Creation-Evolution Headlines
June 2009
Darwin quote

“Intelligent people interpret data differently, largely based on presuppositions and training.  Currently, those espousing the undirected natural processes scenarios are in control of the vast majority of scientific clout.... Studies have repeatedly shown that the public holds views that are more compatible with ID, yet undirected naturalism is taught as ‘truth’ in public school systems, despite its lack of scientific evidence.  Since Atheism and Secular Humanism have been confirmed as religions by US courts, and Evolution has been declared a religion by evolutionists, this teaching is actually against the First Amendment religious establishment clause and may be addressed in court.”
—Dr. Don Johnson of ScientificIntegrity.net, in his new book Probability’s Nature and Nature’s Probability, p. 101.

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New Baloney Detector cartoon by Brett Miller!
Subject this time: RED HERRING.  Click “funnies” and enjoy.
Then visit Evident Creation for his Cartoon of the Week!
 

The Elephant Explosion   06/30/2009    
June 30, 2009 — The title is not intended to suggest pieces of pachyderm flying all over the place, but rather one paleontologist’s theory about the rapid pace of elephant evolution 60 million years ago.  He bases his ideas on a small fossil he found in Morocco.  According to him, the primitive ancestor of all elephants (order Proboscidea) lived 5 million years earlier than thought, and gave rise to “one of the most spectacular examples of morphological evolution known in Mammalia” that occurred in “a rapid and basically explosive placental radiation.
    Emmanuel Gheerbrant, a paleontologist in Paris, described his fossil Eritherium azzouzorum in PNAS.1  His evolutionary story was picked up by Jeanna Bryner at Live Science who wrote about the “oldest elephant relative found.”  Elephant?  Bryner admitted, “the animal would not have looked much like an elephant.  It was just 1.6 to 2 feet (50 to 60 cm) long and weighed 9 to 11 pounds (4 to 5 kg).”  That’s compared to a modern elephant standing 11 feet tall at the shoulder and weighing 5 tons.  New Scientist joined in, saying that “You wouldn’t have recognized Eritherium as an elephant when it was roaming Morocco 60 million years ago... But detailed study of the newly discovered fossil’s teeth, jaws and skull shows it to be the oldest member yet found of the order Proboscidea, of which elephants are the only living survivors.”  New Scientist hoped that “The new find may shed light on the origins of elephants and other mammals... It shows elephants were making evolutionary progress 5 million years after the dinosaurs died out.”
    Since pachyderms didn’t evolve till 34 million years ago, Darwin apparently shipped the trunk 26 million years late.  How, then, could Gheerbrant call this an ancestor of the gentle giants we know and live in the local zoo?  Bryner explained, “The animal’s relation to elephants was determined via analysis of the specimen’s teeth and skull.  While it lacked a trunk, the animal had an enlarged first incisor, which researcher Emmanuel Gheerbrant of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France, says represents a primitive tusk.”  It is doubtful that this little animal used a tooth enlarged by millimeters to pull down trees.
    That word “primitive” was indeed found all over Gheerbrant’s paper (used 19 times).  Yet for the animal itself, its features would have seemed well adapted for its own environment.  Is not the word “primitive” a judgment call by the paleontologist assuming it was “making evolutionary progress” from primitive to advanced?  That idea would be guilty of circular reasoning.  Another kind of circularity was revealed in the dating of the fossil.  The estimate of 60 million years was based entirely on index fossils and stratigraphy – both of which assume the evolutionary dating scheme the author was trying to use to establish the fossil’s time and place in evolutionary history.
    A look through the scientific paper reveals other statements that cast doubt on the author’s confidence that this fossil has anything to do with the evolution of elephants.  For one thing, the photo of the fossil pieces shows no postcranial anatomy.  His judgment was made entirely on pieces of skull and jaw and five teeth.  None of the teeth looks anything like a primitive tusk – nor did he claim so in the paper, regardless of what he told the press.
    For another, placement of this fossil in a phylogenetic position with the Proboscidea involved numerous human judgment calls on his part.  He had to juggle which pieces of evidence, based on tiny measurements from the fragmentary fossil, represent plesiomorphies (traits present before the common ancestor), synapomorphies (traits present in the common ancestor), and homoplasies (unrelated but similar traits attributed to “convergent evolution”).  Of the latter, his table listed 11 homoplasies with other unrelated groups.  The factors he considered worthy were then plugged into computer software that tried to build an evolutionary tree out of them.  The outcome of tree-building software, however, can vary widely depending on the criteria inserted or left out, the relative weighting of factors, the algorithm used, and the outgroup selected (see 07/26/2008, 06/26/2008, 10/15/2003, and especially 10/01/2005 and 07/25/2002).
    The following quotes reveal something of the contradictory data, the gaps in empirical data from fossils, and the juggling involved in reaching a conclusion.  Notice how his best fit was obtained with his own previous work – raising additional questions about objectivity:

The TNT unweighted parsimony analysis including Eritherium yields a very poorly resolved consensus tree mainly resulting from the unstable position of Khamsaconus.  Analysis without Khamsaconus shows that, besides the robust proboscidean relationships of Eritherium, basal relationships among paenungulates remain unstable, as illustrated by the basal polytomy in the consensus (Fig. 3A).  This polytomy is basically related to our poor fossil knowledge of the ancestral morphotype of several orders such as Embrithopoda, Desmostylia, and Anthracobunia.  Our analysis supports a Sirenia-Desmostylia clade sister group of Proboscidea within Tethytheria.  The standard TNT “implied weighting” analysis yields a topology (Fig. 3B), which is nearly identical to that of Gheerbrant et al.
Here’s another quote that reveals multiple levels of subjectivity:2
The bunodont incipient lophodont morphotype is derived relative to the eutherian condition, and it is distinct from the perissodactyl pattern.  This morphotype is an additional morphological character and one of the most remarkable dental characters reported for close relationships of paenungulates, macroscelideans, and louisinines.  However, our parsimony analysis does not formally support sister-group relationships of the Macroscelidea plus Louisininae and the Paenungulata by contrast to molecular and recent morphological analyses advocating the Afrotheria clade.  The recovered topology (Fig. 3) shows a sister-group relationship of Laurasian lophodont ungulates such as perissodactyls to paenungulates, instead of the macroscelideans (and louisinines).  Similarly, our analysis does not discriminate clearly Laurasian (e.g., phenacodontids) and African (e.g., Ocepeia) “condylarths” as possible early ungulate representatives of molecular laurasiatherian and afrotherian clades.  Fossils gaps, and especially for African taxa, most probably explain poorly resolved cladistic basal relationships of the Paenungulata in our tree (Fig. 3).  These gaps are illustrated by our poor knowledge of the ancestral morphotype of several key paenungulates orders; for instance, the ancestral relative size of the last molar in paenungulates is challenged by Eritherium (M33 not enlarged).  At lower level in the tree, the morphological and fossil gap is even worse for the phylogenetic analysis of the superordinal clade Afrotheria including Tenrecoidea and Tubulidentata, which are excluded from this study because of the lack of Paleogene data.  In this respect, the cladistic study of Eritherium does not help to test the question of the macroscelidean position within Afrotheria.  However, Eritherium dental morphology argues for a bunodont-lophodont, i.e., ungulatelike, ancestral morphotype for the Paenungulata, Louisininae, and Macroscelidea, within putative Afrotheria.
A lot of his evolutionary reasoning, therefore, depends on tiny measurements of tooth shape and systematic gaps in fossil evidence.  The “ancestral morphotype” exists only in the evolutionist’s imagination.
    Given these empirical problems, it does not appear even possible to arrive at a definitive evolutionary analysis from the fossil evidence.  This creature could have been called one more well-adapted, extinct mammal, like many other well-adapted, extinct mammals, and left at that.  The story of evolution, however, is what received prominence.  Gheerbrant spoke of a “rapid paenungulate radiation at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (KT) transition” several times.  In fact, it was this story line that excused the lack of evidence: “Rapid paenungulate radiation and fossil gaps may explain poorly resolved interordinal relationships,” he said at one point.  The elephants-to-be must have been evolving so quickly they didn’t have time to leave any fossils.  In fact, this rapid evolution involved more than the Proboscidea: there was a “rapid and basically explosive placental radiation,” he said.  That explosion involved all the post-Cretaceous placental mammals.
    So here is another explosion to add to the Cambrian explosion: a “basically explosive placental radiation” that was used to support evolutionary theory, as was the Cambrian explosion, by the lack of evidence for it (see 05/10/2008).
1.  Emmanuel Gheerbrant, “Paleocene emergence of elephant relatives and the rapid radiation of African ungulates,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, print June 22, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0900251106.
2.  Note: the reader does not need to understand the jargon to get a sense of the fudging that goes on.  Curious readers can use Dictionary.com for definitions and the Reference.com page on cladistic analysis.
Day by day, we expose the unscientific divination practices of the Darwin sooth-slayers.  Don’t be intimidated by the jargon.  You can look it up.  Learn to perceive the methods, omissions, assumptions and philosophy that makes these modern-day shamans pretend to be doing science, when they are really practicing divination to conjure up the Will of Darwin.
Next headline on:  FossilsMammalsEvolution

 
MSNBC News committed hit-and-run Darwin flatulence in an otherwise forgettable article
full of generalities about sexual attractiveness.  The winning entry:
After eons of evolution, men are hardwired to overspend and max out credit
cards to attract mates
, a study last year concluded.”

Note: As far as we know, there is no fossil evidence for Neanderthal credit cards.
 



  Warning: Do NOT Mutate This Protein Complex   06/30/2009    
June 30, 2009 — In each cell of your body there is a complex of 8 or more proteins bound together called the BBSome.  This protein complex, discovered in 2007, should not be disturbed.  Here’s what happens when it mutates: “A homozygous mutation in any BBSome subunit (except BBIP10) will make you blind, obese and deaf, will obliterate your sense of smell, will make you grow extra digits and toes and cause your kidneys to fail.
    Children born with Bardet-Beidl syndrome (1 in 100,000 live births) have mutations to one of 14 proteins in this class (and others remain to be identified).  How can one mutation affect so many diverse functions?  Scientists believe that the BBSome is a key component of protein trafficking to the primary cilium, reported Hua Jin and Maxense V. Nachury in Current Biology.1  Primary cilia, they said, are “microtubule-based projections found on many cell types that act like tiny antennae receiving signaling inputs for the cell.”  Functions like sight, smell, and limb patterning rely on signals from primary cilia.  Scientists theorize that the BBSome is involved in providing parts to the intraflagellar transport system (IFT), which delivers construction parts from the base of the cilium or flagellum to the tip.
    The authors said that the BBSome is “highly conserved” (i.e., unevolved) in all ciliated organisms from single-celled green algae to humans, though absent in plants and fungi.  “This pattern of conservation is a signature for proteins that perform fundamental functions in primary cilium assembly,” they explained.  Only chordates have an additional four BBS proteins.
    The activity of the BBSome is an ongoing area of research.  When asked what remains to be explored about it, the authors responded, “Nearly everything!”
1.  Hua Jin and Maxense V. Nachury, “Quick Guide: The BBSome,” Current Biology, Volume 19, Issue 12, 23 June 2009, Pages R472-R473.
This story underscores the precision and specificity of proteins.  The sequence of amino acids that leads to a protein’s folded shape is absolutely critical to its function.  Proteins are often hundreds of amino acid links long.  The authors said that mutations to even one of the eight members of the BBSome complex result in death or severe disability.  If the origin of one protein is beyond the reach of chance (see online book), how much more a complex of 8 or more proteins working together?  This does to chemical evolution theory what another H-bomb would do after global nuclear devastation: it just makes the rubble bounce.
    The answer evolutionists give that some genes are “highly conserved” because they “perform fundamental functions” is a form of the dodge explanation that says, in effect, “if it were not that way, we wouldn’t be here” (see next entry commentary).  It fails to explain where the design came from.  If the origin of a complex system is beyond the reach of chance, what are the alternatives?  Natural law or design.  Natural law, however, produces predictable, repetitive patterns on a simple level – not complex specified information.  That leaves design as the most plausible explanation.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsAmazing FactsIntelligent Design
  Paper View: why SETI only hears a “great silence,” from the 06/30/2006 entry.

How Cells Proofread DNA Is Still Mysterious   06/29/2009    
June 29, 2009 — An amazing fact about DNA transcription is that the machinery not only copies DNA onto RNA, but checks it for errors.  A story in Science Daily says that researchers would expect 100 times more errors statistically than the actual results of transcription in the cell.
    One of the mechanisms revealed in more detail by researchers at University of Bristol and University of Leeds is a linear stalling process akin to an old-style typesetting machine.  DNA “letters” are transcribed single-file by a machine called RNA polymerase.  When a wrong letter is inserted in the RNA transcript, the machine stalls and backs up.  It then has a tiny “molecular scissors” that snips out the incorrect nucleotide and inserts the correct one.
    This is only part of the proofreading process, however.  The article ended, “there is more than one identified mechanism for ensuring that genetic code is copied correctly.  The challenge now is to find out – through a combination of experimental biology and modelling – which mechanism is dominant.”  One can expect that their analogy to a typesetting machine will develop over time into something more sophisticated: perhaps an office full of specialists using computerized error correction technologies.

Stephen Meyer’s new book Signature in the Cell (see Resource of the Week) explains why these discoveries are undermining evolution at its base.  In chapter two, he recounts the history of discoveries about DNA.  It reads like a detective story.  Since the mid-19th century, biologists and chemists tried to understand what was going on in the cell, then in the nucleus, then in the chromosomes, then in the bands within the chromosomes, then in the nucleic acids and their bases, then in the structure of the double helix.  It took a century to uncover the answer.  The reality turned out to be far more astonishing than anything they could have imagined.  In Darwin’s day, who would have thought that the cell has computer codes that are transcribed and translated, and proofread with multiple levels of error correction?
    Evolutionists have few options for responding to these discoveries.  One method they use is to say, “Well, if these mechanisms weren’t there, we wouldn’t be here.”  How satisfying is that?  If the universe weren’t finely tuned for life, we wouldn’t be here.  If life had not emerged, we wouldn’t be here.  If complex life had not emerged, we wouldn’t be here.  If DNA proofreading didn’t exist, we wouldn’t be here.  That’s not an answer; it’s a dodge.  If sensible people weren’t so tolerant of the Darwinists and their nonsense, they wouldn’t be here.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsAmazing Facts
Computer Programmers Borrow Eye Technology   06/28/2009    
June 28, 2009 — Computer processing of video images may become twice as accurate with 10 times the speed of earlier models, thanks to what scientists are imitating in the human eye.  “The linear solution to one of the most vexing challenges to advancing computer vision has direct applications in the fields of action and object recognition, surveillance, wide-base stereo microscopy and three-dimensional shape reconstruction,” a report in Science Daily said.
    A team at Boston College team noticed how the eye performs a rough global search, then zeroes in for the details.  They devised their software after this linear algorithm.  It avoids having to comb through haystacks of data for the needle of interest.  “Our method behaves in a similar fashion, using a linear approximation to explore the search space globally and quickly; then it works to identify the moving object by frequently updating trust search regions,” said Hao Jiang of the research team.
    The technique allows the new program to “maintain spatial consistency as an object moves and reduces the number of variables that need to be optimized from several million to just a few hundred.”  It increased their detection rate to 95% over the 50% rate of earlier methods.
OK, so who wrote the software in the human eye that these guys reverse-engineered?
Next headline on:  Human BodyBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
06/27/2009 – A new book from an intelligent design leader has just come out, and is poised to send shock waves through the Darwin camp, like Behe’s book did 13 years ago.  Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell (Harper One, 2009) hit the market on June 23.  Get your copy on Amazon.com; Access Research Network also sells it and has reviews of the book by leading scientists and philosophers. 
    In this new book, Meyer gives full court press to the theme he has been working on for two decades: that the discovery of coded information in DNA has rekindled old arguments of the idealists against the materialists: living cells do indeed contain a fundamental property not found in inanimate matter – information.  Without exception in our experience, information is the product of a mind.  While explaining the thesis in great detail, Meyer also tells his own personal story about his quest to answer the mystery of life’s origin.  The book combines engaging history and philosophy of science with its investigation of molecular biology.  It’s written in terms the educated layman will understand, but with sufficient detail to satisfy the specialist. 
    Meyer proves that, in contrast to the “matter first” philosophy of materialism, only the “mind first” philosophy of intelligent design is capable of giving rise to what Watson and Crick found in 1953: a language of life, encoded with chemical letters in DNA.  The implications of that discovery have grown into a crescendo as multiple layers of complex specified information have been revealed in rapid-fire discoveries that continue today.
    Meyer knows his intelligent-design thesis will be attacked by the Darwinists.  He shows he can handle their critiques.  Having earned a second PhD from Cambridge University in philosophy of science, he is well aware of materialist arguments since the time of the Greeks, up through the Enlightenment and through the 19th-20th centuries to the present.  They had faith that science would uncover an unbroken sequence of natural causes that would be sufficient to explain the universe, the earth, and life.  That faith has met its severest challenge in our lifetimes.  Coded information in the cell now renders the philosophy of materialism no longer credible.  Get this book and master its arguments.  You’ll become a power player in the creation-evolution fight ahead.
    For a sneak peak inside the book, see a link at Evolution News.  See also the Signature in the Cell website and watch a video trailer.  Part of the author’s kickoff speech at the Heritage Foundation is available at Evolution News, and Meyer also was interviewed for a podcast by ID the Future.
Next resource of the week:  06/21/2009.  All resources: Catalog.

Bio-Darwinist Beats Up On Psycho-Darwinists   06/26/2009    
June 26, 2009 — Evolution of rape?  No way.  Sharon Begley won’t let the evolutionary psychologists get away with their tales about how rapists, molesters, and cheaters can’t help themselves because evolution made them that way.  The Science Magazine blog Origins seems to be cheering her on.

Science writer Sharon Begley, who in 2007 returned to her old job at Newsweek after 5 years of writing the “Science Journal” column for The Wall Street Journal, has long reported skeptically about anything smacking of biological determinism.  In the 29 June issue of Newsweek, she pens a 4300-word critique of evolutionary psychology, the theory that modern human behavior—including everything from mate choice to child abuse to warfare—is the result of evolutionary adaptations that took place 100,000 or more years ago.  Her piece, titled “Why Do We Rape, Kill and Sleep Around?” concludes, as the subtitle puts it, “The fault, dear Darwin, lies not in our ancestors, but in ourselves.
Origins says that Begley gave the evo-psych people “lumps” and “digs” and “mocking characterizations” in her lengthy response.  Her scientific critique depends, though, on another Darwinian mechanism: “calculations suggest that hunter-gatherers who rape will see their evolutionary fitness go down rather than up because offspring of such violent encounters have a lower chance of surviving or even being born.”  Is that not a determinism of its own?  It seems to be saying gentlemen are favored because of what psychological tendencies were favored by natural selection in their evolutionary past, not because of what lies in themselves.
    Overlooking that contradiction, the Science blog said, “Begley combines detailed scientific argumentation with rapier-sharp digs at evolutionary psychologists.”  She’s relieved that evolutionary psychology has been losing ground among scientists in recent years, but laments the fact that “it remains very popular with the mass media.”  It “represents a very simplistic view of human nature,” she feels.
    For Thornhill and Palmer’s theory on the evolution of rape, see the 07/18/2003 entry.
You can’t fight Darwin with Darwin.  It’s Darwin all the way, dregs and all.  If you believe bio-Darwin made us, you’re stuck with psycho-Darwin as part of the package.
    If Ms. Begley wants to teach men to behave themselves, it won’t work to tell them that their ape-man past favored gentlemen.  Tell that to the jerks in prison.  Will that make them repent?  Teach that to young boys in biology class and see if it motivates them to be nice to girls.  The idea is laughable.  Evolutionists publishing in Science and Nature routinely use game theory to teach that populations tolerate cooperators and cheaters.  Begley’s sermon will have no force against the boy who chooses to go the cheating route, because it’s an evolutionarily stable equilibrium with no moral consequences.  In fact, we could cast Ms Begley as the cooperator and the evolutionary psychologists as the cheaters in an explanatory game devoid of epistemological anchors.  That means her story just refuted itself.
    Selfish, immoral behavior is not a bottom-up problem of evolution, but a top-down problem of rebellion against our Maker.  Men need the fear of God.  They need salvation.  People know what is right.  It’s not Darwin in their genes, but true moral evil in their souls that causes them to violate their consciences.  Done often enough, it turns men into beasts.  “The fault, dear Darwin, lies not in our ancestors, but in ourselves.”  A Bible preacher could say that, but on what basis will Begley justify her anchorless moral platitude?
    Dear Darwin.  Sounds like what the poor, starving, duped North Koreans call their selfish, cheating, molesting, raping, torturing, murdering, world-threatening dictator as they treat him like a god.
Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionPolitics and EthicsTheology
  Can you get metamorphic rocks in just 10 years?  Why not?  See the 06/30/2005 entry, where a geologist admits “we geologists are attuned to thinking in millions of years, whereas the features we observe may be just the aggregations of many shorter events.”

Science Reporters Need to Bark More   06/25/2009    
June 25, 2009 — “Cheerleader or watchdog?”  That’s the title of this week’s editorial in Nature1 opening a feature on science journalism.  Science reporters are an aid to scientists, the editors said, but not just when they convey their findings to the public or help shape public understanding on matters of policy.  They are also an aid when they are skeptical:

And a minority, moving beyond perceived self-interest, will point to the deeper value of journalism, which is to cast a fair but sceptical eye over everything in the public sphere – science included.  This kind of scrutiny is easy for researchers to applaud when a news report questions dodgy statistics, say, or dubious claims about uncertainties in evolution.  It is not so easy when the story takes a critical look at sloppy animal-research practices, overblown claims about climate change or scientists’ conflicts of interest.  But such examinations are to the benefit of the enterprise as a whole: society needs to see science scrutinized as well as regurgitated if it is to give science its trust, and journalists are an essential part of that process.
Apparently skepticism of evolution is not permitted.  The rest of the editorial concerned ways scientists can become more involved with journalism.  Other articles in the special section dealt with issues surrounding the new media (Facebook, Twitter and other internet venues).  Toby Murcott (a journalist with a PhD in science) discussed the tendency among reporters to just regurgitate the press releases.2  A cartoon in the article lampoons a reporter bowing in the presence of an angelic scientist.  That role turns the reporter into “a priest, taking information from a source of authority and communicating it to the congregation” (see authority in the Baloney Detector).  He said,
This perception is reinforced when you compare our role with that of other journalists.  Political journalists, for example, take an active part in the political debate.  They produce expert commentary on the subtleties of the political process, highlighting strengths, weaknesses and potential pitfalls of policy ideas.  They interview politicians as equals, challenging them to explain their ideas and, crucially, picking them up on inconsistencies, contradictions and mistakes.
    These journalists are active participants in the process of knowledge creation in a way that science journalists cannot be, given the qualifications needed to act as an equal in scientific debate.  Although science news reporting can influence science funding and research priorities, science journalists are not players in the scientific process.  Again this is like a priest, who has little or no effect on the activities of the deity itself and who is not actually needed for the deity to continue.
    The ‘priesthood’ model of science journalism needs to be toppled....
How to topple it?  One important way, Murcott explained, would be “if scientists helped to unmask the very human process through which science is produced and reviewed, thus dismantling their church-like roles as unquestionable authorities.”  In addition, reporters need to take the time to get better informed and “be able to interrogate and be critical when necessary, and not feel intimidated by those we are interviewing” (cf. next entry commentary, 06/25/2009).  He said science journalism should not just be restricted to sharing the latest ooh-aah stories and calling everything a “breakthrough” (an overused word) or a “gripping story.”  He said, “Genuine public awareness of science, however, also includes an understanding of how scientific knowledge is crafted.” Scientists know all about this.  “The broader public deserves to know too.”
    One other entry ran with the projection theme of cheerleaders vs watchdogs.3  Boyce Rensberger, a reporter with 32 years experience with outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post, even included cartoons along the theme: one reporter barking at a surprised scientist, and another reporter with pompons cheering him along.  Rensberger summarized the history of how science journalism has progressed from cheerleader to watchdog since the beginning of the 20th century.  Up through the 1940s, he said, reporters often felt it was their job to (1) translate scientific jargon for the masses, and (2) play priest and preacher:
More than that, according to Bruce Lewenstein, a historian of science journalism at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, the handful of science journalists at US newspapers in the 1930s and 1940s believed that it was their job to persuade the public to accept science as the salvation of society (B. V. Lewenstein Public Underst. Sci. 1, 4568; 1992).  This was a vestige of the Progressive Era in American history that spanned the 1890s to the 1920s, in which intellectuals of all stripes believed that society was perfectible and that the wonders of science and technology would lead civilization towards this ideal.
Reporters formed professional associations like those of the scientists (especially the National Association of Science Writers, or NASW).  NASW members presented themselves as elite professionals and convinced the scientists to talk only to them.  “Thus began what I call the ‘Gee-Whiz Age’ of science reporting, in which the emphasis was on the wonders of science and respect for scientists, rather than on any analysis of the work being done or any anticipation of its effects on society.”  Reporters created an aura of “the joy of science for its own sake”.
    The relationship of “trust and respect” took a jolt after the Manhattan Project and the atom bomb.  Another jolt came when Rachel Carson took on the miracle pesticides scientists created in her book, Silent Spring (1962).  Rensberger continued his historical narrative tracing the critical tack reporters took in the 1970s – the “watchdog age” when exposes of nuclear reactor safety problems and stories about the adverse effects of technology became more common.  A brief boom in science journalism occurred from 1978 to 1987 when science magazines and science sections in newspapers surged, then withered.
    Now we are in the Digital Age.  The New Media are grabbing the market long held by traditional media outlets.  With the change has come a new openness to scrutinize the pontifications of the scientific institutions.  “Science journalism has moved from working for the glory of the scientific establishment to taking back its independence and exercising a new responsibility to the public,” Rensberger said.  That can be good, but with traditional sources withering, should scientists take their message to the public directly via the Web?  That can embed an agenda with the message.  “It is becoming increasingly difficult for readers to tell which sources are disinterested and which have an axe to grind.”  Here was this seasoned reporter’s concluding advice: “If science journalists are to regain relevance to society, not only must they master the new media, they must learn enough science to analyse and interpret the findings – including the motives of the funders.  And, as if that were not enough, they must also anticipate the social impacts of potential new technologies while there is still time to make a difference.”
1.  Editorial, “Cheerleader or watchdog?”, Nature 459, 1033 (25 June 2009) | doi:10.1038/4591033a.
2.  Toby Murcott, “Science journalism: Toppling the priesthood,” Nature 459, 1054-1055 (25 June 2009) | doi:10.1038/4591054a.
3.  Boyce Rensberger, “Science journalism: Too close for comfort,” Nature 459, 1055-1056 (25 June 2009) | doi:10.1038/4591055a.
We wish to thank Nature for justifying the existence of Creation-Evolution Headlines.  Other than the Editorial hit-and-run sideswipe at those who report “dubious claims about uncertainties in evolution,” which our astute readers surely saw right through, most of the opinions expressed in this feature were congruent with analyses we have been making for almost nine years: that the major science reporting sites often act like obsequious, fawning toadies for the Darwin Party Establishment.  They regurgitate undigested press releases and fail to ask the kinds of hard questions their colleagues in the Beltway throw at conservative politicians (not at liberals, because there is an unmistakable double standard, especially now, with the mainstream media absolutely euphoric over Obama).  “The ‘priesthood’ model of science journalism needs to be toppled,” Murcott said.  Amen!  Where can you find no-nonsense, bold, critical analysis of the claims emanating from the manufacturers of scientific “knowledge” in near real time?  Right here – and, sadly, few places else.
    The glimmer of hope from LiveScience today (next entry) and the expressions of disgust by journalists about the Missing Link hoopla last month (05/19/2009) need to be fanned into flame.  Hug a reporter who finally gets it, that his or her job is to analyze and critique all truth claims, praising those who are praiseworthy, but unabashedly standing up to any human being, scientist or not, who thinks to tell us what we are, where we came from, and what we should be doing.  The reporter should be shouting, “Prove it!  Where is your evidence?”  Sadly, reporters for a long time were delivering The Word from the authorities without question.  The shabby record of Darwin-licking media that continues today shows there is still a long way to go.  Hopefully after the next surge of Charlie worship in November, after the Origin 150th anniversary celebrations come and go, a period of clear thinking will become possible.
    Did you catch the fact that Murcott and Rensberger described most science journalists as a priesthood?  Did you pause to consider that these are the very reporters who present themselves as unbiased, secular reporters?  Did you also notice that they said that scientific knowledge is “crafted,” not discovered, and that “knowledge creation” is the work of fallible human beings, not a church-like process of delivering pronouncements from unquestionable authorities as if they are the only people able to comprehend the objective facts of nature?  Did you notice that they were complaining about the sad state of affairs in much of science journalism to this day?  It should begin to dawn on you that having a Judeo-Christian worldview as a foundation is not the only position that could be described as religiously motivated
    Breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, where did we come from? and how did this amazing universe come to be?  Everybody cares about that question.  Everybody has an answer to it, and a world view that answer is based on.  Even if the answer is “I dunno” or “I don’t care” or “Nobody knows,” that’s an answer with a world view underlying it.  So if you are being swayed by the DODO blogs (Darwin-Only, Darwin-Only) to believe Darwin-doubters alone are pushing a religious agenda, think about it.  Who isn’t?  Who is perfectly unbiased about origins in the media—or in the whole population of humans?  The issue should not be anyone’s agenda, but the quality of their evidence and reasoning, and their ability to argue that evidence with sound rhetoric and logic.  The evolutionists arrogate to themselves the aura of epistemic privilege due to their assumed tie-in with “science.”  Anyone swayed by that has not been studying Darwinism for very long, nor philosophy of science, either.
    The only ones you should distrust are those who pretend to be neutral – who fail to give you both sides, who misrepresent those with whom they disagree, who fail to reveal their biases, and fail to use critical thinking skills when analyzing the claims they are reporting.  At CEH, you don’t have to take our word for anything.  We give you internet-fast hot links to all the original sources.  We are fiercely independent and intolerant of bluffing.  We receive no funding from the government, scientific institutions, or technology companies.  With our specialty on news related to origins, we do our best to separate the reporting from the commentary.  We try to convey sufficient understanding of scientific and philosophical issues to report them accurately and stimulate your own critical thinking skills.  We’ve got our watchdog Apollos to bark at any baloney he sniffs.  We’re just doing what Nature said science journalism should be doing in this Digital Age.  No membership in the NASW is required (and it would be a sin to follow in the footsteps of those self-serving sycophants).  Hopefully, we have earned (see our Feedback column), and are continuing to earn with each new entry, your continuing trust and support.
Next headline on:  MediaPolitics and Ethics
Salting News with the L Word Life   06/25/2009    
June 25, 2009 — Small amounts of sodium were detected in ice particles erupting from Saturn’s moon Enceladus.  Deduction: this might lower the melting point of underground ice, forming subsurface pockets of liquid water – perhaps an ocean.  Conclusion: Life!  It doesn’t matter that Enceladus has no other factors conducive to life than water, or that salt is generally thought to be a deterrent to the formation of biological molecules (see “No Salt, Please,” 11/23/2007, and “Primordial Soup Cannot Tolerate Salt,” 09/17/2002).  But the slightest mention of possible conditions for life seems to give some science reporters hallucinations.
    The announcements were made in Nature.  One paper described the detection of sodium in ice grains picked up by the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) onboard the Cassini orbiter.1  This paper made only one quick reference to the L word: “Alkaline salt water, together with the observed organic compounds, and the thermal energy obviously present in the south polar region, could provide an environment well suited for the formation of life precursors.”  The second paper, surprisingly, failed to detect sodium in the gas plumes erupted from the small moon.2  That paper said nothing about life.
    John Spencer, Cassini scientist at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), commenting on the two papers in the same issue of Nature,3 explained why evidence for liquid water under Enceladus is interesting: “The chemistry of the plumes is of intense interest not only because it provides a unique opportunity to sample the interior of an icy moon directly, but also because the interior of this particular moon provides a potential habitat for extraterrestrial life.”  He did not say, in other words, that Enceladus has life, or even water, but explained why it would be interesting to detect water, in case this could be seen as a potential habitat for life.  “So the question of whether Enceladus’s internal heat can provide that water, by melting a portion of the ice shell that comprises much of the moon’s bulk, is one of the hot issues in planetary science today.”
    Spencer was less restrained in his statements to the BBC News.  “We need three ingredients for life, as far as we know – liquid water, energy and the basic chemical building blocks – and we seem to have all three at Enceladus, including some fairly complex organic molecules,” he said.  “That’s not to say there is life on Enceladus but certainly the ‘feedstock’ is there for life to use if it does exist.”  Given that the scientific papers said so little about life, one wonders why Spencer made this such a focus.  In fact, the two papers seem somewhat contradictory in their findings.  Even if they can be reconciled by the fact that the vapor would tend to shed its sodium on the way out, scientists disagree on the implications for the moon’s under-surface geology.  The JPL press release shows five competing models for the plumes; some require an ocean, some do not.  The press release also barely mentioned the environment being possibly suitable for “life precursors” if water exists – not a statement that life could actually form and thrive there.
    News reporters, though, took that life reference and ran with it.  The BBC News took the “stunning result” about sodium and said, “It means the Saturnian satellite may be one of the most promising places in the Solar System to search for signs of extraterrestrial life.”  Two stories in Science Daily (Science Daily #1, Science Daily #2) presented the controversy about whether an ocean exists, but both included the L-word.  “The discovery could have implications for the search for extraterrestrial life as well as our understanding of how planetary moons are formed,” the first article said.  Jeanna Bryner on Space.com echoed the line about Enceladus having a suitable environment for life precursors.  Her line got copied by MSNBC News in the subtitle: “Water, other ingredients could provide environment for life precursors.”  National Geographic restrained its report to the question of a liquid water ocean, but the UK Daily Mail cast all caution to the wind, announcing in bold headlines, “Are we alone?  Alien life may be thriving on Saturn’s frozen moon.”  David Derbyshire continued, “The findings, published in the journal Nature, raise the prospect that alien fish and other marine life might have evolved there.”  (See also “Mooning the Public: Life Sells” in the 04/27/2009, and “The Building Blocks of Lie,” 03/19/2008.)
    Apparently this was too much even for Live Science.  A short article was titled, “Claims of Life on Saturn Moon Overstated.”  The article said that the UK Daily Mail article “might sell papers and generate web clicks, but it’s overstated.  What NASA found was strong evidence for a salty ocean under ice on the diminutive moon Enceladus.  No signs of life were found, and in fact even the ocean needs to be confirmed, scientists said.”  It further stated that “Water is a key ingredient for life as we know it, but water in no way means there is life.”  The article written by LiveScience Staff ended by saying “nobody knows if there is life anywhere beyond Earth.”
1.  Postberg, Kempf et al, “Sodium salts in E-ring ice grains from an ocean below the surface of Enceladus,” Nature 459, 1098-1101 (25 June 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08046.
2.  Schneider, Burger et al, “No sodium in the vapour plumes of Enceladus,” Nature 459, 1102-1104 (25 June 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08070.
3.  John Spencer, “Planetary science: Enceladus with a grain of salt,” Nature 459, 1067-1068 (25 June 2009) | doi:10.1038/4591067a.
Hallelujah!  LiveScience got it right.  The normally Darwin-worshipping, creation-ridiculing site said the right things this time: just because water is found, that does not mean life will be found, and no life is known beyond earth.  This should be patently obvious to anyone with common sense, but in this day of Darwin-drunk media, we must be grateful for small signs of progress.  National Geographic also stayed on subject.  They did not swallow Postberg and Spencer’s lure about conditions for life.  They realized that the empirical evidence relates only to the possibility of liquid water under the surface of an icy moon.
    For the rest of you science reporters out there, wise up.  We’re onto your propaganda tricks and they don’t work any more.  The titillating distractions about life are not going to sell papers and fund space missions.  Show your scientific integrity.  Maybe, then, we’ll give you a moment’s attention out of our busy lives on this life-blessed planet.
Update 06/26/2009:  Next day, Space.com posted another story about life on Titan.  “If there is life on Titan it would be very different from that on Earth.  And we don’t know if such life is possible at all.  It’s just speculation,” the speculator said.  How come Darwin Party speculations get published on science news sites, and those of sensible people do not?  Speculation is cheap.  Try ours: “If there is common sense in a Darwinist it would be very different from that in normal people.  And we don’t know if such sense is possible at all.  It’s just speculation.”  Publish that, DODOs.
Next headline on:  MediaSolar SystemOrigin of Life
Raising a Titanic Geological Plateau   06/24/2009    
June 24, 2009 — The Colorado Plateau is a huge region covering parts of four states.  It’s over a mile higher than its surroundings, but its layers are remarkably flat.  How did this region, littered with marine fossils, rise into the sky?  Three American scientists writing in Nature last week believe they have a mechanism:1 it heated from underneath and rose like a cake.
    Explaining a vast heterogeneous region like the Colorado Plateau is tricky.  The plateau includes the Grand Canyon and the other amazing landforms of the Four Corners Region – Bryce Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase, Lake Powell, Petrified Forest, Dinosaur, and numerous other local parks.  There are mountain ranges, sediment layers miles deep, meandering river gorges, faults, volcanoes and areas where strata have been tilted 90° laterally for many miles.  Moreover, this plateau sits within the middle of a tectonic plate.  It’s not at the margins where most of the dramatic geological changes on earth takes place.
    “The forces that drove rock uplift of the low-relief, high-elevation, tectonically stable Colorado Plateau are the subject of long-standing debate,” they acknowledged.  This vast area in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona “experienced ~2 km of rock uplift without significant internal deformation.”  That fact is clearly evident at the lookouts of the Grand Canyon.  Geological layers extend as flat as a pancake as far as the eye can see.  It takes a lot of delicately-balanced force to lift up a region this large without deforming it.  Imagine how you would you try to pick up a Guinness World Record layer cake the size of a city block and keep it from breaking.2
    To try to get a grip on complex systems, scientists employ models.  These allow them to focus on certain aspects they deem important without getting bogged down in details.  The danger is that different scientists may disagree on the salient features needing to be explained.  In addition, uncooperative details cannot be ignored; they might falsify the model.
    Roy, Jordan and Pederson began by pointing out flaws in previous models.  Note: the “Laramide orogeny” is a mountain-building episode that supposedly built the Rockies and other mountain ranges from Alaska to Mexico.  It is presumed to have occurred in the mid-Cenozoic between 80 and 35 million years ago.  Isostasy refers to the floating of crust on mantle; epeirogeny means large-scale crustal deformation.  The Basin and Range province includes the parallel mountain ranges and valleys of Nevada to the west.  The Cenozoic era follows the Cretaceous and is typically dated 65 million years ago to the present.
Previous ideas for Colorado Plateau rock and/or surface uplift fall into four categories: early- to mid-Cenozoic Laramide-orogeny-related shortening; mid- to late-Cenozoic epeirogeny; stream incision, and isostatic responses; and dynamic uplift.  Here we show that even if the contributions from minor Laramide deformation and flexural isostatic responses to extension at the plateau margins and to net Cenozoic erosion are removed, there is >1.6 km of residual rock uplift that must be explained by post-Laramide tectonic processes.  Dynamic uplift mechanisms can drive only 400500 m of this residual amount, leaving approx 1.2 km of unexplained rock uplift.
Then they introduced their model:
We propose thermal perturbation and re-equilibration as a general mechanism for driving rock uplift within plate interiors, particularly in regions of thicker, more depleted lithosphere adjacent to zones of extension, such as the Colorado Plateau.  Our model differs from previous ideas of thermal modification of the Colorado Plateau in that it relies on a post-Laramide process that is triggered by the removal of the Farallon slab and the onset of thinning in the Basin and Range and Rio Grande rift provinces.  We show that thermal perturbation following mid-Tertiary removal of the Farallon slab can account for the majority of the observed rock uplift of the Colorado Plateau and, additionally, that this mechanism explains the observed rates of encroachment of the onset of Cenozoic magmatism onto the plateau.
The bulk of their paper explained the details of their model.  It is important to realize that no model of a historical episode can be proven, or even adequately tested.  At best, scientists can try to find data consistent with it, and see if the overall scenario explains the bulk properties of the system.  A good model should also make predictions.3  These scientists felt that by having a slab of rock slide away under the plateau, leading to increased heating from the mantle, they could explain the 2 km rise.  A model is never the final answer, however.  “Future, more detailed, comparisons with phase relationships in a melting model must incorporate variable chemistry and hydration of source regions and changes in both chemical and thermal buoyancy during and following the mid-Tertiary ignimbrite flare-up,” they said.  They did not return to the observation that the layers are flat and largely undeformed.
1.  Roy, Jordan and Pederson, “Colorado Plateau magmatism and uplift by warming of heterogeneous lithosphere,” Nature 459, 978-982 (18 June 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08052.
2.  Note also that this is just the latest uplift.  Geologists believe this vast area rose and sank several times without significant deformation.  In the Grand Canyon, for instance, the Hermit formation (marine) is very flat along the Bright Angel Trail.  But the Coconino Sandstone, supposedly consisting of petrified sand dunes from a desert, sits just as flat on top of it.  Above those, the Kaibab and Toroweap limestones sit as testaments to another undersea episode.  Thousands of feet of more layers from alternating wet and dry periods are above those.  It stretches credulity to think that these layers bobbed up and down repeatedly without deforming.
3.  The fallacy of “affirming the consequent” renders many predictions dubious: “p predicts q; q occurs; therefore p caused q.”  Just because a prediction is confirmed, it does not guarantee that no other model could account for it.  In fact, there could be an infinite number of other theories that could account for the phenomenon.  This is what caused Karl Popper to jettison prediction as a criterion of science and propose falsification instead (but falsification only lasted a couple of decades before other philosophers discounted its value in science).
One of the things CEH wishes to educate its readers on is how to be a good skeptic.  Laypeople tend to exalt anything published in a scientific paper as something to honor just because it is found in a scientific journal.  You wouldn’t give a politician unqualified honor, so don’t give it to a scientist.  He needs to prove his case.  Learn to be bold.  Examine, test, reason, and question.  Even if you don’t understand all the jargon, you can learn to discern baloney and flawed reasoning.
    Skeptics will find many reasons to doubt this model.  For one, it is married to the geologic column and evolutionary timescale.  This forced them to tie phenomena to an artificial system rather than let the data speak for themselves.  They could not dare to stray outside the paradigm.  Getting something to fit within a paradigm, however, is not the same thing as explaining it in the real world.
    Another problem is that they employed question-begging terms masquerading as scientific explanations.  For instance, look at the term orogeny (mountain-creating).  What made the Rocky Mountains?  Answer: the Laramide Orogeny.  This is equivalent to answering a child’s question about why a ball falls by saying “because of gravity.”  What’s gravity?, the child asks.  Answer: A force that makes balls fall.  Should the kid be satisfied to learn that the ball falls because it falls, or mountains form because mountain-building forces formed them?  But that is how a previous model explained it: the plateau lifted up dynamically because of “dynamic uplift.”  Even a kid would know that’s a dodge.  Giving it a proper name like Laramide doesn’t help.  Example: What ancient people built this cliff dwelling?  Answer: the Anasazi.  Well, since the word Anasazi means “ancient ones,” the answer provides no information, even though it sounds sophisticated.
    Another cause for skepticism is the ad hoc nature of the model.  The scientists imagined a plate slipping under the middle of another plate, that caused heating, and then the whole region rose 2 kilometers.  How convenient.  Have they really explained it, or did they just make up a story to get their model to work?  Another ad hoc speculation not mentioned in this paper but stated in many Grand Canyon guidebooks is that huge time periods are missing between the layers.  The entire Ordovician and Silurian systems are not found in Grand Canyon, for example.  You can take one step on the Bright Angel Trail between conformable layers and they will tell you that you just stepped across 100 million years of “missing” geological time.  What?  The explanation does not rely on empirical evidence, but on the absence of evidence!  There are several places where strata are missing.  Almost a billion years is missing between the Great Unconformity and the overlying Tapeats Sandstone.  No evidence for the erosion that would be expected over such vast periods of time can be found.
    Perhaps the biggest cause for skepticism, though, is the ignoring of important details of the Colorado Plateau that would falsify the theory (see Glittering Generalities).  Their model explained nothing about the lack of deformation.  How could these layers be lifted up 2 kilometers without buckling?  Many strata in the Grand Canyon cover hundreds of square miles – some of them, indeed, extend across much of North America.  This is comparable to a sheet of paper several miles in extent being lifted up without tearing or tilting.  Explaining how these layers could rise and fall over and over without deforming is arguably more important than explaining how they rose at all.  Isn’t that the question they should be asking?  In addition, the lack of erosion between many of the layers should falsify the belief that they were laid down over millions of years.  And the fact that faults and folds extend through all the layers, but don’t stop halfway up, makes the hypothesis of vast time periods implausible.  Numerous other evidences indicate that the strata in the Colorado Plateau must have been laid down rapidly and catastrophically, but these were all completely ignored in their effort to present a model that comports with the secular evolutionary paradigm, only because Charlie & Charlie (Darwin and Lyell) needed lots of time for their slow, gradual processes to build scientists out of slime.
    When reading details of a scientific paper, don’t lose sight of the belief system that generates the explanation.  This explanation was restricted to the secular evolutionary paradigm.  It has no necessary correlation, therefore, to the true history of the world.  Moreover, it did not honestly deal with the alternatives and with many falsifying details.  It ignored voices of anyone outside the paradigm.  Jargon or not, math or not, such self-fulfilling, paradigm-preserving projects should not be honored with the noble name of science.
Next headline on:  GeologyDating Methods
We Know Less Than We Think   06/23/2009    
June 23, 2009 — Strange reports come from science news outlets on occasion that call into question facts we thought we understood.  These raise a question: do we really know what we think we know?
  1. Cutting dinosaurs down to size:  Dinosaurs may have been half as heavy as thought, said Science Daily.  Some paleontologists are claiming that widely-used methods for estimating their mass are flawed.
  2. Life as old as the universe?:  Evolutionists typically date the origin of life on earth after the planets formed, but a story on Space.com asks, “Could Life Be 12 Billion Years Old?”
  3. Weak point:  Microsoft PowerPoint has revolutionized presentations.  The assumption is that it helps communicate.  Not so fast, reported Science Daily.  It might do the opposite and stifle learning.  Experiments showed students learned better without all the fancy graphics.
  4. Ultrahuge lightweights:  Neutrinos are supposed to be among the fleetest, tiniest particles in the particle zoo, but New Scientist reported on conclusions by some UC San Diego astronomers who postulate they could have been stretched in the early stages of the big bang.  Conclusion: some neutrinos might span the universe.
  5. Gravity of the situation:  One would think gravity to be the best-established concept in physics.  New Scientist, though, published a list of seven things about gravity that don’t make sense.
  6. Lawless and timeless:  A cosmologist pondering the ramifications if there is only universe is questioning natural laws and time, according to PhysOrg.  Lee Smolin is the author of The Trouble With Physics.  You may not have thought physics was in trouble, but “Smolin points out why a timeless multiverse means that our laws of physics are no longer determinable from experiment and how the connection between fundamental laws, which are unique and applicable universally from first principles, and effective laws, which hold based on what we can actually observe, becomes unclear.”
  7. Imagining things:  One of the craziest headlines on Live Science recently was this one: “Is the Universe All in Your Mind?”  It probably is for some people, but a quantum physicist reasoned that “reality works the way it does because that’s how our senses and neurons are structured to perceive it.”
When reality itself is a function of the observer, how can anyone do a reality check on anyone else?
Better knock on your skull and see if you are really there.  Then knock on a Darwinist’s skull and ask him why he is so sure evolution is a fact.  Hit hard enough to make a power point without being micro-soft.
Next headline on:  CosmologyDinosaursOrigin of LifeEducationPhysics
  Babies walk in the womb, ultrasound shows.  They also smile, cry, scratch, and get the hiccups as early as 26 weeks.  See the 06/29/2004 entry.

Leading Darwinists Pool Their Speculations   06/22/2009    
June 22, 2009 — The Darwin Bicentennial continued this week with a series of articles in PNAS by leading Darwinists.  The Sackler Colloquium, called “In the Light of Evolution III,” explored the history and impact of Darwin’s theory of evolution, and prospects for the future.  The lead paper said, “Our intent in this Sackler Colloquium has not been to idolize Charles Darwin, but rather to celebrate the field of evolutionary biology that he played such an important role in developing nearly 2 centuries ago.”  The papers are available online without a subscription.  Summaries of certain selections follow.

  1. Avise and Ayala: Two Centuries of Darwin.1  John Avise and Francisco Ayala (UC Irvine) introduced the series with an overview of Darwin’s major ideas (natural selection, artificial selection, and sexual selection) and a perspective on his legacy 150 years after the Origin.  A flavor of their opinion can be found in the first sentence, where they said Darwin’s theory of natural selection “stands as one of the grandest intellectual achievements in the history of science.”  From there, they portrayed him as the Copernicus, Galileo and Newton of biology and the conqueror of the old argument from design for the existence of God.  Then, they introduced the other papers in the colloquium.  They ended on the question of whether evolution should be called Darwinism.  “Our intent in this Sackler Colloquium has not been to idolize Charles Darwin, but rather to celebrate the field of evolutionary biology that he played such an important role in developing nearly 2 centuries ago.”
  2. Ayala: Darwin and the Scientific Method.2  Francisco Ayala explored Darwin’s intersection with trends in philosophy of science.  One theme he emphasized was the “contradiction between Darwin’s methodology and how he described it for public consumption.”  Darwin presented his findings as if they were inductive conclusions in the Baconian tradition.  In fact, Ayala showed, Darwin amassed evidence to support his already settled views.  Darwin claimed in his autobiography that he proceeded “on true Baconian principles and without any theory collected facts on a wholesale scale,” but Ayala argues that the facts are very different from these claims.  Darwin entertained ideas on transmutation of species early after the voyage of the Beagle.  Between then and the publication of the Origin, some 23 years, “Darwin relentlessly pursued empirical evidence to corroborate the evolutionary origin of organisms and to test his theory of natural selection,” Ayala said.  Why the contradiction?  Ayala claimed that one reason was the bad reputation of the word hypothesis in the 19th century.  It conveyed metaphysical speculations without empirical evidence.  Darwin wished to avoid portraying himself operating on a metaphysical foundation.  He wanted to look like the unbiased scientist coming to his conclusions out of the observations alone.  That’s not all:
    There is another reason, a tactical one, Darwin claimed to proceed according to inductive canons: he did not want to be accused of subjective bias in the evaluation of empirical evidence.  Darwin’s true colors are shown in a letter to a young scientist written in 1863: “I would suggest to you the advantage, at present, of being very sparing in introducing theory in your papers (I formerly erred much in Geology in that way); let theory guide your observations, but till your reputation is well established, be sparing of publishing theory.  It makes persons doubt your observations” (ref. 5, vol. 2, p. 323).  Nowadays also, scientists, young or old, often report their work so as to make their hypothesis appear as afterthoughts, conclusions derived from the observations or experiments made, rather than as preconceptions tested by empirical observations designed precisely, as it is most often the case in many scientific disciplines, for the purpose of testing a particular “preconception,” a hypothesis.
    Ayala defended this contradictory behavior of Darwin by explaining that it really is impossible to do any science without preconceptions.  No scientist works by collecting facts without any bias, he said.  Scientists usually have a hypothesis in mind before they collect facts.  They also tend to focus on questions that interest them.   He explored the history of philosophy concerning induction, focusing on Francis Bacon and John Stuart Mill, its biggest promoters.  Ayala showed how induction can never prove a statement or lead to universal truths.  Science must include more than induction.
        From there, Ayala discussed other philosophies of science that competed in the 19th and 20th century.  He explored demarcation criteria that separate science from pseudoscience.  He discussed the fallacies of predictions and the benefits of Popper’s criterion of falsifiability.  Strangely, however, he stopped before Thomas Kuhn, as if philosophy of science ended with the logical positivists.  Ayala ended by portraying Darwin’s theory of natural selection as a triumph of the hypothetico-deductive method.  Darwin presented a theory that was empirically testable, and therefore scientific.
  3. Dennett: Darwin’s “Strange Inversion of Reasoning”.3  Daniel Dennett (Tufts U) began by claiming that the “scientist who made the greatest contribution to philosophy is Charles Darwin.”  He continued with something he has said often, “If I could give a prize for the single best idea anyone ever had, I’d give it to Darwin.”  Thus he made it clear right off the bat this was not going to be a serious critique.  Instead, the crescendo rose to an allargando maestoso:
    In a single stroke Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection united the realm of physics and mechanism on the one hand with the realm of meaning and purpose on the other.  From a Darwinian perspective the continuity between lifeless matter on the one hand and living things and all their activities and products on the other can be glimpsed in outline and explored in detail, not just the strivings of animals and the efficient designs of plants, but human meanings and purposes: art and science itself, and even morality.  When we can see all of our artifacts as fruits on the tree of life, we have achieved a unification of perspective that permits us to gauge both the similarities and differences between a spider web and the World Wide Web, a beaver dam and the Hoover Dam, a nightingale’s nest and “Ode to a Nightingale.”  Darwin’s unifying stroke was revolutionary not just in the breadth of its scope, but in the way it was achieved: in an important sense, it turned everything familiar upside down.
    From there, Dennett attacked those who believed in God and design.  What about this “strange inversion of reasoning” in his title?  The line comes from MacKenzie, a critic of Darwin, who spoke of “Mr. Darwin’s meaning; who, by a strange inversion of reasoning, seems to think Absolute Ignorance fully qualified to take the place of Absolute Wisdom in all of the achievements of creative skill.”  MacKenzie had just complained that Darwin seemed to say that “ in order to make a perfect and beautiful machine, it is not requisite to know how to make it.”  Dennett proceeded to defend that sentence.  He drew on Turing’s theory to argue that you can get design from the bottom up, without an intelligent “skyhook” providing the design from the top down.
        Dennett next began trying to dismantle the arguments of top-down theorists.  “Many people can’t abide Darwin’s strange inversion.  We call them creationists.  They are still looking for skyhooks— “irreducibly complex” features of the biosphere that could not have evolved by Darwinian processes.”  He quickly dismissed the traditional creationists and the “mind creationists” (like John Searle and Roger Penrose) who, though accepting Darwinian theory, believe the mind lies outside its scope.  Dennett gave more attention to the arguments of Jerry Fodor, Thomas Nagel and Alvin Plantinga.  Fodor and Nagel only got a quick treatment for their non-religious critiques of evolution.  Plantinga’s “reductio ad absurdum” critique (that we cannot trust our reason if evolutionary naturalism is true) got lengthier treatment.  Dennett dismissed the premise, though, that our reason is unreliable under Darwinian theory.  The reliability of various organs, he argued, suggests that our minds are also reliable.  “Animals that get it right in general fare better than those whose senses deceive them,” he said.  Next came the heart of his argument that one can rely on the products of natural selection:
    This is adaptationist reasoning, of course, and it is not surprising that creationists of both kinds [full creationists and mind creationists] have typically taken aim at adaptationist thinking in biology, for they see, correctly, that if they can discredit it, they take away the only grounds within biology for assessing the justification or rational acceptability of the deliverances of such organs.  We need to put matters in these “reverse engineering” terms if we are to compare organs with respect to their reliability—and not just their mass or density or use of phosphorus, for instance.  Such an appeal to the power of natural selection to design highly reliable information-gathering organs would be in danger of vicious circularity were it not for the striking confirmations of these achievements of natural selection using independent engineering measures.  The acuity of vision in the eagle and hearing in the owl, the discriminatory powers of electric eels and echolocating bats, and many other cognitive talents in humans and other species have all been objectively measured, for instance.
        It might seem that the skeptics could short-circuit this defense of our natural reliability as truth-trackers by showing that there can be no gradualistic path to truth-tracking.  They could claim that there are no quasi-believers, proto-thinkers, hemisemidemi- understanders; you either have a full-blown mind or you don’t.  This is where Turing’s strange inversion comes usefully into play, for his insight has given us a wealth of undeniable examples of just such partial comprehension: devices that can do all manner of impressive discriminative, predictive, and analytic tasks.  We may insist on calling this competence without comprehension, but, as the competence grows and grows, the declaration that there is no comprehension at all embodied in that competence sounds less and less persuasive.  This is made especially vivid when we reflect that, as we learn more about the nano-technology within our cells, we discover that they themselves contain trillions of protein robots: motor proteins, proof-readers, snippers, and joiners and sentries of all kinds.  It is undeniable that the other necessary competences of life are composable from unliving, uncomprehending parts; why should comprehension itself be the lone exception?
    Dennett argues that living things share their innovations with each other.  He argues for a “crane” (technology sharing) instead of a “skyhook” (a designing intelligence) for the adaptations in life.  He includes humans in his system:
    Is it “metaphorical” to attribute beliefs to birds or chimpanzees?  Should we reserve that term, and many others, for (adult) human beings alone?  This lexical dearth helps to sustain the illusion that there is an unbridgeable gulf between animal minds and human minds—despite the obvious fact that similar quandaries of interpretation afflict us when we turn to young children.  Just when do they exhibit enough prowess in one test or another for us to say, conclusively, that they “have a theory of mind” or understand numbers?  How much do we human beings need to know to understand our own concepts?  There is no good, principled answer to this question.
    So, dodging questions about necessary and sufficient conditions, Dennett feels we can just argue from analogy with endosymbiosis.  The first eukaryotes imbibed their microbe neighbors and a major transformation occurred.  Similarly, “along the path from amoebas and cuckoos to us, there was a major transition with powers to rival the endosymbiotic birth of the eukaryotes: the evolution of language and culture, one of the great cranes of evolution,” he said.  “In both cases, individual organisms were enabled to acquire, rapidly and without tedious trial and error, huge increases in competence designed elsewhere at earlier times.”  He neglected to specify when or where that transition occurred on the path from amoebas to cuckoos to us.  It must have been late in human evolution, because language and culture appeared suddenly (according to evolutionary anthropology) among beings who were anatomically equal or superior to ourselves.  When it occurred, though, it made the “biologically ‘sudden’ Cambrian explosion” look gradual.  Within 10,000 years, the ratio of humans + pets + livestock went from 0.1% of terrestrial vertebrate biomass to 98% (as calculated by MacCready).  Dennett attributed this incredibly rapid explosion in knowledge to “cultural evolution.”  Since then, we got the internet, spam, and all the good things that language enabled.  It’s all part of the evolutionary toolkit that makes itself from the bottom up.
        The grand finale section of Dennett’s paper takes it to the extreme: “Bootstrapping Our Way to Intelligent Design, and Truth.”  Just like man’s ability to improve the straightedge has evolved over time, “Such representations make possible highly efficient, guided, foresighted trajectories in design space.”  From there, Dennett declares victory over Plantinga’s challenge:
    And our indefinitely extendable recursive power of reflection means that not only can we evaluate our progress, but we can evaluate our evaluation methods, and the grounds for relying on evaluation methods, and the grounds for thinking that this iterative process gives us grounds for believing the best fruits of our research, and so forth.  Science is a culturally transmitted and maintained system of truth-tracking that has identified and rectified literally hundreds of imperfections in our animal equipment, and yet it is not itself a skyhook, a gift from God, but a product of adaptations, a fruit on the tree of life.  That is, in outline, the response to Plantinga’s premise.  We have excellent internal evidence for believing that science in general is both reliable and a product of naturalistic forces only—natural selection of genes and natural selection of memes.  An allegiance to naturalism and to current evolutionary theory not only doesn’t undermine the conviction that our scientific beliefs are reliable; it explains them.  Our “godlike” powers of comprehension and imagination do indeed set us apart from even our closest kin, the chimpanzees and bonobos, but these powers we have can all be accounted for on Darwin’s bubble-up theory of creation, clarified by Turing’s own strange—and wonderful—inversion of reasoning.
    A corollary is that we are not perfect truth-trackers, he ended, “but we can evaluate our own shortcomings by using the methods we have so far devised, so we can be confident that we are justified in trusting our methods in the foreseeable future.”  And here’s his stinger at the end of the march of progress begun by Charles Darwin: “It took Darwin to discover that a mindless process created all those reasons.”  The intelligent designer is us.  “We ‘intelligent designers’ are among the effects, not the cause, of all those purposes.”
  4. Ruse: The Darwinian Revolution.4  Michael Ruse (Florida State U) evaluated the “meaning and significance” of the so-called Darwinian Revolution.  How revolutionary was it?  Was there a revolution at all, and was it a Darwinian revolution?  The short answer is in the abstract: “I argue that there was a major change, both scientifically and in a broader metaphysical sense; that Charles Darwin was the major player in the change, although one must qualify the nature and the extent of the change, looking particularly at things in a broader historical context than just as an immediate event; and that the revolution was complex and we need the insights of rather different philosophies of scientific change to capture the whole phenomenon.  In some respects, indeed, the process of analysis is still ongoing and unresolved.”
        Unlike Ayala, Ruse discussed Thomas Kuhn and many other recent thinkers in the history of science – a relatively new discipline sparked by Kuhn’s “engaging and influential” book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962).  Ruse’s article is a back-and-forth romp through the debates about Darwin’s influence and whether or not his ideas should be called revolutionary.  His knowledge of history adds the expected nuances and controversies without coming to much of a firm conclusion.  There’s a lot of “on the other hand” qualifiers for every strong statement.  This example paragraph discusses religion:
    In the Darwinian case there are 2 levels of activity and interest.  Without pretending that the divisions are completely simon-pure, there is the level of science and the level of metaphysics (recognizing that this includes things that might be considered scientific at one end and religious or otherwise ideological at the other end).
        On one hand, there is the scientific theory of evolution through natural selection, the central topic of the OriginOn the other hand, there is what scholars like Robert M. Young, borrowing a title from Thomas Henry Huxley, used to refer to as the debate over “man’s place in nature.”  While today we would never dare to use that kind of language, in essence they got it absolutely right.  At some level, the Darwinian revolution destroyed forever the old picture of humans as somehow miraculously special, symbolically and literally as touched by magic.  Admittedly, to this day Christian fundamentalists (and those of other religions) refuse to accept this, but it is true.  Even if you think that you can still be religious, a Christian even, you have to rethink dramatically, emotionally even more than intellectually, what it means to be a human.  Starting with a certain modesty about ourselves.
    Why should not said modesty include intellectual modesty about our ability to figure out where we came from?  Ruse did not ask that question.  He did raise a number of other things to consider, though: such as how much credit to give to Darwin for the revolution, as opposed to Alfred Russell Wallace, Edward Blyth,4 Robert Chambers, Herbert Spencer and other contemporaries of Darwin.  Ruse agrees that Darwin was the primary influence.  He qualified that, though: “Clearly some nuanced thinking is needed, starting with the fact that there was 150 years of evolutionary thinking before Darwin, including speculations by his own grandfather Erasmus Darwin.”
        Ruse does a lot of name-dropping in the article.  If you want to see vignettes of Cuvier, Hegel, Malthus, Huxley, Owen, Sedgwick, Kelvin, Wilberforce, Dobzhansky, Kuhn, Elliott Sober, Robert Richards and a host of others dead and alive with snippets of their opinions about evolution, the Darwinian Revolution, progressivism, and the debate between formalism and functionalism, they’re all here.5
        But what does Ruse himself think?  In his conclusion, he makes the study of these subjects sound like an open-ended hobby for him: “let us say that a complex phenomenon like the Darwinian revolution demands many levels of understanding.  Blunt instruments will fail us as we try to understand scientific change.  It is necessary to tease strands apart and consider them individually as we try to understand and to assess what is going on.”  Decisiveness is not one of his virtues.
  5. Sober: Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards?6  Elliott Sober (U of Wisconsin, Madison) made a case that Darwin should have emphasized common ancestry first and natural selection second, rather than the other way around. 
    I argue that common ancestry has evidential priority.  Arguments about natural selection often make use of the assumption of common ancestry, whereas arguments for common ancestry do not require the assumption that natural selection has been at work.  In fact, Darwin held that the key evidence for common ancestry comes from characters whose evolution is not caused by natural selection.
    Sober argued that evolution by natural selection is a poor characterization for Darwin’s theory.  For evidence, he pointed to the one illustration in the Origin: the famous branching-tree diagram.  That’s an argument for common ancestry, he said.  Natural selection is incidental to it.  Historically (as Ruse also explained), many early evolutionists leapt onto common ancestry without agreeing that natural selection was the primary explanation, or even a factor at all.  To be a true Darwinian, ignore the evidential priority he gave to natural selection.  Just think like a tree:
    Tree-thinking is central to reasoning about natural selection, both for Darwin and for modern biology.  The reverse dependence is not part of the Darwinian framework, as we learn from Darwin’s Principle.  You do not need to assume that natural selection has been at work to argue for common ancestry; in fact, what Darwin thinks you need to defend hypotheses of common ancestry are traits whose presence cannot be attributed to natural selection.  This is the evidential asymmetry that separates common ancestry from natural selection in his theory.  So, did Darwin write the Origin backwards?  The book is in the right causal order; but evidentially, it is backwards.
  6. Richards: Re-evaluating Darwin’s place in the history of thought.7  The one paper that threatened to diminish Darwin’s glory in his bicentennial year is this one by Robert J. Richards.  Avise and Ayala warned, “Richards presents a revisionary argument that seems likely to be highly controversial.”  His thesis is that Darwin wanted to present a picture of man progressing toward a pinnacle of morality.  That seems opposite the usual picture of Darwin turning man into a natural ape.  Didn’t he turn the tables on the teleology of William Paley and the natural theologians?  Quite the contrary, Richard argues: “Darwin accomplished this revolution, however, not so much by discarding the older framework as by reconstructing from within it.”  He introduces this theme:
    The danger of Darwin’s ideas resides in the extraordinary way he used rather traditional conceptions.  The usual assumption is that Darwin killed those barren virgins of teleology and of purpose, scorned moral interpretations of nature, and strode into the modern world escorting the stylish concepts of modern materialism and secularism.  I believe, on the contrary, that Darwin’s theory preserved nature’s moral purpose and used teleological means of doing so.  Darwinian evolution had the goal of reaching a fixed end, namely man as a moral creature.  This is something Darwin implied in the peroration at the end of the Origin, when in justifying the death and destruction wrought by natural selection, he contended that “the most exalted object we are capable of conceiving” is “the production of the higher animals”.
    To Richards, Darwin thought of natural selection as an “intelligent and compassionate force.”  He took that cue from the guiding hands of animal breeders, who culled the unfit from their herds for the health of the whole.  If man could do this in a short time, could not nature achieve even greater ends over long ages?  “The model by which Darwin attempted to explain to himself the operations of natural selection was that of a very powerful, intelligent being that manifested “forethought” and prescience, as well as moral concern, for the creatures over which it tended,” Richards said.  “Thus, as Darwin initially conceived natural selection, it hardly functioned in a mechanical or machine-like way; rather, it acted as an intelligent and moral force.”  It was a way out of the brutality of nature.  Those that survive the struggle are happy: “the vigorous, the healthy and the happy survive and multiply,” Darwin wrote.
        Did Darwin say such things to assuage the concerns of those who wanted to retain some religious faith with their evolution?  Probably not, but “For Darwin, the conviction of progress was a deeply embedded part of his theory.”  This included the idea (contra Michael Ruse and Stephen Jay Gould) that evolution had a trajectory toward a goal.  Darwin wrote, “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely the production of the higher animals directly follows.”  What higher goal than the human mind?  Richards sees in Darwin a mirror image of Milton who, in Paradise Lost, justified suffering as the path to a higher good.  Evil had an exalted object.  “That most exalted purpose could only be human beings with their moral sentiments,” Richards argued.
        What does that mean for 21st-century Darwinians?  Alas, it seems to be only a historical anecdote.  After the Origin entered the public arena, his friends deflated any exalted notions of progress.  “Darwin gradually came more and more to view the operations of natural selection much as did Huxley and Haeckel [i.e., as purely mechanistic], and in friendly opposition to Gray and Wallace [i.e., as goal-directed],” Richards said.  “At that point, Darwin became a neo-Darwinian.
        Richards’ controversial thesis about Darwin’s early teleology-tinted selectionism, when all is said and done, won’t leave any sermon echoing through the years for today’s evolutionists.  From the 1860s onward, Darwinism would represent materialism, mindlessness, undirectedness, and purposelessness.

1.  John C. Avise and Francisco J. Ayala, “In the light of evolution III: Two centuries of Darwin,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online June 15, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0903381106.
2.  Francisco J. Ayala, “Darwin and the Scientific Method,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online June 15, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0901404106.
3.  Daniel Dennett, “Darwin’s ‘strange inversion of reasoning,’” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online June 15, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0904433106.
4. Ruse mentions something about Blyth that may not be well known: “Edward Blyth (27), with whom Darwin was to have very cordial and helpful correspondence (he actually drew Darwin’s attention to an important earlier essay by Wallace) explicitly denied that his thinking had evolutionary implications.”
5. Ruse likes to tease his evolutionary colleagues at times.  Gently challenging Dennett’s vote on natural selection as the best idea anyone ever had, he quipped, “One could debate this (Plato’s theory of forms gives it a good run for its money), but all will certainly agree that something really big happened around and because of the Origin in 1859.”
6.  Elliott Sober, “Did Darwin write the Origin backwards?”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online June 15, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0901109106.
7.  Robert J. Richards, “Darwin’s place in the history of thought: A reevaluation,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online June 15, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0901111106.
Well, they tried.  This gathering of hard-core Darwinists patting themselves on the back was a hubristic show of farce.  “Our intent has not been to idolize Charles Darwin...”  Too late.
    Dennett tried really hard to wrestle out of the Plantinga hammerlock (see 04/14/2008).  He tried with all his fluff to show that mindless nature can do it all.  He grabbed his bootstraps and pulled with all his might.  He was floating in the air – in his dreams.  Reality check: Dennett didn’t reach back far enough into presuppositional space.  His argument relied on fallacies of analogy and extrapolation, but worse, he didn’t realize he was relying on metaphysics for his explanation.  He was helping himself to all kinds of choice metaphysical concepts by engaging in the very act of explanation: laws of logic, the correspondence theory of truth, sensation, observation, interpretation, explanation, and much more.  In effect, he was building his crane while hanging from the skyhook.  Since his case is hopelessly circular despite his denials of circularity, it carries no more juice than an extension cord plugged into itself. 
    Ayala was guilty of card stacking the history and philosophy that suited his case, but ignoring the many revolutions that occurred after logical positivism collapsed.  Ruse, jovial fellow that he is, has all the nuance of a jellyfish, and all its backbone, too.  He rambles on and on, dropping names everywhere to show he is well-read, but in the end revealing little more than the sophistication of his ignorance.  He will criticize Darwinians to a point but never to endanger his membership in the Darwin Party Cocktail Lounge, where Sober is having a hangover on Dar-wine, rearranging the sequence of two myths as if they will produce a truth.  And Richards?  He played shake a spear at Darwin, but couldn’t throw it.  His final act was “Little Ado About Nothing.”
    In no case did this scholarly colloquium of intellectuals admit to the usual academic requirement for an open marketplace of ideas.  They did not invite Plantinga, Behe, Dembski, or Meyer.  No; they just stayed in their little Darwin Party smoking parlor, inhaling each other’s hot air, convincing each other that their smoke rings were better designed than those of their yawning colleagues.  If these self-congratulating Darwin Cigar aficionados would just stay put in their smoke-filled room, they could all enjoy their lung cancer together.  Unfortunately, their poison leaks out into the media, politics, law, and culture as second-hand smoke, inhaled by the unsuspecting as scientific incense.
Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionIntelligent DesignReligion, Morality and Theology
For Health, Seek a Purpose-Driven Life   06/21/2009    
June 21, 2009 — Elderly people who have a sense of purpose live longer, reported Science Daily.
    Scientists at Rush University Medical Center monitored 1,238 community-living seniors for five years in order to test the hypothesis that purpose in life affects mortality.  “Purpose in life,” explained research leader Patricia Boyle, “reflects the tendency to derive meaning from life’s experiences and be focused and intentional.”  After adjusting for other factors, the team found that persons with a high sense of purpose were half as likely to die during the monitoring period.
    The statistics held across racial differences, income, and other medical conditions.  To flourish, to age successfully, we need to have a sense that our lives matter, the team found.  The study did not factor in religious commitment, but asked participants for their feelings about these statements:
  1. I sometimes feel as if I’ve done all there is to do in life.
  2. I used to set goals for myself, but that now seems like a waste of time.
  3. My daily activities often seem trivial and unimportant to me.
Boyle was excited about the results of the study because it shows that people can take positive steps to improve their well-being.  “Although we think that having a sense of purpose in life is important across the lifespan, measurement of purpose in life in older persons in particular may reveal an enduring sense of meaningfulness and intentionality in life that somehow provides a buffer against negative health outcomes,” she said.
It’s very difficult to account for all the factors in statistical surveys such as this, but it stands to reason that a will to live for a purpose is a healthy attitude.  It doesn’t mean your cancer will not kill you, or that you will necessarily outlive a depressed person, but we should employ all the strategies we can for healthy living.
    A weakness of studies like this is the lack of accounting for the object of purposefulness.  It’s like saying that having faith is good.  Faith in what?  Not all faith is healthy or wise.  Some faith is stupid.  Some is dangerous.  Should we have faith that when we leap out the window we will fly?  The key to healthy purposefulness is having the right object for it.  For a negative example, what if your purpose was to hurt as many people as you can before you die?  or to indulge in all the vain pleasures you can, like some Hollywood movies portray the good life of a terminally ill patient?  It would be hard to consider one’s last breath satisfying if that is all there is to life, and there is no hope beyond.
    How would a sense of purpose evolve?  This study would make no sense in a Darwinian world view.  An evolutionary biologist would have to pity an elderly person believing he or she has purpose.  Why?  Because to an evolutionist, such things are an illusion.  But if that were true, why have a purpose to be a scientist?  Evolutionary “purpose” defeats itself.
    There’s only one purpose that matters: to know Who put you here, and to please Him.  He alone knows what makes us tick.  He wrote the Operations Manual.  He revealed how He is to be found, and what we are supposed to be doing in life.
    Before we can live a healthy purpose-filled life, we have to realize that we have the wrong purpose by default.  We all desire to please ourselves.  We have an innate tendency to choose the wrong path.  We have to turn around, admit our lostness, and receive His pardon purchased by Christ on the cross.  Then we can have confidence that our lives matter.  Paul wrote about this eloquently in I Corinthians 15 (a very appropriate passage for this entry).  This chapter is all about purpose and the justification for purpose.  If Christ did not rise from the dead, Paul said, then we are of all men most pitiable – we should eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die, if the dead are not raised.  But because Christ died and rose again, He can raise us to eternal life with the same power He had in his resurrection.  That eternal life doesn’t start when you die; it begins the moment you trust Him for it.  What’s more, it begins a relationship with your Maker in which you can join in His purpose for the world.  The purpose He gives is not just an emotion or illusion.  It really matters.  Paul concluded, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  When you know your labor is not in vain, you have joy!  You can go at your work with enthusiasm.  That’s healthy.
    Are you elderly and feeling worthless?  Maybe not yet (but see Ecclesiastes 12).  Are you agreeing with those three fatalistic questions the researchers asked?  Consider the Creator’s purpose for you.  Your life matters to him.  Don’t waste your life on earthly things that don’t satisfy (read the book of Ecclesiastes for the ultimate example).  You were made on purpose for purpose.  Even if you are old or infirm, there is always something you can do.  You can pray, for instance.  You can be an example of endurance.  You can encourage others.  Read our online book for a real-life testimony.  When your prayer includes Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, you have solid ground for a meaningful, joyful purpose that will help you flourish in life, and that will outlast the grave.
Next headline on:  HealthBible
06/20/2009 – How important is Creation in the Bible?  The Creation Safaris site provides 1,551 references to creation and nature in a Bible References list.  In addition, the Teacher’s Resource Center offers outlines, topical Bible studies, and a list of Attributes of God Observable in Nature – also available in a color graphic page suitable for printing.  While there, enjoy the Photo Gallery showcasing wonders of creation.
Next resource of the week:  06/13/2009.  All resources: Catalog.

Fishing for Darwinian Stories   06/20/2009    
June 20, 2009 — Stickleback fish can learn from each other where the best food sources are.  This proves you brain’s remarkable learning abilities have their roots in fish heads, according to science news sources this week.  Science Daily said the findings by UK scientists “show that the cognitive mechanisms underlying cumulative cultural evolution may be more prevalent in nonhuman animals than currently believed.”  Live Science used the E-word evolution three times in its coverage.  And the BBC News told its readers that “the findings contribute to the understanding of brain evolution and the types of brain required for certain cognitive functions, both in humans and animals.”
    The Science Daily entry said something that may cast doubt on the common assumption that brain size matters.  “The findings show that big brains, like those in humans, are not necessarily needed as a pre-requisite for cumulative culture.”  What does that say about human evolution research?
    However that controversial question shakes out, the three articles were overcome with awe at how these fish mimic human intelligence.  The BBC News called them the geniuses of the fish world.  Live Science quoted Jeremy Kendal [U of Durham] claiming that with evolution, pressure alone can give rise to wisdom: “What we’re finding is that it’s not necessarily how closely related a species is to the human [that’s the] defining feature of how cognitively complex you might be; it can also be your local ecological circumstances which provide selective pressures favoring evolution of these cognitive facilities.”

If what Kendal said were true, fire would become more intelligent when water is sprayed at it.  Or is he claiming that matter in motion acts differently in life than it does in fire?  On what basis would he propose the distinction?  Vitalism is out in their philosophy.  You can’t produce cognition by putting pressure on atoms and molecules.  You can select out all the non-intelligent atoms you want till the cows come home, putting “selective pressure” on them, and you won’t ever get intelligent molecules.  All you will prove is that it takes intelligence to select things.
    How long will it take before the Darwinians realize they are making utter fools of themselves with their continued storytelling about selective pressures producing all the wonders of biology?  It doesn’t “contribute to the understanding of brain evolution” unless you are already drunk on Dar-wine and having hallucinations.  Drunkards are convinced they are the smartest people in the world.
    Zechariah wrote of a time when false prophets would be too embarrassed to show their faces in public (Zech. 13:2-6).  They wouldn’t wear a prophet’s robe, and they would lie about what they did for a living.  Would that day would come for the Alumni Association of the Darwin Fake Science University.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyEvolutionDumb Ideas
  Learn how the world’s tallest trees pump water from below ground to the top leaves in the 06/26/2003.

Cells Use Cloud Computing   06/19/2009    
June 19, 2009 — “Cloud computing” is the up-and-coming trend in information technology.  It allows processes to run in parallel on multiple networked processors with more robustness, because other processors can pick up the slack if a major server fails.  Scientists are finding that cells have been using this technology all along.
    Science Daily reported on work by biologists in Spain and Israel working with Carnegie Mellon University.  “Gene regulatory networks in cell nuclei are similar to cloud computing networks, such as Google or Yahoo!, researchers report today in the online journal Molecular Systems Biology,” the article began.  “The similarity is that each system keeps working despite the failure of individual components, whether they are master genes or computer processors.”  Later, the article brought in another internet giant: “We now have reason to think of cells as robust computational devices, employing redundancy in the same way that enables large computing systems, such as Amazon, to keep operating despite the fact that servers routinely fail.”
    Cells have master control genes that turn on other genes.  Researchers have been puzzled by experiments in which de-activating these genes one at a time did not interrupt the cell.  It turns out that parallel copies, called paralogs, are able to step in.  Paralogs have more or less sequence similarity to the master genes.  The more similar they are, the more they can fill in for the master gene.  The article explained, “if one of these genes is lost, other ‘parallel’ master genes with similar sequences, called paralogs, often can replace it by turning on the same set of genes.”
    Scientists estimate that 5 to 10 percent of genes are in this master-gene category.  Many diseases are associated with mutations in one or more of these transcription factors, the article said.

All together now: “This article said nothing about evolution.”  It’s such an ingrained pattern (that the more scientific detail, the less Darwin), it is becoming wallpaper.  For fun, make up a just-so story about how this cloud computing technology in the cell came about.  The crazier the better.  You might even get it published by New Scientist, the euphemistic label for Old Materialist.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyAmazing Facts
Dino Fossils Generate Overblown Claims   06/18/2009    
June 18, 2009 — A picture of colorfully-plumed dinosaurs graces an article on National Geographic, but were feathers found with the fossil?  No; the article said, “Primitive feathers may have covered the dinosaur’s body, but there is no direct evidence for that, noted [James] Clark, whose work was funded in part by the National Geographic Society” (which also owns National Geographic News).  The feathers are apparently completely imaginary.  National Geographic has been caught doing this before (see 06/13/2007 and 04/10/2006), inventing feathers out of thin air.  This time, it was justified on the basis of a new paper in Nature that claims to remove an obstacle in the dinosaur-bird evolution story.1  Doubters had pointed to differences in the three forward-pointing toes.  With dinosaurs, it was toes 1, 2 and 3 that were retained; while in birds, it was toes 2, 3 and 4.  The new fossil Limusaurus inextricabilis found in China shows 4 toes:
“So here you have a form that’s reduced the first finger, and it is right in this period of transition in the evolution of theropods,” Clark said.
    The find helps fill in what had been seen as a “chink” in the otherwise widely supported theory that birds descended from dinosaurs, said Hans Dieter Sues, a paleontologist at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History who was not involved in the research.
    “Having a fossil that shows that there are three digits plus this sort of little residual digit ... is almost a perfect structural intermediate” linking theropods and birds, he said.
Perhaps this is why National Geographic felt justified in feathering their artwork.  The paper argues that researchers may have simply mislabeled the digits.  With birds, the developmental stages can be observed; this is not possible with dinosaurs.  The tale of the toes, however, does nothing to remove other chinks in the dinosaur-to-bird theory: namely, theropods have lizard-hips instead of bird-hips, and birds have an immobile femur that is essential to proper function of the unique avian lung (see 06/09/2009).  The present article only relates to how nubs that turn into toes are to be numbered.  PhysOrg used the same paper to tell the “story of finger evolution.”
    National Geographic reported on another fossil dinosaur named Psittacosaurus gobiensis.  Apparently some dinosaurs felt like a nut.  They deduced from the beak and skull that it had the force to crack hard nuts.  Without answering how all the structural changes occurred through an evolutionary mechanism, the article simply stated that evolution happens when the opportunity arises: “animals that take advantage of their environments—in this case, eating what few other animals could—have plentiful resources and are therefore more likely to branch into more species.”  Evolutionarily speaking, good things happen to those who take advantage of their environments.
    Speaking of birds, Live Science and Science Daily talked about how big a bird can get.  Argentavis magnificens was as big as a Cessna airplane.  Scientists think that the limiting factor was how long it took for the bird to molt (i.e., replace its flight feathers, which most birds do annually or semi-annually).  Feathers wear out from exposure to ultraviolet rays and bacteria.  Argentavis, they speculated, might have molted during one long fast each year.  These giant birds seem to exceed the weight limits for feathered flight.  They weighed around 150 pounds and had a wingspan of 23 feet.  The wingspan of today’s largest living flyer, the California condor, is about 10 feet.  The article on Science Daily shows a handsome bald eagle in flight.  Eagle wings can span 90 inches – one-third that of Argentavis, the record holder.
1.  Xu, Clark et al, “A Jurassic ceratosaur from China helps clarify avian digital homologies,” Nature 459, 940-944 (18 June 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08124.
Remember that Darwinians are not above lying and distorting evidence to promote their agenda.  For decades, National Geographic has been adept at misleading the public with the power of suggestion and visualization.  Stay on your toes; forewarned is forewinged.
Next headline on:  DinosaursBirdsFossilsEvolution
  They were doing it seven years ago, too.  The 06/17/2002 entry shows evolutionists discovering more and more complexity in the cell, but making up stories about how it evolved.

What Makes You Human?   06/17/2009    
June 17, 2009 — If you are a war-mongering beast who likes to burn things, you’re displaying your evolutionary past.  That’s what a couple of news reports are claiming.  New Scientist has a review of two books: Fire: The spark that ignited human evolution by Frances D. Burton, and Catching Fire: How cooking made us human by Richard Wrangham.  Saswato R. Das got the message.  He entitled his review, “How Fire Made Us Human.”  Here comes the synopsis in the form of a just-so story:

Anthropologist Frances Burton suggests that taming fire led to the evolution of modern humansMillions of years ago, our ape-like ancestors may have overcome their fear of fire to pick at found delicacies – maybe an animal accidentally cooked in a forest fire.  Over time, they learned how to keep a flame going by feeding it twigs, how to use fire to thwart predators and how to harness it for heat and light.  This familiarity with fire, Burton argues, changed the hormonal cycles that depend on light and darkness: light from nightly bonfires may have caused a change in the nocturnal flow of melatonin.  Over time, this changed the rates and patterns of our ancestors’ growth, and the regulation and activation of genes, leading ultimately to us.
Das did not explain why no apes have been found repeating this experience in recent times.  Regarding the second book, Das said that “Wrangham builds a compelling case” that cooking turned an ape into a human, “although archaeological proof of his theory has yet to be found.”  Das ended with colorful prose: “These fascinating books show how the biological evolution of human beings may not have been a matter of biology alone, and why, as Wrangham writes, ‘we humans are the cooking apes, the creatures of the flame.’”
    Dan Jones wrote for Nature that “War and migration may have shaped human behaviour.”  Reviewing other anthropologists’ work, he explains that make love, not war is a false dilemma: it was making war that led to human altruism.  Here came his just-so story: “intergroup conflict would have been common among our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and estimates that it accounted for roughly 14% of all deaths – much higher than the mortality rate seen in wars of recent history,” he said, without explaining where he got the statistics.  “Under these conditions, [Samuel] Bowles [Santa Fe Institute] shows that even costly group-beneficial altruism and cooperation could be favoured.”  His theory relies on group selection – a controversial theory among evolutionists.  Adam Powell [University College London], by contrast, looks to human migration as most influential for human culture and behavior.  Chris Stringer [Natural History Museum, London] called this a “nice bit of work” but was “not convinced it is the whole story” that explains what makes us human.  None of these evolutionists attempted to explain why warring chimpanzees have not started an Ape Red Cross, let alone built a fire or cooked their meals after all these millions of years.
1.  Dan Jones, “War and migration may have shaped human behavior,” Nature 4 June 2009 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2009.546.
Evolutionary anthropology should not be understood as following the scientific method to achieve conclusions that are observable, testable, repeatable, falsifiable or any of that good stuff you associate with the word science.  No; it is the endless quest for a good story (see 12/22/2003 commentary).  Since the storytelling rules eliminate design as a possibility (see Brett Miller cartoon), you can be sure the stories will be funny.
Next headline on:  Early ManDumb Ideas
Historical Glimpse
Science Daily says that in the 1760s, taxonomist Carl Linnaeus invented the index card, and this changed the way biologists thought about nature.

Plants Use the Perfect Propeller   06/16/2009    
June 16, 2009 — What kid hasn’t played with maple seeds to watch them spin in the air like helicopters?  Scientists watch them, too.  A team from the Netherlands and California found out how they stay in the air for so long without engines to drive them.  One would think in an era of advanced aeronautical engineering the physics would all be worked out, but the abstract explains that the seeds know more than the engineers do:

As they descend, the autorotating seeds of maples and some other trees generate unexpectedly high lift, but how they attain this elevated performance is unknown.  To elucidate the mechanisms responsible, we measured the three-dimensional flow around dynamically scaled models of maple and hornbeam seeds.  Our results indicate that these seeds attain high lift by generating a stable leading-edge vortex (LEV) as they descend.  The compact LEV, which we verified on real specimens, allows maple seeds to remain in the air more effectively than do a variety of nonautorotating seeds. 
The trees involved often grow in nutrient-poor environments, so their seeds rely on wind, updrafts and turbulent gusts to spread out.  They can sometimes fly several kilometers away from the parent tree.
    The team studied three species of maple and one species of hornbeam, because “The seeds from all four of these species are known to generate high lift.”  The seeds start rotating within a meter of detachment.  “They autorotate because the heavy nut, and hence the center of gravity, is located at the base of the wing-shaped seed, they said, emphasizing again how this is partly mysterious: “The stable autorotation of maple and other rotary seeds depends on an interplay between their three-dimensional (3D) inertial and aerodynamic properties, which is not fully understood.”
    Measurements of the seeds in wind tunnels showed that the leading-edge vortex (LEV) is attached at the 25% span location where the sectional lift coefficient is the greatest.  “The stable attachment of the LEV is noteworthy, given that the local angles of attack are well beyond the stall point for conventional aircraft wings and helicopter blades.”  They explain how the stalling that endangers pilots is overcome by the seeds:
Like autorotating seeds, insect wings generate very high lift despite operating at angles of attack well above those that will stall conventional aircraft wings and helicopter blades (11) (Fig. 1D).  Instead of stalling, insect wings generate a prominent leading-edge vortex (LEV), which is known to be responsible for elevating both lift and drag.  Building upon these observations, we hypothesized that autorotating seeds create a LEV that enables them to generate high lift at high angles of attack during their descent.
The authors believe aircraft engineers should go back to the drawing board.  “The enhanced aerodynamic performance of autorotating seeds could inspire the design of more effective autorotating vehicles.”
    As to how this phenomenon arose, the scientists noted that a similar LEV lift-generating principle is employed in the wings of bats, birds, insects and seeds.  To them, this suggested “that the use of LEVs represents a convergent aerodynamic solution in the evolution of flight performance in both animals and plants.”
    For more on Dickinson’s fascinating research on biological flight design, see the 11/20/2006 entry, and especially the 12/08/2003 entry.
1.  Lentink, Dickson, Leeuwen, and Dickinson, “Leading-Edge Vortices Elevate Lift of Autorotating Plant Seeds,” Science, 12 June 2009: Vol. 324. no. 5933, pp. 1438-1440, DOI: 10.1126/science.1174196.
Everything about this article was wonderful except the evolutionary storytelling, which incited wonder of a different kind (see Brett Miller’s treatment of the Convergence Concoction).  Convergence is not an answer; it’s a sidestep.  What should have falsified evolution is turned into a support for it by the hocus-pocus of employing a miracle word.  Aircraft engineers don’t need miracles, they need real-world physics, inspired by nature’s designs.  Keep the materialistic metaphysics out of it.
    A great film on seed dispersal, including stunning images of autorotating seeds, is the Moody Science production Journey of Life.  Take your kids on a walk in the woods where maples grow and play with the seeds.  Make it a teachable moment.  Older kids might want to do a school science project on autorotating seeds.
Next headline on:  PlantsAmazing FactsPhysicsBiomimeticsEvolutionDumb Ideas
Darwinizing Sex Causes Pain   06/15/2009    
June 15, 2009 — Sex brings pleasure to many, but pain to Darwinists.  Why?  Because they can’t figure it out.  Nick Lane is a case in point.  In New Scientist, he wrote,
Sex is the ultimate absurdity.  Forget the hormonal rushes, the sweat and the contorted posturing.  Forget about the heartache, the flowers, the bad poems and the costly divorce, just think about the biology.  It’s nuts.  Cloning makes far more sense.
From there, he spent three pages giving various evolutionary views on the origin of sex.  In the 20th century, sex was the “queen of evolutionary problems.”  What’s it good for?  How did it originate?  None of the standard hypotheses (increasing genetic diversity, providing protection against parasites, it came from mitochondria, it helps spread beneficial mutations) have stood up to scrutiny.  Any benefits seem too costly.
    “Has the mystery of sex been explained at last?” his title teased.  The end of the article should have the answer.  Lane seemed to vote for the view of Otto and Barton.  Their hypothesis requires three parameters: variability in the population, high mutation rates, and strong selection pressures.  How confident is this solution?  It’s hard to see which claims have been verified by empirical evidence:
“Sex improves the efficiency of selection, allowing good genes to recombine away from the junk residing in their genetic backgrounds,” says Otto.  “As the good genes spread, they then carry along the sex genes, beating out the genes for cloning, and often overcoming the costs of sex.”
    Exactly how often these circumstances apply is uncertain.  “It’s still not clear that selective interference gives a strong enough individual advantage to maintain high rates of sex and recombination,” says Barton.  “There needs to be a lot of selection, which is plausible but not definitely established as yet.
Lane took their ball and ran with it.  He thinks the combination of variability, high mutation rates and strong selection is “killer for clones” who are more susceptible to mutations.  “Heavy selection puts a premium on the genes that work, and means beneficial mutations are more likely to be selected at the expense of diversity,” he said.  “And diverse populations have the most to lose whenever there’s a selective sweep for a particular gene in this way.”  Lane did not appeal to any empirical evidence for this, nor did he explain why asexual microbes seem to have been doing pretty well diversity-wise and survival-wise for the history of the planet.
    Somehow, according to Lane, the first eukaryotes went through a period when “As a result of the early gene bombardment from mitochondria, the mutation rate surely shot through the roof” and parasitic introns were invading the genome, leading to high variability.  These statements, though, rely on other evolutionary hypotheses about the origins of mitochondria and introns.  And again, they fail to explain why prokaryotes never faced the triple whammy that he claims caused the eukaryotes to invent sex.  No matter; he moved on to the next queen of evolutionary problems.  For this, he earns Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week (as if the opening quote was not enough).  “Sex was the only answer.  Total sex.  Recombination of genes across all chromosomes.  The big question now is not so much why sex evolved – but how.”
    In a Texas A&M University press release echoed on PhysOrg, Adam Jones gave a confident statement that Darwin explained mate choice via sexual selection.  He said, “we know sexual selection occurs and is very important but there are still many unanswered questions about precisely why and how it works, especially in humans.”  One of those questions may be why homely and fat people continue to get married.  Another may be why some bird species like peacocks show extreme sexual dimorphism, but in others, the males and females look alike.  And can any theory be said to be correct if the questions of how and why remain unanswered?
How many times have we seen Darwinists do this?  Necessity is the mother of invention, so even though they are clueless about how, and have no evidence, they make up a story to have the solution arise miraculously.  They have unfeigned faith that Evolution (capitalized, because She is a Good Fairy in their theology) finds a way to cobble together an invention to meet the necessity.  Be a good coach.  Call foul when you see Illegal Procedure.
Next headline on:  DarwinismGenetics
  Who makes faces?  How do they do it?  Read last year’s 06/17/2008 entry.

How Old Is This Germ?   06/15/2009    
June 15, 2009 — Rip Van Microbe has awakened after 120,000 years, said Live Science without batting an eye.  That’s strange; human observation only goes back 1/12 of that time max.  The bacterium came out of its suspended animation and grew as if nothing had happened.  “Such vigor is partially due to the microbe’s small size, the scientists speculate,” the article said.  “Tiny microbes like this one can also hide more easily from predators and take up residence among ice crystals and in the thin liquid film on those surfaces.”

No scientist would have “speculated” such a thing before.  This could just as easily have falsified the belief that the Greenland location was as old as claimed, but no— evolutionary dating must survive all empirical challenges.  Let’s see if we have a law of nature that has been discovered.  If longevity is inversely proportional to size, flies should outlive humans.  Wrong.  If longevity is a function of ability to hide more easily from predators, gophers should outlive humans.  Wrong.  It seems the only law of nature we have discovered is that Darwinians are incorrigible storytellers.
Next headline on:  Dating Methods
White Supremacist Murderer Was a Social Darwinist   06/14/2009    
June 14, 2009 — David Klinghoffer on Evolution News and Views has pointed out that James von Brunn, the man who murdered guard Tyrone Johns at Washington’s Holocaust Museum on June 10, was motivated by ideas of natural selection and eugenics.  Klinghoffer provided additional information on Belief.Net with quotes from Brunn’s writings.  He also found hundreds of references to natural selection on a neo-Nazi website.
    Klinghoffer was careful to state the Darwin would have repudiated the association this murderer made with his theories.  He asks, though, why the mainstream media have completely ignored the association in their coverage of the murder.  “What’s not reasonable is to give Darwinism’s social influence a special pass, forbidding any mention of it as somehow out of bounds,” he ended.  “Very far from reasonable indeed, it’s nothing less than a cover-up.”
A typical liberal response is the tit-for-tat moral equivalency strategy: i.e., to find another murderer motivated by alleged Christian conservative views (like the recent abortionist murderer).  Keep in mind a couple of important differences.  (1) The chilling body count of victims of state-sponsored genocide in the name of social Darwinism and atheism should put that argument in context (re-read the 11/30/2005 entry; also 12/11/2007).  (2) Compare Jesus and Darwin.  Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no conceivable way to get vigilante murder out of that fountainhead of love.  On the other hand, Darwin portrayed nature (including mankind) as an amoral, unguided, purposeless march of progress toward “fitness” in a cruel, heartless, Malthusian world.  He himself made statements about human breeding of the weak and imbeciles being highly injurious to the human species – statements directly echoed by von Brunn.  Though he would have abhorred racism, murder and totalitarianism in the name of his theory, Darwin was himself a Social Darwinist (see review of new book The Darwin Myth on Evolution News and how some of his followers today still echo the eugenics sentiment Evolution News; see also piece by David Tyler on ARN, “Darwin was an advocate of Social Darwinism”).  In other words, you can derive totalitarian dictatorships and neo-Nazi murderers from natural selection, but you cannot derive vigilante murderers from the teachings of Jesus.  Was not the conservative movement’s outrage against George Tiller, the late-term abortionist, motivated by a love for life – the life of the unborn?  Media bias was once again blatantly evident with commentators tying Tiller’s murderer to conservative Christian influences, but failing to tie von Brunn with Darwinian doctrines.  These are not morally equivalent cases.
Next headline on:  DarwinismPolitics and Ethics
06/13/2009 – Going to the Grand Canyon this summer?  Be sure to order this book ahead of time: Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe.  It has as much information about the rock layers as you could hope for, and makes your appreciation of the canyon much more stimulating (also provides strong good defense against the moyboys; see 09/16/2005).  Steve Austin, PhD geologist, wrote the bulk of the book; some other chapters were contributed by other ICR staff.  This was the textbook used by ICR’s canyon expeditions for years.  It is still the best source for a detailed, comprehensive creationist view of Grand Canyon and its origin, details on the strata, their characteristics, their claimed ages, and for comparative theories about the canyon’s formation.  (Regarding the origin of the canyon, see also Walt Brown’s theory; for another Grand Canyon resource, see Tom Vail’s guidebook).
    Evolutionists will have to admit their story of the canyon is full of holes (e.g., 04/10/2008 and links, 09/16/2005), and some secular geologists have lately been entertaining ideas creationists like Austin and Brown have been proposing for years (e.g., 05/23/2008, 07/22/2002).  Of special interest in the book are the results of Austin’s own research on radiometric ages of Grand Canyon lavas that falsify evolutionary expectations.  Find the book at AIG or CMI.  The latter has some sample pages you can download.
Next resource of the week:  06/06/2009.  All resources: Catalog.

Darwin-Only Advisors Hunker Down to Re-Strategize   06/12/2009    
June 12, 2009 — Strict Darwinian materialists are a minority in the United States, yet they enjoy autocracy in educational policy, complete control of scientific institutions, and nearly complete unquestioned support from the mainstream media.  Nevertheless, they have to face living in a country that is predominantly religious.  Once in awhile they suffer setbacks, like the recent changes in textbook policy in Texas that will require more scrutiny of the claims of evolution.  What do they say amongst themselves when strategizing how to handle the public?

  1. NCSE strategic plan:  Eugenie Scott was interviewed as a Newsmaker in Science last week.1  Yudhijit Bhattacharjee lobbed friendly softballs to her, like How has this battle changed in the past 20 years?, Why has the ID movement survived the 2005 Dover trial?, and What should scientists do to help the cause?  Her answers were those of a general in the strategy room of a war.  Scott said that “The enemy has become more diverse.”  Enemies have spread from K-12 to “community colleges and even 4-year colleges.”  She mentioned “periodic assaults on science standards as we recently saw in Texas,” and the ongoing threats of antievolution legislation.
        Scott used arguments from her standard arsenal, portraying opponents of evolution as those who don’t “understand the nature of a scientific experiment,” but then portrayed evolution as “the big picture.”  She dismissed the Discovery Institute’s “standard creationist arguments” without mentioning any one in particular.
        As for what scientists should do to “help the cause,” Scott said, “Universities need to do a better job of teaching evolution because that’s where high school teachers get their training.  Evolution needs to be brought into every course of biology instead of getting tacked on as a unit to the intro class.”  She did, however, advise against presenting evolution in atheistic terms.  “If a professor were to say that evolution proves there is no God, that’s not just bad philosophy of science, it ensures that a significant number of students will stick their fingers in their ears.”
        Why, then, did Science, in its Origins blog, parade the poetry of Emily Ballou, whose lines mock the Bible and describe how evolutionary thinking caused Charles Darwin to lose his faith?  In that entry, Claire Thomas quoted this line from Ballou’s book as the stinger at the end of the article: You can safely put God to bed now / the way you can’t your daughter anymore. / Tuck the sheets so tight he cannot move / and lock the bedroom door.  (Cf. 07/12/2006).
  2. Texas tech:  Meanwhile, how will evolutionists handle the new rules in Texas?  This week in Science,2 Bhattacharjee continued the discussion by describing how “Authors Scramble to Make Textbooks Conform to Texas Science Standards.”  Before, evolutionary writers like Ken Miller had to work around demands to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolutionary theory (which Miller interpreted to be “unresolved questions” about evolution, not real weaknesses of the evolutionary edifice).  In fact, in the 2004 Dover trial, defense attorneys pointed out that Miller himself had used the phrase “strengths and weaknesses” in his textbook.  That moment in the trial was “more than a little embarrassing,” Bhattacharjee said.  He revealed an inside scuffle between the two anti-creationist generals:
    Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California sees Miller’s earlier revision as a failed “attempt to be clever.”  And she’s worried that history might repeat itself.
        “When you put ‘weaknesses’ and ‘evolution’ in the same line, you reinforce doubts that creationists are trying to sow,” says Scott, whose organization monitors the issue as it plays out in state and local districts.  In fact, Scott was so incensed by the revelation at the Dover trial that she confronted Miller after he testified.  “What were you thinking?” she asked him.
        Miller’s answer, then and now, is not to get too excited.  The new Texas standards leave plenty of room for authors to explain the robustness of evolutionary theory, he says, and that’s precisely what he and his publisher, Prentice Hall, plan to do.  “The advocates of these standards underestimate the strength of the scientific evidence for structures and phenomena that they mistakenly believe evolution cannot account for,” Miller says.  “The new wording is an opportunity to make biology texts even stronger.
    Still, “many scientists view the new version [of the standards] as more insidious than the previous one.” Students must be able to “analyze and evaluate scientific explanations” concerning the complexity of the cell and other areas in which writers claim evolution offers the only explanation – including the “sudden appearance, stasis, and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.”  How’s Miller going to abide by that requirement?  By introducing students to “punctuated equilibria.”  Steve Nowicki, another textbook author, is also planning to work within the new standards in his own way.  “I understand that there may be a political agenda behind the standards, but I am taking them at face value,” he said.  “If a state thinks students need more information to understand evolution, I am happy to provide that.”  What constitutes “more information” is probably the point of contention.
  3. Converting the religious:  In BioScience,3 Douglas Woodhams (U of Zurich) advised his fellow scientists to “frame” arguments for conservation in terms that will motivate “people of faith” to join in efforts to protect biodiversity.  Woodhams, who works with SaveTheFrogs.com, has had to find ways to get religious people in Panama to understand why protecting amphibians is important.  He presumed that their Biblical world view would cause them to believe that “God created nature for unlimited human domination and that nature is passing away and thus lacks any deep value.”  Confronting believers with strictly secular arguments, he feels, is counter-productive.  “Scientists may help convince the religious community of the mandate for biodiversity conservation by pointing the faithful toward their own environmental ethics,” he said.  “Indeed, if scientists appeal to people of faith, our critical information might gain more concerted attention.”  Framing the arguments this way results in a more constructive engagement.
        Woodhams was quick to point out that he did not mean to imply any kind of compromise over epistemology:
    To be clear, I am not suggesting that creationism, intelligent design, or other faith-based theories be supported by scientists.  I am suggesting that science, at its interface with the public, be presented in accessible and socially relevant terms.  Science exists in a value-laden political and social context, and framing our results does not reduce the purity or rigor of the scientific method.  Rather, the frame is merely a decoration to draw attention to the picture.
        Framing science applies to any audience; here I focus on the faith community because it is large and many in it are suspicious of scientific claims.  By emphasizing the moral excellence, the virtue, of biodiversity-conservation recognized by scientists and religious adherents alike, scientists may gain a foot in the door and begin to speak through the crack.  We might influence a large audience that was previously indoctrinated against conservation.
    So in other words, while (like Richard Lewontin said) scientists cannot allow a divine foot in the door, Woodhams is looking for a foot in the door of the “faith community” (as opposed to those who follow the creed of the scientific method) by appealing to their own Scriptures in support of his goals.  He quoted Psalm 104 and other Biblical passages that extol the value of created animals.
        Woodhams expressed agreement with Gould’s strategy of NOMA (non-overlapping magisteria) – the idea that science and religion occupy separate spheres.  What was lacking in his essay, though, was any identification of the grounds of his own “scientific” doctrine of moral excellence, virtue, or environmental ethics.  Who gave the “mandate for biodiversity conservation” in his view?  If it didn’t come from the Bible, did he find it in the Origin of Species by Natural Selection?  Presumably Darwinism has brought more animals to extinction than conserved them.  Nevertheless, his article was framed in stark us-vs-them terms, as if evolutionary biologists are keepers of the heart and soul of conservation ethics.

1.  Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, “Eugenie Scott Toils in Defense of Evolution,” Science, 5 June 2009: Vol. 324. no. 5932, pp. 1250-1251, DOI: 10.1126/science.324_1250b.
2.  Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, “Authors Scramble to Make Textbooks Conform to Texas Science Standards,” Science, 12 June 2009: Vol. 324. no. 5933, p. 1385, DOI: 10.1126/science.324_1385.
3.  Douglas C. Woodhams, “Converting the Religious: Putting Amphibian Conservation in Context,” BioScience, June 2009, 59(6):463-464, doi: 10.1525/bio.2009.59.6.2.
The hypocrisy of the DODO crowd (Darwin-only, Darwin-only) is so obvious one wonders how they can avoid noticing their own reflection.  They claim creationists have a political agenda but they are right in there at every school board meeting, court case and election, trying to push their people and oust the challengers.  They talk about creationist code-phrases but employ scads of their own: NOMA, punctuated equilibria, Dover (as a symbol for the collapse of ID), and “people of faith” as enemies of practitioners of the scientific method, who obviously are as pure in their motives as the new-fallen snow.
    Look who was calling the creationists “enemies” – Eugenie Scott herself, and Yudhijit didn’t bat an eye.  They are at war.  Some tacticians want to shmooze the enemy (like Woodhams), and others want to do battle.  Never is there any shame for their own sins.  Never is there any realization that Darwinism has real weaknesses.  The fossil record?  The complexity of the cell?  The coded information in DNA?  The origin of life?  Those aren’t weaknesses.  Evolution is robust!  Those are just “unresolved questions.”  They even have a magic wand to explain them away.  It does real magic, too.  It produces sudden, unexplained, miraculous innovations of complete new structures and functions without leaving any trace in the fossil record.  It’s called Punctuated Equilibria.  Preach it, bro.
    This people-of-faith vs science dichotomy is phony baloney.  What you see above is the People of Froth (10/13/2005, 09/26/2005) preaching to the People of Fluff (09/09/2008).  Don’t give them power because they will never share it.  It’s DODO all the way in their system of Darwin-Only Public Education (DOPE).
Next headline on:  Evolutionary TheoryEducationBible and Theology
  Saturday is National Get Outdoors day.  In the 06/17/2007 entry, read five reasons why that’s a healthy idea.

This Place Really Has Atmosphere   06/11/2009    
June 11, 2009 — Of all the bodies in the solar system, only eight have a substantial atmosphere.  If you add in those with tenuous atmospheres, you can add in Triton and Mercury, and maybe a few others, till it becomes pedantic to call it an atmosphere if there are only a few short-lived molecules hovering over a moon.  Atmospheres are interesting because they circulate, creating winds and clouds and a host of interesting effects that some scientists spend their entire careers studying (to say nothing of weathermen).  They also can dissipate into space over time.  What does the ambience of gas around a sphere have to do with life, evolution, and dating methods?  Here are some recent reports.

  1. Mercury:  One doesn’t envision the planet Mercury with an atmosphere, but it has a very slight one.  Why it has any is a puzzle.  So close to the sun, any volatiles should have heated up and escaped from its weak gravity.  Science Daily reported, though, that the solar wind supplies a tenuous atmosphere that hangs around a little while.  Charged particles from the sun liberate molecules from the surface in a process called sputtering (a kind of erosion on an atomic scale).  But then, Mercury’s slight magnetic field should keep the solar wind at bay.  The report says that magnetic “tornados” allow solar wind to reach the surface at certain points and times.  The MESSENGER spacecraft found that these “flux transfer events” allow solar wind particles to replenish the thin atmosphere.  Space.com also discussed this story, saying, “For some reason, there are more tornadoes than scientists had anticipated.”
        The sun may not be the only source of gas surrounding this small planet.  Nature this week (June 11) called attention to a recent discovery by MESSENGER of a bright patch on the surface:1 
    Baked by the Sun and blasted by impacts, Mercury is thought to have lost much of its volatile content – such as water vapour and carbon dioxide – early in its history.  But its interior may have been bubblier than thought, according to Laura Kerber of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and her colleagues.  Using observations from the MESSENGER spacecraft, the researchers spotted the remnants of a volcano that they say was driven by explosive magma with high volatile concentrations.
    If the volatiles on Mercury resemble those on Earth, as alleged, this complicates theories on the origin of the planets.  It means “Mercury formed from volatile-rich planetesimals from the outer Solar System that migrated inwards.”
  2. Earth:  The solar wind batters Earth’s atmosphere, too.  Fortunately, our strong magnetic field keeps most of our gas intact.  National Geographic News said, though, that the sun does steal some of our atmosphere.  The same magnetic energy that protects us also funnels some of the solar wind inside, where it gets heated and escapes.  In fact, we’re losing more oxygen and hydrogen than Venus and Mars.  Not to panic, though: estimates show it would last several more billion years.  The article noted that most of Mars’ original atmosphere was probably lost due to the lack of a global magnetic field.
        A planet’s atmosphere is linked to its geology.  Astrobiologists considering conditions for life on other planets need to consider this.  Science Daily reported that without plate tectonics, an atmosphere cannot be sustained.  “If you have plate tectonics, then you can have long-term climate stability, which we think is a prerequisite for life,” said Rory Barnes (University of Washington).  But tectonics can be too severe as well (think Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io).  The close-in habitable zone around red dwarfs has a side effect of generating strong tides and more volcanic activity.  “The planet must be at a distance where tugging from the star’s gravitational field generates tectonics without setting off extreme volcanic activity that resurfaces the planet in too short a time for life to prosper,” the article said.  So now there is a “Tidal Habitable Zone” to worry about.  Barnes said, “Overall, the effect of this work is to reduce the number of habitable environments in the universe, or at least what we have thought of as habitable environments.”
  3. Mars:  A report on Science Daily claims that meteor bombardment might have helped Earth and Mars become more habitable.  How?  by modifying their atmospheres.  Researchers at Imperial College London calculated that impacts during the so-called Late Heavy Bombardment could have delivered 10 billion tonnes of water vapor and carbon dioxide to both Earth and Mars.  Why, then, are the planets so different today?  They claim Mars’ lack of global magnetic field exposed it to erosion by the solar wind.  Also, a decline in volcanic activity cooled the atmosphere so that the remaining water molecules froze out.
        The article from Science Daily mentioned above also speculated about how Mars might become more friendly to life.  “If Mars were to move closer to the sun, the sun’s tidal tugs could possibly restart the tectonics, releasing gases from the core to provide more atmosphere.  If Mars harbors liquid water, at that point it could be habitable for life as we know it.”
        Meanwhile, don’t worry that germs carried by our rovers might be seeding Mars with Earth life.  A story on Astrobiology Magazine says the ultraviolet radiation is intense enough to sterilize everything on the surface.  There’s no escape, even inside salt crystals.  And that’s not the only hazard to life.  Andrew Schuerger, a NASA scientist listed “at least 13 separate factors on Mars that can kill Earth microbes, not counting perchlorate salts uncovered by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander in the polar region of Mars.”  Earth life would be in even more danger from ionizing radiation if it were not for our atmosphere – with its tenuous ozone layer absorbing most of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
  4. Titan:  The atmosphere of Saturn’s giant moon Titan has been in the news a couple of times this month.  For one thing, summer is refusing to leave its south pole.  A press release from JPL’s Cassini Mission summarizes a paper in Nature about this.2  New Scientist said that Titan’s atmosphere is turning out to be “much more complicated than we ever imagined,” according to Henry Roe of Lowell Observatory.  That, he said, is the “real story” that “we’re only just beginning to acknowledge within the field” of atmospheric science.  Science Daily also reported on the latest findings about Titan’s sluggish seasons.  So did Space.com.
That last article on Space.com tossed in the L-word where the others didn’t: “It [Titan] has a thick atmosphere and the right chemistry to support some forms of life,” the article said.  “It actually resembles a frozen version of Earth, several billion years before organisms here began pumping oxygen into our atmosphere.”
1.  Research Highlights, “Planetary Science: Mercurial Mercury,” Nature 459, 755 (11 June 2009) | doi:10.1038/459755c.
2.  Rodriguez et al, “Global circulation as the main source of cloud activity on Titan,” Nature 459, 678-682 (4 June 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08014.
The atmosphere in the Creation Restaurant is nicer.  There’s no hot air.  The well-mannered customers do not emit foul-smelling gas (04/08/2002).  They don’t moan over their gastric pains (05/02/2003 and 08/22/2005 commentary).  You won’t inhale any stale, foul-smelling smoke about life emerging from dust.  There are no rude customers puffing on Charlie brand cigars (02/05/2002) while making up stories about things they never saw.  It’s one big non-smoking section.  Ahhhhh.  Take a deep breath and savor the aroma of a healthy science atmosphere.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating MethodsPhysicsGeologyStarsOrigin of Life
Fighter Jet of the Animal World   06/10/2009    
June 10, 2009 — A male hummingbird in its aerial display achieves speeds proportionally faster than a jet fighter with its afterburners on, reported the BBC News – and that’s on nectar and wings, without jet fuel.  The tiny birds even resemble top-gun fighter jets in the pictures accompanying the article.
    It took a camera shooting 500 frames per second for a US researcher to measure the birds whizzing by at 400 body lengths per second.  That’s faster, too, than a space shuttle re-entry.  National Geographic said that in terms of body lengths per second, this beats out the reigning champion, the peregrine falcon.
Gotta love those animals.  Is your hummingbird feeder out?  Take your kids to see the Navy Blue Angels or Air Force Thunderbirds, then tell them by the backyard feeder about this story.
Next headline on:  BirdsAmazing Facts

Frank & Honest?
“One [implication] that has held central stage in paleoanthropology for two decades is the problem of modernity.  When and how did the modern mind evolve?  Most of the focus in this debate has been on the role language [sic] and symbolism but, as Wadley et al. make clear, there is more to modern cognition than language and the use of symbols.  Indeed, language has proven to be a particularly intractable topic for archaeologists, a point made cogently by Botha.  By focusing on activities that tax reasoning ability and are also visible archaeologically, such as hafting, archaeologists are in a better position to contribute to an understanding of the evolution of the modern mind.  In the current example, Wadley et al. have been able to demonstrate that some elements of modern cognition were in place by 70,000 years ago.”
—Thomas Wynn (U Colorado), trying to explain where the human mind came from and why anatomically modern humans were smart enough to invent a glue to haft their spears supposedly 70,000 years ago (see 05/12/2009), but didn’t develop language or civilization for another 60,000 years (over 6 times all recorded history) – an implication that must be faced to presume that the human mind “evolved” out of non-mind over vast ages.  Source: Commentary in PNAS June 8, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0904369106.

Planets Can’t Grow Past the Electric Fence   06/09/2009    
June 9, 2009 — In the artwork, it looks so simple: dust clumps into planets that grow into nice, orbiting solar systems – like ours.  It’s not so simple when you try to nail down the real physics.  Planet-building models have to contend with a host of variables and barriers to growth (accretion).  Another barrier was discussed in Astrophysical Journal this month:1 the electric barrier.
    Satoshi Okuzumi (Kyoto University) tackled the problem of static electricity among particles trying to accrete into planets.  He specifically worked on the earliest stages, when particles are just microns to millimeters in size.  What happens when cosmic rays add static electricity to the clumps?  Astronomers have been working on planet-building for decades, so it’s surprising so little attention has been paid to this question.  “Although the importance of dust charging is well recognized in the above context, its effect on dust coagulation in protoplanetary disks has been hardly examined.
    What happens is bad news.  The static charge builds up and forms a barrier that repels particles from sticking to each other.  After a lot of math and analysis, he concluded that the particles can’t grow any further.  They “freeze out” and planetesimal growth stops.  Now what?
    Okuzumi suggested that turbulence can overcome the electrostatic barrier.  But this brings more bad news.  For one, the expected turbulence only occurs at 20AU, about the radial distance of Uranus.  So much for Earth and its lovely neighbors.  For another, the turbulence makes the collision rate over three times higher than the threshold past which destruction overtakes accretion.  That won’t work, either.  Here are his two major findings: 

  1. For a wide range of model parameters, the effective cross section for the mutual collision of aggregates is quickly suppressed as the fractal growth proceeds and finally vanishes at a certain aggregate size (Sections 3.2.1 and 3.2.2).  This is due to the strong electrostatic repulsion between aggregates charging negatively on average, and happens much before the collisional compression of aggregates becomes effective.  Both the charge fluctuation and the thermal velocity fluctuation do not help the aggregates to overcome the growth barrier.  Without strong turbulence, the quasi-monodisperse fractal growth is very likely to “freezeout” on its way to the subsequent growth stage.
  2.   Strong ... turbulence will help the aggregates to overcome the above growth barrier (Section 3.2.3).  However, such turbulence is likely to occur only in MRI-active regions, i.e., at outer disk radii or high altitudes (Section 4.3).  Furthermore, it will cause another serious problem—the catastrophic disruption of collided aggregates—in later stages.  These facts suggest that the combination of electric repulsion and collisional disruption may strictly limit the collisional growth of dust aggregates in protoplanetary disks.
That’s what the abstract had warned: “These facts suggest that the combination of electric repulsion and collisional fragmentation would impose a serious limitation on dust growth in protoplanetary disks.
    One doesn’t like to end on a negative note, so he added a final section, “A possible scenario to overcome the electric growth barrier.”  But his “scenario” stretches credibility.  Realizing he had only considered a narrow size distribution of initial particles, he said, “In fact, there may exist some aggregates considerably larger than average-sized ones.”  Sure enough, if you start with the assumption that there were some big clumps to begin with, those might survive the charge barrier and the collision barrier, and continue on growing into planets.  He’s going to work on that problem next.  But wasn’t the origin of the large particles the very problem he was trying to solve? 
1.  Satoshi Okuzumi, “Electric Charging of Dust Aggregates and Its Effect on Dust Coagulation in Interplanetary Disks,” The Astrophysical Journal 698 (2009) 1122, published May 27, 2009; doi:10.1088/0004-637X/698/2/1122.
If you’re not intimidated by equations and jargon, this paper is funny.  It’s another “assume a can opener” joke.  Here he was all set out to tell us how tiny dust particles grow into planets, and in the end, he had to assume that large particles already existed.  Get a charge out of that.  Isn’t that what he does, right here?  “Let us consider a small population of irregularly large aggregates (referred to as "test aggregates") growing with a large population of standard (D ~ 2) fractal aggregates ("field aggregates").  Under this assumption, the kinetic energy of relative motion between test and field aggregates is written as ... ” and off he goes, assuming the existence of the very thing he was trying to prove.  Some whiz-bang math later, he says it again without apology: “Therefore, if there exists an aggregate that is large and compact, it will be able to continue growing by sweeping up smaller "frozen" aggregates.”  Good grief, that is hilarious.  He followed it with a brief return back to reality: “In any case, we expect that the effect of dust charging should qualitatively modify the current scenario of dust growth in protoplanetary disks.”  That’s the evolutionist’s way; a solution exists! – in the future.  “Quick!  Can anybody else concoct a better just-so scenario?”
    Even in the most charitable description of this paper, he has created more problems than he has solved.  Now, the number of lucky dust particles hoping to become lucky mud some day has dwindled considerably.  It’s better to hear true bad news than flawed good news.
    But what about the evolutionist who argues, “We may have problems in our models, but we know planets exist, so they had to form somehow.  At least this guy was using SCIENCE to try to figure out how they came about.”  This is the error of begging the question.  It’s not a matter of science; it’s a matter of assumptions about initial conditions.  Why not assume planets were created?  The disruption of planets into smaller pieces fits the observations and the second law of thermodynamics (the best-attested law in all nature).  Why must we begin with the metaphysical assumption that things always grow from small to complex, and not assume the reverse?  Why not model things from the top down?  Why must we assume naturalism?  It’s not clear that bumping one’s head against the wall of naturalism is healthy, when more elegant solutions exist.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemPhysics
  We called fowl on a duck “missing link” in the 06/16/2006 entry, and Panda’s Thumb tried to ridicule our critique.  Who ducked the issue?

Animals Become Tame with Minor Genetic Changes   06/09/2009    
June 9, 2009 — “In what could be a breakthrough in animal breeding, a team of scientists from Germany, Russia and Sweden have discovered a set of genetic regions responsible for animal tameness,” began a report in Science Daily.  Groups of tame rats and aggressive rats were bred separately, then mated.  Scientists identified genetic regions responsible for the different behaviors.
    The editor of the journal Genetics in which the results were published (June issue) remarked how humans have tamed some animals for thousands of years but have had difficulty with others.  He said it’s not folklore and mythology; “genetics plays a large role in the process, and this research provides a solid scientific explanation of this phenomenon, and offers clues about how genomes can be manipulated to breed tame animals of species once believed to be untamable.”

How difficult would it be for the Creator to alter the behavior of animals toward humans?  The Bible says God put the fear of man into animals after the Flood (Genesis 9:2) and that in the Millennium wild animals will become tame again (Isaiah 11, 65).  Is that just folklore or mythology?  Modern genetics shows there’s a “solid scientific explanation for this phenomenon.”  Compared to inventing an animal in the first place, taming wild animals would be a minor tweak for the Master of Genetics.  This is certainly more plausible than thinking lions and horses are the products of slime and chance.
Next headline on:  MammalsGeneticsBible
Birds Didn’t Evolve from Dinosaurs   06/09/2009    
June 9, 2009 — “The findings add to a growing body of evidence in the past two decades that challenge some of the most widely-held beliefs about animal evolution.”  That statement is not being made by creationists, but by science reporters describing work at Oregon State University that cast new doubt on the idea that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs.  The main idea: their leg bones and lungs are too different.
    Science Daily’s report has a diagram of the skeleton showing how the fixed femur is tied into the avian lung system.  Birds use more oxygen than mammals.  Their flow-through lungs would collapse if the femur moved like it does in mammals, reptiles and dinosaurs.  “It’s really strange that no one realized this before,” said Devon Quick, professor of zoology at OSU, speaking of the tie-in of the femur to the bird lung.  “The position of the thigh bone and muscles in birds is critical to their lung function, which in turn is what gives them enough lung capacity for flight.”
    His colleague John Ruben was equally surprised: “It’s really kind of amazing that after centuries of studying birds and flight we still didn’t understand a basic aspect of bird biology.”  The article began, “The conclusions add to other evolving evidence that may finally force many paleontologists to reconsider their long-held belief that modern birds are the direct descendants of ancient, meat-eating dinosaurs.”  Key paragraphs put this in context:
“For one thing, birds are found earlier in the fossil record than the dinosaurs they are supposed to have descended from,” Ruben said.  “That’s a pretty serious problem, and there are other inconsistencies with the bird-from-dinosaur theories.
    “But one of the primary reasons many scientists kept pointing to birds as having descended from dinosaurs was similarities in their lungs,“ Ruben said.  “However, theropod dinosaurs had a moving femur and therefore could not have had a lung that worked like that in birds.  Their abdominal air sac, if they had one, would have collapsed.  That undercuts a critical piece of supporting evidence for the dinosaur-bird link.
    “A velociraptor did not just sprout feathers at some point and fly off into the sunset,” Ruben said.
For a claim dinosaurs had air sacs, see the 09/29/2008 entry.  The OSU professors are not disbelieving in evolution.  Birds and dinosaurs may have had a more distant common ancestor, they said: “It just seems pretty clear now that birds were evolving all along on their own and did not descend directly from the theropod dinosaurs, which lived many millions of years later.”
    Oregon State has been at the forefront of challenging the dogma: “OSU research on avian biology and physiology was among the first in the nation to begin calling into question the dinosaur-bird link since the 1990s.”  Doubts have also been raised at other institutions.  Why has the story persisted?  For one, “old theories die hard, Ruben said, especially when it comes to some of the most distinctive and romanticized animal species in world history.”  Another reason is museum politics:
“Frankly, there’s a lot of museum politics involved in this, a lot of careers committed to a particular point of view even if new scientific evidence raises questions,” Ruben said.  In some museum displays, he said, the birds-descended-from-dinosaurs evolutionary theory has been portrayed as a largely accepted fact, with an asterisk pointing out in small type that “some scientists disagree.”
    “Our work at OSU used to be pretty much the only asterisk they were talking about,” Ruben said.  “But now there are more asterisks all the time.  That’s part of the process of science.”
That being the case, we can expect heated comeback arguments from those committed to the dominant view.  Nevertheless, they will have to contend with the problem of evolving a fixed femur from dinosaurs who had a moving one – and in a shorter time than the fossil evidence allows.
    The new work was published in the Journal of Morphology and was funded by the National Science Foundation, the article said.  This story was also reported by PhysOrg and E! Science News.  Time will tell if the other major science reporters pick it up.  As of June 10, they did not, but Astrobiology Magazine did.
Sometimes the key to a story is in the asterisks.  The OSU professors should be commended for going against a strong current of dogma in their field.  Notice how many non-evidential factors producing that dogma were pointed out in the article: careers on the line, museum politics, romanticized notions, and old die-hard theories presented as fact.  Those are the same non-evidential factors running rampant throughout King Charles’ domain.  He’s the one that needs to go flying off into the sunset – with velocity.
    The OSU profs saved their skin, though, by still pinching their incense to Caesar, claiming that the mythical “common ancestor” is just a little further back in the record, and that birds were “evolving in parallel” along with the dinosaurs.  That’s all they can do – toss in a few more naturalistic, purposeless, chance miracles to keep the Bearded Buddha shrine operating.  Now the museum workers are going to have to figure out what to do with all those feathers (01/21/2009, 07/09/2008, 06/13/2007, 02/08/2006).  Maybe they can stick them on the wooly mammoths, as caricatured by Tom Weller in Science Made Stupid, a mandatory lesson on how evolutionary stories are propagated
Next headline on:  BirdsDinosaursFossilsEvolution
Mudstones Make Ripples   06/08/2009    
June 8, 2009 — Most of the sediments in the world are mudstones – including shales and clays.  Until recently these were thought to form only in calm, placid seas.  Now, two geologists are continuing to show that they can form in flowing or turbulent water.
    Two years ago, Schieber and Southard burst a paradigm by explaining how mudstones could form in flowing water (see 12/14/2007).  They’ve been experimenting ever since.  In flume experiments, they have found new ways to image what is going on in turbulent muddy water.  Their latest paper in Geology shows that mudstone particles can form ripples, just like sand.1  The particles clump into floccules several millimeters in size.  Even though smaller and lighter than sand, they behave like sand particles – climbing up slopes and avalanching down the lee sides, forming the familiar ripples kids see on the beach as the waves recede.  This happens even though floccules have slight attractions to each other via van der Waals forces.  They behave as if independent particles – just like sand grains.  The authors were also surprised to find that ripple formation occurs even when the mud is highly dilute: “this is remarkable when one considers that floccule ripples consist of as much as 90 vol% water.
    Why is this interesting?  After all, the authors acknowledged that geologists have been studying ripple formation for as long as they have been studying sediments.  “We might therefore think that the topic has been sufficiently exhausted to be of no further interest.”  Consider first how economically important mudstones are:
Fine-grained sedimentary rocks (grain size <62.5 m), commonly known as shales or mudstones, are the most abundant sedimentary rock type.  They contain the bulk of geologic history recorded in sedimentary rocks (Schieber, 1998), and are a key element in organic-matter burial, the global carbon cycle, and the hydraulic isolation of groundwater resources and waste materials.  Economically, they are an important source of hydrocarbons, minerals, and metals (Sethi and Schieber, 1998).  They are susceptible to weathering due to their clay content, and so often appear quite homogeneous to the casual observer.  Because of this, they are much more poorly understood than other types of sedimentary rocks, in spite of their importance.
    An enduring notion about deposition of muds has been that they are deposited mainly in quiet environments that are only intermittently disturbed by weak current activity (e.g., Potter et al., 2005).  Flume experiments have shown, however, that muds can be transported and deposited at current velocities that would also transport and deposit sand (Schieber et al., 2007).  Deposition-prone floccules form over a wide range of experimental conditions, regardless of the exact parameters that drive flocculation in a given experimental run.  Floccule ripples, ranging in height from 2 to 20 mm, and spaced from centimeters to decimeters apart, migrate over the flume bottom and accrete into continuous mud beds at streamwise velocities from 0.1 to 0.26 m/s.
The picture of tiny particles slowly settling to the bottom, producing uniform, homogeneous sediment layers, therefore, can no longer be defended.  Compaction after deposition can mask the turbulent and flowing conditions under which the beds formed.  This means that finely-laminated sediments may not represent cyclic deposition, but could form more quickly under turbulent or flowing conditions.  The authors discussed a paradox about the behavior of mudstone particles and floccules:
There is an apparent paradox in mud sedimentation.  Whereas mud constituents are cohesive and flocculate, floccules made from cohesive particles appear to act noncohesively in transport.  Observation of floccule-ripple migration shows that erosion removes not simply single floccules, but also larger chunks of material.  Once moving, these chunks break up into smaller subunits that presumably reflect the maximum equilibrium floccule diameter for a given level of turbulence (Parthenaides, 1965).  Floccule-ripples migrate significantly slower than sand ripples under comparable conditions.  Thus, cohesive forces between floccules assert themselves once the floccules come to rest next to each other, but they are ineffective as long as the floccules move in turbulent suspension.
OK, maybe you still couldn’t care less how mud particles settle on the bottoms of flumes, the ocean, or your bathtub.  Consider their ending statement: “Because mudstones were long thought to record low-energy conditions of offshore and deeper-water environments, our results suggest that published interpretations of ancient mudstone successions and derived paleoceanographic conditions are in need of reevaluation.”  I.e., here’s another example of “everything you know is wrong.”
1.  Juergen Schieber and John B. Southard, “Bedload transport of mud by floccule ripples—Direct observation of ripple migration processes and their implications,” Geology, June 2009, v. 37, no. 6, p. 483-486, doi:10.1130/G25319A.1.
Go back and read the earlier entry on this topic (see 12/14/2007).  Considering the vast quantities of sedimentary rocks around the world of this type (think major parts of the Grand Canyon), this really is big news.  A lot of geologic dating, fossil interpretation, and economic geology (e.g., oil shale interpretation) could be in for upsets.  The impact of reevaluating most of the geologic record in light of these findings cannot be ignored.
Next headline on:  GeologyDating MethodsPhysics
  Here’s a list of 10 cellular wonders: revisit the 06/14/2005 entry.

Tickle Me Darwin   06/08/2009    
June 8, 2009 — Observation: orangutans seem to laugh when tickled.  Conclusion: humans evolved laughter from our ape past.  This is the story being promoted by the science news outlets.  “At least 10 million years ago, our ancestors may have been laughing it up over the latest stone-age prank or bout of tickling,” announced Live Science.
    New Scientist joined in the laugh fest, saying “Laughter is not uniquely human.... laughter dates back some 10 to 16 million years, to our common ancestor.”  Science Daily aped this story, and as did the BBC News and Nature NewsNational Geographic was tickled with it and even included sound recordings so you could hear the laughter of a bonobo, chimp, gorilla, orangutan and a human child.
    Each of these articles was accompanied by pictures of apes making funny faces – something that should have been known since the old Bonzo movies.  None of the studies claims, though, that the apes laughed at the shaggy man joke.
    National Geographic wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week for these punch lines:

But even the most casual listener can tell a human laugh from an ape laugh.  Davila Ross points out that human laughter has distinct differences from ape laughter, most likely because humans have evolved much more rapidly than apes during the past five million years.
    And at least one great mystery remains: What purpose does ape laughter serve?....
Primates have apparently packed a lot of laughter into the last 10 to 16 million years, but there’s a chance the chuckle originated even earlier: Tickle-induced “laughter” has also been reported in rats.
    The idea remains controversial, but it could suggest that our funny bone evolved much closer to the trunk of mammals’ evolutionary tree.
Maybe those squeaks are funnier than people thought.  But why stop with mammals?  Parakeets seem to tell jokes to each other.  Jungles are filled with screeches and whoops that might be interpreted as one big comedy show.  Isn’t The World’s Funniest Animals one of the most popular shows on Animal Planet?  Robert Roy Britt extended the possibility of laughter to cats and dogs on MSNBC News but seemed to recognize a limit to interpreting the results: “Just because a bee buzzes, that doesn’t mean it’s laughing at you.”
    So this is modern science at work: tickling animals to study the evolution of laughter.  Suggestion: don’t try this on grizzly bears.
The storytelling continues (see 11/22/2005).  It’s an endless joke at our expense.  Don’t be surprised if one of them looks for the laughter gene in bacteria.  Maybe these scientists should analyze why common-sensical people are laughing at them for taking themselves seriously.
Next headline on:  DarwinismEarly ManMammalsDumb Ideas
Discovering Health and Technology in the Human Body   06/07/2009    
June 7, 2009 — Why invent technology from scratch, when the body contains substances that point the way to high tech, and can heal almost like magic?  Several articles show that harnessing the body’s own resources is the wave of the future.
    Umbilical cords were usually tossed into the maternity ward biowaste can, but now they are sources of treasure.  PhysOrg said that gynecologists are now asking new mothers, “After your baby is born, are you willing to donate the umbilical cord to save someone’s life?”  Stem cells from umbilical cords are now collected and saved.  “The cells became part of a rapidly growing national bank of cord blood stem cells waiting to treat patients with leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, aplastic anemia, sickle cell and other diseases.”
    National Geographic reported on the finding that bile acids can form superior fillings for tooth cavities (see 05/28/2009, bullet 2).  These natural ingredients are non-toxic and work well in preliminary tests.
    Another field of cutting-edge engineering is biomimetics: the imitation of nature.  Science Daily reported on a new radio chip that mimics the human ear.  Scientists at MIT intentionally modeled their radio-frequency (RF) device after the cochlea.  “The cochlea quickly gets the big picture of what’s going on in the sound spectrum,” said Rahul Sarpeshkar, an associate professor of electrical engineering.  “The more I started to look at the ear, the more I realized it’s like a super radio with 3,500 parallel channels.”  Their “RF cochlea” may soon be part of the next generation of cell phones and other wireless devices.  New Scientist covered this on June 13.
    In another MIT biomimetics story from PhysOrg, another engineering group is building heat sinks in nanodevices the way cells do – with hierarchical branching networks of carbon nanotubes that resemble a cellular cytoskeleton.  “The template for this thermal material’s design is a living cell, specifically, the hierarchical protein networks that allow a cell’s nucleus to communicate with the cell’s outermost regions.”  This method untangles the spaghetti of current technologies and dissipates heat far more effectively.
    Science reported on advances with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS).1  Results hailed as “fantastic” are leading to miracle cures for difficult diseases like Fanconi anemia, Constance Holden reported for Science Now.  By reprogramming somatic cells, scientists can now create “embryonic-like” stem cells without the ethical concerns.
    Nature’s Editorial in the June 4 issue called for clarity on the Obama stem cell policy, particularly in regard to sources other than discarded embryos from fertility clinics.  These could include unfertilized egg cells and human cloning experiments.  Although Nature did not call for free rein with these sources, the Editors said the draft guidelines should be revisited before long.
    The scientific journals should not just assume their constituents agree with liberalized stem cell policies.  Science (June 5) published one letter from a researcher in Colorado who did not appreciate the assumption.  Constance Holden had written March 13 that “Scientists are breathing a huge sigh of relief” at President Obama’s relaxation of restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.  Susan Boackle wrote to protest: “She should have recognized that not all scientists support embryonic stem cell research and not all are relieved at President Obama’s recent action.”
    Speaking of health, how about mental health?  Psychologists at the University of Rochester once again proved the obvious.  Live Science announced once again, “Happiness has nothing to do with wealth.”  Trying to achieve the American dream only produces anxiety, and a sense of being a pawn in someone else’s game – a feeling of being on a treadmill, missing out on what really matters.  A survey of recent graduates found that the factor that provided the most happiness to them was having the right kind of goals.
The iPS stem-cell revolution appears to have all the potential of great historical advances with wonder drugs and antibiotics.  The research described above owes nothing to Darwin.  The Darwinian angle is using human embryos like chattel, like bits and pieces of biological stuff without intrinsic worth, just playthings for researchers.  The successful research advances capitalize on existing design that scientists are discovering was there all along.  It’s ID science, intelligently pursued, with morality – the honest application of the commandment to love one another.
Next headline on:  HealthHuman BodyCell BiologyBiomimeticsPhysicsPolitics and EthicsIntelligent Design
06/06/2009 – For the International Year of Astronomy 2009, consider the evidence for design in the cosmic order.  Universe by Design by Dr. Danny Faulkner (Master Books, 2004) provides a solid, informed introduction to creation astronomy and cosmology.  This book, in letter-size textbook supplement format, amply illustrated in grayscale drawings, is suitable for high school seniors, undergrads and interested laypersons.  Danny Faulkner (PhD in astronomy and professor at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, is well versed in physics, cosmology and stellar astronomy.  Universe by Design, available from Master Books, is subtitled “An explanation of cosmology and creation.”  Chapters explore relativity, modern physics, big-bang cosmology and alternatives to the big bang (but not planetary science).  An appendix explains how we know what we know about the stars.  Dr. Faulkner evaluates problems with both creation and evolution perspectives fairly.  This thought-provoking book can help you evaluate astronomical claims and evidences from an informed perspective.
Next resource of the week:  05/30/2009.  All resources: Catalog.

Bees’ Knees Bridle the Breeze   06/05/2009    
June 5, 2009 — Bees stabilize their flight in windy conditions by extending their hind legs.  Even though this costs 30% more energy and produces more drag, it provides stabilization against turbulence by increasing their moment of inertia (i.e., their resistance to being flipped over).
    A team of scientists videotaped the insects flying when blasted by powerful bursts of air, Science Daily reported.  “In every case, the bees displayed a side-to-side rolling motion at high flight speeds, negotiating the turbulence by extending their rear legs while in flight.”
    They only studied ten species of bees.  The team thinks this may be a universal skill among other members of their class Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, ants, and sawflies), but are not sure.  There was no mention of evolution in the article, except that one of the scientists is a Harvard evolutionary biologist who said, “we know remarkably little about how animals navigate windy conditions and unpredictable airflows.”

Who taught these bees about physics and aerodynamics?   Did they learn it in Bee’s Knees Flight School?  Did a lucky one figure it out and share the idea with its fellow aces (Lamarckism)?  Did a lucky mutation arise, after trillions of bees fell dead from gusts of wind (neo-Darwinism)?  Did the right engineering solution just emerge (naive Darwinism)?  Those ideas don’t fly, even in hot air.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyPhysicsAmazing Facts
  Evolutionary formula for Cambrian explosions: just add calcium to sea water.  No kidding; see the 06/02/2004 entry.

“Social Brain Hypothesis” Discredited   06/04/2009    
June 4, 2009 — According to evolutionary theory, the extra processing required for living in social groups should make brains bigger.  Not so, found a couple of scientists who looked into the question.  There’s no general correlation.
    According to Live Science, John Finarelli (University of Michigan) and John Flynn (American Museum of Natural History in New York) examined the largest number of species ever – 289 terrestrial carnivores, half of which were fossil species.  The “social brain hypothesis” (i.e., that brains of social animals tend to be bigger) may hold up for the dog family, but that’s about it.  It’s not true for weasels, bears and many other groups.  Some with large brains are non-social, and some social animals do not have proportionally larger brains.  Nature commented briefly on this find in today’s (June 4) issue, calling the old idea a “plausible hypothesis” that has now been “quashed.”  It continued, “The authors suggest that the ‘social brain hypothesis’ falls apart when looking at carnivore groups, extinct and otherwise, beyond modern canids (wolves, jackals, foxes and the like).”
    This undercuts what evolutionists thought they understood about brain size, or encephalization.  Flynn said, “Evolutionary change in encephalization is a widely observed phenomenon, but has been very hard to explain.”  Testing is good, he said, but this idea failed:

Increased brain size may mean different things to different groups, depending on unique evolutionary histories, ecologies, life history attributes etc.,” he said.  “That is to say, it might be that seeking simple, one-size-fits-all explanations across all mammals (or all amniotes [animals such as birds, mammals and reptiles that give birth to young inside eggs]) has been the problem all along.  Nevertheless, seeking general explanations (and then testing them with all available data), within clades or across groups, is a valuable goal of evolutionary studies.”
So explanation is a goal, not an accomplishment here.  Discounting a rule in this case, like saying brain size means different things to different groups, reduces the evolutionary explanation to the “Stuff Happens Law” – no explanation at all (09/15/2008).
    The falsification of the “social brain hypothesis” also undercuts the idea that intelligence is necessarily correlated with brain size increases.  Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute had just relied on brain size increase as a function of intelligence in an article about SETI for Caltech’s Engineering and Science magazine.1  In his always humorous way, Shostak employed encephalization as a principle that evolution tends to produce bigger brains, and thus increased intelligence, over time – because there’s a market for it:
Intelligence does appear to increase with time in some cases.  Above right is a plot by neuroscientist Lori Marino at Emory University that shows an index computed from the ratio of brain size to body size, the so-called encephalization quotient (EQ), for a bunch of species of dolphins and toothed whales over the last 50,000,000 years.  They were all pretty stupid 50,000,000 years ago, but 48,000,000 years later, white-flanked dolphins were the smartest things on the planet.  If you go to the local library and look up “Dolphin Literary Criticism,” it’s all from two million years ago.  Once you get to a certain level of complexity, there’s a niche market for intelligence, and it may get filled.
Flynn and Finarelli would argue that if Shostak had used more groups than just marine mammals, the correlation would have fallen apart.  Shostak’s article was accompanied by a picture of a dude with a photoshop-enlarged head being admired by a woman.  “This guy’s encephalization quotient is off the charts,” the caption reads.  “He’s going to be very popular as a potential mate.”  Maybe that works in captions, but not in the real world.  Real women would probably be grossed out, and his friends would call him a fat-head.  Besides, isn’t the trend in computers to put more processing power in less space?
    Speaking of mate choice, another evolutionary explanation has been discredited on that subject.  Science Daily said that “women may not be so picky after all about choosing a mate.”  A statement in the article makes it sound like evolution debunking has become commonplace: “That finding, of course, is contrary to well established evolutionary explanations about mate selection.”
1.  Seth Shostak, “When Will We Find the Extraterrestrials?”, Engineering and Science (PDF), Volume LXXII, Number 1, June 2009.
Another evolutionary myth has been falsified, and Seth Shostak has been embarrassed again.  Keep up the good work.
Next headline on:  MammalsEvolutionary TheorySETI

New Baloney Detector cartoon by Brett Miller!
Subject this time: INTIMIDATION.  Click “funnies” and enjoy.
Then visit Evident Creation for his Cartoon of the Week!

Science as Tyranny   06/03/2009    
June 3, 2009 — Movements since the late 19th century have employed science as justification for tyrannical ideas.  Ziauddin Sardar wrote in Nature, “Misplaced faith in science, as rational dogma, as the enemy of pessimism, as a theory of salvation, often serves as the glue that binds modernity and fascism together.”1  Could that happen again?
    Sardar, the editor of Futures, was reviewing a new book by Christine Poggi, Inventing Futurism: The Art and Politics of Artificial Optimism (Princeton, 2009).  He began,

A hundred years ago, a group of Italian visionary artists declared war on civilizationRejecting the artwork, poetry, music and architecture of the period, these ‘Futurists’ wanted to create the world anew.  Science and technology formed the building blocks of their brave new world, which they expressed not just in art but in violence and naked nationalism.  In Inventing Futurism, art historian Christine Poggi describes how the Futurist movement’s raw passion for technology was moulded by the atmosphere of political foreboding of the times.
Sardar contrasted those radicals with today’s futurists.  “Futurists today forecast how science and technology will change our lives, and predict alternative paths.... By contrast, the Italian Futurists rejected everything that was old.  They were determined to destroy the existing order and desired a future in which speed and technology represented the absolute triumph of man over nature.  They glorified electricity, the car, the aeroplane and the industrial city.  They despised women, the human body and the idea of a peaceful coexistence.”  He quotes the “godfather” of this movement, Tommaso Marinetti, to give a flavor of the attitude of these people:
“We want to free this land,” Marinetti wrote, “from its smelly gangrene of professors, archaeologists, tourist guides and antiquarians ... the numberless museums that cover her like so many graveyards.”  He urged his readers to set fire to library shelves and to flood museums.  “Take up your pickaxes ... and wreck, wreck the venerable cities, pitilessly!  Art, in fact, can be nothing but violence, cruelty, and injustice.”  Marinetti saw science as a modern, virile enterprise to be pursued at all costs, and technology as the instrument that would usher the world into sunlight with velocity and violence.  A mythical struggle had to be waged between the masculine forces of science and technology, represented by the sea, and the seductive feminine power of the stars that prevented civilization from advancing forwards.
Talk about hate speech; these people glorified war and envisioned a merger of man and machine.  Their art portrayed landscapes and bodies merged with technology to depict “religion of velocity.”  They depicted “bold, spectacular images of geometric masses, symbolic of the dawning of a new age.”  It was at once anti-intellectual and anti-human, yet strangely pro-science and steeped in the idea of progress. 
The visions and concerns of the Futurists, Poggi tells us in this difficult, sometimes frightening but always illuminating study, emerged out of the uncertainty and confusion produced by modernity.  Their artificial optimism sought to produce a philosophy for a new life, not just new art or architecture.  It is not surprising that the Futurists saw an echo of excessive nationalism in their notion of modernist violence and war.
This movement was active from the early 1900s into the era between the World Wars.  Memories of what actually happened in Italy and Germany are inescapable.
    The dark side of scientism got a brief mention in Science.2  William Shockley would be honored by most people as a Nobel laureate and co-inventor of the transistor – if that is all they knew about him.  “However, he also proclaimed the intellectual inferiority of black people and favored voluntary sterilization for people with low IQs.”  In other words, he was a eugenicist.  People in Auburn, California are angry about a park being named after him. 
Environmentalists want the park, but social activists are up in arms.  “I don’t want to honor a despicable man,” says Karen Tajbl, chair of the social action committee of the Sierra Foothills Unitarian Universalist Church.  Tajbl points out that last year in Sacramento, the citizens “cleansed” the name of Charles M. Goethe, a philanthropist but also founder of the Eugenics Society of Northern California, from several public places.
Eugenics was very popular among scientific elites in the first half of the 20th century – till it got a bad name from the horrors of Nazism.  Before that, they felt it was a way to further human evolution scientifically – to live according to Nature’s law of the survival of the fittest.
    Have we outgrown the days of eugenics and radical scientific futurism?  Another book review in Nature in the same issue looked to our scientific future.3  Michael Goldman (San Francisco State U) reviewed What’s Next?  Dispatches On the Future of Science by Max Brockman (Vintage Press, 2009), a collection of essays by young scientists on what they think the future holds.  A notable aspect of the book is its emphasis on materialistic psychology:
A pervasive theme in the book, which is heavily slanted toward psychology, is the scientific basis for ethical behaviour.  Neuroscientist Christian Keysers explains that mirror neurons are activated when we perform certain activities, and when we watch others do those same activities: “The emotions of others are contagious because our brain activates our own emotions at the sight of them.”  This facilitates both learning and empathy.  “Our brain,” he concludes, “is ethical by design.”
But are these ethics rooted in moral absolutes?  No; it appears that the authors strive to ground their views of ethics in neuroscience and evolutionary history.  A hint of a future eugenics revival is found in the following paragraph, where Hippocratic oaths take a back seat to pragmatics in the name of Evolution:
Philosopher Nick Bostrom tackles human enhancement.  He is concerned because humans “are a marvel of evolved complexity”, something with which we tamper at our own risk.  So he proposes a “rule of thumb, for identifying promising human enhancements”.  Bostrom sees some of our limitations as resulting from selection pressures that no longer exist for most humans.  Today, for instance, we can feed the higher metabolic demands of a larger brain, whereas in our recent past, we could not.  We might also overcome evolutionary restrictions.  Bostrom suggests that genetic ‘medication’ could be administered to confer an advantage, such as the protection a mutant haemoglobin gene offers against malaria in people with the sickle-cell trait.  Alternatively, embryo screening could promote favourable genetic profiles.  Thus, Bostrom sees the morality of human enhancement as an issue of what is achievable rather than what is acceptable.  His heuristic is useful from the scientific point of view, offering us a test for whether we should even consider a particular kind of enhancement, but it probably won’t be accepted by the ethics community....
Those darn ethicists.  They always get in the way of progress.  Hasn’t science already determined that our differences in beliefs, and our Big Ideas, are just chemical? 
Psychologist Matthew D. Lieberman believes that some ideas are more ‘sticky’ than others, and that the ideas that persist differ from one cultural group to another.  He argues that “Big Ideas sometimes match the structure and function of the human brain such that the brain causes us to see the world in ways that make it virtually impossible not to believe them.”  Lieberman thinks that East Asian cultures stress interconnectedness among individuals, whereas Western Europeans tend to be more independent.  He suggests that this tendency might be genetically influenced by a serotonin transporter gene, found twice in its ‘short’ variant in two-thirds of East Asians, but in only one-fifth of Western Europeans.  “These cultural Big Ideas appear to have migrated until they found the populations with the right neurochemistry to make them sticky,” Lieberman says.
While failing to consider whether his opinions just expressed are chemically based, Lieberman appears to be opening the door for genetic modification of individuals who don’t believe the politically acceptable things.  After all, a little extra serotonin, or some gene modification for the victims with the wrong version of the gene, is certainly “an issue of what is achievable rather than what is acceptable.”  Goldman, the reviewer, did not comment on that loophole, or take issue with its premise.
1.  Ziauddin Sardar, “An Italian vision of a scientific Utopia,” Nature 459, 510-511 (28 May 2009) | doi:10.1038/459510a.
2.  Random Samples, “Shockley Dilemma,” Science, Volume 324, Number 5931, Issue of 29 May 2009.
3.  Michael A. Goldman, “A limited view of the future,” Nature 459, 511-512 (28 May 2009) | doi:10.1038/459511a.
If you are not terrified of the Darwin-drunk scientific elitists, you should be.  In America, they are drooling over the new prestige the current administration is granting to “science” (which means liberal scientific establishment institutions, as distinguished from the unbiased pursuit of knowledge).  Today’s scientific futurists, who root their morality in the same Darwinist ideology that was rampant among futurists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, would love nothing better than to play the elite oligarchy directing the fate of every human being on the planet (themselves exempted).
    Morality to the materialistic evolutionists is something that can be chemically or genetically controlled.  We are the results of selection pressures from our past that can be influenced with science, they say.  Ethics becomes what they say it is, because they have ruled out any unchanging, absolute foundation for ethics.  You can be sure that the Italian futurists pictured themselves as the most ethical people in the world, as did William Shockley.  So what if a certain lady’s genetic predisposition was to consider him a despicable person?  Adjust her serotonin level and she will come around.
    Everyone should get a copy of a lecture series called Utopia and Terror in the 20th Century by Vejas Liulevicius from The Teaching Company and listen to it carefully.  Horrific as the events are he describes, he actually understates their awfulness.  As you listen, note the influence of Darwinian thinking on the worst totalitarian dictators.  Darwinian ideology has contributed to the most ruthless horrors in the history of the world, resulting in a body count that outstrips any number of religious wars you want to list by orders of magnitude.  These atrocities all occurred within the 20th century, “Darwin’s century,” within the memory of people alive today.  Millions of white crosses in military cemeteries don’t lie: ideas have consequences.*
    Would that leaders had listened to J. Gresham Machen who warned at the coming storm before the first World War, “What is today matter of academic speculation begins tomorrow to move armies and pull down empires.  In that second stage, it has gone too far to be combatted; the time to stop it was when it was still a matter of impassionate debate.”  We have another chance today.
*Not forgetting the millions in unmarked mass graves.  Remember the 11/30/2005 entry.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsDarwin and Evolutionary Theory
Evolution As Catch-All Explanation   06/03/2009    
June 3, 2009 — If you were taught a precise definition of neo-Darwinism in school, it doesn’t seem to matter to many evolutionists in the media.  In practice, the word “Evolution” seems to act as a catch-all category for explaining anything and everything – whether or not random mutation and natural selection were involved.  Some purpose and design can even be tossed into the mix as long as Evolution is the hero of the story.  Here are some recent examples of how Evolution is employed to explain whatever:
  1. Evolution the tool user:  “Evolution has a ‘toolkit’ and when it needs to do a particular job, such as see light, it uses the same toolkit again and again.”  These are the words of Margaret McFall-Ngai [U of Wisconsin-Madison] in Science Daily, explaining why squid can sense light through their light-emitting organs.  The article explained that “molecular machinery” is involved – tangible evidence not of design, but that Evolution has been at work with its toolkit.
  2. Guppy race:  Evolution is slow and gradual – except when it is fast and furious.  “What’s the secret to surviving during times of environmental change?” asked Science Daily.  “Evolve...quickly.”  (This sounds like a version of the bumper sticker, “Evolve or perish.”)  Guppies in Trinidad have apparently altered their reproductive habits in just eight years when transplanted to different streams – one with more predators, one with fewer.  How this constitutes evolution when the reproductive apparatus was the same before and after was not explained, but “fitness differences” were defined in terms of survival rate (see 10/30/2002, “Fitness for Dummies”).  Surprisingly, after 150 years of Darwinism, “This is one of only a few studies to look at adaptation and survival in a wild population,” the article said.
  3. Spanish hominid:  Evolution got the credit for a fossil monkey with “modern facial features,”  The face and jaw, found in Spain and said to be 12 million years old, “sheds important new light on the evolutionary development of hominids, including orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and humans,” the article in Science Daily said.  Less prominent coverage was given to the puzzle about this muzzle.  This fossil, named Anoiapithecus, has a flat face.  The only primates with a similar face are in the genus Homo (which includes us; see 05/27/2009).  More recent apes than Anoiapithecus, though (supposedly our closest ancestors) have a much more protruding jaw.  Evolution takes credit (08/24/2007) nonetheless: “the similarity might be a case of evolutionary convergence, where two species evolving separately share common features.”  This fossil also throws a monkey wrench (so to speak) into the “out of Africa” hypothesis favored among paleoanthropologists.  Instead, this argues for a more controversial “into Africa” hypothesis (see New Scientist) – something that might make Europeans feel superior once again as being in the forefront of human evolution.
  4. Mosquitos vs. turtles:  Who will win the evolutionary arms race in the Galapagos?  The mosquitos or the giant tortoises?  Science Daily seems alarmed about the danger to the long-time residents that are so popular with tourists: “Mosquito Evolution Spells Trouble For Galapagos Wildlife,” the article announced.  It said that an “ancient” mosquito population came to the islands 200,000 years ago and has recently developed a taste for tortoise blood.  Park officials are very concerned that diseases that could be introduced by tourists could spread to the island inhabitants, so they are taking precautions by spraying the interiors of planes arriving on the islands.  “It is absolutely vital that these control measures are maintained and carried out rigorously, otherwise the consequences could be very serious indeed,” a scientist said.  He did not explain why there should be a cause for concern, since all of the inhabitants of the islands supposedly evolved according to a well-known evolutionary dogma: the founder principle (see 05/08/2002 and 02/10/2009, bullet 4).  Are they ranking the organisms according to some arbitrary rule?  Are they claiming that human beings have some special stewardship responsibility over the animal kingdom?
  5. Saved by the junk:  Functional “junk DNA” has been an argument against evolution, but they have found a way to turn it into an argument for evolution.  PhysOrg printed a story that now claims junk DNA is vital to an animal’s survival – and therefore its evolution – because it allows an organism to adapt quickly.  Tandem repeats (once a category of junk DNA) have been found to influence the activity of neighboring genes.  This means they “may allow organisms to tune the activity of genes to match changing environments – a vital principle for survival in the endless evolutionary race.”  Researchers explained, “If this was the real world, only cells with the repeats would be able to swiftly adapt to changes, thereby beating their repeat-less counterparts in the game of evolution.  Their junk DNA saved their lives.”  They did not say who is playing the game or who wrote the game in the first place.
  6. Animorals:  Animals can tell right from wrong, claimed The Telegraph.  “Until recently, humans were thought to be the only species to experience complex emotions and have a sense of morality,” the article by Richard Gray said.  “But Prof Marc Bekoff, an ecologist at University of Colorado, Boulder, believes that morals are ‘hard-wired’ into the brains of all mammals and provide the ‘social glue’ that allow often aggressive and competitive animals to live together in groups.”  Gray did not explain what the moral standard was by which to judge moral behavior, nor why social glue is a good thing.  Some aggressive and competitive animals are loners.  If morality is hard-wired, is it really morality?  Who is the judge?
  7. Say what?  One article on Science Daily claim that a genetic change to the language-related FOXP2 gene in mice to make them mimic the human form of the gene speaks “volumes about our evolutionary past” (Note: the mice do not talk; they just squeak a little differently.)  Presumably, “Those differences offer a window into the evolution of speech and language capacity in the human brain.”  The scientists involved admitted that “Currently, one can only speculate about the role these effects may have played during human evolution.”  But then, another Science Daily four days earlier had announced, “More Genetic Differences Between Mice And Humans Than Previously Thought.”  It further claimed that some of the newly-analyzed mouse genes are “evolving at an unusually rapid pace, probably as a result of an evolutionary ‘arms race’ among mice and their reproductive cells.”
  8. Small talk on cars:  Evolution even applies to car companies.  That’s the point Meredith Small tried to make on Live Science.  Her article, “How Evolution Could Sink (or Save) GM,” contained the following statement, reminiscent of Rockefeller-era social Darwinism: “It would seem that the country should act as a collative [sic; collective?] and care about this,” (i.e., the bankruptcy of General Motors).  “But the reality is that capitalism is like evolution by natural selection, and natural selection can be a harsh reality.”  Taking the edge off, she launched into a discussion about group selection as a possible offset to the ruthlessness of natural selection.  But group selection, she said, doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.  Why should we care about the job losses of people we don’t even know?  She quoted Bobbi Lowe (U of Michigan) who believes “humans are not well designed to operate” by caring for distant members of our species.  We only care about close kin, because that was “critical in our ancestral past when humans lived in small groups,” she explained.  “We also don’t plan well for the future because our hominid history was marked by uncontrollable, unpredictable environments.”  This seems to ignore the many people (and birds and squirrels and ants) who are good long-term planners.  Giving Lowe the mike, Small continued,
    We evolved to strive for resources and seldom, if ever, found ourselves evolutionarily ‘rewarded’ for conscious restraint,” Lowe has written.  Instead, she claims, humans are designed by evolution to work well on the short-term, and forget about the more global view on conserving anything because we just can’t do it.”
    That seems a pretty broad-brush characterization of the human race.  It also raises the question of how evolution could “design” anything.  Meredith Small failed to distinguish between human design and blind forces of nature, so for the above quotes and the following, she wins a well-deserved SEQOTW prize:
    There are many forces of evolution, but natural selection, biologists feel, is the most important.  It works like this: All sorts of variation is produced (think SUV, compacts, vans, and sedans) and then the environment (think free market) selects for some and ignores others.  The ignored ones are dropped out of the gene pool (think showroom floor or metal recycling plant), and too bad for them.
        In this biological (or economic) system, only the best adapted survive.  So what if evolution is presented with something more sleek, in cool colors, or with tinted windows – if it takes too much energy (gas) to use, it will be selected against.
        Natural selection operates on individuals, or individual automobiles companies because not all of them are going bankrupt, and that affects the future of the total gene pool, or automobile business.  That’s how biological life, and capitalist economies, have been shaped over generations.
In the scientific institutions and the media, Evolution is the default explanation for everything in nature (and as Small opined, even for human manufacturing and economics).  Most of the time Evolution doesn’t require justification or evidence.  It is applied in broad, sweeping generalities from the authorities.  The explanations are pronounced dogmatically as if to be accepted on faith by the common people.  In a sense, then, Evolution (with a capital E) plays the same role as gods and goddesses in ancient cultures.
Silly, silly, silly.  These people only get away with saying such things because we are not laughing loud enough.  Look at them.  They worship cartoony idols (King Charles, Popeye, Yoda and Tinker Bell) that have magical powers.  They say things that not only make no sense, they plagiarize design words and contradict their own core beliefs.  They justify humans’ worst character flaws as artifacts of an animal past.  Get out on the yellow brick road and sing We’re off the shame the Wizard, the blunderful Wizard of Flaws (see lyrics in the 09/05/2008 commentary) as you accomplish your mission to expose charlatanry and bring science back to the real world.
Next headline on:  EvolutionFish and Marine BiologyEarly ManMammalsTerrestrial ZoologyGenetics and DNAPolitics and EthicsDumb Ideas
  The evolution of nakedness, or vice versa?  See another just-so story in the 06/10/2003 entry.

Milankovitch Cycles Indistinguishable from Randomness   06/02/2009    
June 2, 2009 — A claim has often been made by geologists that the rock sediments record cyclical changes in Earth’s orbit.  Milankovitch cycles, named for the man who analyzed them, are a set of regular periodic changes to the orbital eccentricity, obliquity, and axial precession of the Earth over tens and hundreds of thousands of years.  These subtle changes, it is alleged, produce climate change and sea level fluctuations.  The climate forcing, in turn, produces periodic differences in the thickness of sedimentary layers.  The search for Milankovitch signatures in rock records has been used as a method of dating sediments.
    Geologists at Virginia State and Virginia Polytechnic tested this hypothesis with computer models.  They specifically encoded Milankovitch-like cycles in the production of sediments.  The layering produced was indistinguishable from randomness, according to their report in the Journal of Geology.1  Here was their conclusion:

The simulations used a cyclic Milankovitch driver to produce cyclic stratigraphy, but the lithofacies thickness frequencies and autocorrelation methods used to analyze the resultant rock successions found that these records often appeared independent of periodic orbital forcing.  This indicates that the factors involved in depositing cyclic sedimentary layers, as simulated in the model, tend to mask the original periodic signal (such as Milankovitch orbital forcing) and produce the appearance of independence or stochasticity.  The hypothesis is that the rocks are independent of extrabasinal forcing, and these simulations indicate how difficult it is to disprove such independence.  Real rock successions are very likely to have been historically more complex than our simulations governed by merely a few basic parameters.  This poses a challenge to even most cleverly designed quantitative methods used to test for stratigraphic patterns, with their statistical outcomes being inherently ambiguous: does a given outcome indicate that the record was not formed in a cyclic fashion, or does it merely reflect the fact that an original cyclic driver has been masked by the complexity of depositional processes?  It is important, therefore, to have controls by which these methods can be tested.  The use of simulations can provide such controls by producing synthetic data with known Milankovitch cyclic drivers and thus providing an independent assessment of statistical methods applied to test real empirical records.
They said the results they got with known cyclic drivers was “extremely noisy.”  Obtaining a significant signature required extreme climate differences, like between greenhouse and icehouse conditions for 100,000 years.  Even then, the results were ambiguous: “even with high-magnitude sea level fluctuations, a periodic driver of sediment deposition can be concealed.”.  And that’s not the only factor: “The incompleteness of the carbonate stratigraphic record may act to conceal cyclic driving forces,” they said, “in turn making it difficult to assess the quality of methods developed to measure cyclicity.”  Their computer simulations, they felt, provided a missing control on the theory:
The methods for testing for the presence or absence of a Milankovitch driver in ancient successions must demonstrate patterns that are distinct from what would be expected if the rocks were deposited independent of orbital forcing.  One of the problems with many of the methods for detecting cyclicity is that they test a single series (e.g., a stratigraphic column).  This tends to miss lateral substitution of facies that occurs at similar water depths in real settings.  The benefit of using simulations is their ability to capture information such as periods of no deposition or gaps in deposition from erosion that would otherwise be difficult to quantify in real successions.

1.  Dexter, Kowalewski and Read, “Distinguishing Milankovitch-Driven Processes in the Rock Record from Stochasticity Using Computer-Simulated Stratigraphy,” The Journal of Geology,2009, volume 117, p. 349361, DOI: 10.1086/599021.
Another dating method is shown to be a bruised reed.  Unfortunately, some well-meaning books like The Privileged Planet have leaned on this reed: “Finally, there are the Milankovitch cycles, probably the single most useful type of clock for layered deposits” (p. 30).  If this is the best, what about the others?  They tried to defend it with mathematical talk about Fourier analysis and power spectra (p. 370 n25), assuming that sophisticated math can discern a reliable signal in noise.  They did not consider the possibility of getting false signals in actual noise.  Then they used it and other methods to portray an old earth embedded with log records of its history over vast ages.
    Although that section did not harm the basic thesis of the book (that our planet appears designed for scientific discovery), it exposes a weakness of some well-meaning attempts to ground design inferences in shaky foundations.  Layers of rocks record something, obviously, but the time scale and explanations become increasingly tenuous when eyewitnesses are unavailable and multiple causes are involved.  We should be wary of taking published scientific claims uncritically and placing too much authority in the ability of secular scientists to discern unobservable history through their worldview-tainted glasses.
    Be wary especially of the divination methods of pagans (examples: 11/06/2008, 07/26/2008, 06/12/2008, 01/25/2008).  Would Daniel have referred to the scholarship of the Babylonian hepatoscopists as a reliable source?
Next headline on:  GeologySolar SystemDating Methods
Grasses Ratchet Their Seeds Into Distance Travelers   06/02/2009    
June 2, 2009 — John Muir said we should not pity plants as prisoners to one spot.  In their own ways, they travel the world as we humans do.  Anyone who has walked through wild dry grass may have been annoyed at how many foxtails get buried in their socks and how hard it is to get them out.  The seeds were not engineered for socks, but for animal fur.  Once embedded, they become successful hitchhikers.  The shape of the seeds, along with tiny barbs pointing backwards, ensure that the seeds work their way deep into the fur.  The seed may find itself the pioneer of a new land far from where it was born.
    Charles Wolgemuth [U of Connecticut) talked about this in Current Biology.1  Many plants do more than just cast their fates to the wind; “some grasses, at least, are not so cavalier and have engineered their seed carrying appendages (spikelets) to increase dispersion and facilitate seed burial by converting periodic or random oscillations in the environment into directed motion.”  Foxtails may look like dead, dry, inert things, but they can hitchhike, walk along the ground and even bury themselves into the soil.  On the ground, they can take advantage of diurnal cycles of moisture and temperature.  Their spikelets, called awns, expand and shrink, ratcheting the seed forward.  Some of them even have spiral tips that can drill the seeds into the ground.
    Wolgemuth noted other instances where nature has used ratchet mechanisms to good advantage: snakes, whose skin moves their undulating motions in one direction, and jellyfish and bugs that can use water or air motions to achieve unidirectional travel.  Even inside the cell, molecular motors like myosin, the flagellum and ATP synthase (05/25/2009) ratchet up the random Brownian motion in their environment into linear or rotary motion.  His discussion of ratchets in nature led Wolgemuth to speculate about ratcheting as a general principle of biology.  Unfortunately, this won him Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week :
Biology has thus repeatedly found ways of producing net work by rectifying fluctuations with ratchets, and it is interesting to speculate on other areas where this mechanism may play a role.  Evolution is one directly analogous system and a comparison between it and Brownian ratchets has been drawn previously.  Clearly, random mutations in an organism’s genome lead to fluctuations in phenotype.  Reproduction can lock in these variations, and natural selection then acts as a ratchet, reducing the likelihood of maintaining a population that is less competent at reproducing while increasing phenotypic populations that are fitter.  A more tenuous comparison, though, comes to mind when I consider my own thoughts, which all too often seem quite random.  I must consciously work to rectify these thoughts, plucking out the good ones and discarding the bad, in an attempt to construct an understanding of the world about me.  Could my own thinking be working by trapping useful ideas from a pool of noise?  One of the not-so-useful ideas, right?  But, it has been suggested that certain nuclei in the basal ganglia act as a random motor pattern noise generator.  If our brains can create noise, maybe they can ratchet it too.
Wolgemuth did not make a distinction between purposeful choice in matters of truth and falsehood, and mindless mechanisms without purpose or goal.  He also did not distinguish between physical ratchet mechanisms and conceptual ones (argument from analogy), and ended up personifying biology as an engineer.  On fitness as a ratchet for progress, see 10/30/2002, “Fitness for Dummies.”
Tip: To get foxtails out of your socks, don’t try to pull them out backwards.  Push them through the cloth in the direction their natural ratchet wants to go.
1.  Charles Wolgemuth, “Plant Biomechanics: Using Shape to Steal Motion,” Current Biology, Volume 19, Issue 10, 26 May 2009, Pages R409-R410.
One of the best videos of the motion of grass seeds is in volume one of Moody’s DVD set Wonders of God’s Creation.  Time-lapse photography shows the seeds moving around like bugs and even burying themselves in the soil.
    It’s a shame Wolgemuth had to turn an otherwise interesting scientific discussion about plant engineering into another shallow Darwinian speculation.  If he is unable to separate his own thoughts from noise, why should his readers try to do so?
Tip: To get Darwinian foxtails out of your brain, don’t try to pull them out backwards.  Push them through to their logical conclusions, where their blunt pointlessness becomes evident to all.
Next headline on:  PlantsAmazing FactsDarwinian EvolutionDumb Ideas
Protein Springs Keep Crabs Happy   06/01/2009    
June 1, 2009 — Crabs and crayfish contain “exquisite” protein springs around their mouth parts that enhance motion, signaling, and sensing of their environment, Science Daily reported, about work done at the University of Cambridge.
    The protein involved, called resilin, is almost perfectly elastic.  “The exquisite rubbery properties of resilin are known to be put to use as energy storage mechanisms in jumping insects and as biological shock absorbers in many animals,” said Malcolm Burrows, who conducted the study.  Using just one muscle, crabs and crayfish can move little feet (maxillipeds) around their mouth parts to deflect water currents coming out of the gills.  The resilin springs the maxillipeds right back. 
Burrows suggests that the use of resilin springs can have two cost saving advantages.  First, by saving the space that would be required for a muscle to do the job of ‘resetting’ the movement, the resilin spring allows the muscle that generates the power stroke to become larger and hence more powerful.  Second, the amount of nervous control required can be reduced because one direction of movement is controlled automatically by a spring.  As a result of this natural engineering, these limbs of the crab Carcinus maenas can beat in a coordinated way at a remarkable 20 times a second.
The movement of the maxillipeds helps the crab sense whether the gills need cleaning, and also controls the flow of odorant molecules crabs use to communicate with other members of their species.  For an example of elastic springs in a jumping insect, see the 08/01/2003 entry.
Did the crab engineer this itself?  Of course not.  Did a blind, mindless, directionless process do it?  Get real.  This scientist had no need of that hypothesis, nor should anyone else.
Research project:  What is the amino acid structure of resilin?  What is the gene that encodes it?  How much variation exists in resilin genes between crabs and insects?  What is resilin’s distribution in the animal kingdom?  Look up resilin on the web and you will find interesting articles like these at BioMed and Nature
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyAmazing Facts
  Our 06/06/2002 commentary tested three evolutionists’ hypothesis about the evolution of language by subjecting their own paper to their own evolutionary mechanisms.  The results were hilarious.

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Featured Creation Scientist for June

William Herschel
1738 - 1822

For the International Year of Astronomy 2009, let’s revisit the story of the Father of Stellar Astronomy, William Herschel.

The father of stellar astronomy and the pride of the English in the late 18th to early 19th centuries was neither English nor a scientist originally, but a German-born immigrant musician, and a Jewish Christian.  Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel (called William Herschel in his adopted country) was a pioneer of the heavens, taking Galileo’s early attempts at sky surveying to grand lengths.  Patrick Moore considers Herschel the greatest observer who ever lived.  Though just an amateur at first, he built the largest telescopes of his era, and in the process of spending countless hours on cold nights perched on a ladder at the eyepiece of his instruments, he discovered binary stars, nebulae, comets, and the planet Uranus – the first man to discover a planet since antiquity.  He proved that the laws that govern our earth and moon are the same throughout the heavens.  He brought into focus the understanding that the earth and sun are but specks among thousands of similar suns.  He launched modern astronomy’s project to understand the nature of the nebulae, the distribution of stars in the galaxy and our place in it.  He discovered invisible infrared light.  In addition to his scientific observations, William Herschel became a leading natural philosopher and a friend of kings and intellectuals, yet he was described as a man of devout, yet simple Christian faith.

To the Herschel legend we must quickly add his sister Caroline and his son John William, who both rose to his level of greatness.  William’s father was a bandmaster in the Hanoverian guard.  Each of his children became talented musicians; William gained proficiency on the oboe.  Troubles with the Seven Years War in Germany made him leave for England, where he landed with scarcely one coin in his pocket.  His musical skills kept him gainfully employed as a church organist and oboist.  Seven years after arriving, he began to take up seriously a hobby he had always enjoyed, astronomy.  The telescopes of his day were not powerful enough for him.  He learned how to grind mirrors, and spent all his spare time (when not playing music) perfecting the art.  Patrick Moore says that one of his first attempts at making a 5" objective succeeded after two hundred failures.

By 1774, his brother and sister also arrived in England.  Caroline stayed with William and became his assistant.  William’s observing career was launched in earnest with a look at the Orion Nebula, and he continued for 37 years, making bigger and better telescopes along the way until his home (Observatory House in Slough) boasted a 48" mirror weighing over a ton inside a 40-foot tube slung within a giant wooden scaffold.  Caroline, short and unmarried, was her brother’s biggest helper.  Even after William married at age 50, she remained near at hand, keeping his records and doing some significant observing herself.  She discovered six comets (a big interest in those days), and was eventually honored by royalty, famous in her own right to the age of 98.  Caroline, however, thought little of her own fame.  Like a humble moon, she was content to bask in the “reflected glory” of her famous brother.

Uranus was discovered accidentally while William scanned the skies.  The fame of being the first human to discover a new planet around the sun resulted in King George III granting him a permanent salary as royal astronomer, enough to let him abandon his musical career and do astronomical work full time.  He wanted to name the new planet in the king’s honor, but other astronomers voted to stick to the naming convention of mythological gods, so the name Uranus was chosen.  Uranus is a strange planet, hard to explain by naturalistic theories, because of its energy, composition, and inclination; tipped at 98 degrees, it circles the sun with its retinue of moons like a bull’s eye.  Stranger still, discoveries by the Voyager spacecraft in 1986 showed its magnetic field to be highly tilted and off-center.  No one has been able to explain why.  One of its moons, Miranda, has some of the strangest terrain ever seen, including a cliff so high that in the weak gravity of that world, someone stumbling over the edge would be in free-fall for eight minutes.  Speaking of moons, Herschel also discovered two more moons of Saturn (Mimas and Enceladus).  How awe-struck and fascinated would be his expression today to see what spacecraft have revealed close-up on these objects that, to him, were mere faint points of light twinkling in the eyepiece of his telescopes, as he gazed in the cold, still night air.

One of Herschel’s main goals was to sample the sky systematically and map the distribution of stars, to gain a picture of where the sun stood in relation to the Milky Way.  Due to assumptions later shown to be flawed, his map put the earth at the center of a somewhat flattened, oblong shape.  It was an important start, nonetheless.  Herschel was a diligent observer, ever willing to sacrifice his hypotheses on the altar of new evidence.  At first he thought binary stars were chance alignments, but later observations proved they were in orbit around each other.  He thought the nebulae were composed of stars made faint by distance, but later realized some were composed of dust or gas.  Herschel gave us the unfortunate term “planetary nebulae” because these objects at first appeared to him as disks like planets; they have nothing to do with planets and exist far beyond our solar system.  The Hubble Space Telescope has revealed many of these as brilliant, colorful stellar explosions with intricate hourglass and spiral structures.  Some show evidence of repeated incidents of mass loss.  In all, Herschel catalogued over 90,000 stars, far more than any of his predecessors, and he increased the number of known nebulae from 103 to 2500.  Most mysterious were the non-planetary nebulae.  Herschel considered Immanuel Kant’s idea that these might be distant and distinct stellar associations — galaxies like our own Milky Way, but the proof would have to wait for 202 years after Herschel’s death.  Another contribution was calibrating of the old stellar magnitude scale of Hipparchus; he realized that a difference of five magnitudes corresponded to a change in brightness of 100.  Herschel submitted 90 volumes to the Royal Society during his productive life.  Patrick Moore says, “More than any other man, he put stellar astronomy on a really firm footing. ... He was knighted in 1816, he received every honor that the scientific world could bestow, and he became the first President of the newly-formed Astronomical Society of London (now the Royal Astronomical Society).  He presented his last scientific paper when he was eighty years old, and he was active almost to the date of his death on August 25, 1822.”  He is buried under the tower of the old Anglican church in Slough, England.

Though sources I’ve checked agree William Herschel was sincerely religious, none are detailed enough to indicate if he was really a “born-again” Christian.  His family attended church regularly, but musician that he was, William could have been more performer than believer.  Was he just a Sunday Christian, and secular astronomer the rest of the week?  N. S. Dodge wrote in 1871 of the family’s sincere Christian faith, but Dan Graves (Scientists of Faith, p. 115) called him “a nominal Christian, at best.”  Herschel had some strange ideas: he believed the other planets, the moon, and even the sun were inhabited (but so did many others in his day).  Some of his writings seem to assume long ages and the insignificance of man in a universe populated not only by myriads of stars but perhaps other civilizations.  He speaks of the Author and Creator of the heavens, but not of the Scriptures or Jesus Christ.  Herschel dined with Hume and LaPlace, the skeptics, but as a dignitary in frequent touch with the intellectuals of the day and polite society, this cannot be taken to assume agreement with them.  In some of his diary entries, it appears they conversed about music or the fine cuisine rather than philosophy or theology.  In The Scientific Papers of Sir William Herschel published by the Royal Society in 1912, he relates an incident where the First Consul and La Place were having an argument over naturalistic philosophy.  Herschel writes in his diary,

The difference was occasioned by an exclamation of the First Consul’s, who asked in a tone of exclamation or admiration (when we were speaking of the extent of the sidereal heavens) ‘and who is the author of all this.’  M. de La Place wished to shew that a chain of natural causes would account for the construction and preservation of the wonderful system; this the First Consul rather opposed.  Much may be said on the subject; by joining the arguments of both we shall be led to ‘Nature and Nature’s God.’

Compromise?  Theistic evolution?  Wishy-washy belief in God, or signs of a true believer?  Hard to say, because he changes the subject in his diary after leaving us hanging with “much may be said.”  At another point, the Royal Society editor leaves a tantalizing footnote about missing letters by Herschel:

These letters, which extend to some 400 pages, are still extant but have not been at our disposal.  We are informed that Herschel in them interweaves his philosophy and even his musical studies with references of an earnest kind to the Creator as a beneficent Deity, expressing his gratitude and addressing him in a prayerful spirit.

Again, this could be said of a unitarian or deist, but hints at something more.  In a philosophical essay on Liberty and Necessity, he comes out opposing the necessitarians (those that believe natural law necessarily leads to the order we observe).  This would be consistent with one who believes God intervenes in human affairs.

Several Christian biographical essays have echoed Henry Morris’ attribution to Herschel of the line, “An undevout astronomer must be mad” (Men of Science, Men of God, p. 30).  Unfortunately, I have not been able to corroborate this quotation.  The slightly different line “An undevout astronomer is mad” is part of a poem entitled “Night thoughts“ by Edward Young, whose life was earlier but overlapped with Herschel’s.  Perhaps the poem was inspired by the life of Herschel, or a statement by him.  It would not be unrealistic to assume that the statement reflected Herschel’s own feelings about his work.  It seems clear that Herschel was devout, prayerful, humble, gracious, kind, and moral – good, but not enough to indicate a true believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The sources I have checked do not provide enough evidence to call William Herschel more than a nominal Christian.  Scientists in this period of the so-called “Enlightenment” were enamoured with natural laws.  They were taking Newton’s emphasis on laws to new extremes, and knowingly or not, tended to distance God from immanent action in the affairs of the world.  Where Herschel fits in this trend is not clear.  But even if he falls short of an example of a thoroughly Biblical Christian, he clearly does exemplify one who believed in a divine Creator and Author of the laws of nature, to whom we owe our worship and admiration.  As such, he was at least continuing in the tradition of empirical science motivated by the Christian world view.

Observatory House was pulled down in 1960, but the tube of his 40-foot telescope was kept at the Greenwich Observatory as a monument to the years of painstaking observation of the skies by a man starstruck by the wondrous majesty and order of Creation.  In the summer of 1986, the Voyager 2 spacecraft made a historic flyby of the planet Uranus.  The St. Laurence Anglican Church in Slough, England, where Herschel is buried, was recently restored after years of damage and neglect, and in February 2001, was adorned with a new stained-glass Herschel Window commemorating his astronomical discoveries.  Another nearby window quotes Psalm 8, “When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him?”


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

A Concise Guide
to Understanding
Evolutionary Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Souder’s Law
Repetition does not establish validity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice from Paul

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

I Timothy 6:20-21

Song of the True Scientist

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

from Psalm 104

Maxwell’s Motivation

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

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

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

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(a retired engineer and amateur astronomer in Maryland)

“I really enjoy your website, the first I visit every day.  I have a quote by Mark Twain which seems to me to describe the Darwinian philosophy of science perfectly.  ‘There is something fascinating about science.  One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.’  Working as I do in the Environmental field (I am a geologist doing groundwater contamination project management for a state agency) I see that kind of science a lot.  Keep up the good work!!”
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“I visit your website regularly and I commend you on your work.  I applaud your effort to pull actual science from the mass of propaganda for Evolution you report on (at least on those rare occasions when there actually is any science in the propaganda).  I also must say that I'm amazed at your capacity to continually plow through the propaganda day after day and provide cutting and amusing commentary....  I can only hope that youthful surfers will stop by your website for a fair and interesting critique of the dogma they have to imbibe in school.”
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“I have enjoyed your site for several years now.  Thanks for all the hard work you obviously put into this.  I appreciate your insights, especially the biological oriented ones in which I'm far behind the nomenclature curve.  It would be impossible for me to understand what's going on without some interpretation.  Thanks again.”
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“Love your site and your enormous amount of intellectualism and candor regarding the evolution debate.  Yours is one site I look forward to on a daily basis.  Thank you for being a voice for the rest of us.”
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(Access Research Network 12/28/2007).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hey Friends, Check out this site: 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.