I sometimes wonder why we talk about anything else. Because this is the most interesting topic there is: its our creation story. Where did we come from? How did we get here? What brought us into existence? What is our relationship to reality as a whole?
Mars Stars Solar System Cosmos Dating Geo ApeMan Darwin Dino Bird Bugs Fish Mammal Plant Fossil Amazing Dumb Politics School ID Bible Physics Movie Human Body Health Cell Life SETI
BACK ISSUES: CURRENT
2001: DEC NOV OCT SEP AUG JULY JUNE MAY APR MAR FEB JAN
2000: NOV-DEC SEP-OCT
Living Fossil from Age of Dinosaurs Getting Too Warm for Comfort 03/31/2002
Something sounds incongruous in this story. On the one hand we are told that dinosaurs, who come in all shapes and sizes, were the most successful land creatures that ever lived, surviving everything from Arctic freezing to Egypts hot spells, yet this little contemporary, who has outlived them all, is sensitive to a one-degree rise in climate. So over 65 million years, with all the climactic changes in that long period, the tuatara, who survived whatever wiped out the dinosaurs, have never been threatened with extinction until now? Is it remotely possible something is wrong with the millions of years story?Eyes Jump, but Brain Doesnt 03/29/2002
Our eyes are always jumping around, in a movement termed saccades, but somehow the brain smoothes out the image. Does the retina or the brain compensate for the saccadal movement? German scientists publishing in the March 29 Science have identified non-retinal neurons that are able to distinguish between the automatic saccadal movements and the darting glances we make on purpose. Marcia Barinaga explains an experiment you can do to see how the movement works:
If our mind were to see what our retinas see, the world would seem herky-jerky. Thats because our eyes continually dart from place to place, causing an image to jump about on our retinas. The brain smooths the scene by briefly blanking out visual perception when the eyes jump. A simple demonstration illustrates this: Look at one of your eyes in a mirror. Then look at your other eye. Then back to the first. You will not see your eyes move, even though a person watching over your shoulder would easily see the rapid eye movements known as saccades.The scientists found evidence that the special neurons compensate by cancelling out the saccadal movements.
If you stared at something without movement, your receptors would be saturated. So to prevent temporary blindness, God gave you muscles that move the eyes constantly, and nerves that compensate for the movements so you dont get confused. How could these two independent functions evolve simultaneously to harmonize just right?Chemist Envisions Possibilities of Self-Organizing Molecules 03/29/2002
The March 29 issue of Science is devoted to Supramolecular chemistry and self-assembly. In a viewpoint article entitled Toward Self-Organization and Complex Matter, French chemist Jean-Marie Lehn of the Pasteur Institute speculates about the future possibilities in the upcoming era of Darwinian chemistry where chemists will utilize techniques molecules have evolved over millions of years:
The combined features of supramolecular systems--information and programmability, dynamics and reversibility, constitution and diversity--are leading toward the emergence of adaptive/evolutive chemistry. Adaptive chemistry implies selection and growth under time reversibility. It becomes evolutive chemistry when acquired features are conserved and passed on. Harnessing the power of selection for adaptation and evolution on the molecular scene is ushering in a darwinistic era of chemistry. The ultimate goal is to merge design and selection in self-organization to perform self-design, in which function-driven selection among suitably instructed dynamic species generates the optimal organized and functional entity, in a postdarwinian process.As an example of a natural model, Lehn points to the human brain: The most complex object we know, the brain, builds up by self-organization and is self-wired and self-integrated, as well as self-connected through our senses.
Self, self, self. Pasteur would be appalled at what this scientist, at the institute he founded, is saying. Pasteur thought he had demonstrated for all time the law of biogenesis: only life begets life. Never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow of this one simple experiment, he claimed after demonstrating the results of tests with his famous swan-necked flask. Leeuwenhoek before him had also argued strongly that living things do not just emerge (self-assemble) from inanimate matter. But now, spontaneous generation has arisen with a vengeance: the universe is viewed as a self-assembling, self-organizing, self-designing, self-fabricating, self-recognizing, selfish self. Lehn uses the prefix self- 45 times in his short article. How apt a science for the me generation.Another Protein Chaperone Found 03/28/2002
German scientists writing in the March 28 Nature have described another protease-chaperone machine in cells that is widely conserved in living things. Named DegP, this molecular machine has two functions: if it cannot refold a badly-folded protein, it dismantles it. Its functions appear to be heat sensitive. The six-sided cluster of protein chains forms a barrel-shaped cavity, with a construction reminiscent of a compactor. Customers are guided by tentacle-like gatekeepers into the machine, and the door is closed. If the customer just needs cleaning to refold, the lint is scraped off and the molecule is ejected to refold; otherwise, it is compacted and destroyed. The machine is apparently versatile enough to handle many different kinds of proteins.
This is all so amazing, and raises additional questions; how do these eyeless, mindless machines know just what to do? How do they recognize a badly folded protein? When our best biochemists cant solve the highly complex problem of protein folding, how does a cell do it? Clearly a great deal of sophisticated hardware and software design is behind the construction of these tiny machines. And remember, these machines are already fully functional in bacteria, the simplest forms of life.Life Compared to Designed Architecture 03/28/2002
In the March 28 issue of Nature, Everett Shock of Washington University of St. Louis gives his view on the announcement in the same issue of the creation of amino acids by UV light in simulated interstellar ice (see this NASA press release for details). Titling his News and Views piece Astrobiology: Seeds of Life? Shock, after agreeing that amino acids are easily formed in a variety of abiological conditions, ends with this statement:
Does this tell us much about the origin of life? Well, you can study geology for a living, but knowing how different rocks form doesn't tell you which lumps of rock will become Teotihuacán, the Taj Mahal or Tony's Tavern. Studying the chemical building-blocks of life shows that they are ubiquitous and can exist in the absence of life. Indeed, inferred cosmic abundances of these building-blocks from abiological sources greatly exceed those from living organisms. Accepting that fact, it follows that process- driven investigations into the emergence of life may need to be cast in a different way, which takes into account the materials involved but is not directly tied to them. This, I believe, is a major challenge for the fledgling field of astrobiology.
This sounds for all the world like a statement by an Intelligent Design theorist. What are Teotihuacán, the Taj Mahal or Tony's Tavern, but examples of intelligent (more or less) design? Dr. Shock correctly distinguishes the building blocks from the way they are assembled. Of course, this is obvious to anyone, even Tony, that bricks do not spontaneously assemble themselves into taverns. Yet astrobiologists routinely get excited about finding bricks. They have never found abiological architects. We agree with Everett Shock that astrobiology needs to be cast in a different way that is not just tied to the materials; it needs to account for the origin of information that leads to functional structures. To do this without input of intelligent design is a major challenge, to put it wildly mildly.Dry Mars: River Channels Carved by Dry Ice? 03/27/2002
According to an article on Discovery News, echoed by NASAs Astrobiology Institute, a growing number of scientists are interpreting the latest data as evidence that the channels and features of Mars that looked like they were formed by water are better explained by liquid carbon dioxide from episodes of volcanic heating.
The jury is still out, but this would be a big disappointment to those who expected to find life there.Where Did Earth Get Its Water? The H2O Enigma 03/26/2002
The cover story of Science News (Vol 161:12, Mar 23) laments that theories of the origins of Earths oceans are all wet. Earth was born dry, many scientists maintain, but the source of its water remains a mystery with conflicting clues. ... A long-popular theory about how Earth got wet-that the oceans are puddles left by an ancient rain of comets- doesnt seem to hold water, and new hypotheses suggest that the celestial pantry is now empty of a key ingredient in the recipe for Earth.
In the article, all three major theories are shown to be faulty:
Is there anything in evolutionary theory, whether cosmology, geology, biology or paleontology, that is not slippery, uncertain, contradictory, and disputed between evolutionists? Were still looking. Meanwhile, you can be sure Epcot wont revise their Living Seas exhibit because of this report. A good multimedia fantasy is worth a ton of scientific papers.What Caused the Permian Extinction? 03/26/2002
Robert Berner, a Yale geologist, writing in the March 26 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examines the many theories of what supposedly killed off most species of living things 550 million years ago. He studied effects on the carbon cycle, and concludes: The most far-reaching effect was found to be reorganization of the carbon cycle with major sedimentary burial of organic matter shifting from the land to the sea, resulting in less burial overall, decreased atmospheric O2, and higher atmospheric CO2 for the entire Triassic Period. On March 27, Scientific American posted a summary of this theory.
Just storytelling. Other evolutionists will disagree and like their story better, especially the one about the big meteor. It makes more exciting computer animations on the Discovery Channel. (This paper allows for the meteor, but combines it with two other ad hoc mechanisms. What happened to Ockhams Razor?)Evolutionists Try to Calibrate Molecular Clocks to Fossils 03/26/2002
A team of American and British scientists tackles the difficulty of relating the evolutionary tree based on gene comparisons with the evolutionary tree derived from fossils. Writing in the March 26 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they conclude, from a study of ferns, that molecular evolution can speed up and slow down, even creating molecular living fossils that show no evolution over long periods. They conclude, Similar discrepancies between the fossil record and molecular-based age estimates noted in other studies may also be explained in part by violations of rate constancy among lineages.
The title calls this phenomenon Rate heterogeneity a clever euphemism for confusion. This paper is a case study in begging the question. It only makes sense if you already are convinced evolution is true. It also only makes sense if you accept their dating methods for fossils, which are themselves based on evolutionary assumptions. The data show, as we have reported frequently, a big mismatch between molecular family trees and those based on the fossil record (both of which assume evolution from the get-go). But this anomaly must never cast doubt on the fact of evolution; they just have to force the mismatched parts together, somehow. They admit in their Introduction that it has become clear that many estimated divergence times [based on the molecular clock hypothesis] are grossly inconsistent with the fossil record. But does postulating a wildly fluctuating molecular clock help? Does it not just add to the confusion, making it impossible to be sure about anything in evolutionary theory?Neutral Mutations Wait for Their Time to Shine 03/26/2002
Two scientists writing in the March 26 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a gene in monkeys that had some weak antiviral activity, but when duplicated, became much more effective. They reason that neutral substitutions are not simply noises in protein evolution, as many have thought. They may play constructive roles by setting the intramolecular microenvironment for further complementary advantageous substitutions, which can lead to improved or altered function.
They admit that, The molecular evolutionary mechanisms underlying the functional divergence of duplicated genes, however, are not well understood, in part because it is difficult to reconstruct the sequences and functional characteristics of ancestral genes and proteins. They do little more than hope that paleomolecular biochemistry will shed more light on it. But how did a paper like this slip through peer review? It reeks of teleology (purpose, plan) a mortal sin to an evolutionist. They picture neutral mutations lying in wait for their chance to aid survival. This is unacceptable. Mutations dont care. They cant care; like accidents waiting to happen, they are far more likely to damage what is working rather than help. Even if you granted their premise, does one example justify a theory? Even if you granted that, the monkeys are still monkeys, so no real evolution has been observed here. Consider whether this paper helps evolutionary theory at all, especially in light of the next story below on cell motors, which is based on empirical, observational evidence.Cells Motors Are Really Motors 03/26/2002
James Marden and Lee Allen from Penn State, writing in the March 26 PNAS, Molecules, muscles, and machines: Universal performance characteristics of motors have graphed the net force vs mass of motors from molecular size to rocket engines. They found essentially no difference between biological motors like ATP synthase, the bacterial flagellum, dynein and other nano-scale molecular machines and man-made motors:
Animal- and human-made motors vary widely in size and shape, are constructed of vastly different materials, use different mechanisms, and produce an enormous range of mass-specific power. Despite these differences, there is remarkable consistency in the maximum net force produced by broad classes of animal- and human-made motors.In addition, they compared flying birds, bats, and insects, swimming fish, various taxa of running animals, piston engines, electric motors, and all types of jets and found them to all fall on the same line of force per mass, except in a few cases where viscosity of the medium was a factor. Remarkably, they state, this finding indicates that most of the motors used by humans and animals for transportation have a common upper limit of mass-specific net force output that is independent of materials and mechanisms. They are not sure if living things have achieved a theoretical upper limit of performance per unit mass, but conclude: In the meantime, we perhaps can only marvel that millions of years of natural selection on animals and a few centuries of experimentation with machines have resulted in an empirical and evolutionary solution to the problem; ...
(Gag) There it is again, another glittering generality that time and chance, acting on impersonal atoms, have achieved perfection in engineering!52 Ohio Scientists Encourage Critical Thinking on Evolution 03/26/2002
In the ongoing controversy about evolution teaching in Ohio schools, a group of 52 scientists have launched a salvo for academic freedom regarding origins, encouraging schools to teach evidence both for and against evolution and intelligent design, and critical thinking and informed participation in public discussions about biological origins. A third of the signers are from Ohio State University at Columbus, says Access Research Network, which published the resolution and list of signers.
Access Research Network also posted a statement by Senator Edward Kennedy repudiating intelligent design as science (disagreeing with a March 14 Washington Times article by his colleague Rick Santorum), and a response by William Dembski asking whether Kennedy is an expert in this area or was influenced by establishment scientists.
Looks like Kennedy did a flip-flop on this, because he earlier supported the Santorum Amendment (see his statement in our June 30 headline). One wonders what advice was given him by evolution-only promoters. Regardless, Dembski points out that Kennedy provided no reason for his blunt statement that ID is not a scientific theory, then provides reasons why it is. Apparently the 52 Ohio scientists agree, and believe ID deserves to be heard, and that neither Darwinism nor any other controversial theory in science should be treated like a monopoly. The protectionism demanded by the Darwin Party is going to work against them. What are they afraid of? If Darwinism must be shielded from honest inquiry, dont they realize it makes their case look weak?Blood Cells in Dinosaur Bone: True or False? 03/25/2002
In 1997, Carl Wieland, creationist writer with Answers in Genesis, reported on an alleged find (by evolutionists) of red blood cells in dinosaur bone. An evolutionist decided to go to the source and check out the details. He wrote a letter claiming that no such blood cells were found, and it was an example that AiG has again been caught misrepresenting the results of scientific studies and exaggerating their impact to bolster its anti-evolution agenda. Now, Carl Wieland has responded, point by point, to the evolutionists rebuttal, concluding that, still, the evidence is highly consistent with red blood cells having been found in T. rex fossils.
Get out your Baloney Detector and check out this interesting debate. Note that the original claim of blood cells came from the evolutionist literature, not from a creationist source. That means the burden of proof is on them to explain away the data, since they were the ones surprised by what appeared to be remains of blood cells and hemoglobin. Have they succeeded? Begging the question (assuming evolution and long ages) doesnt qualify.Iraqi Dam Threatens Archaeological Sites 03/22/2002
Unless something is done before 2007, a new Iraqi dam on the Tigris will flood the mound of Ashur, capital of ancient Assyria, laments the March 22 issue of Science. With tensions as high as they are because of Saddam Hussein, it is unlikely this archaeological treasure trove and 64 others in the flood zone can be salvaged in time.
Asshur is mentioned quite often in the Old Testament; the Assyrians were the nemesis of the Israelites. That the large Assyrian empire is gone, and may soon be buried under water, while the Israelites flourish in their homeland, is a testimony to the hand of God in history. Still, we deplore the destruction of archaeological sites that can shed light on Biblical peoples and times. Iraq is seat of many fascinating historical sites that, sadly, are off limits to researchers because of Islamic extremism and the totalitarian government of a mad despot.Why Cold Feels Cold 03/22/2002
The March 22 Science explains a little of what happens when you taste a cool mint or put an ice cube on your hand:
Mildly cool temperatures (25º to 15ºC) and the cooling agent menthol activate the TRPM8 ion channel. This channel is expressed by sensory neurons in the mouth that project to the trigeminal ganglia (TG) in the brain, and by sensory neurons in the skin that project to the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) of the spinal cord. When activated, TRPM8 channels open, allowing Ca2+ and Na+ ions into neurons, which then become depolarized. TRPM8, like other TRPM channels, is a tetramer with each subunit containing six transmembrane domains and unusually long amino and carboxyl termini.
Cool, huh? Just thought youd like to know. By the way, there is a different sensor for hot chili peppers and burning heat. Sometimes, it appears, both heat and cold can trigger the same ion channels. Thats why touching a frigid piece of metal can create a burning sensation.Factory Recall: How the Cell Deals with Assembly Errors 03/22/2002
From DNA to protein the process of transcription and translation, in which a messenger RNA (mRNA) reads the DNA template and ferries the information to a ribosome, where transfer RNAs (tRNA) assemble amino acids into protein chains, is an elaborate process coordinated with dozens of enzymes, signals and molecular machines. The mRNA is supposed to come with a termination codon a specific series of nucleotides that tells the ribosome the chain is complete. But what is the ribosome to do when the mRNA is missing the termination codon, or has it in the wrong place? If it releases a misfit protein, the results could be disastrous. Not to worry: the cell has control procedures to recognize the error and dismantle the misfit protein before it gets into circulation. Two papers in the March 22 issue of Science explain new findings about the factory recall system, termed nonsense-mediated messenger RNA decay and nonstop messenger RNA decay. Several mechanisms are involved. Though complicated, they resemble human assembly lines with inspectors that stamp bad parts defective, so that downstream workers know to send them to the recycle bin (an exosome or proteasome) instead of the shipping room. Other mechanisms resemble instructions from a high-tech spy novel: something like if the messenger arrives more than 22 minutes late or is lacking his security clearance emblem, activate his self-destruct mechanism. In her perspective summary, Lynne E. Maquat begins, Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells have evolved remarkable quality assurance mechanisms at virtually every step of gene expression. Maquat also has a summary of the processes in the March 19 issue of Current Biology.
Prokaryotic cells, are, of course, the simplest and most primitive life forms on earth. Yes, how did they evolve remarkable quality assurance mechanisms? Pray, tell.What Are Fossil Redwoods Doing in the Arctic? 03/22/2002
Theyre shedding light on a very unusual past. A researcher at Johns Hopkins University is studying a remarkably preserved group of fossil redwoods within the Arctic Circle at Axel Heilberg island north of Canada, where no plantslet alone forestsgrow today. The research team headed by Hope Jahren made three trips to study the fossils. She remarked, Some of this stuff looks about like driftwood on the beach, but its 45 million years old. These fossils are chemically preserved at a level you usually would expect to see in something thats only 1,000 years old. Jahren published her theory in the January GSA Today that an unusual current of warm equatorial air circulated almost due north to nourish the trees. Nevertheless, the find raises a number of questions. Jahren asks: Did they function similarly to how plants function now? Or did they have strategies that plants either no longer have or no longer employ? Were they fundamentally different? These fossils are really forcing us to expand our ideas of how ecosystems can work. (At this latitude, it is dark for four months of the year.)
The 45 million year age comes from evolutionary assumptions; trees have rings, but not 45 million of them, nor do they have dates inscribed on them when they died. How did redwoods get so far north, and how were they so immaculately well preserved? This is not the only find that indicates a nearly global temperate climate in the past. Some creationists have used this evidence to support the view that the climate was very different before the Flood.Intelligent Design Awareness Increases 03/21/2002
The March 21 Nature contains a report by Trisha Gura about the goings on in Ohio, where Stephen Meyer and Jonathan Wells and others were attempting to get intelligent design introduced into the state science standards (actually, to at least allow for criticisms of Darwinism). It also mentions the Emmanuel College incident from last week. It concludes with a quote from Ken Miller, evolution proponent, that the Ohio skirmish is just a rehearsal for what will happen later in Texas and other states.
The report is surprisingly dispassionate. It reports the viewpoints of both sides, and tells what is occurring. Sure, there is the quote by the Darwinists that intelligent design is pseudoscience and just a Trojan Horse for sneaking in the teaching of creationism, but that kind of rhetoric is ho-hum; Nature does not appear to take sides. Thats especially interesting when you read their opening editorial (see next headline).Biologists Drowning in Complexity 03/21/2002
So admits an opinion page, Pursuing Arrogant Simplicities, in the March 21 Nature, stating (emphasis added):
Generating vast sets of data from stressed cells in order to determine patterns of gene expression is an immense step forward. But beware the false impression that we are close to understanding how networks of genes regulate one anothers expression, and generate phenotypes such as cellular development and behaviour. Even the true scale of most genetic networks is unknown. And biologists know that genes are just one aspect of control: protein switches and molecular signalling networks are still a largely uncatalogued universe. ...The comments were made in regard to universities that are building multi-disciplinary centers to model biology, warning them not to take life too simplistically. While the editors encourage a search for simple, breakthrough hypotheses to model such things as genetic networks, the editors ask, But what if, as some biologists suggest, there may be no possible model simpler than life itself? Such are the defeatist speculations that physicists at least (as Szilard suggested) are schooled to ignore.
In a day when the scale of complexity of living things is becoming known as never before, it is prime time for intelligent design theory to supersede a simplistic Darwinian model that cannot deal with it. Its nice to hear Nature admit the complexity, but interesting to note the total silence on evolution and origins in these kinds of writings.Ethiopian Homo erectus Unifies the Species 03/21/2002
All Homo erectus individuals were members of a single species, according to EurekAlert reporting on the cover story of the March 21 Nature. Tim Whites Berkeley team extracted a skull in Ethiopia they believe shares composite African and Eurasian features, and was found in a location that makes it a human ancestor.
Any new claim about another human ancestor needs to be evaluated in light of all the prior claims we have reported right here in Creation-Evolution Headlines, and what the evolutionists themselves have said about them. Please browse through the chain links on Early Man, like this series from the Feb 15 Science. Human evolution theory is 1% data and 99% storytelling based on evolutionary assumptions, and evolutionists practically say so (especially when opining about their rivals discoveries). Why, this time it only took two weeks to overturn the previous claim in Nature.Darwinist Predicts the Future 03/20/2002
An evolutionary biologist at the University of Rochester, Barry G. Hall, is predicting evolutions next step (for bacteria, at least), in a press release entitled Darwins Time Machine. By analyzing how bacteria have evaded antibiotics, he thinks he can predict what strategy the bugs will take next, so that new medicines can head em off at the pass.
Antibiotic resistance is just variation within the species of bacterium; it is not evolution. To see why, read the Discovery Institutes response to Episode 4 of the PBS series Evolution. The bacteria may be losing information, not evolving into something more advanced. Consider how a man who loses his arm becomes immune to being handcuffed. Evolution is given far too much credit for helping bacteria evade the handcuffs. The bacteria are still bacteria, the same species of bacteria, after millions of generations. Whats evolution got to do with it?Human Brain Evolved Not Just to Get Smart 03/19/2002
The latest Science News examines the theory of Laland and Reader in the March 12 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about what led to the large human brain. Examining a thousand research papers from four primate journals, the authors concluded, The ability to learn from others, invent new behaviors, and use tools may have played pivotal roles in primate brain evolution. Thus they advocate an hypothesis out of favor with the mainstream. Science News explains, This conclusion challenges a popular theory that big, smart brains arose primarily because they afforded advantages when it came to negotiating complex social situations during human evolution. In other words, all primates, not just humans, were evolving these capabilities. They suggest that intellectual accomplishments unique to people, such as language use, may have played a smaller role in the evolution of our sizable brains than has often been thought.
Again, what is important here is not the hypothesis presented, but the controversy it points out. Evolutionists are trying to stuff observations into a story, and one group likes their story better than other groups stories. There is nothing solid to support any of the evolutionary stories, mainstream or not: phrases like may have and might be and perhaps occur 15 times in the paper. Reader and Laland spend their introduction describing all the different hypotheses that have been proposed: the behavioral drive hypothesis, the social intelligence hypothesis, the Machiavellian social manipulation hypothesis, the extractive foraging hypothesis, the cognitive mapping hypothesis, the ecological hypothesis all of which have their advocates and detractors, all of which are untested, all of which have serious problems.Did Proteins Self-Organize? 03/19/2002
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for March 19 published a supplement on Self-organized complexity in the physical, biological, and social sciences. In the only paper of the colloquium that might bear on evolution, Hans Frauenfelder of Los Alamos labs considers Proteins: Paradigms of Complexity. He describes complexity: A system can be called complex if it can assume a large number of states or conformations and if it can carry information. Proteins and DNA, he explains, can assume so many possible combinations that they make astronomical numbers seem small by comparison: yet proteins and DNA carry information, Hence proteins, and in general biological systems, are complex. He describes the complex conformations of amino acid chains, the energy landscape of protein interactions, and the many functions they perform. Then he concludes with this enigmatic statement (emphasis added): This brief sketch should make it clear that proteins are truly complex systems and that the complexity can be described through the energy landscape. The complexity has arisen through evolution. The structure and function of proteins are coded in the DNA. Within the living system, proteins are part of a complex proteins network, and the complex interactions in the network may control the actual function. Can this be called self-organized?
Frauenfelder calls self-organization a question of semantics, but it would seem any thinking person could not look at a complex system of this magnitude and call it self-organized. When the intellectual schizophrenia of evolution speaks with its left brain describing complexity of a high order and its right brain saying the complexity has arisen through evolution, sooner or later something is going to snap.Materials Scientist Inspired by Diatoms 03/19/2002
Diatoms are single-celled algae that live in glass houses. The intricacy and variety of diatom shells, called frustrules, is staggering: some 100,000 varieties, all different, some with detailed geometric patterns precise enough to be used as gauges of microscope resolution. Science Now reports that Kenneth Sandhage of Massachusetts Institute of Technology sees potential to use diatoms for nanotechnology. The silica of which they are made is too delicate, however, so he has invented a way to replace the silica with magnesium oxide. This may lead to a variety of applications, including composites for solid rocket nozzles. Dr. Sandhage marvels at the manufacturing potential of diatoms: a single diatom can give rise to a billion copies of its detailed house in just 10 days.
How did brainless algae create such beautiful geometric shapes? Browse through these diatom collections at Bowling Green State University and the California Academy of Sciences and the Alfred Wegener Institute for an eye-feast of microscopic artwork.Mars Magnetite Physical, Not Biological 03/18/2002
The claim of fossils in Martian Meteorite ALH 84001 in 1996 has generated dozens of papers pro and con. Now, a scientist at University of Dayton has recreated the magnetite grains, purported to be biological in origin, with just heat and pressure. Andrea Koziol presented her findings Friday at the Lunar and Planetary Conference in Texas. Sky and Telescope has reported this story, headlining it as Prospects Dim for Fossils in Martian Meteorite. Meanwhile, JPL reports that more Martian meteorites have been found in northwest Africa.
Another Mars headline: good news and bad news from Mars Odyssey: the MARIE experiment to measure the radiation environment around Mars, is back online. The bad news is that the radiation is more intense than previously believed, up to three times the harmful heavy nuclei that astronauts experience on the Space Station.
The claim of fossilized life in the Martian meteorite created hoopla all over the world, and the news media paraded it for all it was worth. Reality has a bad way of raining on parades.Dawkins Attacks Private College that Teaches Creation 03/18/2002
The BBC News reports that Richard Dawkins, author of The Blind Watchmaker and one of the most vocal proponents of gradualistic Darwinism today, has accused a private Christian college in England of teaching ludicrous falsehoods because it steers its students toward a Biblical world view. Prime Minister Tony Blair defended the school, saying claims it was teaching creationism were somewhat exaggerated. Other media sources such as New Scientist have picked up on the story. Emmanuel College recently was rated an outstanding school by inspectors, but Dawkins and other scientists want its science curriculum re-examined.
Apparently the hubbub began with two speeches given March 8 at the college by Ken Ham, prominent American creationist. Answers in Genesis issued a report on the visit and the media firestorm that erupted, gaining the attention of the country all the way to Parliament.
The college science curriculum policy clearly states its intent to build on a Biblical foundation rather than a humanistic one. In this, it claims to be in the tradition of Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, and Isaac Newton.Did North American Mammals Wander Over from Asia? 03/15/2002
A team of scientists makes the case that our familiar American mammals are Chinese in origin. Publishing in the March 15 Science (see also summary on Scientific American), they pieced together bits of data about rocks, fossil fauna assemblages, magnetic reversals and phylogenies to come up with modest support for the hypothesis that perissodactyls, artiodactyls, and primates were present in Asia before their first appearance in North America and Europe during the boundary between the Paleocene and Eocene. They suspect it was a period of global warming that caused the migration.
We need to approach these stories as skeptics. Show me! should be the cry, rather than just acquiescence to authority. If you look at the raw data without evolutionary presuppositions, all you see are bits and pieces of data that have no necessary correlation with evolution. Whats more, you find the scientists hedging their bets with if-then statements, disclaimers, and soft terms like these date suggest that such-and-such happened. They get away with it because evolution is a fact that all scientists accept, right? So no further corroboration is needed, and no one will question it further. Interesting, isnt it, that global warming was the cause; arent we told that global warming is a human sin?Orange County Red Cross and High School Ban the C Word (Creator) 03/15/2002
On his nationally syndicated radio talk show Thursday evening, Dennis Prager conversed with Cherilyn Bacon, an Orange County leader of a high-school music group that was not allowed to utter the C word at a Red Cross event. The event was to honor volunteers who had gone to New York after September 11 to help victims of the terrorist attack. The group had planned to sing four songs: God Bless the USA, America the Beautiful, Prayer of the Children and Declaration. Based on the Declaration of Independence, Declaration was banned outright because it stated: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights... Bacon was in utter disbelief when a Red Cross official told her these statements were too political, and might offend someone. Her disbelief grew stronger when later all four of the songs were considered politically incorrect and were disallowed by both the Red Cross and the high school on the basis of needing to uphold neutrality, diversity and sensitivity. The Orange County Register reported this story March 9. (Note: this decision was made solely by the local Orange County chapter of the Red Cross, not by the National headquarters; but Prager pushed the point that he had not heard the headquarters repudiate it or discipline anyone for making the decision.)
This story speaks for itself. We no longer have rational discussions of issues in our culture; political correctness has given rise to utter hatred of anything suggesting God created us for a purpose, even to the point of calling our founding principles offensive (see next headline, also). 1984, anyone?Evolution Champion Eugenie Scott Wins NSF Award 03/15/2002
The March 15 issue of Science reports that the National Science Foundation has awarded Eugenie Scott, a tireless battler against the forces of darkness on the evolution front, this years Public Service Award. Scott, director for the past 15 years of the National Center for Science Education, whose sole purpose is to promote exclusive teaching of evolution in school science classrooms without even permitting criticisms of Darwinism, believes the award highlights the importance of scientists taking the antievolution movement seriously. We need to realize that we have to be in this for the long haul.
Forces of darkness absolutely incredible. The people who want academic freedom in science, the ones who want the evidence to speak for itself without materialistic bias, the majority of Americans, the scientists who are the philosophical descendents of Boyle, Newton, Maxwell and von Braun,, usually honest and decent people of faith, who believe nature is an expression of the wisdom of a Creator rather than a pointless collocation of mindless atoms, are now called the forces of darkness. Does this help characterize the nature of the creation-evolution controversy in America today, the way the evolutionists perceive it? Its about politics and power, not the facts. Its a battle, and they are in it for the long haul. Notice that Scott was not called a battler for truth.DNA Computer Demonstrated 03/14/2002
Meet the DNA computer: humans using biological molecules to perform non-biological calculations. Dr. Leonard Adelman of USC got DNA to work a difficult combinatorial problem, says a news release at Jet Propulsion Laboratory which partly funded the research. The advantage of DNA molecules is that they can operate in a massively-parallel fashion, unlike serial processing done by our familiar electronic computers. They are also very energy efficient and capable of storing vast quantities of information. Adelman exults:
Weve shown by these computations that biological molecules can be used for distinctly non-biological purposes. They are miraculous little machines. They store energy and information, they cut, paste and copy. They were built by 3 billion years of evolution, and were just beginning to tap their potential to serve non-biological purposes. Nature has given us an incredible toolbox, and were starting to explore what we might build.Adelmans report is published in the March 15 Science.
It is mind-boggling to consider both the complexity of DNA, and the capabilities ascribed to Mother Nature by evolutionists. Toolboxes of miraculous machines! All built by time and chance! Surely we cannot address evolutionists as O ye of little faith.Mars Lakes Not Wet, Just Dry Ash 03/14/2002
Squelching hopes of water on Mars, Brian Hynek and team at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston last week claimed the layered deposits found earlier could have been formed by successive deposits of volcanic ash. The report in Sky and Telescope shows some of the debated images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor
Kids across America are going to have a chance on March 19 Passport to Knowledge to view a Live from Mars 2002 program about Mars Odyssey and its search for water, and its role in and the possibility of past or present life.
Water is interesting, but give the believers all they want flood the entire Martian surface for billions of years and it still wouldnt follow that life would ever evolve there. Teach your kids to think critically. Water is necessary to life, but life is more than water like a computer is more than silicon.Does Religion Improve Health, or Not? 03/14/2002
Popular claims that religious activity provides health benefits have virtually no grounding in the medical literature, according to an article in the March issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine. Thus begins a press release by the Center for the Advancement of Health, based on a review of studies on religion and health by Columbia University professor Richard P. Sloan. He found that claims of a religion-health link often employed flawed methodologies.
A complex subject like this cannot be judged by one pronouncement. Can science even make a claim one way or another, when so many variables are involved? Clearly not all religion is healthy it might fly you into buildings. Look at the hatred some religion foments. Some religions have their adherents imbibing or inhaling harmful substances, or skewering their skin with knives; some put their victims into constant states of fear and dread. Saying religion is good for you is like saying food is good for you; it depends on the food. Broccoli is food, and so is whiskey. We all know people who take their broccoli on the weekend, and get drunk the rest of the week; i.e., their religion makes little impact on their lifestyle.Gates of the Cell Open to Awe-Struck Eyes 03/12/2002
The cover story of the March 9 Science News Vol 161:10, pp 152-154 is about ion channels, the complex gates that attract and channel electrically-charged atoms into the cell (see our Jan 17 and Mar 7 headlines on this topic). The article has color diagrams of the complex proteins that make up the channels and describes how they function: the KcsA potassium channel, for instance, can shuttle up to 100 million potassium ions across a cell membrane in a single second while keeping out similarly charged sodium ions, whose smaller size would seem to make the passage easier. (Sidelight: Nature Science Update reports that scientists have engineered a synthetic chloride channel, imitating nature.) The importance of ion channels is emphasized: Literally every single thought or action involves these channels. After all, among their duties is regulation of the electrical excitability that nerve cells use to communicate and that muscles exploit to contract. Roderick MacKinnon and other researchers who first revealed their intricate structure were surprised that lowly bacteria had fully-formed ion channels:
There was something even more surprising. No one had previously reported voltage-gated ion channels in a microbe. Jellyfish were the simplest creatures known to possess such channels. It was generally thought that microbes, which lack muscles and nervous systems, dont need the high-speed reactions that voltage-gated ion channels permit.The descriptions of these channels and their fast-acting voltage-regulated gates borders on awe at times. MacKinnon, though pleased at the possibility of medical advancements now that ion channels are becoming better understood, admits that hes motivated more by the thrill of understanding these remarkable proteins. I just wonder how nature does things, he says. How did nature make an electrical signal go from my brain to my toes so fast? The more you learn about what the ion channels have to do to make that signal, the more incredible it seems.
Yes! Keep asking questions like that. Let the evidence speak for itself. The closer you look at the cell, the more amazing it becomes, and the more old-fashioned Darwinism looks totally inadequate to account for it. This article would be great to share with materialists, because, while from a secular source, it makes all the points the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists are making. There is incredible engineering in the most primitive life (bacteria) that is unexplainable by chance and time. These structures display engineering for efficient function that presupposes intelligence, not chance. Whats more, the instructions to code for these channels and the processes that build them are, of necessity, even more complex than the channels themselves.Scientists Coax Molecules to Self-Assemble 03/12/2002
Nanotechnology, the use of molecules to build machines, is a hot topic these days. Makers of these invisibly-small robots are imitating nature, taking their cues from living systems. In the March 12 preprints of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, there are two papers describing how scientists have gotten molecules to self-assemble into structures. One team got star-shaped building blocks to assemble into tubes: Entropically driven self-assembly of multichannel rosette nanotubes.. (See this summary on Scientific American.) In the same issue of PNAS, another team describes how molecular-size machines and motors might be built from various molecules in Controlled disassembling of self-assembling systems: Toward artificial molecular-level devices and machines.
The words self-assembly sound impressive and give evolutionists hope that life assembled itself in the past. The molecules, however, do only what the chemists and the laws of nature tell them to do, following the well-known laws of thermodynamics. The rosette-shaped elements of the nanotube first had to be engineered by intelligent designers. Like magnetized Lego blocks, the forces of attraction bring them together, but the ingredient that requires a mind for self-assembly to work is information, intelligence, instructions; that is the challenge. Explains the author of the second paper (emphasis added), The challenge for chemists engaged in this field resides in the programming of the system, i.e., in the design and synthesis of components that carry within their structures the pieces of information necessary not only for the construction of the desired supramolecular architecture but also for the performance of the required function. I.e., these self-assembling structures have been programmed. Programming requires a programmer.Pulsars Puzzle Astronomers: How Old Are They, Really? 03/12/2002
Last December, astronomers decided they had dated a pulsar too young. Now, they figure they dated another one too old by 43,000 years, says the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Age Discrepancy Throws Pulsar Theories into Turmoil. Using the Very Large Array in New Mexico, astronomers measured the proper motion of a pulsar away from its presumed supernova progenitor, and got a much younger age than the technique used for years, measuring the slowing of the rotation rate. Bryan Gaensler of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who reported the discrepancy in the March 10 Astrophysical Journal Letters, said, We are learning that each individual pulsar is a very complicated object, and we should assume nothing about it. The NRAO report says, Previous estimates of pulsar ages have assumed that all pulsars are born spinning much faster than we see them now, that the physical characteristics of the pulsar such as its mass and magnetic-field strength do not change with time, and that the slowdown rate can be estimated by applying the physics of a magnet spinning in a vacuum. With one pulsar older than the estimates and one younger, we now realize that we have to question all three of these assumptions, said Gaensler.
Notice that important word assumptions. Dating methods are often presented as empirical tools that give objective results. In reality, they are interpretations of measurements made with unverifiable assumptions. Some of the assumptions may seem reasonable, but consider that for decades now, these assumptions seemed reasonable, but are now being questioned. Does that give you any confidence that the ages tossed around in this story64,000 years have any validity at all? What headline might show up in year 2005 that will throw out the current assumptions?1500 Attend Ohio School Board Evolution Policy Hearing 03/12/2002
An Associated Press story in the Nando Times reports that a large crowd came to hear the face-off between proponents of stronger emphasis on evolution in the states science standards, and proponents of alternatives like intelligent design (ID). The article states that Stephen Meyer of Discovery Institute, an ID think tank, backed off his demand for ID to be written into the standards, accepting instead that teachers be allowed to present the evidence both for and against Darwinism. Critics called ID not science and a cover for creationism. The article did not indicate if any vote was taken, or how the school board responded, but just mentioned that they have to decide by years end what the non-binding science standards will contain.
Update 03/13/2002: Judi Hahn, writing for Answers in Genesis was present at the hearing and filed a report.
Update 03/15/2002: Phillip Johnsons Weekly Wedge Update weighs in on the controversy, and asks Why are the Darwinists so fearful? He says any theory that has to be protected from public scrutiny has a low life expectancy. Johnsons editorial provides links to a report in the Washington Times and an editorial by Rick Santorum (R.-Penn).
The AP story contains the usual distortions. We challenge readers to find anything of substance in the evolutionistss statements. Intelligent design isnt science = hot air. A disguise for creationism = fear mongering (only subversives wear disguises, right?). Courts have barred that approach from public schools = Big Lie. I wish we were talking about things that strengthen science and not dilute it = hot air and non-sequitur. If intelligent design were allowed in, I would spend my time teaching why its not science = more hot air. The Evolution Party seems to think that all they need do is make bald assertions like evolution is a fact. No evidence, no logic, no other support is needed; just demagoguery and appeals to prejudice. The E.P. knows that it cannot stand up to scrutiny. Thats why they must insist on forbidding their critics a hearing. For instance, the National Center for Science Education grades schools on how well they teach evolution; Sola Darwina, K-12, with no criticism, earns their Grade A designation. We thought authoritarian dogma went out of style with Aristotle.Time Editorializes on Intelligent Design 03/11/2002
Time and chance? Robert Wright in the March 11 issue of Time Magazine has weighed in his opinion on the current Intelligent Design controversy facing the Ohio School Board. He thinks leaders of the ID movement are needlessly attacking poor old Darwin but failing to provide an explanation of their own; Darwinism offers an explanation of how we got here. Any theory that offers no such explanation cant competemuch less win.
Wright is a good writer. He is interesting to read, but commits some common misunderstandings about Darwinism and Intelligent Design. He does treat ID with more gentleness than usual; he grants that it has merit because ID adherents have raised productive doubtsand in science, being productively wrong is nearly as valuable as being right. So has Wright proved ID wrong? He assumes some flawed points:Butterflies a Living Laboratory for Evolution 03/11/2002
According to a biologist from the University of Buffalo working with a biologist from Puerto Rico, the beauty of butterfly wing patterns may hold key to understanding morphological evolution. These researchers believe that butterflies are better than fruit flies for studying evolution, because the dramatic color changes in the wings take place on two-dimensional surfaces of scales, that are easier to study, and have clear adaptive differences in the wild for avoiding predation and conserving heat. They are creating the first transgenic butterfly to study the effects of genetic changes on morphology (outward appearance), a connection that is poorly understood.
Nothing has been demonstrated about evolution here (yet). They just offer this as a research program, not as evidence for evolution. Variations in butterfly wings, which are examples of horizontal changes, are expected in both creation and evolution models. If butterflies are still butterflies and fruit flies are still fruit flies when all the experiments are done, then no vertical evolution has occurred. But why do these scientists call the butterfly wings beautiful? From where did the concept of beauty evolve?Intelligent Design Gets a Powerful New Media Boost 03/09/2002
Exclusive Over 600 guests gave a standing ovation Saturday March 9 at the premiere of a new film by Illustra Media, Unlocking the Mystery of Life. This 67-minute documentary is in many ways a definitive portrayal of the Intelligent Design movement that is sweeping the country. Intelligent Design is a non-religious, non-sectarian, strictly scientific view of origins with both negative and positive arguments: negative, that Darwinism is insufficient to explain the complexity of life, and positive, that intelligent design, or information, is a fundamental entity that must be taken into consideration in explanations of the origin of complex, specified structures like DNA. The film features interviews with a Who's Who of the Intelligent Design movement: Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, Paul Nelson, Stephen Meyer, Dean Kenyon, William Dembski, and others, who explain the issues and arguments for intelligent design as the key to unlocking the mystery of life. The film also features nearly 20 minutes of award-quality computer animation of molecular machines, manufacturing plants, and storage libraries of elaborate information - DNA and proteins at work in the cell, climaxing with a dazzling view of DNA transcription and translation.
In his keynote address, Dr. Paul Nelson (who appears in the film), gave reasons for optimism. He said that Time Magazine, usually solidly Darwinian, admitted just last week that these Intelligent Design scientists may be onto something. U.S. News and World Report is also coming out with a piece on I.D. And Stephen Meyer, who also appears in the film, could not be at the premiere because he was on his way to Ohio (see next headline), armed with copies of the film to give to the school board members. Nelson said that scientists should not arbitrarily rule design off the table. Keeping science from discovering something that might be true is like having a pair of spectacles that distorts your vision, he said. It does profound harm to science. He described how Ronald Numbers, evolutionist, once told him that design might be true, but science is a game, with the rule that scientists cannot even consider the possibility of design; thats just the way it is, he said. (See this quote by Richard Lewontin for comparison.) Yet design is already commonly considered in archaeology, cryptography, forensics, and SETI, so why not in biology? Apparently this arbitrary rule has become a national controversy. Intelligent Design, says Nelson, is finally removing a rule of the game that is hindering science. If the reaction of the crowd at the premiere luncheon was any indication, Unlocking the Mystery of Life has launched a well-aimed smart weapon at the citadels of Darwinism.
We highly recommend this film. Copies are just now becoming available for $20. Visit IllustraMedia.com and order it. View it, and pass it around. Share it with your teachers, your co-workers, your church. You will have no embarrassment showing this high-quality, beautiful, amazing film to anyone, even the most ardent evolutionist.Media Circus Expected in Mondays Ohio School Board Hearing 03/08/2002
Is it against the law to question evolution? A lot of scientists think so, and are gathering their forces in Ohio to convince the school board to forbid the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution. Answers in Genesis discusses the events, organizations and personalities leading up to the March 11 hearing, where expert witnesses on both sides will present their views.
Shouldnt students be allowed to hear all the evidence? Shouldnt they be allowed to hear both sides of controversial topics, like evolution? Shouldnt they be taught to think critically? What could possibly be wrong with that? Just watch the pro-evolution forces pull out their arsenal of fear tactics, smokescreens and half truths and youll see scientific evidence relegated to the background. This story makes an interesting placement next to the headline below. Its like having a cigarette commercial in the middle of a documentary on the lungs.Batteries, Chaperones, Translators: Wonders of the Cell Continue to Dazzle 03/08/2002
Recent techniques have allowed scientists to peer into the cell at 1.6-nanometer resolution. What has appeared in sharp detail is a veritable factory of living machines that can manufacture things, charge batteries, edit code and much more. The March 8 issue of Science has several papers that explore more the complex goings-on inside our cells, and even the cells of the lowly bacterium E. coli:
The activities going on in our cells, every moment, every day, are absolutely astounding. Trouble is, papers like this are very difficult to read; they are loaded with technical jargon and concepts that assume a great deal of prior knowledge. Nevertheless, just looking at the illustrations and scanning the nearly overwhelming complexity described is a worthwhile exercise.* It is also interesting to note that the word evolution is rarely mentioned in papers like this. Even more rare is any attempt to explain how these detailed processes, involving many interdependent complex parts, could have originated in the first place. The machinery is already fully operational in the simplest living cells!The Real Feathered Dinosaur Found? 03/07/2002
If optimistic reports in the March 7 Nature are correct, a dromeosaur with unequivocal impressions of modern feathers has been found in a museum in northern China. Mark Norell and colleagues name the specimen BPM 1 3-13. The feather impressions are pinnate and modern-looking, and cover the entire body of a pheasant-size fossil. To the researchers, this proves feathers evolved before flight. Larry Martin of the University of Kansas, a skeptic of the bird-dino link, is reported in New Scientist to have reminded people there have been fakes in the past and this new one needs to be confirmed by others.
Well, maybe believers have their smoking gun, and maybe not. Many questions remain; why would a dinosaur have feathers? Is the identification of this specimen truly dinosaurian, or is it a primitive bird? How or why would scales transform into complex feathers and appear abruptly? Is this fossil dated prior to other known fossil birds, or after? Is it another hoax? The arrangements of these fossilized animals into family trees are based on evolutionary assumptions. If even other evolutionary paleontologists are reserving judgment, surely it is too early to concede their claim. See also these counter arguments raised by Answers in Genesis.Early Man Walked Out of Africa Three Times? 03/07/2002
The latest theory by Alan Templeton in the March 7 Nature is that early man emerged out of Africa at least three times, and interbred with other species of Homo like Neandertals. National Geographic weighs in on what this controversial theory might mean.
Pay no attention. Whatever you learn from this story you will undoubtedly have to unlearn in the next issue. Even National Geographic, the showcase of evolving ape-men, admits that the human origins debate has been highly charged for at least 15 years (try 150). Human evolution theory is not science; it is more like professional wrestling.Prominent Darwinist Leaves Disconcerting Legacy 03/07/2002
The final papers of W. D. Hamilton, influential evolutionary biologist, just published in Volume II, Evolution of Sex, are reviewed by Olivia P. Judson in the March 7 Nature. She finds the book disconcerting and discomfiting. Hamilton gave Darwinism the theories of inclusive fitness and led to game theory as explanations of altruism. In this book, which represents his last thoughts before dying in March 2000, Judson finds a thorny and unweeded thicket of scientific advocacy, political manifesto, broken intellectual taboos, self-revelation and apocalyptic vision. He explains genocide, for instance, as products of differential birth rates between groups, and views all aspects of human behavior, including racism, xenophobia and differences in intellectual ability between men and women, as genetically driven.
More disturbing, Hamilton believed that humans are posed for genetic meltdown unless they return to natural selection: i.e., prolonging the lives of those with genetic defects is harming the species. Judson points out that ...well, more natural selection equals more death, which is hardly something to agitate for. She feels that After all, it is self-evident that the human psyche has been shaped by natural selection; and it is certainly possible that the shape is an ugly one. But I feel - and this is where I completely disagree with Hamilton - that, although understanding how natural selection has acted on humans will help us to understand why we are the way we are, it tells us nothing about what we would like to become.
Judson is having a hard time coming to grips with the bitter fruit of Darwinist thinking. Hamilton was more honest. Darwins world is a world of struggle and death, where morals do not exist, and the heroes (if this concept has any meaning) are those who emerge on top of the boneyard. How can Darwinism speak at all of what we would like to become? We are all products of selfish genes, mindlessly playing games with human bodies as their pawns. If this scene is too horrifying, dear reader, please allow us to introduce you to a Creator and Redeemer who described, and demonstrated, true sacrificial love. The fittest gave Himself for the survival of the weakest and guiltiest. Greater love hath no gene.Why Does Music Move Us? 03/07/2002
Allison Abbott, writing in the March 7 Nature, explores the mystery of why humans enjoy music, since it does not appear to have survival value. What is music for? She speculates (emphasis added):
After all, an appreciation of music confers no glaringly obvious advantage in the darwinian struggle for survival. Various theories have been put forward - that music promotes social cohesion, for example - but so far, none represents more than a plausible just so story. Our love of music might merely be a pleasurable side-effect of the evolution of other perceptual abilities - representing, as cognitive neuroscientist Steven Pinker of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has put it, auditory cheesecake. . ...The article quotes several neurobiologists and explores how they try to decipher the brains processing of music by comparing the tone-deaf with skilled musicians, but reaches no definitive explanations for why music would ever evolve.
In the same issue, David Juritz emotes praise and exasperation at William Benzons new book Beethovens Anvil, which seeks to explain music as the evolution of hunting calls. When Benzon compares Beethovens Ninth arriving at its Ode to Joy theme to a group of baboons selecting the dominant male, Juritz has a fit.
A clearer case of a priori reasoning could hardly be found. Reductionist Darwinians are so convinced that music must fit into the evolutionary paradigm of survival of the fittest, they feel no guilt in telling just-so stories and arguing in circles to stuff music into the evolutionary box. The end result is always groups of evolutionists fighting each other about whose just-so story is better, with the reporter concluding that maybe well figure it out someday, or maybe the true [evolutionary] answer will never be known. And it wont, on their watch. As Billy Joel croons, its all about soul. Evolutionists dont understand soul; in their line of work, they dont have to.Earliest Fossil Bacteria Claim Causes Debate 03/07/2002
Dr. William Schopf of UCLA, the champion finder of precambrian fossils, has claimed a new record that has scientists arguing over its validity. Published in the March 7 Nature, the alleged fossils are claimed to be 3.5 billion years old, almost a billion years older than the previous record. Henry Gee comments: Given that Schopf was one of the first to cast doubt on the biogenicity of another celebrated suite of purported microfossils - in the martian meteorite ALH84001 - it is ironic that his own work should be subjected to such scepticism. But that is the name of the game for claims of life at the extremes of time and space. See also this summary on Nature Science Update.
Be a good sceptic [sic] and doubt both the dates and the fossils. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, remember?India Intensifies Teaching of Evolution 03/06/2002
Exclusive An Indian pastor, in the U.S. gathering materials for his mission Ray of Hope, told us that the teaching of Darwinism in his country has intensified since a new nationwide educational policy was enacted in 2000. All colleges now teach evolution as fact, and unbelievers are often subjected to ridicule and sometimes persecution. Christopher Hukkeri, who works in the state of Goa where 60% are Hindu, 30% are Catholic and 10% are other, said that the Hindu population has no problem with Darwinism, since evolution is, at its heart, based on a pantheistic world view similar to Hinduism. Hindus also believe the monkey god created man, and see a correspondence to what evolution teaches.
Mr. Hukkeri commented that Darwinism is affecting the faith of Christians, who are in the minority to begin with. The rising influence of Darwinism in the schools is a major problem to missionaries and pastors in India right now. It feeds the prejudices of the increasing population of intellectuals and students against Christianity. Hindus tend to equate Christianity with Catholicism, he explained, since that is mostly what they hear about. The Catholics in his state in India, however, have a reputation for loose morals and drunkenness, and do not stand for anything, so Hindus tend to feel superior, and despise Christianity altogether. Surprisingly, the Bible Society is under Catholic control, but does not wish the people to read the Bible! They want to keep people in darkness, he claimed. For this reason, Christopher recently translated the New Testament into the Konkani language himself, along with the Old Testament books of Joshua, Proverbs, and (almost completed) Isaiah, so that people in his city could have access to the Word of God. He told how a high government official was recently saved by reading the entire New Testament three times. Nevertheless, Jesuits in the state of Goa persecute the Christians and cause great difficulty for missionaries like Hukkeri who strive to get the Bible into the hands of the people.Found on the Net 03/06/2002: Foreword in the Form of a Letter to My Children from Witness by Whittaker Chambers. Chambers, the communist spy convicted with Alger Hiss in the 1950s, tells how he came to reject communism while looking at his infant child eating breakfast:
My eye came to rest on the delicate convolutions of her earthose intricate, perfect ears. The thought passed through my mind: No, those ears were not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature (the Communist view). They could have been created only by immense design. The thought was involuntary and unwanted. I crowded it out of my mind. But I never wholly forgot it or the occasion. I had to crowd it out of my mind. If I had completed it, I should have had to say: Design presupposes God. I did not then know that, at that moment, the finger of God was first laid upon my forehead.Chambers explains how Communism was the vision of Man without God. What that vision led to is expressed in horrifying detail as a series of screams in the night:
What Communist has not heard those screams? They come from husbands torn forever from their wives in midnight arrests. They come, muffled, from the execution cellars of the secret police, from the torture chambers of the Lubianka, from all the citadels of terror now stretching from Berlin to Canton. They come from those freight cars loaded with men, women and children, the enemies of the Communist State, locked in, packed in, left on remote sidings to freeze to death at night in the Russian winter. They come from minds driven mad by the horrors of mass starvation ordered and enforced as a policy of the Communist State. They come from the starved skeletons, worked to death, or Bogged to death (as an example to others) in the freezing filth of sub-arctic labor camps. They come from children whose parents are suddenly, inexplicably, taken away from themparents they will never see again.The excerpt is posted by the Augustine Club at Columbia University. For more on this subject, read The Darwinian foundation of communism, by Jerry Bergman, at Answers in Genesis.
Next headline on: Politics.
Evolution Monkeys with Duplicate Genes 03/06/2002
Shozo Yokoyama, an evolutionary biologist at Syracuse University in New York state, says Zhangs functional tests are a difficult and essential step toward understanding the role of duplication. But the final answer is still not there, he says. More research is needed to show not only how the amino acid changes reduced the ribonucleases old function, but also how they helped it reach its new function.Zhangs paper is published in the March 2002 Nature Genetics.
There is too much play and too little known to assert the conclusion. Each step has to provide a survival advantage for natural selection to preserve a change. Yokoyamas caution is well taken; more research is needed before concluding this is evolution in action. Just saying so doesnt make it so. Besides, the monkey is still a monkey.Dodo Bird Gains Respect 03/05/2002
Not just a poster child for extinction and evolutionary dead ends, the dodo was a creature well adapted to its unique environment, the island of Mauritius. So says National Geographic, which explains that the dodo had no ground predators till its discoverers brought them on ships. Flightlessness and gigantism helped the bird to survive harsh conditions on the island. Moreover, the pictures weve seen of the fat, ungainly oddballs, like in Alice in Wonderland, are caricatures of a bird that was probably more sleek in reality. Recent molecular analysis has related the species to pigeons that may have arrived from the mainland. The research is reported in the March 1 issue of Science, which admits that The evolutionary history of the dodo is very poorly understood.
We know that pigeons can show quite a remarkable diversity in appearance, yet belong to the same kind, similar to the diversity in dogs. Note that the odd-looking characteristics of the dodo involve loss of function (flight) and exaggeration of traits from severe inbreeding. This is allowed in both creation and evolution models; there is no gain in information or function. Also, it does not take millions of years for such variations to become pronounced.Mars Has Ice, Maybe Life? 03/05/2002
The way the Los Angeles Times puts it, scientists might expect Mars to be a playground of critters romping in the snow. Usha Lee McFarling, Times Staff Writer, in Vast Ice Fields Suggest Life on Mars Possible, writes that scientists are buoyed by the first results from the Mars Odyssey orbiting spacecraft that suggest water ice is abundant in the soil of the red planet, since water is vital to life. The NASA - Ames Astrobiology Institute didnt hesitate to post the L.A. Times article on its web page.
H2O is to life as ink to a textbook. You need ink to write a textbook, but you wouldnt expect a textbook to arise spontaneously from inkblots on paper. To make it more fun, try using frozen ink. Then bombard the ink and the paper with microscopic bullets and wait for something like Principia to emerge.Award-Winning Biochemist Calls Mother Nature a Brilliant Engineer 03/04/2002
Scientific American posted an interview with Roderick MacKinnon (see our Jan. 17 headline), who has devoted his research to figuring out how ion channels work in the cell. He describes how the potassium channel, for instance, with its very effective selectivity filter, is able to allow potassium ions through but reject smaller sodium ions that also have the same positive charge. The effect is based on finely-tuned arrangement of oxygen atoms that make it energetically favorable for potassium ions to slip through the channel, but not others. MacKinnon describes the design of the channel as extremely interesting and unpredictable before it was actually observed. He explains his feelings about it:
And then to finally see it was extremely satisfying. In some aspects, it was satisfying because many things were predicted, and in other ways it was satisfying because some things that were not predicted were almost more beautiful than anybody would have predicted. For example, the cavity and these helices were just a marvelous arrangement that Mother Nature used to solve this problem, you know, as if a very brilliant engineer did it all. I think that was very satisfying to see.The interview contains a diagram of how the potassium ion channel works.
Lets give credit where credit is due. This is no Mother Nature if you are an evolutionist. Why does it look as if a brilliant engineer did it all, if a Brilliant Engineer did not do it all? To parry Dobzhanskys famous quote against him, in light of the recent findings of biochemistry, Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of intelligent design.Debate Over Icons of Evolution Continues 03/04/2002
When Jonathan Wells spoke at Univ. of California at San Diego on January 29, a majority responded positively, but it aroused the ire of some students. In response to Wells talk based on his popular book Icons of Evolution, which basically says everything you were taught about evolution is wrong, Nick Tamzek has posted a rebuttal called, Whos the real fraud? Scientific mistakes, distortions, and sleights-of-hand in Wells book Icons of Evolution. On March 3, Casey Luskin on Access Research Network posted a detailed response to Tamzeks arguments.
This is a good debate on which to become familiar with the arguments on both sides. Who is doing the real obfuscation or sleight of hand? See also Wellss own response to critics on this January 23 headline. When judging a debate, always have your Baloney Detector in good working order.First Mars Odyssey Images Released 03/01/2002
At a press conference today at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, scientists unveiled with excitement their first pictures and science results from the Mars Odyssey spacecraft. The ship arrived in October and recently attained its mapping orbit. Scientists showed some razor-sharp images from the infrared camera that produces images 30 times sharper than the previous best. The gamma ray spectrometer detected possible abundant water ice in measurements of hydrogen under the soil. The radiation experiment determined that cosmic ray exposure at the surface ranges from moderate to hazardous, depending on elevation, because the Martian atmosphere is so much thinner than the Earths protective blanket. In addition, astronauts en route to Mars would experience nearly twice the daily dose of damaging cosmic rays endured by dwellers in the Earth-orbiting space station. These health risks will certainly be of concern in planning future manned missions to the red planet, which will require up to three years exposure to these levels of radiation.
Mars is a fascinating place, but todays news is a reminder of the many cosmic accidents that make Earth habitable for life. See also our 05/02/2001 headline and 09/14/2000 headline about the Martian radiation environment. We wouldnt be surprised if some evolutionist announces to the press that the cosmic rays will be a shower of blessing, helping future inhabitants of Mars evolve faster.Dont Just Give Chocolate; Dress In It 03/01/2002
Science Now reports on a new theory on sexual selection by biologists writing in the March 7 Royal Society Biology Proceedings B. Male guppies grow bright orange spots to look like the females favorite sweet snack: orange fruit. This attracts the females to come closer, where the males can then strut their stuff. The spots may first catch a ladys eye, but shell soon check out traits more reflective of mates genetics, ends the review. So dont buy that chocolate shirt unless youve got the goods to back it up.
Yes, take off the shirt and hand it to her to eat while you flex your muscles, guys. Good grief.