Creation-Evolution Headlines
July 2009
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“According to [Aleksandr] Oparin, [K. A.] Timiriazev described Darwinian evolution and revolutionary political thought as being so intimately connected that they amounted to the same thing.  In this view Darwinism was materialistic, it called for change in all spheres, it was atheistic, it was politically radical, and it was causing a transformation of thought and politics.”
—Loren Graham, historian of science, writing about Timiriazev’s influence on Oparin’s origin-of-life research, in Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union, pp. 262-63; cited by Stephen Meyer in Signature in the Cell, p. 48.

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  Remember the hard time scientists and politicians gave President Bush over his policy on embryonic stem cells?  The 07/31/2006 entry should be remembered now that researchers are treating numerous diseases with induced pluripotent stem cells from adult tissue that have all the pluripotency of embryonic cells (05/03/2009)  Meanwhile, embryonic stem cell research has yet to produce one hope of a cure after three years since that article; its only achievement has been the biggest scandal in modern science history (02/05/2006).

Does Evolution Need a Helping Hand?   07/31/2009    
July 31, 2009 — If evolution needs a helping hand, is it really evolution?  New Scientist didn’t think about that question, because reporter Ewen Galloway he said, “If humans want to persuade microbes to produce vast quantities of fuels or pharmaceuticals, we may need to give evolution a helping hand.
    His article was about researchers at Harvard Medical School using computers to do “rapid evolution.”  How this can be called evolution is strange when they spent 20 years and hundreds of millions of dollars on a rapid genome-sequencing technique called MAGE – “multiplex automated genome engineering.”  One would think any engineers would like to hear that their work was intelligently designed, but then if an intelligent designer oversaw their evolution, would not the NCSE complain?  Anyway, they can “create hundreds or thousands of mutations in a few days” and search through them for variations that increase the production of desirable substances.
    Presumably they use the term evolution because it has something to do with mutations and selection.  But the selectors are humans who have an outcome in mind, even if they don’t know the way to get there except through a speeded-up random search.  “There might be cells out there that may have these properties, but what we’re trying to do is accelerate this process to find the specific traits we’re interested in,” a team member explained. 

Folks, we’re not laughing loud enough yet.  They still say these things in public.  Enough laughter should make it dawn on them that these silly statements are self-refuting nonsense.  It is not a loving thing to leave them clueless.  So show them some tough love: laugh loud and long.
Next headline on:  EvolutionDumb Ideas
Dark Matter: Where Is It?   07/30/2009    
July 30, 2009 — If physicists and astronomers are going to continue to tell us that 95% of the mass in the universe is hidden in some unobservable dark matter, they had better find it soon.  Two articles on PhysOrg (#1, #2) reported on continuing efforts to find the elusive stuff – if it exists at all.  The first article begin quizzically,
95%.  That is the percentage of the known Universe that is missing.  As in it is not there.  Or at least if it is there, we can't see it.  We call this unseen stuff "dark matter".  That has been well known for sometime.  What is trickier in answering is why?  Why is it that 95% of the universe is made up of this so-named "dark matter?"  An even trickier question is where?  As in where is this dark matter?  It is those two questions that have plagued physicists for decades.  Dark matter, by its own definition cannot be seen, hence its name.  So how do we "see" it, how do we know "where" to look?
The article announced that “for the first time, a team of physicists has gathered evidence.”  What qualifies as evidence, though, may be in the eye of the beholder.  What some physicists found was high-energy positrons from space.  Any connection to dark matter (in this case, weakly-interacting massive particles, or WIMPs) is highly theory-dependent.
    The second article did not claim evidence – just the desire to find it.  A Columbia physicist put it this way: “Sometimes I think of dark matter as a mysterious woman with her face covered by one of those beautiful Venetian masks.  All of us experimentalists are driven by one desire: to uncover that face.”
    Researchers are spending millions of dollars looking for something that may not exist.  There are only indirect reasons for suspecting its existence: theories that require it, and galaxy clusters that would have disrupted from their own internal motions if they are as old as claimed.
How is this different, functionally, from invoking miracles or occult substances to keep one’s pet belief intact?  Keep track of this dark matter story.  We’ll have to see if it becomes a 21st century analogue of alchemy.
Next headline on:  CosmologyPhysics
Oil Can Come from Rock   07/29/2009    
July 29, 2009 — Methane and other hydrocarbons can be produced in the mantle, reported Science Daily.  This disputes earlier beliefs that oil and gas are products of organisms that lived and died.  Carnegie Institute scientists have produced ethane, propane, butane, molecular hydrogen, and graphite in high-pressure equipment simulating conditions 40 to 95 miles deep in the crust and mantle.  “The transformations suggest heavier hydrocarbons could exist deep down,” the article said.  Geologists need to study conditions in which hydrocarbons formed in the mantle could migrate into reservoirs in the crust – an idea promoted by Russian and Ukrainian scientists years ago.  “The synthesis and stability of the compounds studied here as well as heavier hydrocarbons over the full range of conditions within the Earth’s mantle now need to be explored,” one of the lead authors of the study said.  “In addition, the extent to which this ‘reduced’ carbon survives migration into the crust needs to be established (e.g., without being oxidized to CO2).  These and related questions demonstrate the need for a new experimental and theoretical program to study the fate of carbon in the deep Earth.”
This story touches on a number of subjects; the amount of biomass in the crust, the age of hydrocarbon reservoirs, geopolitics and predictions of a coming oil shortage, climate change, and the number of things scientists still don’t know.  We’ll leave this one to our astute readers to sort out or pursue further.  If it turns out that oil is predominantly geological in origin, will Sinclair Oil have to change their dinosaur logo?
Next headline on:  GeologyPhysics
  What is really known about the genetic basis for evolution?  Not much more than “poultry” excuses; see the 07/25/2005 entry.

Sexual Selection Discounted in Toucan Bill   07/28/2009    
July 28, 2009 — Darwin thought that the large bill of the toucan might be an ornament produced by his theory of sexual selection.  A new study says, rather, that the bill serves as a heat radiator the bird uses to control body temperature.  National Geographic News summarized a paper in Science that explained the process.1  The authors studied the toco toucan, the species with the largest beak, and watched it with infrared cameras.  The bird is able to flush blood into tiny blood vessels in the beak to get rid of excess heat.  The authors said, “Our results indicate that the toucan’s bill is, relative to its size, one of the largest thermal windows in the animal kingdom, rivaling elephants’ ears in its ability to radiate body heat.”
    The authors quoted Darwin in their introduction.  In The Descent of Man, Darwin had speculated, “toucans may owe the enormous size of their beaks to sexual selection, for the sake of displaying the diversified and vivid stripes of colour with which these organs are ornamented.”  The discovery of a heat-transfer function for the large bill discredits sexual selection theory.  David Tyler commented on this shift in thinking from evolutionary principles to design principles at Access Research Network.  His article includes a photo of the handsome bird; the National Geographic article shows it glowing warm in infrared light.  For some reason, NG felt it worthwhile to speculate that dinosaurs used similar heat regulation methods.


1.  Tattersall, Andrade and Abe, “Heat Exchange from the Toucan Bill Reveals a Controllable Vascular Thermal Radiator,” Science, 24 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5939, pp. 468-470, DOI: 10.1126/science.1175553.
Poor Charlie can’t seem to get anything right these days.  His simplistic speculations are turning out to be, well, simplistic speculations (a euphemism for just-so stories).
Next headline on:  BirdsDarwin and Evolutionary Theory

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

Epigenetics Rising in Consciousness of Geneticists, Embryologists   07/27/2009    
July 27, 2009 — The old story of genetics was that all the information is in genes, and when sperm and egg unite, it’s only the combination of genes from parents that affect the offspring.  That view has been under challenge for years now as geneticists and embryologists find more and more evidence for additional heritable factors that affect development of the embryo and the life of the offspring.
    It should have been obvious that more than genes unite at conception.  Both egg and sperm are much more than sets of naked genes.  Nature reported that human sperm contains protein factors that guide and direct the embryo.1  Researchers primarily at Howard Hughes Medical Institute found that distinctive chromatin packages genes for embryo development.  Prior to this, they said, “the epigenetic contributions of sperm chromatin to embryo development have been considered highly limited.”  They found numerous heritable factors:

Here we show that the retained nucleosomes are significantly enriched at loci of developmental importance, including imprinted gene clusters, microRNA clusters, HOX gene clusters, and the promoters of stand-alone developmental transcription and signalling factors.  Notably, histone modifications localize to particular developmental loci.  Dimethylated lysine 4 on histone H3 (H3K4me2) is enriched at certain developmental promoters, whereas large blocks of H3K4me3 localize to a subset of developmental promoters, regions in HOX clusters, certain noncoding RNAs, and generally to paternally expressed imprinted loci, but not paternally repressed loci.  Notably, trimethylated H3K27 (H3K27me3) is significantly enriched at developmental promoters that are repressed in early embryos, including many bivalent (H3K4me3/H3K27me3) promoters in embryonic stem cells.  Furthermore, developmental promoters are generally DNA hypomethylated in sperm, but acquire methylation during differentiation.  Taken together, epigenetic marking in sperm is extensive, and correlated with developmental regulators.
So it’s not just the gift of DNA; it’s the packaging.  “We provide several lines of evidence that the parental genome is packaged and covalently modified in a manner consistent with influencing embryo development.”  The factors in both egg and sperm affect “developmental decisions and imprinting patterns.”
    In a related topic, Science Daily said that the rise in awareness of epigenetics among researchers is blurring the line in the old nature-nurture debate.  For instance, doctors used to think that having a certain mutation guaranteed a patient will have a genetic disease.  Other factors, though, such as a mother’s diet, can affect the outcome: “epigenetic factors play a surprisingly large role in the disease risk that gets passed down through the generations,” the article said.  While permanent genetic mutations are the largest factor, “what is not often explained is that less permanent changes to our DNA also significantly influence our risk for disease,” said Mark Johnston, editor of Genetics.  “We tend to view disease risk as a tug of war between nature and nurture, but this study shows that nature and nurture are more closely related than we had imagined.”
1.  Hammoud et al, “Distinctive chromatin in human sperm packages genes for embryo development,” Nature 460, 473-478 (23 July 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08162.
It should be noted that nature vs nurture is an example of the either-or fallacy.  Some evolutionary psychologists agree (see PhysOrg): they called for “tossing out the nature-nurture debate, which they say has prevailed for centuries in part out of convenience and intellectual laziness.”  Can you think of other factors that should be added to the equation?  How about intelligence and choice?  Without those, it renders human beings as mere determined products of physical and environmental factors.  Your genetics and environment are not forcing you to read these words right now.  Think about that.  There – you made another choice.
    Epigenetics is poised to mount another major assault on evolutionary theory.  One of the points made in the upcoming film Darwin’s Dilemma* is that epigenetic factors pile difficulty upon difficulty for Darwin, because evolutionary theory needs to account not only for genetic information in DNA, but the epigenetic information that controls development.  There are many factors beyond the gene library that determine a body plan.  What orchestrates and choreographs the orderly localization of cell types in a developing embryo?  What manages their differentiation?  What commits them to the roles they will play?  We are only beginning to understand these higher-order programs.  If neo-Darwinists were hard-pressed to explain the genetic code by the accumulation of mutations filtered by natural selection, wait till they have to account for the epigenetic code.
*Scheduled for release in mid-September: see Illustra Media.
Next headline on:  GeneticsHealthHuman Body
Weekend Roundup   07/26/2009    
July 26, 2009 — Here’s a quick collection of recent news articles bearing on questions of origins, morals, fossils, outer space, science, health and Darwin.
  1. Mars risks:  The dust on Mars may be toxic to humans.  New Scientist reported that evidence from the rovers shows the electrically-charged dust clinging to everything.  “If the dust is toxic and you bring it inside” a human habitat, a NASA scientist said, “it could be extraordinarily bad.”
  2. Stem cell breakthrough:  The tools for repairing a broken heart may be inside you.  An optimistic article in Science Daily reported on a proof-of-concept study at the Mayo Clinic that shows a patient’s own stem cells (induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS) could be injected into the heart to repair damage.  “This study establishes the real potential for using iPS cells in cardiac treatment,”Dr. Timothy Nelson said of this first-ever application of iPS technology to heart disease therapy.  In the tests, “Bioengineered fibroblasts acquired the capacity to repair and regenerate infarcted hearts.”
  3. Fathers get respect:  “Fathers are not dispensable just yet,” headlined a story in New Scientist, as if that would cheer up Dad.  Their “biological programming” to help raise children may have profound effects on the health of the young.  The article is accompanied by a picture of an infant feeling very happy getting nurturing attention from Daddy.  When Linda Geddens began her article, “You may tempted to think men are becoming an optional extra in the mating game,” who was she talking about?
  4. Tiny furry feet:  Mammal tracks have been discovered at Dinosaur National Monument says PhysOrg.  Hundreds of prints smaller than a dime were discovered in an area open to the public on the park grounds.  “The tracks are a rare find, mostly because they were left at a time when the area was a hostile, vast Sahara-like desert where towering sand dunes seldom preserved signs of animal life.”  A park paleontologist called the find “astonishing.”  Mammal tracks are apparently interspersed with the dinosaur tracks.
  5. Ammonia moon:  Enceladus has ammonia, announced a press release from Jet Propulsion Lab.  The ion and neutral mass spectrometer found the molecule emitted from the south pole geysers of Saturn’s little hyperactive moon.  Planetologists believe that ammonia, by suppressing the melting point, indicates the possible presence of an ocean under the crust.  Jonathan Lunine provided the automatic response: “Where liquid water and organics exist, is there life?”
  6. Origin of Speciation still debatedScience Daily pointed out that a debate you thought Darwin solved is still going on.  “The tremendous diversity of life continues to puzzle scientists, long after the 200 years since Charles Darwin’s birth,” the article began.  “However, in recent years, consistent patterns of biodiversity have been identified over space, time organism type and geographical region.”  Then they launched into a study that supports the controversial view of sympatric speciation – the idea that speciation can occur within a population without geographic barriers.
Readers may want to ponder an analogy put forth by one of the researchers in that last story about sympatric speciation.  He said, “One can think about the creation of species on the genetic level in the same way we think about the appearance of many patterns, including traffic jams.”  Does that mean we humans might be products of the very pattern we so despise in our daily commutes?  Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of The New England Complex Systems Institute and a senior author of the study, tried to elaborate: “Just as traffic jams can form from the flow of traffic itself without an accident, the formation of many species can occur as generations evolve across the organisms’ spatial habitat.”  If this is still not clear, his colleague Les Kaufman put a moral imperative on it: “Our insights can be applied to the immense challenge that we now face -- not only to prevent the extinction of a large chunk of life, but also to prevent ourselves from quenching the very forces that fuel the continuous creation of new life forms on earth.”  Readers may be puzzled by considering traffic jams as creative forces for anything.  Other readers may be puzzled by why extinction should be prevented when we all seem to desire a smooth flow of traffic, not traffic jams.
Secular science news is a strange mix of good, bad, and ugly.  The price of intellectual liberty is eternal baloney detecting.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemHealthHuman BodyDinosaursMammalsFossilsDarwin and Evolutionary TheoryDumb Ideas
  Find out what “10,000 miles of spaghetti in a basketball” means in the amazing 07/28/2004 entry.

July 25, 2009 – The book that arguably launched the Intelligent Design movement, Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial (1991), is still a great read after 18 years.  All of Johnson’s books since are delightful.  If you haven’t read any of them, start here.  Johnson’s gentle frankness, his scholarship and wit, and his gift for getting to the heart of an issue, illustrate why he has become so admired by millions.  The Darwinists are powerless before his reasoning.  They are disarmed by his kindness.  So what do they do?  Well, they either try to ignore him, or they use the ad hominem strategy to say he’s not a scientist, he’s a legal scholar.  But who better than a legal scholar, trained in the rules of evidence, to evaluate the claims of Darwinism?
    A tenured, esteemed legal scholar at UC Berkeley for many years (now retired), Dr. Johnson had the mental scalpel to cut through bluffing, intimidation, and unsupported assertions.  While on a sabbatical, Johnson became intrigued by the confident assertions of evolutionists, particularly those of Richard Dawkins.  He could find no one able to prove that natural selection had any creative power to build eyes, ears and other complex organs – a requirement for the theory to be credible.  This started him on a two-decade project to re-open discussions about Darwinism in academia, then in popular culture.  He ran his ideas by some of the greatest defenders of evolution to test them in the furnace of debate.  He held conferences, wrote articles, and interacted with the leading lights of Darwinism.  This book is the result.  Once hooked on Darwin on Trial, you’ll start a healthy addiction for everything else Phillip Johnson has written and said.
Next resource of the week:  07/18/2009.  All resources: Catalog.

Selfish Gene Mutates, Dies a Metaphorical Death   07/24/2009    
July 24, 2009 — Richard Dawkins proposed in his book The Selfish Gene that a gene, being the target of natural selection and unit of replication, is the entity most likely to get passed on to posterity; as such, it is “selfish” in that the rest of the organism is really only incidental to its immortality.  Dawkins expanded this into the “extended phenotype” – the idea that the gene extends its influence over the rest of the organism to ensure its own survival.  Fern Elsdon-Baker, writing an opinion piece called “The Dawkins dogma” in New Scientist, called this the most successful scientific metaphor in the last 30 years – but now argues it is obsolete.

For reasons to do with how science is communicated, a human love of simple narratives, and Dawkins’s energetic advocacy of these metaphors, the public has been left with a view of evolution and Darwinism which does not truly reflect thinking among evolutionary biologists.  This view also perpetuates the existence of “opposing camps” when there is no need.  Worse, it skews popular notions of Darwinism.  This is why these metaphors are so important: metaphors stretch to the heart of “what science is for” and to the kind of answers it can provide.
In particular, Elsdon-Baker thinks Dawkins’ view of heredity has been challenged by the increasingly apparent role of epigenetics and lateral gene transfer.  “LGT may not completely bring down the neatly branching tree of life as Darwin envisaged it, but at the very least it raises questions about what is happening at the roots” (see 07/23/2009).  While not overthrowing Dawkins’ selfish gene metaphor, it makes it only “a small part of a much bigger picture.”
Scientific metaphor should be about the best interpretation of evidence and about opening up new research vistas.  The selfish gene metaphor claims that only genes or replicators are inherited and are essentially immortal, and it offers an interpretation of evolutionary biology in that light.
    We are testing that empirical claim and finding that things are a lot more complicated and subtle.  This must mean that as an organising interpretation of evolutionary biology, the metaphor of the selfish gene and, by extension, that of the extended phenotype, are insufficient.  They are now problematic because what they claim or offer is no longer as good as the alternative analyses.
Elsdon-Baker went on to criticize Dawkins as an advocate of a narrow-focus view of evolution. 
It paints an inflexible picture not only of the evolutionary sciences, but also of how science works.  This in turn closes off dialogue in both public and academic spheres.  It can, at worst, constrain future research.  Nowhere is this more evident than in theories about environmentally driven acquired characters, which have long had a reputation as Darwinian “heresy”.
What’s the solution?  Evolutionary science needs to be communicated without the “rhetoric and sweeping advocacy” inherent in the metaphors Dawkins employed.  There needs to be a more “more nuanced exploration of the complexity involved.”
H. L. Mencken said, “Complex problems have simple, easy to understand, wrong answers” (see Thumb’s Second Postulate).  If you haven’t felt the propaganda impact of metaphor, you haven’t met a force like it.  Metaphors bewitch you (07/04/2003).  We must scrutinize them, not be mesmerized by them.
    So the Darwinians themselves have found another useful lie that has outlived its usefulness.  Add this to the useful lies about the alleged chimp-human 1% difference (06/29/2007), the fossils in the Martian meteorite (08/06/2006), the Miller-Urey lightning in the soup (05/02/2003), Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, Archaeoraptor, Ida, and all the rest of the Evolutionary Hall of Shame.  Another simplistic, easy-to-understand wrong answer in the Darwinian arsenal of metaphors has been exposed.  Keep up the good work.
Next headline on:  GeneticsDarwin and EvolutionEducationMedia
Nanotech Blurs Line With Biophysics   07/24/2009    
July 24, 2009 — Machines on the molecular scale – in the literature these days, one needs to dig to find whether a news article is talking about man-made machinery or the living cell.  Both employ laws of physics to do work.  Notice how seamless the connection is in the following examples.
  1. Kinesin tightrope walk:  Scientists at Northwestern University are figuring out how kinesin “walking machines” in the cell are able to stay on track.  Writing in PNAS,1 they said, “Kinesin I can walk on a microtubule for distances as long as several micrometers.  However, it is still unclear how this molecular motor can remain attached to the microtubule through the hundreds of mechanochemical cycles necessary to achieve this remarkable degree of processivity.”  They found that these tightrope-walking machines keep two feet (actually dubbed “heads”) on the rope (microtubule) at a time (so to speak), keep one foot tightly bound, move the other foot quickly, and keep the toes dug into the rope.  “These 4 features reduce the likelihood that a kinesin I motor will dissociate and contribute to making this motor so highly processive,” they concluded.
  2. Molecular mass spectrometer:  Caltech scientists are inventing a single-molecule mass spectrometer, Science Daily reported.  Michael Rourkes was quoted in the article saying, “the next generation of instrumentation for the life sciences—especially those for systems biology, which allows us to reverse-engineer biological systems—must enable proteomic analysis with very high throughput.”  (For a recent story on systems biology, see 07/21/2009).
  3. Myosin sober navigation:  Another cell motor that walks is myosin.  Like kinesin, it can travel long distances on its highways of actin without falling off.  Scientists have wondered if the motors employ a random walk, like a drunken pedestrian.  That wouldn’t make sense for a cargo delivery system like the myosin-actin process, so scientists at the Institut Curie in Paris used quantum dots to watch them in real time.  They found that the apparent random walk is the motor checking out each intersection in the cris-cross network of actin tracks.  In a report in Science Daily, Dr. David Warshaw cast Mother Nature in the role of nanotechnology engineer in his explanation: “Cargo delivery in cells can’t totally be a random process, therefore, using the approach described here we can characterize how motors and cargo link up and understand the engineering design principles Mother Nature uses to guarantee efficient and effective delivery of cargo within cells.”
  4. Carbon nanotube scale:  Carbon nanotubes have been all the rage in nanotech for several years now.  They’re stiff and strong for their extreme small size.  Science Daily reported a new use for them: weighing single atoms.  “But the real excitement would be in tracking chemical and biological reactions involving individual atoms and molecules reacting right there on the vibrating nanotube,” the report said.  “That could have applications in molecular biology, allowing scientists to study the basic processes of life in unprecedented detail.”
  5. Purposeful tumbleScience reported this week that the flagella of Chlamydomonas (an alga) may go into tumble mode on purpose: for stealth.2 
    One of the most remarkable and pervasive feats in the microscopic world is the coordination of flagella, the slender, whiplike structures that protrude from many types of cells.  The collective motion of flagella (also known as cilia when they occur in large numbers in eukaryotes) drives fluid transport, and permits individuals to save energy through cooperation.  Because the internal structure of cilia is highly conserved among eukaryotes from algae to humans, free-swimming organisms like Chlamydomonas (see the first figure, panel A) have long been powerful model systems.  On page 487 of this issue, Polin et al. show how synchronization of the flagella in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii governs the movement of this green alga through water, a key determinant of its ecological fitness.
    It turns out that the cells synchronize their flagella for about 11 seconds, performing a kind of breaststroke.  Then, they de-synchronize them and tumble, making sharp turns.  The scientists think this is actually an evasion strategy to escape from predators.
  6. Light control.  The bright colors on a scarab beetle are due to nanotechnology.  In another report in Science,3 Sharma et al figured out that the structures in the scale cells of a scarab beetle “are structurally and optically analogous to the focal conic domains formed spontaneously on the free surface of a cholesteric liquid crystal.  These textures provide the basis for the morphogenesis as well as key insights for emulating the intricate optical response of the exoskeleton of scarab beetles.”  Liquid crystals are prominent structures in many man-made objects, too, like wristwatches.
        In the same issue of Science,4 Pete Vukusic commented on the discovery, saying it adds to the technologies the beetle uses.  The scales also display a helical nanostructure that may provide mechanical strength.  “However, the beetle helical ultrastructure is arguably too complex and too costly to produce without the benefit of a suitable optical selection advantage,” he said, “such as effective signaling.  The strong circularly polarized reflection observed in the beetles may, for example, play a role in intraspecific communication.”  Popular reports on this discovery can be found at Science News and Science Daily and BBC News.
How these technologies came to be, Vukusic had no idea.  “With a few noteworthy exceptions,” he said, “the formation processes of these insect systems are not as well understood as are their photonics.”
1.  Toprak, Yildiz, Hoffman, Rosenfeld and Selvin, “Why kinesin is so processive,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print July 15, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0808396106.
2.  Roman Stocker and William M. Durham, “Microbiology: Tumbling for Stealth?”, Science, 24 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5939, pp. 400-402, DOI: 10.1126/science.1177269.
3.  Sharma, Crne, Park and Srinivasarao, “Structural Origin of Circularly Polarized Iridescence in Jeweled Beetles,” Science, 24 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5939, pp. 449-451, DOI: 10.1126/science.1172051.
4.  Pete Vukusic, “Evolutionary Photonics with a Twist,” Science, 24 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5939, pp. 398-399, DOI: 10.1126/science.1177729.
The discovery that biological systems use the same laws of physics on the molecular scale as do artificial systems has at least two important consequences for philosophy.  One is a continuation of the demise of a form of vitalism that asserted that biological stuff is fundamentally different from non-biological stuff.  A long trend away from that began when Wohler synthesized urea in the lab in 1828, proving that an organic substance could be manufactured with known laws of chemistry.  This consequence might seem antithetical to theism, but the other trumps it: the discovery that life uses coded instructions and manufacturing processes to employ those laws and arrange those materials in purposeful ways.  If we humans employ design principles in our nanotechnology, then detect those same principles at work in biological systems, the inference to the best explanation is that design principles were involved in their origin as well.  That theme is explicated thoroughly in Steven Meyer’s new book Signature in the Cell (see Resource of the Week for July 4).  The conclusion is amplified when our best scientists cannot figure out how “Mother Nature” did it.  Maybe they’ve got the wrong Engineer in mind.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyTerrestrial ZoologyPhysicsIntelligent DesignBiomimetics
Frank and Honest:  Does intolerance pervade the scientific community?  A letter from a group of concerned scientists in Nature today (July 23) “requests that an objective scientific process be established, devoid of political or financial agendas, to help prevent subversion of the scientific process and the intolerance towards scientific disagreement that pervades the climate issue.”
Questions: Is it conceivable for a majority of intelligent scientists to be wrong?  Could this happen in other issues, like evolution?  What is the probability of the consensus being wrong as the complexity of the data increases?  Now read this New York Times article.

Biological Big Bang: Another Explosion at the Dawn of Life   07/23/2009    
July 23, 2009 — Eugene Koonin and two friends from the NIH went tree-hunting.  They examined almost 7,000 genomes of prokaryotes.  They found trees all right – a whole forest of them.  They even found 102 NUTs (nearly universal trees) in the forest.  Unfortunately, it’s not what they wanted to find: a single universal tree of life that Darwin’s theory requires.  They had to seriously consider the question: was there a biological big bang?
    Publishing in an open-access article in the Journal of Biology,1 they began with the founding father’s vision: “The tree of life is, probably, the single dominating metaphor that permeates the discourse of evolutionary biology, from the famous single illustration in Darwin’s On the Origin of Species to 21st-century textbooks.”  Alas, that 150-year-old icon must be dismantled.  In their conclusion, they said, “the original tree of life concept is obsolete: it would not even be a 'tree of one percent'.
    What happened?  It appears that horizontal gene transfer (HGT) has scrambled the genes in prokaryotes so much that any trace of common ancestry has been lost.  This means that Darwin’s metaphor lacks empirical evidence.  A fair-minded scientist would have to consider the possibility of a biological big bang (BBB), in which all the diversity in prokaryotes arose explosively.  And that’s what they did.  They evaluated their evidence with the BBB model and a slower type of explosion, called compressed cladogenesis (CC).2  Whichever was better, it was not very tree-like.  The strong tree-of-life image is unsupportable in the data.  They asked, “However, is there any hope of salvaging the tree of life as a statistical central trend?”  Searching diligently, they thought they found some things that “suggest a positive answer to this crucial question.”

The message from this analysis is twofold.  On the one hand, we detected high levels of inconsistency among the trees comprising the forest of life, most probably due to extensive HGT, a conclusion that is supported by more direct observations of numerous probable transfers of genes between archaea and bacteria.  On the other hand, we detected a distinct signal of a consensus topology that was particularly strong in the NUTs.  Although the NUTs showed a substantial amount of apparent HGT, the transfer events seemed to be distributed randomly and did not obscure the vertical signal.  Moreover, the topology of the NUTs was quite similar to those of numerous other trees in the forest, so although the NUTs certainly cannot represent the forest completely, this set of largely consistent, nearly universal trees is a reasonable candidate for representing a central trend.  However, the opposite side of the coin is that the consistency between the trees in the forest is high at shallow depths of the trees and abruptly drops, almost down to the level of random trees, at greater phylogenetic depths that correspond to the radiation of archaeal and bacterial phyla.  This observation casts doubt on the existence of a central trend in the forest of life and suggests the possibility that the early phases of evolution might have been non-tree-like (a Biological Big Bang).  To address this problem directly, we simulated evolution under the CC model and under the BBB model, and found that the CC scenario better approximates the observed dependence between tree inconsistency and phylogenetic depth.  Thus, a consistent phylogenetic signal seems to be discernible throughout the evolution of archaea and bacteria but, under the CC model, the prospect of unequivocally resolving the relationships between the major archaeal and bacterial clades is bleak.
Keeping some hope alive in the bleakness, therefore, they thought they could discern a weak central phylogenetic (evolutionary) trend in their data.  But it was, at best, only a composite of “nearly universal” trees that was obscured by a thicket of cross branches.  The same data seem to fit just as well with the big bang or compressed cladogenesis models (see footnote 2 for explanation).  The short message is, “A central trend that most probably represents vertical inheritance is discernible throughout the evolution of archaea and bacteria, although compressed cladogenesis complicates unambiguous resolution of the relationships between the major archaeal and bacterial clades.”
    This paper is the latest in a series of “bleak” findings by Koonin about the missing tree of life (see “Mystery of Intron Evolution,” 09/03/2003; “Introns Stump Evolutionary Theorists,” 03/09/2006, “What Are Human Genes Doing in a Sea Anemone?”, 07/08/2007; “Will Darwinism End in a Big Bang?”, 10/08/2007).
1.  Puigbo, Wolf and Koonin, “Search for a ‘Tree of Life’ in the thicket of the phylogenetic forest,” Journal of Biology, 2009, 8:59doi:10.1186/jbiol159.
2.  “More specifically, we considered two models of early evolution at the level of archaeal and bacterial phyla: a compressed cladogenesis (CC) model, whereby there is a tree structure even at the deepest levels but the internal branches are extremely short; and a Biological Big Bang (BBB) model under which the early phase of evolution involved horizontal gene exchange so intensive that there is no signal of vertical inheritance in principle.”  But even with CC, a tree without branches is not really an evolutionary tree; it is a lineage.
The Darwinists are in the throes of withdrawal.  The thought of not having a tree to comfort them is too much to endure.  Their tree at the Cambrian exploded, and now they are hearing a big bang at the origin of the most primitive forms of life.  Darwin hates those explosions.  They ruin his whole day.
    Get a load of this line from the paper.  It is almost unsurpassed as an example of euphemism covering up a crisis: “The results of this analysis do not rule out the BBB model as the generative mechanism underlying the divergence of archaea and bacteria....”  Did you catch that?  That is hilarious!  A big bang as a generative mechanism?  What are they saying?  Generative – Genesis – they’re talking about creation, folks!  The prokaryotes just burst onto the scene.  Explosions are generally not considered to be creative mechanisms, you realize.  They just hid their little “problem” inside a big bang, hoping the concussion would distract you from what they just admitted.  A big bang as a generative mechanism?  Ha!  However that happened, it was definitely NOT a Darwinian process.  It sounds like creation.  There is no possible, conceivable way that Darwin can account for the sudden appearance of prokaryotes and bacteria, with all their molecular machines, systems, networks, genetic codes and complexity.  Why don’t they just admit it?  Why don’t they follow the evidence where it leads?  Why this craving to smoke the Darwin dope and push it on the youth? (DOPE = Darwin-Only Public Education).  They said the DOPE is still in 21st century textbooks.  Come clean!  Break the habit.  Clean up your act.
    Darwinism’s only tenuous grasp on science is empirical evidence.  Admittedly, Darwin was a good storyteller.  He was a genteel guy with a lot of friends.  But who cares if his book makes a nice story or one long argument?  Science wants data.  The empirical evidence has been slipping from his disciples’ grasp since the Origin hit the bookshelves.  It sent his disciples on many a wild goose chase, looking for missing links that were trumpeted only to be falsified later (like Piltdown Man), Precambrian transitional forms that never appeared, pangenesis that was challenged by Mendelian discrete alleles, and promissory notes they kept delaying to pay.  They kept distracting us with little finch beaks and peppered moths to make us believe they had everything explained.  Their grip on empirical evidence was nearly lost when the genetic code was discovered.  Now this: no tree of life!  A biological big bang.  Face it, Darwinists: it’s over.  The tree was a myth.  It’s obsolete.  Stop trying to imagine a tree in the thicket.  It’s not even “a tree of one percent.”  Five percent is the usual scientific minimum threshold for statistical significance; this is way below that.  The data do not “suggest” an imaginary tree that might be used to “salvage” the icon.  If there’s anything “suggested” by the empirical evidence, it is a loud, clear call of design.
    Stop the doubletalk and the moonwalk.  “Compressed cladogenesis” (another euphemism for “hurry-up origin of groups”) is not going to save the theory now.  They tried that with the Cambrian explosion, too, remember?  They tried to stretch it out a few more million years, from 2 minutes on a 24-hour clock to 4 minutes.  It’s not going to work.  Give it up.  Let’s all pitch in, clean up the mess and move on.  There’s work to do.  Systems biology has some gold to mine (07/21/2009) and we can at least learn some things that might improve our living standards from the intelligent designs in biology (07/11/2009, 06/25/2005, 10/29/2005).
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyDarwin and Evolutionary TheoryGenetics
  How fossils can mislead interpretations of past flora and fauna, from 07/21/2003.

More Going On in the Brain Than We Realize   07/22/2009    
July 22, 2009 — The news story about a girl who can see in both eyes with half a brain has stunned neurophysiologists (see New Scientist and Live Science).  Somehow, the remaining parts of her brain underwent a massive reorganization of the circuits involved in vision.  “It was quite a surprise to see that something like this is possible,” one of the neuroscientists who imaged the girl’s brain remarked.  Even more surprising is that the girl appears to be able to lead a normal life.  This story illustrates that much about the workings of the brain remains to be understood.
    How aware is an unborn baby in the womb?  Live Science reported that experiments seem to show short-term memory in fetuses 30 weeks of age.  Tests with vibroacoustic stimulation on 100 pregnant women in the Netherlands apparently showed habituation to stimuli by the growing infants.  This does not necessarily correspond to consciousness, but was unexpected; Dr. Jan Nijhuis, a co-author of the study and an obstetrician at Maastricht University Medical Center in The Netherlands, said that until a few decades ago, “people would say that the human fetus is a sort of black box.”  Tests on infants below 30 weeks were negative, but that could be due to using the wrong kind of stimulus.
    Apes have brains but something is missing: the ability to innovate.  Experiments show they can imitate one another, and even pass on lessons learned.  But New Scientist said, “For all their cognitive prowess, chimpanzees will never build four-stroke engines, stone pyramids, or even a simple wheel.”  Why?  When watching another chimp, they focus on the outcome, but not on the process that produced the outcome.  Andrew Whiten (St. Andrews U, UK) thinks that dichotomy, however, is too simplistic.  His observations acknowledged the monkey-see-monkey-do ability, but said, “They didn’t show any kind of cumulative cultural evolution.”  What in the brain of a chimp limits them?  It’s not just size, as the first story indicated.
    New Scientist also debunked the myth that we only use 10% of our brains by discussing the vital role of glial cells that has been coming to light in recent years.  Long thought as mere scaffolding, these cells that constitute 90% of brain tissue may underlie dreams and imagination.  They have also been implicated in cell regeneration and cell death.  For those reasons, they may hold keys to understanding Alzheimer’s disease and other neural disorders.  Helen Thomson wrote about this in her review of a book, The Root of Thought by Andrew Kolb, that surveyed the history of speculation about the brain.  Thomson ended, “No matter what scientists uncover, though, it is clear that the brain is a far more subtle structure than the neural lightning storm it was once thought to be.”
    Bacteria don’t have brains at all but they display some uncanny abilities that seem downright brainy.  New Scientist described bacteria that can communicate, make decisions, cooperate, form communities, navigate, learn, remember, and adapt.  “Remarkable though these behaviours are, we have probably only scratched the surface of what single-celled organisms can do,” reporter Michael Marshall wrote.  “With so many still entirely unknown to science, there must be plenty more surprises in store.”
    Another story on New Scientist warned that doctors may be misdiagnosing patients in comas.  New testing methods found that 41% judged in a vegetative state were actually minimally conscious.  The thought of a partly conscious human being denied food and allowed to die should bring shudders to family members who are typically more concerned about their loved one than the medical staff.  “We may have become much too comfortable about our ability to detect consciousness,” said Joseph Giacino, the doctor in Belgium whose team re-diagnosed 44 patients and reclassified them as minimally conscious.  “I think it’s appropriate for there to be some level of alarm about this.”  Most diagnoses are made with subjective techniques that are subject to examiner bias.  The new method devised in 2004, called revised coma recovery scale, uses a series of behavioural tests based on criteria that can be used to distinguish between the two states.  It considers patients who may pop in and out of consciousness, and distinguishes reflex responses more objectively.
    Judging the mental state of someone seemingly unconscious is important.  It can be a matter of life or death.  Some jurisdictions allow withdrawal of food depending on the diagnosis of vegetative state.  The other investigator said, “It’s very important to be sure of the diagnosis.”

Between birth and death, that 3-pound jelly-like mass in your skull is your physical key to rationality, decision-making, and emotion in ways we do not fully understand.  It may half as large as others – that’s not the important thing.  Take what you have and use it wisely.  And be careful how you treat the brains of others.
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Systems Biology Oddly Silent About Darwin   07/21/2009    
July 21, 2009 — Two papers on the rise of “systems biology” appeared in Nature last week.  Both are astounded by the complexity of the cell, but neither had anything to say about evolution, Darwin, or phylogeny – mildly surprising when the proponents of evolution keep saying that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”
    Systems biology tries to take a holistic view of the cell as a system.  It considers the networks of interactions between genes and proteins.  Nathan Blow, in his article about emerging technologies for the study of cell interactions,1 showed diagrams that are stunning in their complexity.  The known protein interactions look something like a galaxy.  Even the pathway maps that simplify the interactions look like detailed flowcharts for a city.  The caption says, “Pathway maps illustrate the complexity of cellular interactions.”  One technology company, Plectix, has come up with a computer model called Cellucidate that carries the analogy further:
“The system is represented at a very granular level where the participants are allowed to do in silico what they would do in real life,” says Paul Edwards, chief executive at Plectix.  Imagine the city-building computer game SimCity reworked for complex cellular networks, but here the agents of the cell – proteins and other molecules – are the automata instead of colourful animated people.  “In that way the model mirrors the behaviour of the living system it represents: the biology that emerges from our models is the combinatorial expression of all these automata doing their own little thing – just the way it is in the cell,” says Gordon Webster, vice-president of biology at Plectix.
Even that model, however, is not the whole story.  What are the dynamics behind those interactions?  Why are the little people going where they go, and interacting the way they do?  Blow writes, “To understand the dynamics of the information flow in cells, researchers not only need more knowledge of protein–protein interaction networks, but they also need to understand protein–DNA interactions, the effects of microRNAs and epigenetic changes on gene expression, and how other macromolecules such as metabolites affect the output of signalling networks.”  The system as a whole determines the output.  It sounds like systems biology has a long way to go.
    A notable phrase in the articles is information flow.  Protein interaction (proteomics) involves complex feedback loops and regulatory processes.  It becomes quite a trick to follow the information.  Blow writes, “it’s clear that scientists might be on the cusp of changing the way they look at signalling and information flow in cells.”  The genetic information in DNA is just a static blueprint, “whereas proteomics is much closer to what is going on in the cell, a molecular manifestation of a phenotype,” Mike Snyder [Yale] said.  How much information is there to keep track of?  “At the moment, GeneGo employs 50 scientists to manually mine and curate published literature for studies on protein interaction, gene expression, metabolism and drugs to expand and update its internal database, which now contains more than 120,000 multi-step interaction pathways, each averaging 11 steps, with information on direction, mechanism and feedback along the pathways, along with direct links to literature evidence.”
    It will take a lot of brain and computer processing power to capture the information flow going on inside a single cell.  Maybe that’s why Nathan Blow ended with these comments:
But when it comes to figuring out the best way to explore information flow in cells, [Mike] Tyers [U of Edinburgh] jokes that it is like comparing different degrees of infinity.  “The interesting point coming out of all these studies is how complex these systems are – the different feedback loops and how they cross-regulate each other and adapt to perturbations are only just becoming apparent,” he says.  “The simple pathway models are a gross oversimplification of what is actually happening.
    Paul Nurse of Rockefeller University in New York wrote about understanding the cell’s information flow last year.  He noted that “our past successes have led us to underestimate the complexity of living organisms”, an oversight that is rapidly disappearing within the world of systems biology and will probably never happen again.
In the second article,2 Nathan Blow described one attempt to elucidate (using Cellucidate) just one protein pathway:
When researchers at Plectix BioSystems in Somerville, Massachusetts, began to use their new Cellucidate software to model the epidermal growth factor receptor pathway, they calculated that there were 1033 potential states – including all protein complexes and phosphorylation states – for the system.  “This is the kind of complexity that scientists have to grapple with when it comes to cell-signalling networks,” says Gordon Webster, vice-president of biology at Plectix.
Those are the potential interactions, of course, not all the ones actually encountered in life.  The challenge is to figure out the interactions that cells use, and what rules they follow.  Researchers in systems biology are looking for the “gold standard” measure of protein interactions.  These efforts are “providing a gold mine for people to dig into.”
1.  Nathan Blow, “Systems biology: Untangling the protein web,” Nature 460, 415-418 (16 July 2009) | doi:10.1038/460415a.
2.  Nathan Blow, “Systems biology: Playing by the rules,” Nature 460, 417 (16 July 2009) | doi:10.1038/460417a.
There are people in the gold mine already, and they don’t take kindly to claim jumpers.  They’re the intelligent design people.  No Darwinist freeloaders allowed.
    Signaling networks, pathways, feedback loops, combinatorial expression, multi-step interaction pathways, robustness to perturbations, cross-regulation, exceptional complexity, information flow – this is the new language of biology.  Nothing in biology will hereafter make sense except in the light of information and design.  Poor Charlie is like the has-been performer nobody goes to see any more, except for his loyal honor guard who demand that we buy tickets and watch his moonwalk whether we like it or not (07/04/2009 commentary). 
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Only Atheists Need Apply   07/20/2009    
July 20, 2009 — He’s a Christian, yes, but he is also a leading American scientist and a harsh critic of intelligent design.  He supports research on embryonic stem cells and upholds Darwin’s theory of evolution completely.  That’s not enough to get Francis Collins off the hook with the scientific establishment.  Both Nature and Science expressed “serious misgivings” with his nomination as head of the National Institutes of Health, even though as the able administrator of the Human Genome Project his scientific credentials have been exceptional.
    Collins is open about his evangelical Christian faith, but his book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, “describes ... how he reconciles this with the science of evolution.”4  He used Templeton Prize funds to start the BioLogos institute that discusses issues of faith and science.  His theistic-evolutionary views have drawn criticism from leaders in the intelligent design movement for embracing Darwinism from start to finish and scrambling Biblical theology.1  Collins’s view of theistic evolution leaves little room for God as an intelligent designer.  He remains at odds with intelligent design leaders.  In addition, he will be stepping down from BioLogos for his NIH term.  Leading Darwinists remain hostile in spite of all of these things.  Here are criticisms from Nature last week.2 
  1. NIH nominee draws scrutiny: Francis Collins is likely to face funding challenges – and criticism of his Christian evangelism.
  2. There are also concerns about whether Collins’s very public expressions of his evangelical Christian faith will affect his job.
  3. Steven Pinker, a psychologist at Harvard University, says he has “serious misgivings” about the nomination.  “Collins is an advocate of profoundly anti-science beliefs, and it is reasonable for the scientific community to ask him how these beliefs will affect his administration of the NIH and his efforts on behalf of the scientific enterprise.”
Here are criticisms in Science magazine last week.3,4 
  1. Although few would disagree with a White House press notice saying that Collins’s work “has changed the very ways we consider our health and examine disease,” Collins does have critics.  Some question his support of “big biology” in the genome project portfolio—with timetables and planned targets—and some are concerned about his outspoken Christian faith.  He raised eyebrows, for example, when he recently launched a Web site, BioLogos, expanding on his 2006 book explaining how he reconciles his faith with the science of evolution.
  2. Although many scientists say geneticist Francis Collins will make a superb director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), not everyone is celebrating.
  3. A discussion about whether Collins’s very public religious views will influence his leadership of NIH played out on blogs early this spring and again in the past week.  There seems to be little evidence for such worries, but they persist.
  4. Richard Dawkins, the biologist and prominent antireligionist, feuded with Collins for mixing science and faith.
  5. This spring, Collins raised hackles again when he and several other scientists launched a foundation and Web site, BioLogos, which claims that it “emphasizes the compatibility of Christian faith with scientific discoveries about the origins of the universe and life.”
  6. One prominent critic, Paul Z. Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, who runs the anticreationist blog Pharyngula, faults Collins for suggesting that altruism cannot be explained by evolution and instead came from God.  “Collins has got some big gaps in his understanding of the field of evolutionary biology,” Myers says.  In comments this spring on Pharyngula, others fretted that Collins’s beliefs could influence his decisions on topics such as stem cells and sex research.
Jocelyn Kaiser, who wrote the two Science articles, might argue that she ended with quotes praising Collins and discounting the worries of the naysayers.  But her title, “Questions About the Language of God,” and the prominence she gave to the criticisms of Collins (all from prominent atheists), leaves a strong bitter taste of “serious misgivings” about Collins – or anyone in science who espouses Christian faith, no matter how accommodating to Darwinism it might be.
1.  See, for instance David Klinghoffer’s blog entries for June 22 and July 8.  His views have also been criticized on Evolution News & Views here for refusing to dialogue with the ID movement, and here because he “handles Darwinism’s universal acid like baby formula.”
2.  “NIH nominee draws scrutiny,” Nature News, Published online 15 July 2009, Nature 460, 310-311 (2009), doi:10.1038/460310a.
3.  Jocelyn Kaiser, “White House Taps Former Genome Chief Francis Collins as NIH Director,”
Science, 17 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5938, pp. 250-251, DOI: 10.1126/science.325_250a.
4.  Jocelyn Kaiser, “Questions About the Language of God,” Science, 17 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5938, p. 250, DOI: 10.1126/science.325_250b.
It doesn’t matter that Collins’s theology is incoherent, incompatible with the Bible, and that he would prefer the companionship of Ken Miller and Eugenie Scott over that of Phillip Johnson or William Dembski.  Theistic evolutionists like Collins are unclean.  They are not secular enough.  They don’t understand science.  Any remnant of Christian faith is a profession of “profoundly anti-science beliefs.”  People like this leave room for God (even eensy weensy teeny tiny corners in their world view for God to get involved).  That’s not atheistic enough.  The critics that Nature and Science quoted sound like a Who’s Who of God-haters: Dawkins the campaigning atheist, and Myers the foul-mouthed blasphemer among them.  Eugenie Scott and the NCSE will probably treat Collins like a useful idiot.  He can help their propaganda campaign with his charade about 100% pure Darwinism being compatible with religion (for those who need a crutch).
    The Darwin-Only Darwin-Only DODOs show their colors as leftists.  You can spot a leftist by two traits: (1) they are intolerant while avowing tolerance, and (2) they are irrational while avowing rationalism..  They portray themselves as the sole spokespersons for a magic word that commands instant respect, whether or not their beliefs or actions have anything to do with it.  That magic word is science.  For a dose of historical reality, browse our online book.
Next headline on:  EvolutionIntelligent DesignBible and Theology
  Was the Grand Canyon carved quickly, not so long ago?  It’s not just creationists claiming that; see the 07/22/2002 entry about a news headline announcing, “Grand Canyon Geologic Infant.”

“Genomic Junk” Is Cell’s Air-Traffic Control   07/20/2009    
July 20, 2009 — Linc-RNAs (large intervening non-coding RNAs) have been promoted from junk molecules to air traffic controllers.  A mystery about these transcripts of DNA that are not translated into proteins is being explained.
    Science Daily reported on work at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the Broad Institute that found these RNA molecules perform a vital task.  “linc-RNAs, once dismissed as ‘genomic junk’ – have a global role in genome regulation, ferrying proteins to assist their regulation at specific regions of the genome.”  Results were published in the July 14 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“I like to think of them as genetic air traffic controllers,” explains co-senior author John Rinn, PhD, a Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor of Pathology at BIDMC and Associate Member of the Broad Institute.  “It has long been a mystery as to how widely expressed proteins shape the fate of cells.  How does the same protein know to regulate one genomic location in a brain cell and regulate a different genomic region in a liver cell?  Our study suggests that in the same way that air traffic controllers organize planes in the air, lincRNAs may be organizing key chromatin complexes in the cell.”
It has been known for some time that small RNA transcripts are involved in gene regulation, but link-RNAs are often thousands of base pairs long.  The article said, “they seemed more like genomic oddities than key players” till now.  “With these latest findings, which also uncovered an additional 1,500 lincRNAs, it’s clear these RNA molecules are no mere messengers – they have demonstrated that they can and do play a leading role.
    Speaking of differences in brain cells and liver cells, another article on Science Daily smashed a paradigm: “DNA Not The Same In Every Cell Of Body: Major Genetic Differences Between Blood And Tissue Cells Revealed.”  A discovery by Montreal scientists “calls into question one of the most basic assumptions of human genetics: that when it comes to DNA, every cell in the body is essentially identical to every other cell.”  It appears that biologists and geneticists are finding new complexities in the way genes are distributed and regulated in body cells.  The discoveries may lead to better understanding of the factors that make cells in various tissues look and behave differently.
Neither of these articles needed evolutionary theory.  When the trend in scientific discovery is to uncover more and more complexity, regulation, and function such that air traffic control is the analogy that comes to mind, intelligent design “leaps up as the most likely explanation,” as Jonathan Wells put it.  Pilot Charlie, preferring unguided processes, appears headed for a nose dive.
Next headline on:  GeneticsCell BiologyIntelligent Design
A “Completely Different Slant” on Solar System Formation   07/20/2009    
July 20, 2009 — “Did great balls of fire form the planets?” New Scientist asks.  A new theory “challenges the notion that the solar system started out as a placid sea of dust motes which simply clumped together to form planets.” If accepted, it “puts a completely different slant on what happened in the early solar system in the first 2 million years.”
    Ian Sanders (Trinity College, Dublin) proposed that a nearby dying star with six times the mass of the sun sent asteroid-sized blobs of magma hurtling through the solar system.  Radioactivity kept the magma blogs molten.  This led to the formation of the enigmatic chondrules, which contain remnants of short-lived radioactive nuclides.  The colliding material also formed the building blocks of the planets.
    Others find the idea intriguing but problematic.  The blobs should have differentiated into chemically distinct layers – not apparent in chondrules.  It also would impact beliefs about the origin and uniqueness of life.  PhysOrg quoted Dr. Maria Lugaro (Monash University), a member of the international team of astrophysicists who proposed the new theory.  “We need to know if the presence of radioactive nuclei in young planetary systems is a common or a special event in our galaxy because their presence affected the evolution of the first large rocks (the parent bodies of asteroids and meteorites) in the solar system,” she said.  “These are believed to be the source of much of earth’s water, which is essential for life.”
This completely different slant is pretty oblique, all right.  So now Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin should just accept the notion that, 40 years ago, they were starstuff walking on starstuff, just globs of protoplasm walking on old solidified globs of lava.  Assuming the hallmark of humanness is rationality, that sounds like one giant leap backwards for mankind.
    While it’s nice to see some daring new thinking outside the box in science, this idea seems highly contrived.  The evolutionists probably won’t like it.  It makes the origin of the earth much more unlikely, for one thing.  For another, it tends to falsify the long-taught belief that dust accretion is sufficient to build planets.  But where is the evidence for a nearby large star in the right position with the right amount of material to seed our sun with planetary building blocks when they were needed?  How convenient to bring in the material by just-in-time special delivery.  Let’s ask the logical follow-up question.  Where did the dying star get its asteroid-sized blobs, if accretion is no longer in vogue?
    “Great balls of fire” belongs in a rock concert, not a science lab.  This proposal should call into question whether imagining “notions” after the fact is really scientific.  Are scientists supposed to be sitting around inventing notions? (notion, n.: vague or imperfect conception or idea of something; a fanciful or foolish idea; whim).  You thought science was about testing theories with evidence.  The notion in this story amounts to little more than an ad hoc speculation concocted to save the old notion from anomalies.  There’s an ad hoc here and an ad hoc there, here a hoc, there a hoc, everywhere an ad hoc.  One doesn’t normally add hawks to the science farm.  If Old MacDonald Observatory ever hawks this theory, they should quickly hear some philosophical moos and oinks from the sentient animals.
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July 18, 2009 – The anti-Biblical legacy of Darwinism started before Darwin wrote a word on evolution.  In The Great Turning Point (Master Books, 2004), Dr. Terry Mortenson exposed “the church’s catastrophic mistake on geology – before Darwin.”  Yes, it was geology where a turn away from Biblical authority began.  But was this turn forced by the evidence?  Don’t be fooled.  From rare historical sources, Mortenson shows two surprising things students never hear today in earth studies classes: (1) the geologists of the late 18th and early 19th centuries chose to refuse to listen the Biblical record of the flood in spite of the evidence for it, and (2) a dozen or so Scriptural geologists with strong credentials in scholarship and field work wrote powerful treatises against the slide into uniformitarian geology.
    Mortenson provides biographies of seven of the Scriptural geologists.  Their arguments should be heeded by modern Biblical scholars who are tempted to compromise Scriptural authority in science and earth history.  The clincher in Mortenson’s case is letters from Lyell he found that unveil a deliberate conspiracy to undermine the participation of theologians in the science of geology.  This was done by pure subterfuge – not by the evidence in the rocks.  Lyell and the uniformitarians made philosophical choices that would determine how the evidence was to be interpreted.  As a consequence, we have had almost 170 years of storytellers, posing as geologists, making up models that force their own naturalistic presuppositions onto the world before the evidence even has a chance to speak (see 06/24/2009 and 04/30/2009 for recent examples).
    The tragedy is that the church of the 19th century, by and large, just rolled over and went to sleep while this key debate was going on.  They deferred to the “scientists” like Lyell, and compromised the historical account in the Bible – the history of the world that was affirmed by Jesus and the apostles.  The Scriptural geologists understood what was going on.  They gave strong arguments – philosophical, textual and evidential – to try to wake them up, but Christian leaders refused to pay attention.  Similar debates and compromises are going on today.  Mortenson has provided a valuable scholarly treatise to document the kind of “turning point” in intellectual history that can have drastic consequences.  It’s getting almost too late to wake up and learn the lesson.
Next resource of the week:  07/11/2009.  All resources: Catalog.

Evolution’s Guiding Hand Is Far From Obvious   07/17/2009    
July 17, 2009 — A recent example of applying evolutionism to everything was seen on Science Daily and PhysOrg last week.  Some psychologists are telling us that evolution taught us to take turns.  “It’s not just good manners to wait your turn -- it’s actually down to evolution, according to new research by University of Leicester psychologists.”
    Cooperation among animals of a species and between species is well known.  These psychologists came up with an evolutionary reason for it: there is an “invisible hand,” they said, “that guides our actions in this respect.”  The study by Andrew Colman and Lindsay Browning “has helped to explain the evolution of cooperative turn-taking.”  It’s coming in the September issue of Evolutionary Ecology Research.  They didn’t say whether they took turns writing the paper.
    But how does the guiding hand of evolution bring about results in a population?  Humans have the advantage of language; didn’t Mom teach us to wait our turn?  But “It is far from obvious how turn-taking evolved without language or insight in animals shaped by natural selection to pursue their individual self-interests.”  The psychologists looked into game theory for answers.  They created selfish digital organisms in their computer.  They found that a variation of “tit for tat” produced a stable equilibrium of turn-taking “only after a species has evolved at least two genetically different types that behave differently in initial, uncoordinated interactions with others.”  It requires genetic diversity, therefore, but once begun, the pattern persists like a stable oscillation in physics.
    Colman said that their dumb, robotic digital organisms started out purely selfish but ended up taking turns.  “Our findings confirm that cooperation does not always require benevolence or deliberate planning.  This form of cooperation, at least, is guided by an ‘invisible hand’, as happens so often in Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

OK, let’s all play this game.  Do whatever comes naturally.  It’s what your genes are telling you to do.  There are no morals, no plans.  Benevolence is an illusion.  Mom telling you to take turns is not really Mom; it’s one of the robots.  She can’t help herself.  You don’t have to listen to her.  Language has no meaning.  If you feel like taking turns, do it.  If you don’t, don’t.  Whatever you do, don’t let any moralizing preacher tell you what you should do.  If he does, tell him you decided to be a rude pig because Darwin told you so.  You saw his invisible hand.
    But, wait: that was an illusion, too.  So was the supposed scholarship of these psychologists.  They pretended to be making a scientific explanation, but it was all a put-up by that invisible hand of Darwin.  They couldn’t help themselves.  Making up silly stories and playing games with dumb digital organisms is what they do because of their genetic diversity caused by their mutations.  It is a consequence of millions of years of natural selection in their ape past.  We can’t listen to these psychologists and expect to learn anything.  We can’t...
    Oh no; it’s becoming clear now: nothing makes sense, because sense is an illusion, too!  So is fairness.  Even illusion is an illusion.  We understand nothing.  We perceive nothing.  We are all selfish dumb robots.  What I wish to do, I don’t do, and what I don’t wish to do, that I do, because of the Darwin that is within me.  Who will deliver me from this body of death?
    But then, wait a minute; why did I have this sensation that sense even existed?  Why did I perceive illusion as illusion?  And who is the “I” asking this question?  Reach for the lifeline, quick!. 
Next headline on:  EvolutionPolitics and EthicsDumb IdeasBible and Theology
  Biblical name found on clay tablet in Babylon: 07/11/2007.

Aliens Are Not Bodybuilders   07/16/2009    
July 16, 2009 — Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute is willing to bet “dollars to Devil Dogs that any extraterrestrials we detect won’t be muscular guys with deep voices and corrugated foreheads, or even big-eyed, hairless grays.”  It all has to do with the way evolution works.
    In the weekly SETI column for Space.com, Shostak opined on what aliens will look like.  He quickly dismissed the Hollywood alien look as too anthropomorphic.  But then, he appealed to convergent evolution to suggest that optimal shape for a smart alien is the humanoid look: “it’s possible that a hominid shape is the best body plan for sentient beings on any world, and no doubt Tinseltown would be pleased to learn that its rubber-suit aliens are good approximations to the real thing.”  He did not explain how scientists can have a real thing without observations.
    The point of his essay, though, was not whether aliens would look like bodybuilders on the beach, but what evolution would produce by the time we made contact with them.  We are on the verge ourselves of creating machine intelligence.  “So here’s the point: Since any aliens we detect are ahead of us, they’ve already done this; they’ve made the transition from biological to engineered intelligence, and left behind the quaint paradigm of spongy brains sloshing in salt water.”  Engineered intelligence: did they use intelligent design?

Seth Shostak lives in a fantasy world of aliens and intelligent signals he has never seen.  He is a prophet of a kind of waiting-for-Godot type of religion, where his savior is bound to show up any minute.  To make this religion look scientific, he employs scientists and engineers to build scientific-looking divination tools that make the disciples think they are getting closer to the promised salvation.  Maybe he should just replace his spongy brain with a Mac and move evolution forward.
    Shostak started by quoting Genesis 1:27, “God created man in His own image,” to make a point that Hollywood is making aliens in man’s image.  At least this shows he is aware of the Owner’s Manual.  Maybe he should study it.  He might learn how to use the antivirus tools, extract his spongy mass from the botnet, reboot successfully, and get rid of his blue screen of death.
Next headline on:  SETIIntelligent DesignDumb Ideas
Dragonflies Are Marathon Champs   07/15/2009    
July 15, 2009 — Step aside, monarch butterflies: some of your fellow insects beat your distance flying wings down.  The BBC News reported on findings by a biologist in the Maldives about dragonflies that migrate 14,000 to 18,000 km from southern India to East Africa and back – including 800 km over open sea.  How these insects can navigate over open water is a mystery, but if confirmed, this feat by the dragonfly leaves the impressive Monarch migration in the dust.  The biologist counted 5 species involved in the marathon.  He figures it takes four generations of the insects to complete one circuit.
Even after centuries of scientific exploration, there are more wonders around us than we can fathom.  Let kids know they don’t have to be a Dawkins atheist to be involved in science.  This story was a discovery of interest to all nature lovers, and it owed nothing to evolutionary theory.  If we studied the technology built into these flimsy little flyers, we might learn a few things from them (e.g., 08/13/2004).
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyAmazing Facts

Battle of Wits:  In this corner, sponsored by the Boston Globe, Dr. Stephen Meyer argues that Thomas Jefferson would have supported intelligent design.  In the other corner, sponsored by New Scientist, Ewen Calloway argues he wouldn’t have.  Pull out your Baloney Detector, read both sides and decide who made the stronger case (and fought like a gentleman).  Evaluate substance, not vituperative skill.
Exercise:  On what future discovery does Calloway’s argument rely?
Next day, Evolution News and Views posted a rebuttal, if you’d like to read it.
Next headline on:  Intelligent Design

Stretching Out the Cambrian Explosion   07/14/2009    
July 14, 2009 — “Dawn of the animals: Solving Darwin’s dilemma” is the confident-sounding title of an article about the Cambrian explosion in New Scientist.  Their solution, however, did not include finding transitional forms.  It revolved around “setting the stage” environmentally for the sudden appearance of complex animals.
    Reporters Douglas Fox and Michael Le Page began by comforting Darwin.  He would not be as forlorn today about the problem for which he said, “I can give no satisfactory answer.”  Look at all the new evidence that has turned up since he died:

Of course, we have since discovered innumerable fossils from far earlier periods.  Rocks as old as 3.8 billion years contain signs of life, and the first recognisable bacteria appear in rocks 3.5 billion years old.  Multicellular plants in the form of red and green algae appear around a billion years ago, followed by the first multicellular animals about 575 million years ago, during the Ediacaran....
None of this addresses the primary issue of the dilemma, however – the sudden appearance of virtually all the animal body plans at the base of the Cambrian.  They realize this, so they quickly shifted gears: “Even so, many perplexing questions remain,” they said.  “Why did animals evolve so late in the day?  And why did the ancestors of modern animals apparently evolve in a geological blink of an eye during the early Cambrian between about 542 and 520 million years ago?”  This brief hand-wringing exercise switched quickly back again to an all-clear sign: “A series of recent discoveries could help explain these long-standing mysteries.
    Here’s their synopsis in a nutshell.  Sponge embryos found in China push back the appearance of multicellular animals (albeit simple ones) as far back as 580 million years – maybe even 632 million, at the beginning of the Ediacaran era, “suggesting that the animal embryos themselves go back this far.”  (We will assume their dates for the time being.)  So far, they have only shifted the date of the problem, not the problem itself.  An embryo is a complex structure that presupposes many complex multicellular processes already in action.
    But “Other, more tentative findings push the dawn of animals back even further,” they announced.  Don’t wait for nice, clean fossils, though.  The findings amount to little more than quantities of 24-isopropylcholestane found in Arabian oil, interpreted by two MIT professors as evidence of a large quantity of sponge material going back as far as 713 million years ago.  Still just stretching dates, they next cited some stromatolites in Canada with “patterns as a characteristic of a collagen mesh – something only animals build.”  The date: 850 million years ago.  Note that this is not actual collagen.  It’s just a pattern in some rocks the resembles a collagen mesh.  It’s discoverer said that it “looks very primitive.
    From there, Fox and Le Page turned to Andy Knoll of Harvard for help.  He looked at his molecular clock evidence and also found animal life at least 800 million years ago; “This goes a long way toward reconciling the geologic record with molecular clock estimates,” he said.  Surprisingly, even though “he thinks animals probably did evolve early on,” Knoll was not convinced by the oil evidence or stromatolite evidence Fox and Le Page had just cited.  “The case for early animals is not yet rock solid,” they said.
    In lieu of evidence, they decided to speculate on the question of why the evidence is missing.  By speculating that the Chinese embryos could represent cysts formed under hard environmental conditions, they wove a war story about bacteria battling the emergent complex life.  Bacteria kept the oceans anoxic (free of oxygen), stole nutrients, and produced toxins like hydrogen sulfide that kept the embryos in their shells.  Knoll said, “Eukaryotes would have been uninvited guests.”
    Eukaryotes got their chance when the planet entered a Snowball Earth stage.  Ice ages cleared the playing field and, for once, allowed animals to get an upper hand.  The reporters quoted a biogeochemist who said, “You have changes in ocean chemistry like an increased availability of molybdenum and zinc, all of which play into making the world more hospitable for eukaryotes and ultimately, metazoans” (multicellular organisms).  The evolutionists seem to be thinking, “If you build it, they will come.”  Sure enough, “Sponges or something like them would have been the first animals on the scene,” Fox and Le Page speculated, not specifying where they came from.  “They lack a nervous system and have no need for circulatory systems.  Animals like jellyfish might also have evolved early.”  Somehow, central nervous systems showed up at the table, too.
    But animal life was tough at first.  That’s why the missing evidence.  They didn’t have hard shells, for one thing.  And they were tiny.  Until they ate the bacteria and got larger, they couldn’t betray their presence.  Slowly, they devoured the rulers of the oceans: the bacteria.  “By doing so, they would have introduced selective pressure for organisms to get larger, to avoid being eaten.”  Eaten?  By what?  They didn’t say; perhaps by cannibals.  Whatever; this process, driven by selective pressure, introduced oxygen into the ocean depths and changed the world forever.  The table was set; the dawn was appearing; the fuse for the explosion was lit: “As the oceans changed, the stage was finally set for the evolution of more sophisticated body forms.”
    How did setting a stage produce the actors and the play?  Instead of answering that question, they digressed briefly into a discussion of whether the changes in ocean oxygenation were a cause or effect of the evolution of complex animals.  Once the playwright and director agreed it was the latter, they role-played the script without any actors to call on:
For a while the climate bounced between wild extremes: during warm periods complex life thrived and lots of carbon was locked away, leading to deep ice ages.  During the ice ages, carbon burial ceased, and the planet warmed again.  These swings ended only when burrowing creatures with a gut evolved towards the end of the Ediacaran, [Martin] Brasier [U of Oxford] thinks.  By recycling the organic matter falling to the sea floor, they reduced carbon burial and stabilised the climate.  “There are no Snowball Earth glaciations after big animals evolve,” he says.
The evidence will show up any day now, in other words, because the actors must have been there somehow or other.  The playwright and director still have a nagging question about this plot.  “But if the evolution of animals really did trigger the ice ages and the oxygenation of the oceans, rather than the other way round, why didn’t animals appear much sooner?” they say.  “After all, single-celled eukaryotes were around from 1.5 billion years ago, and possibly much earlier.”  Somewhere Darwin’s dilemma got inverted.  The audience thought they were going to hear a play about how animals evolved – not a statement that they did evolve.
    That question aside, what did they conclude about the late appearance of animals?  They called on expert Nick Butterfield [U of Cambridge] to explain.  “Butterfield thinks the main reason animals evolved relatively late in Earth’s history was the sheer difficulty of evolving the cell adhesion and signalling machinery necessary for cells to work together.  Once these basics were in place, though, the pace of evolution began to quicken.”  It just took a long time, you see, for Evolution to figure out the technology.  The authors leave that problem to Evolution.  Evolution guarantees the basics will be “in place” on cue.
    Fox and Le Page, apparently satisfied with all this role-playing, ended with a synopsis of the play: the war between the bacteria and the newly-evolved complex life, the battle over carbon and oxygen, the sudden ice age, and the new environment: “The surviving animals seized the opportunity to wrest control of the oceans from the bacteria, producing clear waters rich in oxygen in which larger, more complex animals could evolve,” they said, in an air of triumph.  The rest is easy: “Thus the stage was set for the Cambrian explosion.
    As the curtains close, an announcer steps out for one final word to the audience.  “Of course, fossil hunters are going to have to do a lot more digging to confirm these startling new hypotheses.”  Brasier sticks his head out of the curtain to add a last word – “I suspect things will turn up, but if they don’t we have to listen to the evidence.
If a perceptive audience were watching this farce, they should be erupting in belly laughs in unison at that last line.  That’s hilarious!  “I suspect things will turn up, but if they don’t we will have to listen to the evidence.”  Well, my dear chap, after 150 years, it’s about time!
    If you are not convinced by now that the reporters at New Scientist are irrational Darwin Party ideologues pushing their faith against the evidence, read what they said again more carefully.  The number of propaganda tricks and logical fallacies they just committed are legion.  They started with a bluffing title and opening as if the problem has been solved at last.  They used euphemisms to sugar-coat the seriousness of the problem.  They used high-handed card-stacking by selecting only the authorities that supported their weird-science myth.  And they sidestepped the real issue by talking about oxygen, carbon, and ice instead of how complex animal body plans (with eyes, articulated limbs, nervous systems, digestive systems and much more) could arise by a Darwinian process.  They begged the question about how animals evolved by simply assuming that they did!  Pull out your Baloney Detector and count how many other violations they were guilty of.  It looks like a few of the readers making comments at the end of the article were up to their tricks.
    Let’s get some clarity about this magical phrase they used, “selective pressure.”  They used the power of suggestion to conjure up a mystical guiding hand of Evolution that steered the hopeful cells toward eukaryotic multicellular bliss.  Foul!  Selective pressures are mindless boundaries, that’s all.  They could not care less about what life wants to do (as if animals without sentient brains could want to do anything anyway).  Gravity, for example, is a selective pressure.  It naturally selects people who do not jump out of windows.  It also selects against lizards that fall out of trees.  The selective pressure has no desire or power to create wings; it is just a filter against entities that do not have wings.  Darwinists use this phrase “selective pressure” to distract the reader from using common sense.  They never quite get around to answering the question of how the wings arose.  Well, it certainly was not by selective pressure.  Natural selection is an unguided, mindless process, remember?  It has no foresight.  It cannot pressure anyone or anything to go against what the laws of nature demand in the immediate circumstances.  No wings, matey?  Sorry, you get selected against.
    After all their huffing and puffing, Fox and Le Page deflated their balloon with that last admission: “I suspect things will turn up, but if they don’t we will have to listen to the evidence.”  Ha!  They just admitted their story has no evidence.  In a sense, they have no innocence, in essence.  In no sense does the evidence support evolution.  Then we heard them make a promise: to listen to the evidence.  Let’s hold them to it when the new film Darwin’s Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record from Illustra Media hits the market this summer (watch the trailer).  It will present a lot of evidence.  Let’s see if these ideologues will keep their word and listen to the fossil evidence that is screaming at them.
Next headline on:  FossilsEvolutionDumb Ideas
  Tremors under plate tectonics theory: see the 07/14/2006 entry.

The Early Man Gets the Big Brain   07/13/2009    
July 13, 2009 — “Why are human brains so big?” asked Live Science.  Why are our brains larger relative to body size than almost all other animals?  Rachael Rettner reported on various answers.  To her credit, she pointed out the fallacies of trying to test hypotheses when there is insufficient evidence.
    Rettner evaluated three hypotheses about why early human ancestors developed large brains.  She summarized ideas that revolve around climate change, the demands of ecology, and social competition.  “But with several competing ideas, the issue remains a matter of debate.”
    Can any of these theories be tested, to see which is stronger?  She discussed skull analyses by David Geary (U of Missouri), published recently, that tried to tease out the most significant factors.  His study favored the social competition theory.
    How valid are conclusions like that?  Ralph Holloway (Columbia U) commented that the social competition theory sounds good, but he asked, “How would you ever go about really testing that with hard data?”  Presumably that is what science is supposed to do to make it stand apart from speculation. 

He points out that the sparse cranium datadoesn't tell you anything about the differences in populations for Homo erectus, or the differences in populations of Neanderthals.”  For example, the number of Homo erectus crania that have been found in Africa, Asia, Indonesia and parts of Europe is fewer than 25, and represent the population over hundreds of thousands of years, he said.
    “You can’t even know the variation within a group let alone be certain of differences between groups,” Holloway said.  Larger skulls would be considered successful, but “how would you be able to show that these were in competition?”
By declaring that “larger skulls would be considered successful,” however, Holloway seems to be begging the question.  The success of larger skulls (in evolutionary terms) is the question at issue.  Question-begging seemed inherent in his own theory – that in order for brains to enlarge, they needed to have more time for neuron growth, and longer gestation.  But why should that be a “driving force behind larger brains” when the success of larger brains has not been established?  Presumably, Homo habilis and Homo erectus (and all other animals, for that matter) carved out successful niches for a long time without the increased brain-to-body size ratio.
    Rettner considered two other evolutionary hypotheses before concluding.  A diet high in shellfish “could have provided our ancestors with the proper nutrients they needed to grow a big brain,” she mentioned quickly, overlooking why other animals with high-shellfish diets did not follow suit.  “And another idea is that a decreased rate of cell death may have allowed more brain neurons to be synthesized, leading to bigger noggins.”  By now she seems to be grasping at straws.
    All that was prelude to a last-paragraph wallop that should cast strong doubt on whether any of this speculating about the evolution of big brains belongs in science:
Ultimately, no theory can be absolutely proven, and the scant fossil record makes it hard to test hypotheses.  “If you calculate a generation as, let’s say, 20 years, and you know that any group has to have a minimal breeding size, then the number of fossils that we have that demonstrates hominid evolution is something like 0.000001 percent,” Holloway said.  “So frankly, I mean, all hypotheses look good.”
A corollary would be (assuming a level playing field) that “all hypotheses look bad.”
Lately, Live Science has made baby steps toward scientific integrity (compared to New Scientist’s plunge into abject folly – see next entry), so we must be grateful for their effort to walk upright (e.g., 06/25/2009).  They still stumble often (06/30/2009).  It takes time to learn a new motor skill.
    That said, this article does not go far enough.  Live Science still cannot think outside the box.  It’s nice when Darwinians engage in a modicum of self-criticism (good grief, it’s about time), but when will they take seriously the roar of criticism from outside the camp?  Think about it.  If all the hypotheses within the Darwin camp are equally good, and therefore equally bad, isn’t it time to ask why the Darwin Team gets to be the only player in the Science Tournament?  In what other area of serious inquiry can one viewpoint, that is admittedly bankrupt for ideas, and fouling out left and right with logical fallacies, call all the shots, and exclude from the game any criticisms and alternative ideas?  Let’s use those big brains, humans!  That’s what they were created for.
Next headline on:  Early ManHuman BodyEvolution
Lightning Cooks Up Weird Science   07/13/2009    
July 13, 2009 — Get a charge out of this headline from New Scientist.  A couple of scientists from University of Arizona studied fulgurites, the structures formed in sand by lightning strikes.  They found that they contain phosphites (oxidized phosphate molecules).  They theorized that lightning strikes could have provided phosphites which the primordial soup used to build RNA and DNA.  The way New Scientist put it
Lightning may have cooked dinner for early life.
Early microbes may have relied on lightning to cook their dinner, say researchers.
When lightning strikes sand or sediment, the path followed by the bolt can fuse into a glassy tube called a fulgurite.  A new analysis of these remnants suggests that lightning fries the nutrient phosphorus into a more digestible form.
Today bacteria can get all the phosphites they want from steel corrosion, the article said.
New Scientist seems determined to win Stupid Evolution Quote of the Year at all costs.  They’ll toss out any weird idea that comes along as long as it is something about evolution.  So now, lightning may not have only zapped life into being, it could have fed its new creations (see “Chef Charlie” in the 08/22/2005 commentary).  Our intelligently-designed dumbmeter was not made for this rate of farcical fatuous flapdoodle.  Their latest concoction would need another full serving of wit to be called half-witted.
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeDumb Ideas
July 11, 2009 – Jonathan Sarfati’s Refuting Evolution (1999) and Refuting Evolution II (2002) are handy books for finding quick answers to the overblown claims by evolutionists about their views.  The first book (139 pages) discusses science and theology, facts and bias, natural selection, missing links, supposed evolution of birds and whales, human evolution, astronomy, and dating methods.  The second book (226 pages) has sections on whether evolution is science, claims that evolution is well supported by evidence, and serious problems with evolution that Darwinists gloss over (probability, irreducible complexity, evolution of sex, and human evolution).  Sarfati also includes a list of arguments creationists should not use.  Each paperback has an index and monochrome illustrations.  Dr. Sarfati has a PhD in physical chemistry and works with Creation Ministries International, where you can find these books in their online store.
Next resource of the week:  07/4/2009.  All resources: Catalog.

  Our Scientist of the Month, Galileo, was mentioned in the 07/15/2005 entry.  Find out why, and what it has to do with getting stuck on a dusty road in the middle of nowhere.

A Rat Race to Build Whiskered Robots   07/11/2009    
July 11, 2009 — Some scientists at Bristol Robotics Lab are pretty proud of themselves for building a robot with whiskers.  It can seek out and identify objects using its whiskers, just like rats do.  But they should still take their hats off to their living model, because the rat’s technology is far superior.  Science Daily mentioned several facts about rats and their facial sensing devices that achieve some hard-to-duplicate functions:

  • Rats are able to “accurately determine the position, shape and texture of objects using precise rhythmic sweeping movements of their whiskers,”
  • they can “make rapid accurate decisions about objects,” and
  • “then use the information to build environmental maps.”  This implies elaborate processing of the tactile information by the brain (see 01/20/2004, “How and Why Whiskers Whisk”).
  • “Rats have the ability to operate with damaged whiskers,” when on robots, they would have to be replaced.
The University of Bristol posted a short video on YouTube demonstrating the capability of the prototype, nicknamed SCRATCHbot, moving around and responding to touch with its scanning whiskers.  The design of the little robot bears a striking resemblance to the furry variety.
    By trying to imitate this tactile sense that allows rats to gain useful information about their environment in the dark, the robot-makers are envisioning some exciting inventions as they improve on their bewhiskered robot.  Future robots using this technology might be able to rescue people in the dark.  Your vacuum cleaner may one day be able to adapt by touch for optimal cleaning.  Whiskered robots could perform tactile investigation of surfaces.  And the technology “has the potential for a number of further applications from using robots underground, under the sea, or in extremely dusty conditions, where vision is often seriously compromised.
    Even without inventions for humans, the exercise is helpful, the article said.  “By developing these biomimetic robots, we are not just designing novel touch-sensing devices, but also making a real contribution to understanding the biology of tactile sensing.”  If they can ever build one that can make copies of itself, they will really be onto something.
The poor rat.  It has a name that just sounds disgusting.  Remember, though, the rat didn’t get to name itself.  That was humans’ fault.  We shouldn’t feel disgusted about something we named.  The movie Ratatouille helped its reputation a little.  If the rat could choose its own name, maybe it would call itself the Miniature Investigative Genius Harnessing Tactile Yields, Migrating Optimally Utilizing Sensory Excellence – or Mighty Mouse for short.
    The lesson for us is that even the lowliest of beasts has a lot to teach proud man.  Consider how it alters this old joke for the better: “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still just a rat.”  Why, that should rather rate an honor, rationally. 
Next headline on:  MammalsBiomimeticsAmazing Facts

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

How Did the Turtle Get Its Shell?   07/10/2009    
July 10, 2009 — The cover story of Science this week is about turtle evolution.  The caption on the cover illustration, which compares the skeleton of a turtle, chicken and mouse, reads, “The turtle body plan is unusual in that the ribs are transformed into a carapace, and the scapula, situated outside the ribs in other animals, is found inside the carapace.  A report on page 193 explains the evolutionary origin of this inside-out skeletal morphology.”  So let’s walk outside-in to this issue and see if the promised explanation can be found.
    The title of our entry is the same as Olivier Rieppel (Field Museum, Chicago): “How Did the Turtle Get Its Shell?”  The first thing we learn from Rieppel is that there are two opposing camps among evolutionary biologists: the transformationists and the emergentists.  The first group sounds like old-style Darwinians: “The classic transformationist approach sees morphological evolution as a result of natural selection working on variation manifest in reproducing organisms.”  The emergentists, by contrast, look for variations in embryonic development.  This difference determines what members of either paradigm are looking for to explain the unique skeletons and shells of turtles.  Transformationists look for adaptations in the adult form that might have been passed on to the progeny.  They might look for incipient plates in the skin, for instance, that could have ossified over the generations, then fused into a shell.  Emergentists, instead, would observe the developmental stages of turtles to look for clues about their evolutionary history.  That’s the approach members of the Laboratory for Evolutionary Morphology at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan took in their scientific paper in same issue of Science.2
    A key player in the story was the fossil turtle Odontochelys announced last year (see 11/29/2008), which had a plastron (front shell) but no carapace (back shell).  Scientists back then were debating whether the fossil was a missing link or a specialized turtle derived from pre-existing fully-formed turtles.  This team acknowledged the debate: “It cannot be ruled out that the carapace of this animal merely underwent a secondary degeneration,” they said; “however, if it really possessed the precarapacial dorsal ribs as reconstructed (Fig. 4), the evolution of the turtle body plan would be consistent with the embryonic development of the modern turtle.”  This means that their hypothesis about turtle evolution depends on accepting one side of the debate.
    As for how the skeleton of a pre-turtle vertebrate could have undergone the spectacular modifications required, in which the scapula bones dived inside the rib cage (instead of remaining outside as in all other vertebrates), and the ribs fused to the carapace, forming a complete circle and ridge connected to the plastron, the authors looked to turtle embryos for evidence.  Rieppel summarized their research:

Nagashima et al. observed that during early development of the Chinese soft-shelled turtle Pelodiscus sinensis (see the figure), translocation of the ribs to a position outside the shoulder blade involves folding of the lateral body wall along a line that defines the later formation of the carapacial ridge.  This folding restricts rib growth to the horizontal plane of the carapacial disk and also maintains the shoulder blade in its superficial position relative to the folded body wall.  This organization is thought to characterize ancestral turtles.  Some muscles that develop from the muscle plate that is associated with the folding body wall even retain their “ancestral connectivities” in the adult.
Since there are no ancestral turtle embryos to observe, how can they think about what characterized them?  Here’s where they tied in their story with Odontochelys.  Rieppel continues:
Nagashima et al. hypothesize that in this ancestral turtle, the carapacial ridge was differentiated only along the side of the trunk, remaining incomplete anteriorly and posteriorly.  Only later during the evolution of turtles would the carapacial ridge be completed, causing the anteriormost trunk rib to grow across the shoulder blade and localizing the latter inside the ribcage.
So the researchers would not only have to take the emergentist view from the start, they would also have to assume that Odontochelys was a missing link instead of a specialized form.  This stacks two assumptions on top of each other.  It even sounds a bit like Haeckel’s discredited “Biogenetic Law” (also called the Recapitulation Theory) that asserted, “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.”  The authors almost said that, in fact.  Watch for that word recapitulate and see how they used it:
Odontochelys reconstructed by Li et al. resembles the embryonic modern turtles in some respects (Fig. 2, A and E, and Fig. 4), and this animal may represent an ancestral state.  The Odontochelys-like, ancestral pattern is still retained in the first rib in modern turtles (Fig. 4, right).  Although it remains to be seen whether latissimus dorsi of Odontochelys was shifted rostrally (Fig. 4, middle), its pectoralis would have established a new attachment to the dorsal aspect of the plastron (Fig. 4, middle).  Thus, the developmental sequence of P. sinensis may not wholly recapitulate the suggested evolutionary sequence of turtles.  Nevertheless, the above suggests that the dorsal arrest of ribs can now be assumed to have taken place by the common ancestor of Odontochelys and modern turtles, and in the latter, the completed CR would have allowed for emergence of the carapace (Fig. 4, bottom).  The modern turtles have acquired their unique body plan by passing through an Odontochelys-like ancestral state during embryonic development.  Our embryological study may help to explain the developmental changes involved in both the pre- and post-Odontochelys steps of turtle evolution, from an evolutionary developmental perspective.
So although they couched their Biogenetic-Law explanation with the disclaimer that the developmental sequence (ontogeny) of modern turtle embryos “may not wholly recapitulate” the ancestral evolutionary sequence (phylogeny), they turned right around and depended on Recapitulation Theory to explain turtle evolution.  They said, “The modern turtles have acquired their unique body plan by passing through an Odontochelys-like ancestral state during embryonic development.”  This would only make sense, of course, “from an evolutionary developmental perspective” – i.e., the emergentist view of evolution, which may itself be a recapitulation of Haeckel’s view.
1.  Olivier Rieppel, “Evolution: How Did the Turtle Get Its Shell?”, Science, 10 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5937, pp. 154-155, DOI: 10.1126/science.1177446.
2.  Nagashima, Sugahara, Takechi, Ericcson, Kawashima-Ohya, Narita and Kuratani, “Evolution of the Turtle Body Plan by the Folding and Creation of New Muscle Connections,” Science, 10 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5937, pp. 193-196, DOI: 10.1126/science.1173826.
This entry should not be entitled, “How did the turtle get its shell?” but rather, “How did the evolutionist get its tall tale about how the turtle got its shell?”  The BBC News called this a “spectacular insight into turtle evolution.”  National Geographic contorted this story with the line, “Turtles Have Shells Due to Embryo Origami,” and said “The findings shed light on turtle evolution.”  *Sigh.*
    It is really quite shocking to see slipshod Haeckelian logic employed by today’s evolutionists, and for Science to publish it, knowing that the popular media will gobble it whole and barf it out for the public (see next entry).  Stephen Jay Gould would have been appalled.  Recapitulation was tossed into the dustbin of Darwinism decades ago.  There is no reason even from an “evolutionary perspective” to expect modern embryos to retain any memory of their assumed evolutionary past, or to think that adult forms are somehow more evolved than the embryo is.  Stephen Jay Gould argued that the adult is actually a degenerate form of the embryo (neoteny), not a more advanced stage.  That’s the reverse of what the Recapitulation Theory paradigm teaches.  Besides, one can’t explain that modern turtle embryos are recapitulating their evolutionary past without assuming the very thing one needs to prove.  Yet here it is: Haeckel Recapitulation Theory Biogenetic Law Nonsense popping up again in Science.
    Worse yet, the emergentist view of evolution is little more than a restatement of the Stuff Happens Law (09/15/2008 commentary).  Something weird happened in a pre-turtle vertebrate embryo, things got shuffled around, and presto! the turtle was born.  Why?  Stuff happens.  If you need more convincing that the evolutionary just-so story “How the Turtle Got Its Shell” is summarized by “Stuff Happens,” look at prior attempts: 11/22/2008 piece, “Turtle Vaults Over 65 Million Year Evolutionary Hurdle,” where the explanation amounted to, “We have no idea.”  In the 10/09/2008 entry, the scientists said, “Exactly why turtles evolved their shell remains a mystery.”  Check out the 07/03/2002 entry, where some evolutionists tried to convince readers that the chickens and turtles are sisters despite their radically different skeletons.  Coming up with that idea required contorted attempts at card stacking.  Conclusion: evolutionists are clueless about why these amazingly-adapted, completely-formed animals are the way they are.
    The observational facts do not allow for stories about turtle evolution.  There are no fossil pre-turtles.  If scientists want to stick to empiricism, they cannot appeal to unobservable entities like some mythical common ancestor of turtles.  The evidence only permits them to state scientifically that “turtles have always been turtles.”  Why not leave it at that?  Answer: evolutionary religion requires them to insert turtles into the great chain of being known as Turtle Cosmology.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyEvolution
Greening the Cambrian Explosion   07/09/2009    
July 9, 2009 — Some scientists came up with an idea that simple green plants may have invaded the land earlier than thought, and that this might have helped speed up the rise of animals in the Cambrian explosion.  “The plants were only tiny mosses and liverworts, but they would have had a profound effect on the planet,” said New Scientist.  “They turned the hitherto barren Earth green, created the first soils and pumped oxygen into the atmosphere, laying the foundations for animals to evolve in the Cambrian explosion that started 542 million years ago.”  Science Daily piped in, saying that the scientists “believe they have found the trigger for the Cambrian explosion.
    The scientists are Paul Knauth (Arizona State) and Martin Kennedy (UC Riverside).  In their paper in Nature,1 they did not even mention the Cambrian explosion or the evolution of animals at all.  Here was the only cryptic reference to it:
The contrasting isotope data between 850 Myr ago and the Neoproterozoic suggest that the terrestrial expansion of photosynthesizing communities preceded the significant climate perturbations of the late Precambrian glaciations, and was followed by a rise of O2 (ref.  26) and a secular change in terrestrial sediment composition.  The onset of significant biotically enhanced terrestrial weathering would have increased the flux of lithophile nutrient elements and clay minerals to continental margins.  This would have increased production and burial preservation of organic C towards modern values and consequently facilitated the stepwise rise in atmospheric O2 necessary to support multicellularity.  The terrestrial expansion of an extensive, simple land biota indicated by the isotope data may thus have been a critical step in the transition from the Precambrian to the Phanerozoic world.
Their claim that plants colonized the land earlier than thought was based entirely on isotope data in limestones – not on any fossils of plants.  In the same issue of Nature,2 Eric Hand understood that this is a controversial claim.  At first he gave them the benefit of the doubt: “A thick, green carpet of photosynthetic life, on the scale of that seen today, exploded across Earth 850 million years ago – much earlier than thought – a new study suggests.”  So for one thing, he not only failed to offer a solution for the Cambrian explosion of animals, he added a second explosion of plants.  That seems another hurdle for Darwinian theory.
    He also attributed to Knauth and Kennedy the conclusion that “The greening of ancient Earth could thus be indirectly responsible for the sudden evolution, beginning about 600 million years ago, of larger respirating animals with oxygen-hungry cells,” but then he acknowledged that the evidence is only indirect.
    Hand reminded his readers that other studies contradict the rise of land plants so early.  “The study contradicts other work that looks to the oceans, rather than land, to justify the same isotopic data.”  The claim also flies in the face of the popular “Snowball Earth” scenario that postulates glaciers in the tropics the same time Knauth and Kennedy say plants were invading the land.  He lists other problems: (1) “there isn’t much evidence for widespread plant life until around 400 million years ago, and (2) “to have the effect on the carbonate record that they see, the ancient photosynthetic life would have needed to be operating on the scale that it is today – a worldwide carpeting of green.”  Where is the evidence for that?  Such a carpet should have left its trace in the fossil record – “something for posterity,” Hand put it.  A paleobiologist said it would have been unavoidable for plants to leave their traces in the rocks.
    Despite these problems, the popular press gave prominence to the impression that Knauth and Kennedy had solved the problem of the Cambrian explosion.  Science Daily said that the greening of the land “virtually set the table for the later explosion of life through the development of early soil that sequestered carbon, led to the build up of oxygen and allowed higher life forms to evolve.”  In this “brave new world” of free oxygen, Knauth “explained” that “Early animals would have loved breathing it as they expanded throughout the ocean of this new world.”  New Scientist pointed to a couple of problems that put a “fly in the ointment” of their idea, but still gave it good press: “They turned the hitherto barren Earth green, created the first soils and pumped oxygen into the atmosphere, laying the foundations for animals to evolve in the Cambrian explosion that started 542 million years ago.”
    Science Daily made a couple of comments that historians of science and philosophers of science might want to analyze: “A key element to this scenario is not so much what the researchers saw in the data, but what was missing.”  (This refers to a gap in the plots of limestone isotope data that Knauth and Kennedy interpreted as meaningful to the timing of the arrival of land plants.)  The article also quoted Knauth saying, “Our work presents a simple, alternative view of the thousands of carbon isotope measurements that had been taken as evidence of geochemical catastrophes in the ocean.”  What must the scientists who took those measurements be thinking of this re-interpretation? 
1.  L. Paul Knauth and Martin J. Kennedy, “The late Precambrian greening of the Earth,” Nature advance online publication 8 July 2009 | doi:10.1038/nature08213; Received 20 June 2008; Accepted 18 June 2009; Published online 8 July 2009.
2.  Eric Hand, “When Earth greened over,” Nature, 460, 161 (2009), doi:10.1038/460161a, July 8, 2009.
Knauth said, “The isotopes are screaming that this happened in the Neoproterozoic.”  That’s not what they are screaming.  They are screaming, “Stop lying about us!”  Good grief, this “virtually set the table for the later explosion of life,” they said.  What kind of goofball story is this?  They have portrayed Lady Luck as a waitress, calling, “Here, chance!  Here, randomness!  Eat some raw carbon and oxygen and turn into a trilobite!”
    Are you outraged by this shameful misrepresentation of what the paper actually said (and what the evidence showed) compared to what the popular media reported?  Two Darwin-drunk scientists took some indirect data, based on gaps, that ran in the face of thousands of measurements by others, and stretched it through a long series of mights, maybes and perhapses into a scenario about when green plants first colonized the land, all based on an incestuous relationship between evolutionary theory and evolutionary geology, which they then cooked up and served as a foundation for explaining the Cambrian explosion.  Outrageous.
    The story goes completely beyond any stretch of evidence.  But look what the Darwin-drunk media said about it: these two guys “found the trigger” of the Cambrian explosion and discovered what “laid the foundation” for the sudden emergence of complex animals, as if finding some bricks on the ground explains the emergence of a skyscraper.  Here is your tax money at work.  This storytelling circus was funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation.
    The reporters at New Scientist and Science Daily just swallowed whole what these two scientists said, without any sniffing or tasting first to see if it was wholesome or not.  Then they regurgitated what the self-serving Arizona State press release put out to honor their own, and added some cloves and ginger on top to make the green barf look appealing.  How come Darwinists themselves don’t recognize this as despicable crud?  Why do the Darwin-drunk media get away with it?  For the same reason that corrupt, lying, self-promoting, politicians stay in power, pushing the same policies that history has repeatedly shown are doomed to failure.  We let them.
Next headline on:  FossilsEvolutionPlants
  Shortly before he died, 100-year-old legend of evolutionary theory Ernst Mayr recounted some of the evolution battles he fought – that is, against other evolutionists.  See the 07/02/2004 entry where he portrayed the acceptance of the neo-Darwinian synthesis as a battlefield conquest.

Origin-of-Life Researchers Caught Playing With Toys   07/07/2009    
July 7, 2009 — A “virtual primordial soup” cooks up life in a computer program in a “toy universe,” according to reporter Leslie Mullen at Space.com.  She wrote, “The power of computer processing could one day solve the riddle of life’s origin.
    EvoGrid is “a computer creation concept that would be a digital version of the primordial soup,” wrote Mullen.  It was “dreamed up by a group of international advisors and Bruce Damer, the founder of a research company that creates 3-D spacecraft and mission simulations for NASA and the space community.”  When he’s not simulating real space missions, he’s “constructing a model of a ‘toy universe’, which has approximate properties of the early oceans on Earth.”
    Mullen’s comment that computer processing could one day solve the origin of life seems counter-intuitive.1  Aren’t computer processors built by intelligent design?  Actually, Damer is dreaming of two versions of EvoGrid:

Damer envisions two possible versions of Evogrid: a hands-off “Origins” version, and an experimental “Intelligent Designer” edition that would allow people to tinker with the simulation.  Damer says the ID edition of Evogrid could include a “miracle module” that would allow users to play God in their attempts to create proto-life.  The Origins edition would be the focus of the science, however, with strict controls to shield the experiment from any guiding human influence.
That may be too late.  He has visions of expanding EvoGrid into versions tuned for astrobiology and SETI.  He did not explain how a programmer can do tuning without any guiding human influence.  But he didn’t stop there; he wants biologists of the future to translate his digital organisms into real creatures.  Then he wants to create cyber-physical life forms that can colonize other planets.
    Building real animals from toy models, though, may be a hard task for unguided processes.  Damer seems to understand that to a point.  “Life is more than the sum of its parts, and you can’t just throw the necessary chemicals together and expect a life form to emerge,” he said.  Mullen didn’t want to leave it there.  “However, researchers are hard at work trying to recreate all the biochemical steps necessary to synthesize a kind of proto-life in the lab, so perhaps this possibility is not too far over the horizon.”  And why not?  Mullen speculated that “other intelligent civilizations in the universe probably harness the power of evolution to solve difficult problems.”
1.  The origin of life being envisioned is naturalistic – a chance product of physics and chemistry.
Using intelligent design principles and calling it evolution should be a crime.  Calling evolution a power that can be harnessed makes Mullen a repeat offender.
    Did you notice that the “Origins” version of EvoGrid (that is, the “science” version as opposed to the “ID version”) also has a Miracle Module?  Damen snuck it in under cover.  It was required.  Without it, the computer would just sit there and rust.  He plays EvoGrid like a theremin (an old musical instrument the soloist plays by moving his hands in the air).  He can claim he has his hands off, but while he is engaged in hand-waving, his ID vibes are controlling everything the computer is doing.
    We hate to spoil the fun by revealing the secret during the magic show, but the audience deserves to know it is a magic show, not a science show.  These self-deceived teachers need to leave Toyland and get back to work.  Their toy should not be called EvoGrid, but just GRID – Growth Requires Intelligent Design.
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeIntelligent DesignSETIDumb Ideas
Evolution of Foraminifera Questioned   07/06/2009    
July 6, 2009 — A long, long time ago, primitive sea creatures called foraminifera lived on the ocean bottom.  One day, some of them invaded a new ecological niche: the ocean surface.  There, they became part of the plankton zoo.  When the catastrophe that wiped out the dinosaurs occurred, most of the surface foraminifera died.  But they recovered in later epochs, always living near the surface.  That evolutionary story has been called into question by the discovery of a surface (pelagic) dweller that is the same species as an ocean-bottom (benthic) dweller.
    Foraminifera, sometimes called forams for short, can be thought of as amoeba-like organisms inhabiting perforated shells.  Most are very small – about 1mm – but some as long as 19mm in diameter are known.  Their shells of calcium carbonate can be very elaborately decorated.  Forams make up a large part of the ocean’s plankton.
    Evolutionists have portrayed forams evolving first on the ocean floor.  Some became buoyant and colonized the surface.  That was the picture till now.  Writing in PNAS,1 Darling et al said, “Evolution of planktic organisms from benthic ancestors is commonly thought to represent unidirectional expansion into new ecological domains, possibly only once per clade.”  They also noted that “The planktic foraminiferal evolutionary tree is under considerable debate.
    Then they announced their bombshell discovery: “We present surprising but conclusive genetic evidence that the Recent biserial planktic Streptochilus globigerus belongs to the same biological species as the benthic Bolivina variabilis, and geochemical evidence that this ecologically flexible species actively grows within the open-ocean surface waters, thus occupying both planktic and benthic domains.”  OK, so what?  “We argue that the existence of such forms must be considered in resolving foraminiferal phylogeny,” or evolution.  Time to rewrite the textbooks again.
    The authors thought that “The ability to survive in both planktic and benthic habitats should be seen as an extraordinary ecological adaptation for long-term survival.”  Evolutionists seem not to have taken this ability into account.  The same species can be tychopelagic, or able to live on the surface and on the bottom.  Here’s their conclusion:
The Cenozoic planktic foraminiferal phylogeny of microperforates, the group containing biserial and triserial forms, has generally presented taxonomists with problems.  Many of these genera and species show discontinuous stratigraphic records, making ancestor–descendant patterns difficult to reconstruct.  This could be the result of a lack of observation of the small forms, in a size fraction that commonly is not included in study.  In our view, however, such ancestor–descendant relations simply do not exist.  This is supported by recent evidence that the living triserial planktic foraminifer Gallitellia vivans had a Miocene benthic ancestor and thus did not evolve from the Cretaceous–Paleocene triserial Guembelitria cretaceaAppearances of biserial and triserial planktic forms in the geological record should therefore not be considered as necessarily discrete punctuated evolutionary events but as a series of excursions of expatriated tychopelagic microperforates into the planktic domain.

1.  Darwing et al, “Surviving mass extinction by bridging the benthic/planktic divide,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online July 2, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0902827106.
Let’s translate that last clause into plain English.  Once upon a time, some foraminifera on the ocean bottom were being persecuted.  The ruling oligarchy excommunicated them.  Forlorn and forsaken, these expatriates took an excursion.  They floated up to the surface to look for a new life in the Kingdom of Plankton, where the sun always shines and freedom to evolve is a constitutional right.
    So is this paper a victory of gradualism over punctuated equilibria?  No; it’s the latest in the game of hot potatoes.  Earlier evolutionists believed in the prevailing just-so story: that the migration to the surface took place long ago, one time.  The benthic and pelagic groups then lost contact with one another and went on separate evolutionary paths.  But lo, this plot made it hard to arrange the fossil groups into ancestor-descendant relationships.  So now, this team has discovered that some of these creatures can actually inhabit two very different environments at the same time.  That not only falsifies the foundational belief that the earlier evolutionists had about the evolutionary history of foraminifera (including the myths about their extinctions and radiations), it also scrambles the fossil record.  Fossil hunters can no longer assume that benthic and pelagic forms have distinguishable phylogenies.
    The problem density thus remains the same, but the storytelling density increases.  Now we get to hear tales about expatriated foraminifera taking excursions into evolutionary frontiers, where their craftsmen invent extraordinary ecological adaptations for long-term survival, literally out of the blue.  Why not?  In the magic land of Darwinia where the only rule is the Stuff Happens Law, facts are the servants of the wizards.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyEvolutionary Theory
How the Animals Learned to Count   07/06/2009    
July 6, 2009 — Any evolutionary article that begins with “How...” should be checked for Kipling-style just-so storytelling.  Characteristics to watch for include (1) fanciful speculation without evidence: i.e., “made-up” tales that provide an answer to a childish question without appeal to rigorous proof, and (2) statements made with dogmatic authority, like a parent would explain to a child why something is “just so” because he or she says so.  An article in New Scientist provides one opportunity: “How Numeracy Evolved.”  The article is about basic numerical faculties present in lower animals that might provide clues for how humans gained their expertise at mathematics.
    The article discusses experiments with monkeys, salamanders, mosquitofish, bees, chicks and horses.  It appears that these animals have a rudimentary ability to do arithmetic: to add and subtract numbers, and even perceive ratios, up to a certain level.  Here’s how the concept of evolution was employed to account for the counting:
  1. ...the skills of this growing mathematical menagerie resemble our own innate abilities.  Could basic mathematics have evolved hundreds of millions of years ago?
  2. This ancient cognitive capacity even seems to dictate the way we humans understand written numbers.
  3. Together, the results suggest that the two abilities – to precisely identify small numbers and to estimate the relative size of large numbers – have deep roots in our evolutionary history
  4. “There’s a good chance that this thing goes way back,” says Marc Hauser, a psychologist at Harvard University, who has led many of the primate studies.
  5. This ability may date back to even more primitive organisms than fish.
  6. So it seems that even our most distant relatives have some concept of number, but these studies still don’t show whether animals learn to count through training, or whether they are born with the skills already intact.  If the latter is true, it would suggest there was a strong evolutionary advantage to a mathematical mind.  Proof that this may be the case has emerged from an experiment testing the mathematical ability of three and four-day-old chicks....
  7. This suggests that numeracy is an innate ability in many animals that does not require training.  Why these skills evolved is not hard to imagine, since it would help almost any animal forage for food, says Gallistel...
  8. Exactly how ancient these skills are is difficult to determine, however.  Just because bees, salamanders, fish and humans share similarities in their ability to detect number, it does not necessarily mean they all inherited the talent from a common ancestor.
  9. Just as bat and bird wings evolved separately yet work using the same fundamental principles, numerical representation may have developed in many separate instances.  Brannon agrees: “We clearly must be talking about convergent evolution or something that is so primal that it traces back to millions and millions of years ago.
  10. Unlike bony wings, number-crunching brains leave little trace in the fossil record.  Only by studying the numerical abilities of more and more creatures using standardised procedures can we hope to understand the basic preconditions for the evolution of number.
Results: empirical experiments about numerical abilities in animals were cited, but they were all interpreted with respect to unobservables – millions of years, and presumed selective advantages of evolution, without any explanation of how mutations and natural selection would have produced these abilities.
Those last two quotes clinch it, don’t they?  We were just fed a just-so story, with Darwin uttering the magic word, Evolution. Evolution produces counting minds out of chemicals.  Like a force that pervades the universe, Evolution brings forth the seemingly impossible.  Take any ability, any function, any wonder of nature observable today, and a backward glance will show the hand of Evolution was at work.  And when ordinary Evolution seems insufficient to bring about the Emergence of whatever needs to be explained, the magic words must be uttered multiple times till it clicks into place: Convergent Evolution.
    Evolution serves the same purpose the Greek gods did in ancient cultures.  They are convenient placeholders beyond the pale for pagan parents to use in telling their pagan children how things came to be.  Since the gods of Evolution inhabit the Mt. Olympus of Imagination, storytellers are free to invent dramatic tales about them, make them seem human yet divine, and yet keep them mysterious enough to keep the populace in a state of numinous awe so they stay complacent and don’t revolt.  The thought police prowl about rounding up and silencing heretics to ensure that only the official story is heard.
    Ironic, isn’t it, that today’s priests of the evolutionary pantheon fancy themselves as the debunkers of the supernatural and the defenders of rationality.  Try your hand at their game.  Make up a story about How the Darwinist Got Its Imagination.  Throw in a few millions of years so that it sounds authentic.
Next headline on:  BirdsMammalsMarine BiologyTerrestrial ZoologyEvolutionDumb Ideas
  Is evolution like the Nigeria scam?  Read the 07/16/2003 entry and decide.

July 4, 2009 – As the standard bearer of the intelligent design movement, the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute provides a number of interesting resources online.  First, visit Evolution News and Views, a daily blog featuring stories about intelligent design, education, history, philosophy and the latest Darwinist bombast.  You’ll see they’ve added a new presence on Facebook, too.  For audio podcasts, go to ID the Future where you can hear and download radio-style interviews with leading thinkers and scientists.  Lastly, see IntelligentDesign.org for FAQ, articles about science and education, products, and links to additional ID sites.
Next resource of the week:  06/27/2009.  All resources: Catalog.

Paper View: Darwin, of All the Nerve   07/04/2009    
July 4, 2009 — American neurons are due to get a workout this day.  The taste buds and olfactory neurons will get their exercise first at Independence Day barbecues across the land, then the visual cortex and auditory neurons will max out as the fireworks start after dark.  Escorted by the Editors of Science Magazine, Darwin is here in America and wants to get in on the action for his 200th birthday tour.  Surely his handlers will have something evolutionary to say about all this electrical stimulation going on that makes the revolutionary holiday joyous.  Picture a bandstand in the park with an audience eager to hear about the old man’s viewpoint on nervous systems.
    Greg Miller, in a series celebrating the white beard of evolution for Science,1 tackled the question in Darwinian style with his essay, “On the Origin of the Nervous System.”  Let’s see if it wins applause from the crowd.  The editors give the introduction to the man of the hour: “What did the first neurons and nervous systems look like, and what advantages did they confer on the animals that possessed them?  In the seventh essay in Science’s series in honor of the Year of Darwin, Greg Miller discusses some tantalizing clues that scientists have recently gained about the evolutionary origins of nervous systems.”  Drum roll.  Miller steps up to the mike.  Will he be nervous?  It always helps to start an essay with a grand parade of amazing facts:

The nervous systems of modern animals are amazingly diverse.  A few hundred nerve cells are all a lowly nematode needs to find food and a mate.  With about 100,000 neurons, a fruit fly can perform aerial acrobatics, dance to woo a mate, and throw kicks and punches to repel a rival.  The sperm whale’s 8-kilogram brain, the largest on the planet, is the navigation system for cross-ocean travel and 1000-meter dives and enables these highly social creatures to communicate.  The human brain—one-sixth that size—is the wellspring of art, literature, and scientific inquiry.
He’s won some applause for those lines, but has not yet answered the question.  Might as well dive right in: “But how did they all get started?  What did the first neurons and nervous systems look like, and what advantages did they confer on the animals that possessed them?”  Miller detours briefly into history to absolve Mr. Darwin.  The old man was ill-equipped to answer that question, he said.  Neuroscience did not really begin till after he died.  It has taken decades to develop the tools to even begin to understand the subject matter that needs explaining by Darwinian theory.  With the father of evolution thus exonerated, how are modern researchers doing?
Using such modern tools, scientists have recently begun to gain some tantalizing clues about the evolutionary origins of nervous systems.  They’ve found that some of the key molecular building blocks of neurons predate even the first multicellular organisms.  By looking down the tree of life, they are concluding that assembling these components into a cell a modern neuroscientist would recognize as a neuron probably happened very early in animal evolution, more than 600 million years ago.  Most scientists agree that circuits of interconnected neurons probably arose soon thereafter, first as diffuse webs and later as a centralized brain and nerves.
    But the resolution of this picture is fuzzy.  The order in which early branches split off the animal tree of life is controversial, and different arrangements imply different story lines for the origins and early evolution of nervous systems.  The phylogeny is “a bit of a rat’s nest right now,” says Sally Leys of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.  Scientists also disagree on which animals were the first to have a centralized nervous system and how many times neurons and nervous systems evolved independently.  Peering back through the ages for a glimpse of the first nervous systems is no easy trick.
The audience, naturally, is only going to tolerate excuses for so long about how hard the question is.  So far, they have only heard about “tantalizing clues” and “story lines” and low-resolution pictures compounding the problem – followed by the suggestion that this complicated system arose several times independently.  No answer is yet in sight.
    Surprisingly, Miller tries to soften up the audience on the radical idea of multiple independent origins by quoting an evolutionary colleague who said, “If you look at any other organ or structure, people easily assume it could evolve multiple times,” so, by implication, why the heartburn about nervous systems?  The audience looks this way and that as if asking, What people are you talking about?
    Miller next sets up the problem: “How to Build a Neuron.”  He discusses the varieties of neurons, how they all transmit electricity in one direction, and other empirical facts.  Dendrites, neurotransmitters, all the objects of study in the neuroscience lab get a brief mention.  Then he tells what they’re good for:
Arranged in circuits, neurons open up new behavioral possibilities for an animal.  Electrical conduction via axons is faster and more precise than the diffusion of chemical signals, enabling quick detection and a coordinated response to threats and opportunities.  With a few upgrades, a nervous system can remember past experiences and anticipate the future.
The audience is sensing this is another distraction from the subject.  Miller responds to their impatience as if to say I’m getting there, but gives another excuse: “Although the advantages of going neural are clear, how it first happened is anything but.
    On come the stories, or “plausible scenarios” as he calls them.  Maybe jellyfish were the first pioneers to explore the possibilities of nerves.  Back in 1970, “George Mackie of the University of Victoria in Canada envisioned something like the sheet of tissue that makes up the bell of a jellyfish as starting material.”  Those cells respond to touch and contract.  Perhaps these multifunctional cells “may have given rise to” additional cell types, and the ions began to flow.  “With further specialization, the distance between the sensory and muscle cells grew and axons arose to bridge the gap,” he said, embellishing this story without any appeal to observational evidence.  “Eventually, ‘interneurons’ appeared,” (how?  from where?) “forming synapses with sensory neurons at one end and with muscle cells at the other end.”  The audience is puzzled.  He seems to have conjured up the evolutionary rabbit out of a hat of pure speculation.
    So far this “plausible scenario” is tall on imagination and short on empirical support.  Miller calls on another evolutionist who seems to have stronger faith in the power of convergent evolution: “Neurons may have appeared in multiple lineages in a relatively short time.”  That doesn’t calm the rustling in the audience much.
    Realizing he needs some factual support quick, Miller appeals to Paramecium and other single-celled organisms that can respond with a cascade of signals when they touch an obstacle.  Voltage-gated channels in the membrane allow ions to flow as part of the response mechanism.  It strikes some in the audience strange that Miller appeals to one complex system to explain the origin of another complex system.  He works up his nerve to say, “Electrical excitability, it seems, evolved long before neurons made it their specialty.”  A critic in the audience jots down a note that he has not described any of this in terms of mutations and natural selection.  So far, it sounds Lamarckian.
    Miller wipes his storyboard with a sponge.  His next plot line is that sponges may have been a transitional link.  After all “Many scientists think” that sponges “are the living creatures most similar to the common ancestor of all animals.”  The audience shuffles restlessly again: who is he talking about?  “And to many researchers, sponges look like animals on the verge of a nervous breakthrough.”  That pun gets a brief courtesy giggle followed by furrowed brows.  He continues, “Sponges don’t have a nervous system, or even neurons, but they do have a surprising number of the building blocks that would be needed to put a nervous system together.”
    Miller shows they have these building blocks by referring to the genome of a marine sponge that can build some proteins used in synapses of neurons.  These sponges, of course, lack synapses, but they appear to have some genes for neurotransmitter receptors.  The audience perks up at this revelation.  What does it mean?  Miller is not sure: “the function of these synaptic scaffolding proteins in a sponge is a mystery....”  Some in the audience are toying with alternative explanations.  Simultaneously, Miller seems to realize his vulnerability.  He just failed to explain why Darwinian selection would build equipment for an animal that appears to lack any use for it.
    Surprising revelations might just keep the audience off guard.  Miller describes some sponge larvae that “express a handful of genes that spur neural precursor cells to develop into full-fledged neurons in more complex animals.”  These genes, he continues enthusiastically, stimulate the formation of extra neurons when inserted into fruit flies.  Isn’t it therefore possible that these sponge larvae have “protoneurons”?  The audience listens, but some are wondering what a protoneuron would be good for.  “Bernard Degnan speculates that they may somehow help the free-floating larvae sense their environment and find a suitable place to settle down and metamorphose into their adult form.”  The audience is listening intently now.
    Miller continues with stories of how these sponges seem to have a kind of “neural foreshadowing”.  The critic jots down another note: in Darwinian theory, evolution acts only for the present and cannot see possibilities down the line, so ‘neural foreshadowing’ makes no sense  One sponge, Miller continues, seems to have a reaction potential and a slow-but-effective reflex response.  How this improves on Paramecium is not clear, but he says Leys and Mackie think it’s interesting.
All in all, says Leys, sponges provide a tantalizing picture of what an animal on the brink of evolving a nervous system might look like.  Their cells have many of the right components, but some assembly is still required.  And although they have a wider behavioral repertoire than most people realize, Leys says, their “reflexes” are far slower than those of animals with a nervous system.
The thought of a sponge as a primitive link between single-celled organisms and animals with nervous systems is on the audience’s minds.  But before they get too enthusiastic about this possible evolutionary transition, Miller pauses to caution them that “some researchers argue that sponges aren’t the most primitive living animals.”  The audience goes from elation to deflation.
    Now what?  It might be, Miller continues, that comb jellies lie at the base of the evolutionary tree.  This is very bad news for the sponge believers.  “Like true jellies, ctenophores have bona fide neurons and a simple netlike nervous system,” Miller reveals.  “Their position at the base of the animal family tree—if it stands up—would shake up many researchers’ views on nervous system evolution.”  The audience gasps.  This has other “unpalatable implications,” he moans: “if ctenophores came before sponges, the assorted nervous system components that have turned up in sponges may not be foreshadowing after all but rather the remnants of a nervous system that was lost after the sponge lineage split off from that of ctenophores.”  The audience groans in disbelief.  Sixteen paragraphs into the lecture and he is back at square one.
    What will he do next?  He takes a brief foray into discussing another contender for the earliest animals: cnidarians (which includes true jellyfish, sea anemones and corals).  But that is not much help, because cnidarians have more complex neuronal components than sponges, just like ctenophores.  Hemmed in by “unpalatable implications,” Miller abandons all pretence of empirical support, and projects an imaginary world on the screen:
Just as sponges, comb jellies, and sea anemones may hold clues to how the first nerves and nerve nets arose, other creatures may shed light on the evolution of more complex neural circuitry.  “I think everybody agrees that nervous systems were at first diffuse and then evolved to be centralized,” with a concentration of neurons in the front end of the animal—that is, a brain—and a nerve cord connecting it to the rest of the body, says Arendt.  “But there’s no consensus yet on exactly when this happened.”  Arendt and others have argued that a centralized nervous system existed in the ancestor of all bilaterally symmetrical animals, or bilaterians.
To make the point, he alleges that genes that control development of the existing nervous system in fruit flies, worms and vertebrates all play similar roles.  What does that mean?  “That implies that these genes were already present in the last common ancestor of all these creatures—the ancestor of all bilaterians—and suggests to Arendt and others that this ancestor had a centralized nervous system.
    The audience appears poised to riot.  Did Miller really just say that the evolution of the central nervous system happened because the ancestor already had one?  Well, then, how did it evolve before that?  It appears Miller has only pushed the problem further back in time to some mythical ancestor that already had a central nervous system.
    This is certainly an embarrassing moment on stage.  Miller backtracks: “But not everyone is so sure.”  He presents a “range of possibilities” (from a range of disagreeing scientists).  The responsibility for explaining the evolution of the nervous system passes back and forth between them like a hot potato.  Miller employs Truman’s Rule: “If you can’t convince them, confuse them” —
Because most but not all modern bilaterians have a centralized nervous system, there will be awkward implications no matter what.  If the bilaterian ancestor had a diffuse nervous system, centralized nervous systems must have originated multiple times in multiple bilaterian lineages—a far less parsimonious scenario than a single origin.  On the other hand, if the ancestor had a centralized nervous system, several lineages, including that of Saccoglossus, must have later reverted to a diffuse nervous system—an apparent down-grade that’s hard to explain.
    The puzzles don’t end there.  Fastforwarding a bit in evolutionary time raises a new set of questions.  What is the origin of the myelin insulation that speeds conduction down axons and ensures the fidelity of neural signals?  Or of the glial cells that are proving to have important roles in brain function and appear to be more numerous in complex nervous systems?
The audience is reeling.  It’s as if all the props on stage are falling apart and the stage hands are running in random directions not knowing what to do next.  Miller reaches for a tried-and-true audience pleaser: prove that modern scientists are smarter than Aristotle.
    The grand old Greek philosopher influenced people well into the 20th century, Miller says, by suggesting that animals could be “arranged in a linear series, with man and the angels at the top.”  But of course, “we now know that’s just nonsense.”  So even though we have no clue how a nervous system evolved, at least we are smarter than Aristotle.
    As the audience sits down from its threatened riot, Miller lets loose with the whole evolutionary bag of tricks and miracle stories to end like a 4th of July Grand Finale:
Most researchers now agree that equally complex—but anatomically different—brains have evolved in birds, mammals, and other animal lineages, Northcutt says: “At least four or five times independently, ... major radiations of vertebrates have evolved complex brain structure.”  But whether brains that are put together differently operate on similar principles is still an open question.  And then there is the enduring question of what, if anything, is special about the human brain.  Perhaps the emerging clues about the long evolutionary path we’ve taken will one day help us decide where we are.
The audience leaves, shaking their heads.  One jokes to another that if they weren’t enlightened, at least they were entertained.
1.  Greg Miller, “On the Origin of the Nervous System,” Science, 3 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5936, pp. 24-26, DOI: 10.1126/science.325_24.
You have to laugh at the predicament of these Darwinists.  We could dismiss this as a silly slapstick sideshow except for the fact that they have all power over the media, schools and scientific institutions with this malarkey and insist it is the only story fit to teach.  What utter nonsense!  It’s all fiction, imagination, speculation, futureware and miracles, with complex systems just emerging, giving rise to and appearing left and right without links, causes or evidence.  This was exactly like the performance Marshall gave about the Cambrian explosion back in 045/23/2006.  What the audience had come for, a scholarly scientific lecture on a matter of serious debate, turned into a circus of silliness camouflaged in jargon: Marshall’s explanation for the sudden emergence of all the major body plans in a geological instant was, in effect, “they evolved because they evolved!”  Evolution gets served to the masses as its own circular justification.
    Isn’t that exactly what Miller did here?  He sidestepped this way, and that, more nimbly than Michael Jackson in a moonwalk, never getting around to answering the question except to say, in effect, “Nervous systems evolved, because... they evolved multiple times independently!”  Clueless would be a compliment for this kind of answer.  That’s really walking backward when appearing to walk forward.  We could not possibly add to the shame the Darwinians should be feeling for giving Miller a clown act to have to play for Seventh Lecturer in the Darwinian Bicentennial than to let you read his words for yourself – that they published anyway.  Of all the Nerf.
Next headline on:  Human BodyDarwinian EvolutionDumb Ideas
Divining Plant Evolution from Uncooperative Data   07/03/2009    
July 3, 2009 — A new book on plant evolution came out.  How well does it do explaining the diversity of the world’s plants via Darwin’s theory of natural selection?  The answer depends on how forgiving you can be with details that don’t fit very well.
    The book is Paleobotany The Biology and Evolution of Fossil Plants. 2nd ed by Taylor, Taylor and Krings.  It was reviewed by Jonathan P. Wilson (Caltech) in today’s issue of Science.1  Wilson liked the book a lot, but revealed that the plant-evolution story is not easily told:
  1. However, the molecular phylogenetics revolution, new fossil discoveries, and reinterpretations of existing material have catapulted our understanding of plant evolution ahead, leaving behind hypotheses and interpretations that were as good as fact a mere ten years ago.
  2. Any book that includes two major thematic axes—increasing evolutionary diversity and complexity on one hand, and time on the other—faces a formidable organizational challenge.
  3. Many environmental events simultaneously affect disparate taxonomic groups, whereas evolutionary innovations may lead to within-group specializations that deserve to be discussed separately.
  4. Simply treating events stratigraphically risks giving short shrift to evolutionary trends...
  5. However, a temporal framework makes it easier to portray the effects of large changes in climate and patterns of major adaptive radiations, such as the explosive diversifications of polypodiaceous ferns in tandem with angiosperm trees during the Late Cretaceous and Early Paleogene.
  6. They give orphaned organ taxa (particularly foliage and seeds) individual chapters, in which they note tentative or speculative associations with other fossil groups.
  7. Furthermore, the demise of the anthophyte hypothesis (which linked angiosperms to the living seed plants Gnetum, Ephedra, and Welwitschia) has left a vacuum that could be crippling to a book focused on the evolution of plants.
  8. However, the authors took this development as an opportunity to recapitulate many of the hypotheses that have circulated in the literature over the past hundred years (some fanciful, others quite interesting) along with the available evidence for and against each.  By opening the door to a diversity of ideas, the authors turned what could have been a gaping void into an agenda for many a lab meeting or conference session.
  9. ...a comparison of the fascinating wood anatomy of the arborescent lycopods, the Paleozoic sphenophyte Sphenophyllum, and the early fern Zygopteris illinoiensis yields a powerful illustration of the effects of convergent evolution on plant form.
  10. Their new edition has caught up with recent discoveries and the progress of thoughts about plant evolution.  It points the way toward the most promising avenues for future research.
One gets the distinct impression that 150 years of speculation about how plants evolved has been swept away by new discoveries, and that any answers lie in the future.
1.  Jonathan P. Wilson, “Evolution: Green Life Through Time,” Science, 3 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5936, pp. 36-37, DOI: 10.1126/science.1174659.
For those among us who are not Darwine alcoholics, this pathetic review reads like the blind leading the blind.  This is not just the “assume a can opener” joke.  It’s “assume a can opener will emerge in the future.”
    Did you catch how many evolutionary verbal tricks Wilson used in this review?  “Convergent evolution,” “explosive diversification” and “evolutionary innovations” are euphemistic place-holders for Darwinist ignorance.  They assume miracles.  Such terms do not inform or enlighten, but pull the wool over the reader’s eyes.  They allow the self-proclaimed shamans of scientific divination to dodge falsifying empirical data while pushing their scientific answers into that explanatory Neverland that never arrives – those tantalizing “more promising avenues for future research.”
    Take a lesson from this one quote that should turn on the fire alarms: Wilson spoke of new discoveries and ideas that were “leaving behind hypotheses and interpretations that were as good as fact a mere ten years ago.”  And you thought that facts were facts that never changed.  No: to a Darwinist, a fact is whatever serves to maintain public faith in the Darwin Party Treasury of Knowledge.
    Count on it: if you were to read papers on plant evolution ten years ago, those hypotheses and interpretations would have been presented via that famous slogan of hubris, “We now know...”  The book authors and book reviewers of ten years ago, and twenty, and a hundred, would have stood on their styrofoam podiums and announced to the world that science has made progress explaining the evolution of plants.  But now, Wilson is telling us that those hypotheses and interpretations that were as good as fact then have been left behind.  It doesn’t take much logic to deduce that ten years into our future an article in Science or Nature will be repeating the same sales pitch.
    Did Wilson present anything in his review to provide hope that the Darwin Treasury is making progress?  No; all the empirical facts, whether from molecular biology or fossils, have only confused the picture for them, and their leading hypothesis, the anthophyte hypothesis, has collapsed, leading to a “gaping void” and “vacuum” that neither Wilson nor the book could fill.  Notice how Wilson turned this embarrassing falsification into a vindication: “By opening the door to a diversity of ideas, the authors turned what could have been a gaping void into an agenda for many a lab meeting or conference session.”  There they go again!  Vapor and futureware.  Their “agenda” is to keep kicking the can up the street while hoping a can opener will show up.  This is the kind of slick marketeering that keeps the gullible throwing their life savings into a gaping void in hopes of striking it rich some day.  The salesman’s air of confidence sweeps them off their feet, short-circuits their common sense, and prevents them from seeking objective counsel elsewhere.
    By getting unqualified approval from Science for this campaign, Wilson and Taylor and Krings just Madoff with a fortune in public trust.  How people can continue to invest their intellectual assets into this Darwin Ponzi scheme is a tragedy and a catastrophe.
Next headline on:  PlantsDarwin and Evolutionary Theory
Animals Are Not Malthusians   07/02/2009    
July 2, 2009 — According to Malthus and Darwin, the struggle to survive favors those who have the most fitness to take advantage of limited resources.  A study by the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology in Vienna, reported by PhysOrg shows this is not the case:
Charles Darwin and his contemporaries postulated that food consumption in birds and mammals was limited by resource levels, that is, animals would eat as much as they could while food was plentiful and produce as many offspring as this would allow them to.  However, recent research has shown that, even when food is abundant, energy intake reaches a limit, even in animals with high nutrient demands, such as lactating females.  Scientists at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology in Vienna suggest that this is due to active control of maternal investment in offspring in order to maintain long-term reproductive fitness.
The research team proposed a different theory: “using energy at close to the maximum rate has costs for animals which may compromise their ability to successfully reproduce in the future.”  The article did not attempt to state this goal-oriented behavior in Darwinian terms.  If natural selection can favor animals that can plan ahead and conserve resources even when they are plentiful, contrary to what Darwin and Malthus assumed, then it is trying to explain opposite outcomes at the same time – the Stuff Happens Law (09/15/2008 commentary).
Why should the simplistic statistics of Malthus have been accepted as a glittering generality for all of nature? (see 03/30/2009: “Natural Selection Based on Bad Statistics”).  It seemed intuitively obvious to him that resources grow linearly but reproductive competition increases exponentially, but why should that be so?  Malthus was neither a mathematician nor a field naturalist, yet his simplistic (and wrong) mathematical model influenced a generation.  It profoundly influenced Darwin as he formulated his simplistic theory of natural selection (06/05/2007).  Someone should have questioned the intuition and tested it.  It could have saved the world a lot of trouble (like communism, cutthroat capitalism, World War I and World War II).
    So another simplistic Darwinian assumption has been tested and found to be wrong.  Keep up the good work (08/13/2002, 04/02/2004, 05/11/2004, etc.).
Next headline on:  MammalsEvolution
  Seven reasons why gene duplication cannot be the source of new genetic information, from 07/09/2002.

Dakota Dino Reveals Skin Cells   07/01/2009    
July 1, 2009 — “Absolutely amazing” and “absolutely gobsmacking” are exclamations made by scientists analyzing the fossilized skin of a hadrosaur known as Dakota.  The researchers found cell structures and organic matter in the skin and layers that resemble the skin of birds and crocodiles.
    The specimen was uncovered in 1999 on a North Dakota ranch and is still being analyzed.  Photos on the BBC News show clear scales and cross sections of microscopic tendon structures.  The article said, “Tests have shown that the fossil still holds cell-like structures,” adding, “although the proteins that made up the hadrosaur’s skin had degraded, the amino acid building blocks that once made up the proteins were still present.”
    How could soft tissue structures and details survive intact for 66 million years?  The BBC article and National Geographic News repeat the researchers’ claim that this dinosaur was buried rapidly in a low-oxygen environment that prevented decay.  Even so, it was unexpected to find this much preservation over such a long time.  Derek Briggs, a Yale paleontologist who studies exceptionally-preserved fossils, said, “This kind of discovery just demonstrates very clearly that soft tissue does survive, that the processes involved are unusual but not absolutely extraordinary – so there’s no reason why this kind of material won’t be discovered again.”
    Briggs told the BBC News that one reason paleontologists have not found soft tissues before recently is that they were not expecting to find them: “in many cases these kinds of skin impressions have gone unnoticed and people have gone after the skeleton, which is of course what you’d expect to be preserved.”  Phillip Manning, author of a new book Grave Secrets of Dinosaurs: Soft Tissues and Hard Science expects a lot more soft tissue could be out there awaiting discovery: “Who knows?” he said.  “The elusive dinosaur mummies of the fossil record might be more common.
    The National Geographic article, true to form, emphasized the similarity of Dakota’s skin to that of birds (cf. 06/18/2009).  “There’s no evidence of goosebumps just yet,” quipped reporter Christine Dell'Amore, “but a remarkably preserved dinosaur reveals that the prehistoric reptile had skin like that of birds and crocodiles, a new study says.”

Why are the scientists so sure that an oxygen-free environment would preserve amino acids and mummified skin from degradation for 66 million years?  This should be a testable hypothesis.  There are anoxic bacteria, after all.  Could they not be capable of degrading organic matter?  And Dakota was not found in an underwater oxygen-free tomb, but in rock.  Someone should put two identical dead animals in two tanks, one with oxygen and one without, simulating plausible burial environments, and measure the differences in decay rates.  Besides, whatever organic material was left after the environment changed to rock should have decayed completely.  Unless, that is, the fossil is nowhere near as old as the consensus believes.
Next headline on:  DinosaursFossilsDating Methods

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!
 

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(a PhD professor of scientific rhetoric in Florida and author of two books, who added that he was “awe-struck” by this site)

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Featured Creation Scientist for July

Galileo Galilei
1564 - 1642

A 68-year old scientist, in ill health, hauled off to Rome to stand trial before the Inquisition.  Forced, under threat of torture and imprisonment, to renounce his scientific writings, which are declared to be heretical and against church dogma.  Put under house arrest, he is heard sobbing uncontrollably: “The injustice of the sentence tormented him so that he did not sleep for several nights, but could be heard crying out, babbling and rambling in distraction” (Sobel, p. 298).  Undeniable facts of history, forming an open and shut case for religious intolerance of science, right?

Any history of science must deal with the Galileo affair.  In many circles it is an icon of science vs religion.  Fortunately, in recent years scholars having been taking fresh looks at the circumstances of Galileo’s trial and realizing there are complexities that dramatically change the conventional interpretation.  A recent PBS documentary admitted that the usual slant is quite incorrect.  Astronomer and historian Owen Gingerich, often one to debunk historical inaccuracies, has researched the incident and challenges the science vs religion spin.  And a recent (1999) new historical biography by Dava Sobel, Galileo’s Daughter (an award-winning, captivating, original work we highly recommend) sheds refreshing new light on the life, times, and legacy of this giant of early science, Galileo Galilei.

Our purpose here is not to exonerate the Catholic Church, which is surely culpable for the injustice done to Galileo (for which the Pope formally apologized in 1992).  And as non-Catholics, we condemn all the injustices of the Inquisition, not just this one.  But a quick look at some of the factors involved in the heresy trial will show how the conventional spin is often greatly misinterpreted:

• Galileo was a personal friend of both major popes that ruled during his lifetime.

• Galileo enjoyed a wide popularity and high reputation by many, if not most, within the Catholic Church.  He had many friends in high places that had no problem at all with his views or with those of Copernicus.

• His book that was condemned in the trial, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World, had received the official imprimatur of the church, and had been approved by the official Roman censor, Father Niccolo Riccardi.  Galileo readily made all suggested alterations, which did not alter anything of substance.

• Pope Urban VIII had been a lifelong friend of Galileo and had said of him, “We embrace with paternal love this great man whose fame shines in the heavens and goes on Earth far and wide.”  He praised Galileo for his uprightness and virtue.  Before and after he had become pope, Galileo enjoyed personal, cordial contact with him; in early years prior to becoming pope, he [then Cardinal Barberini] wrote to him, “I pray the Lord God to preserve you, because men of great value like you deserve to live a long time to the benefit of the public.”

• Pope Urban VIII did not reject Copernicanism or Galileo’s arguing for it, he only urged that Galileo treat it as hypothesis and not limit God’s inscrutability.  Also, correcting another popular misconception, the Pope never invoked infallibility in the affair, which was not even a Catholic doctrine at the time.

• Copernicanism at the time of Galileo was fairly new, and did not have the observational support it has today.  It lacked the essential extension by Kepler and Newton.  Many found Copernicanism interesting and useful, but others clung to the traditional Ptolemaic view because it seemed more intuitively obvious, and because it had such a long reputation of utility.

• Pope Urban VIII was in a bad mood at the time of the trial.  The papacy had gone to his head, and he had spent fortunes on self-aggrandizement.  In addition, he was accused of being soft on heretics by not acting stronger against the Reformers.  The Thirty Years War was giving him great stress.  Galileo’s Dialogue came at a very inopportune time.  The pope trusted what others said about it, without reading it himself.  He was led to believe, contrary to the facts, that Galileo had double-crossed him by going against explicit orders.  These factors tended to make him inflexible against his former friend.

• The trial represented a brief portion near the end of Galileo’s long and productive life, during which he gained wide fame for his discoveries and his books across Europe, and within the Catholic church.  Contrary to popular perceptions, most churchmen, including Pope Urban VIII, were delighted with Galileo’s discoveries with the telescope.

• In 1616, there was an anti-Copernican edict under Pope Paul V which came just short of calling Copernicanism heretical and banning the book; Galileo acquiesced by holding to it as opinion or hypothesis and not fact.  Though foolish by today’s standards, the Edict did not seriously hamper his scientific work and writing, until accusations flew again seventeen years later.

• During and after the period of house arrest in Rome, and when he was allowed to return home to Arcetri, Galileo continued to do scientific experiments and publish with relative freedom.

These are just for starters.  Most important, what comes out of the details of the record, is that Galileo was a staunch Catholic Christian his entire life, never wavering on his devout belief in God, creation, and the Bible.  In fact, Galileo was afraid that the Church’s reputation would be damaged if they rejected Copernicanism; he took pains to protect the church from foolish and mistaken interpretations.

Neither Copernicus nor Galileo ever intended their works to be considered criticism of the Bible and the church.  Galileo regretted deeply that his work was twisted and misunderstood as such.  He went to great lengths to explain that his science was in no way incompatible with Scripture.  Early on he explained in a long letter to the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, “I think in the first place that it is very pious to say and prudent to affirm that the Holy Bible can never speak untruth – whenever its true meaning is understood.”  Much later, after his trial, he wrote to a friend, “I have two sources of perpetual comfort, first, that in my writings there cannot be found the faintest shadow of irreverence towards the Holy Church; and second, the testimony of my own conscience, which only I and God in Heaven thoroughly know.  And He knows that in this cause for which I suffer, though many might have spoken with more learning, none, not even the ancient Fathers, have spoken with more piety or with greater zeal for the Church than I.”

So how are we to explain the ugly accusations of the trial?  In a word: vengeance.  Galileo had a knack for making loyal friends and bitter enemies.  His razor-sharp logic and penchant for sarcasm won him admirers and detractors.  Some felt he was ramming Copernicanism down the throat of Christendom.  In Dialogues, he created characters to debate Copernicanism, and portrayed the protagonists as wise scholars and the antagonists as simpletons (he even named one opponent “Simplicio”).  Some of Galileo’s enemies understood him to be mocking them, and this inflamed their passion to get even.  Sadly, some of these dishonorable persons wrapped their vice in the cloak of the Church and used their position to cast the debate as Galileo vs the Bible, or Copernicanism vs the Church: leading to trumped up charges of the dreaded H word, heresy.

Galileo was framed.  He was caught up in a maelstrom of colliding currents: politics, personalities, ambitions, new discoveries, wars both physical and theological, suspicions, superstitions and misunderstandings.  Unfortunately, Galileo found himself at the center of the vortex, a victim of circumstances partly his fault and mostly beyond his control: a church in conflict with Reformers, just past the Council of Trent and trying to assert its authority, suspicious of those who, like Luther, felt they had the right to interpret the Scriptures for themselves.  Galileo knew that his detractors were, out of insecurity, fabricating “a shield for their fallacies out of the mantle of pretended religion and the authority of the Bible” (Sobel, p. 68).  In no way was the Church unanimous in condemning Galileo.  Even during the trial, numerous Catholics supported him, and like the archbishop of Siena, despised “those who have control of the sciences, and they have nothing left but to run back to holy ground” (Sobel, p. 286).

It could be argued that, rather than science vs. religion, the debate was not about the Bible at all, but about experimental science vs Greek philosophy.  Galileo’s opponents were primarily academics and professors, not churchmen.  To complicate matters, the Catholic church itself had compromised Biblical teachings with pagan Greek ideas about nature.  Dava Sobel explains that Thomas Aquinas “grafted the fourth-century-B.C. writings of Aristotle onto thirteenth-century Christian doctrine.  The compelling works of Saint Thomas Aquinas had reverberated through the Church and the nascent universities of Europe for hundreds of years, helping the word of Aristotle gain the authority of holy writ, long before Galileo began his book about the architecture of the heavens” (Sobel, p. 152).

It was Aristotle, not Scripture, that taught the immutability and perfection of the heavenly spheres in contradistinction to the corruption of the earth.  Finding blemishes on the moon and spots on the sun violated Aristotelian teachings, but not a word of Scripture.  Galileo’s “heresy” was against Aristotle, not the Bible!  He wrote, “To prohibit the whole science would be but to censure a hundred passages of Holy Scripture which teach us that the glory and greatness of Almighty God are marvelously discerned in all His works and divinely read in the open book of Heaven.”  Galileo believed that “Holy Scripture and Nature are both emanations from the divine word: the former dictated by the Holy Spirit, the latter the observant executrix of God’s commands” (Sobel, p. 64).  There was no contradiction between the two, in his view, but he distrusted the fallibility of human interpretation: “Holy Scripture cannot err and the decrees therein contained are absolutely true and inviolable.  I should only have added that, though Scripture cannot err, its expounders and interpreters are liable to err in many ways.”

Along this line, although relatively blameless himself, Galileo seems to have started a philosophy of interpretation that, taken too far, would later lead to a form of intellectual schizophrenia: the idea that the Bible is concerned only with spirit, while nature is the exclusive domain of science.  In the modern world, this has gone to extremes.  Some Christian creationists subscribe to a dual-revelation theory, that nature is just as authoritative a revelation from God as Scripture.  This is a half-truth, for the Bible certainly teaches that the works of God declare His glory, but proponents of this view often fail to take into account the fallibility of human interpretation of natural revelation.  They tend to accept whatever secular scientists say as authoritative, and mold the Bible to fit it.

Secularists and atheists, on the other hand, are sometimes patronizingly willing to let religious people have everything they wish in the spiritual realm, as long as scientists retain their hegemony over the study of nature.  Stephen Jay Gould, for instance, proposes a peace accord called “non-overlapping magisteria” (with a play on words from Catholic vocabulary), in which the church gets the art, music and theology, but science gets physics, chemistry and biology.  In both these views, dual-revelation and NOMA, inevitably nature winds up devouring the spirit, and Scripture becomes the servant of secular science.

We can see the seeds, but not the fruit, of this false dichotomy in Galileo.  Quoting Baronio, he believed the Bible was a book about how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.  He warned against literal interpretations of Scripture that would have us, for instance, picturing God with hands and feet and eyes, and human and bodily emotions.  He said, “I believe that the intention of Holy Writ was to persuade men of the truths necessary for salvation, such as neither science nor any other means could render credible, but only the voice of the Holy Spirit.  But I do not think it necessary to believe that the same God who gave us our senses, our speech, our intellect, would have put aside the use of these, to teach us instead such things as with their help we could find out for ourselves, particularly in the case of these sciences of which there is not the smallest mention in the Scriptures; and above all, in astronomy, of which so little notice is taken that the names of none of the planets are mentioned.  Surely if the intention of the sacred scribes had been to teach people astronomy, they would not have passed over the subject so completely.” (Sobel, p. 65).

This statement is sensible as far as it goes, but there appears to be a hidden assumption: that the mind of unregenerate man is capable of discovering truth on its own.  This may be practical with regard to repeatable, observable phenomena like falling bodies and motions of planets, but what about the origin of universe, the origin of the life, and the origin of the soul?  There is no subject under heaven today that modern science does not feel it has authority to explain by natural causes, even prayer and sexual mores.  Reductionist science even goes so far as to explain love as the sum total of neurotransmitter reactions in the physical brain.  Modern science has usurped the spiritual world; it has gone far beyond Galileo’s principle, and so we must watch his statements with awareness of where, in hindsight, an idea can go astray.  Nevertheless, Galileo himself attempted to explain Biblical passages like Joshua’s long day as real events, not allegories.  He accepted the creation account in Genesis as literally true.

Galileo’s scientific achievements are so well known as to require little elaboration here.  First to turn a telescope to the heavens; discoverer of sunspots, lunar craters, stars within the Milky Way, the phases of Venus, and the four large satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean satellites in his honor); staunch proponent of experiment over authority, discoverer of laws of falling bodies (in the process disproving Aristotle’s contention that heavier bodies fall faster), popularizer and publisher, mathematician, his work is of monumental importance in the history of science.  Einstein overstates the case that he was the “father of modern physics–indeed of modern science altogether,” because of his insistence on experiment over logical deductions.  He was a giant, but a giant among giants.  His Protestant contemporaries Johannes Kepler and Francis Bacon similarly espoused the same values of experimental science over authority.  And they were building on giants before them, Christian philosophers who viewed nature as the rational work of a transcendent God, worthy and capable of being explored by men created in His image.

In keeping with our theme, Galileo considered his faith a driving force behind his science.  According to Sobel, “The Dialogue resumed his importuning that truths about Nature be allowed to emerge through science.  Such truths, he still believed, could only glorify the Word and deeds of God.”  He was thankful to God for enabling him to see farther than any man before him.  In the euphoria of discovery during those nights turning the telescope toward the heavens for the first time, he expressed, “I render infinite thanks to God for being so kind as to make me alone the first observer of marvels kept hidden in obscurity for all previous centuries” (Sobel, p. 6).

For a delightful and enlightening read, we recommend Dava Sobel’s excellent book Galileo’s Daughter, (Penguin Books, 1999).  It has the unique amenity of a newly-translated collection of letters from Suor Maria Celeste, his daughter who spent her life in poverty as a nun.  The biography is woven around these sweet letters from his devoted and deeply spiritual child.  Around these intimate, innocent epistles, Sobel masterfully limns the spirit of the times, the superstitions as well as the achievements, the nobility and notoriety of numerous persons that came into contact with Galileo during his long and productive 75 years, which could have continued many more had his body kept up with his tireless mind.  Through many original quotes and sources, Sobel illustrates how the Galileo affair was far different than the simplistic portrait of science vs religion.  The book has a surprise ending that will move you.

Dava Sobel says that “Galileo remained a good Catholic who believed in the power of prayer and endeavored always to conform his duty as a scientist with the destiny of his soul.  ‘Whatever the course of our lives,’ Galileo wrote, ‘we should receive them as the highest gift from the hand of God, in which equally reposed the power to do nothing whatever for us.  Indeed, we should accept misfortune not only in thanks, but in infinite gratitude to Providence, which by such means detaches us from an excessive love for Earthly things and elevates our minds to the celestial and divine.’” (Sobel, p. 12).

In 2002, the Galileo spacecraft) completed its 12-year orbital reconnaissance of Jupiter and its Galilean satellites, the “little solar system” that overturned Greek dogma and opened a heavens far more wondrous than even the wise old bearded scientist himself could have imagined.

Did you enjoy this true story?  Please write us with your comments, and tell a friend!


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 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)

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