently has biomechanics research begun to turn to this challenging question.  New research by Grimmer and colleagues reveals that the answer may be a lot simpler than you might think.
She must have said “simpler” with tongue in cheek, because her next sentence said, “Running involves a cascade of systems working together, including the brain, spinal cord, sensory organs, muscles and bone.”  Earlier she had noted, “We often take our own impressive stability for granted, but if you watch a toddler learn to walk and run, you can see that it can be a challenging task.”
    Scientists try to model running with images of a bouncing ball, where tension on landing is released like a spring on the way up.  “Similarly, by using springs in their legs, animals can passively cycle energy through spring recoil, reducing the need for muscle work,” she explained.  Seems simple so far.  But tendons, muscles and joints differ in their springiness.  Did you know that humans have exceptional spring in their step, comparable to horses and kangaroos?
    The situation gets harder to model when the cross-country runner gets off the treadmill and onto the trail.  Rocks, ditches, bumps and other obstacles require constant monitoring and adjustment.  The speed of signals in the nerves, though, is finite from toe to brain.  How can the brain keep up with a flood of constantly changing data from the extremities in time to adjust?
    Here’s where Grimmer’s theory comes into play: the brain may be ordering a basic bouncing pattern with slight modifications.  This way, decisions are not required for every motion – just minor adjustments as needed.  “This allows the body to keep moving in its simple bouncing pattern without a stumble or fall.”
    If true, this means that most of the running motion occurs passively without active brain signaling.  An analogy from business might help:
That is not to say that neural control is not required for running.  To change speed, direction, or switch from a run to a walk, active control and path planning is certainly involved.  However, tuning your leg to behave like a simple mass-spring system may allow the brain and spinal cord to worry only about this higher level control, leaving within stride adjustments to the mechanical system.  Think of it as the difference between a ‘micro-managing’ supervisor and one who delegates responsibility and checks in now and then.  Overall, the latter strategy is considered more effective, because it frees the manager to pay attention to the big picture.  However, for this approach to succeed, things must not fall apart when the supervisor is not looking.
Notice that this strategy would not work without prior systems being in place.  Legs, muscles, tendons, bones and all the other components have to be able to run the strategy with minimal supervision.
    Daley asked a question midway through her article that tempted one to ask a big-picture question: “So, is the spring-like behaviour of human and animal legs an accident of nature, or a strategy to simplify the job of the central nervous system?”  The remaining paragraphs, in which she described the benefits of the delegating-manager strategy, suggested the latter.  She did not, however, use the word evolution anywhere in the article.  If it is not an accident of nature, one can draw one’s own conclusions about where strategies come from.
1.  Monica A. Daley, “Biomechanics: Running Over Uneven Terrain Is a No-Brainer,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 22, 25 November 2008, pp. R1064-R1066, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.09.050.
Have you ever done rock-hopping in a river?  It’s fun and challenging, but the slightest mistake and you could be in for a dunk or broken leg.  Slippery rock, distracting currents, and uneven surfaces galore – did you think about how much calculus your brain has to do on the sensory inputs to do this?  Even a child can manage the task fairly well.  Dr. Daley did not extend her simplified analysis to this and other complex tasks humans perform (think balance beam).
    The wonders of the human body should inspire awe and respect.  How could you mistreat your machine?  If you owned a Ferrari, would you not give it special care?  How much more should we care about the tremendous gift the Creator has given us in the body we inhabit.  For more on the unique human capabilities involved in running, read the memorable entry from 11/14/2004, “The Evolution of Marathon Man.”
Next headline on:  Human BodyMammalsAmazing Facts
Ganymede Age Threatened by Magnetism   12/02/2008    
Dec 2, 2008 — The biggest moon in the solar system is Ganymede, the third large moon out from Jupiter.  Larger than Mercury, Ganymede has a heterogeneous surface of dark and light areas (picture), grooved terrain, abrupt changes of landforms, and bright splashes where impacts have scarred its icy surface (gallery).  What goes on inside, though, is more surprising: it has an intrinsic magnetic field.  Researchers could only make it last for the assumed age of the solar system by appealing to “special conditions” that are not necessarily compatible with theories of its formation.
    Bland, Showman and Tobie, writing in Icarus Dec 2008,1 realized that an intrinsic magnetic field requires a liquid core in which convection can occur to drive a dynamo.  A liquid core requires heat.  If they could find ways to stop runaway cooling inside the moon, maybe it would stay hot enough to maintain the magnetic field for 4.5 billion years.
    They tried all kinds of things to keep the core hot.  They modeled Ganymede’s orbit passing through a resonance that would increase tidal pumping.  They varied the silicate rheology.  They altered Jupiter’s tidal dissipation factor.  They played with the size of the ice shell.  They imagined partial melting in the silicate mantle.  Nothing worked.  “We find that, contrary to expectations, there are no physically plausible scenarios in which tidal heating in the silicates is sufficient to cause the thermal runaway necessary to prevent core cooling.”
    The only other possibility was if the amount of sulfur in the core was very low (less than 3%) or very high (greater than 21%).  Neither of those options was palatable, but they were stuck: “we must appeal to the special conditions described above to explain the presence of the field.”  At the end of the paper they tossed out one other possibility: late differentiation.  If the core didn’t form until 1 billion years ago (about 1/5 the assumed age of the moon), then convection might last for a billion years.  Either way requires invoking special conditions:
We have shown that production of Ganymede’s magnetic field by secular cooling and chemical convection requires that a very specific set of conditions be met: the mass fraction of sulfur in the core must be low (or alternatively very high), the core must have formed hot, and the silicate mantle must be able to cool rapidly (i.e.  it must have a viscosity consistent with wet olivine).  If any of these criterion are not met magnetic field production fails.  These results contrast with previous workers who find that compositional convection can drive a core dynamo under a broad range of conditions.2
Speaking of Mercury, which is slightly smaller than Ganymede, Dr. D. Russell Humphreys celebrated a confirmed prediction in the current Journal of Creation:Mercury’s magnetic field matches the measurements from the MESSENGER spacecraft (07/09/2008).  He adds this to his list of predictive successes for the magnetic fields of the outer planets.  Humphreys’ model assumes that magnetic fields are young – thousands of years old, not billions.
1.  Bland, Showman and Tobie, “The production of Ganymede’s magnetic field,” Icarus 198 (Dec 2008), pp. 384–399, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2008.07.011.
2.  reference cited by Bland et al: S.A. Hauck, J.M. Aurnou and A.J. Dombard, “Sulfur’s impact on core evolution and magnetic field generation on Ganymede,” J. Geophys. Res. 111 (2006) 10.1029/2005JE002557 E09008.
And so another phenomenon doesn’t fit the consensus view of the age of the solar system.  Creationists who think they are escaping difficulties by accepting the consensus age are merely trading one set of problems for another.  Every view has problems; face it.  But don’t think the long-age evolutionary naturalistic view is simple and straightforward.  When they pile on miracles needed to get their physicalist scenarios to work, then the appeal to miracles becomes academic: do you want purposeful miracles, or miracles of chance?  Like ketchup with fries, miracles go better with design.
    This paper does not support a view that Ganymede is a few thousand years old, of course, but neither does it rule it out.  What it does, though, is put plausible upper limits on the age of Ganymede, beyond which appeals to highly contrived special conditions are required.
    Reconstructing the core history of Ganymede can only be done with scientific models.  Being simulations with simplifying assumptions, models can only be judged by subjective criteria of plausibility.  If you think that it is plausible to insert special conditions to form Mercury, Venus, Earth, the moon, Mars, Jupiter, Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto (which has an induced magnetic field), Jupiter’s gossamer rings, Saturn, the F-ring, the A-ring, the C-ring, the D-ring, Enceladus, Rhea, Titan, Hyperion, Iapetus, Uranus, the rings of Uranus, Miranda, Neptune, the rings of Neptune, Triton, comets, binary asteroids and the Sun-Earth diameter, then be our guest.  Just admit that you are, in effect, applying your own intelligent design to imaginary models of reality, not to reality itself.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemPhysicsDating Methods
When God Goes, Anything Goes   12/01/2008    
Dec 1, 2008 — G. K. Chesterton once said, “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.”  That seems to be backed up by two recent stories.
    Live Science reported on a poll by a British newspaper that found more people believe in aliens and ghosts than believe in God.  Unscientific as that poll was, it was corroborated by another poll in 2006 that found more graduate students than freshman believed in paranormal subjects like astrology and communication with the dead.  Presumably this includes students who took freshman biology at least once before entering grad school.
    One Baylor researcher commented that belief in the paranormal seems constant even though the subject matter changes.  But reporter Robert Roy Britt also quoted Rod Stark, another Baylor professor, who stated a somewhat counterintuitive finding: that belief in God and the paranormal are not linked.  “Paranormal beliefs are very strongly negatively related to religious belief,” he said.  Why?  Britt noted that religious believers are often discouraged from buying into paranormal claims; “indeed most devout practitioners of a religion have been shown to be the least likely to believe in Bigfoot, ghosts or aliens.”
    A tragic story was told by World Net Daily about a grieving father who believes his son’s suicide was triggered by reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.  The 22-year-old student had been challenged in biology class by his teacher and fellow students for his Christian beliefs.  “They didn’t like him as a Republican, as a Christian, and as a conservative who believed in intelligent design,” the father said.  The professor assigned him to read the atheist polemic by Dawkins.  “After Jesse’s death, Keith Kilgore learned of the book assignment from two of his son’s friends and a relative,” the short article explained.  “He searched Jesse’s room and found the book under the mattress with his son’s bookmark on the last page.”
You know, of course, that Dawkins is not only the principal atheist preacher today, but also a Darwin-worshiper unmatched in devotion to the bearded Buddha.  We hope the importance of Creation-Evolution Headlines has become more abundantly clear by these episodes.  Ideas have consequences.  That not only means that bad ideas have bad consequences; it also means that the good consequences of good ideas can be diverted to folly or lost altogether if not defended.
Next headline on:  Bible and Theology
  Is there a mouse in your genes?  Read the 12/06/2002 entry.


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Featured Creation Scientist for December


Howard Atwood Kelly
1858 - 1943

One of America’s greatest surgeons and gynecologists, Howard Atwood Kelly was one of the “big four” who led the Johns Hopkins Medical School from its inception to a leading institution of the world.  He was also a devout, Bible-believing Christian who put its teachings into the fabric of his life.

Dr. Kelly’s heart-warming story is told wonderfully in Christian Men of Science by George Mulfinger and Julia Mulfinger Orozco (see Baptist Books).  The story of a man who simultaneously was an authority on snakes and on women’s diseases and who spent a year as a cowboy in Colorado has to be interesting!  Readers are encouraged to order this book to learn about Howard Atwood Kelly and 10 other great Christians in science “who changed the world” with their discoveries.

For now, a few snippets of information about our featured scientist might tempt you to add this book to your library.  Howard A. Kelly had a life-long fascination with nature, including snakes, turtles, bugs and other creatures which he liked to collect.  His parents steered his youthful curiosity toward a career more likely to provide a good income—medicine.  Good thing they did; Kelly became one of the most sought-after physicians and surgeons in the world.  His skill as a teacher was equal to his reputation as a surgeon.  It influenced a generation of gynecologists to come.

Born just a year before Darwin published the Origin, Dr. Kelly lived during the period of the rise of scientific skepticism but also that of the revolutionary germ theory of disease.  He learned the new antiseptic techniques coming from the work of Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister.  Soon, though, he preferred asepsis – preventing germs through hygiene – to antisepsis, the mere killing of germs with chemicals.  His fastidious cleanliness and his skill with the scalpel gave him a high success rate.  He performed a successful Caesarian section and helped make the risky procedure much more reliable.  For many years, C-sections usually proved fatal to both mother and child.  The previous successful operation had been 50 years prior.  Dr. Kelly was determined to improve the situation; he studied the German methods, and greatly increased the survival rate.  Women saved by his techniques filled his files with thank-you letters.

Dr. Kelly transformed gynecology, the medical practice concerned with the special needs of women, from a fledgling subject into a respected field.  In this he can be considered one of the founding fathers of gynecology.  Women who suffered in silence due to modesty began to trust the expertise and sensitivity of a male surgeon thanks to the professionalism of Dr. Kelly and his results.  His legacy includes thousands of women saved by cleaner, safer, more effective techniques he developed; but his skill was matched by his gentle, bedside sensitivity to his patients.

Though he charged high fees for students, Kelly funneled the money back into helping the poor.  75% of his patients were unable to pay for his services.  Dr. Kelly bought up four adjacent houses in Maryland and personally staffed them as his own private hospital.  The men he trained at Johns Hopkins Medical School fanned out across the world and leveraged his achievements to the benefit of millions of women.  Some of his achievements can be found at the Medical History of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Dr. Kelly wrote 500 medical papers and 10 textbooks.  In his surgical textbooks, he revolutionized medical illustration.  Dissatisfied with the crude woodcuts of earlier textbooks, he found a German artist skilled at providing clear, accurate anatomical illustrations that surgeons could trust.  He also incorporated photography.  Medical textbooks were much improved by his innovations.  In addition, Dr. Kelly was among the first to use radiation therapy for cancer.  He even bought his own radium mine in Colorado and owned the largest stock of radium of his day.  This illustrates his willingness to push the envelope to advance medical knowledge.

A bookworm to the extreme, Dr. Kelly’s personal library included 100,000 volumes.  That was in addition to the ones he read and gave away.  He had 10,000 books on fungi alone.  Imagine the surprise of one visitor who commented on how one man could own so many books, only to learn that the thousands of volumes he was looking at were just part of the section on theology and the Bible.  Dr. Kelly collected rare books, too.  To him, books were like dear personal friends.  How he had time to read so much while serving an active career as one of America’s premiere surgeons and being personally involved in the spiritual education of his nine children (five daughters and four sons) will be a profound mystery to many parents.

Speaking of his family, Kelly was a model father and husband.  Rather than delegating education to the wife, as many professional men do, he made their spiritual upbringing his responsibility as father.  His stamina was exceptional; he stayed physically active into his eighties.  He swam each morning with the kids before breakfast (his rule) when at the lake property he owned in Maryland.  The Mulfingers wrote that in his student years, “He thought nothing of a twenty-eight mile hike or a mile-long swim.”  (That, of course, was in addition to learning 5 languages, teaching himself astronomy and architecture, practicing the piano and flute, and writing for the school newspaper while carrying a full load of classes.)

The only thing that started slowing him down was a diving accident at age 66.  He was still doing fancy dives and somersaults from a 24-foot platform at that age.  Though he learned his lesson to be more careful as a senior citizen, he continued performing surgeries till he was 80 years old.  Gifted with a sense of humor and an incessant love of nature, Howard continued to collect snakes, plants and Indian artifacts.  He even published a book on the snakes of Maryland and co-authored other non-medical works.  The Mulfingers tell some amusing anecdotes of snakes that got out of their cages at inappropriate times, to the horror of visitors.  Any screenwriters looking for a documentary subject here?

The influence of one man’s life can be astounding.  The medical achievements of Howard Atwood Kelly would seem sufficient, but his spiritual legacy is far greater.  Kelly was raised a Christian but knew what it was like to struggle with doubt when, as a young surgeon beginning his career, he was exposed to higher criticism and scientific attacks on the Bible.  How did he overcome them?  He decided to approach the criticisms scientifically: he became skeptical of the skeptics!  He also systematically examined the truth claims of the Bible.  He subjected them to the test of experience.   The diagnosis of man’s problem appealed to him as a physician.  “Where else,” the Mulfingers paraphrase his thoughts, “can we find a book that can so completely transform a man’s nature and change a lifetime of sinful habits?”  By probing into the validity of the skeptics’ arguments, and by testing the truth of God’s word in his own life, his faith emerged stronger than ever.

Oh – and about that cowboy story – that was for one year to recover his health from the stress of medical school.  In that year he had learned to deal with the crude anti-Christian beliefs of cowhands on the ranch.  It forced him to study the Bible more diligently to provide reasons for his faith.  Through testing, Kelly’s Christian life became rich and powerful.  It was his practice to pray with his nurses and assistants before each surgery.  Ever generous to the poor, he was consistently and conscientiously involved with good deeds.  Social righteousness was a passion of his.  He opposed legal prostitution and spoke out against evil.  “Nothing so dampens zeal in a great cause,” he said, “as the refusal of good people to be roused and stirred up to take and maintain a strong stand for right.”

In addition, Dr. Kelly supported missionaries, like his personal friend Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary to China.  He prayed earnestly and faithfully about everything.  As a Christian, he lived his convictions consistently and honorably.  And he witnessed.  Frequently, he would initiate conservations about Christ using simple object lessons or ice-breakers, even with cab drivers or total strangers.  Dr. Kelly did not believe any Christian should delegate the work of witnessing to ministers.  “The only excuse I have for insisting on breaking through the reserves of every man I meet is that Jesus Christ died for him as well as for me, and I want him to know it.”

His personal witnessing was augmented by financial support – up to 30% of his income – for numerous Christian ministries like camps for boys, orphanages and hospitals.  He died at age 85, within hours of the death of his wife, complete in Christ and ready for heaven.  His last words were, “Nurse, my Bible.”

What stirs a man to be so incredibly active in serving the Lord, when his career would seem enough to bring fame and satisfaction?  Taking thought on the boy Jesus’ words at age 12 that he must be about his Father’s business, Dr. Howard Atwood Kelly said, “Christianity is a business, a work lasting all through life.  God needs three talents: a will given over to Him; willing service; [and] persistence in service in spite of failure.”  Would that we all take heart in Dr. Kelly’s true story at the potential for one life surrendered to the will of God.


We are indebted to the book Christian Men of Science by Mulfinger and Orozco for this material on Howard Atwood Kelly.  Consider this book as a Christmas gift to the scientist or skeptic in your shopping list.

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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“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: Creation-Evolution Headlines.  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.