Creation-Evolution Headlines
June 2010
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“Argument and debate are common in science, yet they are virtually absent from science education.  Recent research shows, however, that opportunities for students to engage in collaborative discourse and argumentation offer a means of enhancing student conceptual understanding and students’ skills and capabilities with scientific reasoning.  As one of the hallmarks of the scientist is critical, rational skepticism, the lack of opportunities to develop the ability to reason and argue scientifically would appear to be a significant weakness in contemporary educational practice.  In short, knowing what is wrong matters as much as knowing what is right.”
—Jonathan Osborne, “Arguing to Learn in Science: The Role of Collaborative, Critical Discourse” in Science April 23, 2010 (see 05/21/2010).
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Heal the Blind with Stem Cells     06/30/2010    
June 30, 2010 — Have you heard that some cases of corneal blindness can be cured by stem cells #– from the person’s own eyes?  New Scientist recounted some recent successes for victims blinded in one eye by burns or acid.  Stem cells taken from the limbus, a disk surrounding the iris, and transplanted onto the damaged cornea, were able to regrow corneal cells and give the patients nearly perfect vision again.  82 cases have been successfully treated this way.
    The report said this is a boost for valid stem cell therapies after recent reports of a death caused by an untested technique and scandals caused by private clinics offering bogus treatments.

This story reminds us that the toolkit for regeneration may exist in the human body, but in a damaged state (03/31/2010).  In a perfectly-functioning, uncursed world, are these methods the Creator might have built in to keep systems in good repair?
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHealthHuman Body
  Take courage at tales of The Resistance: 06/29/2006.  And why was the phrase “evolution in a nutshell” so ironic?

Farm Algae for Energy     06/29/2010    
June 29, 2010 — Why manufacture fuels when microbes can do it faster, better and cheaper?  Researchers at the University of Cambridge are wiring electrodes to algae to produce “green energy” – solar-powered fuel that is carbon-neutral, “cheaper to produce, self-repairing, self-replicating, biodegradable and much more sustainable – real green energy.”
    The team has already connected a film of algae to run an electrical clock.  They did this by harvesting some of the electrons produced by algae’s photosynthetic machinery.  The University of Cambridge made an exhibit for the Royal Society’s Summer Exhibition called “Meet the Algae.”  In addition to a demo of the “biophotovoltaic device,” it features “other ways in which algae could be exploited, including for production of biodiesel and high-value products such as vitamins.”  The exhibit seeks to acquaint viewers with the “beauty and diversity” of these organisms, and the important roles they play.  A 3-minute video clip in the article explains how important algae are to the planet.  Algae produce half the oxygen we breathe, and are just as important as the rain forests. 
    The solution to the world’s energy crisis may be right around us.  Algae are found everywhere – at sea, on glaciers, in hot springs, and in moist soil.  “Algae offer considerable potential as a source of bioenergy,” the article said. 

Amazing facts, good science with applications that help humanity, and no mention of evolution.  Keep up the good work.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyBotanyBiomimeticsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
Using Aliens to Titillate the Public     06/28/2010    
June 28, 2010 — Geologists cannot even figure out our own planet (next headline), but some of them claim to know a lot about other planets – their geological history, and even their prospects for life.  Is it fair to tease the public with the L-word life when so much remains to be understood on the ground under our feet?
  1. Mars life:  A new study reported by PhysOrg from a JPL press release claims that Mars had a nearly global wet era 4 billion years ago.  Talk about water on Mars has gone back and forth for decades; was it really necessary to evolve life there by just adding water?  “The new findings suggest that the formation of water-related minerals, and thus at least part of the wet period that may have been most favorable to life, occurred between that early giant impact and the later time when younger sediments formed an overlying mantle.”  (Nobody saw that impact, by the way.)
  2. Mars hands:  “If there’s life on Mars, it could be right-handed,” teased a headline on New Scientist.  The article was about chiral molecules, but it made Mars a lively place.  Some astrobiologists have never been able to forgive the 1976 Viking landers for not finding life.  One experiment gave ambiguous results that are the basis for ongoing hopes.  They keep trying to find other explanations for the gas that Viking measured coming out of a prepared broth when Martian soil was added.  Jeffrey Bada, astrobiologist at Scripps, still thinks non-biological explanations can explain this.  “No matter how you construct an experiment, Mars is likely to throw you a curve ball,” he said.
  3. Europa bones:  An Arizona planetologist has an easier way to look for life on Europa.  PhysOrg reported how he feels one could find evidence of it on the surface without having to drill through the ice.  It might not even be microbes, Richard Greenberg (U of Arizona) said: “there’s always the possibility that we could find structures – something analogous to skeletal remains.
  4. Starry avatars:  A JPL press release seemed to play on the public’s fascination with the recent 3-D alien movie by starting, “Many scientists speculate that our galaxy could be full of places like Pandora from the movie ‘Avatar’ -- Earth-like worlds in solar systems besides our own.”  So have they found any?  Nope; just looking.  “Once considered the stuff of science fiction, it may not be long before Earth-like planets, or, in the case of Pandora, Earth-like moons of giant planets, are found to exist other places besides the silver screen.”  That was in a paragraph captioned, “Pandora, up close and personal.”  Incidentally, the real Pandora is a small moon of Saturn.  Here it is, up close and personal from Cassini.  Not quite like the movies.
For SETI fans, Space.com announced that Frank Drake is retiring as director of the SETI Institute, and is turning the job of “Chief Alien Life Hunter” to long-time astrobiologist David Morrison.  Even though NASA doesn’t do SETI work, Morrison revealed an inside secret: “The SETI Institute has partnered with scientists at NASA Ames in a teaming arrangement that has greatly benefited both organizations.  The Institute played an especially important role in the development of the new multidisciplinary field of astrobiology.”  The two fields are closely allied, if for no other reason than the fact that neither has any evidence to support its reason for being.
This has all the appearance of a cult (see CMI essay).  Only in this case, we have a cult funded by taxpayer dollars and preached by the mainstream media.  It’s not science if you have no evidence.  Whatever happened to separation of search and state?
Next headline on:  Solar SystemAstronomyOrigin of LifeSETIDumb Ideas
Colorado Plateau Stumps Geologists     06/27/2010    
June 27, 2010 — Many of the West’s greatest parks and scenic areas lie on the Colorado Plateau, a large basin covering parts of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado.  Within its rugged acres are the Grand Canyon, Grand Staircase, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Natural Bridges, Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, Glen Canyon and Lake Powell, and numerous small parks and scenic byways.  How this vast region rose 2 kilometers high away from plate boundaries, and maintained sedimentary strata miles thick that often lie flat as a pancake for hundreds of miles, is an enigma to geologists – and it underscores the problem historical sciences have with making pronouncements about the unobservable past.
    Rebecca M. Flowers (U of Colorado, Boulder) wrote about “The enigmatic rise of the Colorado Plateau” in the journal Geology this month.1 
How and when the Colorado Plateau attained its current mean elevation of ~2 km has puzzled scientists for nearly 150 yr.  This problem is most dramatically manifest when standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, viewing the extraordinary 1500-m-deep gorge carved into nearly horizontal sedimentary rocks that were deposited during the 500 m.y. prior to plateau uplift when the region resided near sea level.  What caused the elevation gain of this previously stable cratonic region in Cenozoic time?  Did the source of buoyancy for plateau uplift arise from the crust, lithospheric mantle, or asthenosphere, or through some combination of the three?  Why did this low-relief plateau escape significant upper crustal strain during uplift, in contrast to the Cenozoic surface deformation that is so strikingly apparent in the high-relief landscape of the surrounding Rocky Mountain, Rio Grande Rift, and Basin and Range provinces (Fig. 1)?
The current issue contains two new theories, but Flowers is not convinced of either of them.  Here are a few quotes from the article indicating the degree of doubt and frustration explaining the Colorado Plateau.
  • Although there is a first-order understanding of vertical motions in areas close to plate boundaries, there is comparatively little consensus on the causes of such motions distal from these margins.  The Colorado Plateau exemplifies this problem.
  • Hypothesized mechanisms include partial removal of the lithospheric mantle (e.g., Spencer, 1996), chemical alteration of the lithosphere owing to volatile addition or magma extraction (e.g., Humphreys et al., 2003; Roy et al., 2004), warming of heterogeneous lithosphere (Roy et al., 2009), hot upwelling within the asthenosphere (Parsons and McCarthy, 1995; Moucha et al., 2009), and crustal thickening (McQuarrie and Chase, 2000).  It is clear that there is no shortage of mechanisms that could explain the plateau’s origin.  The core challenge is determining which mechanism, or combination of mechanisms, is indeed the cause.
  • One question arising from these two studies is: are their conclusions compatible?
  • The other obvious question that emerges from these efforts is both more important and far more difficult to answer.  Do the proposed models accurately describe the true origin and evolution of Colorado Plateau elevation?
  • One reason why resolving the cause of plateau uplift is such a tough problem is that deciphering the paleoelevation of continents is extremely difficult, and the plateau’s elevation history is critically important for isolating the correct uplift mechanism.
  • Not surprisingly, contradictory interpretations regarding the uplift history of the Colorado Plateau often arise from the diverse information yielded by the many studies in this region.
  • The two geodynamic studies in this issue of Geology underscore the probable complexity of the plateau’s history.  They especially highlight the unlikelihood of the entire plateau undergoing a single spatially uniform phase of surface uplift, and emphasize the potential for significant geographic and temporal heterogeneity in elevation gain.  Such a history would only exacerbate the challenge of accurately reconstructing the plateau’s evolution from the geological record.
The “perplexing story” is not limited to explaining this one region.  As Flowers said, if we can’t understand this plateau, we can’t explain a lot of other earth formations.  “The answers to these contentious questions are significant for understanding how deep-seated processes control the elevation change and topographic evolution of Earth’s surface.
1.  Rebecca M. Flowers, “The enigmatic rise of the Colorado Plateau” (open access), Geology v. 38 no. 7, p. 671-672, doi: 10.1130/focus072010.1.
They don’t tell you these things on the National Park signs.  The parks make it sound so easy.  A million years here, a few billion years there, and presto: Grand Canyon.  Remember this article next time you travel the Colorado Plateau.  They don’t have a clue after 150 years of thinking about it.  How much more time should we give the clueless before opening the doors to thinking outside the box?
    One of the biggest stumbling blocks for them understanding this region is their insistence on deep time and their denial of the catastrophic power of the Flood.  They should really take some creation geology papers more seriously (06/21/2010) unless they find cluelessness somehow comforting.  Now why would that be?  Job security.
Next headline on:  GeologyDating Methods
  Wonders of the nose, with a little Cinderella thrown in: 06/27/2005.

Fish Feet: Can Evolution Add by Subtraction?     06/26/2010    
June 26, 2010 — How did fish grow feet?  One would think that feet require adding a lot of new parts: bones, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and additional supporting tissues.  Each of those would require genetic instructions and changes to embryonic development.  One evolutionist, however, feels that switching genes off paved the way to the invasion of land.  The story was told on PhysOrg and the BBC News.
    PhysOrg stated matter-of-factly, “Fossil evidence suggests that around 365 million years ago, fish, or fish-like creatures, emerged from shallow seas, moving onto land with the help of primitive, eight-fingered limbs, which later simplified to five digits under evolutionary pressure.”  Victoria Gill said for the BBC, “Fin to limb evolution clue found.”  What kind of clue?  Marie-Andree Akimenko, from the University of Ottawa in Canada, discovered two genes that are not found in animals possessing feet.  These genes create ray-forming fibers in the fins of fish.  When the genes were knocked out of zebrafish, the fin rays did not develop.  Moreover, she did not find the genes in mice embryos.  Akimenko surmised that a necessary step in the evolution of limbs from fins was the subtraction of these genes.  That would get rid of the fibers, and allow the emergence of bones, digits, and feet: “The loss of these fin rays, the scientists say, was a key step in fin-to-limb evolution.
    The BBC article quoted John Bard, a retired Oxford biologist.  He thought the work was interesting, but only a small part of the story.  He did not think it explained “how the broad, multi-ray fins of fishes became transformed into the eight digits of the hand or foot plate of the first tetrapods.”  Besides, he said, hundreds of millions of years separate fish and mice.  The PhysOrg article ended, “Further work is needed to confirm the theory, as it is unclear whether the fin genes were knocked out to help make the transition to land – or whether they were eliminated after the transition, as they were no longer needed.”  The BBC was certain, nevertheless, that this is an ongoing part of the Darwin Enlightenment: “A study has shed light on a key genetic step in the evolution of animals’ limbs from the fins of fish, scientists say.”

This scientist feels that for Darwin to build a complex new organ, all that is needed is paving the way.  It would be like building a shopping center by sending in the bulldozers.  Is that how evolution works?  Keep subtracting genes from an already complex animal, and maybe something wonderful will “emerge” from the empty space.
    The usual other fallacies are present here: (1) Dodging with passive voice verbs: “whether the fin genes were knocked out to help make the transition” (who knocked them out?).  (2) Personification: “to help make the transition” (who was the foreman of this project?).  (3) Composite explanations: “whether... the genes were knocked out to help make the transition... or whether they were eliminated after the transition” (which is it?).  (4) Making “evolutionary pressure” a creative force; and (5) Promissory notes: Escaping responsibility by saying, “Further work is needed to confirm the theory.”  Did anyone call this a theory?  Aren’t the Darwinians the very ones who insist that a theory is a well-tested hypothesis that has stood the test of time and become widely accepted?  It appears that anyone can toss out a “suggestion” or fairy tale and grace it with the honorable word theory.
    Since the Darwinians love to raise zebrafish, let them pursue this line of experiment.  Keep knocking out genes and see what emerges.  Subtract enough genetic information, and a Darwin theorist can’t be far behind.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyGeneticsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
What Good Are Science Societies?     06/25/2010    
June 25, 2010 — It’s the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society, England’s oldest and most prestigious scientific organization.  Amid the celebrations are essays and commentaries about the role scientific societies play for the public, the government, and the advancement of natural knowledge.  It should only be expected that the scientific journals will give the positive side, but between the lines are some nagging questions left begging, like – does science even need organized societies?  Even if they do some good, are they the only institutions capable of doing those good things?  And are they even capable of doing harm?
    It should be intuitively obvious that science’s primary concern should be with getting the world right – discovering facts about the natural world, organizing and integrating that knowledge, developing testable theories that can explain the facts and predict new discoveries, and providing foundations for natural knowledge that can lead to useful applications.  So what good are the societies?  How do they advance – or obstruct – these goals?
    Many early scientists worked alone or in small interest clubs.  Like most other human beings, scientists often do better with social encouragement and reinforcement.  The ability to share and debate ideas with peers is not only a deeply felt human need, but a corrective against error.  The Society of the Lynx in Galileo’s day was an early example.  The Linnean Society, local geological societies, chemistry societies and other grass-roots organizations grew in power and influence over time.  The Royal Society is perhaps the best example of a scientist-instigated formal club that sought advancement of natural knowledge through sharing of ideas, publication and education.  Some societies were government-sponsored: the Paris Academy of Sciences acted at the behest of the king in the 17th and 18th centuries.  In the 19th century, the National Academy of Sciences was created in America under the direction of the government to advise the government with scientific input on public policy matters.
    Governmental sponsorship does not rule out objectivity, but it often directs the research to be done.  These days, more and more countries want to get on the science society bandwagon.  It becomes a mark of distinction to have a national science academy.  The big countries can afford to have multiple societies.  Some are more government-leaning, some more private: the National Institutes of Health, the British and American Associations for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Astronomical Society, the Royal Chemistry Society, the Linnean Society, the Geological Society of America, and more.  Meetings of these societies can be rare or frequent; memberships can be large or small, national or international.  Annual meetings are sometimes huge affairs, involving hundreds of members spending a week at fancy hotels and resorts.  Typical gatherings involve sharing papers, debating theories, and occasionally discussing politics, funding and education.  Outside the member-attended meetings, societies keep their members informed with newsletters, journals, emails, blogs, letters, podcasts and other methods of mass media.  Officers sometimes are important attendees at government advisory councils, bringing the “consensus” of their members to bear on public policy.
    However enjoyable the societies are socially, though, the questions keep begging – do the goals of the academies necessarily coincide with the goals of science itself?  Do the academies advance some research at the expense of others?  Do they tend to channel scientists into the consensus, and quash independent thinking?  Does government sponsorship corrupt the pure goals of a scientist and make him or her a pawn of nationalism – or internationalism?  Do scientists provoke a spirit of elitism – and if so, is that necessarily bad?  These and other questions emerge from a careful reading of recent essays about scientific societies.  One should not assume the celebratory air in some of them will nourish the beggars.
  1. Be proud to be eliteNature started off its celebration of the Royal Society’s anniversary with an editorial titled, “The right kind of elitism.”  It began, “Britain’s Royal Society is 350 years old this year, and its track record is one worthy of celebration.”  What did Nature consider its honorable achievements?  “It stands today as a relatively successful model of what an independent national academy can achieve, having made itself both highly regarded in the corridors of power and prominent in public debates on major science-related issues.
        Much of the praise seemed aimed at the society’s ability to speak with a unified, powerful, political voice: “As the Royal Society has demonstrated, however, scientific academies ... can offer authoritative input on contentious public-policy issues such as climate change, or the regulation of human embryonic stem-cell research, and can thus enrich public debate by ensuring that science is properly heard.”  It’s a rather generous assumption to believe that what a society says is what “science” says, even if Nature had taken a little more time to define its criteria for the bloated word “science.”
        From politics, the editors took the society into the arenas of media and education – again, emphasizing influence instead of the search for truth about nature:
    But these traditional avenues are only part of what academies can do to exert influence today.  They can also issue more concise statements for wider audiences.  And they can proactively engage with the public and the media in the same way that corporations and environmental pressure groups do – by anticipating or responding rapidly to events, and making sure that science’s voice is heard amid the general cacophony.
    Here, the assumption is being made the “science” has a voice fundamentally different from any other group’s voice.  It is pure, distinct, and sweet (as contrasted with the general cacophony).  The editors are also assuming that the scientific societies never contribute to the general cacophony.  Yet in their conclusion, did they succumb to the fad of diversity and inclusion?  “Academies can still have a crucial role in taking scientific truth to the public, and to the heart of government,” the editors said in conclusion, but noticing an ethnic diversity imbalance in the NAS, they added: “But to do so, they must constantly strive to properly represent an increasingly diverse scientific community.”  (They had just been speaking about an under-represented ethnic minority.)  Diversity and inclusion may be admirable values, but it is not clear how the editors linked those values to the ability to arrive at “scientific truth.”  The pursuit of truth should be color blind.
  2. Fight to stay influential:  Continuing the focus on the influence of scientific societies, Colin Macilwain wrote a report on the history of scientific societies.2  “Britain’s Royal Society has had to work hard to stay relevant and influential,” said the subtitle, setting the tone for the whole article.
        Macilwain described some of the parties London is throwing for the anniversary.  But extravaganzas aside, did he provide evidence that the goals of a scientific society mesh with the goals of science?  Part of the reason for the parties is “to be seen as up to date, inclusive and important, not exclusive and aloof.”  Michael Faraday did not strive to be seen as any of these things when he made his fundamental scientific discoveries.  It is hard to see what public image has to do with science.  Nevertheless, the article was all about influence, media, press, image, representation, and propaganda:
    National academies of science in more than 100 nations are aiming for the same goal, with varying success.  Many were born in an era when a few select individuals practiced science, and those groups evolved to offer behind-the-scenes advice to governments.  Now, the academies represent much more diverse communities, and they must take their messages not only to governments but also directly to the public.
    But why?  Does science need lobbyists and pressure groups?  Must scientists become teachers?  There’s more image focus, presentation, soiling of hands with money, and political correctness: “They must be seen to be independent of government, despite considerable reliance on public funding.  And they need to reflect the growing ethnic and gender diversity of the scientific community, while still selecting members on the basis of their scientific reputations.”
        Macilwain shared some interesting history about the well-known societies.  Abraham Lincoln set up the National Academy of Sciences at the height of the Civil War in 1863.  The Royal Society (note the name) was founded by the scientists, but they were predominantly royalists, seeking and appreciating the patronage of King Charles II.  “Early on, the Royal Society made clear that it owed allegiance not to king and country but to scientific truth,” Macilwain assures us.  Nevertheless, their exclusiveness and high standards continue to generate accusations of elitism.  Outgoing society president Martin Rees responded, “But we’re elite only in the sense that we ought to be elite.”  The business of elections, nominations, and posturing that Macilwain discussed next, however, seem to have little to do with science.  Those trappings could characterize any organization.
        So what does the Royal Society actually do?  It distributes block grants from the government to promising scientists, awards prestigious university fellowships, and it helps pick scientific advisers for the government.  It decides what positions to take on public policy issues like climate change and creationism, and to present those positions with a unified voice.  NAS head Bruce Alberts said, “There’s a whole move now to make academies a voice for science in every nation of the world.
        Lately, to change its public image as an inward-looking body, the Royal Society has tried to become more media savvy.  It promotes TV documentaries and tries to get the society’s position heard by the public.  “Critics may contend that the public is indifferent to the academies’ grand pronouncements, and that their reports are valued by politicians more for the cover they provide than for the carefully nuanced information they contain,”  he granted.  But in the end, Macilwain gave the society’s executive secretary the last word: “we have become more important because there are so many more issues today that have a scientific component.”
        Somehow, Macilwain assures us, a “wider purpose is being served” by all this talk about influence and collective power.  One word in short supply in this article was research – how a society actually contributes to getting the world right.  If an outsider or maverick with a minority view was the one to get it right, how could his or her voice be heard against the powerful collective voice at the top?  Would not the majority seek to suppress this individual in the interest of allowing the society to speak with prestige, unanimity, and authority?  It is indeed ironic that the Royal Society’s motto is, “Nothing on mere authority.”
  3. Engage the public:  Image and influence was also the theme of a short piece by Yves Quéré in the same issue of Nature.3  The image of “a club of old gentlemen” is “the most common failings of scientific academies,” he said.  “They have few female members, few young members and they act too much like private clubs instead of speaking up on crucial matters of science and technology.”  Diversity, inclusion, influence – the same themes emerge in this article.  Quere argues that “the idea behind such organizations has been to promote the role of science in society and politics, and support scientists and science education.”  Then he got down to how societies might actually help science:
    The best ones have come to embody three attributes.  One is scientific expertise, because membership tends to be restricted to a nation’s top scientists.  Another is independence from external political, economic, religious or social pressures, enabling academies to speak openly on any matter.  The last is stability in the face of constantly shifting social and political landscapes, because members are generally elected for life.
    So far, however, these attributes – desirable as they may be – are about the sociology of science: e.g., membership, ambition, freedom, stability.  None of these necessarily bear on the goal of getting the world right.
        Quere listed three things academies and societies can do to encourage scientific research: (1) Promote excellence in science through grants, publications, debates, and the like.  (2) Mediate between scientists and politicians.  (This puts societies in the role of lobbying groups.)  (3) Bolster science education through curricula and awards.  It is not hard to see, however, how each of these activities can be turned into “preserving the consensus” rather than promoting the independent thinking individuals may need to buck the consensus when it is wrong.  The rest of the article was devoted to improving societies’ influence and political clout.
  4. Respect your elders:  If anyone can declare the value of a society, its president should be able to.  Sir Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, wrote an editorial for Science magazine on “The Society’s Wider Role.”4  He began by recalling the Society’s heroes of past ages: Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle and others.  Continuity from the 17th century into the 21st, however, needs to be demonstrated, not assumed.  Those were very different times in pre-industrialized England, before the word “scientist” had even been invented.  Early fellows of the Royal Society engaged their curiosity: “They did experiments, peered through newly invented telescopes and microscopes, and dissected weird animals,” Rees said.  He insists that the core values of the Society have not changed despite vastly new horizons and discoveries.  “Today’s scientists, like their forbears, probe nature and nature’s laws by observation and experiment, but they should also engage broadly with the needs of society and with public affairs.”  Rees pivoted on this point to talk about influence.
        Because of global challenges today, “engagement is needed more than ever before, and on a global scale,” he said, listing some of the modern issues – climate change, nuclear power, genetic engineering – needing scientific expertise.  Preserving the environment and correcting societal inequalities loomed high on his list.  He recalled the scientists of the Manhattan Project who not only ran the experiments and uncovered the facts of atomic energy, but “worked throughout their lives to control the power they had unleashed.”  They are exemplars, Rees argued, for how a scientific society can have influence:
    These men were an elite group—the alchemists of their time, possessors of secret knowledge.  Today’s dominant issues, in contrast, span all the sciences, are far more open, and are often global.  There is less demarcation between experts and laypersons.  Campaigners and bloggers enrich the debate.  But professionals have special obligations; the atomic scientists were fine exemplars of this.  Scientists shouldn’t be indifferent to the fruits of their ideas.  They should try to foster benign spin-offs, and they should prevent, so far as they can, dubious or threatening applications.
    But is a society necessary for a scientist to act as good citizen?  Today’s trends toward globalization require that “the benefits of globalization must be fairly shared,” he said.  Rees recognized the value of ethics: “There’s a widening gap between what science allows us to do and what is prudent or ethical.”  So far those are general ideals, but where does the Society fit in?  In order to end on the note that the Royal Society and its sister academies have a greater role to play than ever before, he bridged the ideas with this statement: “Everyone should debate these choices, but the agenda must be guided by science academies and by individual scientific citizens, engaging, from all political perspectives, with the media and with a public attuned to the scope and limits of science.”  An acknowledgement of the limits of science, and a recognition of individual values, are interesting here.  But Rees did not make it clear why, and to what extent, scientific societies need to guide the agenda over “individual scientific citizens.”
If one could never doubt the pure motivations of a collective scientific body to seek the truth wherever the evidence leads, then this focus on influence, media and politics could be understandable, even admirable.  A scientific body can provide a clear voice to governments, students and the public when a “general cacophony” would otherwise leave them at the mercy of a kind of Brownian motion of conflicting voices.  This presupposes, however, a clear moral authority combined with a grasp on nature’s workings that makes them stand above the fray.  Without that clear, clarion call of truth, science academies risk becoming part of that same general cacophony.  Even worse, they can become government-funded hammers enforcing the collective will against individuals who might wish to pursue a scientific question with motives unadulterated with thoughts of political power, increased funding, social prestige, or public adulation.
1.  Editorial, “The right kind of elitism,” Nature 465, p. 986, 24 June 2010, doi:10.1038/465986a.
2.  Colin Macilwain, “Scientific Academies: In the best company,” Nature published online 23 June 2010; Nature 465, 1002-1004 (2010); doi:10.1038/4651002a.
3.  Yves Quéré, “Academies must engage with society,” Nature 465, p. 1009, 24 June 2010, doi:10.1038/4651009a.
4.  Sir Martin Rees, “The Society’s Wider Role,” Science, 25 June 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5986, p. 1611, DOI: 10.1126/science.1193400.
In this commentary, we do not wish to oversimplify or generalize.  Scientific societies are here to stay.  Certainly they can do much good.  A collective body can command resources that would be impossible to the individual scientist.  Many of today’s scientific questions cannot be approached without huge expenditures: the space program is a good example.  Sending a rover to Mars is a whole new ball game from playing with electrical wire and magnets at the Royal Institution.  Sir Martin Rees gave a whole laundry list of profound questions and troubling issues that need collective, professional input:
Such engagement is needed more than ever before, and on a global scale. Science transforms our lives, sometimes with staggering speed. Spin-offs from molecular genomics could soon change our lives as much as those from the microchip have already done. We must confront widely held anxieties that genetics, brain science, and artificial intelligence may “run away” too fast. And rapid advances raise profound questions: Is the world getting warmer, and why?  Who should access the “readout” of our personal genetic code?  How will lengthening life span affect society?  Should nuclear power stations or wind farms keep the lights on?  Should we use more insecticides or plant genetically modified crops?  How much should computers be allowed to invade our privacy?  Such critical questions transcend party politics, but because they are long-term, they tend to be trumped by more urgent items. Many require action on an international scale, as all parts of the world are more closely networked today than ever before.
Scientific societies past and present have engaged the public and governments with informed input on the policy issues of the day.  The role of influence, however, belongs to “sociology of science” rather than to science itself.  To the extent a society can enable the individual or team to accomplish scientific goals, this is fine and good.  We know, however, that institutions sometimes become the worst perpetrators of the very problems they were formed to solve (examples: some labor unions, the U.N., some government bureaucracies).  The worst example in world history is probably the communist dictatorships that sought to inculcate the ideals of Marxism to remedy the plight of the proletarians.  It is doubtful the proletarians were helped much by the Great Terror, Great Leap Forward and other hideous atrocities perpetrated by the institutions that were formed to “help” them.
    While not wishing to link scientific societies with the likes of those, we would point out that there is no guarantee a human institution formed to advance the goals of anything will end up doing so.  As with other institutions, the track record of scientific societies has been a mixed bag.  One must also remember that the Royal Society of 1660 is very different from the Royal Society of 2010.  Back then, members were mostly Bible-believing Christians living before the industrial revolution.  Today, as with many large institutions, the leadership are left-leaning secular globalists in the information age.
    We know from the stories of Leeuwenhoek, Faraday, Thomson and Joule that the Royal Society was instrumental in providing them encouragement and notoriety for their discoveries.  This is perhaps the best positive good a scientific society can provide: a place for discussion, exposure, recognition, and encouragement among those who understand the subject matter and are interested in it.  Governments, kings, educators, publishers and reporters have no doubt also profited from the collective voice of societies as sources they could trust.  It’s much easier for them than trying to weigh the pros and cons of opinions from many individual experts.  And the ability to steer funds toward great projects may make possible scientific research that could not get done otherwise.  In the capable hands of societies with integrity, these can be good things.
    But the very process of arriving at a collective voice is the most fraught with risk of doing more harm than good.  Science is not about consensus; that’s sociology.  It’s about getting the world right.  That makes it undemocratic: better one scientist who’s right than the collective voice of a thousand who are wrong.  Moreover, the collective is made of people with pride and the power of numbers.  The collective voice can give a false impression of authority.  With the power of numbers and institutional or political clout behind them, the collective can easily squash the maverick and end up perpetuating myths.  Does this happen?
    Consider a recent struggle in the Royal Society about global warming.  Roger Harrabin has been taking notes of debates in Britain over this contentious subject.  His entries for the BBC News May 27 and BBC News May 29 are instructive about the wrangling behind closed doors at the Royal Society trying to come up with a consensus.  The majority who believe in human-caused global warming had to deal with a sizeable minority who felt their opinions were being misrepresented or ignored in the Society’s official statements to the media and Parliament.  This erupted after previous leader Lord May said, “I am the President of the Royal Society, and I am telling you the debate on climate change is over.”  That “debate is over” slogan was influential with the Prime Minister, and was repeated often in the press.  But as Harrabin shows, the debate was not over.  The dissenters in the minority were angry, and took up their side in blogs – something earlier Society presidents did not have to contend with.  “The danger to the credibility of science institutions from the way they communicate uncertainty in climate change is immense,” Harrabin said.  On the one hand, they desire a unified voice of consensus, but on the other, they risk being viewed as intransigent purveyors of orthodoxy if they do not give sufficient place to those who disagree with the consensus.  It was clear that the minority were feeling dissed – even insulted – by the majority on this matter.  The climate skeptics “they did not agree that the warming will be dangerous – and they object to being branded fools or hirelings for saying so.”  Now, after the scandals at the IPCC, these “bastions of authority” are suffering serious credibility gaps, and the grass-roots blogs are exposing the sausage-making shenanigans of arriving at consensus.
    The reader is now in a position to understand those authoritative-sounding pronouncements from the scientific societies.  Whether the subject is stem cells, bioweapons, or the teaching of evolution, the process of coming up with an “official” view for the press or the government can mask deep divisions beneath.  But once the position is stated, it takes on a life of its own.  It becomes the authoritative voice of “science.”  The press takes the ball and runs with it.  In a curious feedback loop, the scientists themselves in the institutions become increasingly reluctant to buck the consensus, either through fear of retaliation, the desire to get along with the group, or the ease of swimming with the current instead of against it.  For example, an open-access paper came out in PNAS this week claiming that “97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets” of man-made global warming.  But the criteria for “climate expertise and scientific prominence” included those actively publishing.  The authors apparently failed to take into account the bias of journals against publishing skeptical of the consensus, and the Kuhnian tendency for scientists to work within the current paradigm.  Science Daily wrote this up only with the authors’ views, not with any critical response of the statistical methods used to come up with the 98% number.  But even if it were that high, is scientific truth decided by majority vote?
    Consider the example of all those societies allied against “creationism.”  Does it mean that each and every individual scientist in the societies agrees with the pronouncements that creationism is bad-bad-bad and must be stopped?  Of course not – not any more than members of Labor Unions accept the political candidates the leadership “officially” endorse.  Undoubtedly there is a wide spectrum of opinions among the members on the subject of creationism, ID, evolutionism, and how they should be taught.  When the NAS published a booklet on “Science, Evolution and Creationism” (updated in 2008) it carried the force of consensus and the prestige of the NAS.  It influenced many judges, school boards and reporters.  Underneath the veneer of authority presented by the booklet, though, how many NAS members understood the issues, were familiar with creation or ID literature, or even participated in the discussions prior to publication?  Critics at the Discovery Institute found lots of errors and misrepresentations in the document (see Evolution News & Views).  Rather than promoting the kind of debate and discussion that is essential for the health of science, the booklet simply dismissed, with the swipe of a hand, a whole lively field of inquiry into intelligent design that overlaps heavily into secular science itself (biomimetics, forensics, archaeology, linguistics, SETI, communication theory, cryptography, and more).  It told any members who might have doubts about Darwin to basically shut up.  “The debate is over.”
    The consensus of societies can sometimes mimic the dogmas of a pope or college of cardinals publishing lists of heresies, stamped with the imprimatur of an authoritative institution.  What a strange twist of history.  It’s the Galileo affair all over again – only with the ideological roles reversed.  An informed public, and brave individual scientists, need to be the watchdogs against such abuses.  For all their posturing, power plays and promotions, scientific societies have no more intrinsic authority than what the facts of nature give them.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsEducationMedia
The RNA Code: Pseudogenes Functional, Help Prevent Cancer     06/24/2010    
June 24, 2010 — A surprising function has been discovered for a “pseudogene” – an apparently mutated copy of a regular gene that till recently was thought to be genetic junk.  This pseudogene, reported in Nature today,1 not only has a function unrelated to the production of proteins, but a function that could save your life.  It is part of the tumor-suppression system.  Without this piece of “junk DNA” your chances of getting cancer go up dramatically.
    The old paradigm about pseudogenes appears poised for demolition.  The old story was that these were relic copies of good genes that, over time, started mutating away because natural selection no longer acted on them.  The new story is that they are essential players in a complex interplay with coding genes and other genetic regulators that control when, where, and how much genes get expressed into proteins.  Science Daily recounted the old Central Dogma of genetics (DNA is the master controller of proteins), but said the new study “suggests there is much more to RNA than meets the eye.
    The particular pseudogene studied by Poliseno et al (primarily from Harvard Medical School) is named PTENP1.  It has a clever way of working to regulate the coding gene, PTEN, which is known to be a tumor suppressor.  It acts as a kind of “decoy.”  Since it differs from PTEN by a “mutation” at the start of what would be its coding region, it does not get translated into protein.  It does, however, get transcribed into messenger RNA (mRNA).  As such, it closely resembles the regular PTEN transcript, like a decoy duck resembles a real duck.  The decoy lures the same micro-RNAs (miRNA) to latch onto it that latch onto PTEN.  Whereas the miRNAs suppress the action of PTEN, the decoys “un-suppress” the suppressors by stealing them away from the protein-producing gene.  In short, said the Harvard scientists, “These findings attribute a novel biological role to expressed pseudogenes, as they can regulate coding gene expression, and reveal a non-coding function for mRNAs.
    Isidore Rigoutsos (Thomas Jefferson U) commented on this discovery in the same issue of Nature, under News and Views.2  He expanded this one case to a whole new fruitful area of research:
Poliseno and co-workers’ findings could have broader implications beyond PTEN regulation.  They suggest that any two co-expressed genes – let’s call them g and G – that are regulated by the same non-coding RNA (R) can, in principle, act as decoys for one another.  Moreover, for such a pair, any other molecule (R’) that directly affects the abundance of g will also indirectly affect the abundance of G by modulating the number of decoys g presents to G, and vice versa.  Knowledge of shared targets as well as of the relative amounts of g and G would now become relevant experimental considerations.
The commentary began by calling it “surprising news” that “pseudogenes are functional and could have a role in the control of cancer.”  While Rigoutsos noted that “pseudogenes have been presumed to be largely vestigial,” he pointed to other recent findings that they are functionally connected to other RNA regulatory elements.  In the same News and Views article, and Frank Furnari (UC San Diego) said this:
Defining ‘junk DNA’ is getting trickier.  Pseudogenes, for instance, have been viewed as non-essential genomic elements and have mostly been ignored.  Well, they shouldn’t be anymore, according to Poliseno and colleagues, who show a clear functional relationship between the tumour-suppressor gene PTEN and its pseudogene PTENP1 (Fig. 1).  This study could have major implications for understanding mechanisms of disease, and of cancer in particular.
Furnari also pointed to other possible diseases where breakdown of the tight regulation of the PTEN could be responsible.  Two of those are human breast and colon cancers.  He said it may be time for a “redefinition of this seemingly vestigial pseudogene as a tumour-suppressor gene.”  In closing, Furnari expanded the particular case to the general principle: “The authors find similar associations between other well-known cancer-associated genes and their corresponding pseudogenes.  They thus demonstrate that this unexpected mechanism of gene regulation could have broader implications in tumorigenesis and could potentially offer new targets for anticancer drugs.”
    Poliseno et al made no mention of evolution in their research paper.  Rigoutsos captioned his figure “Evolutionary relatives cooperate,” but nowhere explained why PTEN and PTENP1 were related by evolution, how the pseudogene evolved a function, or how evolutionary theory enlightened the discussion or led to the discovery.  Science Daily’s article (a press release from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center [BIDMC], part of Harvard Medical School) did not mention evolution, either, but instead depicted nature as a crafty designer: “The new findings suggest that nature has crafted a clever tale of espionage such that thousands upon thousands of mRNAs and noncoding RNAs, together with a mysterious group of genetic relics known as pseudogenes, take part in undercover reconnaissance of cellular microRNAs, resulting in a new category of genetic elements which, when mutated, can have consequences for cancer and human disease at large.”

Another Genetic Code.  This discovery multiplies the information content of the genome, because it amounts to finding another genetic code.  Non-coding transcripts are now bearers of functional information independent of DNA.  Maybe this should be considered the “third” genetic code (see 05/06/2010).
    The past decade has witnessed an explosion in observations of small RNAs in the nucleus.  What are they there for?  Since the function of pseudogenes, small RNAs and regulating mRNAs does not depend on the parts that code for proteins, they cannot have gotten their genetic information from DNA via the Central Dogma.  Pier Paolo Pandolfi of BIDMC explained, “This means that not only have we discovered a new language for mRNA, but we have also translated the previously unknown language of up to 17,000 pseudogenes and at least 10,000 long non-coding (lnc) RNAs.  Consequently, we now know the function of an estimated 30,000 new entities, offering a novel dimension by which cellular and tumor biology can be regulated, and effectively doubling the size of the functional genome.
 


1.  Poliseno et al, “A coding-independent function of gene and pseudogene mRNAs regulates tumour biology,” Nature 465, pp 1033–1038, 24 June 2010, doi:10.1038/nature09144.
2.  Isidore Rigoutsos and Frank Furnari, “Gene-expression forum: Decoy for microRNAs,” Nature 465, pp. 1016–1017, 24 June 2010, doi:10.1038/4651016a.
An exciting, paradigm-shifting discovery has been made.  We give it both the “Darwin and Evolution” and “Intelligent Design” tags in hopes of starting vigorous discussion about how this came to be.  Darwinists may insist that it looks too clumsy to be designed, and could have evolved; creationists or ID people may respond that it is ingenious, too tightly regulated to arrive at by gradual changes, and contrary to Darwinian expectations.  Biblical creationists might envision an original perfect system in partial working order.  Many interesting questions are sure to follow, but one thing everyone is agreeing on: what was once considered junk is now known to be active and functional.
    The important point for now is that the secular, Darwinist-leaning establishment was surprised by this discovery (see Young’s Law, right sidebar).  Why were they surprised?  It was because the picture of genetic junk, vestigial parts in a tinkerer’s toolbox and useless leftovers mutating away under relaxed selection pressure fit their world view.  In the neo-Darwinian genetic picture, gene duplication is a source of both innovation and debris production.  Two copies of a gene, made by copy mistakes, might produce two different functional genes, or leave one functioning and the other withering away under mutational load.  That’s what “pseudogenes,” which didn’t make proteins or appear to do anything after getting transcribed, represented.  They were just sad leftovers of copying errors, left to die on the vine.  That’s why pseudogenes were ignored by the Darwinists for so long.  They were vestigial; they were boring.  Even the name they were given – pseudo genes – (not really genes, but pretenders) was demeaning.
    The ID scientist looks at a complex system like genetic transcription, translation and regulation, sees all the complex activity and components, only some of which are understood, and thinks, If it’s there, there might be a reason for it.  Rather than dismiss something out of hand as junk because it doesn’t fit the current Central Dogma, the ID scientist looks for evidence of function.  He or she assumes an overarching purpose and design in the system, at least in its salient features.  Maybe no function will be found for a particular phenomenon, but at least the ID scientist asks different questions: not “what is this junk doing in the way?” but “where does this puzzle piece fit in the picture?”  In this particular case, an ID scientist would have been rewarded not with surprise so much as satisfaction: expectations fulfilled.  The only surprise would be not that the unknown piece has a function, but that the function is more vast, marvelous and intricate than expected.  Has the genome really just doubled?  Picture the Darwinist and the IDer saying “Good heavens!” with completely different facial expressions and tones of voice at that revelation.
    If all the geneticists had approached the black box of pseudogenes with the ID mentality, it is quite possible that our understanding of gene regulation would have been propelled forward by years or decades – and maybe even our progress toward curing cancer.  Ideas make a difference.

Recommended resource: Signature in the Cell is one year old; have you read it yet?  It just came out in paperback.  Click here for more information.
Next headline on:  HealthGeneticsDarwin and EvolutionIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
  Underground railroad: read about a nutrient pipeline in the soil supplied by fungi, in the 06/17/2004 entry.

Can the Earth Thwart Darwinism?     06/23/2010    
June 23, 2010 — Microbes were all set to evolve into complex life, but the ocean held them back.  That seems to be the thinking of Dr. Simon Poulton of Newcastle University.  “Toxic seas may have been responsible for delaying the evolution of life on Earth by 1 billion years,” PhysOrg reported.  That seems to imply that it would have been inevitable otherwise.
    His team believes that a toxic layer of hydrogen sulfide in the oceans prevented the emergence of complex life till the oxygenation of the oceans was complete.  Then, complex life exploded into existence, as if pent-up Darwinian energy was waiting for its debut: “This has major implications as it would have potentially restricted the evolution of higher life forms that require oxygen, explaining why animals appear so suddenly, relatively late in the geological record.
    But can the mere absence of a toxin explain the origin of eyes, antennae, jointed appendages, fins, mouth parts, sexual organs, digestive systems and all the other complex body parts that appeared without precursors during the Cambrian explosion?  Dr. Poulton did not discuss that side of the equation.  In fact, he complicated matters by speaking of some kind of “co-evolution” of life and the environment.  He did not elaborate on whether some kind of Darwinian principle of mutation and natural selection operates on the environment as well as on life.

Here Dr. Poulton has just revealed two very non-Darwinian concepts.  First, that animals appeared suddenly – not gradually, as Darwin’s theory predicted.  He thus admitted (as he must) that the Cambrian explosion that was Darwin’s biggest dilemma in 1859 remains as a testament against Darwinian evolution.  Second, he proposed a mystical, vitalistic, almost spiritual explanation for evolution.  The life-force was there wanting to become trilobites and platypuses and orchids, but mean old Mother Nature was holding it back.  Like a wicked witch, she poisoned the brew deep in the oceans with yucky hydrogen sulfide.  Like Prometheus bound in chains, Darwin’s inexorable force of evolution was powerless to proceed.  Human brains would have to wait a billion years.
    Over time, Mother Nature evolved from Wicked Witch to Tinker Bell.  Gaia evolved with her, as her pet microbes danced and bubbled up their oxygen.  At some magic moment, the time was ripe.  The universal Life-Force was no longer restrained in its deep-ocean dungeon.  It burst forth from its prison.  Gasping for oxygen, it gained new impetus and was ready to fulfill its destiny.  Life-Force invaded the microbes just as the benevolent Tinker Bell zapped them with her mutation wand.  Gaia celebrated with an explosion of color, form and function.  “Eyes evolved, and now the cosmos could see!” (Carl Sagan, Cosmos).
    Better check this screenplay against the novel.  It appears that Dr. Poulton, the screenplay writer, took some liberties with the Origin-al plot.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
Lucy Gets a Date with Big Man     06/22/2010    
June 22, 2010 — Another specimen of Australopithecus afarensis has been announced from Ethiopia.  This one supposedly preceded Lucy by 400,000 years, and according to its discoverers, belonged to a group of primates that shows they “were almost as proficient as we are walking on two legs, and that the elongation of our legs came earlier in our evolution than previously thought.”  The discovery by Yohannes Haile-Selassie’s team, was published in PNAS.1  It was immediately announced in the press by National Geographic, Science Daily and PhysOrg.
    True to tradition, the discoverers had to give the specimen a catchy name for the press.  In the local Afar tribal language, it’s Kadanuumuu, but in English, it’s Big Man.  That’s because the male had substantially larger stature than Lucy – 5 feet instead of her 3 feet.  The researchers claim this specimen is 3.6 million years old (compared to Lucy’s 3.2 million).  Ardipithecus ramidus (Ardi), found in the same general area, is said to be 4.4 million years old.
    The main claims about Big Man is that it shows upright posture more than Ardi, based on pelvic positions and limb proportions.  Only a scapula, a few ribs, parts of the neck and one shoulder, parts of the pelvis, one arm and one leg were found – no skull fragments.
    Only National Geographic offered a dissenting opinion.  Its writeup included the observations of Zeresenay Alemseged, an anthropologist at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.  He doubts that it belongs to A. afarensis, and says that without skull fragments and teeth, it is hard to make a positive identification.  He also thinks Lucy and another baby specimen claimed to be 3.3 million years old show evidence of living in the trees.
    In the paper, the team admitted that fitting the new find into an evolutionary sequence requires a bit of punctuated equilibrium.  Here’s what the last paragraph said:
The total biomechanical pattern of Au. afarensis involves a host of specialized postcranial characters, all of which are fully consistent with data reported here for KSD-VP-1/1,2 those previously available for Au. afarensis, and the Laetoli footprints (58, 60), which at 3.66 Ma are just slightly older than KSD-VP-1/1 (61).  Equally important are similarities between the Au. afarensis pelvis and the recently described H. erectus specimen from Busidima (BSN49/P27a–d) (11).  These similarities are particularly striking, especially in light of the time separating them (at least 2.2 million years).  Such constancy of morphotype suggests that highly derived terrestrial bipedality enjoyed a long period of stasis punctuated only occasionally by additional modifications to the postcranium of apparently decreasing selective significance (e.g., length of pedal intermediate phalanges, lower limb length).
It should be noted that the Laetoli footprints, dated earlier than this specimen, are identical to modern human footprints (03/22/2010).  Haile-Selassie seems to be claiming that bipedality evolved in a few hundred thousand years, then remained essentially unchanged except for minor details for almost four million years.
1.  Haile-Selassie et al, “An early Australopithecus afarensis postcranium from Woranso-Mille, Ethiopia,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Published online before print June 21, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1004527107.
2.  This is the designation for the new fossil.
This is the lightning flash before the thunder.  The news media all light up on cue, but then the long peals of thunder hit when the other teams get angry at the Ethiopian team for trying to put the spotlight on their Big Boy, making him the new star on the Human Evolution Walk of Shame (06/10/2010).  Just you wait.  This is not the History Channel, you know; it’s the Follywood Squares.
Next headline on:  Early ManFossilsDating Methods
Secular Geology Admits to Rapid Canyon Formation by Megafloods     06/21/2010    
June 21, 2010 — It’s hard to deny catastrophic canyon formation when you have the evidence right in front of you.  Look what happened in Texas a few years ago, as reported by PhysOrg:
In the summer of 2002, a week of heavy rains in Central Texas caused Canyon Lake – the reservoir of the Canyon Dam – to flood over its spillway and down the Guadalupe River Valley in a planned diversion to save the dam from catastrophic failure.  The flood, which continued for six weeks, stripped the valley of mesquite, oak trees, and soil; destroyed a bridge; and plucked meter-wide boulders from the ground.  And, in a remarkable demonstration of the power of raging waters, the flood excavated a 2.2-kilometer-long, 7-meter-deep canyon in the bedrock.
The actual canyon was formed in just three days, said Science DailyLive Science also reported the story, saying, “Some of the most spectacular canyons on Earth and Mars were probably formed in the geologic blink of an eye, suggests a new study that found clues to their formation deep in the heart of Texas.”
    Such catastrophic floods and canyons that resulted are not unknown in historic times, but what’s new is that geologists are taking note and applying the lesson of Canyon Lake to large, prehistoric megafloods on earth and even Mars.  PhysOrg continued, “Our traditional view of deep river canyons, such as the Grand Canyon, is that they are carved slowly, as the regular flow and occasionally moderate rushing of rivers erodes rock over periods of millions of years.”  Quoting Michael Lamb of Caltech, co-author of a paper in Nature Geoscience,1 the article said that such is not always the case: “We know that some big canyons have been cut by large catastrophic flood events during Earth’s history.”
    Lamb went on to explain that there is not often an easy way to tell a catastrophically-formed canyon from a gradually-formed one:
Unfortunately, these catastrophic megafloods – which also may have chiseled out spectacular canyons on Mars—generally leave few telltale signs to distinguish them from slower events.  “There are very few modern examples of megafloods,” Lamb says, “and these events are not normally witnessed, so the process by which such erosion happens is not well understood.”  Nevertheless, he adds, “the evidence that is left behind, like boulders and streamlined sediment islands, suggests the presence of fast water”—although it reveals nothing about the time frame over which the water flowed.
Lamb found that process like “plucking” – in which boulders popped up from fractured bedrock became sledgehammers in the current, and headward-eroding waterfalls, led to quick downward erosion of the canyon.  He hopes the features witnessed in the Canyon Lake flood will aid in interpreting megaflood evidence on earth and Mars.  Here is the abstract from the paper by Lamb and Fonstad:
Deep river canyons are thought to form slowly over geological time (see, for example, ref. 1 [Grand Canyon]), cut by moderate flows that reoccur every few years 2, 3.  In contrast, some of the most spectacular canyons on Earth and Mars were probably carved rapidly during ancient megaflood events 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.  Quantification of the flood discharge, duration and erosion mechanics that operated during such events is hampered because we lack modern analoguesCanyon Lake Gorge, Texas, was carved in 2002 during a single catastrophic flood 13.  The event offers a rare opportunity to analyse canyon formation and test palaeo-hydraulic-reconstruction techniques under known topographic and hydraulic conditions.  Here we use digital topographic models and visible/near-infrared aerial images from before and after the flood, discharge measured during the event, field measurements and sediment-transport modelling to show that the flood moved metre-sized boulders, excavated ~7 m of limestone and transformed a soil-mantled valley into a bedrock canyon in just ~3 days.  We find that canyon morphology is strongly dependent on rock type: plucking of limestone blocks produced waterfalls, inner channels and bedrock strath terraces, whereas abrasion of cemented alluvium sculpted walls, plunge pools and streamlined islands.  Canyon formation was so rapid that erosion might have been limited by the ability of the flow to transport sediment.  We suggest that our results might improve hydraulic reconstructions of similar megafloods on Earth and Mars.
Their references included the paper by J H Bretz on the channeled scablands of Washington, and other research on the Lake Bonneville floods, but no work by creation geologists who have postulated rapid formation of the Grand Canyon by a dam breach megaflood.  They did not discuss the Grand Canyon in their paper other than to state in the introduction that “Most bedrock river canyons are thought to be cut slowly over millions of years (for example, Grand Canyon, USA, ref. 1) by moderate flows that reoccur every few years.”  They did not say whether they agree with that assessment now in light of their work.
    Lamb and Fonstad described in the paper how it is hard to tell slow processes from rapid ones:
It is difficult to identify morphologic features in Canyon Lake Gorge that indicate canyon formation during a 3 day event, versus a longer-lived flood or multiple events.  For example, inner channels, knickpoints and terraces are often formed slowly over geologic time in response to shifting climate or tectonic forcing, but in Canyon Lake Gorge and other megafloods they must have formed rapidly through intrinsic instabilities in the erosion processes.  A narrow gorge is sometimes inferred to represent slow persistent erosion, whereas Canyon Lake Gorge was formed in a matter of days.  It is clear that models for the rate of bedrock erosion are needed to calculate the duration of flooding necessary to excavate a canyon of known volume.  Although notable progress has been made, there are no well tested mechanistic models of bedrock erosion via plucking during megafloods.
They did the best they could to come up with a “semi-empirical theory” of sediment transport capacity to account for the rapid erosion of Canyon Lake Gorge.  Apparently it was not the strength of the bedrock that limited erosion, but the ability of the water to pick up and move large blocks: “Thus, it seems plausible that erosion of well-jointed rock by large floods might be extremely rapid, such that canyon formation is limited by the capacity of the flood to transport plucked blocks rather than by the plucking processes itself.”  Whether that is the only surprising paradigm shift from this observational example of rapid canyon formation remains to be seen.  It may be time to change a lot of western national park interpretive signs.
1.  Lamb and Fonstad, “Rapid formation of a modern bedrock canyon by a single flood event,” Nature Geoscience, Published online: 20 June 2010 | doi:10.1038/ngeo894.
What does he mean this is not well understood?  If the secular geologists had been reading the creationist journals for decades, which are way ahead of the curve on this topic, they would not be so clueless.  The Creation Research Society Quarterly, Journal of Creation and other peer-reviewed journals written by creation scientists, with field research and PhDs, have for years been talking about the power of catastrophic processes to produce the Grand Canyon and other large earth features in just days and weeks by breached dams and other megaflooding processes.  This is nothing new, but the secular journals and news media act like it is.  It’s nice for the secular crowd, still awaking from their Lyellian slumbers, to catch the groove finally (better late than never), but how about some attribution?  Creationist authors of papers on this subject should get together and walk into Lamb’s office with a stack of their papers on catastrophic canyon formation by megafloods, pile them on his desk, and ask, “Where have you been all this time?”
    Who speaks for science?  Notice what a bizarre situation this is.  The secularists have been admittedly clueless for a long time about the power of catastrophic flood geology, while the creationists have taken the lead on the subject.  But the creationists have been routinely and summarily ignored, because their opinions are deemed “religious” from the outset and therefore “pseudo-scientific.”  One would think that what matters in science is being right.  If a creation scientist has a PhD in geology or a related subject, has demonstrated competence in field work and research, and has published his ideas, it should not be an issue what his theology or motivations are – it should matter whether his ideas are reasonable, testable, and fit the evidence.  In fact, one’s degree or field work should not even matter.  Some scientific ideas that have stood the test of time were not published by people with degrees, or in peer-reviewed journals, or by the other standard trappings of today’s scientific milieu.
    Philosophers of science recognize that the process of scientific discovery is irrelevant to the designation “scientific.”  If a geologist comes up with a theory in a dream that turns out to work, so be it.  Similarly, the process of scientific explanation should not be evaluated based on beliefs, memberships, degrees or associations.  Darwin and Wallace, you recall, were known mostly for field studies.  There may be political, social, and sociological reasons why Lamb and Fonstad did not reference creation literature in their paper, but there is no logical or scientific reason not to do so.  “But we have to have institutional standards to keep the crackpots out!” some skeptical gatekeeper will say.  Guess what; a lot of them are running rampant inside the ivied walls right now (e.g., 06/14/2010, 06/13/2010, 06/10/2010; follow the links on “Dumb Ideas” for a parade of the shameful).  Didn’t a famous Teacher once say to clean the inside of the cup first?
    Unless modern secularists want to cut out Newton, Kepler, Boyle, Faraday and a host of other great achievers in science because they were Christians and creationists, it’s wrong to exclude today’s creation scientists simply on the basis of their beliefs and motivations.  Face it; everybody has beliefs and motivations.  Inside the academy, they might include naturalism and defending uniformitarianism.  The only way to guard against dogmatism and self-deception is to square off with those having other beliefs and motivations in light of the evidence.  And you know, maybe some of the best qualifications for good science come from the Judeo-Christian tradition: honesty, impartiality, humility, and a deep, abiding respect for the truth.
Next headline on:  GeologyPhysicsDating methods
  Seduced by the dork side of the farce: 06/20/2003.

Hiding Comets Out of Bounds     06/20/2010    
June 20, 2010 — There’s a new theory floating around about where most of the comets came from: other stars.  For many years, astronomers hid them in an unobservable region called the Oort cloud that was assumed to be partly a remnant of the sun’s primordial disk, and material that was ejected outward.  Now, according to the BBC News most comets may have an extra-solar origin.  “This contradicts the earlier theory that most comets were born in the Sun’s protoplanetary disk.”
    Why the change in thinking?  Dr. Harold Levison (Southwest Research Institute) and Dr. Ramon Brasser (University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis) revisited a old model of the origin of the Oort cloud that was rejected in the 1990s.  By assuming that the sun was born in a cluster, they used computer models to show that the sun could have grabbed disk material from other stars.  These became 90% of the sun’s comets, including the famous ones like Halley, Hale-Bopp and McNaught.  “For 60 years we have not known how the Oort cloud formed and for 60 years people have been looking for an answer,” Brasser said.  “It has been a missing piece and it might help understand the evolution and the formation of our Solar System.

If “it might help,” come back and tell us when it does.  In the meantime, your counterpart around another star that drifted away from the sun is falsifying your theory.  Brlxyzda Z0rls1+xb is saying that there’s no way Sol could have gotten 90% of its comets from other stars unless all the other stars in the clusters got 90% of theirs in the same way.  It’s not only illogical, it’s unethical.  Must have equality, you know.  Sol mustn’t be piggish and steal all the comets from everybody else.
    The perceptive reader notices that the Oort Cloud is taught as a fact to schoolchildren and on TV science programs, but here Brasser spilled the beans: “For 60 years we have not known how the Oort cloud formed and for 60 years people have been looking for an answer.”  That’s not surprising, since the Oort Cloud is entirely theoretical, and the origin of theoretical entities without benefit of observations is usually somewhat puzzling.  But rest assured: now Brasser and Levison have the answer!  Problem solved!  Never more will anyone ever wonder about this six-decade-long puzzle!  They just pushed the origin out to other stars that have long since left the neighborhood.  If you believe that, turn in your gullibility coupon for an all-expense vacation to the beautiful Isle of DeBris, where you can listen to the sea lions yodeling oort, oort, oort under nebulous theoretical clouds.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating Methods
Evolution Tries to Figure Out Dads     06/19/2010    
June 19, 2010 — Why did evolution produce fathers?  After male adult humans deliver their genetic component of the zygote, what are they good for?  This is a subject in which the Darwinian and the Judeo-Christian concepts of fatherhood begin at opposite poles.  But they have to converge on the practical observations of what fathers do best when they are at their best.
  1. Speak with authority:  To an evolutionist, male traits are all about attracting a mate and fighting off rivals.  Ewen Calloway of New Scientist reported on a theory by UC Santa Barbara psychologist Aaron Sell who tried to relate a man’s voice with his upper body strength.  Why?  Sell sold the idea that voice is a signal of fitness: “You can tell a lot about a man by his handshake, but his voice may give away even more,” Calloway wrote.  “Both men and women can accurately assess a man’s upper body strength based on his voice alone, suggesting that the male voice may have evolved as an indicator of fighting ability.”  Dr. Sell recorded 200 men’s voices, and then tested their upper body strength.  Next, he had his students predict their strength based on their voices alone.  The students accurately predicted the outcomes, even though strength did not correlate with pitch or timbre.  The article showed a photo of a man lifting weights.
        The missing ingredient in the Darwinian angle was whether the men with better upper body strength had more sons, who also retained the trait and remained fitter in their populations.  Keeping the trait going would also presuppose that women are more attracted to men with more upper body strength.  Yet it seems questionable whether males are being selected for marriage on that basis alone, at least in modern society.  If the Darwinians reply that the preference is a holdover from some evolutionary past, when the voice-to-upper-body-strength correlation mattered (e.g., when fighting off rivals in the cave signaled better chance for bearing live young), how long is the lag time before natural selection catches up with current selection pressures?
        Exceptions outnumber rules in many studies like this.  Charlemagne was a valiant warrior and fathered four sons, but was said to have a wimpy, high-pitched voice.  Perhaps we can all think of exceptions the other way, too: men with macho-sounding voices (some bass-baritones, radio announcers) who are not exactly images of physical fitness.  It is not clear that the fittest men always have the most kids, too; if the trait is sex-linked, they would have to be sons.  There seems to be a lot of leeway for just-so explanations of any observation found.  Maybe there is some correlation between a man’s larynx and his pectorals, but it is not clear Dr. Sell has done a good Darwinian job in establishing a correlation between male vocalizations and fecundity.
        A Bible theologian would look to the design in a man’s body as part of the package that the Creator pronounced good – good for the purposes He had in mind.  Those purposes could include, but are not restricted to, signaling to women, children and other men that here is a man with strength and authority, worthy of dignity and respect.
  2. Protect the weak:  It is no secret that the decline of fatherhood presence in poor families, particularly American black families, has become a social crisis.  An article in Science Daily this week reinforces the value of fathers for protection and nurturing of young children.  “Studies have shown fathers who are active in their children’s upbringing can significantly benefit their children’s early development, academic achievement and well being,” the article began.  “Now, a new study by University of South Florida researchers suggests that a father’s involvement before his child is born may play an important role in preventing death during the first year of life – particularly if the infant is black.”
        Although this article did not discuss evolutionary theory, the implication is clear that male involvement in human offspring must involve more than passing on genes.  Evolutionists and theists will have vastly different perspectives on how the need for fatherly involvement arose, but no one can doubt, given the societal cost of fatherless homes on children, that governments need to promote two-parent families on strictly pragmatic and economic grounds alone, if not on moral and charitable grounds.  Who could not be moved with compassion at Dr. Amina Alio’s concluding remark, “When fathers are involved, children thrive in school and in their development.  So, it should be no surprise that when fathers are present in the lives of pregnant mothers, babies fare much better.”
  3. Fulfill your destiny:  Men may suppress it, but they can get really torn up inside by feelings of inadequacy, failure, purposelessness, aimlessness, and loneliness.  That’s why three times more men than women commit suicide.  A study by University of British Columbia researchers has shown that the male desire to be strong and protect the family can be a key to preventing depression that can lead to suicide.  Science Daily said, “The study suggests that men can best counter suicidal thoughts by connecting with others namely intimate partners and family – to regain some stability and to secure emotional support from others.”
        It was as if men were finding fulfillment in their traditional masculine ideals: “Here, men’s strong sense of masculine roles and responsibility as a provider and protector enables men to hold on while seeking support to regain some self-control,” the article said.  But when they tried to be the stoic warrior and hide their feelings, failing to reach out to other men for support, it could have bad effects, like leading to alcohol and other forms of escapism.  The psychologists recognized “spirituality” as an ingredient: “Support from friends and connecting to other things including spirituality is often the conduit to men seeking professional help to overcome the suicidal thoughts that can accompany severe depression.”  Theists might disagree on the sequence of causes, effects, definitions and treatment options listed, but no attempt was made in the article to explain the evolution of responsibility, masculinity, or spirituality.
  4. Be involved with your kids:  A strong but gentle dad of African-American descent, smiling as he carries his daughter on his back, adorns an article on PhysOrg titled, “Even if they are absent from the home, men can learn to become better fathers.”  The University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration is making the point that social workers need to wake up to the fact that fathers are important.  For too long, their focus has been on the needs of mothers.  Much of the crisis in the black community, though, stems from absentee fathers – young men becoming dads before they are ready, boys in fatherless homes growing up without male role models, poverty and crime, and single moms having bad attitudes about their children’s fathers.
        The study listed a number of remedies, like: “Female social workers should not immediately negatively judge men’s capacity to be fathers and should encourage single mothers to involve their children’s fathers.”  That was mentioned as if it must be a common response; perhaps social workers are a big part of the problem.  In addition to the stating the obvious idea that fathers should be encouraged to take more of an active role in their children’s lives, a study leader said, “We must provide opportunities for these young men to see and embrace healthy notions of masculinity and fatherhood.”
All the stories above speak of fatherhood as a healthy thing.  The last one spoke of “healthy notions of masculinity and fatherhood” as if those notions are intuitively obvious.  Perhaps they are, or should be, as innate parts of the male constitution.  The origins of those notions, however, and what they entail, will have radically different explanations depending on whether one is a creationist or an evolutionist – and so will the proposed societal remedies when men fail to live up to the healthy notions of masculinity and fatherhood.
We need social workers and psychologists to solve fatherless families like we need ACORN to clean up street prostitution.  If you want to get really angry, read this history of the welfare state and backfiring liberal policy toward inner-city blacks in City Journal by Kay S. Hymowitz, “The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies.”  Inner-city blacks, 70% of whom grow up in fatherless homes, have been the victims of decades of lies and counterproductive social policies perpetrated by leftists in academia, feminists and social liberals who attributed inner city problems to the wrong causes.  For some of them to be coming around now and saying, “Oh, we think that fatherhood is a good thing” is like a pimp telling his girls that virginity and motherhood are nice.
    Why is there this unspoken presumption in these articles that the solution to societal ills resides in academia and among social workers?  Good grief; where are the preachers?  Are there no churches that know how to open up and explain the Operations Manual provided by the Manufacturer?  There are many good churches in the inner city (the ones that have not been swallowed up by liberals and neo-communists).  That is what the black families need.  Get the young black absentee dads into church to hear the Word of God from a strong, masculine, black preacher that commands respect; get them saved, and you will see lives changed.  Lives changed will produce healed families and healed communities, and healed cities without the “help” of government, psychologists, social workers and academics; why?  Because their God is strong, and has the power to heal.
    There’s nothing more admirable than a strong, virtuous, masculine black father loving his kids and teaching them to be good citizens.  At CEH we applaud all those who buck the trend of their culture and take their roles seriously – especially those who try to make a difference and reverse the awful toll that liberalism has taken on the African-American family for 40 years.  Of course there is nothing innate in any minority group that makes them prone to this kind of problem.  It is the policies that certain self-appointed leaders bring, saying, “We just want to help you.”  You don’t need their help.  You need a right relationship with your Maker.  You need to follow the directions in the Operations Manual he gave you, and you need to stand up like a man and take responsibility for the role he created you to fulfill.  Guess what: things work when you follow the directions.  (Guys, when will we ever learn that?)  Stop listening to the “help” of those who don’t follow the directions.  Stop voting for them.  Take away their power, and tell them to skedaddle out of town.
    The evolutionary tale robs men of their dignity.  It turns guys into sperm donors with attitude.  Darwinists try to make us like glorified elk or bighorn sheep knocking heads with each other (well, there is the Rams football team).  They make us “merely” hunters and gatherers that evolved from apes, cavemen with nothing more to do than evolve, eat, fight, mate, and die.  No wonder men taught that way act that way.  But neither should men and women deny their multi-faceted natures.  The key is to become integrated persons, fulfilling the roles we were given by our Creator.  Consider a couple of things: (1) Embrace your created physical nature (not the sin part).  We are creatures.  You are not a god; you are not becoming a god; you will never be a god.  We share a lot with the other creatures God made.  That’s OK; that’s good.  National Geographic has a photo gallery for Father’s Day of “Best Animal Dads” showing all the funny, cute, and amazing things that male animals do for their young.  Think of what an Emperor Penguin goes through.  Cool.  But we are not merely animals – we have a spiritual, intellectual nature that is unique.  If your sin is forgiven, you can share in the divine nature through Christ and be one with him.  No other animal can do that.  We still have to eat, carry out our bodily functions, have sex, work, and do all the physical things required to live on a planet with the animals, but we have a destiny beyond this world, too.  The physical part underwent a curse.  It isn’t the Garden of Eden any more, but it’s still quite good.  If something is clean and God made it, and not forbidden, God gave it to us to enjoy (I Timothy 4:1-8).  Just enjoy it in moderation and don’t make anything an idol.
    (2) Exercise your unique spiritual nature.  Become a hunter and gatherer for Truth.  It’s the beyond-animalness that gives joy and depth to our lives.  Integrity, responsibility, leadership, hard work, perseverance, virtue – these are manly values you can exhibit and teach to your children.  Ideas, missions accomplished, character qualities – not possessions – are things your family members and colleagues will appreciate most about you.  They are also the things that will give you direction and purpose, and steer you away from depression.  Your work has dignity because everything you do is part of a witness of God’s work in the world.  Most of all, your personal walk with your Creator will keep you one foot in eternity till it’s time to leave your bodily tent behind.
    Evolutionists mock all this, of course, which is the main thing they know how to do, but let’s turn the tables a bit, and ask them about this fatherhood business.  If you are a Darwinist, you presumably had parents, unless you were born in a test tube and raised by robots or wolves or in an orphanage – regardless of what happened in your case, are you either glad you had parents, or did you wish you had good parents?  Are you attempting to be a good parent, or would you like to become one?  Why do you feel that way?  Is it because of some evolutionary pressure that happened among a hominid population a million years ago that turned out good for the offspring then, and continues today by some kind of genetic inertia?  Are you under any obligation to follow that pressure now?  Why not do your own thing?  Should the government promote healthy families in the inner cities, or do you care?  Why do you care?  You should ask these questions.  What is that tug in your soul to care about things, even about evolutionism or creationism?  Where did it come from?  Did caring evolve?  How would you ever know?  Why are you even thinking about the question right now?  What is thinking?  What is a thought?  Is it made of molecules?  Was thinking inherent in the big bang?  You’re ascribing a lot of fatherhood to an explosion right now.  One might say you’re making it kind of a god.  Why not choose a god that is purposeful, wise and caring, instead of one that is pointless and dumb?
Next headline on:  Human BodyDarwin and EvolutionBible and Theology
Fossils Without Evolution     06/18/2010    
June 18, 2010 — New fossils continue to turn up around the world.  Many of them have an amazing characteristic in common: they look almost exactly like their living counterparts, despite being millions of years old, according to the evolutionary timescale.  It’s interesting sometimes to hear how the evolutionists explain the remarkable lack of evolution in all that time.
  1. Fig wasp: Don’t evolve a good thing:  Science Daily reported that the world’s oldest fig wasp fossil has been discovered on the Isle of Wight.  “The fossil wasp is almost identical to the modern species, proving that this tiny but specialized insect has remained virtually unchanged for over 34 million years.”  That’s nearly double the previous record for this species (20 million years), and almost six times the amount of time apes are said to have come down from the trees and evolved into Platos, Mozarts and oil executives.  Dr. Steve Compton of London’s Natural History Museum stated an evolutionary theory rescue device called “give the mystery a name” when he said, “Although we often think of the world as constantly changing, what this fossil gives us is an example of something remaining unchanged for tens of millions of years – something which in biology we call ‘stasis’.”  Science Daily tossed in a little humor on that point in its headline: “World’s Oldest Fig Wasp Fossil Proves That If It Works, Don’t Change It.”  But is that an evolutionary law of nature?  If monkeys worked, why did they change into humans, and why are there still monkeys?
  2. Amber alert:  Scientists at Oregon State look into amber and use them as crystal balls to see visions.  PhysOrg reported that the static images of dead insects and other animals become to them moving pictures of behaviors that tell evolutionary stories: “All kinds of behavior, ranging from the nurturing protection of a mother, mating and reproductive instincts, to the behavior of pathogenic microbes can be observed in extinct life that’s millions of years old, and was captured in oozing tree sap that later turned into the semi-precious stone amber.”  A captivating picture of a millipede clutching its newly hatched young at the moment it died accompanies the article.
        If hoping to find evidence of evolution in the article, though, the reader will be disappointed.  “The range of evidence, the researchers said, suggests a different view of evolution – that most behavior appears to be retained, and when it doesn’t serve the long-term survival of the species, extinction occurs.”  The article mentions a 100-million-year old fossil of a gecko “the same sophisticated method of toe adhesion that allows it to walk easily on vertical and even inverted surfaces - a capability that served it well when it was skittering away from dinosaurs then, or is skipping through the jungles of Southeast Asia today.”  But how did the traits and behaviors arise in the first place?  Gecko toe adhesion is a very complex trait (12/06/2006).
        Even speaking of humans, the authors of Fossil Behavior Compendium (George Poinar and Arthur Boucot), said “from what we know of basic human behaviors, it is clear there has been no significant change since the beginnings of recorded history.”  Based on analysis of Neanderthal skull injuries, sexual behaviors, aggression, violence against members of their own species appear to be “hard-wired,” they claim (though it would seem drawing such inferences from skull marks is profoundly subjective).
        In short, if there were examples of fossils in their book that do show evolutionary change, they were not mentioned in the article.  It appears the authors did not mention them because they could not.  Poinar said, “Species may evolve physically, but behavioral changes are much less obvious and many species will go extinct because they cannot change the way they act.”  Yet it is not clear from this statement why natural selection should be impotent to act on behavior, if it is presumed to be so powerful as to produce an elephant or a giraffe from a small Cretaceous mammal in a few tens of millions of years.  Presumably, natural selection outfitted these animals with the behaviors needed to operate their bodies in their new habitats, so why could it not also modify behaviors of animals when environments change, to prevent extinction?  This seems to be a very subjective application of evolutionary theory after the fact to explain opposite things.  Extinction, furthermore, is not evolution.  It may clear the playing field of misfits, but surely it does not add any genetic information for innovation.
  3. Pelican evolution?  Not here.  The earliest known pelican fossil, said to be 30 million years old, has been found in France, reported the BBC News.  “What has surprised them most about this ancient pelican is that it is almost identical to modern species.”  Other than slightly different proportions, there is nothing primitive about it.  “The discovery has surprised the researchers, because it reveals just how little pelicans have evolved over huge expanses of time.”  The article began to sound like a broken record about the lack of evolution: “That means that pelicans and their huge beaks have survived unchanged since the Oligocene epoch.”  The discoverer said, ”It is so similar to modern pelicans, despite its 30 million years.
        Can evolutionists explain why there was no change in all that time?  “That suggests that pelicans quickly evolved their huge beaks and have maintained them almost unchanged since because they are optimal for fish feeding.”  Another possibility: “However, it could also be that the giant beak has not evolved in the past 30 million years because of constraints imposed by flying.”  But that idea seems a stretch.  It does not seem to have affected other birds, that grew large beaks, small beaks, large wings, small wings, in all kinds of different habitats.
        Dr. Antoine Louchart, the discoverer, offered another explanation for the missing evolution.  He suggested that while the skeleton shows stasis, “perhaps changes in other characterisics [sic] occurred, such as plumage or behaviour” – though, conveniently, none of those are open to observation or testing.  Louchart also made the odd claim that this is a rare example of an animal showing little or no change in the fossil record.  “The only other good examples, says Dr Louchart, are bats, which have a body shape that appears to have survived unaltered for around 50 million years.”  Perhaps he had a memory lapse; horseshoe crabs are still living virtually unchanged after an alleged 500 million years (06/21/2002) as are other members from the Cambrian explosion and many “living fossils.”  Also, there was no mention of a bat ancestor or a pelican ancestor in the article.  Just as the first bat fossil was 100% bat, if this was the earliest pelican ever found, it was already 100% pelican.
    Update 06/22/2010: Jeff Hecht reported on this fossil in New Scientist that it poses an “evolutionary puzzle.”  He said it “raises interesting questions over why evolution has left the birds so little changed over such a long period.”  Any hopes for solving this puzzle, however, evaporated within the article.  After mentioning only one suggestion, Hecht said, “Louchart is not convinced that either of these hypotheses offers a complete explanation; he thinks something else may be involved but does not know what that might be.”  No other possibilities were even mentioned.  In fact, the puzzle grew deeper: “The find not only pushes back the origins of pelicans, but of related birds too.
  4. Mammal evolution?  Gnaw.  Large gnawing marks were found on dinosaur bones, reported PhysOrg.  Experts identify the bite marks from the alleged 75-million-year-old late Cretaceous bones: “They think they were most likely made by multituberculates, an extinct order of archaic mammals that resemble rodents and had paired upper and lower incisors.”  Even though the species are extinct, Nicholas Longrich of Yale noticed something about them that made him pay attention: “The marks stood out for me because I remember seeing the gnaw marks on the antlers of a deer my father brought home when I was young.”  Extinct or not, rodent tooth marks have not changed that much in 75 million years.
        The article hastily added an evolutionary spin to make it appear that at least something has evolved in all that time: “But he points out that the Late Cretaceous creatures that chewed on these bones were not nearly as adept at gnawing as today’s rodents, which developed that ability long after dinosaurs went extinct.”  It’s not clear how that claim could be tested.  They must have been good enough to gnaw on the rib bone of a large dinosaur.  That’s pretty adept.  How much more adept did Longrich expect them to become?
  5. A hippo’s tale  There was an article in PNAS trying to figure out where hippos, whales and other mammals relate to each other.1  Their concern was to try to reduce the long (40 million year) “ghost lineage” between the earliest whale and the earliest hippopotamus, assuming they had a common ancestor.  Their hypothesis reduces this ghost lineage down by a third.  With more finagling they felt they could reduce it further.  Perhaps that represents progress, but it still means there is at least a 15 million year gap with no evidence for an evolutionary relationship.  Here’s what they said next.  The reader can decide if the outlook is promising:
    Different hypotheses, reflecting the poorly understood basal relationships of Cetartiodactyla, have been proposed for the origin of anthracotheriids.  Eocene Asian Helohyidae and Diacodexeidae were suggested as stem groups.  However, recent phylogenetic analysis did not support close relationships between those taxa and anthracotheriids (e.g., refs. 10, 15, 22, and 35).  Alternative sister taxa to the Hippopotamoidea were recently suggested, notably archaeocetes, cebochoerids, or larger clades including cebochoerids, raoellids, cetaceans, and hippopotamids (e.g., ref.  15).  The Raoellidae (Eocene, Asia) have also been suggested to be related to anthracotheriids, but to our knowledge, no formal phylogenetic analysis supported this hypothesis or included a suitable taxa sample to test this relationship.  Additional confusion was recently introduced with results supporting a polyphyletic Anthracotheriidae, markedly at odds with the paleontological literature.  Our results offer another hypothesis for hippopotamoid origins by suggesting close affinities with the middle Eocene European Choeropotamus (Choeropotamidae) based on molar and premolar morphology (Fig. 3).  This hypothesis is congruent with older hypotheses (e.g., ref. 69), but disagrees with most recent ones (43, 70, 71).  Choeropotamidae occur far back into the earliest Eocene of Europe, ~54 Ma (Cuisitherium), and are thus roughly contemporary with the first archaeocete known in the Indian subcontinent deposits.  This hypothesis needs to be further investigated with review of additional evidence, notably the craniomandibular morphology.  If confirmed, the basal history of the Hippopotamoidea would be filled in, reaching probably very close in time to the hippopotamid–cetacean last common ancestor.
    The authors did not explain how all these animals might have developed their complex traits, behaviors and body types.  Basically, to get these animals related by evolution somehow, they just compared teeth between 26 species.  There is nothing in the outward appearance of a hippopotamus and a whale that would suggest to a neutral observer a shared ancestry between them; is a “ghost lineage” a scientific concept or an artifact of imagination?
  6. Modern teeth 1 million years BC:  Another paper in PNAS demonstrates that our ancestors a million years ago, if they lived that long ago, had tooth development just like ours.2  At a cave in Spain, scientists tested the teeth of a juvenile “hominin” and found that “at least one European hominin species had a fully modern pattern of dental development with a clear slowdown in the development of the molar field regarding the anterior dental field.”  This indicates that the youth had a prolonged childhood, just like modern children have.  That hasn’t changed in a million years, they say, even well before Cro-Magnon man supposedly overtook the Neanderthals in Europe: “If this hypothesis is true, it implies that the appearance in Homo of this important developmental biological feature and an associated increase in brain size preceded the development of the neocortical areas leading to the cognitive capabilities that are thought to be exclusive to Homo sapiens.”
        What does this finding do to other ideas about human evolution?  “These results push back the date of the earliest appearance of a prolonged childhood in hominins to more than 600 kya than previously thought,” they said in their conclusion.  “Therefore, the appearance of a prolonged childhood and an associated increase in brain size preceded the development of the neocortical areas leading to cognitive capabilities, such as language, which are thought to be exclusive to H. sapiens.”  But if people had larger brains and the propensity for language and culture farther back in time, it puts more stress on the evolutionary conundrum of why culture and civilization did not originate sooner.  Recorded history with written language begins in Sumer about 3500 BCE – and with it cities, agriculture, shipping, and long-distance trade.  What was going on for the other 994,500 years?
Archaeology is a subset of paleontology that deals with human cultural remains.  A few articles about that appeared recently, and they also showed that we humans have not changed much.  PhysOrg reported a new set of cave paintings in Romania alleged to be up to 35,000 years old that show black-paint drawings of a horse, bear, buffalo and rhinoceros – the human propensity for representational art.
    Several science news sites, such as National Geographic, reported the discovery of the world’s oldest leather shoe found in a cave in Armenia – stunningly preserved with laces and all.  The shoe was created about the time (3500 BCE) that cuneiform writing was being invented in Sumeria.  One shoe designer remarked, “It is astonishing how much this shoe resembles a modern shoe!”  The desire to keep feet away from thorns by using human ingenuity is something we can understand immediately by looking at the picture; we can even sense the maker’s appreciation for style as well as function.
    Moving to Iron Age times (1000-900 BCE), scientists in Israel found evidence at Tell Rehov in the Jordan Valley that Israelites were using some of the finest honeybees for their apiculture (honey farming) by importing hives from Anitolia instead of using the local Syrian species, finding “imported bees superior to the local bees in terms of their milder temper and improved honey yield.”  Their paper, published in PNAS3, was summarized by Live Science.  Add some cows from Bashan and you have the Biblical land of milk and honey.
1.  Orliac et al, “Early Miocene hippopotamids (Cetartiodactyla) constrain the phylogenetic and spatiotemporal settings of hippopotamid origin,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print June 14, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1001373107.
2.  de Castro et al, “New immature hominin fossil from European Lower Pleistocene shows the earliest evidence of a modern human dental development pattern,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print June 14, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1006772107.
3.  Block et al, “Industrial apiculture in the Jordan valley during Biblical times with Anatolian honeybees,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print June 7, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1003265107.
The first realization that should sink deeply into the consciousness of readers is that evolution is not happening and has not happened by the one empirical measure available: the fossil record.  Ponder that.  Extinction, yes – but not evolution.  Fossils show that we live in an impoverished world compared to the biodiversity that once was.  Evolutionists attempt to parcel out fossils into their geological scheme to make it appear that there has been progressive change, but the examples above, and many others we have reported over the decade, show an abrupt appearance of complex life, extinction and stasis – the absence of evolution (03/27/2003, 12/26/2006, 07/14/2007, 03/26/2009, more).
    Michael Oard published an article in the recent Creation Magazine (Vol 32, No. 3, 2010, pp. 14-15) that asked, “Are fossils ever found in the wrong place?”  His answer is, yes, “all the time.”  Evolutionists have various explanatory tricks to brush away the evidence.  We saw one above with the use of the word “stasis” – using it like a magic wand.  The Darwin Magician holds up the Stasis Wand and waves it over the fig wasp, and says, “And you, little fig wasp, you shall have the magical power to withstand the all-encompassing force of Natural Selection!  I declare thee exempt from its power!”  The fig wasp goes into a hypnotic trance, and like Rip Van Winkle, enters STASIS for 34 million years, while all the world around them swirls in its fluid evolutionary continuum of change.  If the magic show doesn’t impress you, maybe the comedy act will: “World’s Oldest Fig Wasp Fossil Proves That If It Works, Don’t Change It” (see Humor in the Baloney Detector).  How did you like their ghost story?  The Darwinists invoke “ghost lineages” to fill in gaps in their story.  Hey, Dawkins, what were you saying about people who believe in fairies, hobgoblins, and ghosts?  Talk to your buddies in the Darwin Party.
    Oard describes other tricks of the Darwin trade: inventing terms like “living fossils” and “Lazarus taxa” (there’s a plagiarism from the Bible; for an example of the term in use by evolutionists, see 09/04/2009).  These terms refer to species thought to be extinct for 60, 100, 200, 300, million years or more – leaving no trace in the record – suddenly to rise from the dead and be found alive on some remote part of the earth (to see how they try to explain these away, see 12/04/2007).  Out-of-order fossils cause their lineages to get pushed upward (old to young) and downward (young to old, e.g. 03/26/2009).  We see this happening over and over again, all the time.  Conclusion: the geologic column, with its representative fossils showing an evolutionary history, is a myth: “the fact is that evolution is assumed and then used to explain the fossils,” Oard said.  “So, when fossils are found in odd places and not known before, the evolutionists just change their story about evolution.”  For another explanation on how evolutionists morph their stories when the data don’t fit, read Paul Nelson’s “Seeing Ghosts in the Bushes” articles on Evolution News & Views, Part 1 and Part 2, where he goes into more detail about evolutionists and their “ghost lineages.”   We must be wise to their tricks.  That is the first realization that should sink deeply into our consciousness.
    The second realization follows logically from the first.  All those millions of years of stasis evaporate upon logical reflection.  Think about it.  Here’s a fig wasp fossil in the UK the Darwinists tell us is 34 million years old.  Here’s a fig wasp fossil in the Dominican Republic they say is 20 million years old.  Here is a living fig wasp.  They all look identical.  Question: if we already know the Darwinists are tricksters, why should we trust them with their millions-of-years talk?  On the one hand, they tell us evolution is so powerful, so pervasive that it can turn a dog-size mammal into a sperm whale in six million years.  Is it credible that these wasps really did nothing for many times that amount of time?  Furthermore, are we to believe that the Wollemi pine lived throughout 150 million years since dinosaurs walked the earth, leaving not a single trace in the fossil record, till it was discovered in 1995?  Similar questions could be asked about the many other “living fossils” that should be a huge embarrassment to the Darwinists.
    Why not take the simpler, more parsimonious explanation?  Cut out the needless millions of years, which are not observable anyway, and recognize that probably not very much time has passed between those fossils.  “But the dating methods prove it!” someone screams.  No, they don’t.  Evolutionists pick and choose the dating methods they like – the ones that give them the deep time they need.  They ignore many other dating methods that set severe upper limits on the fossils and strata.  Deep time was invented as a philosophical choice before the evidence spoke (07/25/2008).  It was a choice intended to free geology from dependence on the Bible (and with the secular geologists came the Darwinian biologists).  Deep time has become the Darwin Party’s deep pockets.  Like a government slush fund, it has become an endless source of explanatory resources from which they borrow, with no responsibility or accountability.  Like a dusty museum archive, it is a place to stash the stasis out of sight of the public.  The evolution is just out there, in the millions-of-years somewhere, where we don’t have to show it.  Meanwhile, the schoolchildren are shown the marbled halls and multimedia displays honoring Darwin – not the ugly truth of stasis, stasis, stasis.
    This is why Baloney Detecting is so vital in our Darwin-drunk age.  The reporters are not doing critical analysis.  If you learn to read science news articles carefully – if you are up to their tricks – if you sieve out the actual data, then you can see what it actually indicates.  Then you ask the right questions: where is the evolution?  Where is the actual empirical evidence of slow, gradual progress from bacteria to man?  Where is the millions of years?  When all you actually see is stasis, and humorous evolutionary dances around the data to keep you believing in the Darwin regime, while the Darwin damage control people are sneaking in behind the facades, then you understand.  It’s not science; it’s an act.  And it’s high time somebody clean up this act.
Next headline on:  FossilsTerrestrial ZoologyDinosaursBirdsMammalsEarly ManBible Times or Theology
  Have you heard that scientists can detect climate patterns in sediments based on long-term orbital patterns the earth goes through, called Milankovitch cycles?  Last year, a report said those cycles are indistinguishable from randomness.  See the 06/02/2009 entry.

How Well Do We Know What Stuff Is Made Of?     06/17/2010    
June 17, 2010 — When we think of the “hard sciences,” physics usually tops the list.  A closer look at what physicists think the universe is made of, though, hardly makes the science look hard.  Look at this headline on PhysOrg, for instance: “Study finds there may be multiple ‘God particles’”.  The title refers, of course, to the famed Higgs Boson, not to some supernatural entity.  The Large Hadron Collider was hoping to find evidence of this particle that Nobel laureate Leon Lederman called the “God particle” because, he said, its discovery could help unify our understanding of the universe and “know the mind of God.”  But now, according to Fermilab scientists, there might be five versions of the Higgs boson (which hasn’t been discovered yet).
    Frank Close wrote a book review in Nature this week on this subject.1  The book is Massive: The Hunt for the God Particle by Ian Sample.  He points out that particle physicists hate the label “god particle” that the media continue to give it, and notes that “many argue that it should not be called the Higgs boson because the concept has a longer history.”  It turns out there is as much sociology, theory and nomenclature at work as physics in the conception of what lies at the foundations of matter.  A sample:

Whereas the W and Z bosons that carry the weak force make use of this mechanism, the photon that carries the electromagnetic force does not; it remains massless.  Why this happens remains unanswered....
    Behind all this theory lies the work of another British physicist, Jeffrey Goldstone.  In his investigation of spontaneous symmetry breaking in 1961, Goldstone identified two bosons that played a part: one was massive, the other massless.  Both differed from the photon or W boson in that they lacked the intrinsic quantum property of spin.  Empirical evidence indicated that the massless Goldstone boson does not exist, flagging up a theoretical quandary that received much attention at the time from those who hoped to use the theory as a basis for uniting the weak and electromagnetic interactions.  The mechanism discovered by the three groups of physicists in 1964 explained how Goldstone’s massless boson could disappear, in the process giving a mass to the W boson that transmits the weak force.  It thus solved two problems for the price of one, and paved the way for the modern theory of the ‘electroweak’ force.
    Sample recognizes this work but overlooks its massive counterpart, which is where the excitement lies today.  The irony is that it also went largely ignored in 1964.  Brout and Englert made no mention of it in their paper, although they were aware of its manifestation in condensed-matter physics.  Guralnik, Hagen and Kibble suppressed it in their analysis, which was simplified to focus on the removal of its massless companion.  Higgs alone pursued it.  What is being called Higgs’s boson is, in effect, Goldstone’s massive boson.  Although at least six physicists can lay claim to this particular mechanism for generating mass, only Higgs realized the importance of the massive boson in testing the theory.
An understanding of the terms is not as important as a perception that various competing teams appeared to be playing with shadows in the dark, and making up concepts as they went along.  Can a particle really be a carrier of a force?  Can mechanisms generate mass just because a theory needs it?  Where is the mass coming from?  As useful as the terms and nomenclature become to theory, does nature owe any obligation to conform to human conceptions?  Did nature suddenly change properties this year when one Higgs boson became five?
    The intuitive answer to such questions is that of course nature didn’t change: we did.  Our scientific understanding of nature changed.  But then can we assume it is improving?  Is it evolving?  Is our understanding continuously changing, and if so, is there any point at which we can say we understand something with a sufficient degree of certainty?  At what point do we jettison things textbooks have been teaching for decades?  Can we assume we have the story right now?  What unforeseen discoveries in the next few years will have us regretting that what we are learning in 2010 is all wrong?
    These are serious questions, underscored by another example in New Scientist this week, “Anti-neutrino’s odd behaviour points to new physics,” as if all we need right now is a new physics (the hard science).  Reporter Anil Ananthaswamy wrote, “The astounding ability of these subatomic particles to morph from one type to another may have created another crack in our understanding of nature.”  This crack, he said, “cannot be explained by standard model physics.”  Granted, neutrino physics experiments are difficult, but a Fermilab test of theory produced unexpected results.  Jenny Thomas of University College London put a happy face on it: “If the effect is real, then there is some physics that is not expected.  Then there is something new that we don’t understand, and that’s fantastic.
1.  Frank Close, “How the boson got Higgs’s name,” Nature 465, pp. 873–874, 17 June 2010, doi:10.1038/465873a.
Rejoicing in one’s ignorance may be an exuberant form of humility, but it is not the kind of progress one expects from multi-million-dollar investments in science.  Remember this next time you watch some TV program boasting about how scientists are on the verge of coming up with a “theory of everything.”  For an excellent background on the Standard Model and what it does and does not explain, read David Berlinski’s penetrating essay, “The State of the Matter” (The Deniable Darwin and Other Essays, Discovery Institute, 2009.)  Also recommended are the lectures on scientific reduction (23-24) in Jeffrey Kasser’s Teaching Company series on Philosophy of Science, which ask what value is being added to explanation when things get reduced to fundamental physics.  In another Teaching Company series, Steven L. Goldman (Lehigh U) in Science in the 20th Century –: A Social-Intellectual Survey provides a colorful look at the personalities and milestones involved in quantum mechanics, quantum electrodynamics and quantum chromodynamics and how our views of “reality” changed dramatically over the last 100 years.  In another Teaching Company series, Science Wars, he asked what we mean by ‘reality,” whether science can approach it, and what confidence we can have that our concepts of reality will remain intact a century from now given that they have changed drastically and repeatedly over the past few centuries.
    The reader should note that whether theories work is a separate question from whether they are true.  The Egyptians built the pyramids with remarkable precision while believing astrology.  We build cell phones and use GPS and lasers and a host of wondrous devices using quantum theory without a clue why nature behaves in the bizarre ways described by quantum mechanics.  How can something be a wave and a particle?  How can a photon pass through two slits at once?  How can two particles seem to interact instantaneously at a distance?  How can an observer play a role in the outcome of a quantum event?  We have no idea.  One mark of a good scientist is humility.
Next headline on:  PhysicsCosmology
An Ugly Head Rises in Lenin’s Land     06/16/2010    
June 16, 2010 — According to Andy Coghlan, reporter for New Scientist, the spectre of an “ugly head” is rising in Russia.  What is it?  It’s not atheism, because Coghlan admits that Russia once made that the state religion.  It’s not communism, because Coghlan admits “Godless communism” once prevailed in the Soviet Union.  No, it is an ugly head Coghlan believes Russian dissidents, scientists and liberals must band together to fight before it invades the schools of the vast country.
    What is it, you ask?  Creationism.  “Yes, creationism has now reared its ugly and evolving head in Russia, the heart of the ‘Godless communism’ that prevailed in the Soviet Union,” Andy Coghlan wrote.  In a strange twist of fate, American creationists have taken on the role of the Comintern and are propagandizing Russian schools with the subversive doctrine that “Darwin’s theory remains a theory... This means it should be taught to children as one of several theories, but children should know of other theories too.”
    How could this ever happen in a land that once imprisoned pastors and closed churches, turning them into museums of atheism?  Coghlan referenced “a superb blog by Michael Zimmerman in the Huffington Post” as a source.  (Zimmerman, head of the “Clergy Letter Project,” seeks to get American pastors to sign a statement that Darwinism is not such a bad idea.)  Coghlan also referenced the Dover, Pennsylvania court case as “momentous” in combatting American attempts to allow creationism and intelligent design to get a foothold in schools.
    The irony rises to a fever pitch at the end of the article.  Coghlan quotes a Russian dissident who conflates fighting alternatives to Darwinism with fighting communist propaganda: “It’s a dangerous idea and we will do all we can to stop it.  We overcame communism as the state ideology and certain forces want to replace it with Orthodox Christianity.”  It appears nobody – not even the Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Church whom Coghlan quoted – was even suggesting making the Russian Orthodox Church a state ideology; even so, it begs the question how teaching creationism in science classes would lead to that, if such a suggestion were even on the table.  But visions of moral equivalency like booting Darwin out of science class, sending biology teachers to Siberia, or turning science centers into museums of Russian Orthodoxy are surely absurd.  Yet Coghlan ended with this shocker:
With pressure from evangelicals for the US to abandon the division between church and state insisted upon by Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers, and the growing influence of the Orthodox church within Russia, we could see an unlikely alliance forged between former enemies.  Jefferson and Lenin would be spinning in their tombs.
For some clarity on what Jefferson meant by the oft-quoted “wall of separation between church and state” (not a part of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or Bill of Rights, but part of a letter he wrote to Baptists worried about the Federal governments power to infringe on their rights), readers are encouraged to see this explanation on Wallbuilders.org that shows it has been turned to mean the exact opposite of what Jefferson meant and believed.
Is there any reader not left breathless with disbelief at such a statement like what Coghlan just said?  Any reporter who can put Lenin and Jefferson in the same sentence as allies against creationists has just reached a new low, both in historical ineptitude and calumny.  This guy needs a serious remedial education.  We suggest some Teaching Company courses in the Rise of Soviet Communism and Utopia and Terror in the 20th Century for starters, and some good books on the horrors perpetrated by the communist dictators.  Remember the unforgettable 11/30/2005 entry?  How on earth can one compare such polar opposites as Jefferson, lover of liberty, with a murderous totalitarian dictator like Lenin, whose first acts were to shut down freedom of the press, freedom of education, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, institute one-party rule, and start murdering everyone who opposed him?  We need a category not just for Dumb Ideas, but for Evil Ideas.
    If you are a Darwinist reading this, welcome.  See?  This is part of the open marketplace of ideas.  (Notice: This is part of the open marketplace that American students don’t get.)  One thing you can be assured of is that creationists, as much as you may despise their beliefs, are not bad people.  Take any one of the famous ones: Henry Morris (see Scientist of the Month) or Duane Gish, say; even pro-Darwin historians will be among the first to state openly that they are (or were, in the case of Henry) nice, pleasant people (as well as qualified and informed scientists).  They didn’t go around ordering purges of their enemies (with real guns and real bullets) and sending people to Siberia, OK?  The same is true of all the leaders of the Intelligent Design movement.  You would be hard put to find a more pleasant group of people to share a stage or a lunch with.  Even Michael Ruse knows that.  Take Paul Nelson to lunch sometime as a scientific experiment and you’ll see.  If you had a chance to live in a country ruled by creationists or by communist dictators of the likes of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung, Castro or the rest of those murderous incarnations of evil, you can be sure that 100 times out of 100, you would flee the Iron Curtain at every chance for the freedom that coincides with those who embrace ID or creation or both.
    Please notice also that no mainline creationist or ID organization has ever advocating banning Darwin.  In fact, ICR and some ID organizations have stated clearly that they want to teach “more Darwin” than the Darwinists allow the schools to teach.  One reason is to include both the strengths and weaknesses of the theory, but another is the reality that students cannot understand the 20th century without an understanding of Darwinism.  The only dogmatists who want to teach one side are the DODOs (Darwin-only, Darwin-only).  It’s the Darwin-olators that would have Jefferson spinning in his grave.  As for Lenin, well; most people who know their history would be grinning with satisfaction to see the RPMs turned up on his tomb.
Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionIntelligent DesignEducationPolitics and EthicsBible and Theology
Butterfly Wing Shimmer Done With 3-D Crystals     06/15/2010    
June 15, 2010 — Those shimmering flashes of light seen on butterfly wings are not done with pigments.  They’re done with tiny, geometric crystals called gyroids stacked in 3-D patterns, scientists have found.  They are so effective at concentrating color, the scientists want to imitate the trick.
    “A precise characterization of color-producing biological nanostructures is critical to understanding their optical function and development,” the authors of the paper in PNAS said.1  “Structural and developmental knowledge of biophotonic materials could also be used in the design and manufacture of biomimetic devices that exploit similar physical mechanisms of color production.”  Prior studies of the photonic crystals in butterfly wings did not reveal the 3-D nature of the structures.  By studying five tropical butterfly species with small angle X-ray scattering, they found that the crystals begin as double gyroid precursors “as a route to the optically more efficient single gyroid nanostructures.”  The paper has been summarized by Live Science and PhysOrg.
    Lead author Vinodkumar Saranathan [Yale U] told Live Science that these intricate structures “evolved over millions of years of selection for optimal function.”  Did the original paper in PNAS elaborate on how that might have happened?  Here are the only mentions of evolution in the paper:
By initially developing the thermodynamically favored double gyroid nanostructure, and then transforming it into the optically more efficient single gyroid photonic crystal, these butterflies have evolved to use biological and physical mechanisms that anticipate contemporary approaches to the engineering and manufacture of photonic materials.....
    Butterflies have apparently evolved a diversity of photonic nanostructures by using membrane energetics to arrive at different stable, self-assembled states.
It appears that Saranathan and his team made butterflies into engineers that used “evolution” as a tool with a purpose.
1.  Saranathan et al, “Structure, function, and self-assembly of single network gyroid (I4132) photonic crystals in butterfly wing scales,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print June 14, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0909616107.
It is painful to put Amazing and Dumb awards together, but as long as Darwinists insist on putting wonders of nature alongside the phrase “it evolved,” what more can one do?  The Darwin attack dogs are sure to call this “science bashing” again, but show us where the science is in a statement like “butterflies have evolved to use biological and physical mechanisms that anticipate contemporary approaches to the engineering and manufacture of photonic materials,” and we will certainly honor it here.  In the meantime, we would not wish to dishonor our engineers and manufacturers by attributing their work to happenstance.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyPhysicsBiomimeticsAmazing FactsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
The Limits of Scientific Speculation     06/14/2010    
June 14, 2010 — How far can a scientist speculate and get a respectful hearing, just because he or she is a scientist?  One case to examine is a story on PhysOrg, “The Chance for Life on Io” (see also Astrobio.net).  Jupiter’s innermost large moon Io might be considered the last place to look for life.  It is the most volcanically active place in the solar system.  Its surface varies between scalding hot lava lakes 1649°C and frozen sulfur dioxide snowfields at -130°F.  Beside that, the surface is bathed in Jupiter’s deadly radiation – and there is no liquid water.  Yet astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch at Washington State University speculates that there could be life there.
    In the article, Schulze-Makuch acknowledges that most other scientists generally dismiss Io as a habitat for life, but he thinks there might have been a time in its history when water ice was plentiful, and if ice was there, liquid water might have been there, too.  If liquid water was there, maybe life was there.  If life evolved, maybe some if it went underground and still survives below the surface.  He thinks that the possibility is enough to warrant a future mission to Io to look for signs of life.
    The comments after this article were interesting.  Readers got into questions of creation and evolution, atheism and religion.  One called it sheer speculation, but no one seemed to ask whether it was a scientific practice to engage in this kind of evidence-free speculation.
Some of the Darwiniac drive-by mudslingers who pass by this site call what happens here “science bashing.”  OK, please: where is the science in the above PhysOrg story?  If you will point it out, we will gladly respect it and honor it.  Why?  Because we love science here (e.g., 06/12/2010, 06/09/2010 and 650 more “Amazing Facts” entries).  But we deplore nonsense.  Is it OK to bash nonsense?  Would you Darwiniacs join with us in bashing nonsense?
    This astrobiologist has asked for willing suspension of disbelief by taking the most unlikely body in the solar system for finding life and telling us it might be under the surface.  OK, let’s play that game.  It might be under the sun, too.  After all, the sun has the building blocks of life: protons and electrons.  The sun is not a very likely place for life now, but early in its history it was cooler.  You never know, maybe life arose in a form we cannot even imagine – and maybe it persists today!  We shouldn’t rule that out.  NASA should send a probe to the sun to search for life under the sun.  (No, we won’t add the old joke about doing it at night.)
    That extreme example could be multiplied endlessly with milder examples throughout the solar system.  We could speculate endlessly and mindlessly about life on Mimas, or Ganymede, or Iapetus, Pluto, Venus, Miranda, Triton, whatever.  Lots of bodies have water ice.  Many of them might have liquid water deep down under the surface.  Why stop at the current astrobiology favorites of Mars, Titan and Europa?  As long as evidence isn’t required, speculate at will.  All that is necessary is (1) Be a “scientist” in the modern sense (i.e., have a degree, work at a university), which entails no obligation of being correct, and (2) have the Darwinians on your side.  Then you are guaranteed to have a lapdog press to propagandize your views without critical analysis, and an army of Darwin Dobermans who will viciously attack anyone who calls your nonsense speculations “nonsense” as engaging in “science bashing.”  Most of our readers are astute enough to see what is going on.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemOrigin of LifeDumb Ideas
  An evaluation of evolution as an explanatory device: read the 06/03/2008 entry for some instruction in philosophy of scientific explanation.

Planets Seen Forming! (or Dust Spreading )     06/13/2010    
June 13, 2010 — Science headline writers were almost beside themselves with joy at the prospect of watching other planetary systems in the process of forming.  Science Daily nearly set a record with a large-print, bold, 22-word headline: “Zooming in on an Infant Solar System: For the First Time, Astronomers Have Observed Solar Systems in the Making in Great Detail.”  PhysOrg, which regurgitated the same press release from University of Arizona, headlined only the first 7 words.  A quick internet search showed this press release reverberating throughout the web, with little modification, usually accompanied by the same artwork.  What on other earths was going on?
    The press release was based on a paper by J. A. Eisner et al published in Astrophysical Journal, available online in an open-access PDF at Los Alamos National Laboratory.1  The title talks about spectra of hydrogen around certain stars – nothing about planets.  The paper itself only makes a brief, data-free, theory-laden statement about planets in the introduction: “Protoplanetary disks play an integral part in the formation of both stars and planets.  Disks provide a reservoir from which stars and planets accrete material, and a knowledge of the structure of inner regions of disks is needed to understand the star/disk interface as well as planet formation in disk ‘terrestrial’ regions.”  That was it.2  Wading through the hype about planets in the press release to get to the data, though, took a strong machete.  The claims were audacious from the first sentence.  Not only did the press release deliver planets; it outfitted them for life:

  • For the first time, astronomers have observed solar systems in the making in great detail.
  • A team led by University of Arizona astronomer Joshua Eisner has observed in unprecedented detail the processes giving rise to stars and planets in nascent solar systems.
  • The solar systems the astronomers chose for this study are still young, probably a few million years old.
  • “These disks will be around for a few million years more,” Eisner said.  “By that time, the first planets, gas giants similar to Jupiter and Saturn, may form, using up a lot of the disk material.”
  • More solid, rocky planets like the Earth, Venus or Mars, won’t be around until much later.
  • “We are going to see if we can make similar measurements of organic molecules and water in protoplanetary disks,” he said.  “Those would be the ones potentially giving rise to planets with the conditions to harbor life.
Surely claims of this magnitude were based on incredibly hard evidence.  Did Eisner and his colleagues actually see any planets?  Actually, no.  They saw dust and hydrogen.  They looked at 15 stars with dust disks around them, and measured things like mass, rotation, and magnetic fields.  They saw some of the dust getting sucked into the stars.  They saw some dust disks getting pushed back by magnetic field lines.  They saw violent process, like hydrogen flung out by magnetic field lines: “the gas is being funneled along the field lines arching out high above and below the disk’s plane,” Eisner said.  “The material then crashes into the star’s polar regions at high velocities.”  The press release explained what happens next: “In this inferno, which releases the energy of millions of Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs every second, some of the arching gas flow is ejected from the disk and spews out far into space as interstellar wind.”  Notice that this environment forms the boundary conditions for the story.
Question: where are the planets?
Answer: in Eisner’s imagination.
“‘But the building blocks for those could be forming now,’” he said, which is why this research is important for our understanding of how solar systems form, including those with potentially habitable planets like Earth.”
    Summing it up, here’s the score.  Observations of planets: zero.  (This includes habitable planets.)
    Uh, what was that headline again?  “Zooming in on an Infant Solar System: For the First Time, Astronomers Have Observed Solar Systems in the Making in Great Detail.
    Incidentally, their work was funded by a Major Research Instrumentation Grant from the National Science Foundation.
1.  Eisner et al, “Spatially and Spectrally Resolved Hydrogen Gas within 0.1 AU of T Tauri and Herbig Ae/Be Stars,” Astrophysical Journal Vol. 718, July 20, 2010 (scheduled); preprint at Los Alamos Natl Laboratory.
2.  The paper talks much about accretion, but it’s apparent both from the paper and the press release that the accretion being spoken of is material getting swept into the star – not material building up planets.  Planet formation (not even mentioned in the technical paper) was not spoken of in terms of data or observations, but only as theoretical possibilities: “gas giants similar to Jupiter and Saturn, may form, using up a lot of the disk material,” and “More solid, rocky planets like the Earth, Venus or Mars, won’t be around until much later, ‘But the building blocks for those could be forming now,’...”
Calling on all skeptics who respect science.  Will you let this pass?  Those of you whose mission is to expose pseudo-science and skewer crackpots, do you ever turn your energies on the likes of these?  They’re not your usual targets, but look at what these people have done.  Don’t be distracted by the fact that they work for major universities, like the University of Michigan, Caltech, Berkeley, and Max Planck.  Don’t be impressed by the fact that they used observations from Keck, one of the finest observatories in the world.  Don’t be intimidated by the fact that they got a major research grant from the NSF.  Who cares?  If someone says a dumb thing, it’s dumb, no matter who says it.
    If you could, in your mind’s eye, transport yourself to the middle ages, and find the King of France funding alchemical or astrological research, and all the esteemed academics of the University of Paris thinking it was a great idea, would you endorse it on those bases alone?  Surely, science must be about more than (1) equipment, (2) prestige, (3) money, (4) consensus, (5) power and authority, (6) publicity, (7) rhetoric, (8) hype, (9) enthusiasm, (10) imagination, (11) some of the above, (12) all of the above.  Presumably, science has at least something to do with truth.  It has something to do with gaining knowledge about the world through rigorous, testable, empirical methods, and applying what is gained logically, consistently, and conservatively – avoiding the exaggerations to which our natures incline us.  Can we agree on that?
    But look what these scientists, intelligent as they are, educated as they are, privileged as they are to work on the world’s greatest telescopes, honored as they are with taxpayer dollars, did in this press release.  They observed spectra of hydrogen around a few T Tauri and Herbig Ae/Be stars.  From these spectra, it was reasonable to infer some violent processes at work: hydrogen being accelerated along magnetic field lines, and dust disks apparently either spiralling all the way in to the star or being compressed outward.  That’s it.  But look at their inferential equation in the press release:
Dust + violence = planets
Planets + time = life
Look at the absurd teaser in the headline.  Look at the suggestive artwork.  If that isn’t pseudo-science, if that isn’t an example of wild swings of speculation way out of bounds beyond what the data can bear, then please, pray tell, what is?  Why is it that the world’s press just laps up this garbage and barfs it back out for the public?  Why is Creation-Evolution Headlines the only site with the guts to call this disgusting?  Look; even Space.com fell for it hook, line and sinker – no critical analysis whatsoever.  Not a hint of questioning.  None of the debate or dispute or controversy that should characterize good science.  The media just fall in lockstep like a bunch of gutless, mindless lemmings.
    If you agree, then do something about it (this is for skeptics).  Write some letters to the editors of news sources that regurgitated this press release uncritically and complain.  Write the University of Arizona and say that this press release was very unscientific.  Tell them it violated your skeptical sensibilities.  Tell them it gives the creationist wackos occasion to mock science.  Tell them it is illogical to extrapolate from hydrogen and dust to earth-like planets and life.  Point out that such talk only encourages the critics of evolution to keep up their rhetoric and grow more bold.  Tell them that if they keep publishing thoughtless press releases like this one, intelligent design is going to continue to grow and proliferate, because evolutionary science is going to continue looking like a lunatic fringe of laughable pseudo-science the way it is being exaggerated beyond all logic.  Further, tell them that when it gets spoon-fed to the public this way, with no critical analysis, the public becomes skeptical that they are being led down the primrose path.  (It might be effective to tack on the quote at the top right of this page.)
    Do it.  Read them the riot act for a change.  Then at least we will know you are consistent.  Then we will at least know you are an honest skeptic.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemsStars and AstronomyDumb Ideas
Flagellum Replaces Parts on the Fly     06/12/2010    
June 12, 2010 — A new study appears to show that the bacterial flagellum, a molecular rotary motor that has become iconic of the intelligent design movement, can repair parts of its rotor while it is rotating.  The results of the study by Oxford University were published in PNAS,1 and were also the focus of a Commentary in PNAS by Michael D. Manson of Texas A&M University.2  Previous studies had shown that parts of the stationary part (stator) could be replaced while the flagellum was in operation, but the rotor?  “Turnover of a component of the rotor is even more surprising than stator turnover, given that it was previously known that the number of stator complexes can change while the motor is running,”  the Oxford scientists said.  The abstract explained:
Most biological processes are performed by multiprotein complexes.  Traditionally described as static entities, evidence is now emerging that their components can be highly dynamic, exchanging constantly with cellular pools.... It is powered by transmembrane ion flux through a ring of stator complexes that push on a central rotor.  The Escherichia coli motor switches direction stochastically in response to binding of the response regulator CheY to the rotor switch component FliM.  Much is known of the static motor structure, but we are just beginning to understand the dynamics of its individual components.... We show that the ~30 FliM molecules per motor exist in two discrete populations, one tightly associated with the motor and the other undergoing stochastic turnover.... In many ways the bacterial flagellar motor is as an archetype macromolecular assembly, and our results may have further implications for the functional relevance of protein turnover in other large molecular complexes.
“The bacterial flagellar motor is one of the most complex biological nanomachines,” began the first sentence of their paper, edited by Howard Berg (Harvard), one of the pioneers of flagellum research.  Using specialized imaging techniques, the Oxford team was able to identify components of the rotor complex undergoing dynamic turnover in about 30- to 40-second timeframes.  This turnover may be due to maintenance of the motor, or it may have functional significance.  It may be involved, for instance, in switching the rotation from normal counterclockwise runs to the occasional clockwise “tumbling” that bacteria undergo when following a chemical trail.  In E. coli, which have four to eight flagella, it may be involved in synchronization of the flagella – they don’t yet know for sure.  It appears that signaling from the environment is involved in the turnover, because a response regulator in the chemotaxis signal transduction response pathway “is also required for measurable FliM turnover to occur over the time scale of our experiments,” they said.  Though not certain whether it is a trigger or a by-product of the switch from normal mode to tumbling mode, the association is compelling: “This work represents direct evidence for signal-dependent dynamic exchange of switch complex components in functioning flagellar motors, raising the possibility that turnover is involved in the signaling mechanism.”
    Michael Manson commented on the findings in PNAS,2 offering additional interesting details about the flagellum: “The flagellar motor was the first biological rotary device discovered” (Berg, 1973), he pointed out; “Flagella spin at several hundred to >1,000 revolutions per second in different bacteria.”  He described the parts list and something about the torque and operation of the flagellum, and provided a cross-sectional diagram.  “Filament growth decreases with length, and a broken filament can regenerate,” he continued.  “Unfolded flagellin subunits diffuse through the hollow center of the filament and assemble at its distal tip.  Filaments extend several cell lengths and are quite fragile; their dynamic nature is necessary.  Each flagellar motor functions for the lifetime of its cell.”  He described how protons flow through the Mot complexes (parts of the stator) and then couple to the rotor, and how these must be firmly anchored to the cell wall to endure the tremendous torques put on them by the rotor: “The high torque required to turn a flagellum under heavy load requires that Mot complexes attach firmly to the cell wall.”   Even so, “Despite its anchoring, the stator is surprisingly dynamic.”  Other studies show that the Mot protein parts also turnover rapidly – with a half-life of 30 seconds.
    As for the findings of the Oxford team, Manson said, “Parts exchange in the stator and rotor may just be routine maintenance, and the aggregates of 18 FliM molecules could be storage devices rather than assembly intermediates.  The authors are suitably cautious about speculating whether FliM turnover is involved in the switch function of the C ring, emphasizing that the exchange of FliM subunits could be either a cause or effect of motor reversal.”  But as he looked forward to additional exciting findings in this kind of research on flagella and other molecular machines, he paid his respects to this machine in particular: “Further studies of this type will undoubtedly lead to exciting new revelations about the inner workings of the elegant molecular machinery of the flagellar motor.
1.  Delalez et al, “Signal-dependent turnover of the bacterial flagellar switch protein FliM,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Published online before print May 24, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1000284107.
2.  Michael D. Manson, “Dynamic motors for bacterial flagella,” Commentary, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, print June 11, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1006365107.
Altogether now, shout the familiar refrain: “These authors said nothing about evolution!”  If nothing in biology makes sense except in the black-light of ev-illusion, where was Mr. Darwin?  Is that him in bed, sick to his stomach again?  Go make him some intelligently designed chicken soup, and leave him be.  The rest of us are excited about the union of engineering and biology in this clear case of machinery on the molecular scale.  Now we have an example of possible maintenance during operation, and if not that, a functional operation that involves dynamic swapping of parts while a rotor is spinning at more than 60,000 rpm!  The bacterium doesn’t need to go into a drydock; its repair squad can fix parts on the fly.  Imagine what would be required to swap out the blades on an outboard motor while it is spinning.  Furthermore, imagine having the process automated, with feedback from the environment.  How would you even design such a thing?  The flagellum has a constant flow of FliM parts into the system.  Apparently, there is some sort of buffer store where parts can stand ready for use, and then something guides them into position.  Manson’s oversimplified diagram shows a part attaching to a rotor blade, which might provide an attachment point for a FliM molecule to get replaced during a reversal of direction.  However this occurs, it is bound to be exciting and amazing.
    Did you catch that dramatic understatement by Manson?  “Parts exchange in the stator and rotor may just be routine maintenance, and the aggregates of 18... molecules could be storage devices....”  What did he just say?  Maintenance!  Storage devices!  This is bacteria we are talking about.  This is life that lives in dirty water.  That’s like walking by a mud puddle and saying, “The murkiness down there could just be routine automated guidance and control operations with robotic feedback software, and the squiggles could be gigabytes of storage area networks with rapid retrieval, but hey.  Whatever.  Oh, and there’s a maintenance crew that can swap out outboard motor blades on the fly, too.  Stickagum, man?”
    Get the picture here, folks – these are cells that in Darwin’s day were thought to be made of undifferentiated blobs of jelly-like stuff.  For lack of a better word to describe it, they called it by the suggestive pantheistic term, “protoplasm” (first living substance).  Anybody who thinks that way now with what molecular biology has revealed should get 39 lashes with a wet flagellum.  Evolution was missing from these papers because it is bankrupt.  It thrived in another age, another time, when puffed-up, imperialistic, progress-minded Victorians didn’t know better.  This is the information age.  The only theory with the vocabulary, concepts and explanatory resources to deal with observations that are rich in engineering, machinery and control language is intelligent design.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyPhysicsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
Could Cosmology Be Based on Flawed Calibrations?     06/11/2010    
June 11, 2010 — This is the era of “precision cosmology,” we have been told (09/20/2004 04/13/2007).  Especially since the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), measurements of faint deviations in the cosmic microwave background have reached exceptional detail (02/14/2003, allowing cosmologists to discriminate between cosmological models and, hopefully, provide insight into the nature and origins of the universe.  But what if the assumptions used to calibrate WMAP are wrong?  Then other models tossed out could actually be back in the running.  That’s what a maverick cosmologist is claiming.
    New Scientist headlined, “Has Jupiter sent cosmology down a false trail?”  Most cosmologists have assumed that Jupiter provides a steady source of microwaves that can be used as a calibration source.  That may be, but Tom Shanks (U of Durham, UK) and a graduate student tried recalibrating the data using radio galaxies that also emit microwaves.  His calibration lets back in models that the WMAP teams have tossed out.
    Supporters of the standard model are not deterred.  For one thing, according to New Scientist, they do not know why Jupiter would fail to be a good calibration source.  For another, they criticize the use of radio galaxies as calibration sources.
Update 06/13/2010: Space.com published an entry on this controversy, adding the thought that if Shanks is right, dark matter and dark energy might not exist.  Clara Moskowitz reported, “A new look at the data from one of the telescopes used to establish the existence of this strange stuff is causing some scientists to question whether they really exist at all.”  Though she reported, like New Scientist, that the WMAP scientists disagree with Shanks and stand by their data, she added that Shanks is aware of their objections and stands by his calculations.  New measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) by the European Space Agency’s Planck spacecraft may be able to resolve the controversy.
    In addition, Science Daily reported on the controversy, adding this insight: “If the Universe really has no ‘dark side’, it will come as a relief to some theoretical physicists.  Having a model dependent on as yet undetected exotic particles that make up dark matter and the completely mysterious dark energy leaves many scientists feeling uncomfortable.  It also throws up problems for the birth of stars in galaxies, with as much ‘feedback’ energy needed to prevent their creation as gravity provides to help them form.”
Although a maverick’s view should not be accepted simply because it is a maverick view, it should be evaluated fairly.  As David Tyler wrote recently on Uncommon Descent, “Consensus science is sleep-inducing.”  Rigorous debate is preventive medicine against lethargic, authoritative consensus.  Another lesson lurking in this article is that widely-accepted theories can rest on assumptions that are, in principle, fallible.  The measurements on which cosmological theories are based are extremely tenuous.  Would it not be a cosmic joke to find out that Jupiter is not a reliable calibration source, and all this “precision cosmology” rhetoric has been misplaced?  Actually, in cosmology, the number of assumptions stacked on assumptions is comparable to the storytelling in Darwinism.  Getting from temperature blips of one in 100,000 to grand scenarios of cosmic evolution and landscapes of multiple universes makes even Darwinism look tame – and you know what that implies.
Next headline on:  CosmologySolar System
  Of all the nerve: watch what happens when an umpire is present when the Darwinians play their game of all fouls.  In this case it was finding neurons in a sea sponge – one of the simplest of all animals (06/06/2007).  Then have a little fun watching the birdie and Fred – and explain how that evolved.

Not Lamarck Again     06/11/2010    
June 11, 2010 — Remember Lamarck?  He was the pre-Darwin evolutionist whose theories we were all taught were overthrown by Darwin’s superior theory of natural selection.  Lamarck’s theory of “inheritance of acquired characteristics” was shown to be demonstrably false by the dramatic experiments of Weismann, right?  It was never really so clear-cut as that, as evolutionary historians know, but that’s been the common understanding.  This week, Nature printed an “Insight Perspectives” article about epigenetics (“above genetics”) that, while not referring to Lamarck by name, discussed “acquired” traits that could be inherited by “non-Mendelian” methods.  Its author, Arturas Petronis,1 even spoke of the growing realization of the importance of epigenetics as a new “unifying principle” and a “paradigm shift” in the style of Thomas Kuhn.
    For a long time since the structure of DNA was elucidated, the “central dogma” of genetics has been that DNA is the master controller of inheritance.  Information flows from DNA to proteins, and that dictates the phenotype (the outward form of the organism).  In recent decades, the effects of environmental factors onto the genome has become a growing area of research.  Proteins are able to “tag” the histone proteins onto which genes are wound, affecting which genes are expressed or repressed.  Some of these epigenetic tags can be inherited.  Like most dogmas, the central dogma has been an impediment to new ways of scientific thinking, Petronis claims:

The nature-versus-nurture debate was one of the most important themes of biomedical science in the twentieth century.  Researchers resolved it by conceding that both factors have a crucial role and that phenotypes result from the actions and interactions of both, which often change over time.  Most ‘normal’ phenotypes and disease phenotypes show some degree of heritability, a finding that formed the basis for a series of molecular studies of genes and their DNA sequences.  In parallel to such genetic strategies, thousands of epidemiological studies have been carried out to identify environmental factors that contribute to phenotypes.  In this article, I consider complex, non-Mendelian, traits and diseases, and review the complexities of investigating their aetiology by using traditional – epidemiological and genetic – approaches.  I then offer an epigenetic interpretation that cuts through several of the Gordian knots that are impeding progress in these aetiological studies.
It has been very difficult to assign cause-and-effect relationships from environmental factors to traits.  “Even strong associations between an environmental factor and a disease do not necessarily prove that the environmental factor has caused the disease,” he said.  It is even harder to establish environmental factors to inherited traits, he continued.  Even a term like heritability can be hard to nail down when talking specifics.  Multiple genes become involved, and statistical likelihoods.  Nevertheless, traits do become established in populations.  For instance, an article on Live Science shows that Tibetans have inherited a trait for hemoglobin that allows them to survive at high altitude.  Petronis asks for breaking the gene-centric paradigm: “I argue that taking an epigenetic perspective allows a different interpretation of the irregularities, complexities and controversies of traditional environmental and genetic studies.”
    He gave some examples of how acquired traits and environmental effects can influence epigenetic tags that are heritable.  There is no longer a clear black-and-white distinction between the views of Darwin and Lamarck (neither of whom were mentioned in Petronis’s essay); the situation is now much more complex:
In the domain of epigenetics, the line between ‘inherited’ and ‘acquired’ is fuzzy.  Stable epigenetic ‘nature’ merges fluidly with plastic epigenetic ‘nurture’.  The ratio between inherited and acquired epigenetic influences can vary considerably depending on species, tissue, age, sex, environmental exposure and stochastic epigenetic events, all of which are consistent with empirical observations that heritability is dynamic and not static.  Another close link between heritable factors and environmental factors in epigenetic regulation is the observation that exposure to certain environments has effects that, in some cases, are transmitted epigenetically for several generations.
In his conclusion, he said that this new perspective has all the trappings of what Thomas Kuhn called a paradigm shift: “handling the same bundle of data as before, but placing them in a new system of relations with one another by giving them a different framework.”  It might explain things like sexual dimorphism, parental origin effects, remissions and relapses, intergenerational disease instances, decline of symptoms with age, and other things – questions that an old paradigm would not find interesting, but a new one would.  “The considerable theoretical and experimental potential of an epigenetic perspective makes it a strong alternative to the existing research into complex, non-Mendelian, genetics and biology.” he said.  “Although the existence of competing theories may create some discomfort, it can also catalyse discoveries and is indicative of a mature scientific field.”  Human genetics is not a closed book.
    Oh, and what would this new paradigm mean for evolutionary theory?  Glad you asked.  Of all things, Petronis recalled an old quote by Hugo de Vries sometimes paraded with glee by creationists.  But by recalling this quote, he left the reader hanging.  In the new paradigm, what is the explanation for the arrival of the fittest?
All of the ideas that I have discussed here are highly relevant to the understanding of the fundamental principles of evolution.  ‘Soft’, epigenetic, inheritance can have a key role in adaptation to environmental changes and can endure for more than a generation.  Phenotypic plasticity might stem mainly from the ability of epigenetic genotype (or epigenotype) – rather than genotype – to produce different phenotypes in different environments.  Heritable epigenetic variation could explain the faster-than-expected adaptation to environmental change that is often observed in natural populations.  In addition, the large intra-individual epigenetic variation in the germ line may shed new light on the problem presented by one of the first geneticists, Hugo De Vries, more than a century ago, in his book Species and Varieties: Their Origin by Mutation, when he wrote “Natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest.”
Petronis had nothing further to say about fitness or its arrival.  Furthermore, despite the title of his paper, “Epigenetics as a unifying principle in the aetiology of complex traits and diseases,” he gave no description of how any specific complex trait might arise by genetics, by epigenetics, or by any combination of the two.  He only said that a new paradigm shift might “shed light” on the problem presented by Hugo De Vries a century ago.
1.  Arturas Petronis, “Epigenetics as a unifying principle in the aetiology of complex traits and diseases,” Nature 465, pp 721-727, 10 June 2010, doi:10.1038/nature09230.
That Nature would let in the ghost of Lamarck is a sign of their desperation with Darwin.  So here we are a century after Hugo, waiting for some light.  Petronis doesn’t have any.  Hugo didn’t have any.  Darwin didn’t have any.  Lamarck didn’t have any.  We’ve been sitting in the dark an awful long time listening to this crowd promise that some day somebody will “shed light on evolution.”  Would you spare a dime for their paradigm?  Don’t buy their promissory notes; not even your great-great-grandkids can expect to collect.
Next headline on:  GeneticsDarwin and Evolution
Darwin’s Sweatshop: Why Ethiopia Made People Hairless     06/10/2010    
June 10, 2010 — Five scientists think they have figured out why people walk upright and don’t have fur like other mammals.  They had to evolve in Ethiopia, where it is hot.  This led to the loss of body hair, and the evolution of sweat glands and other adaptations to deal with the heat.
    It’s not that the scientists from Caltech, Johns Hopkins and University of Utah actually found evidence for this.  It’s just that they studied rocks from the Turkana Basin, where some important fossils of alleged human ancestors have been found.  According to their analysis of carbonate rocks, the temperature has always been hot and arid in this area – for 4 million years, they claim.  They published their results in PNAS,1 and the story was picked up by Science Daily and PhysOrg.
    Although their paper primarily concerned deducing climate and temperature from the rock record, they considered implications for human thermophysiology:
This temperature record is relevant to the evolutionary origin or maintenance of a unique suite of adaptations that permit humans to remain active under high ambient heat loads.  For example, upright posture in hot, open environments confers thermophysiological advantages to bipedal hominins owing to reduced interception of direct solar radiation and to displacement of the body away from the near-surface environment, which may be excessively hot due to solar heating.  Derived human traits such as very little body hair, high sweating capacity, and high surface area to volume ratio are also advantageous for daytime activity in hot, arid climates, and temperature is a central variable in hypotheses of behaviors such as long-distance scavenging and persistence hunting.  However, the thermoregulatory advantages of these adaptations arise primarily under very hot, sunny conditions.  Our results suggest that such conditions were relevant to human ecology in the Turkana Basin, either directly within or at the spatial or temporal margins of human-preferred habitats....
    Whereas our data are silent on the importance of ambient temperature in shaping human evolution, they comprise a necessary prerequisite for beginning to evaluate temperature-related hypotheses.
[italics in original].
If this is so, then it should also be a necessary prerequisite for beginning to evaluate the null hypothesis, or for evaluating why such conditions failed to generate similar physiological traits in the other mammals living alongside the humans in the same ecological environment.  It would also make one question why the hominids they believe inhabited South Africa, Europe and Asia for millions of years and during long ice ages did not quickly gain all that body hair right back.  The authors seemed to overlook those parts of the evolutionary logic.
    The popular press swallowed it all without question, though.  “The need to stay cool in that cradle of human evolution may relate, at least in part, to why pre-humans learned to walk upright, lost the fur that covered the bodies of their predecessors and became able to sweat more, Johns Hopkins University earth scientist Benjamin Passey said.”  Perhaps they need to consider another uniquely human trait: blushing (see 12/19/2007 commentary).
1.  Passey, Levin, Cerling, Brown, and Eiler, “High-temperature environments of human evolution in East Africa based on bond ordering in paleosol carbonates,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print June 8, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1001824107.
This has the makings of a great cartoon: the Turkana Gymnasium, where all the camels, wildebeests, zebras, giraffes, oryx, lions, cheetahs, and gerbils all strip down to the skin, stand upright, and work up a sweat under the hot sun, dancing to the beat of “Do the Evolution” (08/31/2006).
Next headline on:  Early ManDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
Plants Have Memories     06/09/2010    
June 09, 2010 — Have you ever noticed how plants have an uncanny ability to know, without eyes or brains, when the time has come to bloom?  Even when spring comes early or late in some years, they sense the right time, and out come the flowers.  This is even more remarkable when you consider that the natural environment is a noisy place.  The temperature is rising and falling every day and night.  Storms come and go.  Early warm spells might trick the plant into thinking spring has arrived just before more snow, with disastrous results for the plant.  How does the plant tease out the right signal from all this noise, and remember the overall seasonal trend?  And then, when blooming time has come, how does it tell the rest of the plant to go into action?  Some Japanese scientists have helped get a partial glimpse into the amazing memory system of flowering plants.  It’s all done with controls on gene expression.
    They published their results this week in PNAS.1  Using a systems biology approach, they observed the favored lab plant, water cress Arabidopsis thaliana and some of its relatives – but this time not in the laboratory but out in the wild.  This was a rare field experiment where scientists could observe day and night cycles and seasons having their natural effects on gene expression.  They watched several gene levels known to relate to flowering.  “We expected that the gene regulation of FLC orthologs may serve as the mechanism to extract seasonal cues from natural environments, because they are regulated by histone modification, which is often involved in stable cellular memory,” they said.  Histone modifications are like small molecular “tags” that are put on the proteins onto which DNA is wound.  These affect where promoters seek and find genes to transcribe, or repressors bind to genes to prevent expression.
    The tags allow a kind of “memory” that can ride out the noisy highs and lows of short-term variations.  Once a certain threshold is reached, the gene can activate.  In this particular case, the scientists found that most of the expression was responsive to temperature for the prior six weeks, but not over periods longer or shorter – indicating a memory for that particular range.  “The accuracy of our model in predicting the gene expression pattern under contrasting temperature regimes in the transplant experiments indicates that such modeling incorporating the molecular bases of flowering time regulation will contribute to predicting plant responses to future climate changes,” they said.  One of the master regulators they studied controls many “downstream” genes that affect flowering.  It acts as a repressor on their activities.  Like a general overseeing a major operation, it commands the other genes, which are prevented from acting till given the signal.
    The authors recognized at the end of the paper that this is just one piece of a larger puzzle about plant regulation.  For instance, it appears that some plants have a “chilling requirement” of a certain time period before they will sprout and bloom.  Some perennials need the temperature-dependent gene controlling flowering to switch on at the right time, but then to switch back off as the temperature rises further after flowering, so that they will go back to vegetative growth till the next year.  There must be multiple interacting factors in a complex network of gene expression patterns at play that botanists are only beginning to fathom.  The use of systems biology approaches and observations in natural settings are helping to elucidate the mechanisms involved with a more comprehensive view than was possible before.  The authors had nothing to say about evolution.
1.  Aikawa et al, “Robust control of the seasonal expression of the Arabidopsis FLC gene in a fluctuating environment,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print June 7, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0914293107.
Wonders of nature are all about us, even under our feet, if we will only take a moment to look and learn.  They are best understood by considering their design.  The intricacy and complexity of plants is truly mind boggling.  How did these “robust” systems, that respond magnificently to noisy environments, come to be?  If it were true that they only make sense in the light of evolution, this team would surely have made evolution the centerpiece of their paper.  But notice: they did not even mention it once.  Instead, the language was about patterns, codes, regulation, mechanisms and robustness.  That’s design talk.  Look at this paper.  There wasn’t any religion, and there wasn’t any useless Darwin just-so storytelling, either.  Everyone can read, appreciate, and enjoy it for its elucidation of incredible design in common natural phenomena we would otherwise take for granted.  This understanding might lead to improvement in crops and other benefits for our lives.  Let’s move ahead with observable, testable, understandable, empirical, inspiring, design-based science like this.
Next headline on:  PlantsGeneticsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
  Why evolutionary trees are “positively misleading” – see 06/08/2006.  See also the story about the housecat that treed a wild bear (06/11/2006).

Making Model Earths     06/08/2010    
June 08, 2010 — Modeling how the earth got here can be fun.  One doesn’t have to be right, just creative.  There are certain accepted paradigms to work within, and certain accepted constraints that are taken as a given.  Beyond that, there is a lot of leeway.  This is illustrated by two teams who published in two different journals who used the same paradigms and constraints but came up with radically different models.
    The Niels Bohr Institute’s story was told by PhysOrg and was published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.  We’ll dub them the NBI team.  The ETH Zurich team’s paper was published in Nature Geoscience, and was also told by PhysOrg.  Here’s what they both assumed: the earth and moon were formed by a collision when a Mars-sized object hit the early earth once upon a time.  When it happened, and how long it took for the melted pieces to accrete and form our earth-moon system, is up for grabs, given a few constraints like how long it took for some assumed radioactive elements to fizzle out.
    What’s notable in the articles are the fudge factors, or unknowns, or surprises, that give modelers plenty of wiggle room to either announce their model as a good one, or change it at will for next time.  For instance (labeling NBI or ETH for the team’s article involved):

  • ETH: “just how long it took for the Earth to reach its eventual size and what the accretion of the planet was like, however, is much disputed among the experts.”
  • ETH: “‘The latest models reveal that an accretion period of around 100 million years is the most consistent with the formation of the Moon and the Earth’, says Bernard Bourdon, a professor from the Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology at ETH Zurich, Switzerland.  However, there are also models that clearly suggest the Earth reached 70% of its size in just 10 million years.”
  • ETH: “This distribution depends on the pressure and temperature conditions during the core formation, which probably varied during the accretion.”
  • ETH: “In their study published in Nature Geoscience, Bourdon and his team now demonstrate that there are several models that are compatible with the chemical observations.”
  • ETH: “‘Up to now, it was always assumed that you could only explain the distribution of the elements through equilibrium; we show, however, that the distribution is just as easy to explain in disequilibrium’, says Thorsten Kleine.”
  • ETH: “The observations are also compatible with a state of equilibrium of only about 40 percent; this means the cores of the colliding protoplanets could have reached the Earth’s core directly without a major equilibration with the Earth’s mantle.”
  • ETH: “The age difference had always puzzled the scientists; after all, the termination of the Earth’s accretion should actually coincide with the Moon’s age as it ended due to the impact of a Mars-sized protoplanet that formed the Moon.”
  • NBI: “But new research from the Niels Bohr Institute shows that the Earth and Moon must have formed much later – perhaps up to 150 million years after the formation of the solar system.”
  • NBI: “Until recently it was believed that the rock and iron mixed completely during the planet formation and so the conclusion was that the Moon was formed when the solar system was 30 million years old or approximately 4,537 million years ago.  But new research shows something completely different.
  • NBI: “The new studies imply that the moon forming collision occurred after all of the hafnium had decayed completely into tungsten.”
  • NBI: “‘Our results show that metal core and rock are unable to emulsify in these collisions between planets that are greater than 10 kilometres in diameter and therefore that most of the Earth’s iron core (80-99%) did not remove tungsten from the rocky material in the mantle during formation’, explains Tais W. Dahl.
  • NBI: “The result of the research means that the Earth and the Moon must have been formed much later than previously thought – that is to say not 30 million years after the formation of the solar system ... but perhaps up to 150 million years after the formation of the solar system.”
Despite these wild swings in the story, both articles spoke of the collision theory as matters of fact.  “The Earth and Moon were created as the result of a giant collision between two planets the size of Mars and Venus, the NBI article said.  Similarly, “Earth was formed during the creation of our Solar System when Moon and Mars-sized protoplanets collided,” the ETH article stated flatly, as if no one disagrees – but geologist Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmidt disagrees with it (11/04/2002), and it has numerous problems (01/26/2007, 02/19/2007).
Here is more job security for storytellers.  They don’t have to be right.  They’re not even trying to tell the truth.  They’re happy if such and such a set of models are consistent with a few observations.  Well, guess what!  An infinite number of theories are consistent with partial observations.  This allows them to play their little computer games and simulators and make things come out partially consistent all the time, and thus keep their jobs comfortably till retirement.  They never have to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  They never have to show progress toward the truth.  No one could ever prove them wrong without a time machine.  It’s the perfect scam.  The tweak space is greater than the constraint space.  There is plenty of room for centuries of modelers to play this scam, publish their papers, get paid, and look like experts, without having any accountability.  What a racket.
Next headline on:  GeologySolar SystemDating Methods
Not Life on Titan Again     06/07/2010    
June 07, 2010 — Something weird is going on at the large moon of Saturn.  “What is Consuming Hydrogen and Acetylene on Titan?” teased a press release from Jet Propulsion Laboratory”s Cassini mission:
Two new papers based on data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft scrutinize the complex chemical activity on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.  While non-biological chemistry offers one possible explanation, some scientists believe these chemical signatures bolster the argument for a primitive, exotic form of life or precursor to life on Titan’s surface.  According to one theory put forth by astrobiologists, the signatures fulfill two important conditions necessary for a hypothesized ‘methane-based life.’
What are these signatures?  One is that hydrogen molecules are apparently flowing down through the atmosphere and disappearing.  Another is that complex hydrocarbons are accumulating, but not acetylene as expected.  What do these details imply?  Chris McKay of NASA’s Ames Research Center thinks it may imply that unobserved organisms down there are eating the acetylene as food.  “We suggested hydrogen consumption because it’s the obvious gas for life to consume on Titan, similar to the way we consume oxygen on Earth,” he said.  “If these signs do turn out to be a sign of life, it would be doubly exciting because it would represent a second form of life independent from water-based life on Earth.”  No one has ever observed such a life form anywhere, of course.  “To date, methane-based life forms are only hypothetical,” the next sentence hastened to add.  “Scientists have not yet detected this form of life anywhere, though there are liquid-water-based microbes on Earth that thrive on methane or produce it as a waste product.”
    Most astrobiologists consider liquid water as an essential ingredient for life.  On Titan, however, H2O is hard as rock.  Methane and ethane, which are liquid at its -290°F surface temperature, are the only candidates left: “The list of liquid candidates is very short: liquid methane and related molecules like ethane.”  Astrobiologists believe that liquid water is not a requirement for life – that one of these other liquids might work, although water is the best liquid when you can get it.
    Back to Titan’s disappearing hydrogen.  Darrel Strobel of Johns Hopkins University, a Cassini interdisciplinary scientist, was surprised that the molecular hydrogen produced in the atmosphere by UV photolysis of methane, some of which escapes to space, and some of which falls to the surface, was not accumulating at the surface.  It is apparently not being converted to acetylene, either.  At this point, the reader, salivating for the exciting climax of the story – for scientific evidence that the best possible explanation is that exotic life-forms are consuming the hydrogen and acetylene – encounters nothing of the sort.  Instead, there is only evidence that unknown “organic chemistry” is “happening” and coating the ice: “Titan’s atmospheric chemistry is cranking out organic compounds that rain down on the surface so fast that even as streams of liquid methane and ethane at the surface wash the organics off, the ice gets quickly covered again,” said Roger Clark of the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver.“All that implies Titan is a dynamic place where organic chemistry is happening now.”  Presumably that leaves room for alien seekers; after all, one could describe Earth as a dynamic place where organic chemistry is happening.
    As for his view on the life hypothesis, “Scientific conservatism suggests that a biological explanation should be the last choice after all non-biological explanations are addressed,” Allen said.  “We have a lot of work to do to rule out possible non-biological explanations.  It is more likely that a chemical process, without biology, can explain these results – for example, reactions involving mineral catalysts.”  Project scientist Linda Spilker was noncommittal but appropriately diplomatic: “These new results are surprising and exciting,” she said.  “Cassini has many more flybys of Titan that might help us sort out just what is happening at the surface.”
    Mere mention of the L-word life is enough to make some reporters go bonkers.  Immediately, the Daily Mail in the UK, as expected, threw all caution to the wind: “Scientists find a ‘hint of life’ on Saturn’s moon Titan” blared the headline.  Right away, the aliens were breathing and eating: “They have discovered clues that primitive aliens are breathing in Titan’s atmosphere and feeding on fuel at the surface.”  They found a quote mine in John Zarnecki, one of the Huygens Probe science czars: “We believe the chemistry is there for life to form.  It just needs heat and warmth to kick-start the process.  In four billion years’ time, when the Sun swells into a red giant, it could be paradise on Titan.
Astrobiologists have enough difficulty on their hands explaining life’s origin here on the paradise planet (01/26/2008), let alone the poison pit of Titan.  Instead of being distracted by the life hypothesis, may we direct your attention to this paragraph in the JPL press release:
Strobel found a disparity in the hydrogen densities that lead to a flow down to the surface at a rate of about 10,000 trillion trillion hydrogen molecules per second.  This is about the same rate at which the molecules escape out of the upper atmosphere.
    “It’s as if you have a hose and you’re squirting hydrogen onto the ground, but it’s disappearing,” Strobel said.  “I didn’t expect this result, because molecular hydrogen is extremely chemically inert in the atmosphere, very light and buoyant.  It should ‘float’ to the top of the atmosphere and escape.”
Why didn’t Dr. Strobel expect this result?  And why were the makers of the Huygens Probe, who designed it to float on a global ocean of liquid ethane (02/15/2008), surprised when it landed with a thud on a moist lakebed?  Maybe we need to question some old assumptions, and boldly ask new questions (05/16/2010). 
Next headline on:  Solar SystemOrigin of LifeDating Methods
  What is the cause of a teapot?  Can you explain human designs out of the big bang by waving a magic-wand word like emergence?  George Ellis tried to in a Nature essay five years ago; see if he succeeded (06/08/2005).

Get a Life with Nature     06/06/2010    
June 06, 2010 — Feeling bored, low on energy, exhausted?  Don’t reach for a cup of coffee.  Get out into nature.  Researchers at the University of Rochester ran some controlled experiments on college students and found that those who spent a little time outdoors felt happier and more energetic.  “Spending time in nature makes people feel more alive,” the article on PhysOrg announced.  “Being outside in nature for just 20 minutes in a day is enough to significantly boost vitality levels, according to new University of Rochester psychology research.”
    The findings, published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology, appear to be distinguished from merely exercising or socializing.  Four different experiments were run in an attempt to isolate the effect of nature alone – including some tests with just photographs, looking out windows, and visualizing oneself outdoors with and without companions.  In each case, the students who participated in either actually being outdoors or visualizing themselves outdoors recorded an increase in vitality.  The authors concluded that it was the presence of nature, not just the companionship or exercise, that contributed to the vitalizing and energizing effect.  Furthermore, this result appears robust in that it correlates with earlier studies that show people gaining a better sense of well-being, generosity and caring when relating to nature.
    “Nature is fuel for the soul,” said Richard Ryan, the lead author of the study.  “....Nature is something within which we flourish, so having it be more a part of our lives is critical, especially when we live and work in built environments.”  He believes that access to parks and natural surroundings in our cities is an important consequence of these studies.

We leave it as an exercise to figure out in what sense nature is being used here.  Nature is a very slippery word that can refer to all kinds of things, even opposite things.  Presumably we all are thinking together that here it refers to trees, grass, birds – nice outdoorsy things.
    What can you do in your situation to take advantage of the lessons of this entry?  Here are some easy suggestions.  Take a walk outside every day – either at work, or before or after work.  Decorate your house with plants and nature photographs.  Build more windows in your house or office.  Take more vacations to national parks or scenic locations.  Learn an outdoor hobby like nature photography, birdwatching, tidepooling, astronomy, camping, backpacking, sailing, river rafting or canoeing, bicycling, or whatever is appropriate to your age and skill.  This is a good habit to build into your life.  Think of it as an investment: put some assets into your bank of vitality.
    One of our sister ministries is called Creation Safaris – a Christian camping and hiking ministry with a variety of outings in the southern California area.  It’s just one of many like-minded educational and recreational ministries that combine creation information with fun, fellowship and adventure.  Take a look at our photo gallery as an experiment in how visualizing nature brings vitality and see if it works for you.
Next headline on:  Health
Jupiter Scores Another Hit     06/05/2010    
June 05, 2010 — Amateurs saw Jupiter get struck by something again on June 3.  Last year, an asteroid also hit the giant planet.  Good thing Jupiter caught it and not Earth.  The asteroid, believed to be about 500 meters across, left a scar as big across as the Pacific Ocean.  National Geographic and the BBC News have photos of the scar left by the 2009 impact.  Had something like that hit our planet, “it would be a catastrophe,” one astronomer said.  Yesterday’s impactor is unknown, since only the fireball flash was observed for a few seconds (a movie clip can be seen on the BBC News article), but astronomers will be monitoring Jupiter for clues in the aftermath.
    This is the third time humans have seen impacts on Jupiter: in 1994 (Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9), last year’s asteroid, and now the June 3 fireball.  Astronomers are puzzled, because they assumed impact events were rare.  Jupiter does have the largest gravity well of any planet and acts like a giant vacuum cleaner of the solar system.  Still, many objects lie outside its sphere of influence – or they can be accelerated by Jupiter outward like a slingshot.  A lesson in both articles was how little scientists know compared to what they thought they knew.  “It’s back to the drawing board on our understanding of the statistics of impacting bodies,” said Heidi Hammel of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
Update 06/18/2010: According to Space.com, the object observed by the amateurs is believed to have been a giant fireball or bolide – a meteor that burned up high in the atmosphere of Jupiter before it reached the cloud tops.  This explains why it did not create a visible scar days afterward as seen by Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 fragments in 1994.  The statement was made by Heidi Hammel based on Hubble Space Telescope observations.
Does Jupiter absorb impacts that might hit Earth?  Assuredly.  Does it also fling some toward the Earth?  Probably.  Between those extremes is a vast playground of unknowns for theorists to dabble in models, most of which are probably wrong.  Are impacts rare on Jupiter?  No; it would be ridiculous to claim that; certainly Jupiter is pulling in stuff every day.  Observable impacts from Earth are rare – but that draws human beings and planet Earth into the equation.  Clarity is important.  The answer to a question like that depends on where you draw the line.  Impacts are not rare on Earth at all, if you draw the line to include micrometeoritic dust, that rains like manna from heaven all the time.  Every night the darkness is punctuated by meteors.  Occasionally some strike the ground or the oceans as meteorites.  Flashes on the less-massive moon are not that uncommon (05/21/2008).
    Certainly Jupiter, with 318 times the mass of Earth, is capable of drawing in much more material than Earth – assuming one knows the amount of impacting material available in its neighborhood, and each impactor’s position and momentum.  One must also factor in unknowns like the material coming in from the distant reaches of the solar system, where data are increasingly difficult to obtain, or from outside the solar system altogether.  Many of these factors scientists have little or no way of knowing.  Then there are observational unknowns, such as impacts hitting the far side of Jupiter, or those hitting Jupiter during the day, when we can’t see them.  Observing three impacts within 16 years is well within the probability range of a random distribution.  It’s nothing to be all that concerned about.  Announcing a model about which one can have any confidence, though is another matter.  Consider an attempt at gathering empirical data with a dust collecting instrument on a spacecraft.  If you capture dust particles on one rare and expensive flight to Saturn with such an instrument, how justified can you be in extrapolating that data over the entire azimuth of the solar system, the entire altitude of the solar system, and the entire lifetime of the solar system, for an entire range of particle sizes, compositions and velocities, without making numerous assumptions that are profoundly theory-laden and untestable?
    In the limit, planetary science becomes a version of the Stuff Happens Law.  Something happens, and planetologists tell us it happened.  That’s about as useful as Eyewitness Weather.  “Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the sun is up!  You can see outside your window, oops – I mean, it’s raining!  Yes, it is raining right now!”  Thank you very much.  No planetary scientists predicted or expected an impact on Jupiter.  How could they?  There are way too many particles, forces, and unobservables in play.  Even a 3-body problem is devilishly difficult to solve.  Something like this happens, the planetologists look stunned, and they rush to their drawing boards to try to understand it, because it didn’t fit their earlier statistics of impacting bodies.  Others spin it according to Finagle’s Second Law #2c, that it happened according to their pet theory.
    You notice the discovery was made by amateurs – citizen scientists, God bless them.  The only advantage the pros have is more money and better equipment.  They write the textbooks, they make a living at it, they get on TV once in awhile, they’re good at math, they get to go to conferences, they write papers (or have their grad students do it).  Once in awhile they discover something, some of them are nice people (and some aren’t), they can usually bring clarity to complex things and consider factors that many would leave out, but they don’t know everything.  They’re mortals like the rest of us.  They have biases, favorite foods, political affiliations, social preferences, hangups, and hangouts.  Don’t assume that the evident progress in data collection correlates with progress in understanding.  It should not be surprising when they have to go back to the drawing board when stuff happens in a flash, in n-body problems, amidst swirling clouds of unknowns.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemPhysics
Your Nerves and Heart Depend on Cellular Pulleys, Latches and Switches     06/04/2010    
June 04, 2010 — Biologists continue to peer closer and closer at cellular machines that work just like man-made ones, only at scales so tiny, they control individual atoms.  Of particular interest have been the gates in the membranes of cells that allow certain atoms in but keep others out.  A recent paper in Cell by an Australian team has found that the potassium gate has an elegant switch that uses pulleys, switches and an iris-like rotating latch that selectively lets in potassium ions.1
    Your heart and central nervous system (CNS) rely on potassium (K) to set up electrical charges in nerve cells.  These charges travel down nerves to carry messages, or, in the case of the heart, set up the electrical oscillations necessary to keep the heart active.  How do the gates let in potassium ions but keep sodium (Na) ions out, which are 8 atomic mass units lighter?
    Many groups have studied the potassium channels for years (e.g., 01/17/2002, 03/12/2002).  The gate consists of four primary parts fitted together to form a channel, with a “selectivity filter” that ensures only potassium ions get through.  The Australian team studied a particular potassium gate, the Kir channel, and found several mechanical actions at work:
  • Latches:  “Intersubunit connections are clustered near the membrane in the latched arrangement, but they reorganize, in the unlatched arrangement, into a more extensive array of interactions.”
  • Irises:  “The net effect of staged unlatching at all four interfaces (structures VI–VIII) is a symmetrical iris-like dilation of a narrow opening to the intracellular vestibule by approximately 4.5 Å relative to I (Figure 1G), extending the permeation pore through both domains (Movie S2).”
  • Pulleys:  “Coupling is facilitated by actions of the N and C termini, which effectively act as a pulley system.  The intracellular domain of each subunit is an immunoglobulin-like [beta] sandwich, overlaid on the surface by N and C termini.  Its C terminus is tethered both to the N terminus and the underlying [beta] sandwich such that all motions are interdependent.  In addition, parallel [beta] sheet interactions formed between [beta]CN on one subunit and [beta]M on another (Figure 3D) adapt the basic fold by interweaving neighboring subunits into a circle, coupling the motion of each subunit to that of its neighbor.
  • Switches:  “Our findings provide strong evidence that the selectivity filter can switch between nonconducting and conducting configurations without significant displacement of the inner helices.  This is distinct from findings that inactivation at the selectivity filter is driven by widening at the bundle crossing, and vice versa ([Blunck et al., 2006] and [Cordero-Morales et al., 2007]).  While research into selectivity filter gating has primarily focused on C-type inactivation, our data indicate that the selectivity filter is not limited to this and is susceptible to subtle global conformational change, suggesting a more universal role in gating than hitherto expected.
  • Rotors:  “The structures cluster into two groups with distinct conformations, independent of space group and crystal form.  The difference between the groups corresponds to a rigid body rotation of 23° (viewed from the membrane), about the molecular four-fold, of the entire intracellular assembly relative to the transmembrane pore (Figure 1C) (Movie S1).”
All of these mechanical actions are coordinated and “global,” they said.  One subsection of the paper was titled, “Ion Configuration Is Linked to the Global Conformation of the Channel,” and another, “Twisting: Global Conformation Is Correlated to Slide Helix Orientation.”  Indeed, “global” was a characteristic word in the paper: “A major finding is that the number and site distribution of bound ions in the selectivity filter are contingent on global conformational changes.2  The paper included animations showing how these twisting, bending, latching, and pulling motions all work together so that the right ions get through and the wrong ones do not.  The entire gate switches between a conducting state and a nonconducting state in response to environmental cues, just like an automated turnstile or drawbridge system on a vastly different scale.
    For a short summary of this paper, see Science DailyPhysOrg reprinted the 5-minute movie from the paper by Gulbis and Clarke that explains their main findings and shows animations of the Kir potassium gate in action.  At the 2:20 point in the movie, one can see the 23° rotation of the bottom subunit.  At the 3:25 point, one can see some of the global conformational changes (switches, latches and pulleys) that operate the channel mechanism.  The viewer should keep in mind that in real life these actions occur extremely rapidly.  The Kir channel can selectively pass millions of potassium ions per second while keeping out interlopers.  Because of voltage-gated channels such as these, neurons can transmit up to a thousand impulses per second at speeds of 120 meters per second.
1.  Clark, Caputo, Hill, Vandenburg, Smith and Gulbis, “Domain Reorientation and Rotation of an Intracellular Assembly Regulate Conduction in Kir Potassium Channels,” Cell, June 3, 2010 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.05.003.
2.  Molecular biologists use the phrase conformational change to refer to any physical reorganization of the domains of a protein or cellular molecular, such as a twist, rotation, bend, or fold of some parts relative to others.  It is comparable to the actions of machinery with moving parts.
There was no mention of evolution in this paper.  The only oblique references to evolution at all were six statements that some amino acids were “conserved” (i.e., unevolved) in various positions of the channel, two of which were “highly conserved.”  OK, great – Darwin need not apply.  Here are molecules doing physical work, at a precision level, with exquisitely beautiful function, absolutely essential to life, all the way from bacteria (03/12/2002) to man.  The elegance and sophistication of these gates is astounding.  Of what possible benefit is evolutionary theory here?  Where does it help to elucidate the structure of these gates or to help us understand their origin?  On the contrary; it is by intelligent design that we sense design, we find design, we understand design, we reverse-engineer design, and we apply design.  We can look at the design of these gates and learn something.  The design we find in living things works so well, it can motivate scientists to design better artificial devices.  It’s ID science through and through.
    Take a moment next time you feel a pleasant sensation – whether from good food, sex, a warm cup of coffee, a gentle breeze on the skin, the tightness of a well-exercised muscle, a beautiful view, wonderful music, a loving hug – to ponder that those feelings don’t just happen.  Those active sensations (and many more passive signals in the autonomic nervous system) are mediated through trillions of exquisitely crafted potassium channel machines.  They work throughout your life without your conscious thought.  This brings us to another benefit of design-based science.  Understanding the intricacy of these structures, that work so efficiently at this incredibly tiny scale, leads to awe.  Awe leads to humility.  Humility leads to worship.  Worship leads to unselfishness.  Unselfishness leads to altruism.  Couldn’t the world use a little more of those spin-offs?
    Thanks to Brett Miller for another new donated illustration for “Amazing Facts” entries in Creation-Evolution Headlines.  Watch for this symbol and another new one in forthcoming articles.  His website is EvidentCreation.com, where you can find articles and a collection of his clever and thought-provoking cartoons.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHuman BodyPhysicsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
  Look at a photograph.  How many neurons are involved in perceiving that image?  The amazing answer was told in the 06/08/2004 entry.  Did you know we have over 650 “Amazing Facts” collected in Creation-Evolution Headlines so far?  They range from astronomy to biochemistry.  If you’re bored, browse through the Chain Links on “Amazing” and you’ll soon be saying, “Wow!”  Here’s a recent one that was kind of cool (05/12/2010), and another (03/14/2010).  There are hundreds more.  Go fishing.

Whale Evolution: Hurry Up and Wait     06/03/2010    
June 03, 2010 — Whales evolved really fast, then just swam around with nothing to do for tens of millions of years.  “Whales Evolved in the Blink of an Eye” wrote Brett Israel for Live Science about a new study that claims “Whales evolved explosively fast into a spectacular array of shapes and sizes” about 35 million years ago, but then pretty much stopped evolving for 25 million years thereafter.
    Over a period of 5 million years, “like the blink of an eye” according to Graham Slater of UCLA, something dramatic happened: “whale evolution ignited.  Whales began as basically similar body types and evolved into everything from porpoises to blue whales over the next 5 million years,” Brett Israel wrote.  This is known as the “explosive radiation hypothesis” (kind of like a big bang in whale origins).  With this package came all kinds of goodies like sonar, large brains, baleen filtering systems, and complex sociality.  How?  By evolution, silly; or as teens like to say, whatever.  “Whatever conditions allowed modern whales to persist allowed them to evolve into unique, disparate modes of life, and those niches largely have been maintained throughout most of their history.”  That’s Michael Alfaro talking.  He’s an evolutionist at UCLA, too.  He’s an expert.  He should know.
    So let’s get this “explosive radiation hypothesis” straight.  A dog-size mammal walks into the sea some 48 million years ago and starts blubbering, becoming some kind of generic whale by 35 million years ago.  Then, within a blink of an eye (5 million years), we get blue whales, right whales, sperm whales, porpoises, dolphins, baleen whales, “exploding” into the oceans, by, whatever.  Something gave them sonar, large brains, baleen and complex sociality.  What was it?  Evolution.  Wasn’t evolution supposed to consist of the gradual accumulation of numerous, successive, slight modifications?  Whatever.  OK, then what happened?  “Those differences were probably in place by 25 million years ago, at the latest, and for many millions of years, they have not changed very much,” Slater said.  Will that be on the test? 

Environmentalists should be outraged.  The conditions that allowed for this spectacular evolution of whales “have been maintained” for 25 million years.  By whom?  Who is responsible for this intolerable status quo?  Life is languishing.  Species are going extinct.  Life needs to evolve or perish!  (They can’t blame humans, because Homo had not evolved yet; sorry, ACLU.)  What a fine kettle of fish this is.  Mother Nature has left the whales in a stagnant ocean where they can no longer evolve, and we can’t blame the humans.  Evolution was to be a constant fluid stream of change.  Darwin is all red-faced over there, angry at his UCLA supporters talking about “explosive radiation” instead of gradual change.
    Take a moment to savor this wonderfully elegant theory that Charlie Dearest (07/18/2006, 07/03/2007) brought to mankind.  Realize that whale evolution has often been presented by his disciples as one of the best examples.  Yes, it certainly is.
Next headline on:  MammalsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
Venter’s Synthetic Plagiarism Deflated by NY Times     06/02/2010    
June 02, 2010 — How significant was Craig Venter’s achievement of a so-called synthetic genome?  Somewhat significant, but it pales in significance to creating life from scratch.  It was only like “peering over a fortress that is the mighty cell,” wrote Natalie Angier for the New York Times Monday, May 31.
    The article was accompanied with a cartoon by Serge Bloch of a musician playing a DNA double helix as if it were a concertina.  It ended with an analogy of researchers in synthetic biology making a few instruments, but failing to get an orchestra to sound together.  The running theme of the article was that molecular biologists are nowhere close to imitating what a living cell accomplishes with apparent ease.  Venter’s lab essentially copied the code, borrowed existing parts, and depended completely on cell machinery.  In effect, they plagiarized living cells, just like our earlier entry claimed (see 05/31/2010).  “Only on looking carefully at the genetic sequence in each cell,” she said, “would you find the researchers’ distinguishing ‘watermarks,’ brief chemical messages inserted into the otherwise plagiarized string of one million-plus letters of bacterial DNA.”  In essence, she said that everything except the watermarks amounted to plagiarism.  But then, it could even be argued that the quotations from Joyce, Oppenheimer, Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann, which they inscribed in DNA symbols, were not original work, either – nor were their own names, which had been assigned the scientists by their parents.  What, exactly, was original about this achievement?
    Angier’s article employed amusing wordplay here and there, such as this excerpt: “Other researchers were impressed by the work but were quick to keep the feat on the ground.”  Throughout, she extolled the cell’s complexity and power: “every cell is a microcosm of life, and neither the Venter team nor anybody else has come close to recreating the cell from scratch,” she said: “If anything, the new report underscores how dependent biologists remain on its encapsulated power.”  On page two, she described how cytoplasm, which “pretty much has the texture of snot,” conceals a “beautiful architecture” within.  Venter’s lab merely utilized the architecture without constructing anything new:
When the Venter team inserted the synthetic version of the Mycoplasma mycoides genome into the cellular housing of the Mycoplasma capricolum bacterium, the newcomer took full advantage of the resident cytoplasmic wares.  It used the thousands of little biodevices called ribosomes to stitch together amino acids into new proteins.  It relied on complex molecular assemblages to maintain its DNA in working order and to duplicate that DNA when it was time to divide.  It thanked its lucky base pairs that a greasy lipid cell membrane and stiffer bacterial wall not only kept the inside appropriately, bioactively dense, but also kept the outside appropriately out, for an exposed cytoplasm would soon be scavenged for parts, most likely by a neighboring microbe.
    Considered together, the modern cell is dauntingly complex....
Yet the article contained a strange tension.  Intertwined with praise of the cell, Angier repeatedly attributed its design to time and chance.  She made it sound as if time alone was responsible for the dazzling power seen in ribosomes, codes and membranes.  For instance, she told how at the press conference announcing his so-called synthetic cell, Dr. Venter “displayed the savvy graciousness of an actor accepting an Academy Award,” but he “acknowledged that none of his group’s work would have been possible without a lot of help from the parents – Mother Nature and Father Time.”  Rather than ridiculing or at least criticizing that remark, Angier swallowed it whole and regurgitated it: “After all, that stalwart pair was responsible for designing and gradually refining the real cells that brought the Venter team’s synthetic constructs to life.”  Furthermore, she followed this winner of Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week (which marred an otherwise well-written article) with additional Darwin bloopers that similarly personified evolution or ascribed the majesty of cells to a single creative factor: time –
  • Dr. Venter freely admitted his indebtedness to precedence.  His team, he said, was “taking advantage of three and a half billion years of evolution.
  • Throughout those preposterous eons, nature has had a chance to perfect the splendid entity of all earthly animation that is the living cell.
  • The goal of contriving a self-replicating and autonomously metabolizing protocell, however, continues to elude them.  “We have the instruments,” he [Dr. Steen Rasmussen, University of Southern Denmark] said, “but it doesn’t sound like an orchestra yet.”  Just pick up your baton, hum a few bars, and give it three billion years.
The take-away quote goes to Dr. Bonnie Bassler of Princeton: “I am always awed by nature and how it manages to work so well.
The Darwiniacs will continue to get away with this intellectual schizophrenia unless we, the citizen sanitizers of sanity, the local vocal focal points of biological logic, blow the whistle.  Natalie’s essay is a mix of sublime insight and utter absurdity.  “Hum a few bars and give it three billion years”?  What kind of nonsense is that?  Is that how Brahms and Mozart wrote their orchestral masterpieces?  Is that how anything of “beautiful architecture” and “encapsulated power” came to be?  No, it’s not, and no, it’s not snot either (cytoplasm, that is).  The exquisite design of cell architecture is nothing to sneeze at.  If time is all you need to create such things, the Earth has rocks that evolutionists believe are older than three billion years – how come they aren’t making codes and molecular machines and dividing into perfect copies of themselves?  It’s hard to believe that any self-respecting Darwinist would not be blushing after reading those statements.
    Instead of merely claiming that “preposterous eons” are a necessary and sufficient condition for biological complexity, how about giving us a little empirical, scientific demonstration?  We challenge these researchers to go into their labs, put some sterile minerals, clays, and oils into a beaker with water, keep their dirty designing hands off and wait three billion years.  Natalie Angier can be the journalist to cover the story.  If something crawls out at the end of the experiment, all observers will surely be happy to acknowledge that time alone can produce a living cell.  (If anything did crawl out, we would have strong reason to suspect, given the deviousness of human nature and the difficulty of preventing contamination, that pre-existing life got into the beaker.)  We rather suspect that by the end of the first day the Darwin Team will be jumping up and down, crying out to Mother Nature and Father Time, just like the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel.  But rules are rules; we won’t let them touch it.  This has to be a demonstration of the creative power of time and chance alone, without any help from the intelligently guided hands of human beings.  We can even make it easier.  We can cut up dead cells in the beaker and provide all the components and building blocks.  Just add time.  That’s all Angier wants, right?
    It will quickly become apparent just how preposterous those eons are.  They are not anything as preposterous as Darwinists themselves; for, by conjuring up preposterous things, whether eons, as here, or preposterous universes (09/20/2002, 07/02/2003), they contradict themselves.  Anything preposterous is both pre- and post- at the same time (by definition), thus canceling itself out, and coming to naught.  With apologies to Ogden Nash,

The Darwin mind is a muddled beast;
For sound discourse, it’s not a feast.
Farewell, farewell, old Darwinist,
I’ll debate one less preposterist.

    Here’s a call to sane Darwinists (Note: we didn’t intend that phrase an oxymoron).  Join with us in condemning statements that attribute creative power to Mother Nature and Father Time.  Tell the press to stop parading absurdities like, “preposterous eons” will give “nature” (whoever “she” is) a “chance to perfect the splendid entity of all earthly animation that is the living cell.”  That may be poetic license, but it is not Darwinism.  That’s intelligent design.  We cannot carry on a reasoned debate about origins if there is going to be equivocation over terms and concepts.  We are going to talk past one another if you allow fairy-tale anthropomorphic gobbledygook into the discussion, where miracles can happen with mystical agents that can be snuck in with rhetoric, contrary to naturalistic core beliefs.  Stick with matter, motion, time, and impersonal law.  Furthermore, you cannot stash miracles of chance in unobserved eons, nor make reckless drafts on the bank of time (07/02/2007).  And it is not going to help your cause if your opponents understand Darwinian theory better than your defenders do.  Get your disarrayed team in order.  If we are going to mop the floor with you, victory is sweeter if we achieve it in a fair fight.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsIntelligent DesignAmazing FactsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas

Catching Up to Butterflies for Improved Security, Optics     06/01/2010    
June 01, 2010 — Butterflies do it better, but at least they provided the inspiration, and thanks to them, we may have cash that is more secure.  PhysOrg headlined, “From butterflies’ wings to bank notes – how nature’s colors could cut bank fraud.”
    Scientists at the University of Cambridge were intrigued by the Indonesian Peacock or Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio blumei), “whose wing scales are composed of intricate, microscopic structures that resemble the inside of an egg carton” (a microphoto accompanies the article).  The structures, made of alternating layers of cuticle and air rather than pigments, set up optical patterns that intensify some colors and cancel others – producing vivid flashes of light.  These “photonic crystals” have been difficult to replicate – until now.
    “Using a combination of nanofabrication procedures – including self-assembly and atomic layer deposition – [Matthias] Kolle and his colleagues made structurally identical copies of the butterfly scales, and these copies produced the same vivid colours as the butterflies’ wings,” the article said.  Kolle was ecstatic: “We have unlocked one of nature’s secrets and combined this knowledge with state-of-the-art nanofabrication to mimic the intricate optical designs found in nature.”  He quickly added that “nature is better at self-assembly than we are” but humans have more materials to work with.
    One application of this technology will be to encrypt bank notes, making them nearly impossible for forgers to duplicate.  Kolle thinks this may be what butterflies are doing.  To some eyes they appear bright blue, but to others they appear green.  “This could explain why the butterfly has evolved this way of producing colour,” he said.  “If its eyes see fellow butterflies as bright blue, while predators only see green patches in a green tropical environment, then it can hide from predators at the same time as remaining visible to members of its own species.”
    He did not explain how the butterfly could have “evolved” such a clever system.  Perhaps it was designed.  Whether design or evolution, though, one thing is clear: Kolle admitted, “The shiny green patches on this tropical butterfly’s wing scales are a stunning example of nature’s ingenuity in optical design.”  The article includes one of Kolle’s photos of the glittering scales on the butterfly wing.
Regular readers have the patterns memorized by now: Darwinism contributes nothing to the story but a tacked-on, after-the-fact tale about the animal actively “evolving” some amazing capability “for the purpose of” doing something, with no explanation of how it did such a thing, even though human inventors, using intelligent design, cannot even come close to replicating it.  That’s why we award that part of the story the “Dumb Ideas” tag.  Any questions?
    The rest of the story is amazing.  Wonderful physics, the imitation of design in nature, fruitful science using both design detection and design imitation, no real debt to naturalism or Darwinism, benefits to society, increased understanding, all-around good coming from efforts that really are based in intelligent design.  Any questions?
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyBiomimeticsDarwin and EvolutionDumb IdeasIntelligent DesignPhysicsAmazing Facts
  Learn the ten spins of early man announcements, from the 06/11/2003 commentary.

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Featured Creation Scientist for June

Dr. Henry M. Morris, Jr.
1918 - 2006

Henry Morris is considered the “father of the modern creationist movement.”  A prolific author, scientist and founder of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), he was humble and mild-mannered in person, but his influence was felt around the world.  It continues to reverberate through his writings, his sons, and the disciples he inspired, the institutions he either founded himself or stimulated others to found.  He had many enemies among secular scientists.  None of them, however, could ever fault him for his scientific credentials and knowledge of science, his communication skills, his personal character, the consistency of his convictions, his family, or his personal integrity.  He was consistent and productive to the end of his life, and died peacefully in 2006 among family and friends with no regrets, looking forward to heaven.

Dr. Henry Morris (PhD, hydraulic engineering, Rice University) and Dr. John Whitcomb awakened a slumbering church in 1961 with The Genesis Flood, a book that many have claimed marked the beginning of the modern creationist movement.  The book presented convincing scientific evidence against long ages and for a global watery cataclysm.  In 1970, Morris left Virginia Tech where he was head of the department of civil engineering, to pursue his creation activities full time.  With Dr. Duane Gish, a biochemist from UC Berkeley, Morris formed the Institute for Creation Research.  The fledgling work, begun on a shoestring, soon grew into the leading creationist research institute in the world and added a museum and graduate school.  Morris and Gish debated hundreds of scientists on college campuses across America and around the world.  His 50+ books, unabashedly Christian and literally Biblical but also very astute about science and the history of evolutionary thought, have had an enormous impact on generations of readers.

Gentle and soft-spoken in person but impregnable with a pen, Dr. Henry Morris was still writing things up to his final few days.  The breadth and depth of subjects he wrote about is remarkable.  His mind stayed sharp through age 87.  The work at ICR continues under the leadership of his sons John Morris, a PhD in geological engineering, and Henry Morris III, a pastor and businessman as President, at the new headquarters in Dallas.  His son Henry Morris IV is Director of Donor Relations.    With a staff of scientists and writers, ICR continues its emphasis on scientific research and writing.  The institute has begun several new research projects including one in genetics, after the recent conclusion of its 8-year RATE project, an interdisciplinary analysis of radioactive dating by 11 scientists, and a project called FAST (Flood Activated Sedimentation and Tectonics).

One of Morris’s last public appearances was in 2002, when ICR hosted a large, well-attended conference at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa called “Passing the Torch of Creation.”  Dr. Morris received a standing ovation immediately upon being introduced to speak.  He demonstrated how one man, committed to God and his word, can make a difference.  Almost every creationist leader today is indebted to his life and works.  In the 1960s there were very few books on creation.  Evolution dominated the textbooks and most churches, intimidated by science, preferred to avoid the issue.  Henry Morris’s first small paperback, The Bible and Modern Science, began to change things.  Then The Genesis Flood electrified a new generation of college-educated Christians.  Liberal churches had long since given in to Darwinism completely, and many Bible-believing churches had capitulated to long ages and uniformitarianism.  Assuming that science had proved deep time, they merely tried to accommodate it with compromises like the gap theory or progressive creation.

Morris and Whitcomb demonstrated that it was possible to look at the fossil record and the geological strata in a new way that corroborated the Bible record of a world-wide flood.  Not only that, they showed how the scientific evidence was superior to that of the evolutionists.  A new army of creation scientists launched into further investigations that continue to the present day.  New organizations, like the Bible-Science Association and the Creation Research Society, were formed.  Numerous spin-off clubs and societies have kept the creation movement growing in strength and extent around the world.  Almost all of them can trace some ancestry back to ICR.

Ken Ham, for instance, often talks about Morris as his inspiration; particularly how his commentary on Genesis, The Genesis Record, provided a powerful influence on his life to show that God’s word must be the foundation in all areas of life, not the fallible opinions of man.  As he often puts it, “Are you going to believe the words of men, who don’t know everything and weren’t there, or the words of God, who does know everything and who was there?”  That was certainly a key theme of Morris: we take the word of God as our final authority, because it is the word of God.  We don’t mold the authority of God to the fallible opinions of science; what better authority could one have than the Creator of the universe?

Henry Morris never boasted about himself but always sought to honor Jesus Christ and remain faithful to God’s word.  He was aware to the last of the crucial nature of this intellectual battle.  The battle has become more heated than ever.  Having passed the torch on to a new generation, he didn’t leave the field, but continued to challenge and encourage others to the end.  Dr. Morris has been the Moses of modern creationism.  His personal endurance, patience and integrity, and the wisdom of his books, need to inspire a new generation of Joshuas and Calebs to be strong and very courageous, and to take back the land, for good science and the glory of God.


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

A Concise Guide
to Understanding
Evolutionary Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Souder’s Law
Repetition does not establish validity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice from Paul

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

I Timothy 6:20-21

Song of the True Scientist

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

from Psalm 104

Maxwell’s Motivation

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

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

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

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(a retired engineer and amateur astronomer in Maryland)

“I really enjoy your website, the first I visit every day.  I have a quote by Mark Twain which seems to me to describe the Darwinian philosophy of science perfectly.  ‘There is something fascinating about science.  One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.’  Working as I do in the Environmental field (I am a geologist doing groundwater contamination project management for a state agency) I see that kind of science a lot.  Keep up the good work!!”
(a hydrogeologist in Alabama)

“I visit your website regularly and I commend you on your work.  I applaud your effort to pull actual science from the mass of propaganda for Evolution you report on (at least on those rare occasions when there actually is any science in the propaganda).  I also must say that I'm amazed at your capacity to continually plow through the propaganda day after day and provide cutting and amusing commentary....  I can only hope that youthful surfers will stop by your website for a fair and interesting critique of the dogma they have to imbibe in school.”
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“I have enjoyed your site for several years now.  Thanks for all the hard work you obviously put into this.  I appreciate your insights, especially the biological oriented ones in which I'm far behind the nomenclature curve.  It would be impossible for me to understand what's going on without some interpretation.  Thanks again.”
(a manufacturing engineer in Vermont)

“Love your site and your enormous amount of intellectualism and candor regarding the evolution debate.  Yours is one site I look forward to on a daily basis.  Thank you for being a voice for the rest of us.”
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“For sound, thoughtful commentary on creation-evolution hot topics go to Creation-Evolution Headlines.
(Access Research Network 12/28/2007).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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