Creation-Evolution Headlines
January 2010
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“If living things—things that we manifestly did not design ourselves—bear the hallmarks of design, if they exhibit a signature that would lead us to recognize intelligent activity in any other realm of experience, then perhaps it is time to rehabilitate this lost way of knowing and to rekindle our wonder in the intelligibility and design of nature that first inspired the scientific revolution.”
—Stephen Meyer, Signature in the Cell (HarperOne, 2009, p. 452).
AstronomyBiomimeticsBirdsBotanyCell BiologyCosmologyDating MethodsDinosaursEarly ManEducationEvolutionFossilsGenetics and DNAGeologyHealthHuman BodyIntelligent DesignMammalsMarine LifeMediaOrigin of LifePhysicsPolitics and EthicsSETISolar SystemTheologyZoology     Awards:  AmazingDumb       Note: bold emphasis added in all quotations unless otherwise indicated.
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Raft the Grand Canyon  this summer – or send someone you love.  Time is running out!  If you are thinking about this opportunity, please write, even if not ready to commit.  The 4-day package deal for Aug 27-30, 2010 includes all supplies, food, lodging and transportation (begins & ends at Las Vegas airport).  Sweet deal: you get to fly in a plane and helicopter, spend a day at a working cattle ranch, ride horses, spend 2.5 days on the Colorado River and camp on the beach two nights, run great rapids, hike amazing side canyons, and learn among friends about the world’s greatest geological wonder.  Great for singles, couples, father-son, mother-daughter (or any combination) – the whole family (minimum age 8).  Click here for all the details.  Deposit required by January; don’t miss the boat!

Scientists Divine Deep Time in Dead Fish     01/30/2010    
Jan 30, 2010 — Scientific experiments can certainly take on a wide variety of methods, from recreating the atmosphere of Titan to testing a drug on a genetic disease.  But if educators want to encourage students to become scientists, they had best keep silent about “some very unpleasant experiments” at the University of Leicester reported by the BBC News.  The team decided to watch fish heads rot.  What they were looking for in this “very smelly” study raises questions about what kind of knowledge can be deduced from experiments.
    The researchers had an ostensibly noble purpose.  They were interested in knowing what happens to dying fish before they become fossilized, in order to interpret more accurately what is found in the fossil record.  Do skeletons and soft tissues undergo dramatic transformations as they rot?  If so, it could skew the interpretation of ancient marine fossils.  Inquiring minds what to know.
    The experiments had a grander evolutionary backdrop.  Dr. Mark Purnell said, “We need to understand how they decayed if we’re going to put them in the right place in the tree of life.”  Researcher Rob Sansom realized, according to Science Daily, that “spending hundreds of hours studying the stinking carcasses of rotting fish is not something that appeals to everyone.”
Update  Jan 31:  What this study implies for evolution will not be good news for evolutionary paleontologists.  Nature News said the fact that parts can rot away can lead to misinterpretations.  “In a series of experiments published online today in Nature, Purnell and his colleagues Robert Sansom and Sarah Gabbott found that the features that are most important in deciding where to place an animal on the tree of life are lost first,” Daniel Cressey’s synopsis explained.  The results can be counterintuitive:  “In practical terms, this means that as something decays it seems to retreat through its own phylogeny and descend the tree.”  Philippe Janvier at the Museum of Natural History in Paris agreed: “Some fossils have clearly been over-interpreted.”  Has this happened?  Yes, according to Purnell; “decay bias” could be widespread.  Interpreting the origin of chordates is particularly fraught with decay bias.  Philipp Donoghue at the University of Bristol cautioned, “It’s certainly going to annoy a lot of palaeontologists who have rather blithely interpreted fossils,” he said.  “A bunch of fossils we thought were primitive vertebrates actually now fall into a dustbin and tell us nothing about the evolution of vertebrate characters.

Experimenting on taphonomy (studying the processes under which remains become fossilized) is a worthwhile activity, but the interpretations and assumptions in this article stink worse than the fish heads.  Would their experiments help them understand created fish that perished in a great flood?  They could not possibly understand all the conditions that might have differed from dying fish in a lab to those who perished in the fossil record.  Maybe they need to do some further experiments on what happens to fish who fossilize while giving birth (see National Geographic) or that are preserved in rock instantly while having lunch (see FossilMuseum.net).
    These guys cannot possibly interpret their lab experiments correctly.  They had the moyboy disease* infecting their brains from the get-go.  “Unlike forensics, however,” the team lead said, ”we are dealing with life from millions of years ago.”  At least he got one thing right.  It’s sure unlike forensics – trying to follow the evidence where it leads, free of bias.  It is one of the clearest examples of divination we have seen yet (see commentaries from 07/26/2008, 01/25/2008).  If Nebuchadnezzar had been told you had to smell rotting fish heads to see the tree of life, some other heads would have rotted.
*Moyboy: millions of years, billions of years.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyFossilsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
Jan 30, 2010 — Sometimes you just want a concise answer to a specific question without having to search online or browse through a whole bookshelf.  The New Answers Book (2006), an update on an older volume from the 1990s, tackles 25 of the most important and common questions on creation, evolution and the Bible.  It’s a collaborative work by 13 scientists, writers and researchers from Answers in Genesis, edited by Ken Ham, incorporating answers to the most commonly asked questions received by that organization.  Seasoned with photographs and illustrations by cartoonist Dan Lietha, this is an accessible paperback covering everything from the existence of God to radiometric dating with chapters on dinosaurs, the Flood, ice ages, what are UFOs, the existence of evil, starlight and time, and all the questions people ask most.  The 353-page book, with glossary and index, is available from Answers in Genesis.  That link, by the way, lists all the questions in the book and takes you to colorful online articles for instant gratification.
Next resource of the week:  01/23/2010.  All resources: Catalog.

Incredible Creatures that Support Evolution?     01/29/2010    
Jan 29, 2010 — Paleontologists and biologists continue to uncover animals past and present that exhibit amazing diversity.  Some of them are so weird and unexpected, they are almost unbelievable.  Usually, the news media are quick to tally up points for Darwin by explaining to lay people how they shed light on evolution.  But in the “discovery” stage of science, before the “explanation” stage, maybe scientists need time to just assess what it is they are looking at.

  1. Imaginary feathers again:  The big news this week was Haplocheirus sollers, another entry in the dinosaur-to-bird tale.  This ungainly, slender, bizarre clawed thing was announced in Science magazine.1  The fossil, found in the Gobi Desert of China, has short arms, long claws, a long beak-like snout – and it’s said to precede Archaeopteryx by 15 million years.
        The discoverers believe it essentially nails the case for birds evolving from dinosaurs – and the artists went right to work, adorning it with colorful feathers.  Science Daily, for instance, alleged that HaplocheirusHelps Solve Piece of Evolutionary Puzzle.”  The BBC News went further, claiming that it really “solves evolutionary bird puzzle.”  Strange thing, though – the original paper said nothing about feathers.  The alleged feathers on the artwork appear to be completely imaginary – again (see 02/08/2006, 06/13/2007, 01/09/2008, 07/09/2008, 12/11/2009 bullet 2, and imbedded links).  Richard Stone, writing about the find in the same issue of Science,1 talked a lot about feathers – but not in reference to Haplocheirus, where none were reported.  In fact, both Stone and veteran “feathered-dinosaur” hunter Xing Xu in the original paper said very little about evolution, too.  If anything, they indicated that the fossil confuses the alleged dinosaur-to-bird transition.
        For one thing, this fossil is called a Maniraptoran, but this artificial class is defined as a group that includes both birds and dinosaurs.  This could lead to charges of question-begging.  Xu et al suggested that the fossil demonstrates that other basal Maniraptorans were not secondarily flightless birds, as had been supposed, but instead were incipient birds.  The “convergence” explanation (01/26/2010), however, weighs heavily in the interpretation of this new dinosaur: “Haplocheirus preserves plesiomorphic morphological characteristics that confirm a basal position for Alvarezsauroidea within Maniraptora, demonstrating that these features of derived alvarezsauroids represent dramatic convergences with birds.”  Plesiomorphic is a fancy word for convergently evolved.3  And the authors interpreted Haplocheirus as the more “primitive” maniraptoran simply because of its assumed earlier date than other members labeled “derived” (more evolved) due to their later dates.  But read the paper’s final paragraph and see if it professes any confidence that this creature provides clear-cut evidence of dinosaur-to-bird evolution, as trumpeted by the press.  Watch for how the words convergent, primitive and derived are employed:
    Haplocheirus is the largest alvarezsauroid known from complete material (see SOM), and its basal phylogenetic position suggests a pattern of miniaturization for the Alvarezsauroidea, relatively rare in dinosaurs but convergently evolved in Paraves.  Derived alvarezsauroids have a simplified, homogeneous dentition convergent with that of some extant insectivorous mammals, but Haplocheirus has recurved, serrated teeth and caniniforms that suggest carnivory was the primitive condition for the clade.  The presence in Haplocheirus of only slightly reduced second and third manual digits and curved unguals with flexor tubercles on these digits implies that the hand was fully functional and Haplocheirus retained some grasping ability, unlike the presumably limited function of the greatly reduced lateral manual elements of Mononykus and Shuvuuia.  The mediolaterally narrow McIII (metacarpal three) and the greatly shortened and slender McIV suggest that the extensive digital reduction and fusion seen in derived alvarezsauroids was already under way by the earliest Late Jurassic, proceeded from lateral to medial on the manus and, surprisingly, initially involved reduction in length of only McIV.
    It sounds like they found another unusual dinosaur, with fully functioning arms and grasping claws, that did not announce it was trying to become a bird.  That “suggestion” was imposed on the fossil by certain humans with a story in their minds.  The words primitive and derived appear in the mind of the beholder; and when derived features appear on individuals deemed unrelated, the notion of convergent evolution is always available to rescue the story from the confusion (see 01/26/2010).
  2. Color me ginger:  Another announcement this week also concerned dinosaur-bird evolution.  The press, including BBC News, Live Science and Science Daily reported on a paper in Nature4 about scientists determining the color in alleged feathers of fossil specimens Sinosauropteryx and Confuciusornis.  The press swamped the reader with implications that birds are evolved dinosaurs, employing phrases “birds of a feather” to emphasize the evolutionary interpretation.  National Geographic was a little more reserved, stating that the study “may strengthen dinosaur-bird link.”  It sported the largest artwork of the ring-tailed creature.
        The placement of Sinosauropteryx in a dinosaur-to-bird transition, however, remains controversial (10/10/2005, 02/08/2006, 05/23/2007, 01/09/2008, 01/21/2009).  Confuciusornis was already classed as a bird (02/21/2003).  So the main argument in the paper regards whether melanocytes and their colors are diagnostic of feathers.  Even if one accepts that point (although the bristly structures do not have the vanes and barbules of true feathers), and even if one accepts the date of and phylogenetic position of Sinosauropteryx, it is not clear to anyone why a dinosaur would grow feathers.  Certainly it would indicate that the integumentary structures were not used for flying.  The artist’s reconstruction shows a ground-dwelling creature covered in short, colorful fuzz.  In addition, many other creatures have melanosomes that do not have feathers – like humans, zebras and cuttlefish (which have an even larger variety of chromatophores, including melanophores). 
  3. Dino-gliders: becoming birds?  Remember Microraptor gui, the strange biplane-like feathered bird-thing? (See 11/16/2005, bullet 2.)  Many news sources, like CBC News, displayed the new model produced by a team of scientists who wanted to find out if the creature could glide.  Their results were reported in PNAS.5  Some 20 specimens of Microraptor gui have been found in China – some of them “astonishingly preserved.”  Videos posted on a feature at University of Kansas show partial success after some crash landings.  The feature announced, “Researchers of microraptor shed light on ancient origin of bird flight.”
        The assumption is that this creature reveals something about the “evolution of flight.”  It appears clear that the creature could not walk on the ground very well with those long feathers on its hind limbs.  Still, it is not clear that gliding squirrels, gliding lizards, or gliding monkeys are evolving powered flight.  There were also, at that time, all the extremely agile and diverse pterosaurs that were not evolving into birds.  Microraptor with its strange feather get-up may represent a bird in the process of losing powered flight, or an extinct animal among many extinct animals (cf. Anchiornis, 10/01/2009).
        For evolutionists, Microraptor has become a focal point of the debate between tree-down (arboreal) and cursorial (ground-up) theories for the origin of flight (01/25/2008).  The previous entry about melanocytes on Sinosauropteryx would support the latter; this entry argues the former.  The artist reconstructions of Sinosauropteryx do not suggest anything close to a gliding animal, let alone a tree-climber.  If David Alexander wants to promote Microraptor as favoring the arboreal theory, he will have to convince the Sinosauropteryx people that their fossil was not part of the flight story.
  4. Tyrannosaurus mama:  Everybody loves the cuddly T-rex, at least the plush Christmas toy variety.  Now, another “more primitive” tyrannosaur has been reported from New Mexico; see Live Science.  Actually, the fossils of Bistahieversor sealeyi, as it was named, were discovered in 1998, but recent closer analysis shows it to be a distinct species.  “To the untrained eye, Bistahieversor looks like most of its tyrannosaur relatives, but many subtle features, especially in its skull, set it apart,” the article said.  That seems to indicate that none of the major tyrannosaur equipment was lacking in this fossil said to be 10 million years older than the terror of Jurassic Park.  The concluding lines of the article indicate that a presumed evolutionary series is less than straightforward: “Bistahieversor shares a few characteristics with more advanced tyrannosaurs, like the T. rex, but also has many, more primitive features.  The findings give the researchers insight into the evolution of this dinosaur linage [sic], helping them understand when particular features may have arisen.”
        But “hey! what you callin’ primitive?” a street person might object.  “The fact that Bistahieversor has a T.-rex-like snout, even though it is older, indicates that this feature is relatively primitive, Carr said, and it is not unique to more advanced tyrannosaurs.”  This means that part of the “advanced” T-rex anatomy got demoted to primitive, just because it resembled the snout of an earlier tyrannosaurid dinosaur.  What’s more, the article indicated that both primitive and advanced members of the family were contemporaries – only separated by presumed geographical barriers.  Movie-goers, however, might remember that the designers of Jurassic Park did not find barriers very effective in keeping these giants from roaming wherever they wanted to go.

1.  Jonah N. Choiniere, Xing Xu et al, “A Basal Alvarezsauroid Theropod from the Early Late Jurassic of Xinjiang, China,&# 148;Science, 29 January 2010: Vol. 327. no. 5965, pp. 571-574, DOI: 10.1126/science.1182143.
2.  Richard Stone, “Bird-Dinosaur Link Firmed Up, And in Brilliant Technicolor,” Science, 29 January 2010: Vol. 327. no. 5965, p. 508, DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5965.508.
3. Plesiomorphyrefers to generalized similarity prior to a common ancestor – see 10/20/2006 for another example.
4.  Zhang et al, Nature advance online publication doi:10.1038/nature08740 (2010); see summary on Nature News.
5.  David Alexander et al, “Model tests of gliding with different hindwing configurations in the four-winged dromaeosaurid Microraptor gui,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences early edition, January 25, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0911852107.
Evolutionists are fascinating.  They are so clever at defending their worldview at all costs.  Someone should scientifically study them as a social phenomenon.

Epilogue and Eulogy:  The headline chosen for this entry was “Incredible Creatures that Support Evolution?”  Some readers will recognize that as a takeoff on the instructive and visually-rich film trilogy from Exploration Films, Incredible Creatures That Defy Evolution (see 10/03/2009 Resource of the Week).  The jovial, adventurous co-narrator of the series, David Hames, delighted viewers with his amusing introductions of each animal.  We are sad to report that Mr. Hames lost his life in the Haiti earthquake of January 12.  Exploration Films announced that he was trapped in the collapse of the Montana Hotel in Port-au-Prince while traveling to the poverty-stricken island to help make a film on children in need.  Our hearts go out to his wife Renee, whose faith, she wrote, gave her a “great peace” about God’s sovereign will.  David was an honorable, self-sacrificing Christian, whose legacy in the films will live on and continue to bless many.
Next headline on:  FossilsDinosaursBirdsPhysicsDarwin and Evolution

  We reported on 01/30/2003 that 500 fossilized vertebrate fish were found in the early Cambrian.  Evolutionists used to taunt creationists who brought up the Cambrian Explosion with the response that vertebrates didn’t evolve till much later.  This find showed that “vertebrate evolution was well advanced by the Early Cambrian” and that essentially all the major body plans, including the most advanced chordates (subphylum vertebrata, which includes all tetrapods and humans) appeared abruptly in the Cambrian without the transitional forms Darwin hoped would be found.

Woese Slays Darwin     01/28/2010    
Jan 28, 2010 — The king is dead!  Long live the king!  Such were the oxymoronic cries of olden times when royal succession took place.  Has Charles Darwin been dethroned?  One would think so, after reading Mark Buchanan’s article, “Horizontal and vertical: the evolution of evolution” in New Scientist.  Buchanan sets the stage:

Just suppose that Darwin’s ideas were only a part of the story of evolution.  Suppose that a process he never wrote about, and never even imagined, has been controlling the evolution of life throughout most of the Earth’s history.  It may sound preposterous, but this is exactly what microbiologist Carl Woese and physicist Nigel Goldenfeld, both at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, believeDarwin’s explanation of evolution, they argue, even in its sophisticated modern form, applies only to a recent phase of life on Earth.
Woese and Goldenfeld champion horizontal gene transfer as the overriding process that led to the genetic code and established biology as we know it.  The Darwinian part is like a footnote, acting on the last episodes of biological history.  Subsequent quotes show even more how far and deep this coup goes:
  • Earth for most of the time that life has existed – billions of years, in fact – the most ancient and prevalent form of evolution probably wasn’t Darwinian at all, Woese and Goldenfeld say.
  • “Biology built up a facade of mathematics around the juxtaposition of Mendelian genetics with Darwinism,” he [Woese] says.  “And as a result it neglected to study the most important problem in science – the nature of the evolutionary process.
  • This is all very different from evolution as described by Darwin.
  • Darwinian evolution simply cannot explain how such a [genetic] code could arise.
  • “With vertical, Darwinian evolution,” says Goldenfeld, “we found that the code evolution gets stuck and does not find the true optimum.
  • “In some sense,” says Woese, “the genetic code is a fossil or perhaps an echo of the origin of life, just as the cosmic microwave background is a sort of echo of the big bang.  And its form points to a process very different from today’s Darwinian evolution.
  • Today, at least in multicellular organisms, Darwinian evolution is dominant but we may still be in for some surprises.  “Most of life – the microbial world – is still strongly taking advantage of horizontal gene transfer, but we also know, from studies in the past year, that multicellular organisms do this too,” says Goldenfeld.
  • If a paradigm shift is pending, [Norman] Pace [U of Colorado] says it will be in good hands.  “I think Woese has done more for biology writ large than any biologist in history, including Darwin,” he says.  “There’s a lot more to learn, and he’s been interpreting the emerging story brilliantly.”
Will this be a Kuhn-style paradigm shift of epic proportions as these excerpts make it seem?  If so, will the Darwin Bicentennial be the last hurrah of a dying paradigm?  Will future scientists be celebrating the Woese Bicentennial some day?
    Any replacement paradigm in a scientific revolution needs to explain anomalies better than the old paradigm.  On page 2 of the article, Buchanan writes, “Darwinian evolution simply cannot explain how such a [genetic] code could arise.  But horizontal gene transfer can, say Woese and Goldenfeld.”  There’s the gauntlet.  OK, how?  First, they point to the universality of the code.  Then, they point to its degeneracy – the fact that multiple codons in DNA can translate to the same protein in amino acids, giving the code redundancy, and thus, some tolerance to mutation.  Third, they point to the remarkable error tolerance of the code:
In 1991, geneticists David Haig and Lawrence Hurst at the University of Oxford went further, showing that the code’s level of error tolerance is truly remarkable.  They studied the error tolerance of an enormous number of hypothetical genetic codes, all built from the same base pairs but with codons associated randomly with amino acids.  They found that the actual code is around one in a million in terms of how good it is at error mitigation.  “The actual genetic code,” says Goldenfeld, “stands out like a sore thumb as being the best possible.” That would seem to demand some evolutionary explanation.  Yet, until now, no one has found one.  The reason, say Woese and Goldenfeld, is that everyone has been thinking in terms of the wrong kind of evolution.
So far, it sounds like they have discovered evidence for intelligent design.  It’s not like followers of the Darwinian paradigm were ignorant of these properties, even if they thought little about them.  Woese has challenged them to explain the emergence of an optimal code by Darwinian means, and claims they can’t.  So what is his new explanation in terms of another naturalistic, evolutionary processes?  Here is the key paragraph:
Goldenfeld admits that pinning down the details of that early process remains a difficult task.  However the simulations suggest that horizontal gene transfer allowed life in general to acquire a unified genetic machinery, thereby making the sharing of innovations easier.  Hence, the researchers now suspect that early evolution may have proceeded through a series of stages before the Darwinian form emerged, with the first stage leading to the emergence of a universal genetic code.  “It would have acted as an innovation-sharing protocol,” says Goldenfeld, “greatly enhancing the ability of organisms to share genetic innovations that were beneficial.”  Following this, a second stage of evolution would have involved rampant horizontal gene transfer, made possible by the shared genetic machinery, and leading to a rapid, exponential rise in the complexity of organisms.  This, in turn, would eventually have given way to a third stage of evolution in which genetic transfer became mostly vertical, perhaps because the complexity of organisms reached a threshold requiring a more circumscribed flow of genes to preserve correct function.  Woese can’t put a date on when the transition to Darwinian evolution happened, but he suspects it occurred at different times in each of the three main branches of the tree of life, with bacteria likely to have changed first.
In sum, horizontal gene transfer made the sharing of innovations easier.  But where did the innovations come from?  The answer: emergence: “the emergence of a universal genetic code” that just happened to be optimal.  Don’t ask how; just believe.  After all, believing the Darwinian alternative is no longer credible, so what else is there?
If you are reading this explanation in utter disbelief, good.  There’s hope for you.  Surprised?  Not if you have been reading Creation-Evolution Headlines for long.  This is another in a long series of articles on evolutionary theory, from within the secular, naturalist camp, that might be titled, “Everything you know about Darwinian evolution is wrong, and our only replacement for it is to tell you that miraculous Stuff Happens sometimes.”  Example: 01/22/2009: For His Birthday, Darwin Loses His Tree.
    You may be thinking that Woese’s conquest only applies to microbes.  King Charles gets to keep all his multicellular icons (finches, horses, whales, humans) which evolved under his reign, so he still maintains a large territory.  Consider, though, that the article quoted Jan Sapp [York U, Canada] saying, “The microbial world holds the greatest biomass on Earth, but for most evolutionists it’s a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.  They tend to focus on visible plants and animals.”  Consider, secondly, that horizontal gene transfer essentially scrambles genetic signals between species and makes the construction of phylogenetic trees impossible.  Consider, finally, that invoking the emergence miracle-word at the beginning of life effectively pulls the rug out from any credible naturalistic explanation of life at all.  Adding “then a miracle happens” to a derivation undermines the whole derivation.  We shouldn’t see Woese as a conqueror, therefore, but as a traitor, selling out the Darwin Party’s dirty little secrets to the Intelligent Design conquerors.  He has revealed their basal vulnerability: they cannot account for the origin of the genetic code.  That is, without miracles.  Read that last blockquote and count the miracle words like emerged, arose, innovation-sharing protocol, etc.  They’re pervasive.
    It should be obvious now that everyone believes in miracles: i.e., instances where information became intruded into nature that was not subject itself to nature running its own undirected course.  The intelligent design conquerors are very open and transparent about this.  The Darwinists deceive themselves and their listeners by couching their miracles in euphemisms like it emerged, it arose, it evolved, without a clue as to how that could happen without a mind.  So pay them no mind; let their bankruptcy become self-evident.
Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionOrigin of LifeIntelligent DesignGeneticsDumb Ideas
Barefoot Is Better     01/27/2010    
Jan 27, 2010 — Who do we wear shoes?  It seems obvious; we expect that they help us avoid injuries and provide comfort.  Maybe we should think of the injuries we are getting by wearing them.
    The image of the barefoot person is usually of someone poor, deprived, lower-class, hick, unclean, redneck or something else unattractive.  Shoes are a big business.  Within that business, running shoes have become part status symbol, part science.  Those images might change if a study by Daniel Lieberman at Harvard is taken seriously.  PhysOrg summarized his paper in Nature in which he analyzed the physics of runners with and without shoes.  Barefoot runners, he found, strike the ground differently.  Their feet absorb the shock of impact by landing more on the arch and ball of the foot than on the heel.  Shod runners tend to be heel-strikers.  “Most shod runners -- more than 75 percent of Americans -- heel-strike, experiencing a very large and sudden collision force about 1,000 times per mile run,” the article explained.  That shock travels up into the ankle, shin and legs.  “People who run barefoot, however, tend to land with a springy step towards the middle or front of the foot.”  This gives them a “more compliant, or springy, leg.”  The impact of the heel strike is reduced in good running shoes.  Still, it could lead to repetitive stress injuries.
    Lieberman put his runners into an evolutionary landscape, but could not avoid using design terms:
The differences between shod and unshod running have evolutionary underpinnings.  For example, says Lieberman, our early Australopith ancestors had less developed arches in their feet.  Homo sapiens, by contrast, has evolved a strong, large arch that we use as a spring when running.
    “Our feet were made in part for running,” Lieberman says.  But as he and his co-authors write in Nature: “Humans have engaged in endurance running for millions of years, but the modern running shoe was not invented until the 1970s.  For most of human evolutionary history, runners were either barefoot or wore minimal footwear such as sandals or moccasins with smaller heels and little cushioning.”
Lieberman warned that a runner wanting to switch to barefoot running has to ease into it.  It takes a little time to get used to it, but it could be healthy.  “By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shod runners generate when they heel-strike.  Most people today think barefoot running is dangerous and hurts, but actually you can run barefoot on the world’s hardest surfaces without the slightest discomfort and pain,” he said.  “All you need is a few calluses to avoid roughing up the skin of the foot.  Further, it might be less injurious than the way some people run in shoes.”  He encouraged more research into the health benefits of barefoot running.  For those interested in comparing the two modes, Lieberman and his colleagues have set up a barefoot running website.
Most of us are so accustomed to walking in shoes we could not imagine walking around barefoot a good deal of the time, except at the beach or around the pool, but there are a few who prefer it; they amaze the rest of us with how nimbly and painlessly they scamper about on uneven ground, rocks, and all kinds of terrain.  You might be inspired by this story to try easing into some barefoot running, or at least kicking off the shoes a little more often around the house, if your family members will let you.  You may only regret it when stubbing your toe on a chair.  This experiment is also not advised for desert hikers or snow.  When you think about it, though, most cultures throughout history have done pretty well without heavy shoes.
    We didn’t need Lieberman’s little evolutionary fairy tale to make this an interesting story.  “Once upon a time, Lucy told her children to grow arches in their feet, and millions of yeas later, they obeyed.”  Nothing in his findings constitutes evidence for evolution; he just assumed it, and weaved a flat-footed tale around it.  Regardless, his work on human endurance running (11/18/2004) remains one of the most interesting “human body” stories we have reported here.
    Why must this evidence be forced into evolution?  The real scientific work was all measurement and analysis of design on living runners.  That design involves many integrated systems (circulatory, respiratory, muscular, skeletal, thermoregulatory, endocrine, and more) that could not have evolved in a stepwise manner, if you’ll pardon the pun.  Those who prefer creation explanations will notice that the foot is very well designed for our upright stance, just as ape feet are well designed for their lifestyles partly on the ground and in the trees.  Adam and Eve came complete with all their physical needs (this was, of course, before thorns).  It doesn’t mean that shopping malls with their dozens of shoe stores are unnatural; human creativity and inventiveness is also evidence of our design.  But we should distinguish between needs and desires.  Perhaps some of our inventions are not as good as the original plan.  Will there be barefoot Olympics again some day?
Next headline on:  Human BodyHealthPhysicsDarwin and EvolutionEarly ManAmazing Facts
Convergence: Explanation or Rescue Device?     01/26/2010    
Jan 26, 2010 — The news media are telling us that bats and dolphins both hit on the same genetic pathway to evolve echolocation – even though they are on vastly different evolutionary lineages and use echolocation differently (one in air, one in water).  Since it is inconceivable that a putative shrew-like common ancestor of these very different animals already had echolocation, the biologists claim that dolphins and bats followed the same evolutionary pathway, even down to the evolution of a single molecule.  Is this an explanation of how they came to have these traits, or a rescuing device intended to save evolutionary theory from the evidence?
    Science Daily and New Scientist both echoed the conclusions of two papers in Current Biology.1,2  The papers found that phylogenetic trees based on the cochlear gene Prestin include bottlenose dolphins and microbats together.  They claim to have ruled out all other hypotheses (such as horizontal gene transfer, DNA contamination, gene paralogy, long-branch attraction, and biased amino acid frequencies) as unlikely, so “convergence” must explain the similarities.  In short, natural selection converged on the same genetic set of mutations to the Prestin gene because echolocation was adaptive.3  The first paper concluded, “Regardless, our findings of adaptive sequence convergence between two highly divergent groups that share a complex phenotype is unprecedented, and suggests sequence convergence may be more common than previously suspected.
    But what does convergence mean?  Is it a law of nature?  Does it convey understanding, or is it a term acting as a placeholder for ignorance?  The explanation begs numerous questions.  How do they know the extent to which this one protein proves essential for echolocation over other parts of the echolocating organs that are not convergent?  If echolocation is such a strong adaptive trait, why did it not evolve in all whales and bats, as well as in beavers, sea lions, and all nocturnal mammals, which could presumably make good use of it?  If the answer to that question is contingency, then how does convergence differ from the null hypothesis – i.e., the non-explanation, “stuff happens”?
    A review of the two papers in the same issue of Current Biology4 revealed that the convergence explanation is not so straightforward.  Gareth Jones (U of Bristol) reminded readers that molecular phylogenies often conflict with morphological phylogenies or with each other.  “A key question is whether convergent, adaptive evolution dominates phylogenetic signals, or whether neutral evolution overrides any convergence driven by natural selection when making phylogenetic inferences,” he said.  “In reptile mitochondrial genes, although molecular convergence is clearly apparent, the specific selective forces driving such convergence are not obvious.”  He noted that the prestin modifications might be due to adaptive needs to hear high frequencies, but noted that other animals, like some mice, communicate with high frequencies but do not have the convergent-prestin signature.  He also noted that the new phylogenetic tree of bats based on prestin conflicts with other phylogenetic trees based on large-scale genetic analyses of both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA: “hence,” he said, “phylogenetic signals based on functional gene sequences may be misleading when reconstructing the evolutionary history of bats.”
    The prestin study actually creates additional problems.  Jones said it “emphasises the necessity of avoiding the use of putative functional genes in estimating evolutionary history.”  Researchers will have to incorporate more data sets, and consider the effects of neutral drift, when building phylogenetic trees.  Finding the signature of natural selection, therefore, will require human selection: “careful selection of genetic data that are probably neutral (intron sequences, for example).”  But how will the researcher select the data sets that produce the inference he wants without circular reasoning?  A data set that produces a signature of natural selection might be selected over other data sets that do not.  It would not, therefore, be the signature of nature itself.  Even so, examples of molecular convergence may be uncommon, Jones said.  That means their usefulness for inferring natural selection may be limited, despite the cheerleading of the popular press.
1.  Liu, Cotton, Shen, Han, Rossiter and Zhang, “Convergent sequence evolution between echolocating bats and dolphins,” Current Biology, Volume 20, Issue 2, 26 January 2010, Pages R53-R54, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.11.058.
2.  Li, Liu, Shi, and Zhang, “The hearing gene Prestin unites echolocating bats and whales,” Current Biology, Volume 20, Issue 2, 26 January 2010, Pages R55-R56, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.11.042.
3.  For information about prestin, a remarkable motor enzyme in the inner ear, see the 07/31/2007 entry and its embedded links.
4.  Gareth Jones, “Molecular Evolution: Gene Convergence in Echolocating Mammals,” Current Biology, Volume 20, Issue 2, 26 January 2010, Pages R62-R64, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.11.059.
In the land of Jargonwocky, a scientist named Niwrad came up with a theory of everything he called Galumph.  With frabjous joy, he investigated all the creatures of the borogoves with his apprentice, Ecallaw.  He found that the Jubjub birds had round eyes and the mome raths, though similar, have square eyes.  That’s because of Galumph, he explained.  The Bandersnatch and Jabberwock, though looking very different, both have round eyes.  “Galumph triumphs again!” Niwrad chortled.  “But how can that be?” burbled Ecallaw with uffish look.  “They are so very different in other respects.”  “Callooh! Callay!” exclaimed Niwrad frumiously.  “'Tis only to demonstrate the power of Galumph.  The former is a case of Parallel Galumph.  This one, a case of Convergent Galumph.  Do you see?  Galumph explains all.  We must away and tell Yelxuh, our mimsy publicist, to announce our scientific triumph to the townspeople!  We have slain the mystery of Jabberwock with Galumph.  Galumph has wiped the brillig from our slithy toves, and given us Enlightenment!”
    Convergence is about as meaningful and convincing an explanation as this.  If God exists, and if it were his intent to show the impossibility of evolution, he could hardly have done a better job than to show both unity and diversity of plants and animals, but with cross-branches linking unrelated lineages with similar traits.  It would simultaneously show a single Creator (instead of polytheism) and the impossibility these complex species and traits had emerged naturally from common ancestry.  As far as the differences between bat species, it is also much more plausible to explain by trait loss rather than by innovative gain of new complex systems.  Yet the Darwinists, intent on their naturalistic world view, have come up with a term like Galumph, called Convergence, to rescue their beliefs from the evidence.  To see the extent of their use of this rescuing device, look at Brett Miller’s partial list of incredible similarities between unrelated creatures in his essay, The Convergence Concoction.  Like his final cartoon shows, it’s so much easier for lazy scientists to say “It evolved!” than to consider the implications of the evidence.  Another resource on the explanatory flimflam being sold as Convergent Evolution can be found in this article on the Explore Evolution website, section II D.
    It can look impressive to see in scientific papers the amount of detailed work researchers perform to arrive at their Galumph explanations.  How could all these analytical tools like Bayesian analysis, software that generates phylogenetic trees out of genetic inputs, mathematical manipulations, inscrutable jargon, tables, charts and piles of supplemental data be misguided?  How can it be wrong when it feels so right?  But if the conclusion of this bridge over troubled water is “Galumph!  Stuff happens,” it doesn’t matter.  That’s a non-starter as an explanation.  And busy work is not science.  Undoubtedly one could find similar amounts of complex procedures and data manipulation in the textbooks on alchemy and astrology.  Couching the Stuff Happens Law (09/15/2008 commentary) in euphemisms does not produce understanding.
    By failing to include the top-down theories in their roster, they have failed to address the pool of possible explanations.  Regardless, this jabber about Convergence is not an explanation; it’s Jargonwocky masquerading as meaning.
Next headline on:  MammalsDarwin and EvolutionGenetics
  Nothing new under the sun: the Darwinists were spinning yarns eight years ago, too.  They told us birds evolved flight out of love (01/29/2002) and that compound eyes evolved and de-evolved multiple times (01/29/2002).  Trying to get us to believe that supernovas caused both extinctions and a resurgence of life (01/10/2002) and that evolution can run on fast-forward (01/14/2002) might make some readers wonder if there are bats in the evolutionary belfry (01/23/2002).

Chimps Produce Movie     01/25/2010    
Jan 25, 2010 — The BBC is going to air a movie made by chimpanzees.  (Note: This is not a Planet of the Apes remake.)  A primatologist working on her PhD gave some chimps at the Edinburgh zoo a “Chimpcam,” a camcorder in a “chimp-proof” box, to see what they would come up with.  “Despite the fact that the chimps had never taken part in a research project before, they soon displayed an interest in film-making,” the article said.
    The chimps did not seem particularly interested in the screenplay, though.  “The apes are unlikely to have actively tried to film any particular subject, or understand that by carrying Chimpcam around, they were making a film,” the news report ended.  “However, the result, as well as providing new information on how chimps like to see the world, may yet go down in television history.”  A portion of the footage, showing a chimp apparently licking the lens, accompanies the article.  They did not say what its rating will be. 

If it turns out anything like the Monkey Shakespeare experiment (05/12/2003), it should be rated PG, for primate gross.  They probably learned from the demolished typewriters that they had to chimp-proof the Chimpcam to avoid excrement from damaging the electronics.  If anything suggestive of “understanding” comes out on the tape, scientific objectivity would look into the possibility of coaching by the zookeepers, and the amount of judicious editing done by intelligent human engineers.
    This attempt could backfire into a series of legal challenges.  Other animals are ostensibly more intelligent than chimpanzees (05/26/2009).  They may claim that they were overlooked in the hiring.  Flipper, Heckel and Jeckel should call their agents and demand enforcement of equal employment opportunity laws.
Next headline on:  MammalsMediaDumb Ideas
Aliens Invade Science News     01/25/2010    
Jan 25, 2010 — What are aliens doing in science news reports?  There is no evidence they even exist.  That has not hindered some scientists from speculating.  BBC News reporters Pallab Ghosh headlined an entry “Astronomers hopeful of detecting extra-terrestrial life,” and adorned it with a Hollywood-style alien corpse.  The article highlighted the optimism of Lord Rees, the president of the Royal Society and Astronomer Royal of Britain, who thinks we are getting close to discovering alien life.  And whatever the discovery shows them to be, “It would change our view of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.
    Frank Drake of SETI fame was also given very good press by the BBC News for finding nothing for 50 years.  Drake was praised for inventing an equation that, to evaluate, would require knowledge of several factors that are beyond observation or measurement.  Reporter Jonathan Amos focused on what our reactions would be if we discovered aliens.
    New Scientist went even further and speculated on what aliens will look like.  Reporter Stephen Battersby acknowledged there is no evidence for “Tentacled monsters, pale skinny humanoids, shimmery beings of pure energy... When it comes to the question of what alien life forms might look like, we are free to let our imagination roam,” he said.  “The science-in-waiting of extraterrestrial anatomy has yet to acquire its first piece of data, so nobody knows what features we will behold if and when humans and aliens come face-to-face.  Or face to squirmy something.”  From there, various astrobiologists and origin-of-life researchers weighed in with their imaginative speculations.  Stephen Benner thought life might be built on alien chemistry.  Battersby speculated about life in our solar system.  “In our eyes, the Titanians might seem pretty laid back.  At around 93 kelvin, Titan’s seas are very cold and that makes chemical reactions super slow.” Dirk Schulze-Makuch (U of Washington) who said, “Things could be very slow-moving and slow-growing.  The lifetime of such an organism may be 10,000 years, or perhaps as much as a million.”
    Battersby switched over to SETI and let his imagination run loose: “Even without knowing the details of their chemistry or habitat, it is possible to hazard a few guesses,” he said.  He used “convergent evolution” to speculate that aliens might look like us, and even put English words in their mouth. 
So if our aliens come from a planet with a range of habitats not too different from those on Earth, they might well have some of the same characteristics.  A well-lit world like ours would probably produce beings with eyes – so maybe a recognisable face after all.  And our cosmic correspondents would presumably need some manipulating organs to fiddle with the nuts and bolts of their technology.  They might even have hands, but then again why not a prehensile tail or a trunk instead?  “Maybe it’s an antenna, maybe a tentacle,” says [Lynn] Rothschild [NASA Ames].  “Maybe an octopus would look at us and think ‘How can you expect this organism to develop technology with its two clumsy front limbs?’”
While we’re speculating, let’s not let empiricism get in the way.  They might even be machines; or “we might find tentacled monsters, pale skinny humanoids, shimmery beings of pure energy....”  At least we can take comfort in the probability that the aliens are green – that is, environmentalists.  The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) tells us, for good or for ill, “Astrobiology Opens Pandora’s Box.”  Pandora has improved her reputation since the movie Avatar.  “Lisa Kaltenegger from NAI’s MIT team discusses exoplanets and science fiction with CNN World, noting that it’s likely many moons such as Avatar’s Pandora exist, and we’re that much closer to finding them with NASA’s Kepler mission.”  Actually, Pandora does exist.  It’s a little bitty moon inside Saturn’s F-Ring (see Planetary Photojournal).  But since this is an article about Astrobiology, the implication is that where big-world Pandoras of the Avatar kind form, Pandorans – environmentally-friendly sentient communicators – are sure to emerge.  Why?  Because evolution is a force throughout the universe.  Whether green sentient slime or general electric beings of pure energy, it good things to life.
    For more on SETI speculation, see the 10/31/2009 entry. 
If this is New Scientist, don’t ask what New Rationality is supposed to be.  Can you imagine the reaction of these “scientists” if theologians or historians were to flip out in unsubstantiated imagination like this?  This is nothing but Darwinism, with all its silly concoctions like “convergent evolution” (01/26/2010) projected into space.  They call it “science-in-waiting.”  Gnomology could be called that, too (09/01/2009, 09/17/2008, 04/21/2008, and 03/16/2008 commentaries).  Let’s throw in alchemy, astrology and natural magic.  After all, no data are needed, and those “sciences” actually had more to work with.  While the alien hunters are speculating in Fantasyland pretending to be scientists, maybe they could tell us how many aliens made of pure energy could dance on the head of a pin.
Next headline on:  SETIAstrobiology and Origin of LifeDarwin and EvolutionMediaDumb Ideas
Jan 23, 2010 – Time to explore another stimulating book by Dr. Phillip E. Johnson, the esteemed leader of the intelligent design movement.  Any one of his works is a delicious read, but The Right Questions (IVP, 2002) is especially poignant.  It’s more than a scholarly treatise written for ordinary people.  It’s a look into his soul.  Dr. Johnson suffered a stroke in 2001, and then the 9/11 attacks occurred that same year.  These two catastrophes form an emotional backdrop that adds a personal dimension to the discussion announced by the subtitle, “Truth, Meaning & Public Debate.”
    “We can’t talk about the right questions,” the back cover announces, “because we haven’t been allowed to ask them.”  New questions came to Johnson’s mind due to his experiences in rehab thinking about his own mortality, and with watching the aftermath of terror – questions that no one seems to be asking.  The one who controls the questions often controls the culture.  Questions shape the debate and the allowable outcomes.  “Questions often assume what most needs to be discussed,” the flyleaf explains.
    Disappointed that certain questions seemed forever “off the table” in academia and the media, Johnson proposed lists of his own: questions about science, God, morality, education, logic, meaning of life, tolerance, pluralism, truth, liberty, religion, the historical Jesus – even questions about the book of Genesis.  These are bold and original questions that open up new vistas of discussion and debate and stimulate additional questions.  Written with Johnson’s inimitable wit and candor, and reinforced by his own fresh experiences with the fragility of life, the questions will certainly stimulate thinking along new lines and make you wonder, Why didn’t I think about that question before?  A modest size (191 page) book, The Right Questions is available from Access Research Network, Amazon and most other online booksellers.
Next resource of the week:  01/16/2010.  All resources: Catalog.

Fermi Paradox Reasserts Itself     01/23/2010    
Jan 23, 2010 — Paul Davies, no stranger to facing difficult questions and proposing imaginative solutions, is coming out with a new book in April about SETI.  In it, he tackles the Fermi Paradox: if aliens are out there, why haven’t they dropped by yet?  Amazon.com lists some of the ideas to be presented in The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence: “The author surveys popular topics in science fiction such as Dyson spheres, time travel, and wormholes, and decides that they’re not feasible under physics as we understand it.  He concludes with a far-ranging look at what might happen here on Earth when we make first contact.”
    Speaking of first contact, Davies chairs the “SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup,” which must be an interesting job, considering the subject matter remains hypothetical.  What does it pay?
    Davies feels that “SETI has lost its edge and offers a new and exciting road map for the future.”  The product description continues, “Davies believes our search so far has been overly anthropocentric: we tend to assume an alien species will look, think, and behave like us.  He argues that we need to be far more expansive in our efforts, and in this book he completely redefines the search, challenging existing ideas of what form an alien intelligence might take, how it might try to communicate with us, and how we should respond if it does.”

Robert Crowther at Evolution News has a suggestion for Davies.  Just read Meyer’s Signature in the Cell “about the evidence for intelligent design that booms out of DNA right here on this planet.”  And if he wants to be less anthropocentric, why not consider angels, demons, or God?  Isn’t that being “far more expansive in our efforts?”  Expand your personal search into the Gideon Bible in the hotel room drawer.
Next headline on:  SETIPhysicsIntelligent Design
  Remember last year when a Darwin historian warned that evolutionists cannot deny some rather disturbing implications of Darwin’s ideas?  Worth reading again; see the 01/15/2009 entry.

Evolutionary Biogeography Requires Imagination     01/22/2010    
Jan 22, 2010 — Biogeography – the study of the distribution of species – has been an important part of evolutionary theory, and has often been used as evidence for evolution.  Some recent findings about plants and animals should give scientists caution about trying to divine too much evolutionary history from locations of present-day organisms and fossils.
    PhysOrg reported on a study of New Zealand plants that yielded surprises.  The article shares the details, but ends, “this research demonstrates that the presence of ancient fossils from a plant family may not provide evidence regarding the history of modern members of the family, providing a cautionary note to other researchers trying to reconstruct the history of a group of plants.”  A researcher said, “Delving into the details of plant fossils can give you surprises.  The fossil record of pollen could be read to say that this group of plants is a relic from the breakup of Gondwana—but by combining the leaf fossils and evidence from molecular biology, it looks like exactly the opposite is true.”
    Animals, also, may not be land-locked.  National Geographic reported that mammals, including lemurs, could have rafted across the Indian Ocean from Africa to Madagascar where they are found today.  The BBC News also reported this shift in thinking away from the land-bridge hypothesis to the rafting hypothesis.  The opposite hypothesis might hold for iguanas on the other side of the world.  Science Daily reported on new ideas that iguanas simply “walked” across land bridges to South Pacific islands where they are found today.

Animals and plants evolved where they lived – except when they didn’t.  The use of these auxiliary hypotheses, like rafting and land bridges, indicates that evolutionary biogeography is so flexible it could explain anything.  Therefore it explains nothing, and should not be taken as evidence for Darwin’s theory.  Iguanas walking long distances on bridges?  Lemurs floating on logs out to sea?  One can see the cartoons coming.  One must never think they floated on an ark or something.
    A related essay that exposes the fudging evolutionists employ to keep their theory intact was shown by Paul Nelson on Evolution News and Views regarding so-called “ghost lineages” in phylogeny, or, “how evolutionists ensure they will never find a Cambrian rabbit.”  Dr. Nelson (philosopher of biology) will publish a Part II to this instructive essay soon.
Next headline on:  PlantsMammalsTerrestrial ZoologyFossilsDarwin and Evolution
Dogs for Darwin     01/21/2010    
Jan 21, 2010 — Dogs are barking for Darwin and proving him right.  How?  By illustrating “survival of the cutest.”  No kidding; Science Daily shamelessly announced, “‘Survival of the Cutest’ Proves Darwin Right.
    Chris Klingenberg and Abby Drake, who published a study on mammal skull shapes in American Naturalist on dog breeds, said, “This study illustrates the power of Darwinian selection with so much variation produced in such a short period of time.  The evidence is very strong.”  Yet the strong evidence was artificial selection – a form of intelligent design.  Would nature red in tooth and claw ever produce a cute dog?  The caption on the photo of cuddly puppies says, “Domestic dogs have followed their own evolutionary path, twisting Darwin’s directive ‘survival of the fittest’ to their own needs.
The Darwin-licking lapdogs of evolution are completely, totally out of control.  They are so inebriated on Dar-wine they have no idea how silly their slobbering love affair with King Charles and his ‘directives’ (like “evolve or perish!”) looks to normal people.  Are they oblivious to the fact that Biblical creationist Ken Ham uses diagrams of the diversity of dogs to prove that rapid variations can be achieved by intelligent dog breeders?  Apparently.  Darwin does not need admirers like this.  He’s indisposed enough already.
How sick is that Darwin in the window?
The one with the braggily tale?
How sick is that Darwin in the window?
I do say he’s looking quite pale.
They say that he has a queasy stomach,
The cause of which no one’s quite sure;
It could be because of his admirers,
Their slobber is doubtless impure.

Next headline on:  MammalsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
Reality or Hubris in Scientific Claims?     01/20/2010    
Jan 20, 2010 — The amount of trust the public puts in scientific claims stems partly from their incomprehensibility.  The claims presented in scientific papers are often so dense and abstruse as to be unapproachable by all but specialists.  Undoubtedly many people trust scientists because of their specialized education, their knowledge of mathematics, their special equipment, and their use of the “scientific method” (however that is defined) that is assumed to lead to reliable knowledge.  The popular press tries to condense and explain scientific explanations in plain English, but at the risk of oversimplifying, editorializing, misinterpreting, misconstruing or hyping the evidence.  At times, though, claims by scientists seem so beyond experience that it is right to at least ask how can they be empirically justified.  Some recent examples might serve to illustrate the problem.
  1. Galaxy evolution:  Nobody has seen dark matter, and nobody has watched a galaxy rotate once, let alone form and evolve.  Yet several recent articles, like one on Space.com, claim that astronomers have “solved” the mysteries behind galaxy shapes.  “Now scientists have used dark matter theory to predict the menagerie of galaxies found in the universe,” Clara Moskowitz wrote triumphantly.  “Their new model reproduces 13 billion years’ worth of cosmic evolution, resulting in a surprisingly accurate tally of the different kinds of galaxies we see.”  An astute observer might ask if they confirmed reality, or just confirmed their artificial model.  Even when a model reproduces observations, that does not justify it.  The fallacy of affirming the consequent (i.e., after the prediction, therefore because of the prediction) lurks to undermine any prediction – as does the problem of underdetermination of theories by data (i.e., there are always multiple theories that can account for the same data).  Doubts should escalate when copious amounts of occult factors or unobservables (like dark matter) are thrown into a model to make it work.  None of these concerns disprove the theory presented in this article, but should turn on caution blinkers on the victory lap.
  2. Galaxy formation:  A similar air of triumph was evident in Science Daily’s article titled, “How Galaxies Form: New Research Resolves Conflict in Theory.”  The supercomputers used in this study are indeed impressive – they ran the equivalent of 100 years of simulations.  But the same problems noted above (occult factors like cold dark matter, logical fallacies) plague this article.  We are told that “The cold dark matter theory works amazingly well at telling where, when and how many galaxies should form.”  The new simulation apparently showed them that massive early stars in dwarf galaxies would produce such explosive supernovae that they would starve the cores of material for star formation, and this is said to match observations of dwarf galaxies.  To make the simulation work, though, they had to invoke the assumption that 75% of reality is unobservable.  “In the cold dark matter theory, smaller structures form first, then they merge with each other to form more massive halos, and finally galaxies form within the halos.”  Nobody knows what cold dark matter is; it serves as a placeholder for ignorance in certain theories.
  3. Thinking germs:  “Bacteria Are More Capable of Complex Decision-Making Than Thought,” announced a strange article in Science Daily that tells us that scientists are learning how bacteria “think.”  Is this merely a little justifiable anthropomorphism for pedagogical purposes, or does it mislead?  “We see now that bacteria are, in their way, big thinkers, and by knowing how they ‘feel’ about the environment around them, we can look at new and different ways to work with them.”  The article is about stimulus and response, not thinking as humans use the term.  An argument could be made that this is more distraction than education.
  4. Dusty message:  It sounds like a headline from the National Enquirer: “Alien Dust Kicked Up By Baby Planet Collisions.”  Andrea Thompson at Live Science tendered the usual confidence in a theory with some surprise and mystery: a ring around a star has “alien dust” that theory did not predict for the terrestrial planet zone.  A story was not long in coming: “The cooler dust likely did not result from planetary collisions, and is instead probably the leftovers of planet formation that took place farther away from the sun,” an astronomer from UCLA explained to the American Astronomical Society.  He even threw in a little SETI: “These stars aren’t good targets in the hunt for extraterrestrials.”  He knows that because the parent stars are short-lived and windy, and as we all know, it takes billions of years for sentient beings to evolve from chemicals.  It appears that ignorance of key points in the observations is not a deterrent for promoting stories in the press.
  5. Message from the mantle:  We are receiving messages from deep inside the earth from crystals.  That’s what Science Daily tells us in an article headlined, “Zircons and Their Message from the Earth’s Mantle.”  Lest you think that scientists journeyed to the interior of the earth and interviewed say, Mickey Mantle, and learned the zircon language of the creatures of the deep, the triumphant announcement seems tenuous at best.  The article appeals to millions of unexperienced years.  The lines between theory, belief and fact seem so blurred as to evaporate.  We know we can measure melting points in the lab, and current radioactive decay rates, and locations of zircons on the surface, but what are we to make of stories about how where they came from and how they got to their discovery sites on the surface?  “Their results show that these zircons were formed in the Earth mantle and were stored in this environment many million of years before they were delivered to the surface by basalt lava flows with which they are associated,” the article stated in an almost comforting certainty.  “...Zircons like these, apart from their aesthetic beauty, carry a wealth of information and offer an interesting glimpse in the mantle.”
  6. Older Sierras:  The Sierra Nevada mountains of California are older than previously thought, PhysOrg tells us.  On what basis did scientists at Yale and Berkeley arrive at that conclusion?  The evidence consisted of “50-million-year-old chemical traces left by microbes and rain droplets that fell onto ancient leaves to calculate the new height estimate for the Sierras at that time.”  The article did not explain how, without having watched the leaves and timed those years with a stopwatch, the scientists could know the starting conditions of the leaves and what they subsequently experienced in a vast amount of time, during which who-knows-what environmental changes could have altered the evidence.  Nor did they explain how rain drops on leaves reliably correlate to the height of a mountain chain, without taking into account unlisted variables like climate, atmospheric concentration, and rates of uplift.  These doubts were simply swept aside in the confident conclusion, “It’s amazing to break open a rock and look at these amazingly preserved leaves that can tell you a story from 50 million years ago.”
  7. Cave crystal ball:  Now we know that a cave in Arizona responded to a wet Greenland 55,000 years ago, PhysOrg announced.  How?  Julia Cole of the University of Arizona measured detailed structures of a stalactite and figured it all out.  “These changes are part of a global pattern of abrupt changes that were first documented in Greenland ice cores,” she said.  “No one had documented those changes in the Southwest before.”  She measured samples of oxygen-18 in razor thin samples of the stalactite.  She used uranium-thorium dating.  She claims to have found correlations with Greenland ice cores: “When it was cold in Greenland, it was wet here, and when it was warm in Greenland, it was dry here.”  Indeed, “The stalagmite yielded an almost continuous, century-by-century climate record spanning 55,000 to 11,000 years ago.”  What was unstated were the assumptions behind the dating methods (including confidence in climate models and controversial temperature proxies), other possible explanations for the patterns due to underdetermination of theories by data, the risk of extrapolation from current stalactite growth rates, the use of proxies for unexperienced years in lieu of strict empiricism, possible flaws in the methods of calibration and assumptions underlying them, possible confusion of cause and effect, and possible human contamination of the cave environment, among other issues.  But how could any layman avoid falling under the spell of a siren song like this?  “By matching the stalagmite’s growth timeline with the sequence of wet and dry periods revealed by the oxygen analyses, the researchers could tell in century-by-century detail when the Southwest was wet and when it was dry.”
Science grew under the leadership of bold men and women who learned to question authority, to doubt, and to prove rigorously with observational evidence – not just ancillary data points that fit a preconceived story or model, but with decisive empirical evidence that was testable without reliance on auxiliary hypotheses and occult phenomena.  Nowadays, it seems that most readers of science are content to let the authorities tell us what to believe.
Scientific explanations today frequently go far, far beyond any empirical data.  They make inferences that can scarcely be justified.  If the kinds of inferences made by scientists were made by any other scholars, people would call them nuts.  Yet scientists get away with it, because they have achieved the kind of presumptive authority that medieval scholars had.  The success of science feeds on itself.  Like a rich corporation buying up the real estate in the city, science enlarges its territory and takes over.  Citizens watch and hope that it means progress.
    You may have been taught that science restricts itself to empirical evidence.  That may have been true in the 18th century, but increasingly, scientists, like gluttons, feel they can devour any subject with impunity.  Empirical modesty has been replaced by epistemological ambition.  It’s no longer “We will restrict ourselves to what we can measure,” but “We will explain all of reality!”  If these scientists really restricted themselves to the evidence, their stories would be far less interesting.  Here’s how strict empiricists might report their findings.
  1. Galaxy evolution:  We catalogued different shapes of galaxies.  We turned on a computer and it powered up.
  2. Galaxy formation:  We ran a program on a supercomputer for the equivalent of 100 years of processing, and found that globs of graphical matter interacted the way we programmed them to.
  3. Thinking germs:  We watched receptors on the membranes of bacteria react to the presence of nitrogen.  They reacted differently in the presence of oxygen.
  4. Dusty message:  We found cool dust at a certain radius from a particular star that contained different ratios of elements than seen on our earth.
  5. Message from the mantle:  We found crystals near a volcano, and studied their melting points and chemical composition.
  6. Older Sierras:  We measured the isotopes of oxygen on leaf fossils found at a certain location in the Sierra foothills.
  7. Cave crystal ball:  There are about 1200 identifiable layers in a stalactite in a particular room of a particular cave in Arizona that average about 100 microns in thickness.
Since this is boring, scientists like to leap off into storytelling land and “explain” how these things got that way.  They look into their zircon crystals and perform divination (see commentaries from 07/26/2008, 01/25/2008).  In their mind’s eye, they see millions of years pass by, mountains emerging, planets colliding, bacteria conspiring, and galaxies evolving.  None of that is based on observational evidence.
    To be really strict, we could require scientists to limit themselves to descriptions of of their perceptions: “I had a sensation of holding a caliper against a stalactite and envisioning a measurement of 100 microns.”  But then how did you know your sensation corresponded to external reality?  Play Descartes: “I doubt, therefore I am.”  We can even outdo Descartes: “Doubting is occurring.”  Further: “I had a dream that someone doubted that doubting was occurring.”  Solipsism.
    This exercise shows that it is far easier to assume support for a theory than to demonstrate it.  David Hume famously challenged the legitimacy of induction and the ability to prove cause and effect.  Nelson Goodman demonstrated that there are infinitely many theories that can explain an observation equally well.  If this seems like academic game-playing, be aware that the greatest minds of the 20th century and before have wrestled with questions like these that bear directly on our ability to connect with external reality.  If we cannot even be sure that our sensations connect with observable reality, how can we claim they connect with “unobservable reality”? (notice the oxymoron from a naturalistic worldview).
    Rather than face these questions, scientists “help themselves” to the assumption that their theories connect with reality.  The successes of science in giving us cell phones and landing rovers on Mars seems to support the belief that science produces reliable knowledge of nature, assuming, of course, that we can define science in some sensible way.  Notice that this is pragmatic reasoning, not logic.  Things could work for other reasons than that they are based on true perceptions of reality.  Egyptians built the pyramids without modern science.  And there are good reasons to believe that humans are incapable of understanding reality.  Quantum mechanics seems to show that at a very fundamental level, matter and energy are counterintuitive.  We use Q.M. because it works; not because we understand it.  Some evolutionists have proposed “evolutionary epistemology” – the idea that if we had not evolved to connect with reality in some reliable ways, we would not have survived.  The argument could just as well be made, however, that evolution to survive (e.g., eat, have sex, fight) has no necessary connection to an understanding of reality – especially to unobservables like galaxy evolution, black holes, quarks, deep time, and the interpretation of climate proxy signatures in stalactites.
    The word science also stands for way too much.  The kind of science that has brought us cell phones and Mars rovers is actually quite limited to experimental work that can be tested in real time.  You don’t need to appeal to millions of years to wire a computer chip.  You don’t need to envision dust disks forming into planets in order to get a parachute to open in the Martian atmosphere.  All the practical benefits of science that have changed our lives have very tenuous connections, if any, to the theoretical speculations in the stories listed above.  Are we to respect the scientists involved in the stories, with all their wild speculations, just because they call themselves scientists?  or just because they work for scientific societies?  Arguably not.  They are fallible human beings like the rest of us.  The successes of science in the 18th through 20th centuries attracted a lot of groupies wanting to cash in.  Like barnacles on the hull of a ship, they tag along for the ride, serving their own selfish needs while doing nothing to propel the ship to the land of knowledge.
    For more on the limits of science and the human elements involved, see the 10/21/2008 entry, especially the last half of the commentary.  For more on the aspirations and pretensions of explanation in science, see 01/13/2010, 12/04/2009, 10/26/2009, 10/05/2009, 04/21/2009, 06/03/2008, or search on “scientific explanation” in the search bar.
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  “Pigs don’t fly” – One of the most devastating critiques of the new “metabolism first” approaches to the origin of life was leveled two years ago by Leslie Orgel right before he died (see 01/26/2008).  Orgel was a long-time researcher and collaborator with Stanley Miller.  But then, Robert Shapiro just a year earlier had leveled a devastating critique of the alternative genetics-first scenario (see 02/15/2007).  Two falsifications do not add up to a justification.

Molecular Machines Use Moving Parts     01/19/2010    
Jan 19, 2010 — Research papers into the processes of molecular machines continue to reveal moving parts: “fingers” that open and close, ratchets that lock into place, and feet that move along tracks.  Here are a few samples from the voluminous literature that continues to pour from biophysics labs.

  1. DNA Polymerase I:  Scientific papers tend to be reserved in their language, but the authors of a paper in Structure1 couldn’t help themselves: “DNA polymerases are spectacular molecular machines that can accurately copy genetic material with error rates on the order of 1 in 105 bases incorporated, not including the contributions of proofreading exonucleases.”  Their paper went into detail on how the “fingers” and “thumb” of the machine open and close in precise sequence as the machine moves along the DNA strand base by base.  Part of the machine rotates 50° as the machine translocates along the DNA.  These machines copy millions of base pairs of DNA every cell division so that each daughter cell gets an accurate copy.  The research was done on a bacterium that lives in hot springs.
        Pata and Jaeger, who reviewed the paper by Golosov et al in Structure,2 included a diagram showing the “conformational changes” that DNA polymerase I undergoes in its action along the DNA strand.  “After more than fifty years of research, the DNA polymerases responsible for copying the genetic material are some of the most well characterized enzymes in all of biology,” they said.  “Although the polymerases are divided into several different families, they all share a common two metal-ion catalytic mechanism, and most of them are described as having fingers, palm, and thumb domains: the palm contains metal-binding catalytic residues, the thumb contacts DNA duplex, and the fingers form one side of the pocket surrounding the nascent base pair.”  Three phases occur during each step along the DNA chain: the fingers open, the machine moves one base pair as it rotates, then the base in the “palm” is placed into the “pre-insertion site,” while another moving part prevents further movement till the operation is completed.  Then the process repeats – millions of times per operation.
        A paper in PNAS3 on DNA Polymerase I noted that “The remarkable fidelity of most DNA polymerases depends on a series of early steps in the reaction pathway which allow the selection of the correct nucleotide substrate, while excluding all incorrect ones, before the enzyme is committed to the chemical step of nucleotide incorporation.”  Their paper also discussed numerous conformational changes in the operation – some that precede the emplacement of the nucleotide at each step.  They described how the fingers-closing step forms “a snug binding pocket around the nascent base pair.”  They discussed at length how the machine prevents mismatched bases at several stages of the operation.  None of the authors of these three papers used the word evolution.
  2. Virus replicator:  Language of moving parts abounds in an article in PNAS about the machinery a virus uses to replicate itself.4  This little helicase called NS3h undergoes three successive conformational changes as it ratchets along the DNA.  Words found in the paper suggesting moving parts include: stretched spring, torsion, rotation, bending, propel, motion, unwinding, gating, cycle, kinetic steps, motor domains, structural transitions, and ratchet-type unidirectional translocation.  This particular machine works in a virus that causes hepatitis C.  It is part of superfamily SF2 of this kind of machine.  Regarding evolution, the authors only said, “structural comparison of the representative SF1 and SF2 members reveals explicit differences in catalyzing nucleotide hydrolysis and motion (Figs. S6 and S7), reflecting the fact that these helicases have evolved to adopt divergent mechanisms and act in different biological processes.” 
  3. Torsion springs and lever arms:  There’s a molecular machine that detects stretching force when a load is applied.  The keywords for a paper in PNAS5 about one of the myosins include kinetics, torsional motions, lever arm, force-sensitive transition, and more.  “Myosin-Is are molecular motors that link cellular membranes to the actin cytoskeleton, where they play roles in mechano-signal transduction and membrane trafficking,” the paper begins.  “Some myosin-Is are proposed to act as force sensors, dynamically modulating their motile properties in response to changes in tension.”  Why do cells need force sensors?  “Tension sensing by myosin motors is important for numerous cellular processes, including control of force and energy utilization in contracting muscles, transport of cellular cargos, detection of auditory stimuli, and control of cell shape.”  The authors found that alternative splicing of the gene produces isoforms of the motor with lever arms of different lengths, with varying response to force.  This “increases the range of force sensitivities of the proteins translated from the myo1b gene.”  and it “tunes the mechanical properties of myo1b for diverse mechanical challenges, while maintaining the protein’s basal kinetic and cargo-binding properties.”
        How did these myosin machines arise?  They just evolved.  “Myosins have evolved different tension sensitivities tuned for these diverse cellular tasks,” the authors said.  That’s all they had to say about evolution.
  4. Ribosome dynamics:  When transfer-RNAs and messenger-RNAs traverse the ribosome protein-assembly factory with their amino-acid cargos and genetic data readouts, respectively, they undergo several motions as they are transported along.  Researchers writing in PNAS said,6 “Spontaneous formation of the unlocked state of the ribosome is a multistep process.”  Their paper described how the L1 stalks of the ribosome bend, rotate and uncouple – undergoing at least four distinct stalk positions while each tRNA ratchets through the assembly tunnel.  At one stage, for instance, “the L1 stalk domain closes and the 30S subunit undergoes a counterclockwise, ratchet-like rotation” with respect to another domain of the factory.  This is not simple.  “Subunit ratcheting is a complex set of motions that entails the remodeling of numerous bridging contacts found at the subunit interface that are involved in substrate positioning,” they said.
Since the discovery of molecular machines, biochemistry has transformed into biophysics.  The kind of chemistry we learned in school is inadequate for understanding the machinery of the cell.  Interactions between molecules are not simply matters of matching electrons with protons.  Instead, large structural molecules form machines with moving parts.  These parts experience the same kinds of forces and motions that we experience at the macro level: stretching, bending, leverage, spring tension, ratcheting, rotation and translocation.  The same units of force and energy are appropriate for both – except at vastly different levels.
1.  Golosov, Warren, Beese and Karplus, “The Mechanism of the Translocation Step in DNA Replication by DNA Polymerase I: A Computer Simulation Analysis,” Structure, Volume 18, Issue 1, 83-93, 13 January 2010, 10.1016/j.str.2009.10.014.
2.  Janice D. Pata and Joachim Jaeger, “Molecular Machines and Targeted Molecular Dynamics: DNA in Motion,” Structure, Volume 18, Issue 1, 13 January 2010, Pages 4-6, doi:10.1016/j.str.2009.12.003.
3.  Santoso et al, “Conformational transitions in DNA polymerase I revealed by single-molecule FRET,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 12, 2010, vol. 107, no. 2, pp. 715-720, doi:10.1073/pnas.0910909107.
4.  Gu and Rice, “Three conformational snapshots of the hepatitis C virus NS3 helicase reveal a ratchet translocation mechanism,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 12, 2010, vol. 107, no. 2, pp. 521-528, doi:10.1073/pnas.0913380107.
5.  Laakso, Lewis, Shuman, and Ostap, “Control of myosin-I force sensing by alternative splicing,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 12, 2010, vol. 107, no. 2, pp. 698-702, doi:10.1073/pnas.0911426107.
6.  Munro, Altman, Tung, Cate, Sanbonmatsu and Blanchard, “Spontaneous formation of the unlocked state of the ribosome is a multistep process,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 12, 2010, vol. 107, no. 2, pp. 709-714, doi:10.1073/pnas.0908597107.
In the major general journals, papers on biochemistry and biophysics appear to vastly exceed other topics.  In the current issue of PNAS, for instance, there are 3 papers on physical sciences, 7 on chemistry (but several overlapping with biochemistry), one on engineering, 1 on environmental science, 1 on geology, 2 on mathematics, 2 on social sciences, 6 on biology, 1 on ecology, 1 on environmental sciences, 2 on evolution, 4 on genetics, 6 on immunology, 6 on medical sciences, 5 on microbiology, 2 on neuroscience, 2 on physiology, 1 on plant biology, 2 on psychology, 1 on “sustainability science,” but 25 on biochemistry/biophysics/cell biology.  This is not atypical.  There may be various reasons for this lopsided publishing on cells, but clearly major discoveries are being made as techniques become refined that allow us to see more clearly into the operations of cellular factories.  The pattern we see repeatedly here is known as the CEH Law: talk of evolution is inversely proportional to the amount of observational detail.  Usually the Darwinspeak is only a casual passing reference without demonstration, like “such-and-such evolved to....” (for the fallacy of using evolved as an active verb, see the 01/17/2010 entry).  The evidence shouts “design!” to the rest of us.
    It has probably not escaped your notice that viruses and disease-causing bacteria contain the same high-tech machinery as the “good” cells.  In fact, many of our worst plagues are caused by organisms employing exquisite molecular machines against us.  This undoubtedly raises philosophical and theological questions.  It’s the long-standing problem of natural evil.
    The Darwinist answer is less than helpful: it says that nothing is evil.  Whatever is, is right; more accurately, whatever is, is.  Everything is in its own struggle for existence.  But why struggle, if existence is meaningless?  We’ve come a long way since the 18th century, when deists, and later atheists, portrayed nature as good and benevolent.  They argued on that basis that we should build our morality on the observation that all creatures seek pleasure and flee pain.  But should do we do it corporately, or individually?  If individually, what if my pleasure involves your pain?  If corporately, what eggs have to be broken to make the omelet?  In hindsight, this has been a disastrous way to build a social contract.  It also begs the question that any objective moral categories can be derived from nature.  One man may see a beautiful sunrise; another a threat of rain.  One may admire the beauty of the Alps; another may say, what a chaotic jumble of rocks.  And it’s doubtful an evolutionary biologist will be dispassionate about natural evil when afflicted with hepatitis C.  The naturalistic position also is incoherent.  One cannot describe it without the Yoda Complex: stepping outside one’s natural skin and pontificating about truth and reality from an imagined exalted plane.
    The Christian position is not devoid of its own problems in specifics, but provides a coherent framework for understanding natural evil.  Unlike deism, which tries to see everything as providentially good, the Judeo-Christian tradition sees nature as fallen from its original goodness.  The deist Rousseau would have us believe that the way to happiness is getting close to nature and letting our natural tendencies guide us.  Notice that he had to invoke his Yoda Complex to say that; he wrote it in books, not while trouncing naked in the forest hunting prey.  He was appealing to concepts and principles he assumed were true.  Like most attractive philosophies, his views contained some half-truths that persist in some modern movements.  But it is doubtful he would look at natural disaster as evidence of a benevolent deity, or the behaviors of many native tribes that subjugate women, disfigure children and cannibalize their enemies, as models for how to build a natural society.
    The Biblical description of the Fall provides enough detail to get us thinking about natural evil from a coherent framework, but leaves some room for differences of opinion.  We are told that evil entered with Satan’s fall and man’s capitulation to the temptation to doubt and disobey God’s word.  We learn that the world was put under a curse because of sin, and that some of the curse included natural pain: thorns, pain in childbirth, difficulty in agriculture.  These changes apparently took place immediately at the hand of God.  The world was judged again by a catastrophic flood because every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually.  Paul tells us that creation groans as if in labor pains, waiting for the consummation (Romans 8).  And we learn from Scripture that God remains merciful and good to His creation, and that His providential care, wisdom and glory is still abundantly evident to all people – not just to believers (Psalm 19, Psalm 104).  Meanwhile, the goal of man’s highest aspirations is to be heaven, not the pleasures of this world.
    Within that framework some additional questions can be asked.  As details come to light about exquisite machinery in viruses and bacteria that cause disease, how are we to interpret them?  Did God design these machines directly to cause pain?  If so, it would be right for him as the Judge of all to execute judgment.  We do not condemn human judges for inflicting pain and even the death penalty when the law demands it.  We are all under the penalty of death for our own sin.  The real wonder is not why the suffering appears random to us, but why God lets us all live as long as we do, when his justice could require instant incineration of the planet.  In some cases, however, the pain may come from God indirectly, from his having relaxed some of his providence on life-forms that were originally intended for good, letting mutations and decay processes operate according to the laws of a cursed creation.  Even evolutionary biologists ponder how toxins arose and how structures might have become modified.  Creationists do not have problems with existing machinery getting co-opted for other uses under selection pressure; it’s the origin of new complex information de novo that is too improbable for evolution to explain.  Perhaps the needle pumps in bacteria and the genetic modification mechanisms in viruses had a good function originally.  The fact that the vast majority of these microbes are beneficial lends credence to the idea; an article on Science Daily said that the same bacterium responsible for stomach ulcers may protect against tuberculosis.  This could indicate that microbes can offset one another and perhaps have gotten out of balance.  Some theologians might wonder if the spiritual forces of Satan’s dominion have limited ability to turn parts of nature against itself – not to exercise creative power, but like the disasters in the Book of Job, to take existing forces of nature (fire, whirlwinds) and turn them against man.  They would be analogous to hackers who take existing computers and networks and turn them into weapons of harm.  This would, of course, be within the permissive will of God.  This short list does not exhaust the possibilities.  The Bible has provided sufficient, but not exhaustive, information to address this question.  He also grants us the power of prayer to seek relief from the natural afflictions of life – though we know physical death cannot be delayed forever.  Undoubtedly if knew every calamity that would befall us and the day of our death, we would be tempted to procrastinate our preparations for meeting our Maker.  The uncertainties of natural disasters should force us to lean on God and be ready at all times to stand before him.
    There is a rich literature on attempted solutions to the problem of natural evil.  Only the Biblical view is coherent: natural evil is contrary to the divine will, but is used by the divine will for purposes that are ultimately good.  Unlike evolutionary, pantheistic, deistic, animistic or mystical solutions, which cannot define good or evil in a consistent or coherent way, (or try to deny good and evil altogether), the Biblical world view gives people the liberty to oppose evil and strive to eliminate pain in this life, while recognizing the goal of mankind is to strive for the kingdom of God, where evil will be vanquished forever.  Medicine and science are, therefore, logical applications of the Biblical world view.
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Stem Cell News: Cancer Cures Coming?     01/18/2010    
Jan 18, 2010 — Stem cell research has not been as prominent in the popular media lately, but researchers continue to make impressive strides – mostly with adult stem cells.  Science Daily reported the first success treating leukemia with stem cells from umbilical cord blood.  A researcher at the Hutchinson Center said, “The real ground-breaking aspect of this research is that we have shown that you can manipulate stem/progenitor cells in the lab with the goal of increasing their numbers.  When given to a person, these cells can rapidly give rise to white blood cells and other components of the blood system.”
    This is but one more dramatic advance in the use of adult stem cells.  Whatever happened to the rush for embryonic stem cell therapies?  It has largely been trampled by the recent stampede to use adult tissues and induced pluripotent stem cells (06/06/2007, 10/24/2009, bullet 12).  Dr. Gregory Brent (UCLA) told an audience Saturday night that embryonic stem cells have yet to produce one treatment, while adult stem cells are currently treating millions (if you include bone marrow transplants – a form of adult stem cell therapy).  Dr. Brent believes the momentum has clearly shifted away from research on the ethically-questionable embryonic cells toward therapies with adult cells, because that’s where real progress is being made (e.g., 02/23/2009, 12/17/2008).
    The funding tells a story of shifting priorities, too.  The Family Research Council noticed this month that only four of the 14 research grants funded by CIRM, the institute California voters authorized in 2004 to use $3 billion in tax revenues to further stem cell research (see 04/30/2008, bullet 3), deal with embryonic stem cells.  Advocates of embryonic stem cell research do not expect any treatments for a long time (10/13/2006).
    The Christian Medical and Dental Associations website contains dozens of resources on the ethical issues regarding embryonic stem cells and other beginning-of-life and end-of-life questions.
Do you remember the hysteria in the mid-2000s about embryonic stem cells?  Do you remember how anyone opposed to ES research was portrayed as uncaring, unloving and hung-up on outmoded religious scruples?  Do you remember how President Bush was savagely attacked by the scientific community for providing a carefully thought out compromise, after he had consulted numerous scientists and ethicists about the issue, because his decision did not give free rein to all the scientists’ desires for complete freedom to cut up human embryos? (08/11/2004, 07/31/2006).  Do you remember the tear-jerking commercials by celebrities suggesting that only embryonic stem cells provided hope for cures to Parkinson’s and other crippling diseases?  Do you remember the glorious promises of miracle cures right around the corner?  Do you remember the guilt trip they all put on voters for raising questions about ES cells, because poor victims would remain without hope, while the Nobel Prizes would go overseas and American scientific prestige would be irreparably damaged?  Do you remember how financially-strapped California voters were lured into shelling out $3 billion for what has turned out to be a colossal boondoggle?  Do you remember the Gold Rush mentality?  Do you remember the Hwang scandal that resulted? (01/09/2006, 02/05/2006).  You should.
    Fortunately, CIRM has been watching the trends, and is now channeling the bulk of research funding on adult stem cells – but only because that’s where success is coming from.  Democrats and liberal scientists got what they wanted from Obama (01/31/2009) but have little reason for pursuing their pet vice now that iPS provides almost everything they need for curing disease – without the ethical problems of embryonic stem cells.  ES research requires the creation and destruction of human embryos and/or the harvesting of human egg cells.  To revisit the shameful news about embryonic stem cells over the last decade, type “embryonic stem cells” into our search bar above.  Then for an exciting list of actual miracle cures and promising research leads, type in “adult stem cells.”
Exercise:  Considering the outcome of the stem-cell hysteria of the last decade, what other passionate claims are coming from the scientific elitists today, demanding swift and immediate public support?  What should be our response?
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Respect Your Plant: Don’t Say it Evolved     01/17/2010    
Jan 17, 2010 — Consider two propositions: (1) Plants are highly complex, integrated systems that we don’t fully understand.  (2) They evolved to become highly complex, integrated systems.  That’s basically what two scientists claimed in the American Journal of Botany, according to Science Daily reported.  But do these two propositions comport with one another?
Mathematical models for the distribution of light within the canopy predict that the photosynthetic rate of the entire canopy is maximized when the specific leaf area is lowest for leaves at the top of the canopy.  This research provides new insight into the mechanism by which trees have evolved to obtain light and photosynthesize at the greatest rate.
    “Our research shows that plants are highly integrated organisms that respond to their environments in ways that are every bit as complex as even the most sophisticated animals,” [Karl] Niklas said.  “This research also shows that we still have plenty to learn about phenomena that we thought we understood very well.
The article did not explain how a blind, unguided process like evolution could produce a complex, highly integrated organism.  The E-word evolution was used only in a flippant, passing way: e.g., the title was, “New Insight on How Trees Have Evolved to Obtain Light and Photosynthesize at the Greatest Rate.”  Strictly speaking, it is improper in evolutionary theory to use the phrase “evolve to” as an action that an organism performs toward a goal.  Evolution is a passive result.  According to neo-Darwinism, the organisms that won the lottery and got the rare, lucky mutations to produce a complex, integrated system survived; the others all died.
If we held evolutionists’ feet to the fire and made them talk consistent with their own assumptions, their belief system would fall apart.  They cannot help themselves.  All humans have to talk in terms of teleology and design.  It’s in our DNA.  References to evolution are mere genuflections most of them perform to keep out of trouble with the academic thought police.  Dropping the E-word at least once per press release is usually sufficient to keep the informers from getting suspicious.
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Jan 16, 2010 – In 1962, a book launched the modern creationist movement.  That book was The Genesis Flood by Morris and Whitcomb.  Many Christians and non-Christians were awakened from their dogmatic slumbers, and realized with a jolt that secular science does not “own” geology (cf. 07/18/2009 Resource of the Week).  Not only is secular geology filled with problems, the Biblical account of creation and the Flood looks pretty good in light of the evidence.  Now, what might be called “Son of Genesis Flood” has just been published by Dr. Andrew Snelling: Earth’s Catastrophic Past (ICR, December 2009).  This two-volume work is a comprehensive look at earth history and geology from a Biblical viewpoint – and it was written by a PhD in geology.
    Here are some of the topics covered in this major new work: the Biblical record of the global Genesis Flood; non-geological arguments used against a global Genesis flood; Noah, the ark, and the animals; the framework for a Scriptural geology; and a Biblical geologic model of earth history.  Dr. Snelling is a fair-minded, knowledgeable geologist with a lifetime of field experience and understanding of geological issues, and is also a gracious Christian gentleman.  He has led numerous trips in the Grand Canyon and in his native Australia.  If you have been brainwashed by the secular geologists or the old-earth creationists and feel there is no possible way to fit earth history into a Genesis framework, you owe it to yourself to consider the latest evidence and arguments in this new scholarly work.  Order it from Institute for Creation Research – one of the organizations that sprouted from the modern creationist revival of the 1960s and remains a leader today.
Next resource of the week:  01/09/2010.  All resources: Catalog.

  An evolutionist lost his faith when a geology presentation in college challenged his creationist beliefs.  Years later, the geology presentation was found to be fundamentally flawed!  A formation thought to require eons turns out to have formed catastrophically.  But the evolutionist did not recant, even when he learned the truth recently.  The damage from that flawed presentation started him down a slippery slope to unbelief.  Today he is an anti-creationist professor at a secular university.  Read about the case in the 01/12/2007 entry.

Specious Theories Obey the Law of Inertia     01/15/2010    
Jan 15, 2010 — Last March, scientists publishing in Geology falsified the so-called “Permian Extinction,” calling it a “non-event.” (see 03/09/2009).  Not only was there no smoking gun of a catastrophe in the rocks, the scientists said that the “claims of rapid vertebrate recovery... also must be called into question.”  Our commentary at the time wondered how long it would take for other scientists to recognize the falsification.  Well, now it’s almost a year later, and some are still speaking of the Permian Extinction as if they didn’t hear the news.
    A report in Science Daily today compares alligator breathing systems to those of birds, but the scientist involved said that “The real importance of this air-flow discovery in gators is it may explain the turnover in fauna between the Permian and the Triassic,” speaking of “The Great Dying” or “the Permian-Triassic extinction” as undisputed fact.  From this we can deduce the Law of Inertia for Falsified Theories: a notion in motion tends to stay in motion.
    C. G. Farmer at the University of Utah made a big point about her gators.  She has apparently shown that air moves through an alligator’s lungs in one direction, as it does in birds.  What the lungs of living alligators implies about the state of world ecology 251 million years ago seems moot.
    But Farmer reinforced the Law of Inertia for Falsified Theories with another gaffe: she said, “It was not until the die-off of the large dinosaurs 65 million years ago that mammals made a comeback and started occupying body sizes larger than an opossum.”  That notion was also falsified by the discovery of The Mammal that Ate Dinosaurs for Breakfast (01/12/2005), about which Nature commented, “Discoveries of large, carnivorous mammals from the Cretaceous challenge the long-held view that primitive mammals were small and uninteresting.”
    From these two data points, we can begin to quantify the Law of Inertia for Falsified Theories.  The deceleration of a notion in motion under the opposing force of falsification is undetectable in at least two notions per press release per five years.

Scientists are only human.  They can’t know everything and keep up with everything.  Like most of us, they appeal to commonly-held notions that may be false.  That’s why you shouldn’t trust them, but examine the evidence.
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Arctic Tern Maintains World Record Title     01/14/2010    
Jan 14, 2010 — The arctic tern makes a marathoner look like a wimp.  This little bird has been confirmed as the migratory bird with the longest route, flying annually from pole to pole.  A team of international scientists obtained the results by using an implanted geolocator on several birds, and tracking their actual path.  The story is told by PhysOrg and the BBC News.
    “Albatrosses, godwits, and sooty shearwaters all undertake epic journeys,” the BBC said, “But none can quite match the Arctic tern’s colossal trip.”  They found that half the birds flew along South America on the way down, and others followed the coast of Africa, but all returned northward the same way.
    The team was surprised to find the birds following an S-curve home when flying north.  National Geographic reported that this makes their migration twice as long as previously thought.  The scientists figured that the S-curve allows the birds to conserve energy when flying over the trackless Atlantic Ocean by riding the prevailing winds.  The curvy route, even though thousands of miles longer, is actually more energy efficient.
    The round trip is about 70,000 kilometers (43,000 miles).  An average arctic tern, weighing only 3.5 ounces, will fly “the equivalent of three trips to the moon and back over its lifetime.” 
Aren’t you glad there are still some scientists left who stick to empirical observations? (compare next entry).  This is amazing.  The team is to be congratulating for miniaturizing the electronics to the point of making this kind of difficult observation possible.  And just think: they didn’t even have to make up any evolutionary story to go with it.  The only mention of evolution was Revolution: the devices are “revolutionising our understanding of migration patterns,” the articles said.
    Speaking of miniaturization, think of all the systems that God had to pack into 3.5 ounces.  Navigation systems.  Fuel systems.  Remote sensing systems.  Power systems.  Stabilization systems.  And much more: all these have to be integrated and synchronized, so that the birds arrive at their feeding grounds on time.  Oh, and then there is the system that allows them to reproduce themselves in little round packages that hatch and know exactly how to do what their parents do.  Sometimes God does overkill challenging the futile speculations of denialists (see next entry).
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What Value Do Evolutionary Explanations Provide?     01/13/2010    
Jan 13, 2010 — We want value for our science dollars.  We know artists are into self-expression, but scientists need to offer more than just artistic prose: they are supposed to be in the knowledge generation business.  So we expect to gain one of two things from their scientific explanations.  One, we would like to gain practical knowledge that can improve our lives: such as a better understanding of cancer that can motivate more effective treatments.  But even if we cannot hope for a practical payoff, we hope to gain understanding of natural phenomena.  Black holes may not be practical, for example, but we want to understand what they are and what they do.  Most of all, we expect the knowledge gained to be empirical – based on observations, with theories that can be tested and verified.
    Evolution is often presented as the explanation for many things in science.  But how much does evolution pay in terms of practical benefits and understanding?  Hearing a person describe a notion out of his or her own mind, which cannot be tested, does neither.  Speculation is cheap.  If we wanted entertainment, we could go see Avatar or watch a comedy show.  Ask what return on investment, if any, is being provided in terms of knowledge by the following scientific explanations.
  1. We’re here because we’re here:  Alejandro Jenkins got the cover story of Scientific American for speculating about “life in the multiverse,” according to Science Daily.  Jenkins noted that the existence of life in our universe is constrained by requirements for the laws of physics (the Anthropic Principle).  Life on Earth can exist because these requirements are satisfied in our universe.  Jenkins noted that the existence of carbon, for instance, is possible because of precise values for physical constants.  So far, this is like natural theology: “So how is it that such a perfect balance exists?  Some would attribute it to God, but of course, that is outside the realm of physics.
        But is it within the realm of physics to do what he does next?  He speculates on other universes that might have different combinations of laws that might permit exotic life – speculations that cannot be observed or tested, even in principle.  That sounds like the same limitation he is placing on believers in God.
  2. We’re here because we’re here, part II:  An article in Space.com included this entertaining quip from Moredecai-Mark Mac Low of the American Museum of Natural History in New York about the realization that disk evolution around stars forbids planet formation: “Well, this contradicts basic observational evidence, like We. Are. Here.”  Live Science apparently thought that was profound.  Mac Low’s statement was in response to, “As the planets are forming, they are also thought to migrate within the surrounding dust disk.  The classic picture of this planet migration suggests that planets like (and including) the Earth should have plummeted into the sun while they were still planetesimals.”  Yet the stubborn fact remains that We. Are. Here.
        To bring theory into conformity with observations, Mac Low tweaked a mathematical model that kept his baby planetesimals from plowing into the star.  He included theoretical temperature differences in the dust.  As a result, his model brought the planetesimals to equilibrium zones where they survived.  Is this really a commentary on the physics of real-world stars and planets, or a salute to the imagination of a scientist to tell a post hoc story?  Maybe it’s a kind of appeal to miracles (08/21/2009).
  3. Why we get sick:  “Evolution and Ailments: Scientists suggest systemic changes are linked to rise in disorders,” began an article in PhysOrg.  “The subtle but ongoing pressures of human evolution could explain the seeming rise of disorders such as autism, autoimmune diseases, and reproductive cancers, researchers said Friday (Jan. 8) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” the article said.  “Some adaptations that once benefited humans may now be helping such ailments persist in spite of – or even because of – advancements in modern culture and medicine.”
        While this explanation appears to offer understanding, and maybe a modicum of practical benefit, it was qualified by that word “could explain.”  This means, in principle, there could be other explanations: like creation and the Fall, perhaps.  But the article assumed that the ruling explanation is evolutionary, even if they had to continue to couch it in maybe-words: “Autism and schizophrenia may be associated with the overexpression of paternally or maternally derived genes and influences,” for instance.  But what payoff did evolution provide in that explanation that distinguishes it from creation?  A Bible believer might acknowledge that our environment in a city is very different now, thousands of years past the Garden of Eden.  It says nothing to defend how humans arrived at humanhood from something else by a Darwinian process.
        The examples mount: “Maternal and paternal genes engage in a subtle tug-of-war well into childhood, with consequences for childhood development,” the article continues.  This explanation, however, is little more than a personified analogy that entertains the reader with visions of genes pulling the opposing teams into a mud pit or something.  Different analogies are possible.  Maybe what we observe is not a random tug-of-war, but a well-designed push-of-peace, where complementary systems engage in checks and balances to keep themselves in sync and in the pink.  What payoff to understanding or practical benefit did the evolutionary angle provide?
        The “hygiene hypothesis” was mentioned next: “Without being exposed to intestinal worms and parasites, as our ancestors were, our immune systems are hypersensitive.”  Again, a creationist could appeal to the same difference in environments and could explain this observation by intelligent design.
        Finally, the article simply asserted, as if it had won over any doubters, “Natural selection still influences our biology, despite advances in modern culture and medicine.”  The example given is “natural selection favors heavier women and reduces the age at which a woman has her first child.”  Yet natural selection could just as well favor slimmer women and later childbirth in some circumstances.  This is the “Stuff Happens” Law, an explanation devoid of knowledge.
        From there, Stephen Stearns (Yale) was called on to boast, “I think that the main take-home point is that evolution and medicine really do have things to say to each other, and some of these insights actually reduce suffering and save lives.”  Yet it could be argued that the evolutionary explanation is little more than a story tacked on to the end, with more entertainment value than explanation.  For centuries, doctors made major gains in reducing suffering and saving lives without even thinking of evolution.
  4. Fish morality:  Why do cleaner fish survive?  Cleaner fish are small species of fish that swim into the jaws of big fish and pick off the parasites – a remarkable case of mutualistic symbiosis.  The explanation: they play Robin Hood.  PhysOrg entertained readers with a kind of morality tale, an Aesop’s Fable of sorts: “Cleaner fish show it pays to be selfless.”  It’s a story about cheaters and punishers, lovers and wanderers, dictators and servants.  The morality tale gets undermined, however, with this line: “This study raises the possibility that ‘Robin Hood’ type behaviour might be less charitable than we think.”  Certain conservative talk show hosts might agree, but is it really adding anything to our scientific understanding to portray fish as actors in a morality drama?  Can fish even have a sense of self, or learn lessons about the benefits of selflessness?  Does this explanation do anything more than project our own human sensibilities on dumb fish?  Every child’s storybook does that sort of thing.
        The scientists at Zoological Society of London think this is science: “The next stage of the research will concentrate on the threat posed to male fish by similar sized females who can undergo sex changes and ultimately challenge their authority.”  I.e., they believe their explanation is testable.  But then, even the plot in a video game is testable.  You can change the rules or starting conditions of the game and watch the outcome.  That doesn’t mean the game wasn’t designed.  And it doesn’t mean you have generated new knowledge about nature when you have confirmed an anthropomorphism.
  5. Solving a mystery:  While on the subject of fish, consider that any good scientific explanation should solve a mystery.  But so should a good Sherlock Holmes novel.  The BBC News this week told us that scientists have found “Light shed on fish gill mystery.”  And the solution is: gills did not evolve for breathing.  A researcher at the University of British Columbia has figured out that “It is likely that fish evolved gills for the primary purpose of regulating the chemicals in their bodies.”  Surprised?  For one thing, it is surprising that an evolutionist would invoke purpose, and put the motivation for “evolving” something on the fish.  Evolution is supposed to be a passive, undirected result of selection pressures.  But even granting a little laxity for journalism’s sake, not everyone was convinced this explanation is a good one.  The article recorded the reaction of Rick Gonzalez [U of San Diego].  “He described the study as a ‘very interesting first step,’ but said it wasn’t clear if it answered the question of why fish evolved gills.”  He granted a charity vote that the work “is very interesting and offers insight into how natural selection works,” but noted that gills combine the functions of lungs and kidneys in mammals.  That’s a bigger order than the hypothesis was able to fill.  Whether insight was provided at all the reader can judge.
  6. Refining the measure of natural selection:  Triumph was in the air in this article on Science Daily: “Evolution’s Footprints in Human Genome Precisely Tracked Using New Approach.”  Researchers at Harvard are confident they are getting the image in the crystal ball: “As more data on human genetic variation becomes available in the coming years, an even more detailed evolutionary picture should emerge” (notice the future tense).  Yet the measures of “positive selection” they are assessing, which they promise provides a “deep glimpse of evolution’s handiwork,” concerns mild examples that would make a creationist yawn: changes in pigmentation, blood pressure, body mass index, and metabolic rate.  They claimed to find genetic changes that are “driving important evolutionary changes.”  In the next sentence, however, they admitted that, “Of the hundreds of these large genomic regions thought to be under positive natural selection in humans, only a handful have so far been winnowed to a precise genetic change.
        It’s clear that for this explanation to pay off, it has a lot of work to do.  PhysOrg reported that the chimpanzee Y chromosome was just sequenced, and they “have found considerable differences” between the ape and human versions.  To keep the evolutionary explanation intact, they are now having to say that “these chromosomes have evolved more quickly than the rest of their respective genomes over the 6 million years since they emerged from a common ancestor.”  David Page [Whitehead Institute] threw in a folksy analogy for entertainment: “People are living in the house, but there’s always some room that’s being demolished and reconstructed.  And this is not the norm for the genome as a whole.”  Funny; most people thought construction crews operated by intelligent design.
Evolutionists and materialists succeed at getting all the play in the scientific explanation industry (at least in the secular press) because their critics have been summarily excluded.  In any human enterprise, like politics, this is an environment that can produce laziness, excess, corruption, and abuse.
Is there any doubt that evolution is being employed by the Darwin Thought Collective as an idol?  It’s a designer substitute.  Now they can look design in the face, and attribute it to the beneficent intervention of their little goddess, Tinker Bell.  The worst excesses of post-hoc storytelling they might attribute to historic theists pale in comparison to the sleazy slime that passes for scientific explanation in stories like this.  What useless speculations these pseudo-scientists produce (for more, see the 12/04/2009 entry).  Evolutionists are like Francis Bacon’s spiders, weaving webs out of their own imaginations, when they should be like honeybees, gathering the pollen of empirical evidence to produce honey sweet to society.  They are phony scientists with fake badges trying to look busy for job security (01/31/2006, 10/17/2008, 05/02/2003, 11/02/2007).  They are like parasites on the body of knowledge: feeding off the resources of working scientists, but just going along for the ride with their own selfish notions (11/19/1009).
    To update Jeremiah 9:13-15, ‘these people have forsaken God’s laws of nature which are evident before them, and have not obeyed his voice, neither walked therein; But have walked after the imagination of their own heart (01/17/2007), and after Darwin, which their fathers taught them.  Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of creation; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.’  It is indeed galling to hear these people ascribe the wonders of creation to “evolution’s handiwork.”  That doesn’t make sense even to an evolutionist.  It shows they are mixing their own gall and drinking it on their own volition.  God doesn’t even need to intervene to help them exhibit their own folly.  He just uses “secondary causation,” the outcome of natural tendencies for lost humans to play the fool.
    Notice how they cannot be consistent with their assumptions about the way evolution works.  Natural selection is supposed to be completely mindless, purposeless, directionless, and careless.  It is supposed to have no foresight, no purpose, no planning and no goal.  Darwin was supposed to have ousted teleology from scientific explanation.  Yet day after day, week after week, year after year, decade after decade we find the Darwinists saying things like “fish evolved gills for the primary purpose of....”  Darwin himself was caught speaking this way often.  This is animism, pantheism, with Tinker Bell as their transcendent designer, because it is impossible to be a consistent materialist.
    Humans continue to fall into the habit of thinking and talking teleologically, not because we evolved to think in design terms in spite of the truth, but because design is the truth.  Disagree?  Then explain to everyone how you could ever know what truth even is.  But if you come to us as a scientist with no connection to the Truth about nature, then your storytelling is not science or knowledge generation.  It’s entertainment.  If imagination is your idol, go seek employment at Disneyland, where you can wish upon a star, all your fantasies can create a substitute reality, and the taxpayers don’t have to subsidize it.
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  Play king of the hill on the fitness landscape.  The 01/20/2006 entry for the rules of the game.

To Advance Technology, Make Like Nature     01/12/2010    
Jan 12, 2010 — Scientists and engineers continue to find the most elegant solutions to practical problems by looking at plants and animals.  Here are a few of the recent examples.

  1. Wet computing:  Cells and brains do a superior job of complex processing, so why are our current computers singing how dry I am?  Not for much longer.  Science Daily reported that “A new kind of information processing technology inspired by chemical processes in living systems is being developed by researchers at the University of Southampton.”  What they have so far is “very crude” but they are working toward developing a “liquid brain” just like our brains.  Dr. Klaus-Peter Zauner at the University’s School of Electronics and Computer Science said, “People realise now that the best information processes we have are in our heads and as we are increasingly finding that silicon has its limitations in terms of information processing, we need to explore other approaches, which is exactly what we are doing here.”  Makes you wonder why IBM didn’t follow that inspiration early on.  Think of the other benefits: “Our system will copy some key features of neuronal pathways in the brain and will be capable of excitation, self-repair and self-assembly,” said fellow researcher Dr. Maurits de Planque.
        The BBC News also reported on this story.  Dr. Zauner told them, “Every neuron is like a molecular computer; ours is a very crude abstraction of what neurons do.”  The planned chemical computers will also have another characteristically human trait: lipids, or fat.
  2. Slime mold highways:  What would a slimy mold have to teach humans?  New Scientist reported two specialists in “unconventional computing” believe they can provide alternative methods for road planning.  After watching a slime mold in a petri dish find the best path to nutrients on a map of England, Jeff Jones of the University of the West of England in Bristol said, “This shows how a single-celled creature without any nervous system – and thus intelligence in the classical sense – can provide an efficient solution to a routing problem.”
  3. Make like a leaf:  Leaves are like incredibly-efficient solar panels, so why not imitate them?  New Scientist reported that a team in China is building artificial leaves that can imitate photosynthesis.  “By mimicking the machinery plants use to do this, it is possible to create a miniature hydrogen factory,” one of the researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University said.  “Using sunlight to split water molecules and form hydrogen fuel is one of the most promising tactics for kicking our carbon habit.”
        Their new approach is closer to the plants’ technique.  They are trying to “mimic photosynthesis by copying the elaborate architectures of green leaves” themselves.  To do this, they are actually building on dried leaves and using them as templates.  “The leaf retained features such as the lens-like cells at its surface, which catch light coming from any angle, and veins that help guide light deeper into the leaf.”  This strategy is making the artificial structures more efficient: twice as good at absorption and three times better at hydrogen production,” the team claimed.
        They realize this is just a “good beginning,” the article ended.  “Complex structures found in leaves should be utilised further for enhancement in light harvesting.”
The article about artificial leaves was the only one making mention of evolution.  “Plant leaves have evolved over millions of years to catch the energy in the sun’s rays very efficiently,” the article said.  “They use the energy to produce food, and the central step in the process involves splitting water molecules and creating hydrogen ions.”  Apparently it is Mason Inman, author of the report, who gets the credit for Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week.
This is where the action is in science and technology: finding exquisite designs in nature and trying to imitate them.  You have to feel sad for the Darwinists.  Every time they insert the E-word into the story, they only show themselves superfluous.
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Computer Keeps Enceladus Old     01/11/2010    
Jan 11, 2010 — There’s a new theory for how Enceladus can be so active but still be 4.5 billion years old.  It erupts only every billion years or so.  This was explained on PhysOrg.  Heat builds up slowly then is “released as one catastrophic event around every billion years or so.”
    The scientists already knew that “Enceladus was an enigma.”  They said, “Somehow it seems to be pumping out more energy than it gets, which would violate the laws of thermodynamics.”  But that’s only if it is really as old as claimed.  Their conclusion was based on a computer simulation.  It showed that “The ice sheets would flow like glaciers, the heat causing geysers to pop up all over the active surface.”
    A press release from Jet Propulsion Laboratory filled in more details of the model.  The authors claim that the active periods last 10 million years, and quiet periods last 10 to 200 times longer.  For evidence, the authors only appealed to current features of the surface and assumptions of age based on crater counts.  Then they modeled what they assume is the strength of the surface ice and core, although those features are not observable, if heat rolls around in the interior.  A remaining question, though, is why this activity happens on Enceladus and not the other moons of Saturn.  JPL also mentioned that the geysers are actively expelling argon, which only comes from radioactive decay, and that the geysers emit 6 gigawatts, “the equivalent of at least a dozen electric power plants.  This is at least three times as much heat as an average region of Earth of similar area would produce, despite Enceladus’ small size.”
    For more on the Enceladus geysers, see 12/18/2008 bullet 2, 06/19/2008, 03/26/2008, 03/10/2008, 02/09/2008, 08/04/2007 bullet 3, and 03/13/2007.  For more on using computer models to simulate prehistory, see 09/08/2008.
Well, isn’t that convenient.  Starting with the assumption that Enceladus is old, and programming that assumption into a computer, you reach a conclusion that supports your belief system: Enceladus can stay old, yet be active.  “Their model suggests the active periods have occurred only 1 to 10 percent of the time that Enceladus has existed,” the press release said.  Did you catch that?  The length of time Enceladus “has existed” (the assumed age of the solar system, 4.5 billion years), was never called into question.  The crater count dates are similarly married to assumed 4.5-billion-year age (for problems with crater counts, see 03/25/2008 and embedded links).  What would happen if that parameter were not fixed in advance by decree?  Why not free it up and follow the evidence where it leads?
    And my, aren’t we humans lucky to be observing Enceladus during the current eruptive episode when we have the technology to fly a spacecraft there.  The last eruptions wouldn’t have been noticed by the little microbes swimming around earth’s oceans a billion years ago.  Planetary scientists used to lecture us that we should avoid presuming that humans are observing the solar system at a special time.
    They should call this “selective catastrophism.”  Let’s try it.  Water under earth’s crust builds up pressure and erupts once every 10,000 years, spewing water all over the earth (see CSC).
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Neanderthals Admired Beauty     01/10/2010    
Jan 10, 2010 — This may be the last evidence needed to debunk the image of Neanderthals as dim-witted brutes: they wore make-up.  The BBC News reported the discovery of their cosmetics containers: seashells with pigments kept for the purpose of improving their self-image.  If that is not a human characteristic, what else is?
    The shells contained complex recipes of pigments.  There were also painted shells apparently used as jewelry.  “The team says its find buries ‘the view of Neanderthals as half-wits’ and shows they were capable of symbolic thinking,” the article said.  What’s more, according to the dating scheme, this evidence existed 10,000 years before contact with modern humans.  Study leader Joao Zilhao [Bristol U, UK] said, “The association of these findings with Neanderthals is rock-solid and people have to draw the associations and bury this view of Neanderthals as half-wits.”
    Chris Stringer of London’s National History Museum agreed that this evidence appears to disprove the Neanderthal = Dimwit equation – but it just adds to growing evidence over the last decade.  “It’s very difficult to dislodge the brutish image from popular thinking,” he lamented.
    PhysOrg reported more on this story, describing the pigments and the shells that were found, and evidence why they could not be attributed to other modern humans.  It seems that the final distinction between Neanderthal and modern human behavior has been falsified: “This is significant because until now the practice of body ornamentation has been widely accepted by archaeologists as evidence for modern behaviour and symbolic thinking in early modern humans and not Neanderthals.”  New Scientist commented, “Add this to other recent evidence that Neanderthals hunted, painted and perhaps even spoke like anatomically modern humans, and the dumb caveman hypothesis becomes even more untenable.
So why does the BBC News include an artist rendition of a brutish-looking Neanderthal with the article?  Talk about perpetuating a myth.  They should have posted a Neanderthal version of Paris Hilton in the Cave Beauty Pageant.  You can put lipstick on a Neanderthal, but it’s still a human being.
    This shows the damage that visualization can do with the power of suggestion.  Once an image gets implanted in the public consciousness, and the name associated with it becomes associated with less-evolved, it’s very difficult to dislodge, as Stringer said.  This myth has gone on for decades – for over a hundred years!  Think of all the damage this myth has done.  Students have been misled in textbook portrayals of our Neanderthal brethren, presenting them as less than human.  It’s historical racism.  If Neanderthals were with us today, boy would they be mad.  Undoubtedly they would form an Association for the Advancement of Neanderthal People and seek court injunctions against discrimination.
    We need to pay reparations.  We should rehabilitate our Neanderthal brethren by promoting good looks, strength and intelligence in our portrayals of them, much like Polish were rehabilitated through their Solidarity Movement after years of being the butt of Polack jokes.  What can you do to help the Neanderthal Wannabee movement?  If nothing else, help stop the evolutionary paleontologists from committing this sin again the next time they try foisting a sub-human transitional form on the media.
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Jan 9, 2010 – You can find our articles on several international sites.  If you don’t speak the following languages, you may know someone who does.  Point them to these excellent creation resources:
DutchWetenschap, Wonderen en Waarheid van de Schepper en Zijn Zoon has our articles and Baloney Detector and more, with videos and illustrations.  The volunteers working this quality site have a passion for getting creation resources to the Netherlands.
Spain SpanishBoletin de Sedin does an excellent job of translating our entries and adding illustrations, and contains links to many more resources in Spanish.  The translator is a highly regarded leader in creation science on the continent.
Russian:  The web director of Origins UA does a beautiful job of bringing together many creation resources in Russian, including selected articles from here.
Hungarian:  The Hungarian blog 6nap.com translates occasional articles from here and is poised to present even more resources in the future.
If you are a webmaster and translator of another language not listed here, Creation-Evolution Headlines would like to work with you.  Write us if you feel a vision to get this vital material into your native tongue.
Next resource of the week:  12/19/2009.  All resources: Catalog.

  Based on a fossil reported here in 01/26/2005, paleontologists can no longer claim that large mammals were missing in the age of dinosaurs.  While on that page, notice from 01/28/2005 that bat evolution theory strikes out, and from 01/26/2005 that there is a lot more uncertainty in the whale evolution tale than the popular press is telling you.
(cartoon courtesy Brett Miller from EvidentCreation.com.)

Bad Math Gets a Pass When It’s Naturalistic     01/08/2010    
Jan 8, 2010 — “Now we know our place in the universe,” gloated Ohio State University astronomer Scott Gaudi, who told the science press that 15% of solar systems in the universe are like ours.  “Solar systems like our own are not rare, but we’re not in the majority, either.”  His calculation was based on how many relatively earthlike systems?  Just one.  And how earthlike was it?  It was a system with two gas giants around it that were not too close to the star.  That’s all.  But what did he compare that one to?  Based on his own models, he expected to find six.  One out of six is 16.7%, close enough to 15% for a low enough sample, though the error bars were not mentioned.
    So out of a sample space of quadrillions of possible planet systems in the universe, this was the basis for Gaudi saying that we “now know” something – not just how many stars might have two gas giants, nor just how many stars might possibly allow an earth-orbit planet to avoid destruction, nor just the remote outside possibility that an earthlike planet might actually exist in the inner orbit clear of massive planets, nor just whether such a planet, if it exists, might be habitable, nor whether if that planet is habitable it would have sentient beings, – but something much grander: “our place in the universe.”
    None of the science press, like PhysOrg, Science Daily, or Space.com, had any problem with Gaudi’s reasoning.  They seemed to think it was kind of cool.  In fact, Andrea Thompson at Space.com joined the bandwagon and headlined, “Plenty of Solar Systems Like Ours Expected.”
    Gaudi hedged his comments with the proviso, “While it is true that this initial determination is based on just one solar system and our final number could change a lot, this study shows that we can begin to make this measurement with the experiments we are doing today.”  Nevertheless, he was prepared to present his calculation to the American Astronomical Society.
    For some reason, this was not criticized on the Bad Astronomy blog, although a few of the readers at Space.com had problems with it: “A sample size of 1 to determine probability numbers of the universe?” one wrote.  “I think Gaudi is announcing his results much too early, and by doing this only takes away credibility from his study.”  Another opined, “It is way to [sic] early to be making these kinds of statements.  We have too little data to even speculate.  It is this kind of junk science that gets the scientific community into trouble.”

Maybe this story explains why their project is named MicroFUN.  Since this kind of FUN statistical analysis is now an accepted scientific practice, it seems reasonable for the next Republican presidential candidate to claim victory in the next election when she gets her first vote.
Next headline on:  StarsCosmologySolar SystemDumb Ideas
Best Look Ever at Life’s Smallest Rotary Motor     01/07/2010    
Jan 7, 2010 — All cells trade in energy currency called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).  The molecular energy pellets are produced in profusion by molecular machines with rotary engines.  The engines contain all the standard parts: rotor, stator, energy input, and torque production.  They are embedded in the membranes of mitochondria and run on proton motive force.  We’ve reported many times on these exquisite machines (e.g., 10/20/2009 bullet 5, 05/25/2009).  They are the smallest rotary motors in the universe (so far as we know), about 10 by 20 billionths of a meter in size.  Now, scientists in Canada have imaged them in more detail than ever before – at 1.6 Angstrom resolution.  Their findings were reported in PNAS.1
    The motors come in two families: F-ATP, or ATP synthase, used to produce ATP by all living things, and V-ATP, used primarily “in reverse” to acidify vacuoles and other subcellular regions.  The engines differ only in minor details.  The rotor is on the bottom half, called F0 or V0, and ATP synthesis or degradation takes place in the top half, F1 or V1.  Lau and Rubenstein studied the V-ATPase from an archaeal microbe that inhabits hot springs, Thermus thermophilus.  They imaged 19,825 motors to increase the average resolution down to 1.6 Angstroms (16 nanometers, or billionths of a meter).  As a result, they were able to map out all the parts in better detail than ever, which are shown in photographs and diagrams in the paper.
    They were particularly interested in gaining insight on how the motor produces torque.  Putting their observations together, they deduced this is what happens: a proton flows up a channel to a negatively-charged glutamic acid (an amino acid link in one of the protein chains) in the 12-sided rotor.  This neutralizes the glutamic acid (Glu 63) and makes it turn and release the proton, which is shuttled upward out another channel to the cytoplasm.  The Glu63 is then attracted to a neighboring arginine (Arg 735) in the rotor and an arginine in the stator (Arg 563), causing a rotational step.  The next proton causes the next unit of the 12-part rotor (the L-ring) to take another clockwise step, and so on.  Just like in man-made motors, the offset force causes the rotor to spin.
    The stator contains two peripheral stalks, partially embedded in the membrane, and there is a central stalk that applies the torque produced in V0 to the ATP synthesis lobes in V1.  These come in 3 pairs that are arranged like orange slices around the stalk.  The stator and rotor do not touch, but are positioned precisely to cause an optimal torque:
The peripheral stalks are optimally arranged to counter forces attempting to push them away from or pull them towards V1.  Both peripheral stalks pushing away from or pulling toward V1 would exert a force on subunit I perpendicular to a line drawn between the stalks (Fig. 4B).  Therefore, from Fig. 4B, it is apparent that the peripheral stalks are optimally arranged to apply a force that is eccentric on the L-ring.  It is well known that application of an eccentric force on a rotor will cause it to turn, and this principle powers all man-made motors.  An attractive force between the positively charged Arg 563 residue of subunit I and a negatively charged Glu 63 residue of a L-subunit counterclockwise of the contact point (when viewed from V0 to V1), would cause the rotor to turn with a clockwise direction, as expected from the known clockwise rotation direction of the rotor during ATP synthesis.  Therefore, this eccentric force could be the basis for torque generation in V0.
The authors mentioned nothing about how this machine might have evolved.  They only mentioned the E-word in passing, making a brief offhand reference to the belief that the F-ATP and V-ATP motors are “evolutionarily related but differ in the details of subunit composition and arrangement.”
1.  Lau and Rubenstein, “Structure of intact Thermus thermophilus V-ATPase by cryo-EM reveals organization of the membrane-bound VO motor,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, January 6, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0911085107.
If you catch a sense of the wonder in what science has discovered about these motors since the first suggestion in 1993 that they were true rotary engines, you must be feeling goose bumps at each new revelation.  These motors power every living thing – even the simplest, most primitive microbe depends on these irreducibly-complex motors.  They are true motors.  This is not just a figure of speech: they rotate and perform work.  Their parts are arranged for this purpose.  They run on proton motive force, and they generate torque.  That torque is applied by a power-takeoff mechanism in the central stalk to manufacturing stations in the top half.  Previous reports have shown that these little machines operate at 100% efficiency.
    How on earth could any putative “prebiotic” entity get along without these machines already present?  Without a reliable source of energy, chemicals merely react and come to equilibrium.  Notice that the alignment and spacing of each part of the engine is precise, down to the charge on individual amino acid units.  This machine is composed of dozens of proteins, each one composed of hundreds of amino acids.  Getting any one of them by chance is astronomically improbable (see online book).  You are looking at exquisite manufacturing design at the fundamental units of life.  Who would have imagined such things were even possible?  Certainly not some materialist-leaning storytellers in Victorian England 150 years ago.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
Tonight Is a Historic Night
Jan 7, 2010 – Go look at Jupiter tonight with binoculars and try to detect its four large moons.  You’ll be re-living a historic occasion.  Four hundred years ago on January 7, 1610, Galileo Galilei turned his telescope to Jupiter and discovered those little “stars” orbiting the planet.  This led to the breakdown of Ptolemaic astronomy and helped usher in the Copernican revolution.  See the JPL Blog for a quotation from Galileo’s notebook on his discovery.

Oldest Hebrew Text Deciphered     01/07/2010    
Jan 7, 2010 — Finally, some news from the ancient Hebrew pottery inscription that was found in 2008 (11/16/2008, bullet 1).  The inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa, dating from the time of David and Solomon, has been deciphered and announced on Yahoo News, PhysOrg, and EurekAlert, which has a copy of the script and the translation.  Science Daily posted a more extensive report on Jan 8.
    Prof. Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa, who deciphered the inscription, explained its significance: “It indicates that the Kingdom of Israel already existed in the 10th century BCE and that at least some of the biblical texts were written hundreds of years before the dates presented in current research.”  This evidence appears to debunk the minimalist interpretation of Biblical history that asserts there was no kingdom of David and Solomon.  EurekAlert said, “This stands opposed to the dating of the composition of the Bible in current research, which would not have recognized the possibility that the Bible or parts of it could have been written during this ancient period.”  Even more significant inferences can be drawn, according to the EurekAlert article:

Prof. Galil also notes that the inscription was discovered in a provincial town in Judea.  He explains that if there were scribes in the periphery, it can be assumed that those inhabiting the central region and Jerusalem were even more proficient writers.  “It can now be maintained that it was highly reasonable that during the 10th century BCE, during the reign of King David, there were scribes in Israel who were able to write literary texts and complex historiographies such as the books of Judges and Samuel.”  He adds that the complexity of the text discovered in Khirbet Qeiyafa, along with the impressive fortifications revealed at the site, refute the claims denying the existence of the Kingdom of Israel at that time.
The text of the inscription relates to the care for the disadvantaged in society.  The inscription is not drawn verbatim from any Biblical passage, but sounds similar to those that express concern for widows, orphans, and the poor.  The English translation is, “you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].  Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow].  Judge the orph[an] [and] the stranger.  [Pl]ead for the infant; plead for the po[or and] the widow.  Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.  Protect the po[or and] the slave; [supp]ort the stranger.”  This expresses a moral tone right out of the Bible.  And could “the king” be King David?
This is very exciting and significant, and lends weight to the conservative view of the historicity of Scripture.  There are sure to be lots of links and comments about this discovery.  One good source to look for more information as it develops is Bible Places Blog.
Update 01/15/2010: Live Science, normally a staunch pro-Darwin site, mentioned the find favorably and agreed the find shows the Old Testament could have been written earlier than liberal scholars have believed.  “Until now, many scholars have held that the Hebrew Bible originated in the 6th century B.C., because Hebrew writing was thought to stretch back no further,“ Clara Moskowitz wrote.  “But the newly deciphered Hebrew text is about four centuries older, scientists announced this month.”
Update 01/31/2010: Todd Bolen at Bible Places Blog found some additional articles about the inscription.  They urge caution about the Galil interpretation, because some words and letters are uncertain and the language or dialect itself is not clearly evident.  The ink is also difficult to read.  Nevertheless, they agree that the inscription is important and may even date earlier than 10th century BCE.  Dr Christoper Rollston on his blog listed the major details with cautionary notes.  Christianity Today posted an article that discussed interpretive disputes (including side-by-side alternative renderings), but included opinions of scholars that the ostracon provides evidence of a strong centralized Israeli government at the time of David.  Despite exhibiting typical academic restraint, Rollston did confirm his opinion that the earlier Egyptian Merneptah Stele shows Israel was an entity long before the Qeiyafa inscription, and that writing was well known among the Phoenicians, and probably was in existence in Israel before Qeiyafa as well, though probably limited to a small community of scribes.  “Thus, the discovery of a 10th century BCE Old Hebrew epigraph would not be surprising,” he said.
Next headline on:  BibleDating Methods
  Keepers from Jan 2004: How to get engineering without an engineer (invoke miracles without God, 01/28/2004).  Why the evolutionary explanation for the La Brea Tar Pits fossil collection is wrong (01/24/2004).  Can you add up microevolution and get macroevolution? (01/15/2004).

Flying Fossils Found     01/07/2010    
Jan 7, 2010 — A population of insects called “living fossils” has been located in Australia.  These tiny insects, called ancient greenling damselflies, have no living relatives.  Their closest relatives disappeared from the fossil record 250 to 300 million years ago in the geological column, according to The Age and Heidelberg Leader.  The wingspan of the insects is only 22mm and they are camouflaged, so it was difficult to detect them.  A scientist involved in the discovery said, “There are a lot of unanswered questions.”

A big entry in the class of impossible-to-believe claims of evolution is the notion that an animal went extinct in the age of dinosaurs but still is found alive today, hundreds of millions of years later.  If this were the only case it would be enough to cause serious doubts about the consensus age of the earth and Darwinian evolution, but there are many living fossils: see article at CMI and partial lists at CreationWiki and NWCreation.net.
Next headline on:  FossilsTerrestrial Zoology
Tip Link
Should Just-So Stories be a part of science?  Surprisingly, David Barash and Judith Eve Lipton defend the scorned practice in The Chronicle of Higher Education, even though they admit that “an argument can be made that the scientific imagination doesn’t need wings so much as weights.”  Their article explains the background of Just-So Stories for those unfamiliar with the term.  Discussion question: What weights are needed to prevent scientific imagination from flying off into Fantasyland, as so often occurs in evolutionary explanations?

Tiktaalik Demoted to Has-Been     01/06/2010    
Jan 6, 2010 — The highly-publicized tetrapod missing link or “fish-a-pod” that made headlines in 2006 (05/03/2006) has been dethroned by new findings in Poland.  Trackways said to be 18 million years older than Tiktaalik, showing digits and alternating steps, were announced today in Nature.1  The authors said, “They force a radical reassessment of the timing, ecology and environmental setting of the fish–tetrapod transition, as well as the completeness of the body fossil record.
    Here is a sample of the revolutionary talk being reported:

  • “These results force us to reconsider our whole picture of the transition from fish to land animals” said co-discoverer Per Ahlberg in Science Daily.
  • The finding “could lead to significant shifts in our knowledge of the timing and ecological setting of early tetrapod evolution.” – Ted Daeschler in National Geographic News.
  • “The team says the find means that land vertebrates appeared millions of years earlier than previously supposed.... the Zachelmie Quarry tetrapods break the neat and simple timeline.” (BBC News).
  • “The fish–tetrapod transition was thus seemingly quite well documented.... Now, however, Niedzwiedzki et al lob a grenade into that picture.” – Janvier and Clement, commenting on the find in Nature.2
  • “It blows the whole story out of the water, so to speak.” – Jenny Clack (Harvard), in PhysOrg.
  • “We didn’t know they existed at this point, and we would not have expected to have found them in this environment.” – Per Ahlberg, co-discoverer, in Live Science.
No body fossils were found.  This means that inferences about the trackmakers will be limited.  Readers should therefore take caution at the artist reconstructions in some articles, such as National Geographic, that try to give the animals a fish-like appearance.  PhysOrg noted, “Although she acknowledged their importance, Clack warned against drawing conclusions exclusively on small marks left by animals on the bottom of a muddy surface hundreds of millions of years ago.”  The tracks are dated 397 mya, whereas Tiktaalik was dated around 380 mya.  The scientists inferred that the trackmakers were sizeable – about 2 meters long.  Since no tail drag prints are seen, the animals must have had limbs strong enough to hold their bodies above ground (see illustrations in the BBC News).
    Another bombshell is that this may not be the only grenade to be lobbed into the picture.  The discoverers noted with interest that trackways from Glenisla dated late Silurian (418-422 mya), thought to be those of arthropods, may actually be vertebrate tetrapod tracks as well.3  And the new Polish trackways open the door to more finds like it.  “Obviously the hunt is on,” Ahlberg said, for more trackways and body fossils from that period and the locale’s presumed intertidal environment.  Janvier and Clement said,
Niedzwiedzki and colleagues’ apparently anachronistic Eifelian [397-391 mya] tetrapod trackways will thus shake up thinking about tetrapod origins.  They show that the first tetrapods thrived in the sea, trampling the mud of coral-reef lagoons; this is at odds with the long-held view that river deltas and lakes were the necessary environments for the transition from water to land during vertebrate evolution.  And in guiding the search for a gradual timing of the fin–limb transition during the Middle Devonian, they are likely to trigger a burst of field investigations into potential tetrapodomorph fish sites of Emsian [497-397 mya] or earlier age.

1.  Niedzwiedzki et al, “Tetrapod trackways from the early Middle Devonian period of Poland,” Nature, 463, 43-48 (7 January 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature08623.
2.  Janvier and Clement, “Palaeontology: Muddy tetrapod origins,” Nature 463, 40-41 (7 January 2010) | doi:10.1038/463040a.
3.  Gouramanis, Webb and Warren, “Fluviodeltaic sedimentology and ichnology of part of the Silurian Grampians Group, western Victoria,” Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, Volume 50, Issue 5 October 2003, pages 811-825, DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-0952.2003.01028.x.
Did you know evolutionists believe in ghosts?  Really.  Think about this quote from the paper.  Commenting on the implications of finding tetrapod tracks 18 million years earlier than expected, they said, “This forces us to infer much longer ghost lineages for tetrapods and elpistostegids than the body fossil record suggests (Fig. 5a, b).”  And what are ghost lineages, you ask?  “(Ghost lineages are those that must have existed at a particular time, according to the phylogeny, but which are not represented by fossils at that time.)”  In other words, they see phantoms in their evolutionary mind’s eye.  They see mythical entities that must have existed, simply because their belief system requires them.  And you thought that science required evidence.
    The paper was submitted to Nature in July, and was accepted in October.  No doubt Neil Shubin and his inner fish (01/16/2008) were tipped off to this discovery before the public announcement, and he is preparing a debunking.  Evolutionists need a dramatic upset in the press every once in awhile just to keep the public thinking that their work is relevant.  It’s kind of like sports.  Shubin and Clack are on defense, the Poles are on offense.  The defensive linemen will either claim the tracks were misinterpreted (maybe they were made by ghost jellyfish) or they will go back on offense by finding a tetrapod track even earlier, to push the ball down the field.  The trend in fossil discoveries, though, has been finding complexity further and further back in the record.  In the asymptotic limit, all tetrapods are found to have abruptly appeared on the sixth day.
Next headline on:  FossilsMarine BiologyTerrestrial ZoologyDarwin and Evolution
It Takes More than Eyes to See     01/06/2010    
Jan 6, 2010 — We think of eyes as objects that see, but vision requires a whole system of parts.  One of the most important is the brain.  Without your thalamus, vision would be a hopeless jumble of jerky signals, reported scientists from the National Eye Institute.
    Writing in PNAS,1 Ostendorf, Liebermann and Ploner found that the human thalamus contributes to perceptual stability across a moving visual field.  “We continuously move our eyes when we inspect a visual scene,” they began.  “Although this leads to a rapid succession of discontinuous and fragmented retinal snapshots, we perceive the world as stable and coherent.  Neural mechanisms underlying visual stability may depend on internal monitoring of planned or ongoing eye movements.”  By distinguishing ongoing from planned eye movements, they were speaking of the continual oscillations the eye muscles perform unconsciously, called saccades, that aid in preventing saturation of the retina.  Receiving a combination of self-induced motions and automatic motions would seem to produce a hopeless jumble.  The thalamus helps sort it all out.
    The researchers studied a patient who had a stroke that affected the right lobe of his thalamus.  He had trouble monitoring his eye movements and locating visual stimuli.  Combined with research on macaques, this information indicated to the researchers that “the human brain draws on transthalamic monitoring signals to bridge the perceptual discontinuities generated by our eye movements.”
    The patient’s visual abilities were impaired, but not enough to cause a breakdown of visual stability in his everyday life.  Why?  The visual system is provided with backup systems for this important function:
Although proprioceptive information about eye position seems to play a negligible role for the maintenance of visual stability, a number of alternative corollary discharge pathways may help to partially compensate for the affected transthalamic pathway.  Visual stability plays a fundamental role for any kind of visually guided behavior and should therefore be maintained by robust and redundant mechanisms.  This is in keeping with the observation that only large and bilateral brain pathology may occasionally lead to the subjective experience of compromised visual stability.... Temporal contiguity of visual stimuli across saccades and constancy of relative positional information in a visual scene may thus mainly account for visual stability in most everyday situations.  Even a distorted and coarse internal monitoring signal might, under these circumstances, convey sufficient temporal and spatial information to complement the evaluation of visual reafferent information.
   ....impaired corollary discharge transmission comes at a perceptual cost: Whenever the brain starts to question the prior assumption of a stationary world, visual space perception across eye movements is compromised and affected by oculomotor noise.  Transthalamic monitoring signals may thus significantly contribute to the correct attribution of self-induced vs. externally imposed changes in the continuous flow of our sensory experiences.
Getting the visual scene right can actually affect our sense of self.  They noted in conclusion, “Central aspects of our self-conception may build upon the integration of such corollary discharge-transmitting loops and their disturbed functioning might contribute to the symptomatology in devastating diseases such as schizophrenia.”  The scientists did not attempt to explain how these integrated, coordinated, robust, overlapping systems might have evolved.
1. Ostendorf, Liebermann and Ploner, “Human thalamus contributes to perceptual stability across eye movements,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, December 28, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0910742107.
If you counted up the stories we have reported about integrated biological systems in which every component contributes to exquisite function, and the researchers who studied them avoided the topic of evolution, it would be a substantial list.  Even the subset of stories about the human eye would be substantial (three examples: 08/07/2008, 05/12/2005, 08/28/2003).
    The force of these stories is in the details.  We’re going to keep piling them on as long as we can till the weight of evidence shames the Darwinists into whimpering irrelevance.  We’d like to do more and do it better.  Have you considered supporting this resource?
Next headline on:  Human BodyIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
  Why did the evolutionist say “impossible, impossible, impossible”?  Read the 01/16/2003 headline to find out.

Metabolism-First Origin of Life Won’t Work     01/05/2010    
Jan 5, 2010 — Evolutionists believe it is necessary to get chemicals up to the point of replication before Darwinian evolution can come into play to build them into giraffes and eagles (given millions of years, of course).  But because it is difficult to imagine a chance formation of nucleic acids (the “genetics first” theory), it has become popular in certain camps to change approaches and imagine metabolism coming into existence first.  These “metabolism first” scenarios envision self-perpetuating cycles of chemical reactions as the first stages in the origin of life.  A team of scientists just showed it won’t work.
    Three European scientists who published a paper in PNAS tried to give the concept a fair shake:1 

A basic property of life is its capacity to experience Darwinian evolution.  The replicator concept is at the core of genetics-first theories of the origin of life, which suggest that self-replicating oligonucleotides or their similar ancestors may have been the first “living” systems and may have led to the evolution of an RNA world.  But problems with the nonenzymatic synthesis of biopolymers and the origin of template replication have spurred the alternative metabolism-first scenario, where self-reproducing and evolving proto-metabolic networks are assumed to have predated self-replicating genes.  Recent theoretical work shows that “compositional genomes” (i.e., the counts of different molecular species in an assembly) are able to propagate compositional information and can provide a setup on which natural selection acts.  Accordingly, if we stick to the notion of replicator as an entity that passes on its structure largely intact in successive replications, those macromolecular aggregates could be dubbed “ensemble replicators” (composomes) and quite different from the more familiar genes and memes.
As they said, perhaps one could generalize the notion of a replicator up to a system or network of molecules instead of requiring a genetic code.  Trouble is, accurate replication is required or the system breaks down:
In sharp contrast with template-dependent replication dynamics, we demonstrate here that replication of compositional information is so inaccurate that fitter compositional genomes cannot be maintained by selection and, therefore, the system lacks evolvability (i.e., it cannot substantially depart from the asymptotic steady-state solution already built-in in the dynamical equations).  We conclude that this fundamental limitation of ensemble replicators cautions against metabolism-first theories of the origin of life, although ancient metabolic systems could have provided a stable habitat within which polymer replicators later evolved.
That last phrase tries to be courteous to the metabolism-first believers by giving them some role as stage hands in the play.  But these authors already stated in the first quote that the genetics-first scenario is plagued with problems of its own – among them, “problems with the nonenzymatic synthesis of biopolymers and the origin of template replication.”  They can’t get the required molecules to form on their own, and then there is the nasty problem of the origin of a genetic code that can copy itself.  The first paragraph in the paper elaborates:
Both schools acknowledge that a critical requirement for primitive evolvable systems (in the Darwinian sense) is to solve the problems of information storage and reliable information transmission.  Disagreement starts, however, in the way information was first stored.  All present life is based on digitally encoded information in polynucleotide strings, but difficulties with the de novo appearance of oligonucleotides and clear-cut routes to an RNA world (but see ref. 6), wherein RNA molecules had the dual role of catalysts and information storage systems, have provided continuous fuel for objections to the genetics-first scenario.
But having demonstrated in their paper the inadequacy of metabolism-first story, viz: “We now feel compelled to abandon compositional inheritance as a jumping board toward real units of evolution,” they could offer no hope on the other hand that the genetics-first scenario was more fit.  All they could supply was faith: “We do not know how the transition to digitally encoded information has happened in the originally inanimate world; that is, we do not know where the RNA world might have come from, but there are strong reasons to believe that it had existed.”  Why?  Because the metabolism-first scenario cannot work: “Template-free systems like composomes could only have had the limited role of accumulating prebiotic material and increasing environmental patchiness.”  There needs to be a storage mechanism for genetic information, and that requires at least RNA.  Storage-based inheritance, not merely attractor-based inheritance, is the minimum requirement for Darwinian evolution: “The essence of nucleic acids from the point of view of inheritance is exactly that they can store a lot of information at roughly equal energy/stability levels, exactly the property one requires from ‘storage.’”
    Later in the paper, they disparaged the habit of applying Darwinian terms, like “selection values”, to prebiotic molecules.  Such terms are “devoid of meaning” in a chemical context, they said.  “The unfortunate usage of words with clear Darwinian connotations—such as adaptation, fitness landscape, and coevolution—in the realm of pre-Darwinian systems cannot be overemphasized.”
Update 01/08/2010: Three days after our report, Science Daily reported about this paper, based on a press release from Free University of Barcelona.  Aside from getting the name of NASA wrong, they defined life as “self-sustaining chemical system capable of Darwinian evolution.”  Even within that questionable definition, the metabolism-first scenario will not work, the article said: “the basic property of life as a system capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution began when genetic information was finally stored and transmitted such as occurs in nucleotide polymers (RNA and DNA).”  Since subsequent Darwinian evolution has nothing necessarily to do with the origin of genetic information, the statement lends more support to a definition of life made by astrobiologist Benton Clark (see 12/30/2002): “life reproduces, and life uses energy.  These functions follow a set of instructions embedded within the organism.
1.  Vasos, Szathmary and Santos, “Lack of evolvability in self-sustaining autocatalytic networks: A constraint on the metabolism-first path to the origin of life,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, January 4, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0912628107.
We could have told them this.  They are just restating with additional rigor a common-sense principle, that you can’t get inheritance without accurate information storage and retrieval.  The threshold to avoid error catastrophe is too demanding.  Anyway, it’s nice to have their side prove it with eigenvalues and equations.  And it was nice for them to chastise their brethren for misapplying Darwinian terms to chemicals: “The unfortunate usage of words with clear Darwinian connotations—such as adaptation, fitness landscape, and coevolution—in the realm of pre-Darwinian systems cannot be overemphasized.”
    This paper represents the latest in a series of devastating salvos in the battle between the two approaches in origin-of-life studies (see important entry 01/26/2008).  Both sides have both falsified each other and bombed each other’s fortresses to the ground.  Brush aside their false premise that life is defined by its ability to undergo Darwinian evolution; what they really mean is that a lack of accurate genetic replication forbids Darwinian evolution.  But the lack of accurate genetic replication forbids life itself, too, so they lose either way.
    Notice that this team falsified the metabolism-first hypothesis but acknowledged serious shortcomings with the genetics-first hypothesis.  So did they give up and acknowledge that life was intelligently designed?  No: they resorted to what the NCSE would tell you is the antithesis of science: FAITH.  There are good reasons to BELIEVE in the RNA world, they said, simply because their trust in Darwinian evolution requires it, and the alternative, intelligent design, is so horrible to their tender little psyches, they will resort to chance miracles – anything – to avoid going that route.
    Too bad, though.  Stephen Meyer showed in Signature in the Cell that the RNA World scenario, and all naturalistic theories for the origin of specified genetic information, are hopelessly inadequate.  The facts of nature have turned naturalism against itself.  You can’t get here from there.  The origin of life requires the input of information from an intelligent, purposeful source, and science proves it.  That being the case, Darwin becomes superfluous for anything beyond that point, except maybe for explaining minor changes between interfertile finches.
Next headline on:  Origin of lifeDarwin and EvolutionIntelligent Design
Evolutionists Caught in the Act – of Exaggerating     01/04/2010    
Jan 4, 2010 — A headline on Science Daily and PhysOrg announced breathlessly, Evolution caught in the act: Scientists measure how quickly genomes change.”  It’s really just a press release from Max Planck Institute about mutation rates.  The opening line, though suggested that mistakes are a gold mine for creative Darwinian power: “Mutations are the raw material of evolution.
    The press release went on to glorify Darwin: “Charles Darwin already recognized that evolution depends on heritable differences between individuals: those who are better adapted to the environment have better chances to pass on their genes to the next generation,” the article explained up front in classic Darwinese.  “A species can only evolve if the genome changes through new mutations, with the best new variants surviving the sieve of selection,” it continued in neo-Darwinese.
    Experiments were done on the lab plant Arabidopsis thalliana.  Did the scientists find any beneficial mutations that might help this little herb graduate into something bigger and better, say, an orchid?  No.  In fact, they found that it was a degenerate sibling of a more-fit cousin that can live for years instead of months.  The only suggested benefit they mentioned was possible resistance to pesticides.  That kind of “improvement,” however, might turn out to be a loss of fitness overall – just as a man can become resistant to handcuffs by cutting off his hands.
    Of some concern is the mutation rate they measured.  A large population of Arabidopsis plants can expect to have a mutation at every point in its genome.  “If you apply our findings to humans, then each of us will have on the order of 60 new mutations that were not present in our parents.”  Michael Lynch tried to spin this as a benefit for Darwinism: “Everything that is genetically possible is being tested in a very short period.”  The press release ended on a note of novelty: the finding represents “a very different view than perhaps the one we are all most familiar with: that evolution reveals itself only after thousands, if not millions of years.”
Did anyone see evolution here?  Did anyone see this little mustard plant growing into something bigger, stronger, or substantially different because of all the mistakes nature throws at it?  Most of the mutants probably died.  The others are probably straining under mutational load (04/09/2007, 12/14/2006, 10/17/2007 bullet 4).
    “Everything that is genetically possible is being tested in a very short period of time,” they said.  Evolutionists apparently think that shooting bullets at a computer more rapidly will lead to faster progress.  Who is doing the testing?  By phrasing it in subjunctive voice, they left you wondering.  We know who it is; it’s Tinker Bell, the fairy goddess of the Darwin Party.  She zaps organisms with her mutation wand at random.  Only the ones that turn into orchids, or eagles, or elephants, or scientists, live to reproduce.  That’s the reigning myth of our elite academic culture.
    A more reasonable conclusion from this study is that living things have not been suffering under a mutational load this heavy for millions of years, but for a much shorter time.  That they can still survive is due to amazing systems of DNA repair (see next headline).  To say that these mutations are the “raw material of evolution” is like calling terrorists entrepreneurs.  Get real.
Next headline on:  PlantsGeneticsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
DNA Repair Requires Teamwork     01/03/2010    
Jan 3, 2010 — As if the genetic code itself was’t incredible enough, researchers have been finding systems that repair it.  There are numerous pathways the cell can embark on to fix DNA errors.  Two key players were recently described in more detail in the journal Science.1
    A damaged genetic code is worse than a book with typos.  Broken or mismatched DNA strands can lead to serious diseases and even death.  It is essential that DNA damage be recognized and repaired quickly.  Science Daily reported results by a team at Rockefeller University and Harvard Medical School that found two essential proteins that act like “molecular tailors” that can snip out an error and sew it back up with the correct molecules.  These proteins, FANC1 and FANCD2, repair inter-strand crosslinks, “one of the most lethal types of DNA damage.”  This problem “occurs when the two strands of the double helix are linked together, blocking replication and transcription.”  Each of your cells is likely to get 10 alarm calls a day for inter-strand crosslinks.
    What do the proteins do to fix it?  They link together and join other members of the repair pathway.  The scientists found that FANC1 and FANCD2 are intimately involved in the excision and insertion steps.
    This one repair operation requires 13 protein parts.  “If any one of the 13 proteins in this pathway is damaged, the result is Fanconi anemia, a blood disorder that leads to bone marrow failure and leukemia, among other cancers, as well as many physiological defects,” the article said.  The original paper put it, “Our results show that multiple steps of the essential S-phase ICL repair mechanism fail when the Fanconi anemia pathway is compromised.”  Neither the paper nor the press release said anything about how this tightly-integrated system might have evolved.
1.  Knipscheer et al, “The Fanconi Anemia Pathway Promotes Replication-Dependent DNA Interstrand Cross-Link Repair,” Science, 18 December 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5960, pp. 1698-1701, DOI: 10.1126/science.1182372.
Darwinism is like a perpetual bad economy with 100% unemployment.  If Darwin & Co. cannot hire one professional, how are they going to hire 13 professionals and train them to do skilled work as a team?  Even if they could afford to pay them, they couldn’t teach them how to do it.  The teachers don’t have any goals or lesson plans, and they only speak gibberish.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsAmazing Facts
  Some reasons to distrust the cosmic radionuclide dating method, from 01/11/2002.

What was your favorite story of 2009?
As we close out the Year of Darwin, what article in Creation-Evolution Headlines did you find the most interesting or influential in 2009?  Send in your nomination to our Feedback address with the permalink of the article (the address attached to the push-pin icon).  Let your top story be pointed out to our readers.  Your name and email address will be kept private.  Grow our list!

  • Microscopy’s Golden Age Is At Hand: Dec 06  (a reader in Australia)
  • For His Birthday, Darwin Loses His Tree: Jan 22  (a reader in Alabama)
  • Paper View: Darwin, of All the Nerve: July 4  (a reader in California)
  • All of them! especially, World’s Smallest Rotary Engine: May 25  (a reader in Illinois)
  • Everything You Know About Natural Selection Is Wrong: Oct 16  (a reader in Japan)
  • Who Needs Embryonic Stem Cells? 05/03/2009  (a reader in Texas)
  • Birds Did Not Evolve From Dinosaurs: June 9 and Ardi Party Is Over: Nov 25  (another reader in Texas)

Top Nominees for
Stupid Evolution Quote of the Darwin Bicentennial

Write our Feedback line and vote for your three biggest groaners of the year!  Help us tally up the baloneys.  While you’re at it, vote also for the most interesting or influential entry of the year (see above).

  • January
    [1a] “They evolve, a la Darwin” 01/11/2009).
    [1b] The gargle singing American Idol fish (01/29/2009).
  • February
    [2a] “Modern Darwins don’t have to guess.  They consult genetic scripture” (02/01/2009).
    [2b] “Evolution... a master efficiency expert for living factories” (02/06/2009).
    [2c] Star children for Darwin (02/28/2009).
  • March
    [3a] Inner ape misses his salty inner fish (03/11/2009).
    [3b] Makes sense: “As you become more complex, you would want to fine-tune things” (03/13/2009).
    [3c] “What happy accident of nature led to the first tiny glimmer of life?... the sparkle of a crystal” (03/20/2009).
  • April
    [4a]“Aliens didn’t engineer our species.  The evolution of DNA did” (04/22/2009)
    [4b] “Assuming natural selection evolves the best possible solution” (04/18/2009).
  • May
    [5a] Evolution of language from snakebite (05/01/2009).
    [5b] “When thinking of evolution and Darwin, most people think of animals or trees.  That’s too bad, because design features are everywhere in nature” (05/07/02009).
    [5c] “When evolution has lucked into efficient solutions for life’s most fundamental problems, it adopts them as invaluable family heirlooms, passing them down as one species evolves into another” (05/18/2009).
  • June
    [6a] “Could my own thinking be working by trapping useful ideas from a pool of noise?” (06/02/2009).
    [6b] Using intelligent design of automobiles to explain Darwinism: “biological life, and capitalist economies, have been shaped over generations” (06/03/2009).
    [6c] Tickle me Darwin (06/08/2009).
    [6d] Plants and animals discover “convergent aerodynamic solution in the evolution of flight performance” (06/16/2009);
  • July
    [7a] A “strong evolutionary advantage to a mathematical mind” (07/06/2009).
    [7b] “Early microbes may have relied on lightning to cook their dinner” (07/13/2009).
    [7c] Aliens have already “made the transition from biological to engineered intelligence, and left behind the quaint paradigm of spongy brains sloshing in salt water” (07/16/2009.
    [7d] Give evolution a helping hand (07/21/2009).
    [7e] We need to “prevent ourselves from quenching the very forces that fuel the continuous creation of new life forms on earth” (07/26/2009).
  • August
    [8a] “Darwinian variation and selection kick in only once a technology exists” (08/19/2009).
    [8b] “Why these evolutionary losers are still around is a very hard thing to explain” (08/25/2009).
    [8c] Makes evolutionary sense: “An aversion to spiders may help women avoid dangerous animals, but in men evolution seems to have favoured more risk-taking behaviour for successful hunting” (08/29/2009).
  • September
    [9a] “Modern human cognition, including language and other complex symbolic behavior, needed the additional kick-start of a genetic mutation about 50,000 years ago” (09/02/2009).
    [9b] “We are all mutants... this provides insights into our evolution” (09/02/2009).
  • October
    [10a] “Dark is the new black: Almost nothing is understood about either dark matter or dark energy – but both ... will shape the fate of the entire cosmos” (10/08/2009).
    [10b] The Monkees rhythm band: “When monkeys drum, they activate brain networks linked with communication, new findings that suggest a common origin of primate vocal and nonvocal communication systems and shed light on the origins of language and music” (10/17/2009).
    [10c] After the Cambrian Explosion did its design work, “Fish, reptiles, birds, amphibians, plants, mammals and human beings were finally on their way” (10/28/2009).
    [10d] “Any planet that’s like Earth is going to produce it.  There are so many pathways to the origin of life that it’s going to happen. ... If you knew a system had planets with bodies of water on them, that would be a habitability index of 1” (10/31/2009);
  • November
    [11a] “Providing children with an understanding of it [evolution] at the earliest possible age will surely help lay the foundations for a surer scientific understanding later on” (11/10/2009).
    [11b] “Altruism is possible among plants” (11/11/2009).
  • December
    [12a] “Male and female shopping styles are in our genes – and we can look to evolution for the reason” (12/04/2009).
    [12b] Watch music evolve right before your eyes (12/13/2009, bullet 1).
    [12c] “Early birds may have dropped teeth to get airborne” and this loss was “No evolutionary fluke” because “natural selection may have put pressure on weaker fliers to lose their teeth in a bid to improve their skills by losing excess weight” (12/13/2009, bullet 3).

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    Anyone who has interest at where science, as a whole, is at in our current times, does not have to look very hard to see that science is on the verge of a new awakening....
    It’s not uncommon to find articles that are supplemented with assumptions and vagueness.  A view point the would rather keep knowledge in the dark ages.  But when I read over the postings on CEH, I find a view point that looks past the grayness.  The whole team at CEH helps cut through the assumptions of weary influences.
    CEH helps illuminate the true picture that is shining in today’s science.  A bright clear picture, full of intriguing details, independence and fascinating complexities.
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Featured Creation Scientist for January

William of Ockham
1285 - 1347

The man who gave us “Occam’s Razor” was a Catholic scholar very learned in the natural sciences.  He was famous for many things besides the oft-used principle of parsimony named after him, roughly stated as, “Don’t multiply complex causes to explain things when a simple one will do.”
    William of Ockham’s life story debunks the common myth that medieval scholars did little except argue about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.  He also illustrates how a Christian conception of God and nature promoted science.  Scholastic philosophers, furthermore, were not enslaved to Aristotle; lively debates often caused deep divisions between them.  William’s views led to his excommunication from the church.
    Ockham contributed to science by grounding his philosophy in the doctrine of creation.  He was a lively and articulate debater, expressing complex arguments about Divine action, grace, justification and other theological issues equally well with arguments over the fine points of Aristotelian philosophy, about which he disagreed with many of his contemporaries.  He denied, for instance, that Platonic forms were real (nominalism), a point some feel contributed to modern views of epistemology.
    His best-known contribution to modern science was probably his famous maxim of ontological parsimony.    This is stated in various forms; one example is, “one should always opt for an explanation in terms of the fewest possible number of causes, factors, or variables,” or as he put it, “Plurality is not to be posited without necessity.”  Although the principle was not original with him (some called it Scotus’s Rule from his predecessor Duns Scotus), Ockham made especially extensive use of it.  He trimmed Aristotle’s 10 essential ontological categories down to 2, for instance: just substance and quality.
    This “razor” has frequently cut through needless explanatory confusion and has proved fruitful in helping scientists arrive at elegant, simple explanations for natural phenomena.  Ockham did not believe that his principle allowed philosophers to deny the existence of extra categories.  He just felt they should not be posited unless there was a good reason to do so  (It must be noted, though, that nature owes humans no obligation to be simple.)  Ockham’s Razor was certainly not his only contribution to Western thought.  He left behind books on natural philosophy, logic, politics and theology.
    William had complete confidence in the doctrine of creation and accepted God’s revelation as the only reliable source of knowledge about existence, God, and immortality.  “For nothing ought to be posited without a reason given,” he said, “unless it is self-evident (literally, known through itself) or known by experience or proved by the authority of Sacred Scripture.”
    William of Ockham lived near London and attended Oxford University.  Due to charges of heresy from the envy of a rival, Ockham was called before the Pope while the papacy was in Avignon, France (the “Babylonian Captivity”)  A Franciscan, he differed with the Pope on the issue of apostolic poverty.  Fearing imprisonment and execution, he and other sympathizers fled to the Holy Roman Empire in 1328, after which he was excommunicated (though his doctrines were never officially condemned).  He remained there 20 years, writing and leading a band of dissidents.  His experience with the Church probably contributed to his views on separation of church and state.  He probably perished in the Black Death that swept through Europe in 1348.
    Some see Ockham contributing to the skepticism of later Enlightenment thinkers.  Ockham doubted the ability of natural theology to lead to knowledge of God.  His nominalism contributed to later schools of thought that considered theology incapable of proof, and gave naturalism the edge in theories of knowledge.
    It’s important, though, to distinguish the beliefs of a person in context of his time and his own thought from those of subsequent persons who used his principles as a pretext for other conclusions.  William of Ockham might well have applied his razor to their speculations had be been present to debate with them.  For his part, he was not a skeptic of Scripture or of creation.  He only doubted the philosophical machinations of some of his predecessors, including Aristotle.
    The principle of parsimony can cut against skeptics just as much as against theists.  The take-home lesson is that we should have good reasons for what we believe: plurality of imaginary and speculative hypotheses is not to be posited without necessity.  Proposing one God does a pretty good job of explaining the world.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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