“. . . science itself requires the assistance of outside critics to check the tendency of ambitious scientists to go into the worldview business.  A scientific community that is immune to outside criticism will be tempted to expand its territory and in the process will forsake rigorous scientific practice in order to justify conclusions that go far beyond what the data can justify.”

– Dr. Phillip E. Johnson, The Wedge of Truth (IVP, 2000), pp. 103-104.

 Creation-Evolution Headlines, August 2001
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Plants and Fungi Related, Maybe  08/30/2001
A paper by two Belgian researchers published in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences strives to sort out genetic markers between plants, fungi, slime molds and metazoa and determine their evolutionary phylogenies (relationships).  They make a tentative, albeit weak, association that plants and fungi are separate from the metazoa, contradicting earlier studies.
In a related paper, biologists at Arizona State say that evolutionary geneticists need to look at longer sequences.

What slippery claims these are.  They are full of excuses for why the genetic data do not show evolution.  By tweaking the parameters, and excluding the data that don’t fit their heuristic (hunch) approach, they make a tentative root of the evolutionary tree that doesn’t fit other researchers’ conclusions.  Creationists can have a field day reading papers like these for fumbling statements and excuses.  Hopes for finding evolutionary relationships in the genes have crumbled.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory. • Next headline on: Plants.
Velociraptors Tame as Ducks?  08/30/2001
Soft parts of the beaks of ornithomimids, members of the same group as Velociraptor and T. Rex, show structures similar to the filter-feeding lamellae in modern ducks, reports
Scientific American.  Two specimens, one from China and another from Canada, were well preserved enough to detect the keratin material which suggests these creatures strained their food from water like some modern waterfowl.  “While we can’t definitively say that their feeding behavior was just like that of ducks, it is unlikely that the delicate features of their beaks were used for eating large animals.”
The propaganda damage has already been done in three Jurassic Park movies.  Maybe they should do a remake, with kids standing at the shore of a pond in a local park, throwing seeds to the cute velociraptors.
Next headline on: Dinosaurs. • Next headline on: Movies.
Shape-Shifting Octopus Masters Mimicry  08/30/2001
A striped octopus found off the coast of Indonesia should get an Academy Award.  It can imitate a lionfish, a sea snake, and a flatfish.  It may even have other roles in its repertoire, like a sand anemone, stingray or crocodile snake eel.  For summary and pictures of this unusual actor, see
Science Now.
Isn’t natural selection wonderful.  For more on problems with mimicry and evolution, click here or here.
Next headline on: Fish and Ocean Creatures.
Human Appendix Not Vestigial  08/30/2001
In an “Ask the Experts” column on the website of
Scientific American, wildlife veterinarian Julie Pomerantz tackles the question, “Does the appendix serve a purpose in any animal?”  She describes which mammals have and do not have the organ, and admits that though its entire function is not well understood, the appendix is involved in the body’s ability to recognize foreign antigens in ingested material.  “Thus, although scientists have long discounted the human appendix as a vestigial organ, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that appendix does in fact have a significant function as a part of the body’s immune system.  The appendix may be particularly important early in life because it achieves its greatest development shortly after birth and then regresses with age . . . . The immune response mediated by the appendix may also relate to such inflammatory conditions as ulcerative colitis.”
Yes, the appendix had a vestigial function: as a propaganda tool for evolution.  The appendix was one of over a hundred such organs Darwinists portrayed as useless leftovers from our evolutionary past.  The list included the thymus gland, pineal gland, pituitary gland, the coccyx, tonsils and many other organs whose functions have subsequently been discovered, and in some cases have been shown to be vital for life and health.  This illustrates how evolutionary thinking can actually inhibit scientific research.  Instead of cutting out every kid’s tonsils as useless vestiges of their animal ancestry, as was common in the 1960s, why not approach them as designed organs, and see what they are there for?
Next headline on: Human Body. • Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Roaring Evolved Into Speech  08/29/2001
Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  This evolved from male grunting to scare off rivals, according to a Harvard professor, as reported in
New Scientist.  In humans, the larynx descends after childhood and is critical in the development of speech ability.  But now, Tecumseh Fitch and a French colleague have found a descended larynx in red deer and fallow deer, used not for speech but for intimidating rivals.  They speculate that this may have been how human speech started.
Good grief.  What more can be said about evolutionary storytelling like this?  Language expert Steven Pinker commented, “Deer and humans are so different in behaviour that inferring a similar evolutionary history is a stretch.”
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory. • Next dumb story.
Permian Extinction Asteroid Claimed  08/29/2001
Asteroids are becoming the favored whipping boy for deaths of millions of creatures.  Many attribute the death of the dinosaurs to an impact at the end of the Triassic, and now Chinese scientists examining layers for sulfur theorize a large impact in the ocean at the end of the Permian may have “prompted a massive release of sulfur from the earth’s mantle to the ocean-atmosphere system, which in turn led to oxygen consumption and strong acid rain,” according to
Scientific American.
Evolutionists don’t have to have much in the way of data, they just need to be able to tell a good whopper.
Next headline on: Geology. • Next headline on: Fossils.
Germs Do Not Evolve Drug Resistance  08/28/2001
Exclusive  In a noontime talk at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Dr. Chris Adami, Caltech physicist specializing in thermodynamics, nuclear physics and information theory, presented his strategy of “Using Molecular Evolution and Information Theory to Improve Drug Design.” An integral part of his presentation concerned how viruses develop resistance to drugs.  Apparently, resistance mutations do not give rise to new, improved forms, but were already there as part of an ensemble of varieties that, collectively, can be thought of as a “quasi-species” (using the term coined by Manfred Eigen in 1971).  Each member of the ensemble can give rise to the others, so attacking one member with a designer drug will not be effective for long.  Instead, Adami proposed measuring the entropy of the ensemble, and through an iterative process, designing drugs that share the same entropy, and thus have overlapping information, so that the drug attacks the entire ensemble.
If true, this undermines a common argument of Darwinists that evolution is as commonplace as the emergence of drug-resistant germs by mutation and natural selection.  If all the mutant forms already existed, (actually, polymorphisms is a more accurate term, since mutation suggests detrimental change), forming a stable “neutral network” of fit members (i.e., individuals able to reproduce), then there is no evolution. 
Dr. Adami showed diagrams of fitness landscapes, like a map of hills and valleys, describing how organisms can be on narrow or broad peaks where their fitness is high enough to allow them to reproduce.  (Organisms in valleys with low fitness would, by definition, die out).  Higher organisms have low mutation rates because of their error-correction mechanisms during DNA transcription; these tend to occupy narrow, high fitness peaks.  Viruses, without the error-correction mechanisms, mutate more rapidly and occupy low, broad fitness peaks, where they form a network (quasi-species) of equally-fit varieties (polymorphisms).  This means that any evolution would require moving off a stable peak and losing fitness before rising to a higher peak.  Clearly, natural selection would resist such a move. 
Dr. Adami’s presentation focused on designing drugs to fight HIV.  He said there is no evidence whatsoever that HIV is evolving.  He showed diagrams that indicated almost all the variations in amino acid sequence of HIV protease, one of the key proteins in HIV, are on high-entropy loci (i.e., not on the active sites) that do not bear on fitness.  He also compared Transfer RNA sequences between vastly different organisms and found that their “entropic profile” was conserved.  This means that, while variations exist, there is no evidence for an increase in tRNA fitness over alleged millions of years of evolution.
(Disclaimer: This report does not imply Dr. Adami, an evolutionist and theorist on Artificial Life and Self-Organizing Systems, doubts evolution, or that he considers viruses to be living organisms.)
Next headline on: Evolution Theory. • Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry.
SETI: Nobody @Home So Far  08/28/2001
Space.Com reports that the seti@home project has caught 17 suspect signals, but each one so far has been downgraded to radio interference.  Seti@home allows volunteers to crunch the numbers on their home PCs, sifting through radio telescope data in a world-wide Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
Meanwhile, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is continuing its search for habitable planets among the stars.
They’ve got a perpetual program going.  You can’t prove a universal negative, so the SETI people can run these efforts for a thousand years and still say they haven’t checked enough haystacks for the needle yet.  Meanwhile, a message is beeping right inside them: the DNA code.
You, too, can join SETO@home, the search for eternal transcendent omniscience: read the Bible.
Next headline on: SETI.
Brain Can Withstand Reduced Workforce  08/28/2001
When one half of the brain is out on sick leave, the other half can take up the slack, and even work harder, says
Nature Science Update.  Boston University researchers found ways to numb one side of the brain of patients, and found that while sensing objects the numb half was impaired, the other half actually showed increased performance.  “It’s challenging to think that all these brain regions could be working for themselves,” said Vincent Walsh of the university of Oxford.  He believes this study suggests that “by snuffing each other out, brain regions may concentrate our attention on the most important of many competing stimuli,” the report states.  “Competition seems to be present at every level in the brain.”
Redundant systems and fail-safe backup mechanisms contradict the principle of natural selection, which would weed out the damaged and unfit and only allow the fittest to survive and reproduce.  Walsh claims that brain research has gotten rid of the idea of the homunculus or the little man operating the machine, “but we still think that the brain is there to do something for us.”  The “us” are our souls, which cannot be reduced to mechanical devices.
Next headline on: Human Body.
Proteins Work Better Wet  08/27/2001
Dry proteins are useless, says a paper in the
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, the longest-running scientific journal in the world.  In the August 2001 special issue devoted to properties of water, the paper by Goodfellow and colleagues examines the interactions of water molecules with proteins, and find that they have many important relationships.  Water molecules not only adhere to the exterior surfaces, but also line the grooves and cavities inside proteins; “the presence of solvent affects the flexibility, stability, and dynamics of proteins and hence their function.”  Of particular interest is the role of water in protein folding, the “holy grail” of many biologists.  Unless proteins fold accurately, they become useless or harmful, leading in some cases to serious disease: “In at least 16 families of proteins, misfolding may lead to the formation of amyloid fibers with disastrous consequences.”
Miracles never cease.  These are life-and-death tightropes at the atomic level that Darwin never dreamed of.  See also our May 3 and January 30 stories on this subject.
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry. • Next headline on: Physics.
T. Rex Died of Hunger?  08/24/2001
Either there wasn’t enough for them to eat, or they had denser bones that fossilized better, says Jack Horner about new Tyrannosaurex rex specimens he has been excavating in Hell Creek, Montana, in a write-up by
Discovery Channel Online.  In a dig partially funded by Universal Studios (creators of the Jurassic Park movies), Horner says he is “totally puzzled” by the shortage of prey skeletons found in the area, wondering how the eight T. Rex specimens found so far had enough to eat.
Horner is a heretic among dino paleontologists who, when asked if there is evidence that T. Rex was the fierce hunter portrayed in the movies, answers “none whatsoever” and calls such portrayals bad science, according to Dinosaur Magazine.  If T. Rex stubbed her toe and fell over, her tiny arms could not have broken her fall, and the impact could have broken her bones and proved fatal.  Horner believes T. Rex was a slow, clumsy oaf given to scavenging on other predator’s work.  Sorry to spoil your moviegoing.  Wonder if Universal will pull the funds.
Next headline on: Dinosaurs.
Astrobiologists Testify to Congress  08/23/2001
NASA astrobiologists made presentations July 12 to the House of Representatives at
hearings on Life in the Universe.  The Astrobiology Institute has now published this testimony on its website, along with a summary of current understanding of life from testimony by NASA astrobiologist Jack D. Farmer (University of Arizona).
The usual astrobiology fare.  No mention of whether the congressmen were impressed.
Next headline on: Origin of Life. • Next headline on: Politics.
High Resolution Image Reveals Mysteries on Callisto  08/23/2001
A field of
knobby spires of ice and dust, 300 feet tall and lined up like soldiers, is what the Galileo Spacecraft saw on May 25 as it flew 86 miles above the surface of Callisto, the outermost large satellite of Jupiter, on its closest encounter of the mission.  “We haven’t seen terrain like this before.  It looks like erosion is still going on, which is pretty surprising,” considering it should be a geologically dead world.  Now, scientists are eagerly examining the incoming data from the inner moon Io, the most volcanically active moon in the solar system, which Galileo flew by on August 6.  At 126 miles, it may have flown through the plume of Tvashtar Catena, a volcano that was active seven months ago, but preliminary results are uncertain.  Also, unlike the other moons, Io does not appear to have a magnetic field.
We hope readers enjoy the excitement of new discoveries on these bizarre worlds first seen as points of light by Galileo Galilei in 1610 through his crude telescope.  Now, we are there!  There’s more to come from the Io flyby as the data is still trickling in for analysis (slowly, due to Galileo’s failed main antenna).  Over and over, scientists have been surprised and stumped by the processes occurring on these moons, that after billions of years should be dead and dormant, but are clearly not.  Interesting sidelight: Project Manager Eileen Theilig is a Christian and an active member of her church.
Next headline on: Solar System.
Satellite to Search Mt. Ararat Anomaly for Noah’s Ark  08/23/2001
A feature story in
Space.Com talks about the “Ararat Anomaly,” a mysterious structure on Mt. Ararat in Turkey, and interviews Porcher Taylor of the University of Richmond who has investigated it since 1993.  On October 18 the Quickbird 2 Satellite will be launched and will take time to investigate the structure to see if it appears man-made or not.  The article allows you to zoom in on Ararat from existing satellite images.
The article actually gives a fairly positive view on Noah’s Ark research efforts.  Most reseaches alleged sightings have occurred on other parts of the mountain, however, and even most believers consider its existence after thousands of years unlikely, and discovering any remains very difficult.  We’ll have to wait and see.
Next headline on: The Bible.
Brittlestar Is All Eyes  08/23/2001
A kind of brittlestar starfish is the envy of engineers.  It has covered its exoskeleton with microscopic “near-perfect” lenses of calcite, each a twentieth of a millimeter across, that are all aligned and focus light onto its nervous system, thus making itself an all-seeing eye that can respond to shadows and changes in light.  Quotes from the
Nature Science Update article: “too similar to lenses to have been formed by chance” . . . “more sophisticated than anything humans can produce” . .  “incredible structures” . . . “It’s astonishing that this organic creature can manipulate inorganic matter with such precision - and yet it’s got no brain” . . . It’s starting with a soup of chemicals and pulling out this wonderful microstructure . . . “It’s bizarre - there’s nothing else that I know of that has lenses built into its general body surface.”  The article has a picture of the lens array.
One thing is for sure: the brainless brittlestar did not design its own optical system.  Notice also that these amazing animals (echinoderms) are members of one of the 20 phyla of complex animals that appear abruptly in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion (see next story).  Yet Gordon Hendler, co-author of the study, said, “Thanks to evolution, they have beautifully designed crystal lenses that are an integral part of their calcite skeleton.”  See our Baloney Detector explanation of the fallacy of personification.
Next amazing story. • Next headline on: Fish and Ocean Creatures.
National Geographic Explains Dating Methods  08/22/2001
The
September 2001National Geographic has arrived in millions of homes, with a cover story “How Old Is It?  Solving the Riddle of Ages.”  It attempts to explain the various methods scientists use to date everything from recent murder victims to fossils to the earliest rocks to the universe.  Claiming “nature has created the perfect rock clock for geologists“ in zircon crystals for the uranium-lead method, author Carl Zimmer quotes Ian Williams (p. 92) as saying, “Zircons are God’s gift to geochemistry.”
It’s essentially a propaganda piece for evolution, utilizing the methods of card stacking, authority, and visualization.  It highlights all the methods that give long ages, but passes over many others that give young ages (except for the brief obligatory dismissal of the Ussher chronology, an either-or fallacy on top of a straw man tactic).  Underlying all the methods described in the article is dogmatic faith that evolution has occurred. Two admissions of doubt did sneak through, however, that undermine the whole evolutionary tale: (1) the Cambrian explosion and the origin of life (p. 94) – “Short of the evolution of life, that episode (the Cambrian explosion) represents evolution’s supreme scientific challenge.”  (2) The lumpiness problem in cosmology (p. 99) – “Well into the 21st century, astronomers will be wrestling with the puzzle of how so many galaxies evolved so fast after the dawn of the universe.”  These are both major problems for naturalistic evolution.  If evolution is wrong in the big picture, it cannot be correct in the details.
A good exercise for students would be to read the National Geographic article, then follow the chain links on this page under Dating Methods.  It should be apparent that, despite NG’s glossy gown, the dating game is hard to win.  Regarding zircons being God's gift to evolutionary geologists, see creation geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling’s article at Institute for Creation Research and other related articles on radioactive dating.
Next headline on: Dating Methods.
Aborigines Not to Blame for Aussie Megafauna Extinction  08/22/2001
Like most continents, Australia had its share of mega-mammals like 10-foot high kangaroos, 13-foot long marsupials named Dipotrodon, marsupial lions, giant lizards and giant flightless birds.  In the past, some have claimed aborigines wiped out the megafauna when they arrived 60,000 years ago, but some feel they should be exonerated.  Using a new technique called optically stimulated luminescence of sand grains bearing fossils of these creatures, the National Museum of Australia now estimates that aborigines and these animals lived together for 15,000 years, so the extinction was a slow burn, not a blitzkrieg.  This from a Reuters story relayed in
CBS News.  The September 2001 National Geographic (p. 92), however, argues the opposite: “If humans hadn’t been there, the extinction would not have happened.”
This article illustrates the whopping stories that evolutionists pull out of the tiniest investment of data.  They use a questionable dating technique, riddled with unverifiable assumptions, then weave tales of ancient hunters and their techniques: “‘Slow-burn’ advocates argue that at first people modified landscapes, reduced habitat by fire-stick farming, took the eggs of flightless birds and reptiles, and wiped out populations by tethering animals to waterholes during droughts.”  How can anyone possibly know that?  Look at the raw data, and you see devolution, not evolution: a modern world impoverished of the magnificent creatures that once roamed the planet.
Note also that the blitzkrieg theorists make the aborigines look like environmental plunderers (compare with how modern man is blamed for accelerating the extinction of endangered species).  One wonders if aboriginal special interest groups are pressuring scientists to portray their ancestors in a kinder, gentler light.  Regardless, how can environmentalists blame modern man for what ancient humans (products of evolution) did to their fellow creatures as part of their own survival strategies?
Next headline on: Fossils. • Next headline on: Dating Methods. • Next headline on: Early Man.
Passing 08/22/2001: Sir Fred Hoyle, Cambridge astronomer, has died at the age of 86, reports the BBC News.  Hoyle originated the steady-state cosmology and was a long time critic of the big bang theory (a derisive term he coined).  Although an evolutionist, he became convinced that the origin of life by natural means was impossible, and with Dr. Chandra Wickramasinghe wrote several books critical of traditional Darwinism, notable Evolution From Space, proposing a version of panspermia that life was sent to earth from space by unknown intelligences.  Despite his maverick reputation, Hoyle was extremely influential to a whole generation of astronomers largely to his popularizations of science on the BBC.  On 08/23, Answers in Genesis published an article about Hoyle’s life and influence as a critic of the big bang theory and abiogenesis.

Cockfight Rages Over Origin of Feathers  08/21/2001
Headline sound extreme?  Listen to this: “In what can charitably be called a contentious debate, the two most strident groups of these paleontologists [i.e., who theorize the origin of feathers] sometimes–okay, almost always–reach interpretations of the data that are poles apart.  They defend their analyses with fundamentalist fervor and fling darts at the opinions of scientists who hold a different view.  When these guys get together, the feathers can really fly.”
So says the cover story of the Aug. 18
Science News Magazine (160:7, pp. 106-108).  One group wants to consider only the fossil evidence.  Another wants to take into account living animals and habitats, and infer their characteristics.  One group takes a bottom-up theory, thinking dinosaur-like creatures with incipient feathers might have been able to turn corners faster.  The other group takes a top-down approach, theorizing that animals leaping from branch to branch developed feathers and flight simultaneously.  The article by Sid Perkins states, “Most paleontologists agree that feathers like those found in modern birds have a structure that’s much too complicated to have evolved more than once.  Until scientists unearth fossils that are clearly the ancestors of Archaeopteryx, their imaginations can run wild as to what primitive feathers might have looked like.”
The article also has a sidebar on the looks versus genes controversy reported here July 3.

This article speaks for itself.  Here you have two groups willing to call each other “vitriolic” names over their disagreements (but of course will smile for the cameras as they say “evolution is a fact”), but neither group has a shred of evidence for how feathers came about.  The article has pictures illustrating the amazing design of feathers, with their complex shaft, barbs, barbules and hooklets that smoothly clamp together to form a lightweight, strong vane, perfect for flying, insulation, camouflage, decoration, water repulsion, and more.  There is a vast gulf between feathers and the “stubby projections” on dinosaur scales that some evolutionists try to imagine were the ancestors of these complex structures.  Controversy, lack of evidence, ardent faith in spite of the improbability . . . isn’t it ironic that printed beside the last page of the article is an advertisement for a book by anti-creationist anti-Christian skeptic Michael Shermer, How We Believe, which asks, “Why, despite the rise of science and secular education, are people turning to religion in greater numbers than ever before?”  To borrow a slogan from Fox News, we report – you decide.
Next headline on: Fossils. • Next headline on: Birds. • Next headline on: Dinosaurs.
Cambrian Explosion No Sweat  08/21/2001
The Cambrian Explosion has long been a puzzle to evolutionists, who need to explain how 20 different plant and animal phyla arose in a short time, geological speaking.  Now, in a paper in the August 22
Biological Proceedings of the Royal Society, Bruce Lieberman of the University of Kansas, studying trilobytes, claims there was nothing unusually rapid about speciation rates during the Cambrian, compared to other periods.
He manages to come to this sound bite, which makes good press, after a convoluted process of tweaking parameters and juggling assumptions.  The paper is filled with wiggle words like maybe, perhaps, but then, if, and this suggests.  Founded on the assumption of evolution and evolutionary dating methods, it’s merely an exercise in circular reasoning.  More importantly, it totally bypasses the tougher issue of how complex body plans originated in the first place.
Next headline on: Fossils.
Foot Width Gets You Dates  08/21/2001
A paper in the August 22
Biological Proceedings of the Royal Society tries to correlate various amounts of ’fluctuating asymmetry” in body parts with the number of sexual partners a man has.
How does something like this pass peer review?  This is balderdash dressed up in jargon.  Robert Boyle would be appalled.  The interviewees were given extra credit, for crying out loud – they must have been laughing their way to the report card after being measured and interviewed.  Who knows what tall tales they told?  The only trait that seemed to weakly correlate with number of sexual partners was foot width (women, is that what made you say I do?).  You could prove astrology with this kind of analysis.  (They missed the major deciding trait that makes men promiscuous; it’s spelled S-I-N.) 
Evolutionary psychologists try to treat human beings as collections of traits, thrust into the world like pinballs, acted on by impersonal forces, with no responsibility for their actions.  If so, then this paper is also irresponsible and has no validity.
Next dumb story.
Electricity Propels Cell Cargo  08/21/2001
Cells need to move stuff around through microtubules, little subway tunnels, and build proteins on assembly lines called ribosomes.  How do they attract the trucks to the cargo bay and move them along the track?  One factor appears to be static electricity.  Scientists found ways to calculate the electrostatic potential of microtubules and ribosomes, and found that they have complex quilted patterns of positive and negative charges, with a net negative charge that helps attract the ingredients and propel them along, according to a paper published online in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The paper is technical, but has some nice illustrations of microtubules in cross section.  It shows how the little tunnels are not simple structures like hoses, but elaborate, precise arrangements of molecules as intricately crocheted as a quilt.  The main ribosome components have 88,000 to 95,000 atoms apiece, arranged to create the proper electrostatic potential.  The precision of cellular structures defies any attempt at naturalistic explanation.  Add electric power to the list of wonders.
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry.
Cure STDs With Hub Caps  08/20/2001
Nail the big offenders and wipe out sexually transmitted diseases, says
Nature Science Update.  Even a moderate campaign of stopping (capping) the most promiscuous individuals (the hubs) in the STD transmission network would have dramatic results.  The problem is finding the hubs.
This is just common sense and mathematics, but in STD politics, it’s not so simple.  If it were measles or plague, quarantine would be the obvious strategy, but the homosexual lobby has made it all but impossible to identify individuals most at risk for spreading HIV.  This makes interdiction of the disease by this method extremely difficult.  Since there are no morals in Darwinism, maybe we can just observe this phenomenon dispassionately and conclude that HIV is winning the war of survival of the fittest over humans (by taking advantage of human stupidity).
Next headline on: Politics. • Next headline on: Health.
Fish Help Scientists Develop Environmentally Safe Antifreeze  08/20/2001
Technology imitates nature –
again.  Teleost fish have a natural antifreeze glycoprotein (AFGP) that allows them to swim in icy polar waters without freezing.  Now, scientists at State University of New York are just beginning to find ways to manufacture look-alike molecules in quantity, according to EurekAlert.  Although the protein antifreeze mechanism is poorly understood, the molecules bioengineers are working on have the potential to produce environmentally safe methods for packing and shipping biological materials, and to prevent roads and crops and from freezing.
Once again, nature had it first.  Protein molecules are continuing to be understood as the all-purpose Legos for a bewildering assortment of practical functions.  Trace this back to the versatile properties of carbon, the fortuitous resonance that allows carbon to form, and the anthropic properties of physics that permit chemical bonds at all, and you have a universe that showcases Design at every level.
Next headline on: Fish.
Wives Evolve Strategies to Cope With Cheating Sports-Hero Spouses  08/20/2001
Researchers at
Oregon State University say a “culture of adultery” exists among professional athletes, who have a “fast-food sex mentality” while on the road.  Steven Ortiz made a presentation to the American Sociological Society, sharing the results of interviews with wives of athletes who, some newly married and some married for 10 years or more.  “What emerged from those interviews were profiles of adaptation, as wives developed coping strategies that often evolved over time.”  Most of the wives were drawn to the athlete through glamor or prestige and did not know what they were in for.  Some make a decision to cope with it, some use humor, some get suspicious or go into denial, some get divorced, some put up with the one-night stands but not with long term love affairs.  “Some wives look for signs that their husband has been unfaithful; others may deny the possibility by avoiding the issue completely,” Ortiz says.  “They are different strategies of dealing with the same fears.”
If this is all just evolution in action, then it isn’t morally right or wrong, is it?  It is one thing to conduct interviews and tabulate data, but by using the terms adapation and evolve, this researcher wobbles on the line about whether the athletes are moral jerks or just products of their environment, and whether the wives are justified in their anger or just acting out evolutionary adaptation strategies.  It would be interesting to add another question to the interviews: “Do you feel your husband is morally responsible for his behavior, or is his adultery justified because it illustrates evolution in action?”  (I.e., is he a gentleman or a brute?)
Next dumb story.
Teacher Forbidden to Question Darwinism     08/19/2001
The cover story of
World Magazine for August 18 tells the story of Rod LeVake, a Minnesota football coach turned biology teacher, who was subjected to interrogation by the principal and two other administrators when he informed colleagues he intended to tell students about textbook errors about evolution, including Haeckel’s faked drawings of embryos.  Even though Mr. LeVake agreed to teach evolution and not teach creationism, when he admitted to believing in creation, he was subjected to an inquisition by the entire science department, who fired questions at him including one who accused him of believing the earth is flat.  The administration rejected his position paper which stated, “I will teach, should the department decide it is appropriate, the theory of evolution.  I will also accompany that treatment of evolution with an honest look at the difficulties and inconsistencies of the theory without turning my class into a religious one.  Anything less than this constitutes poor science.”  They transferred him to a chemistry class, even though he is the only teacher at the school with a master’s degree in biology.  LeVake’s appeal was denied, but his case may make its way to the Supreme Court.  A central issue is whether a teacher’s personal religious beliefs can disqualify him or her from teaching science.
Let’s hope his new chemistry class includes biochemistry, which will provide a huge arsenal against evolution without him having to say a word about Darwin (follow the chain links Cell and Amazing at top).  Even though creation is winning the evidence war, this story shows that the Darwin KGB are still in power.  But don’t despair; these could just be their last desperate attempts to brandish their swords before their own house caves in from the weight of scientific evidence it cannot support.  “They wanted me to teach it as dogma,” LeVake said.
Next headline on: Schools.
Motor and Clutch Proteins Identified for Cellular Highways  08/17/2001
Did you know that cells have their own interstate highway system, with actin filaments serving as streets and microtubules serving as freeways?  That motors send their cargo zipping down the lanes? 
EurekAlert reports that biologists at the University of Illinois, publishing in Science, believe they have identified the clutch that puts the motor in neutral or clicks it into gear.  While studying pigment organelle movement in animals that can change color, like chameleons, they think they have uncovered a universal system for moving parts around the cell.  The clutch is a complex molecule named calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII); it works to engage or disengage a motor protein they had earlier identified as myosin-V. 
More and more, the cell is seen to be a fantastic array of functioning parts, as complex as a city.  Such marvels do not arise from the random shuffling of liquids and solids.  The old “watch requires a Watchmaker” argument for design has found its ultimate illustration in the tiniest unit of life: the cell.  A watch is simple by comparison.
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry. • Next amazing story.
Article 08/16/2001: Writing for Answers in Genesis, Dr. Michael Ord addresses the supposed consistency of evolution’s long ages: is the alleged agreement between various dating methods real or contrived?
Next headline on: Dating Methods.

Moon Made Easy . . . Not  08/16/2001
According to
Nature, moon making is easy: just get an asteroid the size of Mars to impact the early earth at the correct oblique angle.  Scientists at Southwest Research Institute used a more sophisticated 3D computer model to get the right amount of material into orbit, but “the problem will remain that giant impacts are inherently improbable, and the Solar System’s chaotic nature makes it impossible to re-run history and get the same outcome.”  Says David Stevenson of Caltech, “None of the scenarios for the Moon’s formation is highly likely.”  Scientific American adds that the simulation did not take into account the phase of the material.  New Scientist reminds us that without the moon, earth would not be the habitable planet we know.

Our moon is a lifesaver.  It’s the perfect agitator to cleanse our oceans with tides and contribute energy to our dynamic atmosphere, to say nothing of its being a beautiful companion for romantic nights.  How did a Mars-sized chunk arrive at just the right speed and angle to create the moon?  Even if not impossible, it’s one of many cosmic coincidences that make our life-blessing planet seem too improbable to be the work of chance.  And consider, our moon is just the right size and distance to give us the occasional treat of a total solar eclipse.  There’s no place like home.
Next headline on: Solar System.
Cannibals: Eat the One You Love  08/16/2001
Beth Conklin, an anthropologist at
Vanderbilt University, has written a book entitled Compassionate Cannibalism in which she argues that cannibalism not always a barbaric act against enemies but, at least among the Wari’ tribe of the Amazon rain forest, a way of showing respect to loved ones who have died.
How do you like your uncle done?  While we’re at the rationalization game, let’s examine the noble motives of those on death row.  After all, anthropologists have rationalized the behavior of adulterers and rapists in evolutionary terms.  One would think that reinterpretation of vice would never go so far as cannibalism, but, as Conklin argues, we just need to see it from the natives’ point of view.  Everyone is beautiful in their own way – except missionaries, who interfere with their grieving customs by telling them about everlasting life in Christ.
Next dumb story.
Physical Constants Changing?   08/15/2001
According to
Scientific American, the venerable fine structure constant, one of the fundamental constants of physics that relates the fundamental forces, may have changed by 10 parts per billion in the last 6 billion years.  New Scientist reports that maybe the speed of light has changed as well, claiming this turns traditional physics on its head.  Astrophysicist John Webb is quoted as saying, “If it holds up, it surely has to be one of the more important discoveries in fundamental physics.”
08/22/2001: Dr. Jonathan Sarfati writing for Answers in Genesis urges caution in responding to this claim.
This is a very unexpected announcement; constants have been assumed to be inviolable.  Some creationists have posited constants that change over time, such as the speed of light, as a possible explanation for the appearance of age in the universe.  Although the proposed variation is very slight in this case, this development bears watching.  Be cautious, however for all who will claim that this supports their pet theory, whether theistic or atheistic.  Some are already saying this supports string theory, for instance.  The evidence is too indistinct to form any conclusions at this point; it’s also hard to separate the measurements from the assumptions used to interpret them.
Next headline on: Physics. • Next headline on: Cosmology.
Skin Acid Keeps You Intact  08/15/2001
Researchers at SFVAMC have found why your skin is as acidic as a bowl of crushed tomatoes.  When your skin breaks down phospholipids into fatty acids, it keeps you from drying out, and helps hold your skin cells together so you don't flake away, reports
EurekAlert.
Just one of those many marvels that has to be just right or you would die.
Next headline on: Human Body. • Next amazing story.
Stem Cells Found in Skin  08/14/2001
In the wake of
President Bush’s decision to limit embryonic stem cell research, good news has come from Canada that might soften the demand for the controversial source of these potent cells that can grow into any type of tissue.  Researchers at McGill University have found stem cells in adult skin, reports Scientific American online news.  If demonstrated for humans as well as mice, this could provide a noncontroversial source for stem cells without the ethical concerns of destroying embryos.  This new source also bypasses difficulties with tissue rejection, since it provides cells from the patient’s own body.  Nature explores the differences and issues regarding these alternatives to embryonic stem cells.
This should be great news for those who have been following the debate, and shows that there is always a better way than killing a life to save a life.
Next headline on: Politics.
Religious Doubts Jeopardize Elderly  08/13/2001
Contradicting earlier studies that associated religion with better health among elderly patients, a Bowling Green University researcher found negative influences among those struggling with religious questions about their condition:
Bowling Green State University psychologist Kenneth Pargament and his colleagues looked at 595 individuals-mostly Christians-aged 55 or older who had been hospitalized between 1996 and 1997.  Patients who reported among other things feeling alienated from God or believing the devil brought about their illness, the researchers found, were associated with an up to 28 percent increase in risk of dying during the two-year follow-up period.  Other factors, such as gender, race and diagnosis, did not predict mortality.  People who feel that God is punishing or deserting them, team member Harold Koenig of Duke University notes, “are in trouble-and doctors need to know about it. ” Says Pargament, “This study reminds us that religion is a rich, complex process, one that represents a potent resource for people facing problems and one that can, at times, be a source of problems in itself.”
The report is summarized in
Scientific American online news.
One totally wrong conclusion to infer from this story is that Christianity is bad for your health.  It would be more accurate to say that bad theology – or unconfessed sin – can hurt you.  Proverbs 17:22 says “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Christ brings comfort and hope for those who hurt.  Jesus said to those who trust His compassionate forgiveness and grace, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  Notice how this peace gave confidence to Samuel F. B. Morse and Michael Faraday in their old age.
Next headline on: Health.
Teacher Reassigned Not For Credentials But Beliefs   08/10/2001
The Marysville school board is in a quandary.  They hired a biology teacher who (they should have known) had a controversial past: he dared to question Darwinism, and suggested life is so complex it cannot be explained by chance, and indicates an origin by intelligent design.  Although Roger DeHart had an impeccable record as a biology teacher, the Washington school decided to reassign him to geology where the question of intelligent design was less likely to be an issue, says
HeraldNet.
It doesn’t matter what your qualifications or experience are; the litmus test is whether you will pledge allegiance to Darwin.  DeHart said, “I’m denied as if I was black or gay . . . . This is happening because of an ideology, not because of anything else but an ideology, and the fact you can reassign someone based on an ideology. ”
Next headline on: Schools.
Master On-Off Switch for Genes Found: A Second Genetic Code?  08/10/2001
Researchers at the University of Virginia have been studying a type of protein structure called chromatin that surrounds DNA, and believe it acts as a switch to turn genes off or on.  If so, this is another source of information, like a second genome, that helps regulate DNA genes.  Dr. C. David Allis, a biochemist, states: “We believe that what is telling the cell to make those choices is an overall code that may significantly extend the information potential of the genetic DNA code.  For some time, we have known that there is more to our genetic blueprint than DNA itself.  We are excited that we are beginning to decipher a new code, what is referred to as an epigenetic code.” The story was reported by
SciNews.
This is a problem for evolution on two fronts: it increases the complexity of the cell enormously (again), and it creates a conundrum about how the DNA and the protein became interdependent – the old chicken and egg problem.  If the DNA codes for the chromatin, how can it be expressed if the chromatin wasn’t there from the start to activate the gene?
Next headline on: The Cell and BiochemistryNext amazing story.
Plants Debut Twice as Early  08/10/2001
Using a genetic “molecular clock,” scientists have estimated that land plants and fungi proliferated on earth much earlier than previously believed, reports
Scientific American.  Assuming that the mutation rate is constant, biologists at Penn State examined 119 genes of animals and plants and concluded that plants arrived not just 480 million years ago, but 700 million years for land plants and 1300 million years for fungi.  “Their results proved startling,” the report says, but it adds that the early debut may have absorbed more CO2 and thereby cooled the planet and boosted oxygen levels to stimulate the evolution of higher organisms.
This story is built on faulty assumptions and a prior commitment to evolution.  It is nothing more than storytelling in scientific garb.  In actuality, it illustrates the problems evolutionists create trying to fit their own findings with their beliefs, and how they spin-doctor each new anomaly into a plus for Darwinism.
Next headline on: Plants.
Marsupial Swam from Antarctic to Madagascar?  08/07/2001
A tiny marsupial fossil tooth found on Madagascar has evolutionists scratching their heads, according to
Scientific American.  Marsupials aren’t supposed to be on Madagascar: only placental mammals live there today:
A leading theory of mammal evolution holds that marsupials and placentals (the group to which we belong) arose in the Northern Hemisphere and later spread to the southern supercontinent of Gondwana via South America.  If marsupials had already arrived in Madagascar by the end of the Cretaceous period, as the new specimen indicates, they most likely entered Madagascar through Antarctica.  This suggests that South America, Antarctica and Madagascar were connected much later than most models of plate tectonics estimate.  The tooth discovery also bolsters the argument that the ancestors of the mammals that inhabit Madagascar today, all of which are placental, were not on the island during the late Cretaceous.  Rather, Krause concludes, these creatures most likely arrived after the Cretaceous, and that “probably involved crossing a significant marine barrier.”
The little tooth thus stirs up controversy in not only the theory of mammal biogeography, but also the theory of plate tectonics.
Amazing how much inference is pulled from one tiny little tooth.  No matter how much a find shakes up current theories, however, evolution is always sacrosanct.
Next headline on: Fossils.
Early Earth Juggled Oxygen Balance  08/06/2001
A NASA Ames team has proposed a new theory for how the early earth achieved higher oxygen levels, allowing advanced life forms to evolve.  According to the paper in Science summarized by
Scientific American, a process called methane photolysis, in which oxygen combined with methane, liberated hydrogen which escaped to space instead of being buried in sediments.  This might have also enriched the methane concentration in earth’s atmosphere 100 to 1000 times what it is today, increasing earth’s temperature under the dimmer early sun and thereby forestalling a planetary freeze.
This is ad hoc manipulation of multiple factors.  Evolutionists are trying to untangle a Gordian knot of their own making, wherein the early sun (according to their theories) was only four fifths its current brightness and should have frozen the earth.  By tweaking the hydrogen and methane concentrations they are trying to keep atmospheric evolution from smothering biological evolution.  Christians believe God made the world to be inhabited, so He was wise enough to set the parameters to the optimum levels from the beginning.
Next headline on: Solar System.
Hawaii School Board Rejects Alternatives to Darwinism   08/03/2001
In a unanimous vote, the Hawaii school board rejected allowing “multiple theories of origins” to be taught to students, reports the
Honolulu Star News.  The word creationism was not specifically mentioned in the suggested language committee member Denise Matsumoto proposed for vote, after noting that the state science standards were presenting Darwin’s theory as fact rather than opinion.  But board members and the press were quick to interpret this as a way to sneak Biblical creationism into the science classroom.  “We do not teach alchemy alongside chemistry nor astrology alongside physics, neither should we teach creationism in the biology classroom,” said a University of Hawaii professor testifying to the board.  Even some clergymen joined in the attack: “Creationism and the flat Earth is not good science, and itís not very good theology,” the Rev. Sam Cox said.
The press always presents this as a fight against Biblical literalism and science.  As Phillip Johnson says, posing the debate in these terms ensures the outcome just by asking the question.  It perpetuates the Inherit the Wind stereotype of Bible-thumping obscurantists against progress, when actually the tables have turned completely and it is the Origin-thumping Darwinists who are the bigots.  Readers of these pages know the real situation; take a look just through a few pages here to see how bankrupt the theory of evolution is these days, and how it gets away with teaching absurdities and just-so stories against the evidence.  Why not teach all the science, including all the mountain of evidence that opposes Darwinism?  Does science presuppose naturalistic philosophy?  Why not teach students critical thinking skills, instead of indoctrinating them into one position?  These are the issues.  School boards are force-feeding students a position only 10% of the public accepts, and which teaches absurdities, like nothing times nobody equals everything, and information arises by random chance.  As Johnson states in The Wedge of Truth (which anyone swayed by media reports should read), “the intellectual bankruptcy of Darwinism cannot be concealed for very much longer.  The Darwinists may delay the day of reckoning for a while by wielding the weapons of power, but more and more people are learning to press the right questions and to refuse to take bluff or evasion for an answer.” (The Wedge of Truth, InterVarsity Press 2000, p. 150).  Get informed.  Understand the real issues.  Study our Baloney Detector – you’ll find plenty of examples in this news story.
Next headline on: Politics. • Next headline on: Schools.
Mars Had Nearly Global Flood  08/03/2001
Mars got flooded with 50,000 times the flow of the Amazon over a wide area; so says a team of researchers from Arizona, NASA, the Smithsonian and the U.S. Geological Survey, analyzing data from
JPL’sMars Global Surveyor spacecraft.  Their results are published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, according to SciNews, which states:
At sustained peak discharge rates, floods through the valleys would have filled a large ocean (96 million cubic kilometers) hypothesized for northern Mars in about 8 weeks, and a smaller ocean (14 million cubic kilometers) in the same region in about 8 days, according to the scientists' calculations.  The large ocean is equivalent to about a third the volume of the Indian Ocean, or more than three times the volume of the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea, South China Sea and Arctic Ocean combined.  The smaller ocean is equal in volume to the Arctic Ocean.
Remember that Mars is half the diameter of the Earth, so these floods involved a substantial portion of the planet.
Why are geologists willing to conjecture on such global catastrophes on Mars, a dry dusty desert where water today would vaporize, but not here at home – the water planet, where there is also evidence for flooding on massive scales?  Consider the sediments on the Colorado Plateau alone.  Were these thousands of feet of sediments deposited slowly and gradually, or are they relics of catastrophic events?  At least they should approach the data with an open mind as much as they do for Mars (an unlikely place for floods), where they are here claiming to have found the largest flood channels in the Solar System.
Next headline on: Mars. • Next headline on: Geology.
Paleontologist Gives Dinosaurs a Nose Job  08/03/2001
The
nose is wrong on dinosaurs, says Lawrence Witmer of the NSF DinoNose Project.  The nostrils were bigger and farther forward.  NSF program director Jack Hayes is pleased with the finding; he says figuring out where the bones go and what soft tissues look like, the paleontologist’s specialty, is notoriously difficult.  “Make a mistake,” he says, “and you might end up with a fossil horse that walked on two legs or a Tyrannosaurus rex that walked on four.”
Better update the movies, from Cave Man to Jurassic Park III.  Follow the chain links on fossils for other mistakes that have been discovered, some of which were displayed in museums for over a hundred years.  Yet some paleontologists don’t hesitate to speculate about how dinosaurs behaved, what color markings decorated their skin and even what kind of B.O. they had.  Even since have the 60's and 70's, dinosaur looks have changed substantially.  What will be next? 
Pity Steven Spielberg; he has to walk up to T. Rex and say, “I’m going to rearrange your face.”
Next headline on: Dinosaurs. • Next headline on: Fossils.
Quotable Quote  08/02/01:  “The simplest living cell is so complex that supercomputer models may never simulate its behavior perfectly.  But even imperfect models could shake the foundations of biology.”  – W. Wayt Gibbs, “Cybernetic Cells,” Scientific American (August 2001), p. 53.
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry.

Look-Alikes Can Be Genetically Different and Vice Versa  08/02/2001
According to the
National Science Foundation Media Tipsheet for 8/1, the inventiveness of evolution continues to surprise biologists when they compare the outward looks of an animal to its genes.  The closest relatives of long-legged flamingoes, for instance, are squat little birds called grebes (see also 7/03/01 headline).  And now, two species of salamanders in New Mexico that are so similar looking experts cannot tell them apart have been found to have very different genomes.  The article states, “The finding demonstrates an evolutionary concept called parallelism, a situation where two organisms independently come up with the same adaptation to a particular environment.  The discovery is one of many surprises that have emerged in recent years as biologists use DNA comparisons to distinguish species and chart family trees.”

Simplistic theories of Darwinism just don’t cut it anymore.  The genotype and the phenotype are telling different stories.  Evolutionists expect us to believe that tall birds evolved from short ones, and that two identical looking salamanders evolved in parallel from different ancestors.  There is a big rift evolving between one camp of evolutionists who believe the genes tell the ancestry, and others who trust the morphology.
Evolutionists have often used the sarcastic argument that if creation is true, God tricked us by making a world that looks like it evolved.  Apparently God is trickier than the evolutionists thought.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Frankenstein Bacteria Jumpstart Evolution With Lightning  08/01/2001
According to
Nature Science Update, researchers in France simulated lightning in soil with spark discharges and observed bacteria incorporating plasmids (DNA rings) into their genomes.  They conjecture that this method of horizontal gene transfer might be instrumental in evolution.
Shocking, but true?  Let’s try an experiment.  Stick your finger in an electrical outlet and see if you evolve upward or downward.  Caution!  Do not try this at home!
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory. • Next dumb story.
Chad Man Shakes the Evolutionary Tree  08/01/2001
According to a breaking news story in
Ananova, a complete primate skull alleged to be 6 million years old has been found in Chad, west of the Rift Valley, far removed from the location of most earlier finds.  The skull and teeth are said to be well developed, and the discoverers are testing to see if it is human or ape-like.  If the Chad skull is confirmed as human, the story says, “the theory that the savannah lands to the east acted as humanity’s cradle will have to be re-thought.”
Well, this just blows away the whole tree, doesn’t it?  All the prior talk about Lucy and Orrorin and Kenyanthropus doesn’t matter any more if a human skull predates them all.  But don’t count on it.  There is so much political infighting between the rival teams of paleoanthropologists, someone is sure to quickly denounce this new claim as fraudulent, or wrongly dated, or irrelevant.  The English and the Americans are not about to let the French and the Chads win this no-holds barred game of Calvinball.
Next headline on: Early Man.
Click on Apollos, the trusty

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Guide to Evolutionary Theory
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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 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).

 
Featured Creation Scientist for August
Henrietta Swan Leavitt
1868-1921

Star Party season is the month to remember a great Christian astronomer – a woman, who was deaf and smart!.

Today, there are many women scientists, but until the twentieth century, whether from prejudice, tradition, or the needs of homemaking, women had rarely entered the almost exclusively male domains of science and technology.  Henrietta Swan Leavitt is a glorious exception, and with her, a whole group of lady astronomers who, under Dr. Edward C. Pickering of Harvard, made it their mission to survey the stars.  Pickering hired local women, who were willing to work for less money, to do the tedious work of measuring stars from thousands of photographic plates.  Annie Jump Cannon, one of “Pickering’s harem” as it was later crudely dubbed, would become famous for her star classification scheme OBAFGKM (memorialized by the guys for its mnemonic “O Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me”).  Henrietta Swan Leavitt, however, would always be most famous of the group: she helped us measure the universe.

Deaf, and reserved in manner but charmingly sweet, Henrietta Leavitt had a brilliant mind and a capacity for detail that helped her discover an astronomical law destined to put her in the history books.  This law become the essential tool Edwin Hubble would later use to determine the distance to the “nebulae” (clouds) – unknown fuzzy objects found in all directions of the sky.  Leavitt was the daughter of a congregational minister.  She graduated from what was later named Radcliffe College, and in 1892, joined the Harvard College Observatory as a volunteer research assistant.

Soon after the twentieth century began, she rose to the head of a department measuring stellar magnitudes (brightnesses).  For the next several years, she performed very tedious work, searching thousands of plates taken from an observatory in Peru, for a special class of pulsating stars called Cepheid variables.  For reasons unknown at the time, Cepheids were known to vary regularly in brightness.  Some pulsated rapidly, in a few hours or days, and some took months, but they could be depended on like clockwork.  By 1908 she had compiled a list of well over a thousand Cepheids in a nebular patch of the southern sky called the Small Magellanic Cloud.  Her careful observations uncovered an important relationship: the longer the period, the brighter the star.

Great advances in science are often made by individuals who not only observe something interesting, but get that flash of insight that allows them to interpret the meaning of the observation.  To understand the significance of her find, we need to recall the concept of the universe in Leavitt’s day.  The Herschels and other notable astronomers had catalogued thousands of stars, but were frustrated by a common fact, that you cannot tell the distance of a star by its brightness alone.  It might be a very bright star very far away, or a very dim star close up.

If you had a “standard candle” or light source of known brightness, you could use it as a distance measuring tool.  Think of a row of uniform streetlights vanishing in the distance along a city street.  If every lamp is the same, you can use the apparent brightness of a lamp, i.e., how bright it looks to your eye or film, and compare it to the lamp’s absolute brightness, or how bright it would look from a known, standard distance, to measure how far away it is.

The relationship Leavitt observed is a little more complicated, but similar.  If you know that fast-blinking lamps are intrinsically dimmer than slow-blinking lamps, they will have a relationship that allows you to infer how far away one is by measuring its apparent brightness or magnitude, and comparing that to its blinking rate, or period, which is linked to its absolute magnitude.  A simple mathematical equation then gives you the distance.

Before Leavitt, no standard candle was known.  Other than the few nearby stars that could be measured using triangulation, no stars hinted at a reliable method that could tell for sure how far they were, and by extrapolation, how far the universe extended.  Astronomers took part in the “Great Debate” – was everything inside the Milky Way, or were some objects beyond it?  Just how big was the Milky Way?

Leavitt used a fair assumption that the stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud were all, within reason, the same distance from us.  This meant she could compare each star’s absolute magnitude, or luminosity, as if she were to see a variety of lamps of different brighnesses from the same distance d (where d was still to be determined).  She found 16 Cepheids on the plates that appeared often enough to measure their periods.  Plotting the periods of these stars on a graph against their apparent luminosities, she saw that they all fell on a line: she had found a Period-Luminosity Relation.  If astronomers could determine the distance to one Cepheid, they could calibrate the relationship and use it as a measuring stick.  They would have their long-sought standard candle.

Henrietta Leavitt published her results, enthusiastic about the possibilities of the relationship for measuring objects in space.  But Pickering assigned her to other duties that he felt were more appropriate as women’s work than making fundamental discoveries.  Other astronomers like Hertzprung and Shapley became intrigued by Leavitt’s paper, however, and found ways to calibrate her standard candle.  It took several iterations and error corrections, but by the 1920s, using Cepheids with the Period-Luminosity Relation had become an increasingly accepted method of measurement, and astronomers were finally getting a grasp on the distances to the stars.

Leavitt did not live to see the epochal day in October, 1923, when Edwin Hubble, working at the new 100" telescope on Mt. Wilson near Los Angeles, the largest in the world at the time, excitedly wrote "VAR!" on a plate taken of the Andromeda Nebula.  He had found a Cepheid variable star within it.  This Cepheid was to bring powerful new evidence into the long-standing debate about the nature of these spiral nebulae: were they clouds of dust or gas within the Milky Way, or star systems far beyond it?  Hubble noted that this Cepheid was much dimmer than most.  

Applying Henrietta Leavitt’s Period-Luminosity Relation, he calculated that the Andromeda Nebula must be extremely distant; it was in fact another galaxy like our own, far beyond the Milky Way – an “island universe” in the vastness of empty space.  As the implications of this discovery began to sink in, and objections to it withered and disappeared, the age of galactic astronomy was born.  By 1935, the cosmos had multiplied in size a hundred billionfold – an unprecedented revolution in our understanding of the heavens, unlikely to ever be surpassed.  Armed with Leavitt’s standard candle, Hubble and other astronomers revealed to our telescopes a universe of unfathomably immense proportions.

The glory of this discovery was due largely to this wonderful lady scientist, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, who was nominated for a Nobel Prize posthumously in 1925.  What kind of person was she?  Solon I. Bailey eulogized her in these words:

Miss Leavitt inherited, in a somewhat chastened form, the stern virtues of her puritan ancestors.  She took life seriously.  Her sense of duty, justice and loyalty was strong.  For light amusements she appeared to care little.  She was a devoted member of her intimate family circle, unselfishly considerate in her friendships, steadfastly loyal to her principles, and deeply conscientious and sincere in her attachment to her religion and church.  She had the happy faculty of appreciating all that was worthy and lovable in others, and was possessed of a nature so full of sunshine that, to her, all of life became beautiful and full of meaning.

This moving description makes it clear that Miss Leavitt exemplified the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22): love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Christians, creationists, women, and the disabled – all can justly look to Dr. Henrietta Swan Leavitt as a role model of an overcomer, an achiever, and an exemplary Christian.

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
– I Corinthians 15:41

For more information on Henrietta Leavitt and other great Christians in science, see our online book:
The World’s Greatest Creation Scientists from 1000 to 2000 A.D.
Copies are also available from our online store.