Top Science Stories of 2001 Listed 12/29/2001
Science News has catalogued what it considers the top
science news of the year in the areas of Anthropology and Archaeology, Astronomy, Behavior,
Biomedicine, Botany and Zoology, Cell and Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science,
Environment and Ecology, Food Science and Nutrition, Mathematics and Computers,
Paleobiology, Physics, and Technology.
These always make for a fascinating year-end review. There are too many
stories to list here, but it can be noted that most of the stories
(many of which were reported in Creation-Evolution Headlines) seem to fall
into two categories: those that are repeatable and verifiable and have practical benefits,
and useless speculations about the past that could never be verified. Most evolutionary
stories fall into the latter category. It is hard to find any value in hypothesizing which
organism was the common ancestor of flowering plants, or which skull fragment fits into one
teams concept of human evolution, or whether a hypothetical parallel universe smashed
into ours and ignited the big bang. Deciphering the human genome, or
finding proteins implicated in cancer, or monitoring hurricane or sunspot activity, however,
are examples of scientific studies that do impact our lives. A browse through the list in
Science News Vol 160, No. 26 reveals a broad gray area between these extremes.
Perhaps many of the claims made in 2001 are ripe to be reversed by new findings in 2002.
Evolutionists Tend to Exaggerate 12/27/2001
Biological Proceedings of the Royal
Relationships fade with time: a meta-analysis of temporal trends
in publication in ecology and evolution, a study was made of
publication bias in scientific papers about evolution and ecology.
claim to have found evidence that big effects on small populations
tend to get published quicker, but the alleged effects fade with time.
Publishers tend to bypass studies on large populations or studies that
show smaller effects. This can distort the resulting theories
or popular beliefs about them.
In conclusion, publication bias, whatever the underlying
cause, appears to be a problem in biology because both
year of publication and sample size are correlated with
effect size. This raises questions about the validity of
drawing general conclusions from the biological literature,
using formal meta-analysis or traditional narrative reviews. ...
Publication bias is therefore a general problem, which is apparently
not unique to strongly hypothesis-driven science.
Weve been showing over and over
in Creation-Evolution Headlines how evolutionists announce
dramatic evidence for evolution in bold headlines that are overturned
in fine print later. This paper is an interesting look at the
sources of bias
in scientific publishing (which we were taught was objective, neutral,
and self-checking). Yes, even scientists and their publishers
are gullible for fads, bandwagons, and bravado, especially in a
hypothesis-driven subject like evolution. Read this
paper first before others in the same issue of the Proceedings
about the evolution of peacock tails, vertebrate teeth, pheasant wattles,
cabbages, kings, or anything else. (See also next headline.)
Six Methods for Estimating Evolutionary Ancestors Dont Work 12/27/2001
In a study discouraging to evolutionists,
A. J. Webster and Andy Purvis applied six common methods for
estimating the traits of evolutionary ancestors to populations
of foraminifera, and found that they all failed. Writing
Biological Proceedings of the
Royal Society, Testing the accuracy of methods for reconstructing
ancestral states of continuous characters, they also admitted
that the morphological
and genetic lineages are not compatible. They undertook
the study because Many methods are available for estimating
ancestral values of continuous characteristics, but little is
known about how well these methods perform.
Unfortunately, No method produced accurate estimates for
any variable: estimates were consistently less good as predictors
of the observed values than were the averages of the observed
values. The authors studied continuous characteristics:
those traits assumed to vary gradually over time instead of in spurts.
Their study was the largest to date of its
kind, but overall accuracy [of the methods] was less than zero.
(I.e., the methods did not correlate at all with the observations.)
The authors conclude that the evolutionary relationships between
the subjects studied are too complex and too little understood to allow any
method to infer the ancestral appearance of organisms from their
descendents: These problemslineage identification, data error and
phylogenetic uncertaintyare inevitable for any study that
aims to compare estimates of ancestral traits based on
descendants with estimates based on measurement of
putative ancestors themselves. Further studies on groups
with adequate fossil records are needed in order to determine
the generality of the results found in this study and
the robustness of the conclusions they suggest.
Take heed, perceptive reader: these
authors tested evolutionary storytelling and found it to be no better
than dreams or lies! The storytelling methods have fancy names:
unweighted squared-change parsimony, two-parameter maximum
likelihood model and so forth, but they were worse than nothing
they showed no correlation whatsoever when used on living and
fossil shellfish that have the best fossil record of all. So
how can they possibly describe the alleged common ancestor of
apes and humans, or the common ancestor of whales and hippos, or the
common ancestor of anything, especially when the fossil
evidence is much weaker ? They cant, and these
scientists demonstrated it. Evolution is a game for storytellers
who cannot connect their stories to observational evidence.
Why dont papers like this make it into the mainstream media, the
Discovery Channel, and PBS? Why arent we told the truth
about the disagreements between genetic and morphological evidence?
Instead, we are treated to imaginary computer-generated make-believe animals
that supposedly evolved into todays zoo, with confident-sounding
narration about how and when they evolved. This paper is a
damaging admission. It provides ammunition for creationists who
would claim that evolutionary storytelling is pure mythology.
For another example, see the next headline below .
Bee Societies Evolved Repeatedly Without Intermediates 12/26/2001
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Next headline on: Fossils.
A paper by Bryan Danforth of Cornell in the
the National Academy of Sciences investigates the origin of social
behavior in insects, primarily bees. Danforth compares phylogenies
(evolutionary family trees) based on gene sequences with the observed
social behavior of halictid bees (which have more diverse social
behaviors than ants, termites and corbiculate bees, such as honeybees,
that show advanced social structure from the beginning).
He concludes that social behavior likely
had few origins but multiple reversals back to solitary nesting.
The most striking finding, he says, is the lack of correspondence of the
phylogeny with the complexity of the societies. Some species, for
instance, have huge colonies right off the bat with no intermediate
stages of social complexity, and Likewise, the magnitude of queen/worker
dimorphism [body difference] also shows no clear phylogenetic
pattern .... The pattern of social evolution is one of increased and
decreased social complexity independent of the phylogeny
This paper demonstrates that theories
about the evolution of social behavior are contrived.
What is the observational evidence? Only that
different species of bees have widely different amounts of social
behavior and dimorphism within their colonies. Fitting these
observations into assumed family trees is based on the prior assumption
of evolution, not the evidence. Although he believes eusociality
evolved somehow, Danforth admits that the
family trees and the observed social behaviors appear to have little to
do with each other. So why even claim it evolved? See one
frustration with the pressure to force-fit observations into Darwinian
tales in our 12/21 headline.
Kepler Spacecraft Approved to Search for Earthlike Planets 12/26/2001
Bee social behavior is an amazing phenomenon that defies
Darwinian explanation. For good visuals and explanations of the
complex relationships, roles and communications of bees, see the
Moody Science film Wonders
of Gods Creation, part 2, Animal Kingdom.
Next headline on: Bugs.
Next headline on: Darwinism.
About 80 planets around other stars have been discovered to date
(indirectly by their gravitational tugs on the stars), but almost
all these have been giants in the Jupiter-size class.
has just approved a new mission for launch in 2006 that will include
a specially-designed telescope targeting earth-size planets.
Although unable to image such small planets directly, the telescope
will hunt through the light of thousands of stars simultaneously,
looking for extremely faint changes in brightness caused by the
passage of a planet across the face of a star (a transit).
The mission is named after
Johannes Kepler, the 17th century
astronomer who discovered the laws of planetary motion, and who
speculated whether life exists in outer space.
biography of Kepler on
The Worlds Greatest Creation Scientists.
Although Kepler would have enjoyed such a search, he would not have
believed life could evolve on a planet. He was a firm believer
in the Creator God as revealed in the Scriptures.
Dawn Mission Approved to Study Evolution of Solar System by Observing Asteroids 12/26/2001
Next headline on: Solar System.
Next headline on: Stars.
Another Discovery mission approved by
Dawn. It will orbit
the asteroids Ceres and Vesta to look for clues to the early
evolution of the Solar System. Scheduled for 2006 launch, it will
take nine years to arrive at its targets, using an ion-drive engine.
home page uses the word evolution eight times in as many
paragraphs. But it
also says Dawn has the potential for making many paradigm-shifting
discoveries. Maybe one of those will be that evolution
Butterfly Author Launches Tirade Against Darwinian Establishment 12/21/2001
Next headline on: Solar System.
William Dembski found a coffee-table book on butterflies, loaded
with pretty pictures, that has a surprising introduction: an angry
description of the Darwinian scientific establishment, which the
author describes as a global pseudo-scientific cultism
and totalitarian absolutism of unproveable dogma
among other sizzling epithets. In his book review posted on the
Intl. Society for Complexity, Intelligence and Design website (see our
Dec 12 headline), Dembski describes
Bernard dAbreras new
2001 Concise Atlas of Butterflies of the World
(available for order online at
at a discount till January 1),
to be an otherwise standard taxonomy book with some of the most stunning
pictures of butterflies he has ever seen, by one of the worlds
best renowned lepidopterists from the British Museum of Natural History.
The authors apparent public call to allow informed dissent of Darwinism in
the introduction was a surprise; Dembski portrays dAbrera as a
victim of a suffocating ideology whose purveyors are bullies,
and a man who has seen himself, his colleagues, and their work pushed
around long enough and will not stand for it any longer.
Dembski includes some choice quotes
from dAbreras fire-breathing introduction ... quite
revealing! The review is short; read it.
Science Lists Breakthroughs of the Year 12/21/2001
Next headline on: Bugs.
Next headline on: Darwinism.
Nanotechnology is top on its list, but several stories referenced
in Creation-Evolution Headlines were voted as runners-up in
Magazines most significant science breakthroughs
- RNA Molecules have become increasingly
recognized for their versatility of functions in the cell.
There is a whole new class of regulators made up of short pieces
of RNA, and some RNA molecules have enzymatic activity.
- The solar neutrino mystery has
apparently been solved.
- Neurons use signals to guide their
growing tips to the correct junction.
The RNA story is pretty amazing; look
at the picture of the enzyme for an idea of the complexity of enzymes.
Keep in mind this is a simplification: each helix is composed of
left-handed amino acids that twist in this way, and the whole complex
is intricately folded into a precise
shape for the function it must perform. The magazines
statement that RNA could have preceded DNA in the earliest
life-forms is just whistling in the dark.
New Method for Studying Evolution Found 12/20/2001
The neutrino story was convincing enough for
creation writer Dr. Walter Brown to retract the solar neutrino deficit
as evidence for a shrinking sun in his detailed book,
In the Beginning,
but this has no impact on evidence for creation or the age of the earth.
The latest edition of the entire book is online at creationscience.com.
Stanford press release
begins: Evolutionary biology has always faced a major
hurdle - how to test a process that takes place over thousands, if not
millions, of years. Researchers at Stanford University may have
come up with a solution. And what is it? Studying
stickleback fish. David Kingsley wanted two populations that had diverged
recently yet could still cross-breed, so he could map their genetics
and determine whether evolution occurs through small or large jumps.
In a paper in
this week, he begins by saying, The genetic and molecular basis
of morphological evolution is poorly understood, particularly in
vertebrates. Then he
proposes the stickleback as a good field-testing candidate,
Dr. Kingsley, they are just fish.
They are just stickleback fish. The size and color of scales and
fins signifies nothing. Call me back when you evolve them
Article 12/20/2001: In the latest
magazine (Dec 2001),
Carl Wieland in an article entitled
Fouling the Nest: Christianity and the Environment
discusses the complex issues of global warming, species preservation,
animal rights, and more aspects of environmentalism, seeking to strike
a balanced Christian perspective.
Did you catch the admission that after all these
years they still dont understand the mechanism of evolution?
It shouldnt take millions of years to figure it out; theyve been
breeding thousands of generations of fruit flies and bacteria in the
lab for decades (with no new kind of organism coming out of the
test tube). If evolution is supposed to be such a universal life
principle, the same mechanism should work for vertebrates.
This paper sounds like another empty promise.
Darwin did his wishful thinking in 1859, and here we are in 2001
with evolution still poorly understood (but you students had better
Next headline on: Darwinism.
Next headline on: Fish.
The next day, Nature
Science Update posted an article on the enigma of mans impact on
the environment. Despite what the news reports, and what the
United Nations leaders decide, its not so clear cut what is
happening: Environmental even keel or global crisis - no one knows.
Next headline on: Politics.
Christmas Star an Astrology Cover-Up? 12/20/2001
Michael Molnar, an American astronomer, thinks early Christians
covered up the astrological roots of the Christmas star story
because it seemed pagan, reports
based on a story in New Scientist. He
bases his conspiracy theory on a fourth-century manuscript by a
converted Roman astrologer named Firmicus Maternus, who describes
a double eclipse of Jupiter in 6 BC as a sign of the birth of a
great king. Molnar believes Maternus did not mention Jesus
name for fear of angering Christian leaders at a time when they
despised pagan beliefs.
Conspiracy theories make for good
press, but this is one is pretty weak. Matthew was much closer to
the events than Maternus, and walked with Jesus for three years as
a disciple; why shouldns
his clear account, written within a
few decades, be given more credence than a veiled reference
by an obscure astrologer hundreds of years after the events took
Wonders of the Water Gate 12/20/2001
Besides, it is not improbable that
the Magi, living in a culture that accepted astrology as a given,
would have been products of their time to some degree. Seeing an
unusual star (possibly foretold by the
prophet Daniel), they could have
come without completely understanding the significance of the
Christ child. If even the disciples following Jesus around for
three years did not grasp the nature of His kingdom, we cannot expect
the Magi to have fully understood what He would do, as they presented
to Him their royal gifts. But they rejoiced with exceeding
great joy when they saw the star, having at least a profound sense
that something momentous was happening. Matthews description
does not fit a conjunction, comet, supernova, meteor, or any other
known natural phenomenon, though planetarium directors this time of
year like to speculate. It was a one-time sign from God.
The Star of Bethlehem in no way promotes
astrology; pagans were looking at the stars anyway, so the Creator of the
stars upset their expectations by giving them a star like no other,
that moved and stood over where the child lay, as if to say, You
want a sign? Heres a sign my beloved Son: learn
from Him! God led them from natural revelation (the star)
to special revelation: messages from angels and the sight of His own
Son. This is the message of the gospel, leading people of all
nations from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God
For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be
to all people; for unto is born this day in the city of David a
Savior, who is Christ, the Lord (Luke 2).
Next headline on: The Bible.
The Dec. 20 issue of
has a detailed description, with diagrams, of one of the
water gates inside you (and all living things): AQP1, one of the aquaporins,
the superfamily of complex proteins in cell membranes that transport water
into the cell interior. There are ten families of
these water channels. In this paper, Berkeley scientists
achieve the highest yet resolution (2.2 Angstroms) of the
structure of AQP1, and show it to be a highly-organized, specifically
shaped and sized pore with inner and outer vestibules, between which
is a constriction region with a selectivity filter that
lets water in but not anything else.
The complexity of life continues to
boggle the mind. Although this paper is difficult for laymen
to read because of the technical jargon, the gist of it is clear:
AQP1 is an elaborately designed security gate. Nebuchadnezzar
or the Pentagon never had anything so marvelous. You would
think water transport into a cell would be simple, that it might
just leak across by osmosis, but no! The cell has to carefully
regulate how much water comes in or goes out, and has to regulate
every other substance salts, ions, nutrients very
carefully, usually against the concentration gradient (i.e.,
contrary to what would happen naturally, by osmosis). This is
called active transport. A cell
has to be able to take in scarce water while its surroundings are
drying up. How? This article opens a window into the
answer, and it is wondrous.
Horses Vestigial Muscles Are Really Dampers 12/20/2001
It can best be approximated by
analogies: think of an automated turnstile that whisks you through
the eye of the needle if you pass authentication, but blows
you away if you are an alien. Think of a multi-tier security
check that reads your badge electronically at Stage 1 then checks
your fingerprint at Stage 2, then transports you through an
isolation gate so narrow you have to inhale as you pass single file.
Think of a club with an outer bouncer that wont even let you near
the door if you dont belong, but grabs your hand and pulls
you in if you are a member. Think of all these systems, yet
completely automated, and you start to get a picture of AQP1.
To be able to do all this, AQP1 has to be composed of
thousands of atoms, composing hundreds of amino acids, all left handed and
precisely ordered; even the substitution of a single amino acid
at the selectivity filter would alter the security checks
and let aliens in. (The authors describe another channel in
bacteria that, with a difference of one or two elements, allows
glycerol through.) The channel is composed of four complex
proteins arranged into a tight ring through which the security pore
passes from interior to exterior of the cell. These water gates
are highly conserved (i.e., unchanged) in all living things
from bacteria to people, showing no variation from simple to complex;
it is complex from the very beginning.
We spend a little time on this little marvel just
to remind readers of the wonders of Gods creation being
revealed by modern biochemistry, and to emphasize the difficulty
evolution has explaining this kind of design.
The argument for design in the cell has a one-two punch: irreducible
complexity (multiple parts must simultaneously be present or there
is no function), and (2) the sheer magnitude of the design.
This water gate AQP1
is one of the simpler structures in the cell, yet look at
the level of complexity even here. And each other molecule the
cell must transport in or out has its own elaborate gate as well, some
more sophisticated than this one. This alone should blow evolution
out of the water, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other
examples here in the most simple, basic unit of life, the cell.
Its as if God did
overkill on the message design demands a Designer, just
when modern science needs to hear it most.
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry.
Next amazing story (see also next headline).
Horses and camels have tiny muscles in their legs, as short as 6mm, attached
to very long tendons (almost as long as the leg itself). Evolutionists
have thought these muscles must be vestigial; i.e., useless leftovers from
earlier ancestors. But now, writing in
M. Wilson and colleagues think theres a reason for these
unusual muscles. Modeling the forces and tensions and vibrations involved
in galloping, the researchers demonstrate that the muscles serve as dampers,
to reduce damage to bones and
tissues from vibrations caused by the foot striking the ground.
A laymans summary of the paper was added December 21 on
Update and is well worth reading.
It explains that tendons are like elastic springs, giving
the horsess legs the bounce of a pogo stick. But the 93% recoil
of the tendons
causes a problem: Spring heels are all very well,
but they could shake horses and other runners, such as camels,
The small muscles, being more squashy, act like rubber
washers to damp out the otherwise damaging vibrations. As it is,
racehorses run at their limits. Fatigue damage is a leading cause
of injury, and the spring system can fail in as little as 10,000
strides when galloping. Without the muscle fibres, this rate
would be even worse. The summary also explains that
These fibres may be costly to develop and maintain but they are
ideally suited to absorbing the shockwaves that accompany each
stride. They are not mere evolutionary vestiges, as some had
The argument for evolution based on
organs has been dying a slow death for a long time. Evolutionists
sometimes accuse creationists of taking the lazy way out, failing to
explain something by giving up and saying, God did it.
But in the sorry history of vestigial organ theory, isnt the
shoe on the other foot? Instead of finding the function of an
unknown organ, evolutionists have tended to give up and say, Its
just an evolutionary leftover. A belief
in creation, on the other hand, has often been the
stimulus for outstanding scientific research,
because of the conviction that nature is
intelligible, follows intelligently-formulated laws, and possesses
an underlying plan and design that can be discovered and utilized.
How Sweet the Meteorites 12/19/2001
For Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week,
lets enter this line from the Nature Science Update article:
Why use muscle as the damping material, when practically any
squashy material would do? One answer is that muscle just happens to
be available - evolution didnt equip horses with rubber
washers. No, Henry, the infinite-personal Creator gave them
something far more wonderful: self-healing, self-regenerating, living
dampers, filled with DNA code and molecular machines.
In our day of cars and freeways, we should still
consider the marvel of the horse and camel. For thousands of years,
these sturdy animals have been the staple of the human economy.
As mounted police and rescue workers know, they still have superiority
over man-made vehicles in many situations (plus, they can live off the
land and dont pollute). Horses are sleek,
handsome, versatile, lovable animals, and now we find they are equipped
with hi-tech shock absorbers, too. Get a horse.
Next headline on: Mammals.
Next headline on: Darwinism.
Analysis of two meteorites that fell in 1950 and 1969 has yielded
sugars thought to be extraterrestrial in origin, according to
The NASA-Ames crew believes they have ruled out terrestrial contamination.
This adds to the earlier finding of amino acids,
the building blocks of proteins, in some meteorites.
National Geographic titles the
story Building Blocks of Life Found in Two Meteorites
and states, Some
scientists have speculated that material from meteors may have
provided some starting material for early life forms, possibly even
jump-starting the origin of life itself. Nature
describes these extraterrestrial compounds well along the road
to primitive life.
That phrase building blocks of life,
common in popular astrobiology, is so misleading. It assumes
life is nothing more than chemicals, and suggests that chemical evolution
is becoming well understood. Nothing could
be further from the truth. The origin of life is one of the most
vexing problems facing naturalistic philosophy today, because of the
extreme complexity of all living system (even the simplest), and
the presence of molecular machines and motors
inhabiting all of life (to say nothing of the complex DNA code that necessarily
is even more complex than the machines for which it codes). Should it
be surprising that living systems also possess simple molecules like
amino acids and sugars? Why not take a step back and call atoms
the building blocks of life?
Moving Hot Spots Undermine Plate Tectonics Beliefs 12/18/2001
Many organic compounds have been discovered in space,
because they are
probable and stable under the right conditions.
It is the arrangement of the molecules of life into
informational and functional structures that is crucial; these are
arrangements that are not predestined by their atomic valences.
Paul Davies said in The Fifth Miracle, the whole point of
the genetic code is to free life from the shackles of nonrandom
chemical bonding. Furthermore, many cellular structures are
composed of interdependent parts that could not have assembled into working
systems by gradual steps, but will not function until fully assembled.
Dr. David Rosevear
(chemist) stresses, Nothing works until everything works.
The astrobiologists building blocks of life
are no more helpful to explaining life than finding iron ore, oil, water,
and coal would be to explaining the chance origin of a factory, or the
discovery of scattered Scrabble letters would explain a Shakespeare play.
Until astrobiologists can explain the
origin of information that leads to directed function,
they will have no cause for celebrating, nor for
ending the head-scratching and hand-wringing, as Davies describes it,
over these intractable problems.
Next headline on: Origin of Life.
At the American Geophysical Union meeting this week, geologists
presented evidence that the Hawaiian hot spot has moved around.
The conventional wisdom about hot spots has been that they remain stationary
relative to moving plates. The classic example, the Hawaiian
islands, were said to form as a plate moved over a stationary
hot spot. But now, evidence from magnetic polarization in Hawaiian rocks
indicates the islands may have formed at different latitudes. This
finding casts doubt on a reference frame used to measure plate
motion, and undermines many of the accepted ideas about how the
Earths tectonic plates are moving, reports
Its also possible that we dont
know all we think we do about the earths magnetic field polarization
over time, or the influences on polarity in rocks. Either way, we
see again a difference between TV and textbook dogma and what geologists
actually find and report to each other.
Bacterial Ancestor of Man Found 12/17/2001
Next headline on: Geology.
If all the higher animals evolved from one-celled organisms, which
modern one-celled organism is the closest to the primitive ancestor?
The authors of a paper in the 12/18/01
Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences think they have a candidate: choanoflagellates.
They found a molecule called receptor tyrosine kinase in one of these
bacteria that had never before been seen in single-celled organisms.
According to one of the authors, this is important because it
implies that the choanoflagellates had evolved some of the machinery
necessary to interact with one another like animal cells. ... In general,
these discoveries have made us confident that weve picked the
right organism to understand what happened on the eve of animal
evolution. Thus, we believe we can discover in this organism
more elements of the genetic toolkit that was first used to build
Sources: EurekAlert and
Now whoa there. Bacterial cells and
human cells have a lot of common counterparts; why pick out this one
and call it evidence of ancestry? And tell us how bacteria
engineered a toolkit without intelligence or consciousness, and how,
without intelligence or consciousness, bacteria could use a toolkit to
build anything, even if the toolkit was handed to them,
unless the DNA instructions were already present to direct the
process. Natural selection cant build anything, and
mutations are not a engineering substitute. The receptor tyrosine
kinase and the flagellum motors these organisms possess are irreducibly
complex structures that could not self-organize
in any conceivable cosmic time frame, so how does this paper present
any credible case for evolution? Its an argument only a
believer could love.
Placental Mammals Family Tree Redrawn Again 12/17/2001
Next headline on: Darwinism.
Three evolutionists writing in
Now) claim placental mammals arose in Africa, not a northern landmass,
then diversified into four major groups. They used a 250-year old
logic technique called
Bayesian inference, that seeks to deduce the likeliness
a model is correct based on identifying the variables involved, and
observing the models response to new information. The authors
devalue the role of molecular phylogeny (inferring evolution from
animal genomes) with this approach. Their model puts rabbits in
the same group with people, elephants with aardvarks, and carnivores
with whales and horses. Their theory is getting mixed reviews from
other evolutionists. One likes the grouping, but considers their idea
of the timing of mammalian divergences completely unreasonable.
For another recent article on Bayesian inference applied to
evolutionary theory, see this 12/20 story on Uppsala University at
Bayesian inference can only be useful if you
identify all the variables and define all their possible values.
Its the old garbage in, garbage out problem.
When they rule out design from the get-go, and define only evolutionary
values to the variables, they are inbreeding flawed ideas and producing a
retarded theory. The apparent logic is just bluff for more circular
reasoning: the assumption of evolution is used to prove evolution.
This paper is another volley in the ongoing fight between the
molecular phylogenists and the morphologists, an amusing but worthless
controversy if evolution isnt true. See our important
Oct 22 headline on the confused
state of evolutionary family trees.
Geophysicist Proposes Multiple Edens 12/17/2001
Next headline on: Mammals.
Next headline on: Darwinism.
According to Stanford geophysicist
earths garden of Eden was not interrupted by sin, but by
asteroid impacts. In the opening presentation to the
American Geophysical Union
Friday 12/14, Sleep presented his theory that life repeatedly evolved and
diversified after periodic impacts. These impacts either sterilized the
earth or allowed only thermophiles (bacteria able to live in
hot conditions) to survive in the Goldilocks Zone,
regions between the burnt surface and the molten interior.
He bases his theory on two lines of evidence; (1) two of the
three major branches of life have primitive thermophiles (presumably
the common ancestors of their respective branches), and (2)
geophysicists believe there were less than 20 large asteroid
impacts between the formation of our moon and the first fossil
evidence of life, with gaps of hundreds of millions of years in
between. In addition, Sleep thinks some of the impacts
could have blasted microbes to Mars (at the time a more congenial
water-filled environment), which might have acted as a
nursery for earths life until it was blasted back to earth again
by meteors hitting Mars. This report was posted on
The only evidence he supplies is
evolution, so the whole theory is
circular reasoning. It is incredible
what tall tales evolutionists are allowed to weave in the
media and to each other at their scientific meetings.
Now, instead of asking us to believe one highly improbable, incredibly
unlikely miracle, we are asked to believe in multiple
miracles, up to twenty recurrences of the origin of complex life,
with a couple of bonus miracles thrown in, that life survived trips
to Mars and back. Did it really happen? So far there
is no direct evidence of life on other planets or asteroids, although
it is becoming clear that conditions exist, at least on Mars and
Europa one of Jupiters inner moons where microbes
that life comfortably in Earths harsher climates would have felt
at home, writes the author of the story, science writing intern
Etienne Benson, echoing a common astrobiology
Would there were science writing interns bold
enough to ask hard questions and not take this kind of guff as science.
Plant Kingdom Tree of Life Closer to Solution? 12/14/2001
See also last years similar tall
Next headline on: Origin of Life.
Next dumb story.
Some 470 million years ago, the first land plants emerged from
prehistoric waters, put down roots in soil and ended up ruling the
plant world. But scientists havent been certain about the
family history of those pioneer plants, begins the press
release from the
Science Foundation. With funding by the NSF, researchers
at the University of Maryland sequenced genes from 40 different
algae and landed on Charales, a branching alga that reproduces
sexually, is the closest living relative. What used to be
a very short story - land plants evolved from aquatic algae - just became
a much more interesting narrative, said an NSF representative.
More of the same, like we relayed on
begging the question,
assuming evolution in spite of evidence, and wild extrapolation.
The admissions in the story are more important than the alleged
evidence: Science has long believed that land plants are
derived from primeval algae that became adapted to live on land,
but we werent sure exactly how this happened, or
which living algae
were most closely related to land plants. ...
Its an important part of the Tree of
Life that has been unresolved (emphasis added), in spite
of 142 years since Darwin; ...their common ancestor has been
extinct for even longer and hasnt been identified in the fossil
record. So when they say, Our data confirm that
land plants and the Charales both evolved from a common ancestor...
theyre just bluffing in the dark. Ironic that they
capitalize Tree of Life,
to which was blocked because of disobedience.
Cells Squeeze Out Their Dead 12/13/2001
Next headline on: Plants.
Cells die, and if left in place in tissues, they would shrivel, rot and leave a
hole. Something must be done, and the cellular machinery is
built to handle every contingency. At the American Society for Cell
Biology meeting this week, the process was described by London
Now. Early in its death throes, the dying cell sends out a
warning to neighboring cells,
who produce extra motor proteins actin and myosin. These go into action
retracting the healthy cells around it into a contractile ring, as if
saying Heave ho on cue,
squeezing the dead cell out like toothpaste, then reforming the intact
tissue. The scientists switched the proteins on and off in skin
epithelial tissue to test their hypothesis.
There are thousands of things like this
going on in our bodies that we take for granted, but are necessary.
Even cell death (apoptosis) and tissue regeneration requires the
motor vehicles we described in last weeks
headline. A cell has been likened to a city; this story takes
a look at the morgue.
African Rift Valley Mysteries Investigated 12/13/2001
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry.
Researchers from Penn
State are trying to figure out the origin of the Great Rift Valley
that runs from the Dead Sea to the southern part of the African continent.
By mapping the distribution of rare earth minerals in lavas, they hope
to shed light on the origin and evolution of the Rift Valley, which is
shrouded in mystery. They suspect a mantle plume,
unrelated to continental drift, has been rising and splitting the
continent. Their isotopic analyses suggest that plume lavas
have been erupting at Turkana for perhaps 35 million years.
The news media grant evolutionary geologists far
too much license to weave tall tales. Just two sentences
later, the article states, The African Rift Valley is a heavily
seismic area and there have been volcanic eruptions in the past 50
years. The area is actively changing, but while Furman and
Knight know that the rift north of Ethiopia is now an ocean ridge and
that the rift south of Turkana is not, they still do not know when,
where and how the change from mantle plume to mid ocean ridge
occurs. If they were not there watching it happen, and if
they dont know how it happens, and if the origin of the Rift
Valley is shrouded in mystery, how can they say when
it happened? How can they allege so confidently that Turkana had
three separate rift events, and that a mantle plume was responsible,
and that lavas have been erupting there for 35 million years?
Evolutionary geologists do not know any of these things.
Weve seen before that radioactive dates
of lavas can give wildly inaccurate results, so
whos to say that the valley could not have formed suddenly and
catastrophically in much more recent times?
Geologists gather a few pieces of a vast puzzle and try to fit them together
into a plausible story, but like we reported last
week, every geological story has anomalies and counterarguments.
Its more like watching sports than news, except theres no
referee to declare the winner.
Survival of Fittest Used to Produce Coal-Eating Bacteria 12/13/2001
Next headline on: Geology.
Scientists at Brookhaven
National Laboratory have been awarded a patent for producing
coal-purifying bacteria. By pushing survival of the
fittest to the extreme, they isolated a strain of bacteria
that can eat away impurities in fossil fuels, yielding a clean
This is not natural selection; it is
old-fashioned artificial selection, like dog breeding, to accentuate
characters through intelligent design. Using the phrase
survival of the fittest is misleading and anachronistic, as
if this supports evolutionary research. The bacteria are still
bacteria, and the capabilities were present in the original genome.
Monkey Clones Are Monsters 12/12/2001
Next headline on: Darwinism.
A high percentage of cloned monkey embryos that look healthy
are really a gallery of horrors deep within, reports
Scientist. This comment is from ACT, the company that claimed
the first cloned human embryo last month. The trauma of taking
a nucleus from another cell, or some other unknown process, causes
developing clones to go horribly awry at some point, in most cases.
Even if they get it right some day,
will that justify cloning humans? For now, even advocates should
admit it is far too risky.
New Microscope Technique Shows Cells in Action 12/12/2001
Next headline on: Politics and Ethics.
A secret new light microscope technique
has been unveiled at the American Society
for Cell Biology meeting in Washington DC this week, reports
Science Update (see also this report in
The technique achieves twice the resolving power
of existing light microscopes and is able to image fine details of living
cells without harming them. Tim Richardson and colleagues from
a hospital in Toronto could not reveal details of the method since
it has not yet been patented, but they awed participants at the conference
by showing a colorful movie set to music of
mitochondria zipping around inside the cell.
Richardson said they were not
expecting mitochondria to move, perhaps the little
powerhouses, with their
ATP synthase motors,
rush around to the sites where energy is needed.
Now wouldnt that be nice if the gas station came to you?
Existing high-resolution microscopes
damage or kill cells during the preparation, creating doubt about the
validity of the observations. Electron microscopes, for instance, can
only work on dead material. This new technique promises to
open new windows on cellular processes at work with less interference.
Richardsons movie showed mitochondria zipping across the
cell in five seconds, a surprising rate of speed that some biologists
are not yet convinced is natural or an artifact of the imaging process.
Microtubules (the intracellular railroad) were
seen to randomly branch and fuse, though undoubtedly this will
be found to be not so random as knowledge progresses. The secrecy
of this new technique makes it somewhat controversial, but we can look
forward to wonderful new motion imagery of cellular processes at work,
and can safely predict amazing new discoveries within creations
ultimate showcase of intelligent design, the cell.
Mature Muscle Stem Cells Can Make Blood 12/11/2001
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry.
Update is reporting that mature muscle cells in mice have stem
cells that can migrate to form blood cells, then come back and make
more muscle, an amazing thing, according to the University
of Pittsburgh researchers who reported to the American Society for Cell
Biology. They werent even looking for stem cells in the
muscle tissue. Helen Blau at Stanford says, It shows that
cells can go in many different directions given the right
environment. She believes the traditional view that stem
cells permanently lose their ability to produce other cell types is
changing. Others argue that research on embryonic stem cells
More and more discoveries are taking
the wind out of the sails of those who advocate tinkering with human
embryos for medical progress. This is a highly charged ethical
drama worth watching. If embryonic stem cell researchers
can no longer claim its the only way to get the totipotent cells,
will they have a case for continuing at all?
How Did Racism Evolve? 12/11/2001
Next headline on: Politics and Ethics.
Evolutionary psychologists ran experiments to see if racism is
hardwired in the human brain, and concluded it is not, says
American. While this is encouraging that racist feelings
can be overcome, it leaves the psychologists at a loss to explain
how racism evolved: Yet whereas natural selection could
conceivably favor automatic categorization according to those two factors
[sex and age], exactly how our ancestors might have benefited from
encoding race is difficult to imagine. The authors of a
paper in the
of the National Academy of Sciences, Can race be erased?,
propose that the ability to detect alliances might have provided
an evolutionary advantage on early humans.
The authors are members of the University of
California at Santa Barbara Center for Evolutionary Psychology.
Evolutionary Psychology is a reductionist pseudoscience that tries to explain any
and all human behavior in Darwinian terms. Its a form of
spin doctoring that deprives humans of any moral responsibility for their
actions. Some of the worst instances of racism in history were
rationalized by evolutionary thinking, from Nazi atrocities to the shooting
gallery game against the Tasmanians, who were viewed as expendable evolutionary misfits. Darwin himself,
and many of his followers, were racists; Darwin believed that whites by
virtue of an alleged innate superiority would
eventually eradicate non-whites. Let us put a
stop to this unscientific, immoral nonsense.
Racism results from hatred and sin, and there is a Creator
who will hold His creatures accountable for those who do not love their
neighbors as themselves. See
In Genesis for more information on Biblical vs Darwinist views on race,
and also their One Human Race
How the Bladder Stretches 12/11/2001
Next headline on: Darwinism.
The human bladder can stretch from walnut size to basketball size
in two hours; how does it do it? According to
Science Update, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh,
reporting at the American Society for Cell Biology this week,
are learning that its quite a
neat trick. For one thing, folds of tissue in the empty
bladder unfurl. But more amazing is how the inner surface of
the bladder recycles itself through a process of fusing and budding.
The scientists discovered that during stretching, vesicles in the
inner edge of cells in the bladder lining fuse together, while
those in back bud off.
Fusing and budding fine-tunes the amount of surface area to keep
the watertight seal between neighboring cells as the bladder
constantly stretches or relaxes. This process also
helps refresh cells damaged by proximity to urine toxins.
In addition, this flexible, waterproof membrane helps defend
against bacterial infection. The bladder lining is gaining
newfound respect, says Monica Liebert of the American
Even the secret organs we dont like to talk about are
pretty amazing. The bladder lining is not just like a
stretchy rubber glove; it is a complex system of cells that
continuously maintains a barrier to liquid waste and holds it in
till safe to discharge. We take it for granted until
something goes wrong, but day after day, for decades, most of us
have fully functioning equipment that allows us to drink the
supersize cola and drive a hundred miles before the alarm
goes off, which is another wonder in itself.
(If your baby grows a bladder the size of a basketball, better
get the king-size Pampers.)
Natures Perfect Snack Food: Bugs 12/11/2001
Next headline on: The Human Body.
Next amazing story.
In a story sure to gross out the teens, scientists have
determined that mealworms are good for you: Next time you
find worms in your sack of flour, try adding water, salt and oil and
cooking the mixture on a hot griddle, suggests Nature Science
Update. Doug Whitman, an entomologist at Illinois State
University, says, Anyone splitting logs for winter is going to
come across lots of big, juicy beetle grubs full of protein and
lipids. Mealworms, instead of being pests, could be viewed
as a blessing in disguise for poor
countries; the larvae are excellent sources of protein and essential
fatty acids. Volunteers found ground-up mealworms in tortillas
delicious. Entomologists have been eating chocolate-chip
mealworm cookies at conferences for years, says Chris Carlton
from Louisiana State University.
Or try out the John the Baptist diet of
locusts and wild honey; he seemed pretty healthy. Why, with the
right outlook, the next locust plague could be a bountiful harvest for
free. Keep the kid away from the stinkbugs, however.
Dark Matter Mapped 12/11/2001
Next headline on: Bugs.
A team of 30 astronomers has mapped the distribution of dark matter
surrounding 200,000 galaxies, according to a
University press release, which includes a picture of the finished map.
Of course they are not seeing the dark
matter (its dark, remember?), but they are inferring it from the
clustering of galaxies. Click the chain link below for another
recent article that complained that dark matter theory is in trouble.
Mayo Clinic Cautiously Advises Faith Is Good for Health 12/11/2001
Next headline on: Cosmology.
have an optimistic belief system that gives life meaning
and purpose in the setting of pain and suffering, those who
have a large group of supportive friends committed to their
welfare, and those who live healthier lifestyles and abuse
their bodies less often with drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes, are
bound to be healthier and recover more quickly from illness.
Who could deny that such factors are relevant to the practice
Thus concludes Harold Koenig of Duke University
Medical Center, summarizing two studies in the
Clinic Proceedings December 2001.
The first of the two studies in the December 2001
Proceedings is entitled, Religious Involvement, Spirituality,
and Medicine: Implications for Clinical Practice by Paul S.
Mueller et al. Combing the research literature on
spirituality and health, Muellers group concluded that
faith does appear to have positive health benefits, primarily through
psychosocial, behavioral, and physiological mechanisms that are
known, understood, and accepted within the field of traditional
science, according to Koenig.
The second study by Jennifer M. Aviles and colleagues is entitled
Intercessory Prayer and
Cardiovascular Disease Progression in
a Coronary Care Unit Population: A Randomized Controlled Trial,
The abstract states,
The results of 26 weeks of intercessory prayer, a widely
practiced complementary therapy, were studied in 799 patients
randomized to an intercessory prayer group or to a control group after
discharge from a coronary care unit. As delivered in this study,
intercessory prayer had no significant effect on specifically defined
medical outcomes, regardless of risk status. Commenting
on the results, Koenig admits,
The weakness of the study is that the effect explored has
no basis within the current scientific paradigm. If found to
be true, such an effect would indeed challenge our understanding
of the universe and perhaps even overturn much
scientific knowledge accumulated to date. Not only are
there scientific difficulties with such a finding, there are
also theological ones. Thus, not only would most scientists
expect a null result from such a study, but most Western
theologians would as well. Furthermore, this study
contributes almost no information to the area of research
reviewed by Mueller and colleagues (who have not included
a single intercessory prayer study among the 146
references cited in their article).
Although neither of these studies provide conclusive
empirical evidence for the effect of religion/spirituality on health,
Koenig thinks doctors should take these factors into account:
Despite the many unknowns and the need for further
research and greater understanding of these relationships,
physicians can even now begin to address the spiritual
needs of patients and yet avoid most of the dangers and
pitfalls. They can do this by taking a spiritual
assessment of the patient (understanding his or her faith background)
to allow for cooperation with the patients clergy, but must
avoid endorsing or prescribing religion for nonreligious patients
or favoring one over the other.
It is noteworthy that Koenig starts his summary
with the recognition that it was primarily Christians and religious people
who founded hospitals and advanced medical care:
Religious groups built the first hospitals
in Western civilization during the fourth century for
care of the sick unable to afford private medical care. For
the next thousand years until the Reformation and to a
lesser extent until the French Revolution, it was the religious
establishment that built hospitals, provided medical
training, and licensed physicians to practice medicine. ...
Likewise, the profession of
nursing emerged directly from religious orders that until
the early 1900s staffed the majority of hospitals both in the
United States and other Western countries.
Though the association of religion to medical practice had divided by
the late 1600s, Koenig says that,
Over the past decade, the medical community has become
increasingly interested in the possibility of bringing
down the wall that has separated religion from medicine for
more than 2 centuries. The question is how to go about
it without appearing coercive, or how to know what really works.
You cant submit the sovereign
Lord of the universe to the scientific method. Prayer is not
a vending machine. Most people know a family member that died
despite prayer, partly because God calls everyone home sooner or
later, by His own sovereign will. Even if it could be proved
prayer works, would God submit Himself to a scientific test, so
that the Mayo Clinic could be the ones to announce to the world what
the Bible already teaches? Wouldnt prayer become a bandwagon,
with every hospital patient calling up as many friends as possible
to do intercessory prayer with no regard for repentance
from sin or trust in the will of God?
Rutgers Continuing Faraday Tradition 12/11/2001
Nor is prayer some kind
of natural law or force guaranteed to work, some effect to be
discovered within a
scientific paradigm as Hoenig characterizes it.
It is a Person responding to another
persons plea. Sometimes the answer is No or
Not now; wait. You cant submit that to a double-blind
test. Jesus demonstrated instantaneous power over
death and disease, but that doesnt mean it is always Gods
will to heal everyone instantly. Sometimes healing will come
in the form of spiritual strength to
grow in wisdom in spite of suffering.
Not just any prayer is
acceptable to God, either; He will not hear the prayers of those
worshiping false gods or living in sin. How many of the prayers in this
study were directed to Allah or the spirit of the coyote? Will having
the local witch doctor dance around the bed with a rubber chicken
be effective, just because it includes faith or spirituality?
Even good prayer with the right words and directed to the true God can
come from a heart that has the wrong motives. How is a scientist
supposed to account for all these variables?
For these and other
reasons, one cannot conclude anything from the second study about
the efficacy of prayer. Pray without ceasing anyway.
Following Biblical lifestyles will not give you eternal
physical life, clearly; but in most cases, it will make your
threescore and ten more joyful and productive. Follow the chain links
on health for more recent stories on the relation of faith and health.
Read also our essay, Creation is the
reason for hope in suffering, and Jeanne Tomlinsons
online book Hope For Those Who Hurt.
Next headline on: Health.
Rutgers University has announced its
fourth annual Faraday
Christmas Childrens Lecture for December 22 on the campus,
free of charge and open to the public. Patterned after the
popular lectures given to children at Christmas time by Christian
physicist Michael Faraday in London
during the mid-1800's, the lecture is designed not just to inform
students but with an eye toward humor and exciting the imagination.
The object of the show is to emphasize the fun in science.
Demonstrations will include an exploding hydrogen balloon, a man
lying on a bed of nails and the use of a fire extinguisher to shoot
a person on roller skates across the room.
This should be great fun, but it is
doubtful Rutgers would present science from a theistic
viewpoint like Faradays. For terrific stage demonstrations
on science from a Christian perspective, contact Dean Ortner, the
renowned Million Volt Man, at
Wonders of Science.
Higgs Boson, the God Particle, Probably Doesnt Exist 12/06/2001
Next headline on: Schools.
Physicists at CERN laboratories have been poring over the data
collected at their now-dismantled LEP detector, hoping to find
evidence of the elusive Higgs boson, but have turned up empty,
Scientist. The Higgs boson is central to current theories,
begun by Peter Higgs in the 1960s, about
what gives mass to matter. Without it, physicists are at
square one. Some want to keep looking with higher
energy experiments, but prospects are not promising since most of the
best hunting grounds turned up empty. The article laments,
For physicists who have spent years trying to find the Higgs,
admitting it could be fantasy is a huge and difficult step.
But [John] Swain [Northeastern University] is ready to get over the
disappointment and move on. You search for the truth,
and the truth is whatever it is, he says.
George Johnson in the New York Times (12/04/01), in an
Research Network, asks whether particle physics is really a path to
ultimate truth or just reductionist philosophy that isnt matching
We first reported this search on November
3, 2000. For now, there is no explanation for the basic question
of why matter has mass. Did you see the word fantasy?
And you thought physics was hard
science. Sometimes the walk between Tomorrowland and
Fantasyland is just a few steps in the wrong direction.
Cellular Motor Vehicles Souped Up for Speed
Next headline on: Physics.
The awe is palpable in Susan Gilberts News and Views
entry in the Dec. 6 issue of
Cell biology: High-performance fungal motors.
Reviewing recent findings, she introduces the subject matter:
Motor proteins are tiny vehicles that move molecular cargoes around
inside cells. These minute cellular machines come in three broad
families, the kinesins, the myosins and the dyneins. There are
over 250 kinesin-like proteins, and they are involved in processes as
diverse as the movement of chromosomes and the dynamics of cell
membranes. They all have a similar catalytic portion, known as
the motor domain, but beyond this they are astonishingly varied - in
their location within cells, their structural organization, and the
movement they generate.
She spends time especially on the Ferrari of these
motor vehicles, a kinesin from the fungus Neurospora crassa, that
can move along its microtubule tracks at 2.5 microns per second, five
times faster than
other similar kinesins (if this molecule were the
size of a car, it would top 1200 mph). Describing three possible
means of achieving such speeds, she suggests ways microbiologists might
learn more about these splendid molecular machines.
Two other papers
in the same issue discuss ATPase or ATP synthase, the
molecular motor of exquisite precision and function discussed earlier
in Creation-Evolution Headlines.
The second describes how it is involved in helping stomata (openings) in
a plant leaf open and close to exchange gases. Apparently ATPase
creates an electrical potential that works with other proteins that
are responsive to blue light.
These motor vehicles (80 times smaller than a wavelength of light)
and the microtubule tracks they run on have been likened to
or intracellular railroad system in the cell.
Overheard from Nature, Dec 6:
Molecular motors in all living cells: think of it!
And there are not just one or two, but hundreds of them, each finely
crafted, each enormously more efficient than any motors man has ever
produced (ATP synthase approaches 100% efficiency).
This is all recent discovery; it is big news; its one of the hottest
areas of research right now, and
engineers are actively
studying molecular motors as
But who is asking the obvious question of how these motors
could originate, without a Designer? The motor Gibson describes
operates in a fungus! Do you know any engineering fungus among us,
any mushrooms that are
The science of biochemical motors fits
intelligent design theory to a T, but is a major headache for evolution.
It is not necessary to mention God, Genesis, creation, or the identity
of the Creator to observe the obvious, that
are wonderfully crafted machines.
You dont have to know the manufacturer to look at a Ferrari and
conclude it was designed, and
designed well. Just do good
observation, measurement, and reporting, and leave the
to the reader instead of stretching credibility to come up with a story
about how they designed themselves.
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry.
Next amazing story.
- Genesis: In an angry letter to the editor,
C. Fleck argues that the Genesis dominion mandate is a step backward.
Responding to a story about the Vatican approving animal experimentation
to benefit humans, Fleck thinks, This smacks of a return to
pre-darwinian human arrogance and egotism. Didnt humanity long ago
abdicate its monarchy over creation, giving up at last the notion of
special creation and human dominion over all
things? .... I can think of few more dangerous attitudes than that
promulgated in Genesis 1:28 and now by the Vatican, exhorting humanity,
as the crown of creation, to have dominion ... over every living
Thus he whacks down a
straw man. Genesis teaches
benevolent management under God, not human monarchy.
God is the Monarch (His right as Creator, wouldnt you say); we are
just the stewards, who should be good caretakers of His workmanship.
- Eugenics: Nick Martin, reviewing
books by Carlson and Lynn on the dark history of eugenics, tries to put
the eu- (good) back in the word. He admits it has a
horrific record and left disastrous wreckage,
(i.e. Nazi Germany), but thinks rational debate can bring about positive
effects, reasoning that Evolution is value-free. The
high-school dropout with six children by the age of 25 is clearly more
fit (or better in darwinian terms) than the career woman pregnant
for the first time in her late thirties. If we would wish to
alter the relative reproductive success of these two women to favour
the latter, make no mistake that it is because we want it, not because
Darwin, or God, or the teleological destiny of man demands it.
But then who gets to choose, and on what moral grounds?
Teenager Is an Evolutionary Disease 12/06/2001
The Dec. 6 Nature
has a new theory about the evolution of adolescence, and
Geographic wasted no time reporting it. A London paleoanthropologist
studied teeth of Homo erectus and concluded they didnt have
teenagers; their adults were fully grown at 14 (based on their teeth).
He believes this shows that adolescence didnt evolve till much later
up to the time of the Neandertals.
The Nature Science Update summary states, Although apes cut the apron
strings at around 12 years, despairing human parents are well aware
that their kids take at least 18 years to grow up. The
development of this prolonged growth period is seen as a key event in
human evolution, allowing extra time for learning.
Is it any wonder that the ApeMan and Dumb
chain links usually go together? How can they possibly make these
pronouncements about the family life and behavior and social evolution
of people from teeth? We reported June
10 that Science News said the data from juvenile skeletons is
conflicting and contradictory, yielding more questions than answers.
If these paleoanthropologists were not already convinced that man evolved
from ape-like ancestors, all this speculation would be totally
unjustified. National Geographic includes a picture of a
cute coed and pipes in, It may be the dream of many parents to
have their children skip the teenage years altogether. But it was
a major step forward in human evolution, and scientists have long been
intrigued by when the change first took place. Now ask yourself
some very logical questions: who decides that this is a step forward or
backward? If it is all an unguided, purposeless game, and if it
drives parents crazy, is it really progress? How will your teenager
live if he/she is convinced he/she is just an evolved ape, driven along
by impersonal forces? How can scientists know these teeth and bones
are as old as claimed, and fit into the sequence assumed without first
assuming there is a sequence?
New Organization 12/05/2001: William
Dembski, mathematician, author and speaker on intelligent design
theory, with several colleagues has launched a new organization called the
International Society for
Complexity, Information and Design (ISCID), that seeks to
explore complex systems without the restraints of naturalistic
philosophy. It will have biennial conferences, essay
contests, workshops, postdoctoral fellowship programs and
grant research programs. The organization was announced by a press release on the
learn from the historical analysis by Stephen Jay Gould (an ardent
evolutionist) in The Mismeasure of Man about an anthropologist
named Broca. Measuring skull capacities with care and precision,
Broca was convinced he was doing objective science, but was in fact selecting
data that fit his preconceived bias that some humans were intellectually
superior to others. Whats the difference here? Nothing
in this data supports the idea that adolescence evolved 300,000 years
ago; a few tooth measurements are being force-fitted into an already
inviolable, slavish commitment to human evolution, despite their surprise
at a detail here or there. If you read back through the
Early Man links, its clear that the whole story is just made up,
not built up by the evidence. (See the quote by Sarfati
at the top right corner of this page.) Tell your teen she/he still
has to obey the rules.
Next headline on: Early Man.
Next dumb story.
Geologists Continue to Find Anomalies 12/05/2001
Unlike the concrete displays in national parks, the explanations
in scientific journals for geological phenomena seem to be more
flexible. Several anomalies and findings contrary to
established opinion are reported in the December
Geology journal of the Geological Society of America:
- A University of
Colorado geologist finds that arid regions might show more
flood erosion: Thus, a shift toward more arid conditions may have
increased relative magnitudes of rare floods or, conversely, increased
the frequency of large floods. Such a shift, despite a decrease in
precipitation and discharge, could have doubled incision rates,
particularly in regions already quite arid.
- Two Ohio and South Carolina
geologists study a Santa Barbara foraminifera trap for evidence of
El Nino effects, and find that,
Surprisingly, despite greatly reduced upwelling conditions,
foraminiferal flux values during the spring 1997 upwelling season were
more than four times greater than the year before. The contrast
between normal and El Niņo foraminifer populations has important
implications for reconstructing the past history of both El Niņo events
and more general climate histories from the Santa Barbara Basin varved
- Canadian geologists studying
a region of Western Canada explain the absence of certain fossils with
erosion and mountain-building events that had the effect of concealing
the extent of the Late Devonian faunal crisis and its recovery.
- Two Michigan
geologists propose an alternative theory to the popular subduction
hypothesis for the origin of continental crust, lamenting that
The processes that created the first large cratonic areas such as
the Pilbara and the Kaapvaal remain poorly understood. Models
based on the uniformitarian extrapolation of present-day arc volcanic
processes to a hotter early Earth have not adequately explained the
observations in these terranes.
- Two University of California
planetary scientists did experiments on river erosion dependence
on sedimentary particles in the water, admitting that
Recent theoretical investigations suggest that the rate of river
incision into bedrock depends nonlinearly on sediment supply,
challenging the common assumption that incision rate is simply
proportional to stream power. Finding the situation more
complex and variable than popular belief would suppose, they conclude,
Our results suggest that spatial and temporal variations in the
extent of bedrock exposure provide incising rivers with a previously
unrecognized degree of freedom in adjusting to changes in rock uplift
rate and climate. Furthermore, we conclude that the grain size distribution of sediment supplied by hillslopes to the channel network
is a fundamental control on bedrock channel gradients and topographic
- Two Canadian
geologists find interleaved fossils of stromatolites and
metazoans in British Columbia similar to a find in Namibia, which
greatly extends its geographic range, and suggests a more
widespread distribution in similar facies in intermediate areas.
Both assemblages constitute the earliest occurrences of shelly fossils
in their respective regions. (Stromatolites are presumed to
be early blue-green algal structures preceding the evolution of metazoans.)
- Seven geologists studying
remains of a Montana glaciation use radiometric dating to find that
These cosmogenic chronologies identify a late Pinedale glacial maximum in northern Yellowstone that is significantly younger than
previously thought, and they suggest deglaciation of the Yellowstone
plateau by ~14 10Be ka.
- Six geologists studying Antarctica
find that a coast section of east Antarctica was largely ice free during
the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and stayed that way, puzzling that
Previous reconstructions of LGM ice limits for the area are
incompatible with this new evidence.
geologists find the oldest pristine Milankovitch cycle
in the Latemar formation in Italy, admitting that
This evidence deepens a widely noted disagreement between radiometric
and cyclostratigraphic time scales for the Latemar buildup.
- Two Ohio geologists
experiment with the vexing question of sheet erosion
and rill erosion. Measuring radionuclides on an Iowa soil after
thunderstorm runoff, and evaluating 15.5 million possible combinations, they
suggest that rill erosion produced 29 times more sediment than
- Geologists from California,
New York and Australia contest the
P.F. Hoffman as an explanation for cap carbonates and
other negative isotopic incursions that would otherwise require
short-term perturbations in the global carbon cycle during glaciation.
These geologists think the carbon ratios show a healthy ocean during
the periods Hoffman and others believed evidence showed the earth must
have been a frozen ball of ice.
We cite enough technical
samples here (the reader can find more in the abstracts) to exemplify the
difference between national park geology and back-room geology.
National park displays typically pontificate authoritarian certainties
in words like, 64.265 million years ago, such and such an event
occurred in this way, giving the mistaken impression that all
geologists agree. Actual field geology is done by
scientists who look at one small part of the whole, find an anomaly
and try to fit it in with current thinking or propose another theory;
or claim that everyone else is all wet. There are egos and
competition involved, and so many variables and exceptions to everything
that it is well nigh impossible to weave all the disparate facts into
a coherent story that will satisfy everyone.
Most of the time they just assume it fits in somehow with the geological
time scale and accepted uniformitarian wisdom. But over and over
you find statements like these where the actual data contradict
the big picture of earth history, sometimes in drastic
ways. Evolutionary geology resembles the joke about a farmers
ramshackle house; when asked how it stood up, he replied, The
termites are holding hands.
Nature Benefits Children With A.D.D. 12/05/2001
Next headline on: Geology.
If youre a mom, having plants and trees around the house might help your mood and
improve the attention of your children, claims Nancy Wells, a researcher at
University. Her study correlated the extent of natural surroundings at home
with scores on the Attention Deficit Disorders Evaluation Scale. Wells
concluded, The results suggest that the natural environment may play a far more
significant role in the well-being of children within a housing environment than has
previously been recognized. The study also indicated that mothers
psychological relief from stress was noticeable and sustained in homes with more
This is a somewhat fuzzy result from a limited sample,
and may have overlooked other significant factors, but it seems to reinforce common
sense notions that the sight of trees, grass, plants and other beautiful parts of
Gods creation is more satisfying than endless expanses of concrete.
It also coincides with previous findings (follow the Chain Links on Health.)
Try it out; view our Gardens photo gallery and see if it
brightens your day. If youre a student, try studying in the park.
Maybe this story will make you feel good about catching
up on the yard work. You need it; your kid needs it.
All-Natural Miracles Explained 12/04/2001
Next headline on: Health.
The December issue of Popular Mechanics
has an article by Mike Fillon that tries to give natural explanations for some of
the Biblical miracles like manna, the collapse of the walls of Jericho, the shadow
of Ahazs sundial, and others.
See the response by Andrew Lamb in
Mars Once a Mile Deep in Water? 12/03/2001
Next headline on: Bible.
NASAs Astrobiology webnews is echoing an
Associated Press story that
Johns Hopkins scientists believe Mars was once up to a mile deep in
water. They base this on the discovery of molecular hydrogen
(H2) detected in the Martian atmosphere by the
Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer
Scientists are stepping on each other
to drown Mars with a global flood. Better wait for better data before
transferring Noahs Ark from a water planet to a desert.
Worlds Tiniest Vertebrate Found 12/03/2001
Next headline on: Mars.
A lizard so small (16mm) it can turn on a dime has been found on a
Caribbean island, reports
Science Update. This makes it the smallest known vertebrate.
Islands are natural evolutionary laboratories. the article
states. Their isolation means that the creatures that do
wash up, perhaps clinging to floating vegetation, have less
competition, and can evolve to do ecological jobs that are already
taken on the mainland.
The article mentions other examples of
exotic island animals: Island species are often unusually large
or small. Mauritius dodo, for example, was an overgrown
pigeon, while the ancient inhabitants of Crete included a pygmy
elephant and hippopotamus. One cannot assume they were
transported and then evolved, however; they might have become isolated
by land bridges that disappeared. Regardless, the lizards are not
evolving into another type of animal. A lizard is still a lizard,
large or small.
Genetic characteristics can be exaggerated among isolated populations.
Look at the variety among dog breeds, which are one interfertile species
(Canis familiaris) from one original gene pool.
To extrapolate variation endlessly into evolution from a reptile to a
mammal, however, is unwarranted, both in fossil evidence and
observation of living species.
Mission to Pluto Approved 12/03/2001
Next headline on: Darwinism.
The Johns Hopkins
Laboratory has been selected by NASA to plan a mission to Pluto
and the Kuiper Belt for 2006 launch and arrival in 2020. The
mission, to be jointly operated with the
Propulsion Laboratory, is likely to rewrite textbooks regarding the
origins of the planets, the nature of the outer solar system, and even
the origin of primitive materials that may have played a role in the
development of life.
They always have to
sneak in that word life
to get the public excited about it, because otherwise they
think nobody would care about scientific missions of discovery.
But why not? Millions of youngsters find astronomy and planetary
exploration exciting, whether or not we are looking for life or its
so-called building blocks. Whats evolution got to do with
it? Just explore the unknown regions and let the evidence speak
for itself. Pluto is the last planet to be explored; that should
be exciting enough. The thing needing a rewrite in textbooks is
the unscientific hype about chemical
Molecule May Remove Need for Embryonic Stem Cells 12/03/2001
Next headline on: Solar System.
Next headline on: Origin of Life.
of Pennsylvania scientists have identified a receptor
molecule that plays a key role in pluripotency, the ability of a
cell to develop into any kind of adult cell type. This may
eliminate the need for embryonic stem cells with the ethical
controversies they entail.
If the cloners keep pushing for their way after enough stories
like these, you can suspect an ulterior motive.
Film Announcement 12/01/2001: A new film of exceptional quality about DNA and evidence for intelligent design in living things, especially the cell and its DNA code, is nearing completion. It will feature interviews with scientists, original nature photography and stunning microbiology images, and award-quality computer graphics of DNA in action. To finish it and get it distributed, the production team really needs prayer and financial support right now. To learn more and get involved, contact Discovery Media Productions or mail them at PO Box 703, Murrieta, CA 92564.
Next headline on: Politics.
Review: National Geographic December 2001
The Geographica column mentions a species of black bear called the Kermode bear on the coast of British Columbia; one in ten is born white. It would be interesting to conjecture whether polar bears originated from a colored stock,
but the genes for white coats got segregated into the population as they migrated north. This is not evolution (they are still bears, part
of a bear kind), because all the genes for bear diversity were present at the beginning, but became accentuated in isolated
populations. NG is making a big deal of its new super-crocodile, with museum displays and a TV episode. A short
article states, Extinction has trimmed the largest and smallest of the croc family. Yet unlike dinosaurs, crocs today are much
as they were more than a hundred million years ago... (So wheres the evolution? And are you sure they lived a hundred million years ago?) The magazine
has a colorful adventure story about Antarctica, with pictures of dangerously hard-to-get-to organisms living comfortably under an iceberg, and
another about the Internet and life in Silicon Valley, but its cover story is about Abraham, Father of Three Faiths. Bible
students may find the pictures of Abrahams travels enlightening, though a politically-correct magazine like National Geographic
cannot appear judgmental about which faith, if any, is more historically accurate or makes better sense. But the following story about
Afghanistan, with all its war, poverty and despair, renders its own verdict. You can study the enclosed map of Afghanistan better to follow
the nightly news of the war effort against this enclave of terrorism.
Next headline on: Bible.