Creation-Evolution Headlines
September 2003
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The message is that evolution, in one way or another, must be the answer.  In this sense, evolution can be anything—anything, that is, except divine creation.  This is why evolution is not tied to natural selection or any other specific mechanism.  It is simply anything but creation.  It is any naturalistic explanation for the origin of species.  This is why evolutionists speak of fact and theory.  It is a theory in the sense that we don’t know how it occurred; it is a fact because nonnaturalistic explanations (i.e., divine creation) have been ruled out.
– Cornelius Hunter, Darwin’s Proof, (Brazos Press, 2003) p. 145.
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September marks the third year Creation-Evolution Headlines has been bringing you near-daily reports on the important issues related to origins.  This website is a growing database of science news (mostly from secular journals), all classified by topic, with color commentary.  Now 1500+ entries!
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Movie Suggestion 09/30/2003
If you haven’t seen the new movie
Luther starring Joseph Fiennes and Peter Ustinov, it might provide some worthwhile visual context for our 08/19/2003 commentary on the Darwinian Counter-Reformation.
Next headline on: Movies.

Editorial  09/30/2003
In
Jewish World Review, a rabbi asks if the ancient Hebrew creation account in Genesis can stand up to modern cosmology.  Maybe the cosmologists are right, says Rabbi Yonason Goldson.  “On the other hand, increasingly complex and convoluted theories begin to look like the frantic flailings of scientists drowning in the mysteries of human existence.  Indeed, one noted physicist confessed that, if he’d been presented with these theories not long ago, ‘I’d either ask what you’ve been smoking or tell you to stop telling fairy tales’”  The strain new discoveries are bringing are “almost enough to make one contemplate -- dare we say it? -- Divine Creation,” he says, reminding the reader of the challenge God gave to Job thousands of years ago, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”
Next headline on: Cosmology. • Next headline on: The Bible.

Dog Genome Shows Human Similarities   09/29/2003
People like their dogs because they’re like their dogs, according to
National Geographic News.  At least, man and dog share many of the same genetic disorders.  Early results are out from a newly-sequenced genome of a poodle.  According to the BBC News, “75% of the genes we think are in humans also appear to be in dogs.”
    In another dog story, it appears that Australia’s dingos descended from one pregnant female brought over from Indonesia about 5000 years ago, according to the BBC News.

They have just a “rough sketch” of the canine genome at this point.  They haven’t identified the gene that makes a dog drink out of the toilet or eat its own barf.  Compared to its strong, handsome wolf-like ancestor, the poodle is a genetic disaster.  What would they expect?
    Humans and their pets walk the same sidewalks and breathe the same polluted air.  It is not surprising to find similar functional genes and similar diseases.  But the evolutionary fluff is unsupportable.  “The sequencing indicates that dog and human genomes are more similar to each other than either is to the mouse, though it appears the dog lineage diverged first from the common ancestor,”  claims National Geographic.  How can they possibly know that?  Molecular phylogeny is an art based on mental constructs, not a science.  (See also 11/22/02 headline).
    If they can study dog genes to help understand diseases, that’s great.  If they can discern what millennia of selective breeding has wrought, fine.  But to say dogs, mice, and humans are all products of slime plus time is a mystery religion.
    Dogs are wonderful, but notice that not one has been found at work decoding the genome of its master.  Exercise your mind, man, while you walk your dog.
Next headline on: Mammals. • Next headline on: Genes and DNA. • Next dumb story.
Why Does Uranus Have So Many Small Moons?   09/29/2003
Are they chips off old blocks, or what?  Several newly-discovered moons around Uranus are puzzling astronomers, reports
Astrobiology Magazine.  Jack Lissauer explains: “The inner swarm of 13 satellites is unlike any other system of planetary moons.  The larger moons must be gravitationally perturbing the smaller moons.  The region is so crowded that these moons could be gravitationally unstable.  So, we are trying to understand how the moons can coexist with each other.”  He thinks the San Francisco sized rocks are fragments left when a comet hit the moon Belinda, because it is unlikely they would have formed 4 billion years ago and still be around today.
This is not the only system with small moons.  Every giant planet has a swarm of rocks.  Gravitational influences on these small bodies should eject them over time.  Planetary scientists admit it’s puzzling that so many should exist today (see May 14 headline).
Next headline on: Solar System. • Next headline on: Dating Methods.
SETI: Scientific Progress Goes BOINC   09/29/2003
The popular SETI@home program is undergoing an overhaul, reports
The Planetary Society.  With apologies to Calvin and Hobbes, it’s going BOINC.  The new BOINC software architecture (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) will not only provide more flexibility, but can be adapted for other scientific projects that might benefit by massively distributed computing.
Don’t give this to the spammers and hackers.  That’s all we need is more DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks on the net.  'Net users suffering under daily loads of Nigeria scams, porn sites and deceptive ads, to say nothing of worms and viruses generated for no other purpose than to cause anonymous pain, are getting an education on the reality of human wickedness.  Should SETI researchers assume the aliens are innocent, compassionate friends?
Next headline on: SETI.
Biological Networks: Does Group Dynamics Trump Natural Selection?   09/29/2003
There seems to be a move among biologists to diminish the role of natural selection in biological evolution.  A press release from
Arizona State University, for instance, attributes the complexity of insect societies to network dynamics.  The complexity is an “emergent property” of social interactions, not natural selection acting on the genes.
    This is Jennifer Fewell’s contention in a paper on insect social order published in the Sept 26 issue of Science1, part of a special section on Networks in Biology2 (see also next headline).  Other papers in the series discuss protein networks, nerve networks, and metabolic networks within this apparently new paradigm of self-organization that emerges apart from natural selection acting on genetic mutations.  In the introductory paper, “Life and the Art of Networks,“2, Jasny and Ray explain that biologists are moving beyond compiling a “parts list” and trying to understand the larger picture of how components interact in complex processes.  They ask, “One assumes that biological regulatory networks are the result of crafting [sic] by natural selection.  But are they?”
1Jennifer H. Fewell, “Social Insect Networks,” Science doi 10.1126/science.1088945, 301:5641 (26 Sep 2003), pp. 1864-1870.
2Barbara R. Jasny and L. Bryan Ray, “Life and the Art of Networks,” Science 301:5641 (26 Sep 2003), p. 1863.
Let’s try to get this reasoning straight.  They use analogies such as the Internet, electronic circuits and electric power grids as networks.  So studying the Internet (built by intelligent design), circuitry (built by intelligent design) and the electric power grid (built by intelligent design, more or less) can help us understand how ant colonies, brains, metabolic pathways, cell cycle regulation, gene expression, protein complexes and human behavior all “emerged” by time and chance.
    Sounds like evolutionists are admitting that natural selection is just too weak to explain what they see.  There’s more and more talk about natural selection being just one facet of evolution.  Some point to gene duplication and other genetic mechanisms as being significant – maybe even more so – but self-organization seems to be the leading fad now (see a new kind of science, 08/18/2003.)  Is Charlie becoming a has-been?
    While evolutionists rush to jump on the new bandwagon of self-organization, they fail to notice it has flat tires and no driver.  The existence of biological networks presupposes design, just as much as the Internet presupposes skillfully designed computers and routers and infrastructure.  Once designed, network components can become adaptive and interact in many complex ways their designers may not have even anticipated.  Rocks, by contrast, do not form networks.  They fail to even get off the ground.
Next headline on: Bugs, Insects, Crawlers etc. • Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory. • Next headline on: Intelligent Design.
Darwin’s God Is a Tinkering Master Engineer   09/26/2003
Moses, Elijah and Ezra would be shocked.  Idolatry has again invaded the land of Israel.
    U. Alon, a molecular cell biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, has written a Viewpoint piece for
Science Magazine’s 09/26/2003 special on Biological Networks, entitled “The Tinkerer as an Engineer.”1  Dr. Alon has no need of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the omniscient, omnipotent, all-wise Creator of all.  To him, “evolution” achieves masterful design just by cobbling parts:
Francois Jacob pictured evolution as a tinkerer, not an engineer [Science 196:1161 (1977)].  Engineers and tinkerers arrive at their solutions by very different routes.  Rather than planning structures in advance and drawing up blueprints (as an engineer would), evolution as a tinkerer works with odds and ends, assembling interactions until they are good enough to work.  It is therefore wondrous that the solutions found by evolution have much in common with good engineering design.  This Viewpoint comments on recent advances in understanding biological networks using concepts from engineering.
Biological networks exhibit good engineering design, he explains, by their modularity, robustness to component tolerances, and the use of recurring circuit elements.  He describes molecular biology as reverse-engineering on a grand scale.  In conclusion, Alon says, “The similarity between the creations of tinkerer and engineer also raises a fundamental scientific challenge: understanding the laws of nature that unite evolved and designed systems.”
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)
1U. Alon, “Biological Networks: The Tinkerer as an Engineer,” Science 301:5641 09/26/2003, pp. 1866-1867.
This has to be one of the worst examples of evolutionary idolatry in recent months.  Many evolutionists have used the “tinkerer” concept to personify evolution, but Alon takes the cake.  And in the land of Israel, no less.  Could Baal worship have been any worse?  Stop playing word games with us, Darwinists: either make little idols of Mother Nature and sell them, or quit the illogical, misleading, nonsensical, blasphemous verbiage.  It makes you sound like you are already stoned.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory. • Next dumb story.
Own Your Own Jurassic Park   09/26/2003
The
BBC News reports that, beginning in 2005, you may be able to plant your own Wollemi Pine at home.  Discovered alive in an isolated Australian grove in 1994, Wollemi pines were thought to have gone extinct after the Jurassic era.  According to a botanist involved in the discovery, it was “the equivalent of finding a small dinosaur still alive on earth.”  The trees grow slowly in low light, in hot or cold climates, and would make perfect indoor plants.
Plant it next to your Dawn Redwood and Ginkgo trees, similar living fossils.  Why no evolution in 100 million years?  Who needs the millions of years?  Imagine the fossil ones living just a few thousand years ago, and it all begins to make more sense.
    Impress your friends with a living fossil garden.  What an interesting conversation starter that could be.
Next headline on: Plants. • Next headline on: Fossils.
Why Would Seals Become Foster Parents?   09/25/2003
Neil J. Gemmell (U. of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ) is scratching his head over why a fur seal mom would nurse another’s pup.  This seems very unDarwinian:
Why fostering occurs in pinnipeds is currently unknown.  Fostering is a costly behaviour on a variety of fronts.  Production of milk is physiologically demanding and may affect female survival and future reproductive success.  In addition, the quantity and quality of milk has a strong impact on the survival prospects and growth of juveniles (Roulin 2002).  It is expected, therefore, that nursing activities directed towards unrelated offspring should be selected against strongly as these would act to increase the fitness of competing progeny in a population, at the expense of the mother’s own offspring.
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)  So Neil studied Antarctic fur seals on Bird Island, South Georgia, for clues to this altruistic behavior and published a study in the Royal Society Biology Proceedings1.  The seals he studied are better at detecting their own kin than other species, whose fostering might be explained by “milk stealing” or other trickery on the part of the pups.  He measured about a 11% fostering rate looking at genetic markers (which were somewhat ambiguous for close relatives).
    What might be the reason for fostering?  Maybe the pups have gotten sneaky while waiting for mom to get back from foraging.  Gemmell thinks, however, based on the apparent kinship between foster moms and pups, that “the data suggest a possible role for kin selection”; i.e., that there may be “inclusive fitness advantages to individuals that foster the pups of close kin (Hamilton 1964), which arises out of the need for otariid mothers to leave their pups for extended periods of time.”
    More study will be required, though, to measure what the actual energetic costs of fostering are, the frequency of fostering, whether filial pups get better treatment, etc.: “It would also be desirable to establish what influence food availability, female condition, female age and pup loss have on the fostering behaviours observed.”  Comparison studies with other species of fostering seals might help, too.
Neil J. Gemmell, “Kin selection may influence fostering behaviour in Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella),”
Proceedings: Biological Sciences, The Royal Society, 270:1528 (pp. 2033-2037), 10.1098/rspb.2003.2467, Oct. 2003.
Too bad W. D. Hamilton’s 1964 tall tale, kin selection, is dead (see 05/07/2002 headline), or this might have provided some characters for the plot.  Notice how all evolutionists seem to be able to do is suggest that some variation on their tale might provide an explanation for whatever is being investigated.  Notice also how more study is always required.
    This story supports a hunch we’ve proposed before: Darwinists like evolutionary theory because it is so plastic, so malleable, it gives them job security.  Scientific proof is no longer required.  There will always be enough hints, suggestions, possibilities and conundrums to keep the tall tale going perpetually, no matter what the problems, no matter what the unexpected twists of the plot.  But when Colin Patterson asked his colleagues at the American Museum of Natural History if they could mention one thing they knew about evolution, they all responded with blank stares.  Finally, one responded, “I know one thing.  It ought not to be taught in high school.”
Next headline on: Mammals. • Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Meteor That Killed the Dinosaurs – Didn’t   09/25/2003
According to Gerta Keller (Princeton), the meteor that formed the Chicxulub Crater in the Yucatan was not responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs.  It was smaller than previously believed, and came 300,000 years too early.  According to her research, that impact does not coincide with the K-T boundary, and it was too small to kill even small organisms like foraminifera.  She thinks worldwide volcanism and a series of impacts did the job.
    “These views have not made Keller a popular figure at meteorite impact meetings,” says
EurekAlert.  But the idea that a single impact caused a worldwide mass extinction 65 million years ago has been taking a beating by more and more very renowned scientists, the article claims.  More detail can be found at the Princeton Weekly Bulletin.
This makes the final episode of Walking With Dinosaurs obsolete.  Wonder what the BBC animators think?  It was a fun story, while it lasted.
    The article claims that foraminifera evolve rapidly through geologic times and “constitute a timeline by which surrounding geologic features can be dated.”  They would know better if they had read our Sept 22 headline.
Next headline on: Dinosaurs.
Radiocarbon Found in Ancient Coal   09/25/2003
Dr. John Baumgardner reported finding carbon-14 still ticking in coal samples that should be radiocarbon-dead.  Because carbon-14 has a short half life of 5730 years, it rapidly decays, such that after 20 half-lives (114,700 years) carbon-12 would outnumber carbon-14 atoms a million to one.  After 1.5 million years, if one had started with a pile of carbon-14 equal to the mass of the entire universe, not a single carbon-14 atom would be left.  Therefore, carbon-14 should be totally absent in samples far younger than a million years old.
    Baumgardner and a team from the Institute for Creation Research involved in studying radiometric dating methods submitted 10 samples of coal from three different geological periods (Eocene, Cretaceous and Pennsylvanian) to a leading radiocarbon dating laboratory, which uses the highly accurate accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) method.  The samples measured 0.21 to 0.27 percent modern carbon (pmc), indicating they cannot be older than 50,000 years, and possibly much younger, even though according to the geologic column, the periods tested are assumed to range around 50 million, 100 million and 300 million years old, respectively.  The measured values “fall squarely within the range already established in the peer-reviewed radiocarbon literature,” says Baumgardner, and show “little difference in 14C level as a function of position in the geological record.” 
Source:
ICR Impact #364, October 2003.
Critics will undoubtedly complain that these creationists have an ulterior motive for questioning the old age of the earth, but doesn’t that criticism cut both ways?  Are the motives of Darwinians pure as the wind-driven snow?  Can we not brush aside the motive-bashing and just look at the facts?  It’s the quality of the research that matters.
    These scientists, each with PhDs from recognized institutions, took samples from the U.S. Department of Energy Coal Sample Bank maintained at Pennsylvania State University.  They had the samples radiocarbon dated at “one of the foremost AMS laboratories in the world.”  It was the laboratory, not ICR, that returned the measurements that carbon-14 was still ticking in the samples.  Further, the ICR scientists are not the only ones who have found this to be the case.  Baumgardner states that this is a well-known anomaly among geophysicists:
Routinely finding 14C/12C ratios on the order of 0.1-0.5% of the modern value—a hundred times or more above the AMS detection threshold—in samples supposedly tens to hundreds of millions of years old is therefore a huge anomaly for the uniformitarian framework.
    This earnest effort to understand this “contamination problem” therefore generated scores of peer-reviewed papers in the standard radiocarbon literature during the last 20 years.  Most of these papers acknowledge that most of the 14C in the samples studied appear to be intrinsic to the samples themselves, and they usually offer no explanation for its origin.  The reality of significant levels of 14C in a wide variety of fossil sources from throughout the geological record has thus been established in the secular scientific literature by scientists who assume the standard geological time scale is valid and have no special desire for this result!
Unless evolutionists can come up with an explanation for how carbon-14 got into so many samples from so many locations, that all show similar amounts despite their position in the geologic column, the clear implications are: (1) the samples are not as old as claimed, and (2) the geologic periods, assumed to be successive, were more or less contemporaneous.
    Dr. Baumgardner’s report is one of eight presented at the Fifth International Conference on Creationism in August by the ICR team named RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth).  The other seven papers presented additional evidences that call evolutionary long ages into question.  For a summary of these, see: ICR Acts and Facts #364, October 2003.
    For an example of anomalous radiocarbon dates in the secular literature, see: Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences Vol 29 (May 2001), pp. 256-294, posted online 04/22/2003.  It shows that dating of modern deltas by radiocarbon yields mostly unexpected results.  How much more coal beds that are assumed to be millions of years old?  A glimpse of articles discussing anomalous radiocarbon dates in a cursory Internet search shows that evolutionists have a few just-so stories available for explaining them: shellfish that exclude or ingest carbon-14 from their shells, etc. (see, for example, Quaternary Chronology and Dating by James S. Aber).  But none of these appear valid for coal beds, which should have no radiocarbon at all if they were many millions of years old, as evolutionary geology assumes them to be.  Again, we see that evolutionists can be very creative in their storytelling.  It’s not that they are unable to concoct a story to fit the data, but that the data require a story to fit a belief.  The dates were not expected nor predicted.  In the hands of a skilled masseur, sometimes they can be made to fit the theory.  Other times, the evolutionists chalk them up as a mystery and leave it for future workers to figure out, never questioning their assumptions.
    When various dating methods yield old and young ages, which results should be preferred?  Results in the millions and billions of years require extrapolating, by many orders of magnitude, rates that have only been measured for a hundred years, while assuming no processes have intervened for vast periods of time not open to human observation.  Young-age results, therefore have a much better observation to assumption ratio.  Regardless of the implications, reason and scientific caution advise that we take a conservative approach, and place more credence in the methods that yield young ages.  The Darwin Party will scream “but we need more time!”  Sorry.
Next headline on: Dating Methods. • Next headline on: Geology. • Next headline on: Physics.
Teeny Changes in Bees, Fruit Flies: Is This Evolution?   09/23/2003
Researchers at
UC San Diego went to Brazil to study the bees (and maybe some birds, on the side).  They wanted to see how bees had evolved the ability to communicate the location of food sources.  Honeybees have an elaborate dance they do in the hive that communicates how far away the food source is, what direction it is in relation to the angle of the sun, and how good it is.  Some other species leave an odor trail at intervals between the food source and the hive.  The scientists found what they feel is an “intermediate strategy, in which bees leave an odor trail extending a short distance from the food source.  This abbreviated trail may be less conspicuous to foraging competitors,” they say.  Their work is being published in an upcoming issue of the Royal Society Biology Proceedings.
    At Cornell, biologists studied apple maggots, which doesn’t sound too appealing, but you do what you have to for science.  They compared them with another species that is attracted to hawthorn, and the two types do not interbreed.  By extracting the fruit odors and seeing how the flies reacted, they deduced that there is a slight genetic difference that keeps them separate populations, even though they look exactly alike.  They feel this is an example of “sympatric speciation,” in which a species splits into two within the same geographic location.  Surprisingly, this split occurred within 150 years, after apple trees were introduced into North America.  Apparently some of the hawthorn flies took a liking to the new food source.  The work is published in the Sept 22 online preprints of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1
1Linn et al., “Fruit odor discrimination and sympatric host race formation in Rhagoletis,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.1635049100, published online 09/22/2003.
Microevolution, microevolution, all they ever show us is microevolution.  The fly paper admits that there is no morphological difference between the two varieties.  There’s more morphological difference between a poodle and a beagle, yet both are Canis familiaris, one species.  Big deal.  The bee keepers did not find anything remotely similar to the complex waggle dance honeybees do.  They just found a very minor variation on the odor-trail strategy.  Big deal.
    We want a bigger deal.  Show us some really, really big example of evolution.  Show us a bacterium evolving into a giraffe, then we’ll be impressed.  Do lots of examples of teeny changes add up to a demonstration of macroevolution?  Of course not.  Do lots of card shuffles add up to an encyclopedia?
    The fact that evolutionists have to scour the jungles to look for examples, and never come up with anything bigger than this, shows how weak is Darwinian theory in terms of observable evidence.  The rest is imagination, speculation, gesticulation.  And when they have to commit heresy on top of it (see Jan. 15 headline), that’s desperation.
Next headline on: Bugs and Crawlers. • Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Neanderthals Interbred with Modern Humans, Ate Same Food   09/23/2003
A jawbone found in a Romanian cave and published in PNAS1 has features that “show some degree of hybridisation – they are possibly the result of interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals,” reports
BBC News.  “This is a position that drives a heated debate among scientists, many of whom doubt there was much mixing of the species,” the article says.  The original paper says it “presents a mosaic of archaic, early modern human and possibly Neandertal morphological features, emphasizing both the complex population dynamics of modern human dispersal into Europe and the subsequent morphological evolution of European early modern humans.”
    Another report from Univ. of Washington, reported by EurekAlert, claims Neanderthals and modern humans ate the same food.  Cave scraps indicate they hunted the same prey and had to worry about the same cave bears.
1Trinkaus et al., “An early modern human from the Pestera cu Oase, Romania,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.2035108100, published online 09/22/2003.
Evolutionists want to keep Neanderthals separate from modern humans, because it makes their storytelling plot more interesting: you can have the two breeds fighting each other, or competing for resources in the struggle for existence.  Suppose they found human bones in France similar to Andre the Giant, and in Italy similar to Tom Thumb.  Can you imagine the fun their storytelling contest would have with these?  Yet both would be Homo sapiens sapiens, fully human, fully modern.  This latest find has nothing to do with human evolution, but it has a lot to do with the evolution of Darwinian storytelling.
Next headline on: Early Man.
Research Teaser 09/22/2003
Item: David Horowitz this month released results of a survey of American college faculty, showing that Democrats outnumber Republicans 10 to 1 on average, and in some cases 30 to one or more.  On some campuses, not a single Republican faculty member could be identified.  Source:
Students for Academic Freedom.
Here is a research project for someone.  What is the political leaning among science faculty?  Horowitz’ survey focused primarily on the political and social science departments.  It would be interesting to tally the political party affiliations (Democrat/Republican/other) or ideology (liberal/conservative) of evolutionists in the science departments.
    College science faculty are usually the ones publishing in the scientific journals.  If such a huge bias exists among political science and sociology faculty, how does the political spectrum look in the physics, chemistry and biology departments?  We don’t know.  Often the science departments are unrelated to the socio-political ones.  They are often located in different parts of the campus, and out of touch except via administration.  Some engineering departments might tend toward political conservatism, and the spectrum might vary markedly between biologists, physicists and astronomers.  It seems unlikely, however, that a 10-to-1 or 30-to-1 bias would be tilted toward the opposite extreme among scientists in academia.
    We have a hunch that evolutionists tend to be Democrats and liberals.  The flavor of much of the editorial writing in the journals, at least, seems in tune with the political liberalism of the left.  On issues with cultural overlap, for instance, such as embryonic stem cell research or abortion, journal editorials almost never take a right-to-life position.  As we show in Creation-Evolution Headlines regularly, evolutionary just-so storytelling gets free rein, no matter how unsound the raw data, while anything hinting of creationism, or even criticism of Darwinism, is subjected to scathing ridicule or neglect, no matter how good the raw data.  Then there’s the ACLU, one of the most politically leftist organizations in the country, that is always in the forefront of defending evolution-only teaching in the schools.  Coincidence?
    It would seem that evolutionists in academia would be most at home with a politics more “fluid” and evolving than one insisting on standards, such as a Constitution founded on belief in a Creator.  Scientists tend to be cosmopolitan because of their relationships with international colleagues.  Polls have shown other elitist groups, such as journalists and Hollywood entertainers, are overwhelmingly liberal Democrats.  Similarly, scientific societies occasionally rise up to support liberal causes, such as United Nations treaties, or support liberal politicians most likely to fund their research projects.  It must be granted that such positions do not necessarily reflect the rank and file – the researchers in the laboratories.  But it’s the journalists who report the pro-Darwin news, and the entertainers who produce the pro-Darwin TV shows.  Is this a smoking gun?  Does the Darwin Party overlap with the Democratic Party?
    Certainly there would be exceptions, both individually and by campus.  But would it be all that surprising if a large majority of the doctrinaire evolutionists turn out to be predominantly registered Democrats, and liberal in political ideology?  (Carl Sagan comes to mind; see also the recent Watson - Baltimore interview.)  Someone should check this hunch out.
    You can already hear the objections: “Science is politically neutral, and a scientist’s political beliefs have nothing to do with the quality of his or her scientific work.”  That is true in principle, but often not in practice when dealing with origins, to which a great deal of philosophical and political baggage is yoked.  Otherwise, Dembski and Behe and Kenyon would not be so vehemently denounced by the Big Science establishment, and leftist evolutionists would be roundly criticized for their political or religious involvements to a similar degree, instead of being given a platform at best, and soft gloves at worst.  Why have many prominent Darwinists been Marxists, and why did communism justify its politically ideology with evolution?  Measuring the melting point of a substance might be apolitical, but what about the evolution of war, or claims about man’s emergence from ape-like ancestors, or the evolution of rape?
    To a large extent, the anti-creationist strategy is to maintain that it is religiously or politically motivated.  Eugenie Scott has stated that she does not know of a single critic of Darwinism that does not have a religious motivation.  Does that argument cut both ways?  What if the comeback were, “The vast majority of Darwinians are Democrats and liberals”?  (Surveys have already revealed their predominant religion: atheism.)  Then why not work to achieve balance and parity, if the situation were so lopsided in favor of one political party?
    It’s indisputable that there are “religious” Darwinists, like Ken Miller, who are practicing Catholics or whatever, but what is the political and ideological tilt of even these?  Are a majority of them Democrats?  Did they typically vote for Clinton and oppose Bush?  Are they most at home with liberal viewpoints on social and political issues?  If religious and political persuasion is justification for dismissing a creationist (even when he sticks strictly to scientific evidences like thermodynamics and the fossil record), why should these factors be irrelevant when assessing the “scientific” claims (read: just-so storytelling) of an evolutionist?
    Regular readers of Creation-Evolution Headlines know that our focus is on evaluating the empirical evidence behind scientific claims about origins, not on the political motivations (when any) of the source.  But it is naive not to be aware of where a claimant is coming from.  Journalism is also supposed to be politically neutral, but do you think it irrelevant that TV news anchors, editors and managers are overwhelmingly liberal Democrats?  If it is true, as seems probable, that the vast majority of evolutionists are social and political liberals, it’s a background to be aware of when examining their science claims.  Observers might well dispute what it means.  But let’s first establish whether it is true.  And since most anti-creationists seem so obsessed with the political and religious ideology of their opponents, you might say raising this issue is just about fairness.
    If you have any information on this subject, especially results of scientifically-conducted polls, or even anecdotal information about the politic views of evolutionists on your campus (especially non-religious institutions like state universities and ivy-league colleges), please write in and share it.  If no such poll has been conducted, this would be an interesting project for someone.  No hard claims can be made without sufficient data, but various clues point to a connection that should be explored and documented.
Next headline on: Politics and Ethics.
Foraminifera Exploded onto the Fossil Record   09/22/2003
An international team looked for the family tree of foraminifera (small shell-bearing animals) in the fossil record and genetics.  This is a lineage that has been “poorly understood,” and from the results, it seems like it still may be poorly understood.  From their abstract in PNAS1 (emphasis added):
By using molecular data from a wide range of extant naked [shell-less] and testate [shelled] unilocular [single-chamber] species, we demonstrate that a large radiation of nonfossilized unilocular Foraminifera preceded the diversification of multilocular [multi-chambered] lineages during the Carboniferous.  Within this radiation, similar test [shell] morphologies and wall types developed several times independently.  Our findings indicate that the early Foraminifera were an important component of Neoproterozoic protistan community, whose ecological complexity was probably much higher than has been generally accepted.
Prior to this, evolutionists had assumed there was a sequence of shell styles, one evolving into the other.  According to their new phylogenetic analysis based on molecular comparisons, that view does not seem supportable:
Morphological variations in some lineages by far exceed the traditional morphology-based taxonomy.  For example, the Antarctic notodendrodids comprise several morphotypes, including spherical, tubular, and arborescent forms, some of them present together in a single species.  This evolutionary plasticity among early Foraminifera makes their present morphology-based classification of limited value.  We conclude that the thecate or agglutinated walls in unilocular Foraminifera are convergent features [sic], and that the simple evolutionary progression from one to the other, as envisaged by earlier authors, did not occur.
They infer from molecular-clock phylogeny that there must have been a “very rapid tempo of morphological evolution” in the Precambrian of the naked, unilocular types, some of them arriving with similar shell types by convergent or parallel evolution, and then another very rapid diversification of the multilocular types in the Cambrian.  They speculate that perhaps early eukaryotic predators drove the evolution of all this diversity, “forcing prey organisms to adopt various avoidance or resistance modalities.”  Maybe the compartmentalization brought about by early Cambrian multi-chambered Cambrian models allowed them to exploit new possibilities, like symbiosis.  At least this model is “an important first step” in understanding the complex ecology of the Neoproterozoic.
1Pawlowski, Bowser et al., “The evolution of early Foraminifera,”
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.2035132100, published online 9/22/2003.
Once again, no clear pattern of evolution, just hand-waving and JSS (just-so storytelling).  Evolution is supposed to be so slow and gradual, but here is a story morphological radiation running prestissimo: i.e., multiple miracles at a rapid tempo occurring independently and simultaneously with no clear ancestral tree between forms.  It’s the lawn or forest picture again, instead of the single tree.  If the rapid evolution were true, why don’t we see it happening in the present?  They use personal verbs like exploit to make it seem like these little critters are consciously planning and designing new things they can do with accidental inventions.
    The authors build their tree on the molecular clock, which is broken (see 10/01/2001 headline).  Does anyone really see a tree here?  There are leaves, but all the branches are inferred based on evolutionary assumptions, as usual.  They invoke lots of maybe, what-if, perhaps, and other speculative words in their story, and according to established Darwin Party custom, call this just a first step in understanding the evolutionary picture of this group.  How long have they been studying these organisms that have an “excellent fossil record”?  Time’s up.
Next headline on: Ocean Creatures. • Next headline on: Fossils. • Next headline on: Genes and DNA. • Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
More Trouble for Solar System Planetesimal Theory   09/22/2003
Lately, planetary scientists have been abandoning the old core-accretion theory for the newer disk-instability theory for the origin of the solar system (see
June 3 headline).  A paper in the September Icarus1 by Ishitsu and Sekiya, however, shows that instabilities will not form unless the dust/gas surface density ratio is hundreds of times as large as that for the solar abundance.
    The authors’ calculations took into account both the Coriolis forces and tidal forces, and showed that tidal forces have a stabilizing effect.  The hydrodynamic and gravitationally instabilities tend to balance each other, so that “The formation of planetesimals through the gravitational instabilities is difficult to occur as long as the dust/gas surface density ratio is equal to that for solar abundance.”
    One hope for increasing local surface densities had been to consider radial migration of particles in the solar nebula due to gas drag.  But in an early release of a paper for the October issue of Icarus2, S. J. Weidenschilling says only individual particles were considered.  By considering the “collective effects of gas drag on an ensemble of particles,” he demonstrates that it can “produce outcomes that are quite different from those inferred from motions of individual particles.”  Thus, “Collective motion due to turbulent stress on the particle layer acts to inhibit such enhancement and may prevent gravitational instability.”
1Naoki Ishitsu and Minoru Sekiya, “The effects of the tidal force on shear instabilities in the dust layer of the solar nebula,” Icarus Volume 165, Issue 1, September 2003, Pages 181-194, doi:10.1016/S0019-1035(03)00151-9
2S. J. Weidenshilling, “Radial drift of particles in the solar nebula: implications for planetesimal formation,” Icarus Volume 165, Issue 2, October 2003, Pages 438-442, doi:10.1016/S0019-1035(03)00169-6.
Results of modeling like this are always dependent on assumptions and starting conditions; for instance, Ishitsu and Sekiya neglect the self-gravity of the dust layer, which is probably reasonable if the mass is low and distributed.  Undoubtedly other papers will find a way around these problems.  It goes to show, however, that initial hopes can be dashed by new considerations.
    The June 3 headline said that core accretion is effectively dead.  This is because dust particles do not stick together, to start with, and observations of other stars show that their dust disks are blown away too rapidly for accretion to occur, even if it could.  But now we see that the disk instability model needs hundreds of times more dust than evident from solar abundances.  What’s more, the viscosity of so much disk tends to pull any growing planets rapidly into the star.  If disk instability models are this problematic, it leaves advocates of naturalistic models for the solar system without any viable theory.  The design model, of course, suffers from none of these problems.  Its main drawback is that it does not provide evolutionary scientists with open-ended, unverifiable storytelling opportunities.  Instead, it leans on the tried and true methods of design detection.  For these reasons, it must be disqualified.
Next headline on: Solar System.
Galileo Sacrifices Self for Europans   09/21/2003
Just one minute ago at the time of this writing, the venerable
Galileo Spacecraft plunged into Jupiter to begin its fiery meltdown.  Team members, their families, and the news media, packing the auditorium to overflowing, gathered at JPL to witness the event.  The audience watched the countdown and broke into applause at the calculated time of impact, even though the signal would take another hour to reach waiting antennas on the earth.
    This event ended a 13-year mission that revealed numerous surprising and unexpected findings about the “miniature solar system” of Jupiter and its moons.  Some of these surprises included the high temperature lavas on Io, evidence of recent resurfacing on Europa and a possible subsurface ocean, a magnetic field at Ganymede, erosion on Callisto and a paucity of small craters and lack of a differentiated interior (unlike its twin Ganymede), and unexpected low density of the moon Amalthea.  Mission scientists during the news briefings today used the word “surprised” numerous times when recounting the discoveries1.
    In addition, Galileo attained high-resolution data about Jupiter’s magnetic field, atmospheric storms (including lightning orders of magnitude brighter than on earth), the fine-dust ring system, and surfaces of the four major moons.  In 1994, it provided a remote observing station for the rare impact of comet fragments in Jupiter’s atmosphere.  Despite its crippled main antenna, Galileo also took historic pictures of two asteroids (Gaspra and Ida), and the Earth-Moon system.  It even tried to detect the presence of intelligent life on Earth during its 1990 swingby.  Results were inconclusive.
    Last February, Galileo’s engines were fired to send it on a trajectory to impact Jupiter, fulfilled today.  Its vaporized fragments now reunite with molecules of the atmospheric probe sent into Jupiter’s cloud tops in December, 1995.  Most likely the remains of both only descended only a few percent the radius of this huge planet.  Though the actual ship has now sunk, a full-scale model of the Galileo spacecraft remains on display in the JPL Museum.  Most important, the data is safe on earth.  It will be at least a decade before another flight to Jupiter.  If funded and approved by Congress, the next ambitious mission might be the nuclear-powered JIMO (Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter).
    A large part of the justification for ending the mission in this fiery finale was to protect Europa.  With Galileo low on fuel and out of reach of navigator control, there was a slight chance it might accidentally hit the icy moon within the next few hundred years.  Whether inspired by Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010 (“attempt no landings there”) or not, NASA considers Europa a prime target in the search for life.  Apparently less concerned about Jupiter itself, despite Carl Sagan’s speculations in Cosmos that floating life-forms might have evolved there, NASA did not want to risk contaminating the surface of Europa with any microorganisms that might still have inhabited the aging spacecraft.
It’s probably a wise move, in this eventuality: if Galileo germs were found on Europa some future day, how would scientists be sure of the source?  Evolutionists might argue for years that they evolved in situ and use it as propaganda for chemical evolution.  Better to keep Europa pristine till a new mission can end all speculation.
    As to whether life would be found at Europa, fat chance.  Evolutionists cannot begin to explain how life formed on earth under ideal conditions.  How much more so miles under an icy crust, in salt water (which is death to membranes), under extreme conditions?  It’s important to be reminded again that just because life is found in extreme environments on earth does not mean it evolved there; it means that extremophiles are finely tuned to survive.
    We bid a fond farewell to Galileo.  Its mission was a story of triumph over tragedy, perseverance that paid off, despite seven years of launch delays, budget cuts and engineering redesigns (some of them caused by the Challenger disaster), and a fair amount of luck that allowed it to continue functioning beyond its design limits.  Congratulations to the team that brought to earth all these breathtaking views of the system that had so fascinated Galileo Galilei in 1610.  Both Galileos are now important subjects in the history of science.
    We trust the reader did not think the title of this headline meant that Galileo the astronomer sacrificed himself for the Europeans.  Wrong place, wrong time, and one important missing letter – a lesson on the importance of specificity in the communication of information.
Next headline on: Solar System. • Next headline on: Origin of Life.

1JPL’s Galileo End of Mission Celebration brochure listed the Top 10 Science Results from the mission as follows:
  1. The descent probe made measurements that furthered our understanding of how Jupiter has evolved and of atmospheric markers including carbon, neon, argon, xenon, and others.  Most were enhanced 3 times the solar abundance.  The exception was neon, which was depleted.
  2. Galileo made a first observation of ammonia clouds in another planet’s atmosphere.  The atmosphere seems to create ammonia ice particles of material from lower depths, but only in “fresh” clouds.
  3. Io’s extensive volcanic activity may be 100 times greater than that found on Earth’s.  The heat and frequency of eruptions are reminiscent of early Earth.
  4. Io’s complex plasma interactions in Io’s atmosphere include support for currents and coupling to Jupiter’s atmosphere.
  5. Evidence supports a theory that liquid oceans exist under Europa’s icy surface.
  6. Ganymede is the first satellite known to possess a magnetic field.
  7. Galileo magnetic data provide evidence that Europa, Ganymede and Callisto have a liquid-saltwater layer.
  8. Europa, Ganymede and Callisto all provide evidence of a thin atmospheric layer known as a ‘surface-bound exosphere.’
  9. Jupiter’s ring system is formed by dust kicked up as interplanetary meteoroids smash into the planet’s four small inner moons.  The outermost ring is actually two rings, one embedded within the other.
  10. Galileo was the first spacecraft to dwell in a giant planet magnetosphere long enough to identify its global structure and to investigate its dynamics.
Some of these are difficult to explain within evolutionary models of planetary accretion over long ages, particularly #1, 3, 5, 6, 7 and possibly 9.  Certainly they were unexpected and would not have been predicted by naturalistic models.
    At the press conference, Dr. Andrew Ingersoll of Caltech misled the audience by saying that Jupiter was like taking a piece of the sun out to that distance, wrongly implying that its gases match the solar abundances (see #1 above).  He also stated that comets brought the water in earth’s oceans, a claim that is disputed among planetary scientists (see 03/26/2003 headline).  He failed to point out that Jupiter’s dryness is problematic.  Should a planetary scientist gloss over problems like these when on camera?  Why not tell the truth, and say that scientists don’t know these things?  Why give the impression of consensus on things that are highly questionable?  Read Creation-Evolution Headlines where we think the problems are often more revealing than the Glittering Generalities you get on the news.
Your Motors Perform Cooperative Interactions   09/18/2003
The motor that powers all life, often called a “splendid molecular machine,” looks even more splendid due to research by Caltech and French scientists.  It has parts that help each other out.  ATP synthase, which we have reported on frequently before (see
11/15/2002 headline), is a true rotary motor, and probably the most abundant enzyme on earth.  Its job is to generate ATP, the energy currency of life.  “Because of the importance of this enzyme, the search for a full understanding of its mechanism is a key problem in structural biology,” they state in their PNAS paper.1  They found that the structure of the six-lobed F1 upper unit, where ATP is catalyzed from ADP and phosphate, actually is tuned to enhance the productivity of the system.
    Most living things have the F0-F1-ATPase model, composed of an upper and lower mechanism joined by a camshaft and some other parts, although there are variations in some bacteria.  The six lobes of the F1 motor, arranged in pairs like orange slices around the camshaft, form three catalytic sites where ATP is synthesized.  The researchers did thermodynamic and kinetic modeling of these structures and found that the shapes of the sites change as the camshaft rotates in a way that enhances productivity.  Each pair of lobes cycles through three stages as the shaft turns: (1) insertion of ADP + P, (2) catalysis of ATP, and (3) ejection of the product.  Each stage is not only finely tuned for its job, but actually stimulates the adjoining pair of lobes to do its job better: e.g., at stage one, the shape of the lobes causes the reaction in stage two of the adjoining lobes to accelerate.  The reaction in stage two speeds up the ejection of product in stage three, and so on.  Overall, this enhances the productivity of the system by a factor of 300 or more than would occur if a pair of lobes had to work alone.  This and the rotation of the camshaft enhances productivity by a factor of 500,000.
    They mention some other interesting facts about ATP synthase in passing.  Each motor (and your body has quadrillions of them) can hydrolyze from 40 to 600 ATP per second.  With three ATP per revolution, that translates to 12,000 RPM at top speed.  Without these enzymes, it would take 500,000,000 times as long for ATP to hydrolyze in solution.  Though they studied primarily the hydrolysis cycle, the synthesis reaction, driven by an electric current (proton flow) in the lower F0 subunit, is similarly accelerated because of the efficient mechanical arrangement of the parts.
1Gao, Yang, Marcus and Karplus, “A model for the cooperative free energy transduction and kinetics of ATP hydrolysis by F1-ATPase,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.1334188100, published online 09/18/2003.
This is one of our favorite cell toys, because it is so exquisite, so small, so efficient, and so essential to all life, even the simplest single-celled organisms.  As each new fact comes to light, it looks even more wondrous.  Your car roars at 4,000 RPM; imagine these little motors, embedded in the mitochondrial membranes of all the cells in your body, humming along at up to 12,000 RPM.  The efficiency of these motors nears 100%, because they are able to harness the random bumps of Brownian motion into ratchet-like boosts, so that no energy is wasted generating power for your body’s needs (see Feb. 5 headline about your body’s electrical power plant).  Each day your body recycles at least half your body weight in ATP through these splendid molecular machines.
    A picture is worth a thousand words; download Wolfgang Junge’s cool animation rotary ATP synthase and watch a model of how it works in slo-mo.  After years of intense research, there is still much to learn.  The structure and mechanism of the lower F0 subunit, which turns like a waterwheel under proton flow and activates the camshaft, remains to be understood.  Running constantly day and night, 24 x 7, these machines perform an absolutely essential function.  The exquisite shapes of the numerous protein components of this molecular motor defy a naturalistic explanation; where is the plausible sequence of intermediates that could lead to such perfection?  ATP synthase is a marvelous example of irreducible complexity, prima facie evidence for intelligent design.  As usual, the authors make no mention of evolution in their paper.  Who would dare?
Next headline on: The Cell. • Next headline on: Human Body. • Next amazing story.
Dark Matter Missing from Elliptical Galaxies   09/18/2003
An international team of scientists publishing in
Science1 this week reported a surprise from their observations of three ordinary elliptical galaxies: there is no dark matter.  It’s not supposed to be visible, of course, but they found that dark matter is not required in dynamical models of these galaxies to account for their observed motions.  “This unexpected result conflicts with findings in other galaxy types and poses a challenge to current galaxy formation theories,” they say.  The velocity dispersions in these galaxies follows a normal Keplerian decline from center to edge, “suggesting that these systems are not embedded in massive dark halos.” Although a number of assumptions must be made, models devoid of dark matter produce the most plausible results.
    “This result clashes with conventional conceptions of galaxy formation,” they announce.  “In particular, if ellipticals are built up by mergers of smaller galaxies, it is puzzling that the resulting systems show little trace of their precursor’s dark matter halos.”  Did the dark matter get stripped out somehow?  They don’t think so.  “It is apparent that some important physics is still missing from the recipes for galaxy formation.”
1Romanowsky, Freeman et al., “A Dearth of Dark Matter in Ordinary Elliptical Galaxies,” Science 301:5640, 1696-1698, 09/19/2003.
Let’s call dark matter what it really is: fudge.  The only ones who need fudge in their diet (see the June 20 headline about the Science bake sale) are the cosmologists who aren’t satisfied with the meat and potatoes of hard data, but want a dessert of naturalistic explanations for everything.  Like mother warned, too much fudge ruins your appetite for a healthy diet.
Next headline on: Stars and Astronomy. • Next headline on: Cosmology.
Big, Big Guinea Pig   09/18/2003
You wouldn’t have wanted to keep this pet at home; an extinct rodent as big as a buffalo has been reported in
Science1.  Similar to a guinea pig but much larger, Phoberomys pattersoni was 9 feel long and 4.2 feet tall.  Even though EurekAlert dubs it “Guinea-zilla,” it probably ate grass.
1>Marcelo R. Sanchez-Villagra, Orangel Aguilera, and Inis Horovitz, “The Anatomy of the World's Largest Extinct Rodent,” Science, 10.1126/science.1089332 (19 Sept 2003).
The reports on this fossil are filled with speculative Darwinspeak.  But what’s evolution got to do with it?  A big rodent once lived, and it went extinct.  You would think we are on the verge of vindicating Darwin from all the hype.  Listen to the AAAS spin release on EurekAlert (emphasis added):
  • Roughly the size of a buffalo, a giant rodent that roamed the banks of an ancient Venezuelan river some 8 million years ago, dining on sea grass and dodging crocodiles, was an evolutionary sibling to modern-day guinea pigs.
  • “The northern region of Venezuela holds the key to many mysteries of paleontology and animal evolution,” said Sanchez-Villagra.  “Yet, we have known very little about this area because regions covered with vegetation are not the best place to look for fossils.”
  • “The giant rodent fossil raises wonderful questions about the constraints of evolution on size,” Alexander said.
  • Andrew Sugden, an evolutionary biology expert and Science International’s Managing Editor, described the research as a milestone within the field: “At a stroke, this giant rodent more than doubles the size range of this remarkable family of animals and provides fascinating new insights into life some 8 million years ago,” he said.
  • South America had been an island for tens of millions of years [sic], Sugden explained [sic].  South American animals thus managed [sic] to evolve in relative isolation, and the continent became home to giant representatives of a number of mammalian groups....
(Interestingly, the actual Science article is listed under the topic “Evolution,” but the body of the paper says nothing about evolution, except the comparative survival advantages of being large or being small.)  OK, so they found the bones of a big rodent.  That’s all.  The rest of the spin is evolutionary fluff.  It can never be checked or proved or dated, but it gives the storytellers something to do.
They’re like a traveling companion named Doug who made up a fun way to pass the time in the car on the way to camp trips: the Speculation Game.  He would ask the passengers to mention any subject, and he would speculate about it.  He was good; no matter what the item, his fertile imagination could always weave an elaborate, entertaining story.  One time he was asked to explain the origin of a particular cave we had seen, so he spun a tale involving the entire cosmos, ending with, “So you see, the cave was eternal; it always there; the universe and the earth formed around it.”
Like Doug, evolutionists love stories.  The Speculation Game is right down their alley.  There are some rules; one must adhere to the accepted general framework (millions of years of blind, purposeless evolution), but other than that, the rules are very loose.  A storyteller can even contradict another storyteller as long as they both stay in the Framework and never mention the C word, which is absolutely forbidden (see quote at top right of this page; evolution is defined more by what it is not, than by what it is; simply put, it’s un-Creation).
    It’s also important never to end the story, but to leave open enough subplots and surprises to keep the next storyteller employed.  Facts, like a bone here or there, are just incidental props; the goal is to contribute a good speculation, within the Framework, that impresses the media and provides work for animators.  “Once upon a time, children, millions and millions of years ago, South America was an island.  Working in her isolated laboratory on this island, Evolution generated all kinds of large and exotic animals.  Small guinea pigs were easy catch for the crocodiles, so Evolution made them bigger and harder to swallow.  But we can all swallow my story, can’t we?  Isn’t this a fun game?  Why, you can play it, too.”
    Reality check time.  Fact: Many extinct animals were larger than their living counterparts.  Logical conclusion: This is not evolution; it’s devolution.  Evolutionary spin: “This raises all kinds of wonderful questions about the evolutionary constraints on size, and fascinating insights into life some 8 million years ago.”  C'mon, everyone, and join the fun.  Speculate!
Next headline on: Mammals. • Next headline on: Fossils. • Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Trilobite Had Visors   09/18/2003
UK scientists have found a trilobite from Morocco with sun visors.  The odd eyeballs of this extinct creature extend upward in two columns from the head, and contain vertically-stacked lenses (about 560 in all) that provided “a commanding field of view that was entirely over the sediment surface on which the animal lived.  The compass of the eyes shows that they commanded a 360-degree sweep in the horizontal plane.  The high elevation of the eyes meant that the animal could even see backward over its thorax.”  Above each column of lenses, a lobe extended to provide shade from stray light from above.  The authors of the report in
Science1 comment that “trilobites already had unusually sophisticated eyes with lenses made out of the mineral calcite,” and many trilobites had binocular vision and “internal structures of high magnesium calcite that helped the lenses to focus more precisely by eliminating sources of ‘fuzziness,” such as spherical aberration.”  The authors feel this indicates these trilobites were diurnal, rather than nocturnal; “An eyeshade is of little use in the dark,” they say.
1Richard Fortey and Brian Chatterton, “A Devonian Trilobite with an Eyeshade,” Science (19 Sept 2003), 10.1126/science.1088713.
My, weren’t these critters smart to figure out all the nifty optics and cool sun visors.  The article is strangely silent about any transitional forms that might have led up to these high-tech innovations.  The pictures of this weird animal are stunning, if you have access.  The preservation of fine details in such an “old” fossil is remarkable.
Next headline on: Fossils. • Next amazing story.
Greenhouse Gas in the Distant Past   09/18/2003
One of the geologists who proposed the “Snowball Earth” hypothesis believes he has found evidence that carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere were 10-200 times higher 1.4 billion years ago.  Jay Kaufman (U. of Maryland) and a colleague studied carbon isotopes in a single-celled plant fossil to arrive at the numbers, explains a
National Science Foundation press release.  Kaufman’s paper is published in today’s Nature1
1Alan J. Kaufman and Shuhai Xiao, “High CO2 levels in the Proterozoic atmosphere estimated from analyses of individual microfossils,” Nature 425,279-282 (18 Sep 2003); doi:10.1038/nature01902
Whenever a claim is made about how things were billions of years ago, be a good baloney detector and hunt for what was measured.  Brush off the interpretation and the dates, which are based on evolutionary assumptions, and find that one little thing that was actually subjected to experimental lab methods.  Here it is from the NSF press release (emphasis added):
One of the ocean-dwelling organisms producing oxygen during the later Proterozoic period [ignore the interpretation here] was Dictyosphaera delicata, a microscopic plant not much bigger than the dot in the letter i.  To estimate the ancient levels of atmospheric CO2, Kaufman and Xiao measured ratios of two different forms, or isotopes, of carbon present in individual microfossils of this plant.
    “It was a painstaking process to get individual organisms,” Kaufman said.  The scientists “were able to take a camel hair brush and, using one hair of the brush, pick up one of these microfossils, which had been removed from its substrate [rock] using hydrofluoric acid, which dissolves the inorganic minerals but not organic matter.”
    Numerous microscopic samples of fossilized cellular material were knocked out of each organism using high-energy beams of ions from an ion probe.  The sample material was analyzed with a mass spectrometer to come up with the results reported.
Now decide whether carbon ratios in tiny specks of material subjected to hydrofluoric acid and high-energy beams and contamination by camel hair, can tell anyone anything about the state of the whole world over a billion years ago.  Their resulting CO2 calculation depended also on models, averaging values, throwing out anomalous readings, and making assumptions about how these plants metabolized with carbon dioxide.  They admit the sensitivity of their measurements depends critically on surface temperature and volume-to-surface ratio.  How convenient for evolutionists there are no time machines for them to go back and make in situ observations from points all over the globe.  Yet on the basis of tiny specks of questionable data, Kaufman states authoritatively, like an eyewitness,
The sun was not as luminous then so it did not provide as much light and heat as it does now .... Our new findings confirm models of how much greenhouse gas was required to keep Earth’s temperature warm enough so the oceans didn’t freeze during this time.
In response, the science news outlets, like the green vending-machine aliens in Toy Story, all join in unison and hum reverently, “Oooo, aaaaa, science.”  Your NSF tax dollars at work.
Next headline on: Dating Methods. • Next headline on: Geology.
Plasma Blob: It’s Alive?   09/17/2003
New Scientist claims, “Plasma blobs hint at new form of life.”  In an experiment worthy of Frankenstein, a Romanian scientist inserted two high-voltage electrodes into a plasma of argon, and created cell-like spheres of plasma that could replicate by splitting in two and “communicate information” by emitting electromagnetic energy, making atoms in other spheres vibrate.
    Mircea Sanduloviciu and team (Cusa University, Romania) claim this shows that “cell-like self-organization can occur in a few microseconds” instead of millions of years.  Sanduloviciu speculates these could have been the first cells on earth, formed in electrical storms.  “The emergence of such spheres seems likely to be a prerequisite for biochemical evolution,” he said.  Others think that is a stretch, but are intrigued by the implications that life might take on forms much different than the DNA and protein-based life we know on earth.
We’re not going to dignify this claim with a serious analysis, other than to wonder why New Scientist would give it the time of day.  But we will contribute our own theory: the Lava Lamp theory for the origin of life.  Lava lamps are not just a kitsch conversation piece for nerds; they are an emerging life-form.  Notice how the blobs replicate and communicate, exchange energy, and rise and fall in non-repetitive ways.  Clearly there is more self-organization going on than meets the casual eye.  If volcanoes under the sea created similar conditions, then perhaps the first life-form evolved from such a phenomenon.  Hook up your Lava Lamp to a Jacob’s Ladder, and talk to it.  You might find yourself shrieking, “It’s allll-iiii-vvvv-eeee!”  (Wonder if Sanduloviciu is from Transylvania?)
Next headline on: Origin of Life. • Next dumb story.
How Fairness Evolved   09/17/2003
If researchers at Emory University are right, our sense of justice and fairness evolved from monkeys. 
Nature Science Update titles their article, “Monkeys strike for justice: Capuchin umbrage suggests sense of fairness extends beyond humans.”  The article discusses recent experiments by Sarah Brosnan, published in this week’s Nature1, with capuchin monkeys.  When they were given food for tokens, they “took offence if they saw a neighbour getting a grape for a token” instead of a slice of cucumber, or if another monkey got something for nothing.  (Brosnan calls the reaction “inequity aversion.”)  Some got so mad they threw their cucumbers out of the cage.  The article continues, “Only females show this pique,” however, because ostensibly, “Males care about sex, and females care about food.”  Charles Janson of State University of New York cautions, “Capuchin monkeys can learn to do all sorts of things in captivity that they never do in the wild,” so it’s not clear how important this ability is in the forests of South America.
    Notwithstanding the controversy over interpreting the work, National Geographic News is convinced that the evolution of attitudes toward fairness has been demonstrated (emphasis added):
    If you expect equal pay for equal work, you’re not the only species to have a sense of fair play.  Blame evolution.
    Researchers studying brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) have found that the highly social, cooperative species native to South America show a sense of fairness, the first time such behavior has been documented in a species other than humans.
    The question of whether human aversion to unfair treatment—now shown by other primates—is an evolved behavior or the result of the cultural influence of large social institutions like religion, governments, and schools, in the case of humans, has intrigued scientists in recent years.
    The new finding [sic] suggests evolution may have something to do with it.  It also highlights questions about the economic and evolutionary nature of cooperation and its relationship to a species’ sense of fairness, while adding yet another chapter to our understanding [sic] of primates.

1Sarah Brosnan and Frans B. M. De Waal, “Monkeys reject unequal pay,” Nature 425,297-299 (18 Sept. 2003); doi:10.1038/nature01963.
We didn’t learn fairness from monkeys.  They learned how to sulk, pout, and throw tantrums by watching humans.  Monkey see, monkey do.  Actually, humans evolved altruism from dogs, especially those of us who grew up watching reruns of Lassie.
    A revelation one gets from reading enough Darwinian papers is that evolutionists are funny.  They take themselves so seriously.  This paper is particularly comical.  The authors are undoubtedly sensitive to being laughed at, and we must remain polite, but sometimes it’s hard.  They hold these truths to be self-evident, that all capuchin monkeys are evolved equal, that they are endowed by natural selection with certain inalienable rights, including equal portions of grapes and cucumbers.  The write-up provides lots of pertinent details, like the shutter speed of the video camera they used, as if that matters, and other information that tries to make this junior-high experiment look scientific (emphasis added):
The experimenter ... stood before the monkey with the left hand outstretched in a palm-up begging gesture [a Kodak moment] approximately 5 cm [metric, now that’s really scientific] above the floor of the test chamber [i.e., cage] and 2 cm from the mesh, and with the right hand in the laboratory coat pocket [gotta have those white lab coats on if you’re a scientist].  The monkey had 60 s [that’s one minute, for us peons] to place the token [a pebble] into the palm of the experimenter’s outstretched hand.  Throwing the token at the experimenter or out of the test chamber did not count as an exchange.
[Yeeeee-HAW!]  Can you believe this?  Stupid pet tricks gone awry in the world’s most prestigious science journal?  One could only hope the editors of Nature were howling like monkeys while reading this, and printing it for comic relief from the usual boring scientific paper.
    All the science news outlets don’t seem to get the joke, though.  They are treating this very seriously, seemingly awestruck at this wonderful demonstration of the evolution of social justice.  Here’s how it came across as an MSNBC news brief on a Motorola pager: MONKEYS EXHIBIT A SENSE OF FAIR PLAY: [chuckle], Monkeys throw a fit [snortle] if they get a bum deal [guffaw], hinting [mmmmfff] that a sense of fairness may [heh heh] predate the rise of humans” [har har snort ye-he-he-he waaaaa-HO!]
    Sorry.  We’ll try to restrain ourselves and get serious.  It’s just hard sometimes.  Question: how would fairness genes evolve, including the developmental pathways, such that the trait could be inherited?  What mutations in gametic cells were required to lead one monkey to throw a tantrum when it saw another one getting a grape?  What mutations were required in the other monkey’s gametes to cause it to give a darn about how its neighbor felt?  How does one define justice or fairness without moral content?  Why are so many judges men, if all they care about is sex?  How can a male care about sex when he is hungry?  In this experiment, how do we distinguish the experimenter from the subject?  Call Dave Letterman, maybe he will know.
    Science Now has some fun with the story, even though they think the findings are legitimate and conclude that the sense of fairness is “deeply evolutionarily rooted.”  Their title is, “Working Monkeys Unite!” [uh oh, call the Internal Security Subcommittee], and the picture caption says, “Slave wages.  All day I hand back their stupid tokens, and for what—a lousy piece of apple?”  [... You have nothing to lose but your cages... you have a grape to win...]  The write-up in New Scientist states, “Monkeys can spot a raw deal when they see one, and if they are not treated fairly they throw a tantrum.”  Omygoodness—Don’t tell the ACLU.  The Ape Civil Liberties Union, that is [Splat!] -- the sound of another cucumber slice hitting the evolutionist’s face [yuck wheeze WAHOO! sniff].  Sorry.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory. • Next dumb story.
The Evolution of War and The War of Evolution   09/16/2003
War originated when society became stratified between the haves and the have-nots, according to a new theory by anthropologist Joyce Marcus of the University of Michigan, published in PNAS1, reports
New Scientist.  Based on archaeological work in Oaxaca, Mexico, where her team examined burned structures, she feels that raiding, and later warfare, emerged where people organized into clans that competed over resources.  Group violence was presumably rare in hunter-gatherer societies.
1Kent V. Flannery and Joyce Marcus, “The origin of war: New 14C dates from ancient Mexico,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.1934526100, published online 09/18/2003.
The conclusions being drawn from this archaeological study is “political” science in the Marxist tradition.  Hunter-gatherers of the world, unite!  Throw off the bourgeoisie with their clay pots and fired-brick dwellings.  Science?  Worthless.
    Empirically, all these scientists found was evidence for sin, the same old selfishness and pride that is with us today.  Building on Darwin’s foundation of evolution, some reporters are spinning the story to fit a political ideology.  The liberal “political” scientists in today’s universities, assuming evolution as the foundation for all of reality, (and usually warmer to Marxist ideology than capitalism) want to pin the blame for war on externals.  It’s the disparity between the rich and the poor that is the root of conflict, they say.  They organize people into oppressors and oppressed, usurpers and victims.  Affluence is the root of social injustice.  Now that we can take control of our own evolution, we can overcome the territoriality of our reptilian past.  But first we must overthrow the oppressors by revolution, and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat.  Once we learn to share our resources like good communists, we will achieve social justice in a classless society – utopia.
    Don’t believe it.  The moment Joe finds something in utopia that Moe wants, whether a leaf, a sparkling rock, or a fruit hanging from a tree, the world will be on the brink of war all over again.  The twentieth century should have seen the death of 19th-century utopian dreams of innocence.  Wasn’t that the lesson of Golding’s 1954 classic, Lord of the Flies?
    War did not evolve.  It is innate.  It stems from a human characteristic formed not by natural selection, but by design: the choice to disobey the Creator (i.e., sin).  “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies,” said Jesus Christ in Matthew 15:15-20.  James echoed the idea that war begins internally: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?  Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  You desire and do not have, so you murder.  You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.  You do not have, because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:1-3, ESV).  Enmity started with the first man and woman, and manifested itself in the first generation, when Cain murdered his brother.  War must be cured from the inside out by a heart transplant, through reconciliation with the Creator, the Author of justice and the Prince of peace.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory. • Next headline on: Politics and Ethics. • Next headline on: Early Man. • Next dumb story.
Baloney Detection Exercise   09/16/2003
Parse the following sentence, found on a bumper sticker, for logical fallacies (see our
Baloney Detector for help):
“Don’t pray in my school, and I won’t think in your church.”
This slogan commits the following errors: (A) Either-Or Fallacy, (B) Glittering Generalities, (C) Ridicule, (D) Non-Sequitur, (E) All of the above.
Click here for the answer.

Grand Canyon Sand Hails from Back East   09/15/2003
Sands from the Appalachians have found a tourist mecca in the arid Southwest, it seems.  Two weeks ago it was reported that Utah’s Navajo sandstones came from the Appalachians (see
Sept. 2 headline), and now a geologist from Univ. of Arizona thinks the same for Grand Canyon sandstones, reports Nature Science Update.  He bases his conclusion on radiometric dates of zircons in the sand which match those in Appalachia.  This would require huge rivers bearing sand thousands of miles westward to Wyoming, “from whence winds blew it south into the dune fields” of Arizona.  The resulting sand pile covered an area the size of the Kalahari desert.  “I was very surprised by what we found,” said one of the geologists.

If the present is key to the past, is there anything like this happening today?  Add a hawk flying around this hypothesis and you have a picturesque, ad hoc scenario.
Next headline on: Geology. • Next headline on: Dating Methods.
Intron Update  09/12/2003
(See
Sept. 3 headline about introns).  Scientists have found a possible reason why genes that contain introns are expressed more effectively than those without.  Writing in PNAS1, a team from Howard Hughes Medical Institute suspects that the exon junction complex (EJC) that forms at each junction by the splicing process may give messenger RNA (mRNA) a tethering point with “position-specific memory of the splicing event.”  EJC components may attach at the junctions to perform expediting functions.
    Of five known protein components of the EJC, some are known to be involved in nonsense-mediated decay, positioning of the mRNA in the cytoplasm, or transport through the nuclear pore complex (see March 4 headline).  Other functions of the EJC might include stabilizing the mRNA, enhancing transcription in the ribosome, and translational utilization.
    They found that gene expression was enhanced by the EJC components but not necessarily by the act of splicing itself; that is apparently why some intronless genes can be expressed satisfactorily, especially if EJC proteins can be recruited through other means.  Splicing may assist in the efficient formation and localization of EJC components.  The stimulatory effect of splicing and the EJC can enhance gene expression more than 30-fold.
1Wiegand, Lu, and Cullen, “Exon junction complexes mediate the enhancing effect of splicing on mRNA expression,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.1934877100.
This opens up exciting possibilities for understanding new functions of these widespread regions of so-called “junk DNA.”  The splicing may provide handles for a variety of molecular assistants to speed up the workflow.  Undoubtedly other benefits that ensue from the work of the spliceosome machinery (see 09/12/2002 headline) remain to be discovered.
Next headline on: Genes and DNA.
Comet, Asteroid News   09/12/2003
Two solar system stories are making the rounds:
  1. Asteroid Spin:  Koronis asteroids have preferred spin rates and orientations, as reported last year (see 09/05/2002 headline).  When Stephen Slivan reported this fact, everyone was baffled, because collisions should have randomized the orientations.  Richard P. Binzel, writing in Nature this week1, says, “the alignments defied belief — how could a collisionally dominated family have aligned spin vectors?”  Theorists have been working on the problem; he says; “Theory often drives observations, but this time observations led the way” toward explaining the findings.
        In the same issue of Nature2, three astronomers came up with a possible explanation.  They employed a special case of the Yarkovsky effect (a slight force caused by thermal re-radiation of sunlight hitting a surface) to suggest that sunlight can spin up and orient an asteroid over time.  If so, this effect may be more important than collisions in determining spin for asteroids less than 40 km in diameter.  Every solution breeds new problems, however, and they admit this could have “far-reaching implications for the physical history of many small asteroids.”  It might make them shed mass or even split.  Binzel, though intrigued by the suggestion, thinks more observations will be needed to see if it holds up.
        A popular account of this story can be found on Space.com, and another at Southwest Research Institute, which says of this “big surprise,” that “we have only scratched the surface of this interesting problem.”
    1Richard P. Binzel, “Planetary science: Spin control for asteroids,” Nature 425, 131 - 132 (11 September 2003); doi:10.1038/425131a.
    2Vokrouhlicky, Nesvorny, and Bottke, “The vector alignments of asteroid spins by thermal torques,” Nature 425, 147 - 151 (11 September 2003); doi:10.1038/nature01948.
    Sounds like an ad hoc way to fix the problem after a discovery.  And if theory usually drives observations, what observations might be missed if the theory is wrong?  One would think that in science, observation is king.
  2. Comet Nitrogen:  Anomalous amounts of Nitrogen-15 have been found in four comets.  They have more N15 than the earth, which was unexpected.  Comets were supposed to be the most pristine remnants of the early solar nebula, but now it seems “the early solar system may have been more heterogeneous and more chemically complex than previously assumed,” states the summary of the paper in today’s Science.1.  A press release on this finding and what it means was published by the European Southern Observatory, which states that understanding the makeup of comets is important because of “the probable role of comets in bringing to the young Earth materials essential for the subsequent formation of life on our planet.”
    1Arpigny et al., “Anomalous Nitrogen Isotope Ratio in Comets,” Science 12 May 2003; 10.1126/science.1086711.
    They always have to insert part of the evolutionary tall tale into the story.  Nitrogen-15 in a comet has nothing to do with life.  Anyway, this finding shows that one cannot always assume the initial conditions of a theory have anything to do with reality.  Theories of the origin of the solar system often assume uniform, homogeneous disks of dust and gas.  The realities of our real solar system are much, much more complex than the simplistic stories told in textbooks.
    Next headline on: Solar System.

Cells Fight Mutations   09/12/2003
A team of cancer researchers identified 33 genes in yeast “potentially associated with the suppression of the accumulation of mutations.”  Their paper was published online Sept. 12 in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1, where they begin by stating,

Maintaining the stability of the genome is critical to cell survival and normal cell growth.  Inherited or acquired deficiencies in genome maintenance systems contribute significantly to the onset of cancer as evidenced by the observation that a number of the DNA-repair and checkpoint genes are mutated in cancer susceptibility syndromes and sporadic cancers.  This raises the possibility that other genetic defects causing genome instability and mutator phenotypes could contribute to carcinogenesis.
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)  Their blind screening technique found all the known mutation suppressors, but also ten more previously-unknown “nonessential” genes involved in mutation suppression.
Of the confirmed genes, five encode components of the oxidative-stress response, and six are genes of unknown function.  We believe the data presented here define a nearly complete collection of nonessential genes involved in suppression of mutations in the CAN1 forward-mutation assay [a sample gene used for evaluating effects of mutations] and define several previously unappreciated mutation-suppression pathways.
Some of the activities these genes perform are repairing base excisions, fixing oxidated guanine (G) bases, and replacing incorrectly-inserted uracil (U) bases with cytosine (C).  Another one suppresses genome rearrangements.
Huang, Rio, Nicolas and Kolodner, “A genomewide screen in Saccharomyces cerevisiae for genes that suppress the accumulation of mutations,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.2035018100.
Scientists need to get rid of these genes, because they are hindering the progress of evolution.  Haven’t we all been taught that mutations provide the raw material for change?  If these pathways are fixing all the damage, how can evolution ever make any progress?  These scientists were negligent.  They didn’t mention evolution or praise Darwin anywhere in their paper.
    Notice how there are at least 33 different genes identified here (which might be the tip of the iceberg), and that they are called nonessential; i.e., the cell can get by without them, just like a city might survive for generations without a fire department.  Evolution is supposed to produce all its wonders because they are essential for survival.  How could evolution produce so many elaborate pathways, if they are not essential, but nice to have in an emergency?  Each pathway involves multiple components, working together on a common function, with feedback loops and regulatory processes.
    Humans have many similar pathways to control damage and prevent cancer, but notice that this study was done on yeast.  Remember those cute diagrams in biology textbooks of yeast cells budding off baby yeast cells?  Nothing looked simpler.  Who would have thought those simple cells have an army of rescue workers and repairmen, all highly skilled and well trained, ready to heal the damage from the random, senseless terrorist attacks of mutations?  We must never forget.
Next headline on: Genes and DNA. • Next headline on: The Cell. • Next amazing story.
Texans Favor Teaching Evidence Against Darwinism   09/10/2003
Try your vote on the following choices:
  1. The state board of education should approve biology textbooks that teach only Darwin’s theory of evolution and the scientific evidence that supports it.
  2. The state board of education should approve biology textbooks that teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it.
If you voted for B, you agreed with 75% of Texans who took part in a Zogby poll on August 25, reports the
Discovery Institute.  According to the Discovery Institute summary, “Strong support was shown in every region of the state and across all ethnic and age groups.”  Even more (82%) voted “yes” to the following statement:
Texas law requires students to analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information.  Should the state board of education apply this standard to how evolution is presented in textbooks?
Officials of the Discovery Institute – Bruce Chapman, William Dembski, Jonathan Wells and Seth Cooper – issued statements to the Texas state board of education Sept. 10, encouraging them to allow criticisms of Darwinian evolution in the science framework, and urging them to clean up factual errors in the textbooks (see July 25 headline).
    This latest poll tracks with similar polls in other states.
Messenger: The peasants are revolting!
King Richard: They certainly are.
Next headline on: Schools. • Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Flamboyant Birds Hitch Up Hollywood Style   09/10/2003
An Australian biologist believes he has found a “significant positive association between the degree of mutual ornamentation and divorce rate” among birds.  Publishing in the
Biological Proceedings of the Royal Society1, Ken Kraaijeveld (U. of Melbourne) claims that birds whose males and females are both colorful or endowed with showy feathers are less likely to mate for life.  Like Hollywood stars, their relationships are most likely to be seasonal flings.  He feels the ancestral state was flamboyance with low divorce rate, and the current higher divorce rate “appears to result mainly from a loss of ornamentation under mate fidelity.”
    Some exceptions were noted, however.  The relation is less robust for passerine birds, and “the result was slightly weaker after controlling for phylogeny,” – although he also admits that high ornamentation in ancestral states “is ambiguous when using the mtDNA-based phylogeny.”    Also, though he feels his finding is compatible with sexual selection theory, it leaves “much of the variation in the degree of ornamentation unexplained,” because the two factors (ornamentation and divorce rate) seem to vary dependently some times and independently others.  The drabness of birds with low divorce rates is explained by the reduced competition for access to a new mate.
    Another paper in the same issue2 by evolutionary biologists from Sweden and Canada also discusses sexual selection in birds, this time the relation between sexual selection and extinction risk, which “has rarely been investigated.”  They conclude, unexpectedly, that sexual selection appears to be a double-edged sword, “promoting speciation on the one hand but promoting extinction on the other.” 
1Ken Kraaijeveld, “Degree of mutual ornamentation in birds is related to divorce rate,“ Royal Society Proceedings: Biological Sciences 270:1526, pp. 1785-1791, DOI 10.1098/rspb.2003.2450.
2Edward H. Morrow and Trevor E. Pitcher, “Sexual selection and the risk of extinction in birds,” Royal Society Proceedings: Biological Sciences 270:1526 pp. 1793-1799, DOI 10.1098/rspb.2003.2441.
Has it come to this?  Imputing human marital feelings to birds?  I suppose the lesson is, “If you want to stay married, the more drab the better; don’t wear designer clothes, and don’t be well groomed.”  As if birds care a tweet.  Question: how did they measure the divorce rates of fossil birds?
    The other paper claims that Darwin’s theory of sexual selection leads to opposite, contradictory effects: species diversity and extinction.  But how can they prove that, without assuming evolution to start with?  They invoke a strange hand-waving plot element: “post-mating sexual selection” which they measure by “testis size.”  Picture these poor suckers measuring bird balls and then claiming they know anything about what the female likes, and how her choice is going to affect future generations’ risk of extinction.  The weakness of the empirical evidence for all this storytelling can be seen by their discussion section at the end, in which they basically say the results are so ambiguous, that it might be due to three possibilities: maybe this, maybe that, or maybe something totally different.  Look at this sample sentence:
Clearly, the question of how sexual selection relates to extinction risk needs closer attention from both theoreticians and empiricists, but considering all the available evidence, a cautious conclusion is that sexual selection may have a double-edged effect upon patterns of species – encouraging both the conception and termination of species.  This balancing effect could explain why some recent comparative studies have failed to find any relationship between species richness and the intensity of sexual selection, despite having large sample sizes and using powerful comparative methodologies....
(Emphasis added.)  That’s royal, all right.  Anybody see hard science anywhere around here?
    The Royal Society biology journal has become a joke.  In issue after issue, storytellers try to outdo each other weaving tall tales about the evolution of this or that.  It might be justifiable to investigate a lead if you are getting warmer, but they never get warmer!  They never come to any firm conclusion.  It’s always just a hint here, or a maybe there, that might, by some stretch of the imagination, prop up King Darwin’s corpse a little longer.  There are exceptions to every rule.  They usually admit that their subplot has rarely been investigated before, and that the results raise more questions than answers.  None of this speculating is of any value or consequence.  Welcome to modern science in Darwin’s kingdom, where it is not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.
    In spite of this, the lords of the Royal Society for Evolution-Only Propaganda have the gall to ridicule and ostracize anyone who disagrees with their rules.  They are 180 degrees out of phase with the principles of the founding fathers of the Royal Society, like Robert Boyle, who were Christians and creationists, and whose purpose was to advance natural knowledge rather than storytelling ability.
    It’s time for another scientific revolution. A few brave patriots have had enough of taxing paradigms and forced allegiance to dead monarchs.  They are declaring independence from intellectual tyranny.  They are refusing to pay tribute to King Charles.  Like Stan Freberg playing Thomas Jefferson put it, “We’ve had it with that Royal jazz.”
Next headline on: Birds. • Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory. • Next dumb story.
Hezekiah’s Tunnel Date Confirmed   09/10/2003
Radiocarbon dating of the Siloam Tunnel shows that it coincides with the time of Hezekiah, as the Bible claims, not the second century BC as some critics have alleged.  Amos Frumkin of Hebrew University found some wood and plant material in the plaster that registered a radiocarbon date between 727 and 698 BC.  A stalactite, which grew later, dated at 400 BC by the U-Th method.  Samples were taken at 15 points along the tunnel which measures over 500 meters.  The plaster composition also matches expectations from known Iron Age methods and materials.  Another archaeologist at Ben-Gurion University stated that the study “makes the tunnel’s age certain.”  For details, see
Nature Science Update.  The complete paper is published in Nature1
    The tunnel, an engineering feat for its time, follows a zigzag path from the Gihon Spring into the city of Jerusalem.  Two teams of men started at opposite sides of the mountain and met in the middle.  They commemorated their achievement with an inscription that does not mention Hezekiah by name.  A UK historian commented, “I think it was the workmen recording what an extraordinary feat they had accomplished.”
    The Bible speaks of this in 2 Kings 20:20: “Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah--all his might, and how he made a pool and a tunnel and brought water into the city--are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?”  The purpose of the tunnel is clear from II Chronicles 32: “And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come, and that his purpose was to make war against Jerusalem, he consulted with his leaders and commanders to stop the water from the springs which were outside the city; and they helped him.  Thus many people gathered together who stopped all the springs and the brook that ran through the land, saying, ‘Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?’”
    Previous dating of the tunnel was based on paleographic evidence (writing style, etc.) of the inscription – a more subjective method, and susceptible to criticism that it was written later to “look” earlier.  The difficulties of dating other Biblical sites are listed in the abstract: “poor archaeological preservation, uncertainty in identification, scarcity of datable materials, and restricted scientific access into well-identified worship sites.”  That is why “no well-identified Biblical structure has been radiometrically dated until now.”  Frumkin is now confident that the converging evidences of paleogeography, the Biblical record and now radiometric dating results render “the Siloam Tunnel the best-dated Iron-Age biblical structure thus far known.”
    See also the National Geographic News article, and EurekAlert, which notes, “The Siloam Tunnel is one of the oldest structures in use up to the present day.”
1Amos Frumkin, Aryeh Shimron and Jeff Rosenbaum, “Radiometric dating of the Siloam Tunnel, Jerusalem,” Nature 425, 169 - 171 (11 September 2003); doi:10.1038/nature01875.
Carbon-14 dating has value for a few thousand years, but beyond that it loses credibility because of the unverifiable assumptions that must be made.  It can be appropriate for cross-checking artifacts within recorded history, as here.
    It’s important to understand that this corroboration of an event from Hezekiah’s time helps refute claims that much of Jewish history was invented later, during and after the exile.  And Hezekiah, shown to be historic through this piece of evidence, did not just drop into history in 700 BC out of nowhere.  His existence, and the existence of the Jews in Jerusalem, presupposes the monarchy of Judah reaching back long before his time.  Additional archaeological evidence corroborates David, Solomon, and many other earlier persons and events.
  A thoughtful reading of II Kings reveals it has the hallmarks of eyewitness testimony.  Visitors to modern Jerusalem, walking into Hezekiah’s tunnel, are experiencing the next best thing to time travel into Old Testament history – true history.
    For a list of other interesting structures excavated by Biblical archaeologists, see this list by Bryant Wood of Associates for Biblical Research.
Next headline on: The Bible. • Next headline on: Dating Methods.
Commentary  09/09/2003
In his
BreakPoint commentary today, Chuck Colson argues that the “Copernican Cliché” is an urban legend.  The idea that ancient and medieval scholars believed man was important because earth was at the center of the universe is mistaken.  Some contemporaries of Copernicus disagreed with his cosmology for other reasons, such as established tradition and opposition to the view the earth was in motion, not because they felt the Ptolemaic system exalted man.  The notion that Copernicus had demoted the importance of man came a century later, in the writings of a satirist, Bouvier de Fontenelle.
Next headline on: Cosmology.

Extinction of Dino Soars into Wars   09/09/2003
A fierce feud is raging between dinosaur paleontologists, reports the
Taipei Times.  The dispute is between those who believe a large asteroid impact sent the dinosaurs into extinction, and those who don’t.  Accusations are flying about the withholding of inconvenient facts, data hoarding, deceit and unethical behavior.

Scientists are only human.
Next headline on: Dinosaurs.
Bat Inspires Sonar Cane   09/09/2003
“Blind as a bat” is a misleading phrase, because bats see pretty good in the dark – with their ears.  Their amazing ability to use sound echoes to navigate their surroundings was all Dean Waters needed to get inspiration.  He devised a cane that sends out ultrasonic pulses, and, based on returning echoes, provides the holder a tactile signal if an obstruction is in the way.  Tests with visually-impaired people are looking very positive, reports
Nature Science Update.
How long would it take people to evolve sonar?  The sonar humans use today, in submarines, on ships and in hand-held canes, are products of intelligent design – design inspired by nature.
    Applied biomimetics (see 08/20 headline) to help the impaired is a wonderful use of science, much better than trying to find wishful evolution in scum (see 09/05 headline).  It must be noted, however, that the bat sonar system is far superior to anything man has produced.  Bats can detect the size, distance, direction of movement, texture, and edibility of a darting bug in flight, and maneuver in a cave surrounded by hundreds of other bats without colliding.  Whereas a blind person must hold the cane in the hand, and receives only crude indications of an obstruction, bat sonar is integrated with the brain, ears, vocal cords, muscles, nerves, senses, instincts, and everything else in their little bodies.  How could such a tightly-knit integrated system ever evolve?
Next headline on: Mammals. • Next amazing story.
HGT Update  09/09/2003
A case of horizontal gene transfer between flowering plants and gymnosperms has been reported in PNAS1 (for background, see
Aug 11 and July 10 headlines).  According to the authors, this “necessitates abandonment of the prevailing view that group II introns are strictly parentally inherited in seed plants.” Their phylogenetic analysis, moreover, suggests that an intron was lost in the ancestor of Gnetum and then regained.  (For discussion of introns, see Sept 3 headline.)  They conclude, “These results indicate that natural mechanisms exist for the horizontal transfer of mt genes, suggesting that horizontal gene transfer may play an underestimated role in the evolution of seed plants.” 
1Won and Renner, “Horizontal gene transfer from flowering plants to Gnetum,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 10.1073/pnas.1833775100, online preprint 09/08/2003.

Next headline on: Plants. • Next headline on: Genes and DNA.

“Educational Debauchery” – Creationism in UK School   09/09/2003
Richard Dawkins, the prominent British atheist, is not too happy about a school in Middlesbrough which will be teaching Biblical creationism alongside evolution, reports the
BBC News.  The academy, a sister institution to Emmanuel College (see 03/18/2002 headline), wants to equip “highly skilled, well qualified, confident, enterprising, creative and moral citizens” that have “a set of personal and spiritual values which will sustain and inspire them through life.”  The school is already over-subscribed, according to the report. 
    Dawkins criticized, “To call evolution a faith position equated with creationism is educational debauchery.  It is teaching something that is utter nonsense.  Evolution is supported by mountains of scientific evidence.”

Tour the mountains of evidence right here on Creation-Evolution HeadlinesHere is a sample trailhead.
Next headline on: Schools and Education.
Plants Hold Bacterial Slaves   09/08/2003
Plants such as
legumes have a cooperative relationship with soil bacteria.  The bacteria, called rhizobia, have figured out how to crack the tough nuts of molecular nitrogen (N2; see 09/06/2002 headline), which the plant needs for protein.  In return, the plants supply the bacteria with oxygen, which helps them grow and reproduce.  But what happens if the rhizobia revolt and compete with one another for resources?  What if they leave the host plant starving for nitrogen?  The plant punishes them.
    That’s the flavor of a news article in Science Now1 that portrays the characters in dark, ominous roles:
In a world that’s red in tooth and claw, cooperation between species is about as cuddly as nature gets.  Although each party apparently reaps greater benefits from teaming up, some of these arrangements aren’t all smiles and handshakes.  A new study shows that soybean plants can apply sanctions against symbiotic bacteria when the bugs don’t deliver their fair share of nitrogen.
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)  This claim is based on the work of Toby Kiers (U. of California, Davis), an evolutionary ecologist, who suspected that plants penalize bacteria that try to escape their slavery.  Her team found that the plants keep their slaves in line by cutting off oxygen.  This prevents cheating rhizobia’s ability to reproduce by 50%.  The paper is published in last week’s Nature2.  Noreen Parks, author of the Science Now article, concludes:
The work offers a new perspective on cooperation, says behavioral ecologist Bernard Crespi of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia.  It portrays symbiotic relationships “not as a simple, friendly [sic] interaction where every party happily [sic] gains, but as trade with a dark side: ‘Provide the resource I require and I will reciprocate [sic]; do not, and suffer dire consequences.’”

1Science Now 09/08/2003: Noreen Parks, “The dark side of cooperation.”
2E. Toby Kiers et al., “Host sanctions and the legume-rhizobium mutualism,” Nature, 425, 78 - 81 (04 September 2003); doi:10.1038/nature01931
Do such metaphors really mean anything?  (See 07/04/2003 headline).  An entirely different, more benign metaphor could work just as well: the partners stabilize each other for the good of the ecosystem.  Evolutionists have arbitrarily imposed their dark emotions on plants and bacteria, giving this story a mood of organized crime or slavery.  If the soybeans and rhizobia could speak, they might say, “You’ve got it all wrong.  We love each other!”  Would that get published in Nature or Science?
    Consider how different the same scene can look with different colored glasses.  Picture in your mind a Frankenstein movie set, dimly lit and ominous; now turn on all the bright lights and play circus calliope music.  The set didn’t change, but the atmosphere made all the difference in how it was perceived.
    Stage lighting and voice-over is what makes Darwinism entertaining; otherwise the props just sit there and decay.  Under the direction of Haeckel, it’s a war play; the props engage in ruthless competition and the mightiest survive in a scene of death and destruction.  Under the direction of Lovelock, it’s Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood; all the props hold hands and the daisies sing under the sunshine.  Under the direction of Hamilton, it’s a soap opera; the props are conflicted between wanting to act selfish or altruistic.  The paper by Kiers et al. is a Hamilton-Haeckel hybrid.  In their gangster plot, the plants impose “sanctions” on those who “cheat” to keep them in line.  The result is a slave class of rhizobia that can get protection so long as they pay tribute, but if they revolt, the mobsters move in and shut off the air supply till, gasping and choking, they submit.  Same stage and props, just different script, lighting, background music and direction.
    An entertaining show, but is it science?  Disqualify such stage tricks and evolutionists must admit, as the paper begins, “Explaining mutualistic cooperation between species remains one of the greatest problems for evolutionary biology.... Mutually beneficial symbiotic relationships between species are ubiquitous, but their evolutionary persistence is puzzling in many cases.”  The problem is not the set or the props, but the evolutionary stage hands playing tricks with the lighting and sound, and passing out dark glasses to the audience.
Next headline on: Plants. • Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory. • Next dumb story.
Material Girls (and Boys) in a Material World Are Not Happy Campers   09/07/2003
A lengthy report in
Science News1 says that materialism is on the rise among kids, but making them less happy.  California psychologist Allen Kanner noted that kids are less likely to talk about what they want to do when they grow up than they were 10 years ago.  They just want to be rich.  They lust for newer, better toys and think that riches are goal to strive for.  Kanner observes that “these kids represent the tip of a materialistic iceberg that’s increasingly freezing the joy out of many people’s lives in Western societies.”
The data reflect a two-pronged problem, Kanner argues.  In some cases, people who buy into the values of consumer culture end up starved for close friends, family, or any deeper meaning in their lives.  For others, he says, money and possessions are hollow compensations for doubts about self-worth, worries about life’s uncertainties, and, especially, fears of death.
Kids are “beating back death with a designer cane,” the article puts it.  Another reason for the materialism, according to Jeff Greenberg (U of Arizona), is that “It serves as a secular religion in a time marked by widespread loss of faith in traditional forms of worship.”  Yet this materialism appears to be “toxic to subjective well-being.”  It causes an insatiable gap between what they have and what they want.  Also, “It threatens a person’s work ethic and ability to be creative.”
    Another short article in the same issue of Science News2 says that one in six children have a psychiatric ailment, and one in three grow up to develop one as adults.  These include depression, panic disorder, and substance abuse.
    Not all psychologists agree completely with Kanner colleague Tim Kasser on the downside of materialism, and “No one has come up with a formula for happiness and well-being that works for everyone, and any factor, including material reward, will have different effects on different people,” the article concludes.  Kanner’s solution is “voluntary simplicity” – “slow down, reduce wasteful consumption, and emphasize family and relationships.”
1Science News Week of Sept. 6, 2003 (164:10): Bruce Bower, “Buyer Beware: Some psychologists see danger in excessive materialism.”
2Science News Week of Sept. 6, 2003 (164:10): Bruce Bower, “Flag raised for kids’ mental health.”
Psychology is a useless science.  When it’s wrong, it’s wrong.  When it’s right, it just repeats what the Bible said.  Jesus Christ taught that a person’s life does not consist in his or her possessions.  He had the cure for worry: look at creation.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pointed to birds and flowers as examples of God’s providential care.  He taught his disciples that since they are worth more than many sparrows, would not their Heavenly Father meet their needs?  The solution, then, was to “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).
    Creation is also the cure for fear of death.  Old Solomon, the wiser for having dabbled in materialism to find it vanity of vanities, a pursuit after wind, had advice for the young: “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,” before old age starts shutting down your physical systems by degrees (Ecclesiastes 12).  “Fear God, and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”  The “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
    But there is far more beyond this beginning.  To see the wisdom of God in his providential plan for lost humanity is to get a megadose of joy and purpose in life.  Jesus died that we might be forgiven, and gain abundant life with our Heavenly Father, our Creator.  Imagine being forgiven, restored, reconciled, and then given a divine purpose in life: to cooperate with the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”  No more filling that internal void with toys, like casting them into a black hole.  Now, it’s Paul’s vigorous charge, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” ( I Corinthians 15:58).
    A vacationer returning from Europe recently was struck by the utter secularism and materialism of European youth.  From Italy to Germany, spiritual life was practically non-existent, churches were empty, and life seemed to revolve around entertainment and possessions.  That is where America is headed, and almost there.  And why not?  Why should not the youth try to cheat the fear of death by cramming it with material things, when they have been taught they came from slime and are headed nowhere, and death ends the game?  The schools teach Darwinian evolution, then the psychologists are alarmed at the fruit.  It was all so predictable.  It is time for an emergency shot of creation evangelism, to spare a generation from hopelessness.  Once saved, they can believe something worth believing, and have a purpose worth throwing all their youthful energy into.  And to keep them happy campers, take them out on Creation Safaris.
Next headline on: Health. • Next headline on: The Bible.
Left-Handed Amino Acids Explained?   09/06/2003
Another theory has surfaced to explain the origin of
left-handed amino acids in proteins.  Reported in Science News1, R. Graham Cooks and colleagues at Purdue University studied all 20 biological amino acids, and found that one – serine – formed stable clusters of all left- or all right-handed forms.  The third lightest (after glycine and alanine), possessing an uncharged polar side chain, serine not only clustered in single-handed forms, but attracted other amino acids of the same hand.  Sugars of the opposite hand were also attracted to the eight-molecule serine rings.
Serine clusters’ high stability and selectivity have convinced the researchers that left-handed serine must have forced its chemical siblings to follow its lead [sic].  What caused serine’s left form to become dominant in the first place remains an open question.  Some scientists say that ancient minerals may have favored one form over the other (SN: 5/5/01, p. 276).  Others point to the effects of radiation hitting primordial Earth.  Or, says Cooks, it could have happened by chance. 
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)  As to this chance event, Cooks speculates in the Purdue News press release that “If somehow polarized light, for example, or a swirling motion in water were present at a critical moment, some of the right-handed clusters could have become left-handed.  This could have cascaded into other prebiotic reactions and set the pace for a billion years of evolution” [sic].  He calls serine the “bouncer at life’s dance club.”  His team’s paper was published online Aug. 4 in the German chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie.2
1Science News Week of Sept. 6, 2003 (164:10): Alexandra Goho, “Amino acid lends a heavy hand.”
2Takats, Z., S.C. Nanita, and R.G. Cooks, “Serine octamer reactions: Indicators of prebiotic relevance,” Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Volume 42, Issue 30, Pages 3521 - 3523 (published online Aug. 4).
Chemical evolutionists have been trying to get around this conundrum for nearly a hundred years, because the chance of getting a 100% pure polymer of one-handed amino acids is astronomically improbable (see our online book).  But it’s hard to imagine how clusters of serine could be any help.  The serine cluster is not a chain, but a ring.  Further, it does not attract other amino acids to form peptide-bonded chains.  The Cooks crew only tested eight amino acids for like-handedness joining the serine clusters.  Do the clusters form under plausible prebiotic conditions?  Most important, does the cluster, and any tag-along amino acids, have any function?  If it has no function useful to a living organism, it might be a cute arrangement, but will accomplish nothing more than a magnet with paper clips clinging randomly on the sides.
    Cooks is far from explaining the single-handedness of proteins.  He personifies the little clusters and liberally employs the could have, might have, and maybe words.  But the requirements for purity are stringent.  In a protein, just one right-handed amino acid can destroy it.  Unless scientists can get a 100% pure chain long enough to have enzymatic function by chance + natural law, the mystery of the left-handed amino acids remains a powerful argument against chemical evolution.
Next headline on: The Cell. • Next headline on: Origin of Life.
How Scum Evolves by Cooperation   09/05/2003
Even scum bacteria have to evolve or perish, two biologists agree, and they believe they have seen it.  Their pet bacteria put on a show of cooperation that they think increased their fitness in a competitive environment.  They believe their experiment might even shed light on the origins of multicellularity, a “fundamental problem in biology.”  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)  In their paper in the
Sept. 4 issue of Nature1, Paul Rainey (U. of Oxford) and Katrina Rainey (U. of Auckland, NZ) watched the evolutionary fitness game and called it play by play.
    The first item was to pick teams.  In a broth of nutrients, they put populations of Pseudomonas fluorescens.  As they watched, a genetic mutation in some of them produced excess amounts of a sticky polymer that helped them stick together.  These formed rudimentary colonies.  The members were named the WS group (wrinkly spreader), an offshoot of the ancestral [sic] “smooth” (SM) group.  Over a few days, the WS colonies formed mats that tended to rise to the surface.  This, presumably, gave them a fitness advantage – i.e., more oxygen.  Score one for the WS team.  The future looked bright: the mat might provide protection from predation, new ways to migrate, “enhanced resource utilization efficiency” and teamwork.  Cooperation has its downside, though – e.g., reduced access to nutrients, build up of waste, and the work required to produce the excess sticky polymer, so the scientists had to subtract the “cost of fitness.”  And then there are the cheaters.
    In any cooperative colony, some freeloading individuals always hitchhike, enjoying the benefits of the hard workers without contributing their share.  About a fourth of the WS colony took the renegade route, which led to the mat collapsing.  This led to repeated rounds of mat buildup and collapse.  Each round would see a new population of cooperators and cheaters.  The mat appeared to be six times more robust against collapse if cheaters were removed.  So unless evolution thinks of a new strategy, the “cheats” appear to short circuit the benefits of colonization.  Natural selection’s experiment at multicellularity appears doomed: “If cheating, via hitchhiking, goes unchecked, the WS group stands to be undermined.”
    But without cheaters, the mat also collapses from its own success.  So many individuals join the colony, it becomes too heavy and sinks, leaving the poor cooperators gasping for air all over again.  But in the flask, the cheats were ever present, living like parasites on the goods the cooperators worked hard to provide.  What happens next?
    The Raineys aren’t sure, but they feel their experiments “have described an evolutionary transition from individual cells to a cooperating group that occurs de novo during the course of selection of P. fluorescens in a heterogeneous environment.”  The need for oxygen was the driving force that allowed the spontaneous mutation, which created a kind of intercellular glue, to allow the colonists to breathe easier.  As a result, “kin selection” formed a type of colony, until the cheaters came along.
    They admit, “Undifferentiated groups of WS cells are a far cry from multicellularity,” and much remains to be learned about how colonies evolve.  “A likely next step is the evolution of conflict mediators” [sic] they speculate, although “The form of these mediators, and the selective conditions necessary for their emergence [sic], is an experimentally tractable problem; and of some significance because the cellulosic polymer both creates the group and has the potential to co-evolve with traits that evolve on the basis of the group.”
    Notwithstanding the missing pieces of the puzzle, “In all respects, our results confirm crucial elements of long-standing theory,” they state with confidence.  Many biologists have watched bacterial cultures form scum.  The selective forces that led to the origin of multicellularity might be all around us, they say, and “cooperative behaviour in bacteria [sic] may be more common than currently thought.”
1Paul B. Rainey and Katrina Rainey, “Evolution of cooperation and conflict in experimental bacterial populations,” Nature 425, 72 - 74 (04 September 2003); doi:10.1038/nature01906.
Hate to break it to the Raineys, but kin selection is dead.  Didn’t Paul read the paper by his Oxford colleagues last year (see 05/07/2002 headline). that said Hamilton’s theory and all the game-theory ideas that followed are based on untested, untestable, vague, self-contradictory and circular arguments?
    Look what they have done.  They have imputed their human values on bacteria, visualizing good guys vs. bad guys, and altruistic colonizers vs. cheaters.  They waved the magic wand of “emergence” to explain missing miracles needed to complete the story.  They set up an artificial environment and claimed it supported the theory of evolution.  Then there are the sins of omission.
    Did they watch the de novo evolution of multicellularity?  No.  (The “undifferentiated groups” of cells were a “far cry” from it.)  Did anything permanent evolve?  No.  Did they demonstrate that the presumed benefits of colonizing actually provided any evolutionary advantage to the individuals?  No.  Even if they had, did they explain how such advantages might have been heritable?  No.  Did they demonstrate how the negative effect of “cheats” might be overcome?  No.  Did “conflict mediators“ (what are these, bacterial police or judges?) arrive on the scene of the hubbub when needed?  No.  Did they prove that “transitions to higher orders of complexity are readily achievable,” as the abstract promised?  No.  That their findings “provide insights into the selective conditions?”  No.  That their findings “facilitate experimental analysis of the evolution of individuality”?  No. Did they prove the “mutation” was really random, instead of a built-in survival mechanism?  No.  Did they fill in any gaps in the evolutionary tree between unicellular and multicellular organisms, or help solve this fundamental problem in biology?  No.  Did they demonstrate that their little lab jars of scum had anything in common with the real world?  No.  Has evolution been demonstrated in the laboratory?  No.  Have they contributed one whit to the advancement of science?  No. Was this paper worth publishing in Nature?  ....You decide.
    Darwinian experimentation has once again been shown to be totally useless, baseless and senseless.  Instead of wasting their time watching scummy soap operas, these biologists should get back to their labs and help find a cure for cancer.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory. • Next dumb story.
How to Walk on Walls When You’re Heavy   09/05/2003
Flies do it.  Spiders do it.  Lizards do it.  Walking on walls and ceilings is a skill we have all observed these little critters do, some right in the kitchen.  But when you think about it, the heavier a bug is, the harder it should be to walk up a wall.  The body mass difference between a fly and a gecko covers six orders of magnitude.  Does the same engineering principle hold in the design of their feet?
    To find out, three German physicists writing in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1 investigated the design scaling “From micro to nano contacts in biological attachment devices.”  Applying the principles of contact theory, which teaches that “splitting up the contacts into finer subcontacts increases adhesion,” they find that bugs and lizards indeed follow this trend.  The feet of each of these animals are divided into setae – fine, hair-like projections – and the more the mass, the finer and more densely packed the setae.  Micrometer-size setae are sufficient to support a fly’s weight, but geckos require sub-micrometer setae, and more of them.  Their paper includes interesting electron micrographs of the feet of beetles, flies, spiders and geckos, showing that, indeed, “heavier animals exhibit finer adhesion structures.”
    Another advantage of this more-of-smaller principle is that the system is robust against damage to individual parts.  The situation is more complicated by the fact that mass increases faster than foot-to-contact surface area.  Also, the curvature of the contacting structure affects adhesion.  As reported Aug. 27, 2002, gecko setae are fine enough to take advantage of intermolecular van der Waals forces between the surface and the foot.  Even though other contact principles come to bear on the workings of bug feet (such as the secretion of sticky fluids and viscoelastic effects), “This finding suggests that contact splitting is the overriding design principle,” they conclude.  “Overall, it comes as no surprise that the concepts of contact theory are reflected in the evolutionary design [sic] of biological attachment systems” (emphasis added).
1Arzt, Gorb, and Spolenak, “From micro to nano contacts in biological attachment devices,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online preprints (Sept. 5, 2003), 10.1073/pnas.1534701100.

A core doctrine in the religion of evolutionary idolatry, illustrated here, is that the Blind Watchmaker is a master engineer.  The genius does not lie within the brains of geckos, flies and spiders.  It is an accidental attribute of a nebulous, impersonal deity suffused within all of reality (simplistically referred to by commoners as Mother Nature), who emerged, with everything else, out of nothing, after the Big Bang.  Though a bumbling fool, she likes to tinker, and has lots of time on her hands.  Sooner or later, quite by accident, she happens upon adaptive designs that are models of exquisite perfection.  Sing praises to this blind, deaf, dumb, crippled, aimless, retarded engineering genius.
Next headline on: Bugs and Crawlers.
Wyoming School District Considers ID; New Mexico Votes Darwin Only   09/03/2003
The school board members of Worland, Wyoming put two lightning-rod items on the agenda Tuesday: abstinence in sex education, and intelligent design in science education.  The
Casper Star Tribune quoted the recommendation for biology teaching:
It shall be the policy ... when teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution that it is only a theory and not a fact.  Teachers shall be allowed in a neutral and objective manner to introduce all scientific theories of origin and the students may be allowed to discuss all aspects of controversy surrounding the lack of scientific evidence in support of the theory of evolution.
As expected, this generated a heated debate during the meeting.  This was only an introductory hearing by the board; it will take three readings by the board to approve a policy change.
    In New Mexico, however, the state board of education recently adopted pro-evolutionary science standards without modification, reports the Santa Fe New Mexican.  Though the standards call for teaching evolution as the “best scientific explanation we have at this time,” a department manager assured critics that it was not intended that evolution be taught as an absolute, and “not to present a particular belief system or indoctrinate students.”
Debates like this are going on around the country in populous states and small rural towns.  It is very important to be informed on the issues, the history, the court cases and to have your baloney detector on when reading newspaper accounts.  The usual arguments and terms are often very misleading.  The title of the Wyoming article is, “School board gives nod to creationism...”  Pray tell, where is creationism or creation even mentioned in the policy?
    Newspapers typically equate “teaching the controversy” about Darwinism with “bringing religion into the science classroom.”  They equate intelligent design theory with creationism or fundamentalism, because these are loaded words, while glibly assuming Darwinian evolution is hard science, like in the following quotation by a New Mexico science teacher concerned that evolution was going to be watered down: “We need to fit in with what is generally accepted around the world as good, solid science.”  Astute readers have already detected the bandwagon, big lie and glittering generalities tactics in action.  The Wyoming article quotes a science department head telling another whopper, claiming the Supreme Court prohibited teaching creationism as an unconstitutional violation of separation of church and state.  That decision only prohibited states from mandating equal time for creation and evolution.  It actually encouraged the freedom of teachers to present a diversity of views.
    Read the top questions Discovery Institute page, including “Is ID creationism?”  Another good new book is Cornelius Hunter’s Darwin’s Proof.  And if you think Darwin’s theory is the best scientific explanation for origins, we invite you to peruse the Darwin chain links on this page and see what the evolutionists themselves are finding and saying.  Try this Aug. 20 headline, for example.  Then see what many school textbooks are presenting, and ask yourself if this is “good, solid science.”
Next headline on: Schools. • Next headline on: Darwinism. • Next headline on: Intelligent Design.
Dark Matter Doesn’t Matter   09/03/2003
“Astrophysicists will be scratching their heads,” reports
Physics Web, “following the discovery that three elliptical galaxies seem to contain little or no dark matter.”  Elliptical galaxies are thought to be the product of a collision between dark-matter-rich galaxies.  University of Nottingham astronomers measured the rotation curves of three galaxies, and found they followed Keplerian orbital dynamics with no need for dark matter.  Now astronomers “must explain why certain types of galaxy appear to be rich in dark matter while others seem to be deficient.”  Katie Pennicott, author of the report on this “unexpected” result, gave it the title, “Dark matter deficiency puts theory in the shade.”
An old joke has a nurse rushing into the office, saying, “Doctor, doctor!  There’s an invisible man in the living room!” to which the doctor nonchalantly replies without looking up from the newspaper, “Tell him I can’t see him.”  The moral of this story is you cannot deal with something that is unobservable.  This would be a good time to review the Scottish sheep story on the humor page about the limits to what observational data can prove.  As long as astronomers must postulate two giant fudge factors, dark matter and dark energy (see June 20 headline), to keep their theories in orbit, we can rightly tell them we can’t see them.
Next headline on: Astronomy. • Next headline on: Cosmology. • Next headline on: Physics.
The Mystery of Intron Evolution   09/03/2003
Eukaryotes, the organisms whose cells contain a nucleus, encompass an astonishing diversity of organisms: all plants and animals and a number of one-celled protists.  The genomes of eukaryotes contain a mystery: sections of DNA, called introns, that do not code for genes, and are exquisitely removed before translation by a complicated molecular machine called the spliceosome (see
09/12/2002 headline) and its helpers.  The spliceosome, a large RNA-protein complex, is conserved throughout the eukaryotic world, from grizzly bears to earthworms to orchids.  Coding regions of the eukaryotic DNA, called exons, are meticulously spliced together after the introns are removed.  Why are these introns there?  What is their function, if any?  Why does the cell go to so much work to remove them?  Evolutionary biologists want to know.
    In the Sept. 2 issue of Current Biology1, a team of British and American scientists delved into published genomes to compare intron counts and positions, in hopes of determining the evolutionary history of introns.  To their surprise, they found “Remarkable Interkingdom Conservation of Intron Positions and Massive, Lineage-Specific Intron Loss and Gain in Eukaryotic Evolution,” as the title of their paper summarizes.  They compared eight very different eukaryotes: the malaria parasite and a cousin, two kinds of yeast (fungi), Arabidopsis (a flowering plant favored in genetics research), fruit flies, worms, and humans.  Sifting through the published genomes, they found 684 orthologous sets but no clear evolutionary pattern.  Surprises include:
  • More introns share identical positions within two or more species than would be expected by chance.
  • Intron phylogeny does not match traditional Darwinian phylogeny. 
  • Humans share more introns with the herb, a plant, rather than with animals like fruit flies and worms.
  • Yeast and malaria also both share more introns with plants than with fruit flies and worms.
  • The number of introns in different species varies widely.  Humans and plants have many, but yeast and fruit flies have fewer.
  • The majority of plant and animal introns appear to have been gained recently.  Humans, for instance, have longer introns than mice (see 12/06/2002 headline).
  • Recently, introns were found in several protists (see 02/26/2002 headline), which “might be the deepest branches in eukaryotic phylogeny.”
Their surprise is evident in their summary of the findings (emphasis added in all quotes):
The matrix of shared introns in all pairs of analyzed eukaryotic genomes revealed a striking, unexpected pattern (Table 2).  The number of conserved introns did not drop monotonically with the increase of the evolutionary distance between the compared organisms.  On the contrary, human genes shared the greatest number of introns not with any of the three animals but with the plant Arabidopsis; in the conserved regions (the more accurate results given the uncertainties in alignment in other parts of genes), 24% of the analyzed human introns were shared with Arabidopsis (27% of the Arabidopsis introns) compared to 12%–17% of the introns shared by humans with the fly, mosquito, and the worm (Table 2).  The difference becomes even more dramatic when the numbers of introns conserved in Arabidopsis and each of the three animal species are compared: approximately three times more plant introns have a counterpart in humans than in the fly or the worm (Table 2).  Although S. pombe [yeast] and Plasmodium [malaria] have few introns compared to plants or animals, the same asymmetry was observed for these organisms: the numbers of introns shared with Arabidopsis and humans are close and are 2–3 times greater than the number of introns shared with the insects or the worm (Table 2).
How does an evolutionist make sense of these unexpected findings?  The team applied phylogenetic tree-building to the data, and quickly realized that intron presence or absence does not fit Darwinian expectations.  A method called Dollo parsimony, for instance, assumes that each derived character state (e.g., intron presence) originated only once on the tree.  This led to a very unDarwinian tree, with humans clustered together with plants, and yeast clustered with malaria.  They tried other phylogenetic approaches that generated more of a web of branches going nowhere than a tree progressing toward higher organisms (see their Figure 2).  “These observations show that intron locations are not suitable markers for phylogenetic analysis at long evolutionary distances,” they confessed.
    “Having shown that evolution of introns in eukaryotic genes did not follow the species tree,“ they inverted the analysis and started by assuming the species tree to deduce the evolution of introns.  This led to a conclusion that the “last common ancestor [sic] of the eukaryotic species with sequenced genomes comes out particularly intron rich,” they note.  In other words, introns and the spliceosome machinery to juggle them were already present in the earliest eukaryote.  For some reason, certain groups lost introns, and others had a net gain, while not a few introns survived nearly two billion years of evolution intact and in their original positions.
    Why would some species conserve introns, and others get rid of them?  The authors consider possibilities.  “Why have so many ancestral [sic] introns survived almost 2 billion years of evolution?” they ask.  “One intriguing possibility is that conserved introns are functionally important, but there is currently little evidence in support of this hypothesis.”  On the other hand, maybe losing introns, even if functionless, is hazardous; like trying to remove a bullet, maybe it is sometimes better to leave it in than to risk more damage by removing it.  Perhaps their presence influences gene regulation and expression (see 07/22/2002 headline).  If so, removing them could be lethal.  But then, why would some organisms, like fruit flies, succeed in removing so many of them without harm?  No clear reason is given why natural selection would favor removing introns on some groups and adding them in others.
    Without a clear phylogeny emerging from the data, they conclude with some speculations.  “It even seems possible,” they imagine, “that invasion [sic] of protein-coding genes by ancestors of introns was part of the dramatic and still mysterious series of events that led to the origin of the eukaryotic cell.”  The bottom line is that this “remarkable conservation” across species – and even kingdoms – leaves much to be learned: “The lineage-specific trends of intron loss and gain might reflect more general tendencies for genome compaction and genome expansion, the underlying causality of which remains to be understood.”
Update: see Sept. 12 headline.
1Rogozin, Wolf, Sorokin, Mirkin and Koonin, “Remarkable Interkingdom Conservation of Intron Positions and Massive, Lineage-Specific Intron Loss and Gain in Eukaryotic Evolution,” Current Biology Vol 13, 1512-1517, 2 September 2003.

It’s almost funny to watch evolutionists wiggle and squirm when the data don’t fit their expectations.  Not that non-evolutionists understand introns, either – there is much to be learned – but biologists cured of the phylogeny addiction are free to consider other alternatives, and might even assume there is a yet-to-be-discovered purpose for these mysterious sections of DNA code; gene regulation, or modular programming, for instance (see May 23 headline).
    These poor evolutionists did not find what they hoped to find: an evolutionary tree.  Quite the opposite.  They were left to tell just-so stories to fit the data to their presuppositions, but what a tale: we are expected to believe that one of the most complex molecular machines of all (the spliceosome) already existed in the earliest common ancestor, and large collections of introns have survived intact from single cells to humans for nearly 2 billion years, from way back before even plants and animals went their separate ways.  During that time, other groups, like insects and fungi, drastically reduced their numbers of introns without harm.
    If they are useless, would not natural selection have removed them as excess baggage?  If they are functional, what is their function, and why do some organisms have so many more than others?  Why do some appear to be in haphazard locations (even between codons), and others appear in favored locations?  How does the spliceosome know what to take out and where to splice?  Clearly there are many fascinating questions here.  The evolutionists have had their time at bat and could not get to first base.  Design scientists, step up to the plate.
Next headline on: Plants. • Next headline on: Genes and DNA. • Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Mars Color Not from Water   09/03/2003
Mars is red not because water oxidized the iron, but because meteorites and meteoritic dust bring in iron continually from space.  This is the idea being advanced by JPL scientist Albert Yen, reports
EurekAlert based on the upcoming issue of New Scientist.  There is more iron and magnesium in the topsoil than in the rocks.  Yen irradiated simulated Martian iron-rich topsoil with ultraviolet light and produced red oxides within a week, without water present.
    This bolsters the find reported Aug. 21, that the lack of carbonates implies no large oceans existed on Mars.  These evidences do not rule out liquid water on the surface, but suggest it was not abundant at any time in Martian history.
These findings are discouraging to those wishing to find life on Mars.  More precise measurements are just months away, when Beagle 2 and the Mars Exploration Rovers descend to the surface in December and January.
Next headline on: Mars.
Smile When Getting that Flu Shot: Depression Harms Immune System   09/03/2003
The emotional part of your brain is linked to your immune system.  When you are depressed or worried, you become more susceptible to disease.  This is the conclusion a team of University of Wisconsin scientists arrived at by studying the effects of flu shots on 52 adults.  Six months later, those who had been instructed to think about extremely bad emotional experiences had fewer antibodies; those who had thought about extremely happy experiences had high antibody levels.  See the summary in
Science Now, Sept. 3, 2003.
Old wise Solomon had it right, when he said “a merry heart does good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).  Why, it even helps the medicine.  You can’t always manufacture happy thoughts out of thin air, though.  There’s no better tonic than thankfulness and the joy of the Lord.
Next headline on: Health.
Not Enough Comets in the Cupboard   09/03/2003
There’s a shortage of comets.  The
Hubble Space Telescope peered into the Kuiper Belt cupboard, and found it nearly empty – only 4% of the predicted supply was found.
    Astronomers needed a bigger storehouse to explain the number of short-period comets now inhabiting the solar system.  The Kuiper Belt, a region of small icy bodies beyond Neptune, has been the favored source of comets with orbital periods 200 years or less, but the new measurements, soon to be published in the Astrophysical Journal, are “wildly inconsistent” with the observed number of comets.  Astronomers expected to find 85 trans-Neptunian objects in the cupboard, and found only three.
    Science News1 calls this a riddle.  For this region to be a viable source, there should be hundred or even thousands of times as many objects as were actually found.  Perhaps the objects expected had been dashed into dust by collisions.  The measurements indicate that another hoped-for source at the outer edge of the Kuiper Belt “might not be sufficiently massive to spawn the short-period comets.”
Sky and Telescope says this confirms our solar system has a distinct edge, and wonders if the missing objects that were expected had destroyed themselves.
    As quoted in the report in Science Now, how does one researcher describe the finding?  “This is very exciting work.”
1Science News Week of Sept. 6, 2003 (164:10): Ron Cowen, “Hubble Highlights a Riddle: What's the source of quick-return comets?”
A true scientist should be excited that a hypothesis proves false, as much as when it proves true; what is undesirable in science is ambiguity.  Unfortunately, no amount of evidence seems to ever cause naturalistic planetary scientists to falsify the idea that the solar system formed out of undirected, purposeless natural forces billions of years ago.  “Exciting” becomes their euphemism for baffled, disappointed, and clueless.  What would really be exciting would be to see a planetary scientist follow the data where it leads, and question the assumption that the solar system is so old.
    This empirical measurement leaves planetary scientists in a quandary.  Why do we still have comets after the assumed 4.5 billion years the solar system has existed, when we know they are burning out within just thousands of years?  Several recent comet stories reported here are leaving them with diminishing options: There aren’t enough sources, and they are burning out too fast to last 4.5 billion years.  This is very exciting work.
Next headline on: Solar System. • Next headline on: Dating Methods.
Utah Sandstone Came from Appalachia   09/02/2003
Geologists have matched radio-isotope dates of zircons in Utah sandstone to those from the Appalachian Mountains, reports
Science Now based on a paper in the September issue of Geology.  This means, they conclude, that the Utah sand originated in the east and migrated west somehow.  The sands studied are those of the Navajo sandstone that covers 660,000 square kilometers in southern Utah and northern Arizona, reaching over 2,400 feet in thickness in some locations.  “Most people would have suggested these grains came from the Ancestral Rocky Mountains,” one geologist remarked.  The explanation offered is that maybe the sand grains were transported across the continent by mighty rivers, then picked up by winds and deposited into sand dunes that got cemented into sandstone.  Science News 164:9 also has a summary of the report.
Anyone who has seen the massive walls of Navajo sandstone, like those in Zion National Park, is going to have trouble swallowing this tale.  It was hard enough to get local sand concentrated in such tremendous volume, but now to say it was carried across the continent slowly by rivers?  Get real.  The Navajo Sandstone “represents one of the largest erg deposits in the geologic record,” the abstract in Geology states.  “Our finding requires the existence of a transcontinental sediment-dispersal system capable of moving a large volume of detritus westward ... throughout the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic.”  (Emphasis added.)  Science News quotes another geologist who admitted, “We didn’t expect that many of [these zircons] would have come from so far away.”  They have to believe that “westward-flowing transcontinental river system was in place several times between 275 and 150 million years ago.”  This is like proposing multiple episodes of Amazon rivers that had the magical ability to flow uphill over the Rocky Mountains (but of course, they believe, conveniently, the Rocky Mountains formed after the sand was deposited safely on the west side).
    There are other problems with this tale.  What other processes were occurring during those 225 million years (plus or minus 125 million; a million here, a few million there, pretty soon you’re talking real funny) that could have mixed up the river deposits or buried the sand?  Did they consult with other geologists whose pet theories require contrary ad hoc conditions?  Is there independent evidence that North American river systems trended westward for 225 million years?  Where did the rivers empty out?  Where is the huge delta these rivers must have left behind?  How did this particular sand get selectively concentrated by wind in this vast area of Utah and Arizona?  Then what cemented the grains into sandstone without affecting the flat topology of the formation and those below?  Why not consider the reverse hypothesis, that Appalachia got its sand grains from Utah?  (That would never do; the Appalachians are much older, according to the geological time tale.)
    The zircon dates are built around evolutionary assumptions and are not reliable, yet look how everything else in the tale must bend around the radiometric dates, even to the point of absurdity.  Pictures speak a thousand words.  The Navajo Sandstone covers a vast area, as big as Texas.  The volume, uniformity, and lateral extent of the sand defies any slow, gradual process.  It speaks of rapid catastrophism of continental proportions.
Next headline on: Geology.
Photos courtesy David Coppedge, Creation Safaris.
Answer to Baloney Detection Exercise
Answer: (E) All of the above.  The sentence falsely puts church and school in contradistinction in a couple of fallacious ways.  For one, children are required to attend school, but no one is required to attend church.  For another, it assumes no one thinks in church, but everyone thinks in school, which is not only another either-or fallacy, but an egregious generality as well (Does every child think in school?  Does a student never pray when sweating for a final exam?  Does a pastor and congregation never think about the sermon?).  A third either-or fallacy pits praying and thinking against each other.  Granted, many prayers are thoughtless, but Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul and the entire Bible clearly teach that prayer must be done with the mind, with alertness, not with vain repetition.
    The bumper sticker also ridicules supporters of school prayer as non-thinkers who want to impose mindless religious activity on unwilling atheist students, when the issue is whether students should have the freedom to pray (as guaranteed by the First Amendment) in school as well as anywhere else.  The cheap shot glosses over serious issues about the Constitutional protection of free speech and religious liberty, the ongoing secularization of our society, and whether atheism and humanism are themselves inherently religious.
    Lastly, it contains an indirect non-sequitur, implying that prayer is somehow detrimental to students.  It tacitly assumes that if religious people would just keep their praying hands off the school, and keep their mindless brains locked in church, both churches and schools would be better off.  Does Columbine High come to mind?
    This little bumper sticker exalts thinking, but is thoughtless.  It goes to show how a clever slogan can bring analysis to a halt, and embed a mindless attitude into a person’s consciousness.  Think (and pray) about it.

Click on Apollos, the trusty

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Featured Creation Scientist for September

Carolus Linnaeus
1707 - 1778

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the publication of Species Plantarum by the Swedish scientist, Carl Linnaeus.  So it is appropriate we look back at the influence this great Bible-believing creationist has had on biology.

What’s more scientific than a scientific name?  To a scientist, your pet dog is Canis familiaris.  Your pet cat is Felis domesticus.  A grizzly bear is Ursus horribilus, and you are Homo sapiens.  The convention of two Latin names (binomial nomenclature), denoting genus and species, is the foundation of taxonomy, the science of classification of living things.  It comes straight out of the work of Carl Linnaeus.  Why did he pursue the huge task of classifying plants and animals?  He took his inspiration from the Bible’s first chapter, which states that God created plants and animals to reproduce “after their kind.”  Linnaeus was attempting to determine what the Genesis kinds are.

Linnaeus is rightly called the Father of Taxonomy.  His classification scheme assumes that organisms fall into recognizable groups of animals in nested hierarchies.  At the lowest level are species, which are loosely defined as organisms capable of producing fertile offspring.  (This is complicated by the inability to determine this for fossils, and the difficulty of determining the reproductive success for many living organisms.  Sometimes males and females of the same species can look so different, they might be incorrectly classified as separate species.)

Species (pronounced SPEE-sees for both singular and plural) are sometimes subdivided into subspecies and varieties, which are often labeled with a third Latin name (as in Homo sapiens sapiens, or with a variety designation, as in “Genus species, var. variety-name.”  Species, the bottom of hierarchy, is the second term in the Linnaean system, and is not capitalized.  The first term, which is capitalized, is the next unit in the hierarchy: the genus.  Working up the ladder are families, orders, classes, phyla, and kingdoms.

It becomes clear that the nested hierarchy is a problem for evolution.  The farther up the scheme, the larger the gaps between types.  At the level of phyla, for instances, think of the huge differences between a starfish (an echinoderm) and a fish (a chordate), or between a beetle (an arthropod) and a snail (a mollusk).  Within each phylum are many common characters, but there are large, systematic gaps between the phyla, classes, orders and families.  House cats, bobcats, lions, tigers and cheetahs share many common characteristics within the cat family, but in every case we know, these are always distinct from members of the dog family.  Dogs and cats belong to the class mammalia, but all mammals are very different from all class aves (birds).  Mammals and birds share characteristics (a backbone) within the phylum chordata (subphylum vertebrata), but all vertebrates are very different from clams in the phylum mollusca.  Higher up, members of the plant kingdom are even more different from members of the animal kingdom.

The same picture of increasing gaps holds true within the fossil record.  This fact is common knowledge to both creationists and evolutionists.  The latter take the data and infer a branching tree connecting them all, but the actual observational evidence shows only tips of the branches, not the trunks and nodes.  The true picture is more like a lawn than a tree; small groups of organisms at the species level show variations, but there is no evidence, living or fossil, for one “kind” of animal changing into another, such as a reptile into a bird or a fish into a salamander.  Actually, one could say that species are the only level we observe.  The other relationships – families, orders, classes, phyla – are all inferred because they share one or more similar characteristics.

Taxonomists can be confused about what phylum or class an organism should be placed in, because many animals and plants are composed of mosaics of characteristics from several groups.  Consider the platypus, for example.  It lays eggs like a reptile, has webbed feet like a duck, a venomous spur like a rattlesnake, and fur like a mammal.  Classification can be even more confusing for one-celled organisms.  Some have been recently placed into whole kingdoms separate from plants and animals.  It is often an arbitrary choice where to classify an organism.  The sunflower family, for instance, is kind of a catch-all category for many diverse flowering plants that do not fit well into other families.  Evolutionists have a hard time with these mosaics, often invoking the hand-waving answer “convergent evolution” when asked to explain how “unrelated” organisms share common characteristics, such as the remarkable similarities between placental mammals and their marsupial look-alikes.

On the other end, it is often difficult to know where the species boundaries are.  Consider that bison and many different kinds of cattle can interbreed (ever had a beefalo burger?).  Horses, donkeys and zebras can interbreed more or less, and so can lions and tigers, yet most of us would consider each of these animals to be separate species.  At the level of species, many organisms show great variety in size, shape and coloration: think of dogs, pigeons and roses for example.  Yet higher up, at the genus and family levels, there appear to be stricter boundaries.  No one has ever seen a dog change into a cat, or a goldfish turn into a seahorse.

Evolutionists believe that variation has no limits and all things are interrelated, but that is a belief, not an observed fact.  Even breeders know they can only take a horse or a rose or a cow or a sugar beet so far before a trait becomes impossible to modify further.  Taking the data as we find it, without an evolutionary presupposition, we see living things organized into groups within groups within groups, with the major groups separated from one another by large gaps.  The Linnaean classification system reflects the observational evidence.  Despite its occasional points of debate or confusion, it has stood the test of time.  Sadly, some evolutionists are trying to push an alternate “PhyloCode” classification scheme, which organizes plants and animals according to their presumed evolutionary relationships.  If successful, this would only cloud the issue.  It would embed evolutionary assumptions into the way students approach the data.

Young Carl von Linne was a lover of plants and wildlife, as was his father, a Lutheran minister, and avid gardener.  His father hoped young Carl would go into the ministry, but it was evident the boy was a born naturalist.  Though he eventually pursued a medical career, and both practiced and taught medicine as a professional, Carl’s heart was forever drawn to the natural world.  He has been described as a workaholic with a mania for organization.  He loved learning, reading and knowledge, and was also ruggedly strong and physically fit.  It would take those qualities to take on a project of classifying every plant and animal on earth!

Others before him had shared this passion.  John Ray, the English naturalist who had died two years before Linnaeus' birth, was a like-minded naturalist, who, by the way, was also a Christian and a creationist.  But the universal classification scheme using Latin binomial nomenclature was the innovation Linnaeus brought to the discipline.  He chose Latin because it was not only the universal language of science, but being a dead language, it was stable and unchanging.  It provided a universal scheme that all naturalists in all countries could use to communicate with each other, as well as to publish their discoveries and cross-check their findings against those of others.  At age 40, Carl latinized his own name into Carolus Linnaeus the name by which he is best known.  He moved to Holland in 1735 for three years, then back to Sweden, where he lived out his days as a doctor and professor.  Taxonomy remained his obsessive hobby throughout his life.

Linnaeus at first actually believed it possible to classify every living thing in the world.  At age 25, Carl secured a grant from the University of Upssala to take a thousand mile tour of Lapland to catalog plants.  One can only imagine the delights and dangers, the fatigue and satisfaction this “creation safari” entailed as he waded icy streams, slogged through bogs and avoided nervous landowners.  He kept detailed journals and catalogued thousands of plants.  A similar trip through central Sweden added many more.  Linnaeus traveled over four thousand miles on foot in his quest to catalog all the species in “God’s garden.”  He also leveraged his talent to students that he motivated, who often went on long and arduous journeys to far lands to collect more specimens (Dan Graves said a third of these died on their dangerous treks).  Linnaeus continued updating, expanding and improving his catalogs throughout his life, and as a legacy, he left the Linnaean Society, which continues to this day as an international taxonomic institution.

“Linnaeus was a firm creationist,” says Dan Graves, but comments that “Certain aspects of his theories were enigmatic.  He seems to have doubted that there was a universal flood.  Sediments were deposited over a long period of time, he said.  He paid little attention to fossils and insisted on classifying humans with apes.”  Nevertheless, Linnaeus did not believe in any theory of evolution.  He firmly believed that the kinds God had created in the Garden of Eden still existed.  Although he believed in fixity of species at first, he did allow for variation with the Genesis kinds later on.

Linnaeus wrote in rhapsodic lines about the wisdom of God in creation.  Dan Graves provides some examples:

  • One is completely stunned by the resourcefulness of the Creator.
  • I saw the infinite, all-knowing and all-powerful God from behind.... I followed His footsteps over nature’s fields and saw everywhere an eternal wisdom and power, an inscrutable perfection.
Linnaeus introduced the idea of classifying plants by their reproductive structures.  Sometimes he went a little overboard in his descriptions: “The flowers’ leaves... serve as bridal beds which the Creator has so gloriously arranged, adorned with such noble bed curtains, and perfumed with so many soft scents that the bridegroom with his bride might there celebrate their nuptials with so much the greater solemnity.”  Notwithstanding the romanticism, who could doubt that a firm belief in the Genesis version of creation can be a strong stimulus for scientific research?

Linnaeus continued classifying plants and animals into his sixties, till he suffered a series of strokes.  The frontispiece of his magnum opus Species Plantarum, the work that set established taxonomy as a scientific discipline, is a passage from the Psalms that could be viewed as a life verse of all great creation scientists both past and present, who similarly quoted it with feeling: Psalm 104:24 – “O Jehovah [Lord], how ample are Thy works!  How wisely Thou hast fashioned them!  How full the earth is of Thy possessions!”


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

A Concise Guide
to Understanding
Evolutionary Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Souder’s Law
Repetition does not establish validity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice from Paul

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

I Timothy 6:20-21

Song of the True Scientist

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

from Psalm 104

Maxwell’s Motivation

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

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

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

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