Creation-Evolution Headlines
 November 2001
 
“There is not one theory of evolution, but a body of opinions, speculations and methods for interpretation of observational facts so that they fit into the philosophy of naturalism.”
–Keith Wanser, physicist, In Six Days: Why Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation (New Holland Publishers, 1999), p. 91.

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Abiogenesis Presented As Matter of Fact by NASA Speaker   11/30/2001
Abiogenesis, the belief that life arose spontaneously from inanimate matter, once thought disproved by Pasteur, is alive and well in NASA.  In public lectures at JPL and Pasadena City College entitled
“The Search for Earth-Like Planets”, webcast to the world on the JPL Website, Dr. Charles Beichman explained the two-fold thrust of NASA’s Origins program: (1) Where do we come from?, and (2) Are we alone?  Dr. Beichman provided four fundamental ideas that he says have changed scientists’ thinking into optimism that life will be found in space:

  1. The necessary ingredients of life are widespread in the universe: the laws of physics are the same everywhere, and the elements and molecules common to life are ubiquitous.
  2. Planets are a common, natural outcome of star formation.
  3. Life on earth can inhabit harsh environments.  So-called “extremophiles” have been found in boiling hot springs and buried in Antarctic ice and around deep sea vents.
  4. Life can affect a planet on a global scale, allowing us to infer the presence of life by studying the spectra from atmospheric gases on extrasolar planets.  (Just this week, the Hubble Space Telescope made the first direct measurement of the atmosphere of a planet around another star.)
By implication, life, which we have not discovered yet, must as common a property in the universe as the planets and ingredients we do see.  Dr. Beichman went on to discuss how JPL scientists are involved in detecting extrasolar planets, and some day may be able to image earthlike planets around other stars and characterize the gases in their atmospheres– thereby gaining clues whether life exists around other stars.
These kinds of presentations are so common in NASA circles they are not news, but it bears repeating that abiogenesis should be a highly contested and controversial belief.  Yet no one in the audience offered the slightest objection to what was claimed.  Is it really possible to get from hydrogen to the Hallelujah Chorus by the continuous operation of undirected natural laws?  Or are there major discontinuities, unbridgeable by naturalistic presuppositions?  Is life an accident that happened here, and happens all over where you have the ingredients present?  If so, then what does that mean for abstract concepts like truth, knowledge, wisdom, and morals? 
Dr. Beichman would, of course, regard these questions as off the point, claiming he is not talking about religion, but science; individuals can believe whatever they want, but he is just there to address the scientific matters of evidence, detection techniques, spectra, and molecules.  But the clear implication of these kinds of presentations is that life is a natural by-product of unguided, undirected, impersonal, natural forces; God is superfluous, as far as biology is concerned.  Any logical person must realize that abiogenesis is deadly to belief in God; at best, it pushes Him off to the beginning as a distant First Cause, uninvolved in a mechanistic universe that evolves of its own accord. 
Yet the scientific evidence militates against abiogenesis!  Even the simplest life is tremendously more complex than nonliving molecules.  The so-called common ingredients of life are no closer to life than scattered Scrabble letters are to an encyclopedia.  It’s the way these ingredients are organized into autonomous, growing, reproducing systems that defies all naturalistic explanation; and on this point, astrobiologists are strangely silent. 
Dr. Beichman admitted in the Q&A session that chirality (handedness) of molecules might be a biomarker – an indicator of life – yet getting even one single-handed chain of even 10 units by chance is prohibitively improbable, and natural selection can’t help.  His Fundamental Idea #3 (Life on earth can inhabit harsh environments), so frequently touted by astrobiologists, begs the question of whether life can form spontaneously in the first place – harsh environment or not.  Under the most favorable conditions imaginable, abiogenesis is ruled out of the game by the laws of probability.  At every upward step, furthermore, evolution is blocked and tackled by the laws of thermodynamics.  And if abiogenesis is true, it renders truth and knowledge meaningless – and that includes science.  Remember how PBS said that our noblest enterprises are just sex urges?  Surely Dr. Beichman would want his thoughts to be taken more seriously than to be viewed as pawns of selfish genes that for some reason want to propagate themselves endlessly (Why? Who cares?).  If we are mere particles in motion, then science is dead; let’s close down the Lab, eat, drink and party, for tomorrow we die.
The bottom line is, abiogenesis should be laughed off the stage.  It is ridiculous on scientific, philosophical, and logical grounds.  Its implications for theology and morals are like poison.  Why do these NASA speakers get away with spouting nonsense, year after year, with nobody calling them on the carpet for it? 
Scepticism.– I shall here write my thoughts without order, and not perhaps in unintentional confusion; that is true order, which will always indicate my object by its very disorder.  I should do too much honour to my subject, if I treated it with order, since I want to show that it is incapable of it. – Pascal, Pensées.
Next headline on: Origin of Life.
Article 11/29/2001: “More Baloney Detecting: How to Draw Boundaries Between Science and Pseudoscience, Part II,” by Michael Shermer, Scientific American.  The editor/publisher of Skeptic magazine continues his 10 principles of Baloney Detection he began in Part I last month.
Let’s continue analyzing Darwinism by Shermer’s criteria.
  • Does the preponderance of evidence point to the claimant’s conclusion or to a different one?
    The theory of evolution, for example, is proved through a convergence of evidence from a number of independent lines of inquiry.  No one fossil, no one piece of biological or paleontological evidence has ‘evolution’ written on it; instead tens of thousands of evidentiary bits add up to a story of the evolution of life.  Creationists conveniently ignore this confluence, focusing instead on trivial anomalies or currently unexplained phenomena in the history of life. [emphasis added].
    Here Shermer takes the creationists head-on, but his metrics are purely arbitrary and his judgments subjective.  If you are a regular reader of Creation-Evolution Headlines, you may have come to the exact opposite conclusion: that evolution is a collection of just-so stories pieced together with the meagerest evidence (example: Jared Diamond’s paper two days ago), while ignoring major and substantive problems: evidential, theoretical, logical and philosophical.  Keith Wanser’s quote (top of this page) bears repeating at this point.
    Shermer himself “conveniently ignores” the ongoing work of the Creation Research Society, the Institute for Creation Research, the Creation Technical Journal, and other organizations who have been doing scholarly research for decades, not just picking at “trivial anomalies” in evolutionary theory.
  • Is the claimant employing the accepted rules of reason and tools of research, or have these been abandoned in favor of others that lead to the desired conclusion?
    Over and over here in these pages, we have shown evolutionists stuffing shreds of evidence into their preconceived notions.  Look at the monstrous leap of faith in the Nov 26 story (quote, in commentary), for instance.  See more examples evolutionists have used in our Baloney Detector.  Add to that the complaint by evolutionists themselves that evolution is untestable and unfalsifiable.  So Darwinism fails this criterion, too.  (Down to an F- already; do we need to go on?)
  • Is the claimant providing an explanation for the observed phenomena or merely denying the existing explanation?
    Shermer calls this a “classic debate strategy” and declares it unacceptable in science, yet his criterion commits two logical fallacies: (a) Shifting the Burden of Proof, in which he asserts that no one has a right to criticize evolution unless he can replace it with something better: This is the classic debate strategy.  (b) Best-In-Field Fallacy, in which an evolutionist feels justified in coming up with some just-so story, no matter how weak, rather than no naturalistic explanation at all.  This is the stratagem that is unacceptable in science; saying “I don’t know” would be an improvement. 
    In this paragraph, Shermer targets Intelligent Design theory, but knocks down a straw man, and shows that he neither recognizes his own bias nor understands what ID theorists are saying.  The reader is referred to Access Research Network’s ID FAQ page, and to articles by William Dembski.
  • If the claimant proffers a new explanation, does it account for as many phenomena as the old explanation did?
    This is usually a good principle in science (such as in heliocentrism over geocentrism), but it does not always apply, especially when the phenomena are not one-time prehistoric events that are not repeatable and testable, such as in big-bang inflation theory and the origin of life.
    Early Darwinism seemed to account for many things, until critics realized that natural selection was a tautology that was stating the obvious: survivors survive, and the fit are fitter than the unfit.  This shows that it is possible for a theory to explain everything and yet really explain nothing at all.  A rose is a rose; is it true?  Yes.  Is it obvious?  Yes.  Is it useful?  No. 
    The late 20th century’s mushrooming pace of discoveries in biochemistry (DNA, protein structure, molecular motors) are straining the old paradigm to the breaking point.  Today, evolutionists are just assuming evolution can account for these things somehow, but failing to explain how they could– things outside the arena of natural selection, and things so improbable they would never happen naturally in a billion universes. 
    Early modern science (and excellent science at that) was built on a philosophical foundation of intelligent design.  Since naturalism has shown itself bankrupt at providing explanations for specified complexity, and even proffers explanations that are contrary to known laws, it is time to re-evaluate the suitability of naturalism as a presupposition for science.
  • Do the claimant’s personal beliefs and biases drive the conclusions, or vice versa?
    A logical positivist is someone who sees science as an objective, neutral, unbiased means for arriving at absolute truth.  Many modern scientists, unfortunately, do not realize this premise is guilty of the Self-Referential Fallacy.  They cannot understand that philosophical naturalism is a belief system, a faith, even a religion.  Some admit it partly, but think that somehow science is “better” than any other approach to explaining anything and everything (even the origin of the universe, life and man).  But even this is a value judgment not determined empirically; it is merely a preference.  Asserting that, “Well, science has given us cell phones and religion hasn’t” commits other fallacies, like extrapolation, equivocation, association, and glittering generalities; it tries to link verifiable physics with untestable, unverifiable stories about the unobservable past.  What’s Darwin got to do with it?
    The bottom line is that all people are biased, even scientists.  Some biases can be mitigated by repeatability, testability, and honest debate.  We have shown that Darwinian storytelling survives best in a vacuum insulated from criticism and is inherently untestable. 
    Shermer adds praise for peer review, as if it reduces bias, but just last week we reported an angry complaint by three scientists in Nature that peer review is like a religious rite, that it is unnecessary, a colossal waste of time, stifling to innovation, intolerant of opinions outside the party line, an obstacle to good scientific work, and cultivator of corruption.  We have also shown numerous papers that passed peer review yet claim patently illogical things, perfectly permissible as long as they fit in with Darwinian philosophy.
Now that you have passed this short course in baloney detecting, try your hand at Shermer’s concluding statements.  Grade him on objectivity, clear thinking, and integrity:
Yet there is a solution: science deals in fuzzy fractions of certainties and uncertainties, where evolution and big bang cosmology may be assigned a 0.9 probability of being true, and creationism and UFOs a 0.1 probability of being true.  In between are borderland claims: we might assign superstring theory a 0.7 and cryonics a 0.2.  In all cases, we remain open-minded and flexible, willing to reconsider our assessments as new evidence arises.  This is, undeniably, what makes science so fleeting and frustrating to many people; it is, at the same time, what makes science the most glorious product of the human mind.
Next headline on: Darwinism.
Navy Looks to Lobster for Smelling Technology   11/29/2001
Lobsters have noses, too; small organs called aesthetacs on the tips of their antennae that sweep through the water.  If you have watched lobsters carefully, you may have noticed that the downstroke is faster than the upstroke.  There may be a reason for this, and scientists funded by the Office of Naval Research are trying to find out, says
EurekAlert.  By studying lobsters, the Navy hopes to find better ways to sniff out underwater explosives.  The team built a robotic lobster on a real lobster exoskeleton, but outfitted it with their own steel antennae with electronic sensors and tried to mimic the motion of a live lobster.  They found that the twitching motion apparently provides the lobster with a quick high-resolution map of the odor plume coming its way, and the slow upstroke may give it time to analyze the data without disturbing the pattern set up on the sensors.  The beginning of the next downstroke resets the sensors, and provides an update on the source of the odor.  The report states with admiration, “For a lobster living on the ocean floor, the chemical trails left by prey, predators, mates and competitors must make a confusing tangle – each filament of odor intertwining with the others until discovering the source of any one of them starts to seem as impossible as untangling a ball of liquid yarn.  But somehow the lobster does it.”
How many times have we seen human engineers getting their inspiration from designs in nature?  Notice how what looks on casual observation like just a nervous twitching by the lobster actually has a very real function.  Human robotic engineering is making us aware of the robots all around us that are light-years ahead of us in design.
Next headline on: Bugs (Arthropods, etc.)
Scientists Take Motion Pictures of Brain Forming Memories   11/29/2001
Scientists at the
University of California, San Diego believe they have found the “Holy Grail” of neurobiology by taking the first motion pictures of the brain forming short-term and long-term memories.  Using new imaging techniques that do not damage cells, researchers have been able to watch neurons form temporary synapses (connections) that last about 5-10 minutes, which might reflect the stimuli that produce short-term memory, and permanent connections after four or more stimulations per hour, that might reflect long-term memory.  “Once you take an axon and form two new connections, those connections are very stable and there’s no reason to believe they’ll go away,” says Dr. Michael Colicos, one of the team members; “That’s the kind of change one would envision lasting a whole lifetime.”  To achieve this imaging, the team created glowing actin filaments that could be watched as they formed bridges to other neurons, and found a new way to stimulate neurons without harming them.  The press release includes three videos of the synapses in action.  It was a delicate and painstaking task: there are a billion synapses in a cubic centimeter of brain tissue. 
This story is truly amazing for its achievement, and it also raises many fascinating speculations about the relationship of our soul to our body.  There are many trillions of possible connections of neurons, but can we really reduce the vividness of memory to synapses?  Think of your favorite piece of music right now; you can undoubtedly play it back perfectly in your head, and even fast-forward it or embellish it.  How many synapses does that require?  What tells the brain to find the right synapses, and play it back in the right sequence?  Is the soul merely the sum total of brain cells?  Or could it be that the synapses act like RAM and a hard drive for a soul that is transcendent of the material?  It would seem that inanimate matter can store, but not perceive, in a fashion similar to the way computer memories store the intelligent design of the programmer.  Has the Creator given us hi-tech storage devices for the soul?  If you think so, why not tell God right now, “Thanks for the memories.”
Next headline on: Human Body. • Next amazing story.
Physics Still Has Areas of Soft Science   11/28/2001
Many think of physics as hard science, but two recent stories in
Nature Science Update indicate we still have much to learn.  Regarding quantum mechanics, Phillip Ball writes that Einstein’s “hidden variables” may exist after all.  Einstein believe that there were unknown variables that explained weird quantum experiments that appeared to invoke a spooky action at a distance.  Now, two physicists at the University of Illinois believe that these hidden variables, whatever they are, cannot be ruled out, and that there may be another layer to reality. 
In another story, scientists cannot explain how a large black hole got into a binary system.  Object GRS1915+105, at 14 solar masses, is too large to have formed within a close binary relationship.  Either their theories about X-ray emission or black hole spin or black hole formation are wrong, or all the above.
Some physicists and popularizers have used the quirkiness of quantum mechanics, especially the Copenhagen Interpretation (which basically allows for contradictory states to be simultaneously true and reality to be dependent on the observer), to promote new-age religion.  We need to be honest enough to plead ignorance before jumping to conclusions, as Einstein did, and understand the limitations of science.
Next headline on: Physics.
Why Were Dinosaurs So Large?   11/27/2001
Jared Diamond tries to find the laws of body size in a paper in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  In “Dinosaurs, dragons, and dwarfs: The evolution of maximal body size,” he investigates the relation of land area, food availability, and other factors with the body size of the largest animals.  He finds a general correlation between land area and body mass of the top species.  Some misfits in certain areas and times (too big or small for their habitat) are alleged to evolve to fit over time, but there are anomalies: why did the dinosaurs grow so large?  They don’t fit the equation and “remain unexplained.” For summary, see Scientific American.
Anti-creationist Jared Diamond is at it again, adding Darwinist fluff to the scientific journals, but accomplishes nothing.  He just observes the obvious, that some animals are big and others aren’t, but fails to find a universal law that relates them to all the environmental variables, and more importantly, fails to come up with a mechanism for how one creature can evolve into another.  This paper contains a few interesting observations, but ends up with more questions than answers.  Nothing here demonstrates Darwinian evolution any more than an explanation based on biogeographical dispersion after a Noachian flood.  There are way too many variables here, and the data are not specific enough to formulate a law of nature; there will always be exceptions.  If you have a lot of food, you might grow big; that is not evolution.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
How the Deaf Hear Music   11/27/2001
A radiologist at the
University of Washington performed brain scans on deaf students and those with normal hearing, according to EurekAlert, and found that the part of the brain that normally only responds to sounds (the auditory cortex) responds when the deaf students felt vibrations on their hands.  Apparently, the brain compensates for hearing loss by rewiring itself.  Dr. Dean Shibata, who uses functional magnetic resonance imaging to do the research, explains:
The brain is incredibly adaptable.  In someone who is deaf, the young brain takes advantage of valuable real estate in the brain by processing vibrations in the part of the brain that would otherwise be used to process sound....

These findings illustrate how altered experience can affect brain organization.  It was once thought that brains were just hard-wired at birth, and particular areas of the brain always did one function, no matter what else happened.  It turns out that, fortunately, our genes do not directly dictate the wiring of our brains.  Our genes do provide a developmental strategy - all the parts of the brain will be used to maximal efficiency.

As a consequence, deaf people can enjoy concerts and even become performers.  At the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, for instance, audience members are provided with balloons with they touch with their fingertips to feel the vibrations of the music.  Dr. Shibata says, “Vibrational information has essentially the same features as sound information - so it makes sense that in the deaf, one modality may replace the other modality in the same processing area of the brain.  It’s the nature of the information, not the modality of the information, that seems to be important to the developing brain.”
The adaptability of the human body is amazing.  With God’s design, no loss is a total loss.  We would like to know the impressions any deaf readers have of music and other vibrational input; can you actually sense the different instruments in the orchestra or band?  Please send us your comments (use the Feedback link on the right column).
Next headline on: Human Body.
Why Doesn’t the Octopus Tie Itself in Knots?   11/27/2001
Robot designers would like to know.  Boneless and brainless, the lowly octopus is able to maintain control of its eight arms without them getting hopelessly tangled up.  According to
EurekAlert, the octopus uses completed staff work and distributed processing; the general (brain) gives the orders, and the troops (arms) carry them out.  How the octopus does this is under study by researchers funded by the Office of Naval Research.
“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; And the fish of the sea will explain to you.  Who among all these does not know That the hand of the LORD has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?” (Job 12:7-10).
Next amazing story.
Search for Life Brings in the Funding for NASA   11/26/2001
Bruce Moomaw reports in
SpaceDaily.com on a gathering of planetary scientists this month discussing how best to set priorities for NASA’s planetary exploration program.  Of the top contenders,
...“‘astrobiology’ received much attention as the main motivator for funding Solar System exploration – a situation that can provoke sharp feelings among scientists dealing with non-astrobiologically focused research.

As a way of attracting support from the general public – and thus funding – the search for life on other worlds has undeniable power.  After all, most people find the idea of alien life forms (even primitive ones) far more interesting as a subject than rocks or gases or magnetic phenomena.

As a pacifier for those scientists outside this emphasis, two astrobiologists assured them that astrobiology is a very sweeping term than encompasses many different scientific pursuits.
So, the search for life is the sexy spin for NASA that gets the public interested and the money flowing.  They can’t lose, because even if they don’t find it, they just haven’t looked hard enough.  And no matter if they never find it: materialistic evolution will be vindicated!  Consider this incredible statement of faith: “Conversely, if other worlds turn out to have been habitable for long periods in their history but life did NOT develop there, it will be a strong piece of evidence that life on our own world is the result of a long-shot stroke of pure biochemical chance.” [emphasis added].  Now that’s the kind of believer Las Vegas likes!
Next headline on: Politics. • Next headline on: SETI.
Human Embryo Cell Cloned   11/26/2001
They’ve done it, what scientists have dreamed of and ethicists feared: cloned human embryos: “Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) of Worcester, Massachusetts says its intention is not to produce a cloned baby, but to develop a way of obtaining embryonic stem cells matched to patients.” says
New Scientist.  The private company’s actions are not yet illegal, since it does not receive federal funds, but President Bush has vowed to outlaw any type of human cloning.  Some scientists want to differentiate between therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning, but ethicists are outraged at ACT’s action.  One member of the Pro-Life Alliance “reflected the views of many opponents of cloning when he said ACT’s achievement was a ‘milestone in scientific depravity.’”  Related articles: Science; Nature calls it a step, not a leap.  Later, in their Dec. 6 issue, Nature reported that a member of the editorial board that published the report resigned, feeling that the journal had failed to uphold scientific standards.
For more on the ethical issues involved, see Focus on the Family’s June 1 research paper Human Cloning, and an analysis by Dr. Jonathan Sarfati for Answers in Genesis. Next headline on: Politics.
Sunburn Repair Protein Found   11/26/2001
A protein named interleukin-12, a type of cytokine, has been found to be effective in reversing damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet light.  According to
Nature Science Update, it appears to work by activating the DNA to edit out mistakes: “The protein appears to stimulate a cellular editing system that snips damaged pieces of DNA out of the sequence,” the report states.  Cells with interleukin-12 were actually able to reverse sunburn damage.  If IL-12 is this effective, other cytokines may also be involved in DNA repair.  “This is probably the tip of the iceberg,” says Kenneth Kraemer of the National Institutes of Health, commenting on the paper in Nature Cell Biology.
How does a cell know how to find mistakes in the code and edit them out?  Think of it; your body has debuggers!
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry.
Internet Nerds More Likely to Be Church-Goers   11/26/2001
According to Professor Andrew Oswald and Dr Jonathan Gardner from the University of Warwick, UK, the stereotype about unsociable nerds hunched over their Internet computers finding anonymous relationships in chat rooms is wrong.  Most typically young and male, Internet surfers are sociable, educated, affluent, more likely to belong to volunteer organizations, and 50% more likely to go to church regularly.  This conclusion comes from the 18th British Social Attitudes report, Britain’s most authoritative annual survey of public attitudes.
It’s hard to claim this proves anything, coming as it does from a limited sample, but it’s interesting, and may at least provide another example of the frequent differences between conventional wisdom and reality. 
Earth Magnetic Field Reversal Verified   11/26/2001
Using new techniques, Netherlands scientists have verified that the earth’s magnetic field did indeed reverse itself 10 million years ago, claims the Netherlands World Organization for Scientific Research, cites
EurekAlert.
The reversal may be factual, but the dating is inferred from evolutionary assumptions.  For an alternative view, see this ICR Impact article by Russell Humphreys.
Next headline on: Physics.
Letter 11/22/2001: ’The Perils of Peer Review”, Nature correspondence.  Three angry scientists vociferate against the peer review process, comparing it to a religious ritual (or worse, an inquisition):
Your News feature “Peers under pressure” (Nature 413, 102-4; 2001) on the hoary old chestnut of peer review reinforces my decades-old comparison of this ritual to the Latin mass.  Obviously many (Protestant?) leaders, including most of the best-known scientists such as Nobel laureates, regard peer-review as a great hindrance to good science (the gospel?).  Many excellent journals (churches?), such as the Proceedings of the Royal Society and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences managed in my opinion very well without it for a long time.  An enormous amount of the best science has been and is being run without benefit of this rubric, as is the worldwide patent system.
After discussing a recent case of dishonesty caused by a scientist’s efforts to hide his work from rivals during the peer review process, they continue their tirade: “Yet this is but a minor defect in the peer-review system.  The enormous waste of scientists’ time, and the absolute, ineluctable bias against innovation, are its worst offences.”
And you were taught that peer review was the guarantee of scientific objectivity.  We are not here rendering judgment on peer review, but these scientists’s complaints should be taken to heart.  It is clear that many of history’s greatest scientists did their groundbreaking work outside the peer review system.  Many creationists today complain that peer review tolerates only naturalistic, evolutionary submissions, and that their work, no matter how empirically sound, is systematically excluded on philosophical grounds.
How the Ameba Crawls   11/22/2001
Yale scientists have gained new insight into how cells move, reports
EurekAlert.  They’ve revealed the 3-D structure of seven proteins called the Arp2/3 complex that assembles actin proteins into filaments, which push the front of the cell forward.  A similar process (actin polymerization) is involved in white blood cells moving to the site of an infection, and in neurons branching out into the million miles (more or less) of axons and dendrites in the human brain.  Thomas Pollard of Yale, co-author of the paper in Science, explains how it works.  Chemicals in the environment send messages to the Arp2/3 complex, which in turn cause it to orient the cell and move in a particular direction.  He says, “Actin and Arp2/3 complex work like a peculiar motor in a car to make the cell move forward.  Rather than turning wheels, the filaments grow like branches of a bush to push the cell forward.  Arp2/3 complex is very ancient, having evolved in primitive cells well over one billion years ago.”
How can anyone look at this amazing mechanism, call it primitive and ancient, and say it just evolved?  Do you know any other motors that are engineered by blind, undirected, impersonal forces?  One of the characteristics that sets life apart from nonlife is its ability to respond to stimuli contrary to what would happen by chemistry and physics alone.  The difference is analogous to a man climbing uphill vs a statue of a man falling downhill.  To achieve autonomous movement, even the lowly ameba has to have plans and processes.  What Darwin did not know, modern biochemistry has revealed: each cell has a detailed DNA code and transcription mechanism that builds precisely-engineered proteins (the Arp2/3 complex), which in turn assemble a motor protein (actin) at the appropriate end of a cell to make it move.  An ameba may look simple, but the simplicity is deceiving; it moves where it wants!  Rocks do not do this.

Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry.
Expert on Self-Organization Agrees Intelligent Design Has Merit   11/20/2001
In a debate 11/13 at the University of New Mexico against William Dembski, Stuart Kauffman “publicly admitted that intelligent design was a legitimate intellectual and scientific project and that research projects like SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) couldn’t even get off the ground without it,” writes Phillip Johnson in his
Weekly Wedge Update for 11/19.  Kauffman, well known as a specialist in the theory of self-organization, did not feel I.D. was applicable to biology, but did lay down some boundary conditions for his own theory to work: probabilities that could well bring I.D. into the argument as the only valid approach.
Johnson sees this as a major concession by an evolutionist.  Rather than ruling intelligent design theory off the table by fiat, as some evolutionists do, Kauffman was courteous and considered Dembski’s arguments on their merits.  Even a local skeptics society seemed to tone down their rhetoric.
Next headline on: Schools.
Chemists Dispute Claim of Life in Martian Meteorite   11/20/2001
Since the high-fanfare announcement of possible microscopic evidence for fossilized life in Martian meteorite ALH 84001 by a NASA team in 1996, the three major lines of evidence have been slowly eroded.  Now, scientists at
Arizona State University take the last remaining claim down another notch.  They argue that the magnetite crystals that were alleged to be the work of bacteria are too indistinct for such a claim to be made, and that NASA was selective in its observations, ignoring 73% of the other magnetite crystals in the rock.
Like Carl Sagan used to say, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  Next time you hear a claim about the discovery of extraterrestrial life, remember ALH 84001.
Next headline on: Mars.
Cholesterol Builds Better Brains   11/20/2001
90% percent of your brain is composed of glia cells, not involved in thinking like the neurons, so less interesting to researchers.  But now neuroscientists have found that they secrete a molecule with a bad rap – cholesterol – that is essential for the formation of synapses (connections) between neurons.  Cholesterol may clog arteries, but it is vital in cell membranes.  The team had two big surprises: first that cholesterol was so essential to synapse formation, and second that the lowly glia cells produce this vital substance.  “We were definitely shocked,” said one investigator. Source:
Science News 11/17/2001, p. 309.
Here again, an important function is discovered for cells thought to be mere scaffolding.  Over and over, scientists find that every player has its role, often essential, to the success of the play.  It reminds us of the Apostle Paul’s body analogy of the church in 1 Corinthians 12, which we might update as follows: “But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.  And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the neurons to the glia, ‘I have no need of you.’  No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.”
Next headline on: Human Body.
How Did Cell Nucleus Evolve?  Nobody Knows   11/19/2001
In a new Explore feature,
Scientific American investigates current thinking about how eukaryotic cells evolved a nucleus, and concludes that no theory currently explains all the facts.  Some think that early cells developed a symbiotic relationship with bacteria or archaea, but the nucleus has unique features that are not present in either assumed progenitor.  Every theory has serious objections.  One biochemist admits, “We really probably don’t have any idea what happened.  It does seem like, whatever happened, it was probably very complicated and not very sensible.”
Not sensible to naturalistic philosophy, that is.  This is what happens when scientists feel obligated to explain life by materialistic means.  This article makes a good case study for how a theory can sound plausible at first glance, until nasty details get in the way.
Next headline on: The Cell. • Next headline on: Origin of Life.
Wonders Within 11/19/2001: “Why don’t our digestive acids corrode our stomach linings?  Scientific American describes the complicated chemistry that your stomach performs to keep its hot potato – hydrochloric acid, HCl – from burning itself.  Biologist William K. Purves of Harvey Mudd College explains why the stomach needs the acid in the first place:
In summary, HCl in the stomach lumen accomplishes four things.  It helps break down ingested tissues for attack by digestive enzymes; it provides the correct pH for the action of those enzymes; it converts a catalytically inactive proenzyme to an active enzyme (as we just saw); and it destroys invading microorganisms in the stomach contents.
The proenzyme he refers to is like a chain saw with a blade guard; if let loose in the cell that manufactures it, it would be dangerous.  After release into the stomach, the HCl dissolves away the blade guard so that the chain saw goes to work on the food, not on the stomach.  Later, as the food moves on to the next processing station (the small intestine), the HCl is no longer needed, so the pancreas neutralizes the caustic acid which has ten times the acidity of lemon juice.
Just thought you’d like to know.  Aren’t you glad you don’t have to operate this system in manual mode after every meal?
Next headline on: Human Body. • Next amazing story.
Your Non-Essential Genes Protect You   11/23/2001
Scientists at the
National Institutes of Health have been scanning through 3,760 non-essential genes in yeast and finding them not so useless after all.  So far, they have found 107 that apparently protect from radiation and toxins in the environment.  Non-essential genes are ones the organism can live without – grow and develop into maturity without apparent harm.  When danger lurks, however, these genes are switched on and provide protection.  Since these genes in yeast and mammals are similar, they expect similar protection is afforded humans by these “non-essential” genes.  (Source: EurekAlert.)
Whatever happened to “junk DNA”?  The more we learn, the more we find out “God don’t make no junk.”
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry.
Complexity of Biological Clocks Baffles Researchers   11/16/2001
The entire issue of the November 29
Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences of the Royal Society of London is devoted to “Complex Clocks.”  Some statements from Fred Kippert’s introduction indicate that molecular biologists, “reductionist by vocation,” have their hands full trying to understand the multiple interacting systems that resist simplistic models. 
  • The central theme of both special issues is ‘complexity’ – apparently nothing new for biological systems.
  • We can now emphasize the complexity of circadian systems as we have recently gained enough knowledge to free ourselves from the inheritance of a past of looking for simple loops and cycles.
  • As with any other sensory function, circadian systems need to discriminate between signal and noise.  One way of doing so is to ‘probe’ actively for signals, modulating the strength of a given physical or chemical stimulus according to circadian time rather than passively responding to them.  This creates ‘zeitnehmer’ (time taker) loops that are both input and output of the clock (an unimaginable complexity for the simple sequential model) which have the interesting consequence of increasing the robustness of the system.
  • Another aspect of complexity is the presence of several oscillators in the same organism.  Circadian clocks are not confined to the central nervous system but are also present in peripheral organs: examples have been found in invertebrates, like fruit flies and moths, and in vertebrates, like zebra fish and mouse.  Peripheral oscillators are self-sustained, as evinced by in vitro studies, but show a great deal of variation in their robustness and responsiveness to external (i.e. light) and/or internal (i.e. hormonal and neuronal) stimuli.
  • The physiological implications of relying upon a multi-oscillator system are particularly evident in birds.  The avian time-keeping system is the product of the dynamic interplay between anatomically distinct pace-maker components.  The flexibility in the interaction is particularly important in helping the circadian system cope with extreme environmental conditions such as those experienced by high-Arctic (low-amplitude light variations in midsummer) or migratory (travel between time zones) birds.
Kippert attributes the origin of complexity in these circadian systems to the environment: the conferees were not “surprised to also find complexity in biological timing mechanisms, considering that they have evolved in response to a complex environment (which we fail to reproduce in our simple artificial laboratory conditions) .... Their contribution brings into focus once again the notion, held all along by the honouree of the conference, that complex environments will necessarily breed complex timing mechanisms.”
He thus falls into his own reductionist trap.  The environment no more produces complex systems than horse hair and cat gut produce string concertos.  How could rocks, air and sunlight produce complex biological clocks?  How could they invent timing mechanisms that allow birds to migrate by the stars and the earth’s magnetic field, and to compensate for solar angle and changing seasonal light, and find their breeding grounds unerringly after thousands of miles of flight?  The complex parts of the biological clocks reside in multiple organs and genes, which communicate with each other through feedback loops and compensation techniques.  The systems baffle the researchers who try to study them, yet we are told to believe that time, chance and aimless processes of natural selection produced these wonders.  Which is more amazing: the clocks, or the evolutionists who attribute them to a blind watchmaker?
(See also the Nov. 14 headline on mole rats.)
Next amazing story.
NASA Center Tolerates the G Word   11/15/2001
Exclusive  The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a focal point of NASA’s Origins program and search for life, permitted the G word (God), and even applauded it, during an outdoor patriotic celebration Thursday.  An ad hoc choir made up of employees, accompanied by JPL’s amateur jazz band, The Big Band Theory, sang and played a mixture of American songs: America, America, God shed His grace on Thee / And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea .... Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord / He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored / He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword / His truth is marching on.  A special third verse was substituted in the finale, Battle Hymn of the Republic, in honor of the victims of September 11:
Now the fateful lightning strikes again across our peaceful land:
New York’s best and finest lie at rest in God’s almighty hand.
As we strive for truth and justice, and for freedom make our stand,
For peace we’re marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!  His truth is marching on.

The program was well received by a moderately large audience in the central plaza, with a huge American flag draped from the 10-story administration building behind the choir.
It was very nice of JPL to stage this performance put together by employees, when a few months ago any event using the G word (except in ridicule) would have been uncomfortable at best.  (JPL’s newsletter routinely advertises gay-lesbian support groups and talks by atheists, but squelches announcements by Bible-study groups on campus.)
Now that patriots and Christians have had the stage for a few minutes, we would like to see if the Darwinists can come up with something better that will stir the hearts of the those who borrow God-words when terror strikes, but otherwise have no use for them: O ugliful for stinking slime that sees beyond the years / Thy bubbling hydrothermal vents give rise to blood and tears .... Gory, gory evolution; Gory, gory evolution; Gory, gory evolution; 'Tis ruthless stumbling on. 
Help the Darwinists fill up their empty repertoire; send your submissions to the Feedback link on the right column.
Honey, You Smell Good; Let’s Evolve   11/15/2001
According to
Nature Science Update, evolutionists have a new twist on sexual selection.  By studying sticklebacks (a small fish), researchers at Max Planck Institute in Germany think that the females can smell which males have a better immune system.  They mate with the ones with the best MHC gene complex (involved in immunity) to get a better chance of having offspring that will survive.  “The reporter hints that this effect may also work in humans: “In 1995, the famous ‘sweaty T-shirt’ study showed that women prefer the smell of sweat from men whose MHC genes are dissimilar to their own, hinting that the odour warns women not to mate with close relatives.”
Don’t tell this to the deodorant companies.  If you mask your B.O. you may be hindering evolution.  How are little fish-brains supposed to understand genetics, or care whether their kids have kids?  As usual, the disclaimers are at the very end of the article, after the confident headlines have done their bluffing: “How humans, mice and sticklebacks detect MHC profiles using body odours is a mystery.  ‘We don’t know whether the odour differences are directly from MHC or from different bacteria living on the animal’s skin....’”
Next headline on: Fish. • Next headline on: Darwinism. • Next dumb story.
Coastlines Evolve Quickly   11/15/2001
In a letter to
Nature, three geologists propose that large-scale coastal landforms like capes and cliffs can form rapidly as a result of instabilities when the angle between shore and surf reaches a certain point.  “Wind and wave data from this area [Carolina coastlines] support our hypothesis that such an instability mechanism could be responsible for the formation of shoreline features at spatial scales up to hundreds of kilometres and temporal scales up to millennia.”
That’s millennia as in thousands, not millions, of years.
Next headline on: Dating Methods. • Next headline on: Geology.
Blind Mole Rats Keep Biological Clock Running   11/14/2001
A paper by Israeli scientists in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that mole rats in Israel that have lost their sight due to living underground in the dark are apparently still able to maintain circadian rhythms.  Expression of genes thought responsible for circadian rhythms are enhanced, and the harderian gland is substantially larger: “The expression of Clock and MOP3 [possible circadian rhythm genes] in the harderian gland of Spalax is remarkable and should be emphasized: the harderian gland of Spalax is tremendously hypertrophied, occupying the entire eye-socket, whereas the eye is degenerated (0.7 mm in diameter), subcutaneous, and embedded in that huge harderian gland.  It was previously suggested that the harderian gland of Spalax is a possible photoreceptor and photoperiodic organ.”  They conclude that “The mosaic evolution of the Spalax eye, harderian gland, and brain, and its circadian genes provides a dramatic model of tinkering evolution at both the molecular and organismal levels.  From an evolutionary perspective, the genetic basis of circadian rhythms in blind subterranean mole rats may be different from that of strictly diurnal or nocturnal and sighted mammals.”
This paper is listed under the category Evolution but really proves nothing.  The mole rats are still mole rats, they have the same organs (whether enlarged or atrophied), and have no new capabilities.  Both creationists and evolutionists accept that gene expression and phenotype can be influenced by environmental factors.  The paper, furthermore, is filled with wiggle words like might, may, possibly, and could, and evolutionary puzzles: the genetic phylogenies are mixed up (some of the mole rats’s genes are closer to humans than to other rodents); the authors characterize the development as “mosaic evolution” (what on earth is that?) and convergence (definition: multiplied miracles), and it is not clear whether these genes or the harderian gland are associated with circadian rhythms in the first place.  The authors claim this is a “dramatic model of tinkering evolution at both the molecular and organismal levels,” yet leave you wondering, “so where’s the evolution, and who, pray tell, is doing the tinkering?”
For a creationist perspective on degenerative structures like the de-evolution of eyes in blind cave fish, see this article by Carl Wieland.
Next headline on: Mammals.
Darwin for Children   11/14/2001
Evolution-based books for children are nothing new; The Water Babies, The Land Before Time and even
Berenstein Bears help predigest Darwinian concepts for young minds.  Now, in his new book Animal Baby-Sitters, Cornell biologist Paul Sherman explains for children “a mystery that has puzzled evolutionary biologists for years – why some animals postpone breeding in order to stay home and help their families – may actually make good evolutionary sense.”  His research has studied how the offspring of scrub jays, crows and naked mole rats help the population reproduce by ensuring the survival of the next generation.  So it’s not really altruism, but an indirect application of good old Darwinian survival of the fittest.  According to the report in UniSci International Science News, The authors are betting that some of their young readers will be intrigued by animal stories about behaviors that pose many questions and offer some – but not all – of the answers.  “It’s never too early,” Sherman says, “to get children hooked on the magic and mysteries of behavioral biology.” 
Notice the words magic and mystery, and they told you evolution was scientific fact.  No, evolution is a set of magical tales, mystery stories and what-if conjectures that can explain anything and everything, even opposite things, so long as no God is involved.  Get ’em “hooked” on the magic while they’re young; the sorcerer needs new apprentices.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Body’s Energy Motor Takes Breaks   11/13/2001
The
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has another new paper about ATP synthase, the ubiquitous motor protein of all life.  Japanese scientists have found that it pauses for several seconds between its rapid rotational cycles, for causes not yet known.  The pauses appear to be related to the presence of ADP-Mg.
If you’re not yet excited about ATP synthase, here are a couple of good reasons to learn about it: (1) It’s running your body right now.  Trillions of these exquisite little motors are providing the energy for everything you do, and yes, the biologists call them motors, even describing their parts as rotors and stators.  These incredibly tiny molecular machines are almost 100% efficient.  Scientists are astounded at these motors; one of its discoverers, Nobel laureate Paul Boyer, calls ATP synthase “a splendid molecular machine.” Scientists only began to understand it within the last seven years.  (2) ATP synthase is a prime example of why chemical evolution is a dying theory.  All life, even the simplest bacteria and blue-green algae, have them.  These motors are far too complex and perfect to arise by chance.  The DNA that codes for them is also far too complex and perfect to arise by chance.  Neither would emerge from the primordial soup by itself, but both need each other.  Are we staring at prima facie evidence for God?
There’s a lot of material out on ATP synthase, both lay articles and detailed scientific papers; use your favorite search engine and learn about those little motors inside you.  Here is a list of scientific papers to get you started.
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry.
Cell’s Golgi Body Recycles Itself Continuously   11/12/2001
The Golgi apparatus, a maze of channels near the nucleus of a cell whose function was mysterious a few decades ago, is gradually revealing its secrets.  Scientists at Virginia Tech and Heidelberg have found that the proteins making up the apparatus are constantly being renewed, according to
EurekAlert.  One of the scientists describes what the Golgi body does:
The Golgi apparatus is a complex organelle.  It is involved in the processing of proteins destined for either secretion or for the outer surface of the cell.  Traditionally, scientists have looked on the Golgi apparatus as a fixed structure that processed proteins in an assembly-line fashion.
The organelle is a cup-shaped arrangement of layers of flattened sac-like membranes that’s located in a characteristic place near the cell’s nucleus.  Proteins are processed through the layers of the Golgi apparatus, with enzymes in each layer causing modifications as the proteins proceed through the layers, finally to be shuttled into vesicles that take them to the cell’s surface.
Vesicles are bubble-like containers that bud from the Golgi apparatus and transport proteins to the cell's surface membrane. The vesicles themselves are made of proteins, which are absorbed by the surface membrane when they have completed their mission.
Proteins are delivered to the Golgi apparatus for processing in vesicles that bud from the endoplasmic reticulum.  Therefore . . . there is a constant flow of materials from the endoplasmic reticulum through the Golgi and to the cell’s outer surface.
The new “central finding” about the Golgi body is that it is “not a fixed structure, but that every component of it is recycled through the endoplasmic reticulum.  This recycling allows the replacement of frayed proteins, acting as a kind of quality control to ensure the structure can perform its function.”
Update 01/11/2001: More on the Golgi apparatus in Science, “the central protein sorting station of the cell,” especially how it creates protein vesicles for transport: a very complicated series of steps involving enzymes and lipids working together.
If you drew pictures of cells in biology class years ago, just about all your teacher and textbook knew about the Golgi body was its name.  Now we are seeing that it is a key processing site for proteins built by the ribosomes, and part of a complex assembly line with quality control built in.  All these operations require energy that is generated by the ATP synthase motors, and everything is orchestrated by the master control library in the nucleus.
Articles like this usually hasten to discuss how we might use this knowledge for medicine or pharmaceuticals, but almost never ask the obvious question, How did these complex factories arise?.  They just assume they “evolved” somehow.  Surely more biochemists somewhere are beginning to have serious doubts that all this complexity could be the result of blind, purposeless, random collisions of molecules.
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry.
A Merry Heart Prevents Heart Disease   11/12/2001
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have found that a positive attitude is the best prevention against heart disease, according to
EurekAlert.  Even individuals with a family history of heart disease were only half as likely to have a heart attack or chest pain requiring surgery if they had a good attitude.  The power of positive thinking was strong even when traditional risk factors like cholesterol, weight and smoking were taken into account.
Sir John Herschel once said that all scientific discoveries seemed only to confirm the truths come from on high, and contained in the sacred writings.  Three thousand years ago, Solomon said “A merry heart does good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22; see also Eccl. 5:18-20).
Next headline on: Health.
New Books 11/12/2001
  • Dr. John MacArthur, The Battle for the Beginning.  The well-known Bible expositor explains the importance of the Genesis creation account for the church and defends a young-earth position.  The introduction recounts the deleterious effects of evolution, the naturalistic philosophy masquerading as science, the lack of evidence for Darwinism, and the fallacy of compromising the Bible with changeable scientific theories.  See also transcripts from MacArthur’s recent Genesis teaching series on Grace To You.

  • William Dembski, No Free Lunch (due December 2001).  The author calls it the best and most complete account of his thoughts on intelligent design to date.  Qualified endorsements come from a list of strange bedfellows: atheistic evolutionists, theistic evolutionists, Islamic, Jewish and Christian adherents, mathematicians and scientists.

Essay 11/12/2001: Discovery Institute fellow Benjamin Wiker, writing for National Review Online, argues that the PBS Evolution Episode 5: Why Sex? was a manipulation of science to push a leftist agenda in high schools.
Next headline on: Schools.

Carl Sagan Honored with new Astrobiology Center   11/09/2001
In one of his last official acts as NASA administrator, Dan Goldin has dedicated the new
Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Cosmos at NASA-Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California.  November 9th would have been late astronomer’s 67th birthday.  The multi-disciplinary center will try to answer the question for which Sagan was famous, “Are we alone in the universe?”

Carl Sagan has become almost synonymous with naturalistic cosmology.  For atheists, Sagan replaced the hope of eternal life with the hope of mankind someday joining a community of galactic civilizations.  Sadly, it didn’t do him much good personally.
Next headline on: SETI.
Relativism Wanes as Sept. 11 Events Illustrate Reality of Evil   11/09/2001
The terrorist attacks of September 11 are causing many to recognize the reality of evil, says
ABC News.  Prior to that date, it would have been politically incorrect or judgmental to describe anyone’s world view as good or evil, but now many are saying the E word is the only appropriate description for the deeds of the terrorists and the world view that produced them.  ABC quotes various experts on whether it is deeds or people that are evil, whether everyone has the seeds of evil, and whether evil is an intrinsically religious concept or not.  The article gives favorable press to spokesmen who believe there are absolute standards of good and evil – a concept often scoffed at by intellectuals prior to September 11.
We may be seeing the downfall of postmodernism.  Remember how shortly after September 11, even scientists were appalled and were asking for prayer.  As time goes by, will the postmodernists and relativists come out of hiding?  We’ll have to see, but right now, most audiences would boo and jeer someone who would dare allege the moral equivalence of jihad and antiterrorism.
The Bible teaches the objective reality of evil.  Evil began with Satan’s rebellion, infected all mankind at Adam’s fall, and is only conquerable through redemption in Christ.  It also commands us to hate evil, and authorizes governments to punish evildoers.  But in Darwinian philosophy, evil is an undefined term.  If anything, evil could only be that which inhibits one’s reproductive success.  That definition doesn’t quite cut it with images of jumbo jets flying into buildings indelibly etched into our minds.
Next headline on: Bible.
Short Takes: Nature Had It First Dept. 11/09/2001: Writing in Nature this week, two biologists respond to claims that engineers recently figured out how to transport liquid spheres on solid surfaces, saying bugs figured this out millions of years ago.  They say, “In short, ‘liquid marbles’ are yet another example of how insects ‘developed’ a technology through natural selection long before humans got around to it.  Technologists (high and low) and engineers should look for new solutions with the eyes of biologists.”  For a description of how beetles collect dewdrops on their backs, see Science News 11/17/2001, p. 312.
Next headline on: Bugs.

Alabama Keeps Warning Stickers in School Science Textbooks  11/09/2001
The Alabama Board of Education approved without dissent the placement of warning stickers in its school science textbooks that say evolution is “a controversial theory . . . . Instructional material associated with controversy should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”  The stickers are a milder form of earlier warnings that encouraged students to ask specific questions about evolution, such as why transitional forms were lacking in the fossil record.  The new move is somewhat of a compromise between groups like the National Center for Science Education that wanted no warnings, and the
Christian Coalition and the Eagle Forum who were concerned the board might drop the warnings entirely.  Source: Los Angeles Times.

Isn’t it bizarre that evolutionists do not want students to think?  These people are from the same mold that screamed academic freedom! to teach Marxism, anti-war sentiments and every liberal agenda in the 60s.  From their point of view, questioning Darwinism is as silly as questioning gravity, but in actuality, it’s all about power.  They want to maintain their stranglehold on educational policy relating to origins, because it is Darwinism that gives the appearance of scientific respectability to individual autonomy and moral relativism.  So they continually portray the ones wishing for academic freedom to question Darwinism as religious radicals. 
What’s so harmful about telling students that evolution is controversial and should be approached with an “open mind, studied carefully and critically considered”?  Why must the world be kept safe for Darwinism?  If anything illustrates the false facade of evolution as science, this is it.  Science is supposed to be about weighing evidence with an objective mind.  Let’s put the evidence out there and give students logical thinking skills so they can find out for themselves if evolution is credible.  If evolution has to be protected from scrutiny, it is not science.  Help your student ask questions and get straight answers: here are ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution, and if your state doesn’t provide the stickers, here are warning labels you can print and paste in yourself.
Next headline on: Schools.
Too Much Design Proves Evolution   11/09/2001
“Indeed, not the least of Darwin’s achievements was to lay the argument by design to rest,” declare two evolutionists in a paper published this week in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  But how are we to explain the bewildering complexity in the living cell?  In a dexterous turnaround, two evolutionists parry evidence for over-design into evidence for no design.  Gerald Edelman and Joseph Gally first distinguish between redundancy and degeneracy.  Engineers often use redundancy (backup systems of the same structure), but otherwise trim their design to the essentials, avoiding superfluous parts.  Degenerate systems, on the other hand (no moral connotations in this context), contain multiple different structures that accomplish similar functions: more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak. 
Edelman and Gally next establish that life is replete with examples of degeneracy: (1) There are multiple DNA codons for the same amino acid, (2) Genomes have long repetitive strands of so-called “junk DNA” and multiple genes for the same function, (3) Organisms lacking essential proteins sometimes find alternate ways to fulfill the missing ingredient’s function, (4) Antibodies that are structurally different can have the same immune effect, (5) Nervous systems are characterized by an overabundance of pathways.  They argue that degenerate systems like these are both a prerequisite for and product of natural selection, not design.  Unguided, non-directed processes of evolution would be expected to have a degenerate pool of possibilities to draw from.  Selection pressures would preserve whatever ingredients achieve better fitness. 
The authors concede this is just a tentative hypothesis, but believe that the concept of degeneracy will prove fruitful in understanding many aspects of evolution:  “In our limited experience so far, we have found that systems selected for high degeneracy with respect to any given set of outputs also show high complexity.  Although a general functional dependence of degeneracy on complexity has not yet been formally derived, it is an interesting conjecture [emphasis added] that the two properties go hand in hand.”
PNAS should have a separate category for “interesting conjecture” papers to segregate them from real scientific papers.  These authors think they have hit on something new, but there are several reasons their speculation won’t work.  First, the number of useful combinations of anything is just a tiny fraction of the sea of possibilities.  We reported September 6 that biochemists are looking for a needle in thousands of haystacks when trying to identify useful polypeptides among all the possible combinations of amino acids.  What advantage would a cell have in carrying around quintillions of useless structures for the one or two that might do the trick?  Wouldn’t natural selection select these away as dead weight? 
Furthermore, many cellular structures are irreducibly complex and must have been completely functional from the beginning, before natural selection could be considered.  Also, this provides no help for the chirality problem, the origin of handedness in biomolecules, again preceding natural selection. 
The authors try to replace an engineering god with a tinkering god, but they second-guess what a designer would do.  True, organisms maintain a plethora of alternatives, but these are not random; they work together in a variety of effective ways.  A better explanation is that the Creator built a high level of adaptability into the system to cope with changing environments.  Animals migrate into forests and deserts, and have to survive winter and summer, wet and dry, high and low, and a host of other challenges. 
Evolutionists cannot just knock over a human engineering model of design like a straw man and think they have disproved a Designer.  The authors of this paper claim that Darwin disproved the argument from design, but then stare incredible design in the face and claim it proves Darwin right.  It’s ironic that they use Poe’s Purloined Letter as a symbol of something right under your nose that you can’t see.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Early Man Developed Bone Tools 30,000 Years Earlier Than Expected   11/08/2001
Specialized bone tools found at Blombos Cave in South Africa are estimated at 70,000 years old, at least 20,000 and maybe 30,000 years older than previous theories suggested, according to
National Geographic.  Scientists used to think bone tool-making did not achieve prominence until about 35,000 years ago, primarily in Europe, but the new finds are causing them to reassess their theories.  One paleoanthropologist said, “I think that when we start to get a big sample, the picture of modern human evolution is going to look very different.”
Evolutionary just-so stories about early man are as entertaining as the weather in South Dakota: if you don’t like it, wait five minutes.
Next headline on: Early Man.
Early Cambrian Animals Are Evolutionary Experiments (Maybe)    11/08/2001
On the one hand, early Cambrian multicellular organisms might have been evolutionary experiments, says
EurekAlert.  But on the other hand, they might have just reflected a strange environment with microbial mats all over the seafloor, claims David Bottjer of the University of California: “So we are suggesting a different evolutionary explanation than what has been offered before, and, in that sense, are breaking from tradition.”  The article concludes, “This discovery provides a piece for the ongoing puzzle work of understanding how animal life first evolved on Earth.”
*Sigh*.  In a game where only naturalistic explanations are allowed, you get two choices: dumb and dumber.
Next dumb story.
BBC Releases Walking With Beasts   11/08/2001
The sequel to Walking With Dinosaurs, BBC’s new six-part docudrama
Walking With Beasts covers the period after the extinction of the dinosaurs.  Smarting from criticism that the prequel blurred the distinction between fact and guesswork, the creators were spurred to double-check their research.
There are limits to how much you can know from bones.  Even comparing with known animals, there are details that can never be known, even if a prehistoric animal were to be hatched in a lab like in Jurassic Park.  Concern for detail is admirable, but won’t fix the major problem: a slavish commitment to Darwinism and evolutionary time scales.  Enjoy the series as entertainment, not history.
Update 12/03/2001: Answers in Genesis posted a review of Walking with Beasts, claiming it is virtually fact-free and perpetuates myths about creatures like Ambulocetis and Lucy that have long been debunked.
Next headline on: Movies.
Nose Speaks an Odor Language   11/07/2001
The nose knows, but how does the brain understand the signals it sends?  Researchers at the
Howard Hughes Medical Institute have mapped the olfactory nerves to the brain and found a surprise.  Wondering how just 1000 nerves could respond to 10,000 odors, they discovered that the receptors combine their signals into a kind of language to vastly multiply the possible messages to the brain.  So “instead of dedicating an individual odor receptor to a specific odor, the olfactory system uses an ‘alphabet’ of receptors to create a specific smell response within the neurons of the brain.”  The paper is published in the Nov 8 Nature.
The sense of smell has been one of the least understood of the senses, and now it just got tremendously more complex.  Sorry, evolutionists; it must be tough these days.
Next headline on: Human Body. • Next amazing story.
Fossil Cockroach Found in Exquisite Detail   11/07/2001
Paleontologists have found the largest fossil cockroach ever (3.5 inches long) in a coal mine in Ohio (click this
Ohio State press release for details and pictures).  The fossil shows fine details, even veins in the insect’s wings.  The fossil is alleged to be 300 million years old.
The fossil roach is similar to living roaches, only larger.  It is alleged to be basically unchanged for 300 million years, during which time the dinosaurs arose, evolved for 180 million years, went extinct, and mammals arose and diversified into their many forms.  Ask yourself whether it is reasonable to (1) believe roaches didn’t evolve for 300 million years, or (2) question the credibility of evolutionary stories.
Next headline on: Bugs. • Next headline on: Fossils.
Why the Chinese Didn’t Develop Geology   11/07/2001
The
Geological Society of America thinks that the reason the Chinese never developed a science of geology is apparent in their art.  Chinese landscapes lack perspective and shadow, and according to Gary Rosenberg of the University Indiana, this reflects their Taoist worldview.  The lack of interest in a geometric characterization of space reflected their priority to experience the “void beyond time and space, the source of primal energy,” in contrast to Western European artists who “were obsessed with geometric perspective because it manifested the existence of God in Nature . . . Western geometric space also visually facilitated an understanding of the continuity of spatial relationships that was vital to geology and which the Chinese perspective of resonance obscured.”
The world view of a religion or philosophy is intimately tied to the development of all the sciences (see our explanation in the introduction to The World’s Greatest Creation Scientists or this paper by Michael Bumbulis).  It’s ironic that the GSA here acknowledges the Christian world view in the development of their own science–geology–yet takes a dogmatic anti-creation pro-evolution position, avidly pushing the slanted PBS Evolution materials, fighting creationism, and even writing a letter to Congress protesting a proposal to discourage teaching evolution with dogmatism.
Next headline on: Geology. • Next headline on: Politics.
Life Depends on Water Dance   11/07/2001
“Water shows surprising behavior at molecular level,” declares a headline from
EurekAlert.  Researchers at the University of Maine have found that water molecules are able to enter tiny carbon nanotubes in single file, in short bursts.  They were studying how water reacts in the open and in pores when they discovered that “water acts in unexpected ways.  The causes, they suggest, are fluctuations in density and a kind of naturally occurring molecular dance that happens between the hydrogen bonded water molecules in bulk water and in pores.”  The behavior of water, still mysterious in many ways, directly affects many biological functions, such as the passage of nutrients in and out of tiny pores in membranes.  The paper is published in the November 8 issue of Nature.
If scientists are still trying to figure out water, one of the simplest molecules, available for study right under their noses, how can they make dogmatic claims about what supposedly happened during the Big Bang billions of years ago under conditions not reproducible in the laboratory?  Water is an amazing substance absolutely crucial to life in countless ways.  How something so “simple” as water, composed of just two elements and three molecules, can baffle scientists for centuries should teach us a lesson about how little we really know.
Next headline on: Physics.
Sweat for Your Protection   11/05/2001
Maybe you should return that antiperspirant; scientists have found a disinfectant in human sweat.  According to
Scientific American, a protein named Dermcidin is remarkably effective against several bacterial and fungal pathogens.  This protein bears no resemblance to two other known antiseptic proteins secreted in other parts of the skin.  It is secreted in the sweat glands and then dispersed onto the skin surface.
Another front-line defense against disease is thus revealed.  You are actually sweating all the time, but only profusely when hot or active.  There’s a reason for everything; scientists keep finding more and more confirmations of Psalm 139:14– we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Next headline on: Human Body.
Are Men Going Extinct?   11/01/2001
That’s what the British Medical Journal is asking, according to
EurekAlert.  “With the advent of sperm banks, in vitro fertilisation, sex sorting techniques, human cloning, and same sex marriages, it is reasonable to wonder about the future role of men in society,” say the authors.  They are concerned that men may have nothing more to do than engage in their favorite antisocial activities and destructive lifestyles.  “There is an urgent need to advertise and promote men’s health in a positive way, stress the authors.  They hope that initiatives such as the first World Congress on Men’s Health and Men’s World Health Day on 3 November 2001 will act as strong platforms to support long-term strategic and innovative research on men’s health.”
When men are treated in Darwinian terms as mere sperm donors, what do you expect?  Maybe women are evolving to be self-contained hermaphrodites.  Hug a man this Saturday and help him not feel so superfluous.  Especially after he’s just rescued women and children from a burning skyscraper.
(Don’t despair, guys; Peggy Noonan still loves you.)
Next headline on: Health. • Next dumb story.
Placental Mammals Age 20 Million Years   11/01/2001
“When it comes to the origins of placental mammals, fossils and DNA rarely see eye to eye,” begins a ScienceNow report on
Academic Press Daily InScight.  For placental mammals, paleontologists argue they began 65 million years ago, but molecular biologists argue for 100 million years based on evidence from assumed DNA mutation rates.  Now, paleontologists from San Diego State have now found chipmunk-size fossils in Uzbekistan that appear to be placental mammals which they estimate are 85 million years old, bringing the disagreeing data a little closer together.
See the quote by Keith Wanser at the top right of this page.
Next headline on: Mammals. • Next headline on: Fossils.
Review: National Geographic November 2001
Geographica describes new 35,000 year old cave art discoveries in Italy that parallel those in Chauvet, France.  Those were assumed twice as old but are just as ornate as those from Lascaux.  Also highlighted is a new dinosaur graveyard in China.  The feature evolutionary story, complete with ample artwork to fill in the gaps, is the article on evolution of whales.  Readers are encouraged to read the alternate opinions on the Discovery Institute and Answers in Genesis websites to find out why what NG is claiming is not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.