Creation-Evolution Headlines
March 2005
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“The geosynclinal theory is one of the great unifying principles in geology.  In many ways its role in geology is similar to that of the theory of evolution, which serves to integrate the many branches of the biological sciences.... Just as the doctrine of evolution is universally accepted among biologists, so also the geosynclinal origin of the major mountain systems is an established principle in geology.”
—Clark and Stearn, in a geology textbook, shortly before the geosynclincal theory was overturned in favor of plate tectonics.  Cited by William Dembski in The Design Revolution (IVP, 2004), p. 207.
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How Well Do We Know Our Moon?   03/31/2005
Leonard David wrote in
Space.Com that Earth’s moon is “still a puzzle” – “luna incognita,” he calls it, hoping for a new corps of discovery to go back.  Surprisingly, the treasure trove of Apollo data has “been sitting around and never properly studied,”  especially since the development of more highly sophisticated analytical techniques.  Carl Pieters (Brown U) has listed some of his questions:
Has the enormous lunar south pole Aitken Basin on the Moon’s farside excavated into the lunar mantle?
What happened in the first few hundred million years to cause the lunar nearside to be so very different from the farside?
What caused the pockets of iron-rich materials in the primitive crust?
What are the deposits near the lunar poles and what other possible resources have we missed?
Even the origin of the moon is an open question, despite the “current consensus” of the impact model.  The article gives space to one maverick who doesn’t believe it: Paul Lowman, a planetary geologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.  “A lot had to happen very fast.  I have trouble grasping that,” he said.  “You have to do too much geologically in such a short time after the Earth and the Moon formed.  Frankly, I think the origin of the Moon is still an unsolved problem, contrary to what anybody will tell you,” the article quotes Lowman.
    The moon is becoming a popular target again.  The European Space Agency is already there with SMART-1.  Missions from Japan, China, India and the United States are planning to fill in the many gaps in our understanding of our nearest celestial neighbor.
We do science a disfavor when we think we know the answers or let a consensus lull us into complacency.  Question the textbooks; dig through the treasure trove of data, and be willing to think independently.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemGeology
Your Linemen at Work: DNA Search and Rescue Machine Imaged in Action    03/31/2005
DNA is amazing enough, but its automatic error-correction utilities are enough to stagger the imagination.  There are dozens of repair mechanisms to shield our genetic code from damage; one of them was portrayed in Nature1 March 31 (see also analysis by Sheila David in the same issue2) in terms that should inspire awe.
    Imagine a huge encyclopedia written on beads, in strands many miles long.  The words of the book are inscribed in letter beads along the strand.  Now imagine that, tied to the primary strand, is a twin strand with beads representing the “negatives” of the primary beads, such that when the strands are separated, exact copies can be made.  Every once in awhile, the strands are separated by a machine.  Floating beads are attracted to the negative beads, lining up to form exact copies of the book or portions thereof.  This is a simplified view of DNA transcription and replication.  What happens, however, if the wrong bead, or a defective bead, becomes attached to the negative?  For books, that could misspell a word or produce gibberish, but in living organisms, the consequences could be disastrous.
    Now picture little machines that regularly traverse the string of beads.  Because the shapes of the beads differ according to the letters on them, this machine is able to find typos.  Let’s say that a letter “C” is always supposed to pair with a letter “G” on the strand.  The proofreading machine feels every bead, and if it finds that particular mismatch, it ejects the incorrect bead so that another correct one can be fastened on by another machine.  This is a simplified view of “base-excision repair” (BER) that actually takes place in your body, all the time.
    The strands in a cell are, of course, DNA, and the beads are called nucleotides, or bases.  Of the four bases in DNA (C, G, A, and T) cytosine or C is always supposed to pair with guanine, G, and adenine, A, is always supposed to pair with thymine, T.  The enzyme studied by Banerjee et al. in Nature is one of a host of molecular machines called BER glycosylases; this one is called human oxoG glycosylase repair enzyme (hOGG1), and it is specialized for finding a particular type of error: an oxidized G base (guanine).  Oxidation damage can be caused by exposure to ionizing radiation (like sunburn) or free radicals roaming around in the cell nucleus.  The normal G becomes oxoG, making it very slightly out of shape.  There might be one in a million of these on a DNA strand.  While it seems like a minor typo, it can actually cause the translation machinery to insert the wrong amino acid into a protein, with disastrous results, such as colorectal cancer.  This little machine has an important job.3  How does it work?
    The machine latches onto the DNA double helix and works its way down the strand, feeling every base on the way.  As it proceeds, it kinks the DNA strand into a sharp angle.  It is built to ignore the T and A bases, but whenever it feels a C, it knows there is supposed to be a G attached.  The machine has precision contact points for C and G.  When the C engages, the base paired to it is flipped up out of the helix into a slot inside the enzyme that is finely crafted to mate with a pure, clean G.  If all is well, it flips the G back into the DNA helix and moves on.  If the base is an oxoG, however, that base gets flipped into another slot further inside, where powerful forces yank the errant base out of the strand so that other machines can insert the correct one.
    Now this is all wonderful stuff so far, but as with many things in living cells, the true wonder is in the details.  The thermodynamic energy differences between G and oxoG are extremely slight – oxoG contains only one extra atom of oxygen – and yet this machine is able to discriminate between them to high levels of accuracy.  David says, “DNA-repair enzymes amaze us with their ability to search through vast tracts of DNA to find subtle anomalies in the structure.  The human repair enzyme 8-oxoguanine glycosylase (hOGG1) is particularly impressive in this regard because it efficiently removes 8-oxoguanine (oxoG), a damaged guanine (G) base containing an extra oxygen atom, and ignores undamaged bases” (emphasis added in all quotes).  The team led by Anirban Banerjee of Harvard, using a clever new stop-action method of imaging, caught this little enzyme in the act of binding to a bad guanine, helping scientists visualize how the machinery works.
    Some other amazing details are mentioned about this molecular proofreader.  It checks every C-G pair, but slips right past the A-T pairs.  The enzyme, “much like a train that stops only at certain locations,” pauses at each C and, better than any railcar conductor inspecting each ticket, flips up the G to validate it.  Unless it conforms to the slot perfectly – even though G and oxoG differ in their match by only one hydrogen bond – it is ejected like a freeloader in a Pullman car and tossed out into the desert.  David elaborates:
Calculations of differences in free energy indicate that both favourable and unfavourable interactions lead to preferential binding of oxoG over G in the oxoG-recognition pocket, and of G over oxoG in the alternative site.  This structure [the image resolved by the scientific team] captures an intermediate that forms in the process of finding oxoG, and illustrates that the damaged base must pass through a series of ‘gates’, or checkpoints, within the enzyme; only oxoG satisfies the requirements for admission to the damage-specific pocket, where it will be clipped from the DNA.  Other bases (C, A and T) may be rejected outright without extrusion from the helix because hOGG1 scrutinizes both bases in each pair, and only bases opposite a C will be examined more closely.
How many linemen does it take to repair your strands?  The researchers explain, “Only 50,000 molecules of hOGG1 protect the entire 6 x 109 base-pair nuclear genome of a diploid human cell, hence the enzyme must have developed an efficient mechanism for distinguishing oxoG from the four nucleobases in normal DNA.”  50,000 repairmen for 6 billion bases: that’s one repairman for every 120,000 letters, comparable to a skilled proofreader checking every letter of a 20,000 word document for one specific kind of typo.  Then there are all the other proofreaders that look for other kinds of mistakes.4
1Banerjee et al., “Structure of a repair enzyme interrogating undamaged DNA elucidates recognition of damaged DNA,”
Nature 434, 612 - 618 (31 March 2005); doi:10.1038/nature03458.
2Sheila S. David, “Structural biology: DNA search and rescue,” Nature 434, 569 - 570 (31 March 2005); doi:10.1038/434569a.
3See “Life without DNA Repair,” in PNAS, 1997.  It lists 13 BER enzymes including this one.  Studies on mice are described: “mutants show various combinations of defective embryogenesis, tissue-specific dysfunction, hypersensitivity to DNA-damaging agents, premature senescence, genetic instability, and elevated cancer rates.”
4The authors mention another paralogous enzyme, 3-methyladenine DNA glycosylase (AlkA), which is not as “fastidious” as hOGG1, because it “does occasionally excise adenine residues from undamaged DNA.”  But there may be reasons for the differences in fidelity; some may have to work under stressful conditions, and repair as much as they can within constraints of time or other factors.  JBC Online says that AlkA has “a remarkably versatile active site.”  This reminds us that intelligent design does not mean perfection of every detail, but “constrained optimization”: achieving the combination of features that produces a “sweet spot” with best overall performance.  The proof of the pudding for DNA repair is in the performance itself: no one watching a race horse, cormorant (05/24/2004) or champion triathlete in action could argue with the assertion that the suite of repair enzymes in living things appears optimized to achieve an extremely high degree of fidelity under a wide range of conditions and stress factors.
OK, Darwin Party: checkmate.  Natural selection cannot act without accurate replication, yet the protein machinery for the level of accuracy required is itself built by the very genetic code it is designed to protect.  Explain that!  If the Darwinists cannot provide a plausible mechanism whereby nonliving chemicals, by chance, hit upon a means of replicating information-bearing molecules accurately, there would have been no evolution, because any gains would have been drowned in the errors of subsequent generations.
    It would have been challenging enough to explain accurate translation alone in a primordial soup, but now throw in some free radicals and radiation, and any information gained would have quickly been destroyed through accumulation of errors.  So accurate replication and proofreading are required for the origin of life.  How on earth could proofreading enzymes emerge, especially with this degree of fidelity, when they depend on the very information that they are designed to protect?  Think about it.  This is a catch-22 for Darwinists.  No wonder none of the authors of these two articles dared whisper the word evolution.  The gig is up; we might as well not even waste any time arguing about Hobbit man (03/25/2005), peppered mice (04/18/2003) and what IMAX films to show (03/23/2005).  Proofreading codes by chance?  And a complex suite of translation machinery without a designer?  Anyone with a head screwed on is not going to want such nonsense taught in public schools (03/24/2005).
    If we can just sweep away the cobwebs of musty Darwinian thinking out of our minds for a moment, we can begin to enjoy the wonder of these incredible mechanisms.  If the ancients could understand that creation demands a Creator by looking at the sun, or a bird, or a baby, how much more we today with all the revelations about cell biology and molecular machines?  The grand oratorio of creation is being unveiled, a little at a time, into a hallelujah chorus that deserves our most worshipful applause – indeed, a standing ovation.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGenetics and DNAAmazing Stories
ID in the News    03/30/2005
PBS aired a segment on the anti-Darwinism controversy in the schools Monday (see
PBS transcript).  Ken Ham and Stephen Meyer presented arguments for criticizing Darwin, while Eugenie Scott and others defended exclusive evolutionary teaching.  The Discovery Institute blog Evolution News analyzed the 14:32 minute segment, complaining that 90 minutes of Meyer’s interview received only 30 seconds of air time.  The segment, narrated by Jeffrey Brown, included some clips from the ID film Unlocking the Mystery of Life.
The media continue to slant this controversy according to the “alt-ctrl-Scopes” macro, Rob Crowther of EvolutionNews writes.  But no one can deny that the debate is getting more and more attention.  Sooner or later, the Darwinists, instead of just assuming their belief that humans had bacteria ancestors, will have to actually come up with some evidence for it.
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignDarwinismMediaEducation
Migration Theory Overturned: “Mammals Went Crazy” – Or Did Darwinists?   03/29/2005
The discovery of an elephant shrew fossil in Wyoming badlands said to be 54 million years old is causing a stir.  Elephant shrews were thought to be endemic to Africa, the alleged cradle of mammals.  This find hints not only that elephant shrews may have originated in North America instead, but also that “there may have been a great deal more interchange in terms of how animals moved around the world as the continents broke up than previously thought,” according to
EurekAlert.  A press release from U of Florida worries that this “raises questions about the origin of African mammals.”
    The Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week award goes to Jonathan Bloch of the University of Florida, who explained the theory of adaptive radiation in terms appropriate for a juvenile audience: “After the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, there was an explosion of diversity,” he said. “Mammals had a huge celebration with all the big predators gone and they just kind of took overThey went crazy, filling all the open ecological niches they couldn’t have exploited while the dinosaurs were still around.”
Apparently Mr. Bloch had not heard that some mammals had dinosaurs for breakfast (see 01/12/2005 entry).  He seems a staunch believer in the “if you build it, they will come” theory of evolution (see 01/28/2005 commentary), yet doesn’t seem alarmed that yet another plank in the evolutionary platform has just been removed.  Crazy is in the eye of the beholder.
Next headline on:  MammalsEvolutionDumb Stories
“Impressive” – the Memory Capabilities of Honeybees   03/29/2005
“Over the past decade, work on the honey bee has provided growing evidence that insects are not simple, reflexive creatures,” begins a paper in PNAS by international scientists.1  “The brains of honey bees are very small, but their ability to learn and memorize tasks is impressive.”  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    With clever experiments, they put test bees through their paces.  They found them able to discern between relevant and irrelevant clues when lost, findings that “point to a remarkably robust, and yet plastic, working memory in the honey bee.”  See also the
02/15/2005 entry on honeybee mental mapping capabilities.
1Zhang et al., ”Visual working memory in decision making by honey bees,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0501440102, published online before print March 28, 2005.
Bee aware: among all their expressions of amazement about the capabilities built into such a tiny insect, the authors made no mention of evolution in their paper.  That may sting the Darwinists but create a real buzz elsewhere, honey.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial Zoology: Insects, etc.Amazing Stories
Missing Link in Star Formation Found?   03/29/2005
According to a press release from the
European Space Agency, a missing link in stellar evolution has been found.  Observation: excited molecular hydrogen in two colliding galaxies.  Conclusion: a star is born:
The scientists noticed that the overlapping region of the two colliding galaxies is very rich in molecular hydrogen, which is in an excited state.
    In particular, the radiation from molecular hydrogen is evenly strong in the northern and southern areas of the overlap region.  Much to the team’s surprise, however, there are too few supernova explosions or regions of intense star formation there to explain the observed molecular hydrogen emission.  So, the excitation of the molecular hydrogen must be the signature of that observationally rare pre-star birth phase in which hydrogen is excited by the mechanical energy produced in the collision and transported by shock waves.  In other words, these results provide the first direct evidence of the missing link between gas collision and the birth of the first stars.  The team estimates that when the gas will collapse to form new stars, during the next million years, the Antennae galaxy will become at least two times brighter in the infrared.
  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
The observations were made with ESA’s ISO infrared observatory.  Although scientists have assumed that colliding galaxies produce shock waves that lead to rapid star formation, “So far, however, there was no clear picture of what happens in the time between the collision of two galaxies and the birth of the first new stars.”  The observation of molecular hydrogen in an excited state is said to the be signature of this stage.
Excuse me, but are you not assuming what you need to prove?  You said that direct observations of star birth by gas compression are lacking, then assume that gas compression is producing star birth.  That’s called begging the question.
    The point of this commentary is not to dispute whether star formation occurs by gas compression caused by shock waves.  It is to encourage good science.  This press release did a mighty sloppy job of making its case.
    Assume for a moment you are an unbiased, neutral observer listening to an astronomer prove that when hydrogen is compressed by galaxy collisions and supernova explosions, it collapses into compact burning objects called stars.  From your personal experience, you might be tempted to assume that excited gas does no such thing.  Yet Professor Zubenelgenubi insists it happens, so you, unbiased observer that you are, are eager to hear his proof.  He first claims that the observations are scanty, but we see infrared radiation from areas where star birth is occurring.  Are you convinced yet?  He continues:
The astronomers believe that star formation induced by shocks may have played a role in the evolution of proto-galaxies in the first thousand million years of life of our Universe.  Shock waves produced through the collision of proto-galaxies may have triggered the condensation process and speeded-up the birth of the very first stars.  These objects, made up of only hydrogen and helium, would otherwise have taken much longer to form, since light elements such as hydrogen and helium take a long time to cool down and condense into a proto-star.  Shock waves from the first cloud collisions may have been the helping hand.
Your next response to him might be that this makes a nice story, but you were expecting proof that stars form by compression of shocked gas and he seems to be just assuming they do.  Silently you wonder if the Professor has actually been observing anything for a billion years, but uninitiated frosh that you are, you meekly point out that it would seem that shocked gas would dissipate, not compress into compact, dense, shining objects.  He then points to his Exhibit A: “Ah,” he patronizes, “but now vee have zee proof!  Vee have zee missing link!” [drum roll] “excited molecular hydrogen!” [cymbal crash].
    Biological evolutionists are often guilty of assuming evolution to prove evolution.  Every data point is inserted into a pre-existing mental picture of the very thing they need to demonstrate.  Here we see it happening with astronomers, too.  The story is the thing: the big sweeping panorama of big-bang-to-earth evolution is merely assumed, and every little ounce of observation is fit into the story, whether the observation justifies it or not.  As for proto-galaxies, the science we read shows that the very oldest galaxies were already mature (see 03/10/2005, 08/27/2004 and 07/08/2004 entries), so where are the missing links for this cosmological Cambrian explosion?  The story of star formation itself is not without problems (see 03/31/2004 entry) – so much so, that Simon White remarked, “The simple recipes in published models do not reproduce the star formation we see.  Theorists are now having to grow up.”  This ESA press release seems appropriate only for those in kindergarten.
    Maybe shocked hydrogen forms stars, and maybe it doesn’t, but any unbiased truth seeker would surely demand more evidence than this.  Where else would such a physical process occur?  We can observe compressed gas and shock waves in the solar system, such as the bow shock at Jupiter’s magnetic field boundary.  There, the compressed gas just flows around the outsides and doesn’t form compact, dense objects.  In this case, gravity is too small to be a factor, so the comparison may be moot; that’s beside the point.  Read this press release without assuming stellar evolution is true and you would be hard pressed to find a solid reason to find the case convincing.  Don’t ever get swept into the emotional euphoria of any scientist’s bluff.
    Is it not ironic that the only ones obeying the bumper sticker, “Question authority,” are the creationists?
Next headline on:  Stars and Deep Space Astronomy
Descendants Can Overcome Parental Mutations    03/28/2005
Bad genes from both parents may not spell doom in all cases.  Scientists at
Purdue University found that if two parents have bad mutations, the child can sometimes reconstruct the correct gene from the grandparents.  “Our genetic training tells us that’s just not possible,” said Bob Pruitt, co-researcher on the team that ran the experiment repeatedly with the lab plant Arabidopsis.  “This challenges everything we believe.”
    Some unknown mechanism, perhaps using RNA, is storing a template of the correct sequence that the offspring can use to reconstruct the gene, they suspect.  This supplements ordinary Mendelian inheritance with a means of correcting errors.2  About 10% of their experimental offspring were able to inherit the correct gene from the grandparents.  Their work was published in Nature last week.1  See also News@Nature that says this report “flabbergasts” scientists and “overturns textbook genetics.”  The summary on Science Now describes this as “an inheritable cache of RNA that can reverse evolution, undoing mutations and restoring a gene to its former glory” (emphasis added).  One of the researchers said this experiment “suggests the existence of a unique genetic memory system that can be invoked at will” to reverse harmful mutations.  It would seem that the memory would require procedures for comparing the bad gene with the template, excising the bad gene, and inserting the correct one.  Whatever this mechanism is, it has been “under the radar,” says New Scientist, and could exist in animals and even in humans.
1Lolle et al., “Genome-wide non-mendelian inheritance of extra-genomic information in Arabidopsis,” Nature 434, 505 - 509 (24 March 2005); doi:10.1038/nature03380.
2Mendel had it mostly right (see online biography); this new mechanism adds to our knowledge of inheritance. 
Trouble in the Darwin Party camp.  They were counting on those lucky mutations producing all the glory, not mechanisms to undo mutations to restore a gene to its former glory.  This is stasis with a vengeance.  We already knew that many genetic errors are corrected in the nucleus or the cell before reproduction occurs; now, another mechanism has come to light that corrects errors after they have left the station, almost like warranty repair service.
    So tell us please, Darwinians: what lucky mutation led to a system that can correct mutations?  Neo-Darwinism won’t get far if its main source of variation – mutations – is kept in check with genetic homeland security.  “Reverse evolution” is not evolution at all; it’s creation.  It implies there was a creation that was so elegant, it contained even a repair warranty: a mechanism to identify when something has gone wrong, and automatically deploy resources to fix it so that the organism could restore its “former glory.”
Next headline on:  GeneticsEvolution
Easter Essay    03/27/2005
Accompanied by a picture of a cross and a sunset, captioned “The Sun and the Son,” a somber-looking Brian Walden wrote an essay in the
BBC News expressing his reaction to Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees’ “chilling” comment that “It will not be humans who witness the demise of the Sun six billion years hence; it will be entities as different from us as we are from bacteria.”  Rees stated that the idea of evolution is well-known, but that the “vast potential for further evolution isn’t yet part of our common culture.”
    Walden delved into the implications of this assumed “scientific” view of our future for morality, ethics, and religion with a note of nostalgia for his simple childhood faith: “This is Easter and I can’t help contrasting the Christian promise of my youth with what science expects to happen.”
This essay had better make every Christian pastor and believer wake up and ponder the deadly effect of evolutionary thinking.  Mr. Walden is caught in a tension between what his conscience says and what the Darwin Party soothsayers are telling him.  He sees the enormous complexity of an unborn baby revealed by the latest sonograms, and he fears the future of bioethics with no foundation for ethics, but he accepts at face value what Rees says about evolution and the future of the sun billions of years from now.  Like a dumb sheep, he fails to question the glittering generalities pronounced by the Babbleonians on the left, the liberals who drove the wedge between science and religion as far back as the 18th century.  While realizing that any kind of consensus between the Christians and the liberals would be an alloy of iron and clay, he yet hungers for some kind of dialogue between them at least.
    This is pathetic.  Walden is badly uninformed, because he grants to secular science an authority and credibility it doesn’t have.  If he would stop naively trusting what scientific sleuthsayers like Rees say the sun is going to do in six billion years, he could begin to regain some confidence in the Son who said, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life.”  Somebody give Walden a rope to climb out of the dark cave of (misnamed) Enlightenment thinking.  Maybe a copy of The Privileged Planet would help, and a bookmark to Creation-Evolution Headlines.
    England made a mistake by welding the church to the government.  Enlightenment liberals rightly despised the corruption that resulted, but went too far in asserting autonomy in matters of science and ethics.  It’s time for England to get rid of its useless state church, and experience a revival from the ground up: from individual believers no longer intimidated by the wormtongues of liberal philosophers (who know neither the past nor future of our sun).  It’s time for them to understand the strength of the Biblical foundation for science and morality.  Armed with new confidence in the unchanging Word of God and its ability to stimulate true science as well as provide solid ground for ethics, individuals must overthrow the Darwinian usurpers before their vile ethics bear any more poisoned fruit.
    Suns and babies do not come from nothing.  Like everything in nature, they have the fingerprint of design: not just impersonal design, but the design of an all-wise, all-powerful, personal Creator.  Walden’s predicament comes from having his authorities inverted.  The sun is subservient to the Son, not the other way around.  There may be nothing new under the sun, but if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed (John 8:36).
Next headline on:  EvolutionThe Bible
Wonders from the Animal World   03/24/2005
Several recent stories prove that animals continue to amaze us with their tricks:
  • Elephants:  The BBC News summarized a report from Nature1 about an elephant in Kenya named Mlaika that could make “convincing truck sounds.”  The elephant lived near a road and apparently learned how to do impressions.  This is the only other case of a terrestrial mammal able to imitate external sounds besides primates (particularly humans).  See also National Geographic News and News@Nature.
  • OctopiMSNBC News reported a study in Science2 that observed two species of octopus able to walk on two feet – er, tentacles.  The behavior is apparently a disguise to fool sharks into thinking it is just a piece of seaweed drifting by.  The octopus uses two tentacles to walk in a stepwise fashion, and the other six to imitate the shape of algae or a coconut shell.  This behavior must be hard-wired into the octopus brain.  See also News@Nature.
  • BatsScience News summarized a report in the March 17 Nature about a species of vampire bat that can not only fly, but run (see also MSNBC News).  On a treadmill, they demonstrated an ability to trot by leaps and bounds.  The researchers thought this species must have re-evolved the ability to run, for some reason.  One scientist was impressed at the versatility of muscle-tendon system that give these bats the ability to both run and fly; he told Science News, “Few human-made machines can act like springs, motors, and brakes.”
  • Playful Animals:  Finally, there was a recent book review about the evolution of play in animals.  Bernd Heinrich, evaluating The Genesis of Animal Play: Testing the Limits by Gordon M. Burkhardt (MIT, 2005) in Nature,3 commented that despite the valiant effort in the book, “Working out why animals play is no easy task.” –
    A kitten batting a ball of yarn, kids on a swing, or an adult wielding a fishing-rod – few would disagree that these behaviours can be described as play.  Yet in the study of animal behaviour, the phenomenon of play is an anomaly.  It is said to be adaptive and yet it involves the expenditure of much energy, often with no apparent pay-off.  When a certain behaviour is found to have obvious pay-offs or functions it is, almost by definition, no longer ‘play’ but is defined by its function, such as foraging, predator avoidance or mating.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    We know so little about play, he confessed, despite centuries of attempts to define it and fathom its functions.  It seems like senseless behavior in a world of survival, yet it is “a genuine behavioural phenomenon.”  In the end, he couldn’t decide whether animals (and humans) play for some unknown evolutionary fitness value, or just for fun.

1Poole et al., “Animal behaviour: Elephants are capable of vocal learning,” Nature 434, 455 - 456 (24 March 2005); doi:10.1038/434455a.
2Huffard et al., “Underwater Bipedal Locomotion by Octopuses in Disguise,” Science, Vol 307, Issue 5717, 1927 , 25 March 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1109616].
3Bernd Heinrich, “Just for fun?” Nature 434, 273 - 274 (17 March 2005); doi:10.1038/434273a.
A game that is fun to play is to challenge Darwinists with an amazing capability of an animal and watch them try to explain it.  Then, while they tie themselves in knots, we can go play frisbee with the dog, tease the cat with a ball of string, or teach the parakeet to say Charlie is gnarly.  Wonder where we can get a recording of that elephant imitating a truck.
Next headline on:  MammalsMarine LifeAmazing Stories
Soft Tissue from Dinosaurs Found: Intact Cells and Blood Vessels    03/24/2005
The news media are abuzz with exciting reports about the discovery of soft tissues recovered from a Tyrannosaurus rex bone; see
CNN, National Geographic, BBC News, MSNBC and News@Nature for examples.  The soft tissue, analyzed from a thighbone unearthed in Montana, was reported by a North Carolina team led by Mary Higby Schweizer and was announced in this week’s issue of Science.1
    The bone contained remnants of blood vessels that were still soft and flexible when separated from the matrix, and even individual cells: “osteocytes with internal cellular contents and intact, supple filipodia that float freely in solution,” the authors say.  Leading dinosaur paleontologist Jack Horner described the bone as “a fantastic specimen.”  The discoverers also found soft tissues in two other tyrannosaurs and one hadrosaur from the Hell Creek, Montana site.  No one seems to be questioning the assumed age of the specimens being 70 million years old, even though the “geochemical and environmental factors” that could have preserved the tissues are “as yet undetermined,” and extend to the molecular level:
Whether preservation is strictly morphological and the result of some kind of unknown geochemical replacement process or whether it extends to the subcellular and molecular levels is uncertain.  However, we have identified protein fragments in extracted bone samples, some of which retain slight antigenicity.  These data indicate that exceptional morphological preservation in some dinosaurian specimens may extend to the cellular level or beyond.
  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Erik Stokstad in the same issue of Science2 says that the vessels, still flexible and elastic, are not fossilized.  The announcement of intact cells is leading some scientists to think they may be able to extract DNA from them (although recreating Jurassic Park is out of the question).  Principal investigator Schweitzer said she was shocked at the find.  She didn’t believe it till they repeated the extraction process 17 times.  As a control, they repeated the same process on extant ostrich bones and recovered soft tissues that were “virtually indistinguishable” from those of the dinosaur.
    It is not yet clear whether the original molecules in the tissues and cells were preserved or were replaced by other compounds.  Earlier claims of original tissue in other kinds of multi-million-year fossilized organisms turned out to show replacement.  Schweitzer told the BBC, however, that “It still has places where there are no secondary minerals, and it’s not any more dense than modern bone; it’s bone more than anything.”  As to DNA, Stokstad quotes one expert who said, “the likelihood is probably next to none” that intact DNA could have survived for 68 million years, even if the bone was protected in stable, dry, subzero conditions all that time.  The BBC reporter agrees that “the ‘life molecule’ degrades rapidly over thousand-year timescales, and the chances of a sample surviving from the Cretaceous are not considered seriously.”  Schweizer is seeking funds to do mass spectrometry on the tissues and find out.
1Schweitzer et al., “Soft-Tissue Vessels and Cellular Preservation in Tyrannosaurus rex,” Science, Science, Vol 307, Issue 5717, 1952-1955, 25 March 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1108397].
2Erik Stokstad, “Tyrannosaurus rex Soft Tissue Raises Tantalizing Prospects,” Science Vol 307, Issue 5717, 1852, 25 March 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5717.1852b].
This appears to falsify, in one dramatic swoop, the claim that dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago.  Why don’t the scientists admit it?  It’s uncanny how all the reports treat the 70 million figure like an unquestionable fact, despite the clear implications of this discovery.  Notice how the BBC treats the date like dogma:
In the hotly contested field of dino research, the work will be greeted with acclaim and disbelief in equal measure.
    What seems certain is that some fairly remarkable conditions must have existed at the Montana site where the T. rex died, 68 million years ago.
Seems certain to whom?  Not to people with their heads screwed on, who have refused to take the oath of loyalty to the Darwin Party, or signed on to the Committee to Protect the Geologic Column at All Costs.  We’ll have to see if the NCSE censors this paper, preventing teachers from showing it to their students, to protect their sensitive minds from anxiety when they compare it with their textbooks.
  .  Making the excuse that the process of fossilization is not well understood is pitiful, and imagining these Montana sediments escaping millions of years of mountain uplift, erosion and climate change is a big stretch.  Though airtight amber sometimes preserves all the details of an insect, it is incredibly improbable that soft, pliable tissues from a large dinosaur could be preserved in a sedimentary matrix for 10,000 years, let alone 70 million.  Somebody ought to press the point.  The BBC explains why: “Normally when an animal dies, worms and bugs will quickly eat up anything that is soft.  Then, as the remaining bone material gets buried deeper and deeper in the mud, it gets heated, crushed and replaced by minerals, turning it to stone.”  Schweitzer said in the NG coverage that “our theories of how fossils are preserved don’t allow for this [soft-tissue preservation].”  The pathetic response of some scientists, upon hearing this announcement, is that the soft tissue recovery might help them construct better phylogenetic trees.  They seem oblivious to the fact that the data threaten to cut off the long-age limb they are sitting on.
    Here is an opportunity for young-earth creationists to make a strong case.  It’s easier to prove an upper limit than a lower limit: e.g., that under the best of conditions, cells or blood vessels could not be older than a maximum number of years based on lab observations.  No reader could claim by observation that they could last millions of years.  Thus, the young-age position is more conservative, cautious and empirically based.  Someone should also apply carbon dating to the tissues and see if any C-14 is present.  It would be below the detection threshold if the bone is as old as claimed.  Watch the efforts to find out if DNA is still present, which “cannot survive that long” according to Derek Briggs in the News@Nature article.  These are two predictions that can be tested.
    This find is making it easier to believe that dinosaurs actually lived in relatively recent times and were buried quickly by a watery catastrophe just as a Biblical chronology indicates.  Dramatic as this announcement is, it is not the first.  Creationists have followed up on soft-tissue claims for years.  In 1994, Buddy Davis and a team endured danger and hardship recovering hadrosaur bones in Alaska that contained unfossilized tissue; their story is published in The Great Alaskan Dinosaur Adventure.  Then there was the announcement in all the papers 10/15/2002 about mummified dinosaur remains.  Even more remarkable was the BBC News story about mummified soft parts found in a crustacean claimed to be 511 million years old – over seven times older than the dinosaurs on the evolutionary scale (see 07/20/2001 entry).  That such announcements are rare in the secular literature does not mean that the fossils are rare; Jack Horner said in the NG article that other dinosaurs are “probably similarly preserved,” but workers in the field are usually reluctant to damage dinosaur bones to look inside (maybe partly because they don’t expect to find soft tissue after millions of years).  What this story illustrates is how scientists tend to find what they expect to find, look for what they need to find, and ask the questions prompted by their worldview.  It’s instructive to notice who was surprised by today’s announcement.
Next headline on:  DinosaursFossilsDating Methods
NAS President Calls on Scientists to Defend Darwinism    03/24/2005
The man who described a cell as “a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines” (see
02/10/2003 entry) now wants his fellow scientists to oppose efforts to attribute this factory to design.  Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences and editor of The Molecular Biology of the Cell, gave fellow Academy members a “call to arms” on evolution, according to USA Today.
    Alarmed over the gains of the intelligent design movement and the “increasing challenges to the teaching of evolution in public schools,” Alberts said in a March 4 letter to colleagues, “I write to you now because of a growing threat to the teaching of science” (emphasis added in all quotes).  He claims, “one of the foundations of modern science is being neglected or banished outright from science classrooms in many parts of the United States.”  His letter was motivated in part by a survey by the National Science Teachers Association, showing that a third of teachers feel pressured to either diminish the teaching of evolution or include alternatives to it.
One bad habit we need to help the media overcome is the practice of putting “ism” on creation but not on evolution, but for USA Today, this was a surprisingly balanced article; it consisted largely of a back-and-forth series of charges and responses from both sides.  Let’s put some of the claims through the Baloney Detector:
  • Alberts: the growing threatfear mongering.
  • Alberts: to the teaching of scienceequivocation.  Science is not at stake; just the religious philosophy of naturalism.
  • Alberts: Teachers are under attack – more fear mongering.
  • Gerry Wheeler (Natl. Science Teachers Assn): I’m hoping it will give teachers the energy to make sure they stand for high-quality science teachingnon-sequitur; evolution has nothing to do with the quality of science teaching.  Good science teachers promote critical thinking, not indoctrination.
  • USA Today: To most scientists, evolution is defined as changes in genes that lead to the development of species.equivocation.  Evolution is much more than change; it is the claim that all of life has common ancestry in one or a few original life forms that came from non-living chemicals.  Bandwagon: do most scientists really feel this way?  Where are the numbers?  Even if this claim is correct, what most scientists think is not the issue, but what position the evidence supports.
  • USA Today: They see it as a fundamental insight in biologysubjectivity.  How a scientist or teacher feels about a belief is irrelevant.  An insight is only a hunch or preference till proved right.
  • USA Today: Creationism is the belief that species have divine originstraw man.  Fixity of species is not what creationists believe.
  • USA Today: Alberts complains that creationists, under the guise of intelligent design, have attempted to push evolution out of textbooks and classrooms in 40 statesbig lie.  No one is trying to push evolution out.  They are trying to add critique of evolutionary theory and give alternatives a chance.
  • Alberts: one of the foundations of modern science is being neglected or banished outright from science classrooms in many parts of the United Statesglittering generalities, big lie and fear mongering.  Again, evolution is not being banished, and if teachers are neglecting it, it is their own problem (perhaps inability to answer the questions perceptive students are asking), not due to laws or pressure.  Alberts is turning parents and students into bogeymen, when they are just acting as good citizens and getting involved in a controversial issue that affects their lives.  Just let Alberts show all the evidence for evolution and explain his statement about the factory of molecular machines, and tell us how it came about by chance.
        The foundations of modern science were laid by Christians and creationists (see online book) long before Charlie and his Musketeers usurped control of the scientific institutions.
  • Stephen Meyer: My first reaction is we’re seeing evidence of some panic among the official spokesmen for science – a fair assessment; why else would opponents of ID resort to fear-mongering and pressure? 
  • Meyer: intelligent design is not creationism but a scientific approach more open-minded than Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution – equivocal and potentially misleading unless terms are defined, which Meyer and other ID leaders have done elsewhere.  “Creationism” has become an unpopular buzzword that ID leaders avoid, but Meyer is right that ID is not concerned with the who or how of creation, but only with design detection.  It is true also that ID is more open-minded, because it does not rule out intelligent causes a priori.
  • USA Today: Biologists retort that any reproducible data validating intelligent design would be welcome in science journalsbig lie.  Why the uproar, then, when an intelligent-design paper passed peer review and was published in a legitimate science journal? (see 12/28/2004 entry and links).  In spite of the bias against overt ID, many papers do publish implicit evidences of exquisite design in living things, with no attempt to give it an evolutionary explanation (see 03/14/2005 and 03/11/2005 entries from many examples in the archives here).
  • Jeffrey Palmer: If there were indeed deep flaws in parts of evolutionary biology, then scientists would be the first to charge in therehalf truth.  We have printed a number of stories about scientific papers by evolutionists pointing out serious flaws with evolutionary theory (try 02/16/2005, 12/30/2004, 11/29/2004 and 08/05/2004 entries, to say nothing of dozens of stories about fossil problems, molecular genetics problems and complexities in life inexplicable by Darwinism or neo-Darwinism).  On the other hand, scientists are usually strangely silent about these problems when called as expert witnesses by courts or school boards.
  • Meyer: There are powerful institutional and systematic conventions in science that keep (intelligent) design from being considered a scientific process – he has evidence of this from his own recent experience and that of double-PhD editor Richard Sternberg (see Sternberg website).
  • Barbara Forrest: Oh, baloney; they aren’t published because they don’t have any scientific databig, big lie and bluffing.
  • Alberts: In his letter, Alberts criticizes Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe, a leading proponent of intelligent design, as being representative of the “common tactic” of misrepresenting scientists’ comments to cast doubts on evolutionhalf truth; quoting opponents as hostile witnesses is a legitimate debating technique; Alberts is bluffing that Behe misrepresents them; let him provide an example.
  • Behe: Behe calls this “outrageous,” saying he simply points out that even establishment scientists note the complexity of biological structures – a fair response, since there is plenty of documentation right here to support Behe’s assertion.
  • Susan Spath: proponents need to work together more proactively in educating the public about these issues.  The silver lining may be that this is an opportunity to enhance public understanding of scienceglittering generalities and positive spin doctoring.  Nice sentiments, if the pro-Darwinists would follow her advice.  If the public got educated about these issues they would throw the Darwinist rascals out.  We know from experience what the NCSE means: stifle debate, put up a facade, shield student eyes from incriminating evidence, redefine science as naturalistic philosophy, and demonize all opponents.  The last thing they want to do is show students the real scientific evidence, until in graduate school they have passed the temple rituals and sworn allegiance to Pope Charlie. 
Parents, teachers and scientists who are unhappy with the Darwinist arm of the Democratic Party (see 12/02/2004) and how they usurped control over the scientific institutions (see 10/24/2002 entry, and 12/22/2003, 01/15/2004 and 01/05/2004 commentaries) had better understand the tactics of their opposition and be prepared to confront them.  Remember that the goal is more and better science.  Don’t let them portray this debate as trying to “banish” evolutionary teaching.  If anything has been banished, it is criticism of his highness King Charlie the Usurper by the ruling Darwinist elites.  The battle is to allow more evidence to be heard, and help students learn to evaluate all the evidence with critical thinking skills.
    So now you’ve seen the head of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, a man who knows intimately the complexity of the cell, bluff his way past the opposition as if taking personal charge of a crusade.  It shows that the battle over origins is a major issue in educational policy with important ramifications for all of us.  Concerned citizens need to get informed and involved.  Don’t underestimate the power of the Darwin Party, but if you are well armed with evidence, don’t let them intimidate you, either.
Next headline on:  EvolutionIntelligent DesignEducation
How to Get Something from Nothing: Genetic Code, Syntax Explained?    03/23/2005
Two articles in recent science literature attempt to show that complex entities, like the genetic code and the syntax of human language, are no big deal.  They can emerge from precursors by chance.
    In PNAS recently,1 veteran researcher Harold J. Morowitz (George Mason U) and two colleagues proposed a new theory for the origin of the genetic code.  Today’s code, written in DNA, is composed of triplet nucleotide “words” called codons that match the amino acid “words” in the language of proteins.  Noting some regularities, namely that the first letters of each codon have a strong correlation with the precursor of the amino acid for which it codes, and the second letters determine whether the amino acid is hydrophobic (water-resisting) or hydrophilic (water-attracting), the scientists came up with an idea.  Maybe the amino acid precursors (alpha-keto acids) first attached to pairs of DNA bases (dinucleotides) that were floating around in solution.  From there, (take a breath): “The bases and phosphates of the dinucleotide are proposed to have enhanced the rates of synthetic reactions leading to amino acids in a small-molecule reaction network that preceded the RNA translation apparatus but created an association between amino acids and the first two bases of their codons that was retained when translation emerged later in evolution” (emphasis added in all quotes).
    They point out that their proposal differs substantially from earlier suggestions about the origin of the genetic code: the “stereochemical” hypothesis that chiral molecules attracted one another, the “coevolution” hypothesis that small numbers of amino-acid/nucleotide pairs grew gradually, and Francis Crick’s old suggestion that the code is a “frozen accident.”  This new hypothesis basically creates a set of amino acids linked to pairs of nucleotides: like proline linked to CC, and glycine linked to CA.  It presupposes that the genetic code began in doublet, rather than triplet, form.
    What happened next?  As more amino acids were added to the repertoire, the third nucleotide was needed.  The simplest four amino acids require only one reaction step, they say, but problems arise with the construction of amino acids with more complex side chains – problems left as uncertainties requiring further research.  One hopeful benefit of their model is that it might produce an excess of one hand of the amino acids.  A solution to the homochirality problem (see
online book) might therefore be at hand: “Thus, this model provides a plausible and testable hypothesis for the dominance of L-amino acids, a problem that has challenged prebiotic chemists for decades.”
    All this is a suggestion about the early stages of chemical evolution, before the emergence of macromolecules (proteins and DNA strands).  In conclusion, they explain:
The emergence of translation was obviously associated with expansion to a triplet code and selective pressures that led to codon assignments using the third position that minimize susceptibility to adverse effects of mutation and errors in translation.  Furthermore, translation requires an association of amino acids with their anticodons [i.e., the base-paired RNA “negatives” of codons on the DNA] not with their codons.  There are many ways in which these next steps toward translation might have occurred, and we have not yet examined these possibilities in detail.  One intriguing possibility is that amino acids might be removed from their dinucleotide catalysts by transesterification to the 2’ hydroxyl of an RNA oligonucleotide.  If this oligonucleotide were to recognize the base-pairing surface of the dinucleotide with a complementary sequence, then transesterification would lead to attachment of an amino acid to an RNA containing its anticodon.  This would result in an early version of a charged “tRNA.”  Furthermore, the base following the doublet anticodon would be equivalent to the third position of an anticodon in a triplet code in which there was as yet no information content associated with the third position.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Another something-for-nothing paper on a different subject was proposed in Nature last week.2  Ricard Sole pondered the puzzle of the origin of syntax in language, the so-called “communicative Big Bang” unique to humans.  He was intrigued by a suggestion in a Royal Society paper that “a simple word-object association matrix can provide the basis for syntax almost for free.”  For instance, the words “eat” and “meat” overlap with the meaning “edible organic matter,” even though one is a verb and one is a noun.  If all the linked words are arranged in a matrix, they start forming word networks that may have been the beginnings of syntax.  Add to that the fact that, according to Zipf’s law, the frequency of appearance of a word is proportional to its generality, and a basis for the emergence of syntax can be envisioned: “the possibility that early ‘protolanguage’ might have been ready-made for the development of a full syntax.”  They admit that this is only a “very rough way of associating symbols,” but hope that further studies might find this suggestion useful:
The study also suggests that Zipf’s law could have been a precondition for syntax and symbolic communication.  Once such a condition was met, the basis for the combinatorial explosion characteristic of human language was ready for selection to shape it.  The new theory will be subject to debate, but the remnants of the communicative Big Bang are evidently hiding somewhere inside modern language networks.

1Copley, Smith and Morowitz, “A mechanism for the association of amino acids with their codons and the origin of the genetic code,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print March 11, 2005, doi 10.1073/pnas.0501049102.
2Ricard Sole, “Language: Syntax for free?” Nature Nature 434, 289 (17 March 2005); doi:10.1038/434289a.
We can lump these two theories hypotheses suggestions into the category of MCS proposals (mighta, coulda, shoulda).  William Dembski proved rigorously in No Free Lunch that information must always come from prior information.  He also exposed the tricksters who try to sneak it in the back door to fool people that you can get something for nothing.  Here are two information-rich systems – the genetic code and human language – that pose daunting challenges to the Darwinists.  Both suggestions presented in these papers are fatally flawed, because by sneaking information in surreptitiously, hoping we wouldn’t notice, they violate their own naturalistic requirements.  Both failures strengthen the case for intelligent design.
    Morowitz’ proposal is so easily falsified it is surprising that someone of his reputation couldn’t see through it.  Did you notice that he tried to sneak natural selection before it is allowed? (see online book).  “The emergence of translation...” Hold it right there!  No miracle words allowed.  Emergence is not an explanation.  It is a circular argument that presupposes what he needs to prove, that the genetic code, and its elaborate translation apparatus, is amenable to a naturalistic explanation.  But we digress.  “The emergence of translation was obviously [speak for yourself, buddy] associated with expansion to a triplet code and selective pressures that led to codon assignments...”  Aha!  There it is, in black and white: “selective pressures.”  Foul.  There are no selective pressures without presuming the very thing he needs to explain: an accurate translation and replication process that can preserve carbon-copy descendents that will maintain any gains in functional information.  That disqualifies this proposal at the outset, but there are more problems with it.  He only gets an excess of one hand: not good enough.  It must be 100% pure (see online book).  He only gets pairs of dinucleotides with simple amino acids: such entities contain no value for a code, because there is no syntax.  They are as worthless as scattered Scrabble letters shuffled by chance.  Despite their knowledge of chemistry, Morowitz et al. have offered nothing more than a weak, implausible, partial suggestion that presupposes the very thing they need to prove and is disqualified because, by sneaking in miracle words, it contradicts its own naturalistic presuppositions.
    The second article tries to explain the origin of syntax by chance, this time in the sphere of human language.  Again, it is only the meagerest of suggestions, a flimsy straw tossed to slay Leviathan.  The origin of language has no evolutionary explanation, only just-so stories that replace each other from time to time.  The observations show 17 distinct language groups with no relation to one another, just as would be expected from a Tower of Babel incident; each is complex with grammar, syntax and vocabulary, with no precursors or analogs in the animal kingdom.  The suggestion that Zipf’s law is a “precondition” of syntax assumes what they need to prove.  In short, their word-association game theory is a paltry offering that fails to bridge the gap between “eat meat” and the sophisticated abstract reasoning of human beings.  They missed their day in court; human evolution was already falsified on genetic grounds (see 12/30/2004 entry) and logical grounds (see 02/16/2005 entry).  It was put out of business as just another free-lunch scam (02/18/2005).  Therefore we must reject this latest myth as “too little, too late.”
    Both these stories would never pass peer review if it were not for the Darwinists’ need to bridge the canyon between chance and design, between meaninglessness and meaning.  They get published in hope that they might help prop up the reigning world view.  To them, progress in science is made by proposing partial answers, no matter how implausible, that might be assembled some day into a complete something-from-nothing theory of everything (see helicopter in the canyon analogy, 05/22/2002 commentary).  Without the requirement of naturalistic philosophy, both logic and common experience lead the honest observer out of the dark cave into the light of day.  How does one get a code?  How does a communicative Big Bang happen?  Not from nothing, not by “emergence,” but from prior, superior Information.  Let the Darwin Party name one exception without assuming the philosophy of naturalism.
Next headline on:  Genetics and DNAOrigin of LifeEarly Man
ID in the News 03/23/2005: Josh Funk in the Wichita Eagle gave pretty good press to leaders of the intelligent design movement in Kansas.
Next headline on:  Intelligent Design

Public Not Patronizing Evolution-Based IMAX Films    03/23/2005
Mark Looy at
Answers in Genesis comments on reports that some IMAX movie theaters are dropping evolution-based films because the public is taking offense at them.  Looy denies that “religious fundamentalists” or creation organizations are putting any pressure on the theaters.  He claims this is just an informal grass-roots response by viewers who are becoming increasingly aware of the controversy over evolution.
Update 03/29/2005: Alan Leshner, AAAS president, wrote his colleagues expressing “strong concerns” over this trend, reports EurekAlert.  “The desire not to antagonize audiences and to avoid negative business outcomes is entirely understandable.” he conceded.  “Yet, the suppression of scientifically accurate information as a response to those with differing perspectives is inappropriate and threatens both the integrity of science and the broader public education to which we all are committed.”  He applauded the Forth Worth theater that reversed its decision to withdraw the film “Volcanoes of the Deep Sea.”

What if they threw a Darwin Party and nobody came?  The Darwinists must be running scared if their traditional propaganda markets are drying up.  They can’t force people to buy IMAX tickets, and no amount of big-budget special effects can compensate for distasteful ideas.  Nobody desires the suppression of “scientifically accurate information,” Dr. Leshner; that’s what this controversy is all about.  The public doesn’t like indoctrination into evolutionary just-so stories presented as if they were facts.
    Here’s the solution: make films with debate instead of indoctrination.  People like a good fight.  The creation side typically gives the best evolutionary arguments and then rebuts them.  Darwinists, even if they mention any controversy at all, either dispute other committed evolutionists, or set up straw men or red herrings without really dealing seriously with the main issues.
    Here’s another suggestion for IMAX theater managers.  Want to pack the places out?  Commission IMAX versions of the films Unlocking the Mystery of Life and The Privileged Planet.  Based on the track records of these films, you would probably attract busloads of interested people, who would come back with all their friends.  Even more would come just to find out what the commotion is about as a few Darwinists picket outside, chanting Evolution is a fact, read this place the riot act; ask me how I know it’s true, teacher said design’s taboo.
Next headline on:  Media and MoviesEvolution
Mars Crater-Count Dating Is All Wrong    03/22/2005
Planetary scientists have long relied on crater counts to estimate the ages of surfaces in the solar system.  The more craters, the older the surface, has been the assumption.  Now, according to a report in
New Scientist, the method is flawed, at least on Mars.  Data from the 2001 Mars Odyssey have shown rays around even small craters, showing that much more material has been ejected from impacts than expected.  Consequently, most of the small craters could be secondaries: i.e., fallback from a single larger impact.  “Massive plumes of ejected rock would have rained down to produce, in some cases, millions of secondary craters,” the article states.  This makes them “virtually useless” for dating surfaces, according to Alfred McEwen (U of Arizona).  Another said, “small craters may not be telling you much.”  Another comment: “This really changes things.”
Every dating method requires making certain assumptions.  Here, a pillar assumption has been toppled, and now they don’t know what to think, except that whatever revised date they come up with must fit the Sacred Parameter, the age of the solar system: 4.5 billion years: no questions asked.
Next headline on:  Dating MethodsMars
Echoes of Columbine: Belief in God Brings Bullet    03/21/2005
Grief counselors have been dispatched to Red Lake High School in Minnesota, says
Fox News, after a rampage by a neo-Nazi student left 10 dead and 14 wounded.  In a manner reminiscent of Columbine, according to MSNBC News, 17-year old killer Jeff Weise admired Hitler’s views on racial purity and was deep into goth culture and heavy metal music.  During the killing spree he reportedly asked a student named Ryan if he believed in God, then shot him.
Native Americans are not typically sympathetic to Nazi ideas.  How do you think this troubled young man got his head filled with philosophies of hate?  Let’s role play what happens next (after, of course, the incident is blamed on the availability of guns, which is already underway, or on poverty, even though many from bad backgrounds turn out to be sterling citizens).  You’re a Darwin Party grief counselor assigned to explain this atrocious act to the terrified students and give them advice how to deal with it.  What do you tell them?  Click here to send in your suggestions.
  • Predators and prey have always been part of the scheme of things; while I understand you feel sorry for your classmates, you can take comfort in the fact that you survived among the fittest (or the luckiest).
  • Jeff was just acting out his understanding of natural selection, maybe by hastening it a little too fast.  We each need to come up with our own way of cooperating with the principles of evolution.
  • Jeff couldn’t help himself because his frontal lobe was not fully developed.  It was the last thing to evolve in our ancestry from apes.  (See 03/08/2005 entry.)
  • We need to understand that our prejudices may not be correct.  Violence, for instance, can be a good thing.  It’s the method nature used to produce human beings in the first place.  We need to be willing to accept the distasteful fallout of this creative natural process, because look how much good came from it.
  • You can pray if you feel the need to.  Nobody is listening, but it appears that natural selection has produced warm feelings in the brain when we pretend.
  • Genetic mutations have been known to cause Homo sapiens sapiens to do things that other, less-evolved Homo sapiens sapiens may perceive as evil.
  • This is your brain; this is your brain on evolution, in a undeveloped, less culpable state.
  • All I can say is: I’m sorry.  Tough luck.
Next headline on:  Education
National Geographic Embellishes Human Fossil Data   03/20/2005
Confronting millions of homes around the world is National Geographic’s latest cover: a wide-eyed, fearful looking small human with black skin, flared ape-like nostrils, bloodshot eyes and disheveled hair – all make-believe.  What was found are bones of a small human population that inhabited the island of Flores in Indonesia (see
10/27/2004 entry); the soft parts, skin color, nose shape, lips, hair and all the rest were reconstructed by an artist.  The April 2005 cover was probably in production before the revelation earlier this month that the “hobbit” creature dubbed Homo florensiensis had an apparently advanced brain despite its smaller skull size (see 03/04/2005 entry).
    Inside, the subtitle declares, “Diminutive hominins make a big evolutionary point: Humans aren’t exempt from natural selection” (emphasis added).  The magazine is not claiming these beings were less than fully human, since true Homo sapiens fossils a hundred times older are represented on the evolutionary timeline.  Furthermore, any natural selection acting on this population of humans only reduced their stature, not their complexity or ability to make tools.  Nevertheless, the speculative artwork for which the magazine is famous abounds in this issue: a normal-size naked human white male hunting a naked black hobbit female in a cave, a hobbit male confronting a giant Komodo dragon, and naked specimens of the Dmanisi population of Homo erectus (see 08/01/2002 entry) fighting off hyenas from their prey.
The in-your-face attitude of National Geographic about evolution, with every claim getting sensational coverage more art than science, may be having a backlash (see 11/29/2002 entry); was this the last salvo by outgoing editor Bill Allen?  (See 02/15/2005 entry).  We already knew that National Geographic was playing fast and loose with this H. florensiensis fossil (see 12/01/2004 entry); they are perhaps the worst of all the lying reporters (see 11/29/2004 entry) because of their long track record of storytelling with artwork when the data does not justify it.  A picture is worth a thousand blurs (see visualization in the Baloney Detector).
    National Geographic is slow to mention various important points: (1) Fossils can be distorted by geology (see 03/28/2003 entry), especially these that were found in a delicate state “as fragile as wet blotting paper.”  (2) The questionable dating of early-man specimens (see 02/16/2005 entry, for example) sometimes leads to absurd conclusions (see 02/18/2005 entry).  (3) Variations among living humans (pygmy, Watusi, tall, short, thin, stout, etc.) could be enough to give paleoanthropologists a field day of classifying them into different species and evolutionary lineages if they were only known from skeletons; how much more so the flimsy remains of skeletons from the past, or the variations between Homo erectus (see 03/21/2002), Neanderthal (10/01/2004) and modern humans?  (4) All fossil hominids could fit within the expected range of variation of a single species, according to one researcher (see 01/01/2005 and 05/24/2004 entries).  Remember when Jeff Schwartz called Homo erectus a “mythical” classification?  (5) Most paleoanthropologists base their work on flawed assumptions, warned Leslie Hlusko last year (02/19/2004).  (6) Most of the early man artwork that disgraced earlier NG covers in the 60s and 70s has been debunked, and old assumptions have been replaced by new questions (11/05/2003).  Have they learned anything?  Apparently not much more than how to make even more realistic cartoons; teen voyeurs are sure to get a rush out of the current issue.  How do they know these tribes didn’t wear fashionable dragon-skin robes as they talked philosophy and politics around the campfire?
    Because National Geographic avoids these damaging points, and concentrates on art and storytelling more than data, they cannot be trusted as an impartial source.  They are bent on spinning any skull into a yarn about evolution, even though human evolution has already been falsified (see 12/30/2004 and 11/18/2004 entries).  Although they began asking some good questions about Dmanisi man back in 2002 (see 08/01/2002 entry), they made it look as primitive as possible this time.  And they leapt upon the Hobbit find way too early, long before it has been subjected to critical analysis and peer review.  Black people should be incensed over the racist representation of the smaller-than-normal population of human beings.  It’s time for sensible people to flood NG again with well-written, cogently-argued letters to the editor.  Don’t ask them to censor reports about fossils; insist, rather, that they present all the data, including the parts that undermine their favorite storytelling plots.  Let the new editor Chris Johns know you expect accuracy in media.
Next headline on:  Early Man
Horse Evolution Is Back on the Charts    03/18/2005
The old horse-evolution charts from the 1880s have been revised substantially since 1920 when paleontologists began to realize the story was not so simple.  (Thomas Huxley had used the series of O. C. Marsh as a focal point of his 1876 lecture tour in the United States.)  These charts portrayed small horses with three toes evolving into large horses with one toe.  Jonathan Wells wrote in his 2001 book Icons of Evolution that Darwinists have been more forthcoming about the horse series, in trying to set the record straight, more than with any other alleged proof of evolution.  This is evident in many museums, like the Natural History Museum in Washington, which instead of showing a straight tree of descent, exhibits more of a branching bush pattern, and points out that the old picture was inaccurate (see
03/02/2001 story).  Nevertheless, in Science this week,1 Bruce McFadden (U of Florida), a world export on horse paleontology, entitled his review article, “Fossil Horses—Evidence for Evolution.”
    It’s not that evolutionists ever denied horses descended from a common ancestor; they just revised the path evolution took.  The idea of orthogenesis (straight-line evolution), popular in the late 19th century, has given way to the paradigm that evolution by natural selection takes an undirected, random path.  In addition, the fossil evidence for horses has shown that some of the assumed ancestors and descendents were, instead, contemporaries.
    McFadden wrote the definitive book on horse evolution 13 years ago: Fossil Horses: Systematics, Paleobiology, and Evolution of the Family Equidae (Cambridge Univ. Press, New York, 1992).  Has the picture changed at all since Wells listed it among 10 “icons of evolution” that persist as myths more than proofs?  (See summary of argument on ARN.org.)  Surprisingly, McFadden labeled his revised phylogenetic tree, “Adaptive radiation of a beloved icon” (emphasis added in all quotes), and used the phrase again in his conclusion:
Fossil horses have held the limelight as evidence for evolution for several reasons.  First, the familiar modern Equus is a beloved icon that provides a model for understanding its extinct relatives.  Second, horses are represented by a relatively continuous and widespread 55-My [million-year] evolutionary sequence.  And third, important fossils continue to be discovered and new techniques developed that advance our knowledge of the Family Equidae.  The fossil horse sequence is likely to remain a popular example of a phylogenetic pattern resulting from the evolutionary process.
The evolution of which McFadden speaks is not simple variation – after all, there is a great deal of size and shape variation among modern horses, from Shetlands to Clydesdales – but macroevolution, or “higher level (species, genera, and above) evolutionary patterns that occur on time scales ranging from thousands to millions of years.”  Here, he is convinced, horses remain the definitive case: “The speciation, diversification, adaptations, rates of change, trends, and extinction evidenced by fossil horses exemplify macroevolution.
    To the chart: what picture does McFadden exhibit compared to the old icon?  Like Wells, he debunks orthogenesis:
The sequence from the Eocene “dawn horse” eohippus to modern-day Equus has been depicted in innumerable textbooks and natural history museum exhibits.  In Marsh’s time, horse phylogeny was thought to be linear (orthogenetic), implying a teleological destiny for descendant species to progressively improve, culminating in modern-day Equus.  Since the early 20th century, however, paleontologists have understood that the pattern of horse evolution is a more complex tree with numerous “side branches,” some leading to extinct species and others leading to species closely related to Equus.  This branched family tree (see the figure) is no longer explained in terms of predestined improvements, but rather in terms of random genomic variations, natural selection, and long-term phenotypic changes.”
The figure shows most of the fossils being contemporaries of one another in the upper third of the timeline, with grazers and feeders and browsers “exhibiting a large diversification in body size” scattered among the branches.  Only Hyracotherium and Mesohippus occupy the basal position in the tree.  Yet Wells pointed out that orthogenesis is still implicit in the new charts, regardless of the side branches, if there is a trunk leading from eohippus to Equus.  And he emphasized that both paradigms, straight-line and branching evolution, remain philosophical positions rather than observations.
    To the bones: what new fossils and revised interpretations of old fossils justify McFadden’s assertion that the horse series exemplifies macroevolution?  The complexity of the horse evolution picture becomes apparent when he points out that only one genus, Equus survives, while three dozen genera and several hundred species have gone extinct.2  Furthermore, most of the alleged macroevolution occurred in North America, where horses went extinct but survived in the Old World.  What evidence has come to light since the “branching bush” paradigm replaced the old icon?  While diversity is evident, macroevolution seems a matter of viewpoint:
Although the overall branched pattern of horse phylogeny (see the figure) has remained similar for almost a century, new discoveries and reinterpretation of existing museum fossil horse collections have added to the known diversity of extinct forms.  Recent work reveals that Eocene “hyracothere” horses, previously known as “eohippus” or Hyracotherium, include an early diversification of a half- dozen genera that existed between 55 and 52 Ma [milli-annum, million years] in North America and Europe.  New genera have recently been proposed for the complex middle Miocene radiation, although the validity of these genera is still debated.
The truth is in the teeth, he concludes: “Horse teeth frequently preserve as fossils and are readily identifiable taxonomically.  They serve as objective evidence of the macroevolution of the Equidae.”  Yet his discussion reveals that, although the teeth of these animals display considerable variety, “The tempo of this morphological evolution has sometimes been slow and at other times rapid.”  The final third of the chart shows groups branching out with teeth designed for grazing and others designed for browsing or feeding on both grasses and leaves.  What he terms “explosive adaptive diversification in tooth morphology” appears to have doubtful justification, since most of the species on the chart overlapped in time.
    McFadden mentions nothing else in support of horse evolution, but spends a paragraph debunking an old evolutionary myth: Cope’s Rule.  Cope and other early evolutionists seemed to assume bigger is better: ancestors were small, descendents got larger over time; “this notion is now known to be incorrect,” he says.  In his chart, horses got larger at first, but since 20 ma ago, “In contrast, from 20 Ma until the present, fossil horses were more diverse in their body sizes.  Some clades became larger (like those that gave rise to Equus), others remained relatively static in body size, and others became smaller over time.”  Nevertheless, as stated earlier, he concludes on the positive note that “The fossil horse sequence is likely to remain a popular example of a phylogenetic pattern resulting from the evolutionary process.”  But is a popular example the same thing as an expert’s example?
1Bruce McFadden, “Fossil Horses--Evidence for Evolution,” Science, Vol 307, Issue 5716, 1728-1730 , 18 March 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1105458].
2It must be recalled that identifying species from fossils is highly subjective, since interfertility cannot be established; today’s quarter horses and Belgians might be assigned to different species based on skeletal remains, yet are interfertile.
What’s wrong with this picture?  The horse evolution icon, like Rasputin, has been shot, stabbed and drowned, but is taking his time to get dead.  Here is one of the classic proofs of evolution, explicated by Mr. Horse Evolution himself, and are you convinced?  Saying this is proof of evolution doesn’t make it so.  Better look this gift horse in the mouth.
    Consider some salient points.  (1) Extinction is not evolution.  If a creature abruptly appears in the fossil record, survives for a time, then goes extinct, no evolution has occurred, in the macro sense.  (2) If animals appeared and existed as contemporaries, they cannot be arranged into ancestral relationships.  (3) If they existed on different continents, it becomes a stretch to assume they shared genetic information.  (4) Assigning skeletons to different species is a highly subjective process – and therefore subject to one’s presuppositions.  (5) The dating of these fossils assumes evolution and long ages – a case of circular reasoning.  (5) Variations in teeth adapted for different feeding habits reveal nothing about the origins of teeth.  Teeth are very complex structures (see 03/13/2003 and 06/04/2002 entries).  (6) Terms like “explosive adaptive diversification” assume evolution; they explain nothing about how random mutations could have produced simultaneous morphological changes that all had adaptive value.  (7) Interestingly, McFadden omits any mention of horse toes.  The old picture showed three-toed horses evolving into one-hooved horses of today.  But even that begs the question of whether one toe is better (or more evolved) than three; it almost seems backward.  Duane Gish in Evolution: The Fossils Still Stay No points out that in the evolutionary story of ungulates, the picture is reversed: ungulates supposedly evolved three toes from one.  (8) The basal clade Hyracotherium has doubtful relationship to horses at all.  Its position in the horse tree is merely for evolutionary wish fulfillment, to put something in the blank.  If omitted, most of the rest of the Equidae become contemporaries.  Furthermore, there is a big gap between Hyracotherium and anything preceding it, so where did it evolve from?  (9) McFadden’s analysis only considers size, teeth, and location.  How did the remarkable capabilities of the horse, like catapulting legs (01/02/2003) and damping muscles (12/20/2001)arise by chance?  (10) If you think this story is pathetic, the whole mammal phylogenetic tree is a mess (see 05/28/2002, 12/03/2003 and 03/18/2003 entries).
    In the Peanuts cartoon, Linus once asked Lucy to read him a bedtime story.  Exasperated by his persistent pleas, she blurted out, “A man was born, he lived and he died.”  Linus contemplated, “Makes you wish you could have known the fellow.”  Dry bones in the ground don’t say much.  Evolutionists, unsatisfied with the starkness of the raw data, enjoy the entertainment of weaving fanciful tales in between the bones.
    In short, McFadden seems committed to rescuing his beloved icon from the withering attacks of both creationists and other evolutionists, so that he can announce triumphantly in Science that the rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air only serve to give proof through the nighttime of data that the icon is still there.  But enough of storytelling.  Get a horse.  Go for a ride and clear your head of evolutionary confusion.  Horses are wonderful animals, full of grace, humor, expression, strength and majesty.  Learn some incredible things about horses in the new film Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution III.  Thank God for the horse, one of man’s most capable and faithful companions on earth.
Next headline on:  MammalsFossilsDarwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Agnosticism Loses: Arkansas Science Must Be Atheistic    03/18/2005
Updated 05/08/2005:  “What I’m trying to do here is not to deal directly with the existence or non-existence of God, but restore to science the agnostic viewpoint that there could be or could not be rather than the dogmatism that actually currently exists... that absolutely precludes the existence of God.”  These were the words of Republican state legislator Mark Martin in Arkansas, who introduced a bill in the legislature to allow for inclusion of intelligent design in public high school science classes: specifically, that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause and not by an undirected process such as natural selection.”
    Though favored by a 14-6 majority in the Education Committee, the bill was assigned by the Speaker of the House to the Rules Committee, “because he knew he could kill it there,” according to Martin, who contacted us with further details.  Since the Arkansas legislature is 75% Democrat, the outcome was predictable: “After explaining his aims with the legislation,” wrote Laura Kellams in the
Arkansas Democrat Gazette, “no one on the committee made a motion to recommend the bill to the House.”
    Martin’s proposed bill can be read in PDF format at the Arkansas State Legislature website.
Kellams distorted Martin’s words in her article to emphasize any possible religious motivation behind it, even though the bill explicitly stated that intelligent design theory, “Does not claim that science can determine the identity of the intelligent cause, nor does it claim that the intelligent cause must be a divine being or a higher power or an all-powerful force.”  She wrote:
Martin, who is a biomechanical engineer, said he’s not sure about the theory of evolution but that there’s enough scientific evidence to show that there’s “a lot of truth” to it.  “I don’t consider it in conflict with my strict Christian beliefs, or, quite frankly, my belief in the inerrancy of Scripture,” he said.  “I don’t believe that they have to be in conflict. I don’t have the answers to that stuff.”
Martin’s own school-aged daughter is taught at home because he wants her education to be Bible-based, he said.
This selection is a case study in reporter bias. 
  1. In the first place, she took his words out of context, because his uncertainty was about microevolution, not Darwinian macroevolution.  Small-scale variation is what he told her was not in conflict with his Christian beliefs.  She left out his elaboration about robust engineering and optimum design that explained his position more fully.  By omitting this key distinction between micro and macro, she made it seem like he was wishy-washy about evolution in general.
  2. Secondly, she cropped a quote: he said, “I don’t have all the answers to that stuff, and neither do the Darwinists.”  By omitting that last phrase, she portrayed him as uninformed and indecisive. 
  3. Thirdly, she ended her article with the Bible-based home-schooling item, making it appear he said this as part of the interview, when in fact he said it earlier during the campaign when asked why he home schooled his children.  Including this irrelevant detail used the power of suggestion to make it seem Martin was trying to impose his beliefs on students but keep his own children out of the public schools.
  4. Lastly, Kellams omitted the political shenanigans of the Speaker of the House who intentionally doomed the bill in the Rules Committee to avoid giving it a fair hearing.
With these tricks, Kellams perpetuated the media stereotype that opposition to evolution is religiously motivated, and deflected attention from the many and profound vulnerabilities of Darwinism (see our curriculum).
    Our original commentary on this story was very derogatory toward Martin, being based on Kellams’ article, because his religious statements seemed destined to feed the media stereotype, and portrayed him as uninformed about the meaning and intent of intelligent design theory.  As such, it appeared his actions in the legislature would do more harm than good.  Rep. Mark Martin contacted Creation-Evolution Headlines to clarify what he actually said and meant and what had happened to his bill in Committee.  His input changed the picture substantially.  We apologize to Rep. Martin and turn our criticism where it belongs, to the biased reporting in the media.

For a humorous lesson on the fine art of vituperation, read how David Berlinski dealt with a hot-headed critic: see EvolutionNews.org.  The critic blasted him for spouting “misconceptions, deceptions and lies.”  Berlinski is a master of adroitness with words.  Calmly but firmly, he put the loudmouth in his place.  Don’t try this at home unless you are good at it and know what you are talking about.
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignEducation

Home to E.T.: You Have Mail   03/17/2005
According to
MSNBC News, 138,179 people responded to an offer to beam a message into space.  “Yet another outfit, TalktoAliens.com,” the report continues, “is offering to broadcast your 900-prefix telephone call into space for $3.99 a minute.”
Let’s hope E.T. has his spam filter on.  Hey, Nigeria!  Hey, Star Registry!  Look at all these suckers waiting for your services.
    Why do you suppose so many for this offer?  Evolutionary indoctrination, perhaps?  Some philanthropist should get the address list and offer these poor folk free copies of Gary Bates’ hot new book Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection.  Throw in the video, too.
Next headline on:  SETIDumb Stories
Baloney Detecting Exercise for Students   03/17/2005
Jeff Barbour’s brief history of everything was published on
Universe Today.  His essay, entitled “Where does intelligent life come from?” paints a short but sweeping panorama from the Big Bang to humans.  Its style is somewhat like watered-down Carl Sagan or gilded Neil deGrasse Tyson (see 09/29/2004 entry).  Here’s a sample about the origin of life:
Although breeder stars formed within a few hundred million years of the Big Bang, life here on Earth took its time.  Our Sun – a third generation star of modest mass – formed some nine-billion years later.  Life-forms developed a little more than one billion years after that.  As this occurred, molecules combined to form organic compounds which – under suitable conditions – joined together as amino acids, proteins, and cells.  During all this one layer of complexity was added to another and creatures became ever more perceptive of the world around them.  Eventually – after more billions of years – vision developed.  And vision – added to an subjective sense of awareness – made it possible for the Universe to look back at itself.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Barbour makes no hint that a Creator might have had anything to do with any stage of this scenario, except for a brief mention in a footnote, surrounded by some strange statements (indicated by [?]):
That life develops from less sophisticated to more sophisticated forms is a question beyond scientific dispute.  Precisely how this process takes place is an issue of deep division in human society.  Astronomers – unlike biologists – are not required to hold any particular theory on this issue. [?]  Whether chance mutation and natural selection drives the process or some unseen “hand” exists to bring such things about is outside the realm of astronomical inquiry.  Astronomers are interested in structures, conditions, and processes in the universe at large.  As life becomes more salient to that discussion, astronomy – in particular exobiology – will have more to say about the matter. [?]  But the very fact that astronomers can allow nature to speak on such issues as a sudden and instantaneous “creation ex nihilo” in the form of a Big Bang shows just how flexible astronomical thinking is in regard to ultimate origins. [?]
High schoolers might be offended by the offhand way Barbour makes them seem dumber than bacteria: “Consider the high school chemistry lab experiments where hydrogen and oxygen gas are combined, heated then explode.  Primitive life forms had to learn to handle this very volatile stuff in a far safer manner – putting phosphorus to task in the conversion of ADP to ATP and back again.”  How said primitive life forms learned how to invent ATP synthase (see 02/23/2005 entry), or any of the other molecular machines in the simplest life forms we know about (see 03/14/2005 and 03/11/2005 entries), he does not explain. 
There’s nothing new or original here that makes this embarrassing litany of shameless bravado worth mentioning, except as an exercise for young Baloney Detectors who had better get armed against stupidity while young, because they’re going to get a lot of it in public school or on TV.  This piece is so lame, so full of deification of Nature and glittering generalities and bluffing, one wonders if Barbour wrote it in mockery of Tyson and the cosmic evolution genre in general.  Since he apparently was dead serious, we might as well have some fun with it.  It should make your Baloney Detector click like a Geiger counter in Chernobyl.  The hard part is trying to figure out which lines would not win Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week.
    Parents, teachers, print out Barbour’s little fairy tale, print out the Baloney Detector, get colored pens and have at it.  How many times does he confidently assert things without evidence?  How many wiggle words are there (maybe, probably, might have, etc.)?  How many times does he personify Nature or lower life forms, empowering them with creative genius just because there is a need?  How many times does he wave the magic wand of millions of years, as if time alone works wonders?  How many cases of miracle words or phrases (arose, emerged, joined, formed, took form) does he use?  How many claims are contradicted by observational evidence? (surfing through Creation-Evolution Headlines archives can be helpful here).
  Younger students might like to draw silly cartoons in the margins, or put on a puppet show, perhaps with Miss Piggy reading selections of this essay with Shakespearean flair, and Kermit interrupting occasionally to ask tough questions.  Maybe Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker would work as well.  When done having fun, click on the “Discuss this story” link at the end of the Universe Today article and let other readers, many not as precocious as your student, be granted at least a modicum of enlightenment.
Next headline on:  CosmologyEvolutionOrigin of LifeDumb Stories
Religion and Charity Evolved, Claim Darwinists    03/16/2005
“Charity begins at Homo sapiens,” quips Mark Buchanan in
New Scientist, noting that only human beings exhibit “true altruism” (i.e., helping genetic strangers, such as those suffering from the Asian tsunamis) when such behavior cannot help the individual pass on his or her genes.  He evaluates the various theories that evolutionary psychologists have come up with to explain this Darwinian conundrum: why would a person in a survival-of-the-fittest world sacrifice himself for the good of others?  Some think altruism was a maladaptation – a bad mutation – an evolutionary dead end that is destined to fade (and is fading) in the unpredictable path of human social evolution.  Others try to find some evolutionary good in it.  After reviewing competing ideas without arriving at a consensus, he says,
These findings suggest that true altruism, far from being a maladaptation, may be the key to our species’ success by providing the social glue that allowed our ancestors to form strong, resilient groups.  It is still crucial for social cohesion in today’s very different world.  “Something like it had to evolve,” [Herbert] Gintis says.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
How Jesus evolved to teach that one should do good deeds in secret (Matthew 6), he does not explain.  Buchanan provides discussion notes for teachers who may be confronted by students with theological questions:
3. TO PLEASE TEACHERS (AND GODS)
Despite our altruism, generosity may not be in our genes.  If true altruism has evolved through competition between groups, as some researchers maintain (see main story), then it is more likely to be the product of cultural evolution.  Genetic evolution works by selecting individuals with traits that are well adapted to their environment, but it has a far weaker grip on traits that benefit the group.  So altruism is more likely to be learned.  After all, every human culture invests considerable effort in instilling children with moral norms that help further cooperation.  Often these are enshrined in powerful religious beliefs and reinforced by promises of salvation and threats of eternal damnation.
Either way, genetically or culturally, charity just evolved, he concludes.  Religion is just an artifact of social evolution to reinforce the interplay of behaviors – cooperation, defection, punishment, reward – that arose by unguided processes of evolution over millions of years.
    A related claim about the evolution of religion was made on EurekAlert.  The article, entitled “Nature helps create religious adults,” reports on work published in the Journal of Personality by Laura B. Koenig et al..  They studied pairs of twins to see how their “religiousness” varied over time.
Religiousness was tested using self-report of nine items that measured the centrality of religion in their lives.  The twins graded the frequency in which they partook in religious activities such as reading scripture or other religious material and the importance of religious faith in daily life.  They also reported on their mother’s, their father’s, and their own religiousness when they were growing up.  They were also asked to report on the current and past religiousness of their brother.  The factors were divided into subscales— external aspects of religion, like observing religious holidays, that might be the most susceptible to environmental influence and internal aspects, like seeking help through prayer, that might be the most susceptible to heritable influence.  The external items were found to be more environmentally and less genetically influenced during childhood, but more genetically influenced in adulthood.  The internal scale showed a similar pattern, but the genetic influences seemed to be slightly larger in childhood compared to the external scale and so more consistent across the two ages.  “Like other personality traits, adult religiousness is heritable, and though changes in religiousness occur during development, it is fairly stable,” the authors conclude.
Although this article does not mention evolution or Darwinism specifically, the implication is clear: “religiousness” is a heritable trait passed along either through genetic or cultural evolution.
Gintis gets Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week for his sound bite, “something like it [altruism] had to evolve.”  To understand how just how absurd and self-refuting these claims are, turn the tables on the researchers.  Let’s perform a statistical study on evolutionists about their Darwinishness.  What social, genetic and family influences contributed to the centrality of Darwinism in their lives?  We could break the factors into external aspects of Darwinishness, like observing Darwin Day and telling just-so stories at evolutionary conferences, that might be susceptible to environmental influence, and internal aspects, like seeking help through meditating on The Origin of Species that might be the most susceptible to heritable influence.  Checkmate.
    Apart from the highly questionable statistical validity of any study based on self-reporting by human children, who are far too complex and manipulatable to provide any sound conclusions, and the contradictory and fallacious ideas built on game theory (see 02/10/2004, 09/17/2003 and 09/05/2003 entries), these articles represent the epitome of evolution as religion – a worldview reducing everything in the universe to its philosophical assumptions.  What these researchers are claiming is appalling.  Pastors, churchgoers, missionaries, teachers and anyone with a genuine faith in God based on sound doctrine and evidence should rise up in horror over this kind of nonsense and oppose it vigorously: first, because it is false; second, because it is illogical; third, because it is elitist, and most of all, because it is dangerous.  If our deepest beliefs and desires, our most merciful actions, our most fervent prayers and our highest moral values are all evolutionary artifacts of mutations acting on genes, resulting in social glue that evolves in unpredictable ways, and if people really started believing and acting on these assumptions, not even an evolutionist would want to live in the kind of society that would result.
    Not angry yet?  See also the next entry on ethics: how Darwinism is influencing the law.
Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryPolitics and EthicsDumb Stories
Mars Makeover Underway    03/16/2005
Amazing claims about Mars are coming in almost too fast to fathom, reports
Space.Com, especially from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter.  These include evidence for recently active volcanos, frozen ice beds, methane and vestiges of glaciers and waterfalls.  Activity is “only yesterday” in the standard geological timescale.  One said, “it could start up again tomorrow.”  Victor R. Baker (U. of Arizona) also talks about these findings in Nature.1.  See also “Mars still alive, experts agree” on the BBC News, and a New Scientist article that claims some of the activity may still be going on today.   The discussion about heat, methane and water is also triggering more verbal outgassing about possible life on Mars.  Though it is becoming less likely to find life at the surface, Leonard David on Space.com says, “it is not unreasonable to suggest that life on Mars not only emerged but could have survived to the present in underground niches.”
1Victor R. Baker, “Planetary science: Picturing a recently active Mars,” Nature 434, 280 - 283 (17 March 2005); doi:10.1038/434280a.
It would be very exciting to find active volcanos on Mars, and would raise new questions about the age of the planet: how could a smaller planet than Earth remain hot today?  The halitosis from the media about finding life comes from the Chef Charlie cookbook.  Recipe for life: heat rocks in a warm little pond till mud broth forms, sprinkle with meteorites, then store in a cave and wait a few million years.  When methane is emitted, it’s done.  Season with balderdash on a website.  Serves a million suckers.
Next headline on:  MarsOrigin of Life
Will Darwinian Law Protect the Unfit?    03/15/2005
For the soccer moms, sports fans and teen girls with cell phones glued to their ears who think Darwinism is just an egghead scientific thing, a press release from
Vanderbilt University connects evolutionary ideas to legal policies that could affect individual finances, private property rights, political correctness, social conventions, use of resources and public safety.
    Scholars from Vanderbilt and Yale argue that understanding the biological foundation of human behavior (i.e., human evolution) is critical to improving laws, yet they seem a tinge apologetic about past abuses.  Owen Jones and Timothy Goldsmith, publishing in the March issue of the Columbia Law Review, deny that “acknowledging biological causes of behavior somehow denigrates human free will or minimizes the importance of social and cultural conditions,” the article states.  Jones and Goldsmith also assure readers that proper understanding of biological causes can prevent misunderstandings and fear in the public mind:
“It may follow from demonstrably false dichotomies, such as ‘nature versus nurture,’ taking misleading hold in the public mind,” he [Jones] said.  “It may also follow from a variety of misunderstandings about how genes, environments and evolutionary processes interact with implications for behavior.  And it certainly has something to do with fears about what the political implications – for racism, sexism, genetic determinism and other evils – might be, based on the use or misuse of biological information.”   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Apparently the authors refer to the old Social Darwinism that simply ranked people as fit or unfit.  The new “evolutionary analysis in law” (a term coined by Jones in 1995), however, seeks only “to help inform the fields of law, economics and other social sciences with the latest scientific findings about human behavior.”  In what areas might “the biology of thinking” (e.g., behavioral biology, neurology, cognitive psychology) inform the law?  The article gives these examples:
Such an approach might enhance understanding why some penalties are more effective than others, how people make choices in areas such as environmental protection and retirement savings, and what the underlying causes of aggression are and how they help explain why young men are sometimes willing – even in the face of the severest penalties – to kill in reaction to threats to their status.
How could this evolutionary biological analysis affect lawmaking?
In the article, Jones and Goldsmith explore how an understanding of current behavioral biology research could improve the effectiveness of laws by – among other things – identifying behavior patterns that would be useful to understand when developing laws; revealing conflicts that exist between innate human behavior and public policy written to regulate that behavior; improving the cost-benefit analyses that are often used in developing laws; exposing unwarranted assumptions; assessing the effectiveness of legal strategies; and outlining deep patterns [i.e., biological patterns from evolutionary history] in the legal architecture.
The Dean of Academic Affairs at Vanderbilt is pleased that this paper, published in a prestigious journal, “indicates that the field of law and behavioral biology has momentum in legal scholarship.”  Though it is a “small but growing field,” evolutionary law will probably get a boost from this paper, and will foster “greater synthesis of life science and social science perspectives.”  Owen Jones has joint appointments in Vanderbilt’s law school and biology departments.  He founded the Society for Evolutionary Analysis in Law in 1997. 
Be afraid – be very afraid – when the Darwin Party writes the law.  Why?  Because they are biological determinists, moral relativists and elitists.  They do not believe that morals or responsibility exist except as phantom artifacts of mutations and natural selection acting over millions of years.  Jones and Goldsmith spout enough placating words to sound harmless, as if they have the best of intentions to merely prevent social evils (please define evil in evolutionary terms) like racism and sexism.  They just want to help the law be more effective, right?  But look down the road if consistent Darwinian theory were to be applied to the very areas they listed:
  • Effective penalties:  effective for whom?  The communists were experts in the development of “effective” penalties.  If the penal code becomes oriented for effectiveness instead of justice, be very, very afraid, because effectiveness becomes defined in terms of the goals of the ones in power, rather in terms of intrinsic right or wrong, justice, and mercy.  Such terms are undefined in the Darwin Dictionary.  Brainwashing and psychology can be very “effective.”  And what is a penalty, if not a deserved punishment for a sin?  It becomes a tool in the hands of a Pavlov, a force an elitist wields to elicit the response he wants from the human dog.  One of the scariest parts of the novel 1984 by George Orwell was when the inquisitor was able to get Winston, under torture, to lie about how many fingers he was holding up: and not just to lie, but to believe the lie.  Truth became whatever the powermonger wanted it to be.  By contrast, American law and English common law were built on the assumptions of natural rights from our Creator, and the existence of truth and absolute moral standards derived from the Judeo-Christian scriptures.
  • Environmental protection:  It is undeniable that evolutionary biologists, who are 100% Democrats (see 12/02/2004 entry), tend to view man as the villain in the ecology.  People will get the shaft in evolutionary law if the Elite Oligarchy, based on input from the Darwin Party soothsayers, determines that a certain gnat needs protection.
  • Retirement savings:  Here, the Darwinists view human vagaries between the desire for immediate gratification vs. long term planning as evolutionary artifacts of ape in our ancestry.  Since people are unwitting subjects of the evolutionary forces of the jungle, they cannot be expected to make sound choices on their own; they need the Elitists to help them.  And you thought that evolutionary theory had nothing to do with the current debate over Social Security.
  • Causes of aggression:  Carl Sagan used to talk about human tendencies toward aggression and territoriality as stemming from the “reptilian” part of our brain, another throwback to Haeckel’s recapitulation theory (see 03/08/2005 entry).  Darwinists cannot fathom a concept such as righteous anger or an axis of evil because these moral judgments are disallowed from “biological thinking” by definition.  Aggression is just a biological observation with no moral overtones, no different than a dog barking or a lizard hissing when threatened.  Humans are incapable of having moral motivations for aggression or for resistance to aggression, because such categories do not exist.  What happens in this line of reasoning?  It’s all about power, not about right and wrong.  The Darwinian Soothsayers tell the Elitist Oligarchy how mysterious Charlie Forces can help them win in the international pecking order, and what drugs to give the aggressive inmate to calm him down so that he is easier to control.  Being in control – that is the new righteousness.  It separates the elitists from the pawns.
  • Murder:  To a Darwinist, young men full of testosterone and ape in their brains are incapable of thinking rationally or make responsible choices.  So on the one hand, we cannot penalize them when they do what their biology makes them do (see 03/08/2005 entry again), and on the other hand, for the convenience of society, it might become necessary to sedate troublemakers to keep them compliant. 
Owen Jones looks like a gentleman in his suit and tie, a calm and erudite man of peace, but his ideas are deadly and fallacious: fallacious, because if he just looked in the mirror he would see biology so complex just in his eyes that defy evolutionary explanation; deadly, because it is the utter absence of moral categories that makes “Evolutionary Analysis in Law” a prospect more fearful than communist psychopolitics.  Such beliefs feed right into an elitist mindset.
If Jones were right that we were just evolutionary products from an animal past, we would have to live with that eventuality and make the best of it.  But he isn’t right and he could not be right.  For proof he isn’t right, look at nearly five years of reporting from of the scientific literature right here in these pages – there is hardly any category of evidence, from fossils to genes, that does not challenge evolutionary theory at every level.  And he could not be right, because his arguments are self-refuting.  If mind and intellect are products of mutations acting on molecules, then truth and values have no ultimate validity.  It is therefore disingenuous for Jones to use words with moral connotations (like evil, false, misleading, misuse, improve, effective) or even to make truth claims about what exists.  He cannot escape the Judeo-Christian assumptions that we live in a rational universe, and that as souls possessing the divine image, we can make use of universal laws of logic to discuss issues on an intellectual and moral level.  Even evolutionists act as if truth matters and has eternal validity, external to our transient biology; otherwise, they could not even claim evolution is true.
    Does a creation basis rule out all behavioral study and consideration of human biological influences when devising law?  Of course not; if God created man as an eternal soul inhabiting an animal-like body, coexisting with other animals in the same world, it is to be expected that we will share certain behavioral attributes with animals, such as fight vs. flight responses (notice how adrenaline kicks in), imitation, fear, mob psychology, authority and submission, sexual and food desires, and other behaviors influenced by hormones and other biological factors.  Evolutionary reductionism focuses on the biology but ignores the reality of the soul, which is able to make a man or woman subjugate the biological urges and contemplate truth, good, beauty, purpose and destiny.  Humans are unique among physical inhabitants of earth: we communicate in language, we think abstract thoughts, we exercise true altruism (see 03/16/2005 entry), we use logic, and we contemplate our place in the grand scheme of things.  These distinctively human activities are all mediated through and modulated by our bodily faculties.
    Creation-based law can and should take biological influences under consideration; Solomon, for example, remarked that no one despises a thief who steals bread because he is hungry.  But only humans make laws, and most laws presuppose that the moral categories of right and wrong are self-existent, not biologically determined.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” the American founders wrote, “that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  And to the protection of these rights they pledged their biology, their retirement savings, and (something evolutionists cannot fathom) their sacred honor.
Jones and Goldsmith would probably denounce, in the most vociferous terms, any association with Nazi and Stalinist ideologies or the nightmare scenarios of 1984.  But where is any essential difference in foundational concepts?  The worst mass murderers of the 20th century believed that the law needed to be informed not by absolute standards of right and wrong, but by evolutionary thinking.  These modern intellectuals, looking innocent in their academic gowns, might want to distance themselves from the atrocities committed under those regimes, but since the evolutionary assumptions are the same, they must be held accountable to what new horrors would follow from application of their misguided counsel.
    The law needs evolution like a shopping mall needs a terrorist.  Before the bloodbaths of communism and Nazism stained the 20th century as the worst mass-murder period in history, Christian scholar J. Gresham Machen warned of the deadly fallout of bad ideas, and advised thinking men of their priorities: “What is today a matter of academic speculation begins tomorrow to move armies and pull down empires,” he said.  “In that second stage, it has gone too far to be combatted; the time to stop it was when it was still a matter of impassionate debate” (Christianity and Culture, 1912, italics added).
To make an effective impassioned debate against evolutionary lawyers, one must be informed and skilled in strategic argumentation.  Sadly, many well-meaning creationists enter the fray naked and unarmed in both knowledge and tactics.  Evolutionists dismiss religious based arguments out of hand; such approaches put them into patronizing mode.  They need to be knocked off their paper ivory towers.  Challenge them, instead, with the scientific fallacies evolutionary theory and the logical fallacies of evolutionary philosophy: i.e., don’t let them make truth claims or give advice inconsistent with their own assumptions, or let them get away with borrowing Judeo-Christian values and terms.  Challenge also their attempts to exempt themselves from the consequences of their own worldview.  They are not allowed to act as intellectuals detached from the rest of the pawns of evolutionary forces.  Such tactics trip them up in their own nets, turn their bluffing arguments into hot air, and make them fall on their own sword.  Learn the art and science of intellectual engagement: master the Baloney Detector and keep up to date on the news right here.
If you want to take part in the most impassioned debate of our time – if you want a cause worth fighting for – now, before the armies march, before the empires are pulled down, is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their worldview.  Let Creation-Evolution Headlines be part of your daily basic training, and help recruit others.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsDarwinism and Evolutionary Theory
The Future of Biology: Reverse Engineering    03/14/2005
Just as an engineer can model the feedback controls required in an autopilot system for an aircraft, the biologist can construct models of cellular networks to try to understand how they work.  “The hallmark of a good feedback control design is a resulting closed loop system that is stable and robust to modeling errors and parameter variation in the plant”, [i.e., the system], “and achieves a desired output value quickly without unduly large actuation signals at the plant input,” explain Claire J. Tomlin and Jeffrey D. Axelrod of Stanford in a Commentary in PNAS.1  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)  But are the analytical principles of reverse engineering relevant to biological systems?  Yes, they continue: “Some insightful recent papers advocate a similar modular decomposition of biological systems according to the well defined functional parts used in engineering and, specifically, engineering control theory.
    One example they focus on is the bacterial heat shock response recently modeled by El-Samad et al.2 (see
01/26/2005 entry).  These commentators seem quite amazed at the technology of this biological system:
In a recent issue of PNAS, El-Samad et al. showed that the mechanism used in Escherichia coli to combat heat shock is just what a well trained control engineer would design, given the signals and the functions available.
    Living cells defend themselves from a vast array of environmental insults.  One such environmental stress is exposure to temperatures significantly above the range in which an organism normally lives.  Heat unfolds proteins by introducing thermal energy that is sufficient to overcome the noncovalent molecular interactions that maintain their tertiary structures.  Evidently, this threat has been ubiquitous throughout the evolution of most life forms.  Organisms respond with a highly conserved response that involves the induced expression of heat shock proteins.  These proteins include molecular chaperones that ordinarily help to fold newly synthesized proteins and in this context help to refold denatured proteins.  They also include proteases [enzymes that disassemble damaged proteins] and, in eukaryotes, a proteolytic multiprotein complex called the proteasome, which serve to degrade denatured proteins that are otherwise harmful or even lethal to the cell.  Sufficient production of chaperones and proteases can rescue the cell from death by repairing or ridding the cell of damaged proteins.
This is no simple trick.  “The challenge to the cell is that the task is gargantuan,” they exclaim.  Thousands of protein parts – up to a quarter of the cell’s protein inventory – must be generated rapidly in times of heat stress.  But like an army with nothing to do, a large heat-shock response force is too expensive to maintain all the time.  Instead, the rescuers are drafted into action when needed by an elaborate system of sensors, feedback and feed-forward loops, and protein networks.
    The interesting thing about this Commentary, however, is not just the bacterial system, amazing as it is.  It’s the way the scientists approached the system to understand it.  “Viewing the heat shock response as a control engineer would,” they continue, El-Samad et al. treated it like a robust system and reverse-engineered it into a mathematical model, then ran simulations to see if it reacted like the biological system.  They found that two feedback loops were finely tuned to each other to provide robustness against single-parameter fluctuations.  By altering the parameters in their model, they could detect influences on the response time and the number of proteins generated.  This approach gave them a handle on what was going on in the cell.
The analysis in El-Samad et al. is important not just because it captures the behavior of the system, but because it decomposes the mechanism into intuitively comprehensible parts.  If the heat shock mechanism can be described and understood in terms of engineering control principles, it will surely be informative to apply these principles to a broad array of cellular regulatory mechanisms and thereby reveal the control architecture under which they operate.
With the flood of data hitting molecular biologists in the post-genomic era, they explain, this reverse-engineering approach is much more promising than identifying the function of each protein part, because:
...the physiologically relevant functions of the majority of proteins encoded in most genomes are either poorly understood or not understood at all.  One can imagine that, by combining these data with measurements of response profiles, it may be possible to deduce the presence of modular control features, such as feedforward or feedback paths, and the kind of control function that the system uses.  It may even be possible to examine the response characteristics of a given system, for example, a rapid and sustained output, as seen here, or an oscillation, and to draw inferences about the conditions under which a mechanism is built to function.  This, in turn, could help in deducing what other signals are participating in the system behavior.
The commentators clearly see this example as a positive step forward toward the ultimate goal, “to predict, from the response characteristics, the overall function of the biological network.”  They hope other biologists will follow the lead of El-Samad et al.  Such reverse engineering may be “the most effective means” of modeling unknown cellular systems, they end: “Certainly, these kinds of analyses promise to raise the bar for understanding biological processes.
1Tomlin and Axelrod, “Understanding biology by reverse engineering the control,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0500276102, published online before print March 14, 2005.
2El-Samad, Kurata, Doyle, Gross and Khammash, “Surviving heat shock: Control strategies for robustness and performance,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0403510102, published online before print January 24, 2005.
Reader, please understand the significance of this commentary.  Not only did El-Samad et al. demonstrate that the design approach works, but these commentators praised it as the best way to understand biology (notice their title).  That implies all of biology, not just the heat shock response in bacteria, would be better served with the design approach.  This is a powerful affirmation of intelligent design theory from scientists outside the I.D. camp.
    Sure, they referred to evolution a couple of times, but the statements were incidental and worthless.  Reverse engineering needs Darwinism like teenagers need a pack of cigarettes.  Evolutionary theory contributes nothing to this approach; it is just a habit, full of poison and hot air.  Design theory breaks out of the habit and provides a fresh new beginning.  These commentators started their piece with a long paragraph about how engineers design models of aircraft autopilot systems; then they drew clear, unambiguous parallels to biological systems.  If we need to become design engineers to understand biology, then attributing the origin of the systems to chance, undirected processes is foolish.  Darwinistas, your revolution has failed.  Get out of the way, or get with the program.  We don’t need your tall tales and unworkable utopian dreams any more.  The future of biology belongs to the engineers who appreciate good design when they see it.
    It’s amazing to ponder that a cell is programmed to deal with heat shock better than a well-trained civil defense system can deal with a regional heat wave.  How does a cell, without eyes and brains, manage to recruit thousands of highly-specialized workers to help their brethren in need?  (Did you notice some of the rescuers are called chaperones?  Evidently, the same nurses who bring newborn proteins into the world also know how to treat heat stroke.)  And to think this is just one of many such systems working simultaneously in the cell to respond to a host of contingencies is truly staggering.
    Notice also how the commentators described the heat shock response system as “just what a well trained control engineer would design.”  Wonder Who that could be?  Tinkerbell?  Not with her method of designing (see 03/11/2005 commentary).  No matter; leaders in the I.D. movement emphasize that it is not necessary to identify the Designer to detect design.  But they also teach that good science requires following the evidence wherever it leads.
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignCell Biology
Ethics Watch 03/12/2005:  Scientists may have found an ethical source of stem cells: unfertilized human eggs, reports News@Nature.  If so-called parthenogenetic eggs can differentiate into stem cells without sperm, it may allow proponents of embryonic stem cell research to avoid the charge of killing human embryos.
    Even with this prospect, however, cell biologist Nancy L. Jones of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center warns that the time to discuss the ethics is before, not after, experimentation begins.  Her comments and those of bioethicist William P. Cheshire of the Mayo Clinic can be read on EurekAlert.
    That hasn’t stopped stem cell research from going full steam ahead.  A news release from Ohio State reports that researchers have found a way to mass-produce embryonic stem cells to meet the expected demand.  It makes no mention of ethical concerns.
Next headline on:  Politics and Ethics

Oldest Fossils Aren’t   03/11/2005
A new analysis of the world’s oldest claimed fossil rock, a banded deposit off the coast of Greenland said to be 3.8 billion years old, probably contains no signature of life, reports Stephen Moorbath (Oxford) in Nature.1  He has visited the Akilia site twice where rocks were purported to contain graphite of biological origin.  He couldn’t find it. 

This persuasive discovery seems an almost inevitable, yet highly problematic, consequence to the increasing scientific doubts about the original claim.  We may well ask what exactly was the material originally analysed and reported?  What was the apatite grain with supposed graphite inclusions that figured on the covers of learned and popular journals soon after the discovery?  These questions must surely be answered and, if necessary, lessons learned for the more effective checking and duplication of spectacular scientific claims from the outset.
    To my regret, the ancient Greenland rocks have not yet produced any compelling evidence for the existence of life by 3.8 billion years ago.
  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Add to that the downgrading of claims about life-signatures in Western Australian rocks said to be 3.5 billion years old, and there is a big gap until the more reliable claims of bacterial fossils in Ontario’s Gunflint formation said to be 1.9 billion years old.  “ To have a chance of success,” he warns, “it seems that the search for remnants of earliest life must be carried out on sedimentary rocks that are as old, unmetamorphosed, unmetasomatized and undeformed as possible.  That remains easier said than done.”
1Stephen Moorbath, “Palaeobiology: Dating earliest life,”
Nature 434, 155 (10 March 2005); doi:10.1038/434155a.
This admission does nothing to help the Darwinists.  Even trusting the shaky dating methods for the sake of argument, it adds to the problem that life appeared suddenly in a profusion of forms.  Moorbath has just robbed his fellow Darwinists of half their allotted practice time for bacteria to hone their engineering skills.  Those bacteria must have had to race extra fast to invent all the molecular machines needed for the higher organisms that followed.  To add to the Darwinists’ woes, the microbiologists are finding evidence of sophistication in the most “primitive” forms of life (see next entry).  A cartoon of a man’s head in a vice comes to mind.
    Did you catch the line that a claim was made without sufficient evidence, yet was featured on the covers of “learned and popular journals”?  Could that be happening today?  Has anyone learned the lesson?
Next headline on:  FossilsGeology
Bacterial Engineering On Par With Higher Life   03/11/2005
Bacteria aren’t the simple life-forms microbiologists used to envision, writes Zemer Gitai in Cell.1
Recent advances have demonstrated that bacterial cells have an exquisitely organized and dynamic subcellular architecture.  Like their eukaryotic counterparts, bacteria employ a full complement of cytoskeletal proteins, localize proteins and DNA to specific subcellular addresses at specific times, and use intercellular signaling to coordinate multicellular events.  The striking conceptual and molecular similarities between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell biology thus make bacteria powerful model systems for studying fundamental cellular questions.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
This is different from the traditional picture of bacteria, he elaborates:
This traditional perspective [of bacteria as fundamentally different from eukaryotes (i.e., simpler] changed significantly in the past decade with dramatic advances in our understanding of bacterial cell biology.  Work in multiple species has demonstrated that bacteria are actually highly ordered and dynamic cells.  Much like their eukaryotic counterparts, bacterial cells are capable of polarizing, differentiating into different cell types, and signaling to each other to coordinate multicellular actions.  The more recent surprises come from advances in fluorescence microscopy, demonstrating that bacterial cells exhibit a high level of intracellular organization.  Bacteria dynamically localize proteins, DNA, and lipids to reproducible addresses within the cell and use this dynamic organization to tightly regulate complex cellular events in both space and time.
Gitai provides detail on the following examples: (1) Bacteria have homologs of the eukaryotic cytoskeleton, (2) bacterial cells are subcellularly organized (i.e., are not lacking organelles or a nucleus-like function), (3) several mechanisms underlie bacterial subcellular organization, and (4) bacteria are able to engage in multicellular activities.
    “Bacteria are wondrously diverse and resourceful, occupying virtually every environmental niche imaginable,” he writes in conclusion. 
1Zemer Gitai, “The New Bacterial Cell Biology: Moving Parts and Subcellular Architecture,”
Cell, Volume 120, Issue 5, 11 March 2005, Pages 577-586, doi:10.1016/j.cell.2005.02.026.
Sadly, Gitai assumes evolution in various places, but not with evidence: only with inference, in spite of the evidence.  For example, “If systems are similar due to convergent evolution, they can point us toward nature’s optimal solution to a problem, whereas, if they differ due to divergent evolution, they can identify the basic rules that have remained intact.”  Those are pretty big ifs.  What if they are both due to intelligent design?  He would never think of asking the right questions, even though he has no answers.  “The evolutionary relationships between actin, MreB, and ParM remain unclear, as they are similarly divergent from each other,” he drones in one place, and “The interrelatedness of these spiraled structures remains unclear,” in another.
    The rest of his references of evolution only assume it.  He has convergent evolution (read: simultaneous miracles) happening all over the place.  He personifies nature in the previous quote: “nature’s optimal solution to a problem.”  Now that we know who the Darwin Party’s goddess is – Tinkerbell (see 03/08/2005 commentary) – we wish him luck getting optimal solutions from her.  Tinkerbell’s technique is to zap organisms with mutations using her magic wand.  But she flitters about from place to place with no goal in mind, only hoping that the bullets she fires into the machinery will make things run better.  You know the game is rigged when two separate organisms arrive at the same optimal solution.  Calling it convergent evolution will not fool the perceptive viewers of this magic kingdom; they know somebody is behind the scenes controlling the show.
    For this reason, we have to give this story both the Amazing and Dumb awards.  Amazing for the bacteria, Dumb for the human.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyIntelligent DesignEvolutionAmazing Stories (scientific content) • Dumb Stories (evolutionary interpretation)
Martians Might Be Troglodytes   03/11/2005
According to an article on
Space.Com, Spirit and Opportunity aren’t going to find critters on the surface.  Since the surface is harsh because of radiation, a safer environment might be found in caves.  The discovery of soluble rock and methane is leading some to imagine that extensive caves might exist on Mars, and maybe that is where the methane is coming from.  Could methane emissions be a signature of life?  “The fact that you find methane does not mean you have to have life,” said Tobias Owen (U of Hawaii), one of the discoverers of methane on Mars (and also a member of the Huygens team).  “You have to be very careful.”  John Rummel agrees.  He’s a NASA planetary protection advisor tasked with avoiding undue contamination of Mars (and, conversely, of Earth from Martian organisms).  Apparently smarting from the fallout of the over-hyped Martian Meteorite saga of 1996, he said, “It’s an art of managing uncertainty.  The public deserves an honest agency.”
We deserve it, but we’re not getting it.  All the rhetoric about water indicating life and methane indicating life is giving NASA a bad name, at least among logically-minded people.  Water is to life what iron is to a city.  Cities need iron, but the element does not imply the other.  Life is characterized by functional information – specified complexity – not the basic elements of which it is composed.  Neither does finding earth-life in extreme environments imply it originated there by evolution, and astrobiologists know this.  The public deserves an honest agency.
Next headline on:  MarsOrigin of Life
Are Stone Age Hunter-Gatherers Evolving or Devolving?   03/11/2005
Anthropologists typically view stone age tribes as stuck in an eddy from primitive beginnings, never advancing into civilization.  Yet some tribes of hunter-gatherers in Thailand and Laos appear to have been farmers in their past, reports
Science Now with apparent surprise:
Traditionally, anthropologists thought that modern hunter-gatherer tribes like the Mlabri descended through the ages unchanged.  But an analysis of the tribe led by Mark Stoneking of the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, indicates that these communities are more complex than previously imagined.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Genetic comparisons with other agricultural tribes, as well as studies of tribal myths, indicate that these people reverted to hunting and gathering after years of experience in agriculture.
Stoneking can’t stay away from the E word, even though the evidence is against it: “hunter-gatherers have changed and evolved, particularly in response to interactions with agricultural groups,” he equivocates.  All evolution would have to involve change, by definition; but not all change is evolution, in the Darwinian sense.  Charlie did not intend to teach that humans were evolving downward into more primitive forms.  If that were the trend, we would all be bacteria in a few hundred million years.
    Creationists predict that humans will always be found to be innately intelligent and capable, yet often degenerate because of sin.  People started smart and fell backward because of sin, but have always been fully human, made in the image of God.  Evolutionists believe humans are at the end of a long progression toward increasing complexity and intelligence, so they would expect some to be further behind in social evolution.  Whose prediction fit these observations?
    The politically-correct view of tribal peoples is that they should be left alone; they are noble savages, in touch with their environment.  But if evolution is falsified, the picture changes.  Biblical creationists especially see them as descendants of advanced civilizations who once knew how to build ships and cities, mine metals and make musical instruments.  If so, it is not merciful to leave them in their lost and degenerate state.  Scientists, of all people, should mourn the foolish mythologies and needless diseases that enslave many of these people.  They should want to help them learn to think scientifically, to test claims by experiment.
    This does not imply that civilization is better in every way, or that some civilized nations have inherent superiority over those who choose to live in a simpler manner.  But Christian missionaries know that natives are often eager to get modern medicines, for example, and learn more productive ways to find water and food.  And for tribes lost in pagan darkness, fear and superstition, the message of a loving and forgiving Creator God is often the most hopeful, joyful, liberating thing they have ever heard.  Watch the Ee-taow! films and see.
Next headline on:  Early Man
Titan: Case of the Missing Methane (and Ethane)   03/11/2005
In
Astrobiology Magazine this week, an article explained why the lack of methane and ethane oceans on Titan is so mysterious.  Jonathan Lunine, a chemist and astrobiologist who has been studying Titan for over two decades, explained why these hydrocarbons ought to be there.  Methane (CH4) is split by ultraviolet light from the sun.  The hydrogen drifts off to space, leaving more carbons and fewer hydrogen atoms.  These join into more complex hydrocarbons, especially ethane (C2H6) which precipitate out of the clouds and fall to the ground.  Ethane and methane should both be liquid at the 95K temperatures on the surface. 
Since this chemistry is irreversible, we can say that products are being made and deposited on the surface.  If the chemistry on Titan has gone on in steady-state over the age of the solar system, then we would predict that a layer of ethane 300 to 600 meters thick should be deposited on the surface.  That would make it the biggest hydrocarbon reservoir on any of the solid bodies in the solar system.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Yet even before Huygens landed (see 01/21/2005 story), it was clear the ethane was not there, and none of the expected oceans of methane were detectable.  The only alternative explanations Lunine can think of are (1) there are unknown reservoirs of methane under the surface, or (2) “the chemistry is an occasional process, and we happen to be seeing Titan today at a time when chemistry is ongoing, where there is enough methane in the atmosphere.”  (Generally, planetary scientists try to avoid the notion that humans are living in a special time when unusual things are happening.)  (3) A third idea is that some less-dense hydrocarbon, like polyacetylene, is floating on the oceans and covering them up. 
Sorry, astrobiologists, you lost the prediction (see 01/15/2005 commentary).  You cannot keep multiplying ad hoc assumptions to keep your falsified tale alive.
    Notice that Lunine did not even consider the possibility that Titan is young.  The belief that these objects are billions of years old is sacrosanct, because the Darwin Party thought police will not tolerate thefts of the time they need to evolve molecules into men.
Next headline on:  Dating MethodsSolar System
Poll 03/10/2005: On Baptist Press News, Mark Hartwig explains the results of a poll of public school students.  It shows that, despite decades of indoctrination into evolution, only 18% believe that God was not involved in the origin of man.  Evolution supporters are “frustrated” by such findings, he says; “They’re pulling their hair out over these polls.”
Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory

Plants Produce Jigsaw Puzzles   03/11/2005
The cells on a leaf interlock one another, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  In a manner similar to jigsaw puzzles, which can be lifted by the hand even though composed of individually-weak pieces, this gives the leaf structural strength.  How does this come about?  In the current issue of Cell,1 Jeffrey Settleman (Harvard) explains the work of Fu et al. that reveals an “elaborate mechanism” of controls and feedback systems.  Plants possess multiple proteins that interact: one can cause one wall of a cell to pinch in, while another bulges it out.  These “molecular switches” antagonize each other in delicate ways to produce the interlocking effect, as explained in a press release from
UC Riverside:

These proteins tell one part of a cell to grow outward while telling its neighbor to recede or indent itself in a finely tuned biological dance.  The results are structures that, despite their delicate appearance and slenderness, provide the strength necessary to allow the plant to grow and thrive.
    The findings point out that these distinct signals play a critical role in the development of leaf cell walls and leaf structures in a controlled and ordered way and that genetically over expressing one or the other leads to cells lacking the interlocking jigsaw puzzle appearance.
  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
They found that plants grown without the genes for these proteins could not produce the interlocking pattern.  Although they have made progress understanding how this works, there’s much more going on: “While the researchers unlocked a fascinating mechanism of biochemical crosstalk that coordinates cells into tissues, a deeper understanding of how plant cells chemically talk to each other to grow or recede in an ordered way remains unclear.”  For one thing, how does a protruding lobe find the corresponding socket?  What master control coordinates all the individual activities?  More research is needed.
1Jeffrey Settleman, “Intercalating Arabidopsis Leaf Cells: A Jigsaw Puzzle of Lobes, Necks, ROPs, and RICs,” Cell, Volume 120, Issue 5, 11 March 2005, Pages 570-572, doi:10.1016/j.cell.2005.02.025.
Things don’t just happen.  The intricate patterns in nature are controlled by elaborate mechanisms and programs.  Think of how weak a cell of cytoplasm is; how does it gain the strength to stand up against gravity, hold out its leaves, and grow?  Here is another example where multiple players work in a coordinated way for a purposeful result.  Why, then, do Darwin Party propagandists make outlandish claims that there is not a shred of evidence for creation?  If they cannot explicate in detail the “numerous, successive, slight modifications” that could achieve this kind of engineering by chance, they’ve got monstrous puzzles of their own.
Next headline on:  Plants, BotanyAmazing Stories
Gallery 03/10/2005: Photos of Saturn’s moon Enceladus have been published from Cassini’s flyby March 9 at the closest range ever, 310 miles (see also 03/04/2005 entry).  Browse the images on the Cassini Imaging Science website.  Enceladus is one of the most intriguing moons in the solar system.  It has an extremely bright water-ice surface and evidence of recent surface activity.  Here’s your chance to play detective and try to solve a long-standing puzzle: what is the nature of the surface features, and what caused it?  Some improved shots of Tethys were also obtained on the outbound leg.
Update 03/16/2005: Surprise!  Enceladus has an atmosphere, say scientists at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  It must be continually erupted out from volcanos or geysers, because the moon’s low gravity could not retain an atmosphere for long.  The imaging team at University of Arizona just released a stunning set of mosaics and false-color images.
Next headline on:  Solar System

Mad Science: Stanford to Create Rat with Human Brain    03/10/2005
Those who thought stem cell research was about helping people afflicted with disease may become alarmed over Stanford’s latest experiment, reported by the
UK News Telegraph: the creation of a lab rat with all human brain cells.  The article quotes Wesley Smith of Centre for Bioethics and Culture warning, “biotechnology is becoming dangerously close to raging out of control,” and writing, “Scientists are engaging in increasingly macabre experiments that threaten to mutate nature and the human condition.”
    Actor Michael J. Fox uses a mouse puppet to encourage popular support for Stanford stem cell research.  Irving Weissman, the leader of the research team, promised that he would “monitor the experiment closely and destroy them at the slightest suggestion of human-like brain patterns.”  The stem cells for the experiment are to be taken from aborted human fetuses. 

The article quotes William Cheshire, a neurology professor at the Mayo Clinic and a Christian activist, preaching, “We must be careful not to violate the integrity of humanity or of animal life.  Research projects that create human-animal chimeras risk disturbing fragile ecosystems, endanger health and affront species integrity”  But such sermons are likely to fall on deaf ears in the modern biotech lab, which long ago jettisoned the Judeo-Christian foundation for ethics, and now views protestors as a mere nuisance (see 02/11/2005 entry).
    Since there is no ban on this kind of research, and since the Darwinists view all life as clumps of cells, which are in turn clumps of chemicals, there is no stopping their tinkering with human life in the same manner as they would mix reagents in a test tube.  The thought of a human-mouse mixture will undoubtedly be fodder for jokes and cartoons in some quarters, but it is deadly serious.  We are well on the way into a Darwinian brave new world, treating human flesh as a commodity, with eager labs racing to outdo each other, well funded from government and taxpayer largesse (see 02/18/2005 entry).  Proponents tantalize onlookers with promises of miracle cures, but what horrors this uncontrolled, values-free enterprise will produce can only be imagined.
Next headline on:  Politics and Ethics
Complex at the Beginning: Distant Galaxy Cluster Highly Developed    03/10/2005
Observations from the
European Southern Observatory have pointed to a “surprise” discovery: a cluster of galaxies 9 billion light-years away that is “in a very advanced state of development.”
    The press release points to just how surprising is this find: “The discovery of such a complex and mature structure so early in the history of the Universe is highly surprising,” it says (emphasis added).  “Indeed, until recently it would even have been deemed impossible.”
The evolutionist’s impossibility can be the creationist’s certainty, and vice versa.  Things creationists consider impossible (such as the origin of life by chance – see online book) are routinely assumed by evolutionists.  The surprise effect can help distinguish the validity of the two worldviews.  Why are evolutionists so often surprised by what they find?  Judeo-Christian creationists see this as congruent with the statement In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.
Next headline on:  Cosmology.
Water Can Get Hotter than the Sun    03/09/2005
When vacuum bubbles form in turbulent water, they can collapse violently in a process called cavitation.  Scientists reporting in Nature1,2 March 3 showed that the energy of cavitation can heat the plasma in the bubble to 15,000 degrees Kelvin – hotter than the surface of the brightest stars.  The resulting flash can sometimes be seen by the naked eye. 
Science News reports that some believe thermonuclear fusion might take place in plasma within the collapsing bubbles under such high temperatures; imagine that happening in cold flowing water.  See also the explanations on Physics Web, Science Now, and Science News.
1Flannigan and Suslick, “Plasma formation and temperature measurement during single-bubble cavitation,” Nature 434, 52 - 55 (03 March 2005); doi:10.1038/nature03361.
2Detlef Lohse, “Sonoluminescence: Cavitation hots up,” Nature 434, 33 - 34 (03 March 2005); doi:10.1038/434033a.
This is the kind of amazing scientific fact that can inspire a youngster to take an interest in science.  Cavitation can produce such violence in water that it can rip apart steel propellers and erode through solid concrete in dam channels, such as happened at Glen Canyon Dam in 1983 (see videos at Open Video Project).  Cavitation may have been one of several effects in a worldwide flood that could have made mincemeat of solid rock with no trouble at all (see CRS article).
Next headline on:  PhysicsAmazing Stories
Tissues Build Firebreaks to Avoid Disease    03/09/2005
An article in the March 3 issue of Nature1 explains how tissues communicate to fight off infection.  As reported before, cells display samples of the proteins they contain on their outer membranes, a process called presentation.  Killer T cells wander around, like cops, looking at the presentations.  When they recognize alien proteins (antigens), they respond by killing the cell (see
06/27/2003 entry, “Cell to Phagocyte: I’m Dying – Eat Me”).
    Now, Dutch scientists Neijssen et al.2 have found that cells in tissues can also pass these flags to neighboring cells through passageways between them called gap junctions.  The uninfected neighboring cells thus signal the cops that a firebreak needs to be constructed to avoid further damage.  Australian biologists William Heath and Francis Carbone explain:
As well as providing another possible mechanism for initiating immunity by dendritic cells, the gap-junction-mediated cross-presentation described by Neijssen et al. offers an interesting method of efficiently limiting the spread of replicating virus.  The authors show that not only will a cell expressing viral proteins be killed by T cells, but so will its closest neighbours – because they present viral peptides obtained through gap junctions.  Extending the destruction to adjacent cells may provide a ‘fire-break’ around an infection, ensuring that if low levels of virus have spread to surrounding cells, but have yet to produce sufficient protein to allow recognition, such cells will still be eliminated.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
  The width of the firebreak is controlled, they explain: “The rapid degradation of peptides within the cell’s cytosol means that the spread of peptides through gap junctions will be rather limited, probably allowing the targeting of adjacent cells but not those more than one cell distant from the infection.  Thus, the integrity of targeting should be maintained, with only limited bystander destruction.
1Heath and Carbone, “Coupling and cross-presentation, Nature 434, 27 - 28 (03 March 2005); doi:10.1038/434027a
2Neijssen et al., “Cross-presentation by intercellular peptide transfer through gap junctions,” Nature 434, 83 - 88 (03 March 2005); doi:10.1038/nature03290.
Neither article attempts to explain how such a clever protective technique could have evolved.
Next headline on:  The CellHealth   Amazing Stories
Did Haeckel’s Defunct Recapitulation Theory Influence the Supreme Court?    03/08/2005
One of our readers uncovered an amicus brief from the American Psychological Association (q.v. on
American Bar Association website) encouraging the Supreme Court to overturn capital punishment for minors (see 03/04/2005 entry).  One of the key arguments in the brief is that “Neuropsychological research demonstrates that the adolescent brain has not reached adult maturity.”  Zeroing in on scientific evidence, the brief claimed “Of particular interest with regard to decision-making and criminal culpability is the development of the frontal lobes of the brain.”  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    For support, the brief cited a 2004 paper by Gogtay et al. from PNAS,1 describing results of MRI scans of 13 young individuals undergoing various activities; the team concluded that juvenile frontal lobes were not as well developed as those of adults.  Yet this team’s conclusions leaned heavily on evolutionary assumptions, particularly those of Ernst Haeckel, author of the now-defunct “recapitulation theory” (often stated in its pretentious prose, “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” meaning, the development of the embryo imitates its evolutionary history).  The paper contains subtle references to recapitulation theory in making the claim that teenagers are too immature for responsible behavior:
  • The superior temporal cortex, which contains association areas that integrate information from several sensory modalities, matured last. Furthermore, the maturation of the cortex also appeared to follow the evolutionary sequence in which these regions were created.
  • In mammals, the inferior temporal cortex, along with parts of the STG, posterior parietal cortex, and prefrontal cortex, are high-order association areas, which are also most recent evolutionarily.  Our observation of these areas appearing to mature later may suggest that the cortical development follows the evolutionary sequence to some degree.
  • Similarly, gender differences in brain maturation could not be explored, because there are only six males and seven females in the sample.  However, our findings uncover key information on the maturational sequence of early brain development and its relation to functional and evolutionary milestones.
  • Phylogenetically, some of the oldest cortical regions lie on the inferior brain surface in the medial aspect of the temporal lobe... The maturation process in the vicinity of these areas appeared to have started early (ontogenetically) already by the age of 4 years...  (Bullets added.)
In The Mismeasure of Man (W. W. Norton, 1981), Stephen Jay Gould catalogued the history of the recapitulation theory, which “By 1920... had collapsed.”  He says that it “ranks among the most influential ideas of late nineteenth-century science” and gives examples of its abuse to justify racism and sexism.  Gould claims that the scientific evidence actually supports the opposite conclusion: the young and the embryo are more advanced than the adult, a concept termed neoteny.  If so, this turns the racist and sexist interpretations of the recapitulation theory upside down:
Under recapitulation, adults of inferior races are like children of superior races.  But neoteny reverses the argument.  In the context of neoteny, it is “good”—that is, advanced or superior—to retain the traits of childhood, to develop more slowly.  Thus, superior groups retain their childlike characters as adults, while inferior groups pass through the higher phase of childhood and then degenerate toward apishness.  Now consider the conventional prejudice of white scientists: whites are superior, blacks inferior.  Under recapitulation, black adults should be like white children.  But under neoteny, white adults should be like black children.
This demonstrates how a misguided scientific claim can have profound cultural effects, sometimes polar opposites from the same data.
1Gogtay et al., “Dynamic mapping of human cortical development during childhood through early adulthood,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences PNAS 101: 8174-8179; published online before print as 10.1073/pnas.0402680101.
This is scandalous.  If the Supreme Court was snookered by baloney offered up by the pseudoscientific APA in making its decision, then every family member of every victim murdered by juveniles, every suffering witness to Columbine High School’s mass murder spree, should point an angry, accusing finger at Ernst Haeckel, and Pope Charlie who encouraged him, and all the current charlatans who still invoke Haeckel’s phony “biogenetic law” of recapitulation, and accuse them all of co-conspiracy to divert attention from the Constitution and onto pseudoscience.  (Read the 03/04/2005 entry and commentary also.)
    No other society has deemed teenagers as incapable of morally responsible behavior; on the contrary, good societies have stressed the importance of moral training early in life, and the need to correct misbehavior from childhood.  MRI scans have nothing to say about the moral character of minors, much less so whether the development of their frontal lobes is recapping some presumed animal ancestry.  Read Gould’s steaming indictment of recapitulation theory and its promoter, the fraud Ernst Haeckel, who practically worshipped the ground Father Charlie walked on.  Folks, you have just seen Darwinian mythology sway the highest court in the land on a matter of life and death.  What are you going to do about it?
Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryPolitics and Ethics
If I Only Had a Brain...   03/08/2005
The scarecrow didn’t know what he was asking for.  Look what Steven E. Hyman of Harvard says about the human brain and nervous system in the 8 March 2005 issue of Current Biology:1
The nervous system processes sensory information and controls behavior by performing an enormous number of computations.  These computations occur both within cells and between cells, but it is intercellular information processing, involving complex neural networks, that provides the nervous system with its remarkable functional capacity.  The principal cells involved in information processing are neurons, of which there are hundreds, if not thousands of individual cell types based on morphology, location, connectivity and chemistry.  In addition to neurons, the other major kind of cell in the nervous system is the glia, which play critical support roles, but which are increasingly seen to function in some aspects of information processing. [See 06/17/2003, 03/27/2001 and 01/29/2001 entries.]
    To provide some idea of the magnitude of the information processing capacity of the human brain, its 1011 neurons make, on average, about 1000 connections or synapses, at which communication occurs with other neurons.  The range of synapses per cell is very large; the Purkinje cells of the cerebellum may receive 100,000 contacts from input cells.  Overall the human brain may contain between 1014 and 1015 synaptic connections.2
    The diverse chemical substances that carry information between neurons are called neurotransmitters.  Otto Loewi discovered the first neurotransmitter in 1926 when he demonstrated that acetylcholine carried a chemical signal from the vagus nerve to the heart that slowed the cardiac rhythm.  Since that time, more than one hundred substances and a far larger number of receptors have been implicated in synaptic transmission.... Because of the remarkably diverse effects of neurotransmitter-mediated signaling at the receptor and post-receptor levels, the number of neurotransmitters, as large as it is, vastly understates the complexity of signaling in the brain.
  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Another article on EurekAlert announced that some neurons appear able to transmit three separate signals at the same time.  Hyman has a lot to say about information and signal processing, but not much about evolution.  For instance, he says:
The subtlety and complexity of the brain’s outputs, along with its ability to change in response to new information, is supported by a rich set of mechanisms for cell-cell communication involving at an anatomical level, intricate but plastic [i.e., adaptable] local connections, larger scale neural circuits and overlying global regulatory systems; and at the chemical level, a large number of neurotransmitters with highly diverse mechanisms for decoding their informational content.
In another paragraph he says, “Neurons are specialized to receive, process, and transmit information,” and describes how this is done chemically as well as electrically.  When it comes to explaining where this information came from, and how all this information processing complexity arose, he mentions the word evolution only once.  Because it is observed that some neurotransmitters serve multiple functions and are hard to classify, he concludes, “Unfortunately for those scientists with an intense need for simple classifications, evolution was a tinkerer that has reused signaling molecules to different effect in many different contexts.”
1Steven E. Hyman, “Magazine: Neurotransmitters,” Current Biology, Volume 15, Issue 5, 8 March 2005, Pages R154-R158, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2005.02.037.
2Dr. Walter T. Brown has calculated that this number vastly exceeds the number of all the electrical connections in all the appliances, computers and electronic devices on earth.
This article was so good until we hit the E word, we were going to really praise it to the hilt.  Forget his stupid last sentence for a moment and think of all that complexity working for you right now.  Think of all those connections – 100,000 per cell in some cases, all connected to neighboring cells not in a haphazard manner, but with purpose.  The proof is that it works: here you are, seeing, reading and thinking, while all this unfathomable amount of information processing going on inside that little 3-pound jelly-like mass in your skull.  Hyman seems almost beside himself describing the wonder of it, as he rightly should feel.  How on earth can he say this arrived by mindless, purposeless processes of evolution?  There is no way in a million universes that level of information could arise by chance, even from an ape-like ancestor (see 12/30/2004 entry), let alone from a primordial soup (see online book).
    “Evolution was a tinkerer,” he claims, thus personifying the favorite little Darwin Party goddess and proving that not even an evolutionist can be a consistent atheist.  Now we know who their ding-a-ling goddess is.  She gets the gong for her hopelessly inadequate impersonation of an intelligent designer.  It’s Tinker Bell.
Next headline on:  Human BodyEvolutionAmazing Stories
Darwinists Dig In Heels Against I.D.    03/07/2005
“We aren’t going to convince them and they aren’t going to convince us,” said Vittorio Maestro of Natural History magazine, quoted at the end of a piece entitled, “US scientists battle over challenge to Darwinism” in
ABC News Online.  The article gave quite a bit of space to quotes by Michael Behe and Jonathan Wells, proponents of Intelligent Design (ID).  The only rebuttals from Darwinists consisted of religious arguments: e.g., claiming that ID is inherently religious or motivated by the Christian right, and that it is not scientific by definition: for example, a dismissive statement by John Marburger, “I don’t regard intelligent design as a scientific topic.”
    In the Wichita Eagle, pro-ID writer John Calvert made a case that the “Science, religion debate [is] asking the wrong question.”  The paper gave him a respectable byline: “John Calvert of Lake Quivira is managing director of Intelligent Design Network Inc., an organization that seeks institutional objectivity in origins science.”
Both these articles gave ID a respectful forum.  Neither of them quoted a Darwinist able to answer the scientific questions.  The ABC article explained Behe’s claim about the complexity of the bacterial flagellum and molecular machines being inexplicable by Darwinian mutation and natural selection.  The wimpy counterargument was, merely, “Darwinists, who still comprise the large majority of scientists, say Professor Behe and others are simply appropriating what is yet unknown to conclude that it must be created by a higher intelligence.”  This is a tacit admission that they have no answer.
    Instead, the Darwinists show obstinacy and unwillingness to think.  Maestro’s statement, “We aren’t going to convince them and they aren’t going to convince us,” conveys a spirit of cold war, not negotiation.  The statement is not symmetric.  It’s not that the I.D. scientists are equally dogmatic; they are the ones willing to debate, and trying to get these issues out on the table for consideration.  It’s the Darwin Party that has no scientific response to the design arguments and refuses to consider them on a priori philosophical grounds.
    Some churchmen in 17th century Europe refused to look through Galileo’s telescope for fear it would jeopardize their views.  Now, the roles are reversed.  Some naturalistic scientists are figuratively refusing to look through Behe’s microscope at the irreducible complexity of molecular machines.  To avoid looking like modern dogmatists, the Darwinists need to debate and show their explanatory muscle.  They either need to provide detailed mechanisms by which specified complexity could arise – and did arise – by natural means, or else concede that they are beholden to a philosophical preference.  Only unequivocal success at the former approach will permit them any claim to privilege in academic circles.
Next headline on:  EvolutionIntelligent Design
Naturalistic Science Influences Criminal Law, Excuses Murder    03/04/2005
Why was Science1 magazine happy about the Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate the death penalty for murderers under 17?  Because the decision was not made on the basis of the Constitution or on Judeo-Christian values, but rather on psychiatric, neuroscientific and behavioral studies:
Eight medical organizations, led by the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry (ASAP), filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the defendant, Christopher Simmons.  The groups cited numerous neuroscientific and behavioral studies suggesting that brains continue to develop well into the mid-20s, and that the last region to develop is the prefrontal cortex, which prevents people from making rash, impulsive decisions (Science, 30 July 2004, p. 596).  “These developmental differences make them less culpable and therefore less deserving of the ultimate punishment,” argues law professor Steven Drizin of Northwestern University in Chicago.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
In the editorial, Mary Beckman appears pleased that the justices cited scientific studies in making their decision.  She ends with physician David Fassler (American Psychiatric Association), who said, “It’s obviously very good news.  The ruling is consistent with all the major medical organizations.”

1Mary Beckman, “ Supreme Court Ends Death Penalty for Minors,”
Science, 1 March 2005.
How good are psychiatrists at determining human responsibility?  They can monitor brain waves, and attach electrodes to parts of a brain to see what parts light up when a person is stimulated in various ways.  Character, however, cannot be measured by lab instruments.
    Darwin Party scientists, who are materialists by definition, perceive every biological function as an interaction of molecules acted on by natural selection.  There is no spirit, no soul, no truly intangible entity called character; these are just artifacts of chemistry.  Such reductionism leads to some serious ramifications, as seen here.  These scientists have made a very subjective judgment that the chemistry in a teenage brain has not sufficiently progressed to make them accountable for their behavior.  But here they become morally confused, because they invoke the word culpable, thus making a value judgment: “These developmental differences make them less culpable....”  What on earth is culpability, if not responsibility – a measurement of character, guilt or innocence?  How can anyone make a judgment that this or that chemical reaction is “deserving of the ultimate punishment”?  Apparently the Supreme Court did not catch this inconsistency and ask the “scientific experts” to define their terms.  They allowed them to wander outside their worldview and sneak in Judeo-Christian moral concepts.
    It is one thing to say that the mind can be affected by the brain, and that behavior can be influenced, sometimes overwhelmingly, by chemistry.  It is another to say the mind is chemistry.  The materialistic Darwin Party biologists and psychologists, who are nearly 100% Democrats (see 12/02/2004 entry), have achieved a coup over the Supreme Court by fooling them into thinking the debate revolved around “science.”  They dressed up their reductionist, materialist philosophy in scientific garb to give it an undeserved authority.
    Naturalism cannot judge character.  The Darwinists think lying evolved (see 04/26/2004 entry), culture evolved (06/28/2004), and the mind evolved (06/16/2004); but to believe this, they must use their own intangible minds as if they were capable of true, objective logic and reliable perception of the world – thoughts that cannot be reduced to interactions of atoms and molecules.  To convince others, they must resort to bluffing and extrapolating meager lab results based on their preconceived philosophical notions.  Their position is unsound scientifically, logically, philosophically and politically (see “The Evolution of Folly, or Vice Versa?” (10/14/2002).  Some of these false prophets even teach that rape evolved (07/17/2003) and that suicide terrorism is an evolutionary artifact (see 04/02/2004 entry).  Rather than express outrage at such views, Science prints them with commendations from peers!  What kind of society will this bring – one in which criminal behavior is rewarded as survival of the fittest?
    Regardless of your position on the death penalty, you should be outraged at the way this Supreme Court decision was argued and what it implies.  If you are an adult, you were once 16 or 17 years old; how would you feel if someone told you that you were utterly incapable of responsible or logical behavior till you were 25?  If you are in age group 16-25, how do you feel about these Darwinist eggheads deciding you have no sense, and cannot be held responsible for your actions?  You can be an honor student at high school, you can attend the university and get a PhD, you can vote and drive and marry and write and perform community service and serve on a battlefield and do a million other things that require skill, intelligence, planning, logic, choice and determination.  But if you murder someone, well, you couldn’t help yourself, because your frontal lobe was not yet fully developed.
    Because of this ruling, young criminals may become emboldened to commit murder, knowing that, if caught, they might win an all-expense paid living with free cafeteria and gym.  Anyone thinking the battle over evolution only affects the biology classroom had better wake up.  It affects all of society, including the actions of those gang members walking down your street.  This is another reason why the Darwin Party, the pseudoscientific propaganda arm of the Democratic Party and of radical liberals worldwide, must be defeated.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsDarwinism and Evolutionary Theory
What Is Melting the Ice on Enceladus?    03/04/2005
When Cassini flew by Enceladus from 730 miles up on Feb. 15, scientists were hoping it would reveal the secret of its active surface.  As is common in planetary science, the mystery only deepened (
click here for photo gallery).  The surface showed a complex mix of canyons, ridges and spots that suggest a taffy pulling machine has been at work: whatever flowed, it appears to have been thick and viscous.
    Richard A. Kerr in Science1 agreed that the little Saturnian ice ball has become “stranger still.”  He mentions the first of two puzzles that have deepened with the latest high-resolution photos.  One is that Enceladus is not in any tidal resonance with other moons that could generate the interior heat necessary for cryovolcanism.  Unless scientists can infer enough radioactive decay in a possible rocky core, how could this little moon, that should long ago have frozen solid throughout, generate such exotic topography?  (By contrast, nearby Tethys, with six times the mass, is mostly covered with craters.)
    The other mystery is the nature of the viscous material.  Scientists had hoped to detect ammonia that might have mixed with the water ice to lower its melting point and give it more viscosity.  But now, it is reported in the JPL employee newsletter Universe (02/25/2005), the infrared mapper detected almost pure water ice: “Ammonia or ammonium compounds and carbon dioxide were expected, but not seen in the data.”  Dr. Robert N. Clark said the spectra looked as pure as laboratory-fabricated water ice.
    So Enceladus joins Europa, Io, Ganymede, Miranda, Triton and other moons with evidence of recent surface activity.  Scientists eagerly await another look, even closer (from 310 miles), next Wednesday, March 9.
1Richard A. Kerr, “A Strange Little Saturnian Ice Ball Gets Stranger Still,” Science, Vol 307, Issue 5714, 1387 , 4 March 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5714.1387].
Most planetary scientists are very honest with their data and glad to find new puzzles to solve.  But born and bred on billions of years, they just cannot seem to shake out of the world-picture they have grown to feel comfortable with, that of slow, gradual processes over vast ages, even when the data points are poking them in the back.  Some of them would not dare to think of shrinking the timeline of the solar system for fear of incurring the wrath of the Darwin Party (that needs the time; see the story of Lord Kelvin).
    But what if these bodies are really young after all?  Can’t we at least expand our minds and consider the possibility?  It sure would fit the observations better.  Planetary scientists glibly toss around the Ma (mega-annum, million years) like this example in the Kerr’s article: “All in all, large parts of Enceladus have suffered ‘fairly energetic events fairly recently,’ perhaps less than 100 million years ago” – as if they knew that, or as if 100 million years is “recent”.  100 million years is a long, long, long time; all the major mountain ranges on Earth are said to be far younger in their scheme, for comparison.  Yet 100 million years is only 1/50 of the timeline taught without hint of controversy in all the textbooks.
    If these phenomena look young, so be it; don’t force-fit the observations into a predetermined timeline where the data points are all clustered near the recent end.  A million here, a few million there, and pretty soon you’re talking real funny.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating Methods
Indonesian Hobbit No Numbskull    03/04/2005
Whoever Homo florensiensis was (see
10/27/2004 entry), it was no dumb half-ape.  This miniature human packed a lot of brains into a small skull, says Michael Balter in Science1 (see also EurekAlert, National Geographic and BBC News).  A cast of the brain made from the skull shows complexity: convolutions in the frontal lobe suggest an intelligent mind, a revelation corroborated by the presence of stone tools and evidence of fire nearby.  Balter quotes an evolutionary anatomist on the implications: the new study “upsets one of our main concepts of human evolution, that brain size has to increase for humans to become clever.”  Another calls the finding “a real stunner.”
    All the same, News&Nature is claiming this silences the critics, like Teuku Jacob (who took possession of the fossils till recently returning them) who claimed the creature was only a modern human suffering from the disease of microcephaly (small brain).  Yet with so few microcephalic skulls available for study, others are not sure Jacob’s claim has been discredited.  Because the fossil doesn’t resemble that of a pygmy or a microcephalic individual, many are ready to call it a new species of hominid.  But then, because its skull showed evidence of “advanced development of the front lobes of the brain, where reasoning occurs,” (News@Nature), it is hard to consider it primitive.  Paleoanthropologists are divided between explaining H. florensiensis as a degenerate form of modern human, or a case of “a small-brained, small-bodied, pre-erectus hominid managed to get to Flores in the distant past, and then, in a case of parallel evolution with modern humans, evolved a relatively advanced brain on its own.”
    Balter quotes Fred Spoor (University College, London) giving the bottom line: “The real take-home message here is that advanced behaviors, like making sophisticated stone tools, do not necessarily require a large, modern, humanlike brain.  It can be done by reorganizing a small brain, with convolutions and rewiring, and this goes to the heart of our understanding of human evolution.”
1Michael Balter, “Small but Smart?  Flores Hominid Shows Signs of Advanced Brain,” Science, Vol 307, Issue 5714, 1386-1389, 4 March 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5714.1386a].
Any evolutionists thinking they have an “Aha!” case of a missing-link fossil to discredit creationists have a slippery object to try to hang onto.  If brain size does not correlate with intelligence, then a century and a half of human-evolution storytelling goes down the drain.  Fine measurements of skull capacity were a staple of human phylogenetic studies; some, like Paul Broca (now considered a racist), made a career out of it.  It should have been obvious that even modern human “small people” like Tom Thumb could be smarter than local fatheads.  And didn’t we learn that birds, with much smaller brains, outwit chimpanzees? (see 02/01/2005 entry).
    If hobbitkind were degenerate modern humankind, there is no evolution story to tell.  But if they evolved smart brains independently, in parallel with other upwardly-mobile hominids, then human evolution has been falsified twice (see 12/30/2004 entry).  Take your pick, Darwin Party.  If indeed “this goes to the heart of our understanding of human evolution,” it whacks it with a sharp stone tool.
Next headline on:  Early ManEvolution
Biblical Archaeology Address    03/03/2005
Baptist Press posted a report about an address by noted archaeologist William Dever (see 02/18/2005 entry) at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary last month.  Dever provided several examples from his own digs of archaeological finds that corroborate the Biblical record and chronology.  He hit hard against the revisionists who try to deny the historicity of the Bible.
This article was found via World Net Daily.  Take a moment to read the position of a leading Middle East archaeologist with years of hands-on research in the field.  Doesn’t the stance of the revisionists sound familiar?  “They will demolish any facts that don’t suit their theories,” Dever said.  Sounds like the Darwin Party’s approach to truth and handling of evidence.
Next headline on:  The Bible and TheologyDating Methods
Teach Evolution, Lesson II    03/03/2005
She got some critical letters over her “teach evolution” piece last month, but rather than repent in dust and ashes, she hardened her stance.  Edna DeVore, Director of Education and Public Outreach for the SETI Institute, writing for
Space.Com, felt the need to explain her position last month (see 02/11/2005 entry) after...
...A flood of email ensued.  Many were supportive; some asked questions.  Several negative and hostile emails were openly critical of my assertion that American schools should teach evolution in science classrooms to “leave no child behind”.  In addition to rejecting evolution for religious reasons, several people claimed that there was not sufficient evidence, that scientists could not all agree, or that evolution is “only a theory” which they equate with an unfounded idea.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
So in Part II, “Evolution: It’s Only a Theory, but One Worth Teaching,” Ms. DeVore talked about evidence, the nature of science, and theories.  Portions are reproduced in the commentary with responses in brackets.
Click here to continue
Next headline on:  EvolutionEducationSETIDumb Stories

Visual Aid: Chance or Design?    03/01/2005
A TV commercial for the Honda Accord has been circulating around the net as a popular download (see
Steel City’s Finest).  It shows the parts of a car, without human intervention, interacting in strange ways like a Rube Goldberg device, resulting in a finished car rolling off the ramp.  Garrison Keillor adds the punch line, “Isn’t it nice when things just work?”

If you teach science or Sunday School, this could be a great visual aid to stimulate thinking about intelligent design.  It is fun to watch and quite amazing to think about how the production team had to spend $6 million and perform 606 takes to get it right.  Applying William Dembski’s explanatory filter, how could you rigorously conclude that the sequence was designed, and not the result of chance?  Contrast this scene with the familiar analogy of a tornado in a junkyard producing a 747, popularized by the late Fred Hoyle.  What’s the difference?  Put even a micro-tornado on the Honda set and the whole sequence would fail.  That’s irreducible complexity – a picture is worth a thousand words.  Life is like that.
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignMediaAmazing Stories
Aliens of the Deep Preaches Astrobiology and Chemical Evolution    03/01/2005
Titanic director James Cameron has released a large-format, 3D film of undersea life around hydrothermal vents, entitled
Aliens of the Deep and released by Walt Disney pictures.  National Geographic News interviewed Cameron.  When asked why he speculated in the movie that life could have originated around deep-sea vents, he said:
Presumably the hydrothermal activity was there from the beginning of the oceans themselves.  You’ve got basically a stable environment, you’ve got chemical energy available, and you’ve got all the building blocks necessary.  So it seems inconceivable to me that it would not have been a viable place for life to emerge.  But [the origin of life] is a great mystery.  It’s the greatest detective story out there.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
His search for “extremophiles” (organisms adapted to living in extreme environments) is used in the movie as a pretext for suggesting life could exist on other planets, no matter how hot, cold, or different:
Just because we’ve never seen cryogenic [very cold temperature] life on this planet doesn’t mean it can’t exist.  Look for life on Titan.  Look for life in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, in the upper atmosphere of Venus.  We shouldn’t rule out any environment.
    If life is as tenacious and adaptable as it seems to be here on Earth, there’s no reason why it couldn’t exist in some of these other places.
Thus he blurs the line between origin and adaptation.  Despite science having no explanation for the origin of life on earth (see 02/06/2005 entry), Cameron portrays those who doubt chemical evolution as unscientific reactionaries: “Generally our society is turning its back on science and going to a more dogmatic view of the world, because people feel that science has not answered their fundamental questions,” he said.
    But can science answer fundamental questions, and is science any less dogmatic when dealing with questions of origins?  The failure of naturalistic science to explain the origin of life is causing a decline in atheism worldwide, writes Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI religious affairs editor, in the Washington Times.  “Two developments are plaguing atheism these days,” he says.  One is that it appears to be losing its scientific underpinnings.  The other is the historical experience of hundreds of millions of people worldwide that atheists are in no position to claim the moral high ground.”
Translation of Cameron’s sermon: if you love science but doubt chemical evolution, you are a dunderhead.  What is his definition of science?  Chemical evolution, astrobiology, environmentalism, global warming and stem cell research.  With clever association, he claims “science” gave us semiconductors and astrobiology, so we should embrace both.  Sorry, we’ll have ours a la carte.
    Chemical evolution is a reactionary science in more ways than one.  That is what is going backward (see 01/28/2005 entry).  Those who love science should toss astrobiology overboard and see if it can survive in the extreme environment of scientific scrutiny.  Just show us some amazing marine organisms, Jimmy, with all their designed complexity that defies evolution.
Next headline on:  Movies & MediaMarine LifeOrigin of LifeDumb Stories.
Mars Life in Embalming Fluid?    03/01/2005
A researcher with the
Mars Express project claims to have found formaldehyde along with methane in exceptional amounts, reports News@Nature.  Since methane is destroyed by radiation in hundreds of days, and formaldehyde in several days, there is either a geological source for it, or it comes from living organisms in the soil, Vittorio Formisano claims.
    Another recent Mars Express finding, reported by Mars Daily and others, is evidence for large water reservoirs near the Martian equator.  This is of “extraordinary importance,” the article says, because up till now most of the H20 on Mars was locked in polar ice.  This is giving hopes for at least past Martian life a boost; see also the 16 Feb and 23 Feb stories on the New Scientist website.
    Other scientists are not so sure; only 25% of scientists at the first Mars Express Conference accepted the idea that life exists on Mars now, reports Space.Com.  Most think Formisano’s measurements are on the borderline of detection and questionable.  One skeptic thinks such claims come from the faith, not fact: 
“We all want to believe in something,” says Yuk Yung, a planetary geologist from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.  “Even as scientists we’re not completely objective, especially about something we’ve worked on for ten years.  There’s enormous pressure to deliver, and under this pressure you can easily believe things that are unbelievable.  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Dr. Yung thinks the spectral match is not convincing, and doesn’t believe it.  Formisano claims to have convinced other skeptics to his position, though.
    Even if the source of these gases is geological, not biological, the measurements will be a surprise if confirmed, reports News@Nature:
The discovery of martian methane last year excited scientists, who said that there were two likely sources of the gas: active geological processes beneath the planet’s surface or a population of methane-generating microbes.  Because Mars was long thought to be a dead planet, devoid of both life and geothermal activity, either prospect came as a revelation.
Some recent Mars Express images suggest that the planet’s volcanos were active recently – and could be active today.
    Meanwhile, news agencies have had to retract reports circulated last month that NASA had found strong evidence for life on Mars; see Mars Daily.  This claim made its way onto BadAstronomy.com.
Have scientists become midwives of myth?  Are they being pressured to deliver cute little astrobiological packages?  Is that what the Mars Express program is all about?  We don’t want scientists to give birth to speculation.  We want them to observe the facts, and report them with honesty and integrity.  If Mars is burping gas, fine; that’s interesting enough, and doesn’t require a baby.
    Actually, it would be very interesting.  Notice that the article said that “Mars was long thought to be a dead planet.”  Why?  Because according the Law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be altered, the solar system is 4.5 billion years old.  This dogma has led naturalistic geologists to conclude that Mars, with a much smaller volume than Earth, should have long ago cooled down, and therefore could no longer sustain volcanic activity.  If it indeed has volcanos active now, more things are going to erupt than natural gas and embalming fluid.
Next headline on:  MarsGeologyDating Methods

Teach Evolution, Lesson II, cont.

Beginning of article

Keep those cards and letters going, but make sure they are informed.  Edna has set herself up as an educator, but needs some education herself.  She is a naive positivist.  Her arguments, mostly irrelevant and misdirected, are sitting ducks for easy potshots.  No need to be negative or hostile (although these allegations may be unfounded, spewed from someone unaccustomed to being challenged); the facts will do just fine.  No need to argue on “religious reasons” (although this allegation may be unfounded, spewed from someone who equates any critique of evolution with religion); the scientific arguments will do just fine.  No need to impugn her character.  She is probably a nice person and deserves respect.  Her pro-Darwin arguments, though, are fair game.
    Like we commented before, her sermon preaches to the choir in one regard: we believe students should be taught evolution – all of it, not just the filtered propaganda (see
02/11/2005 commentary for complete outline of proposed curriculum).
    Edna writes as if she got her education on Darwinian evolution from watching the Discovery channel and reading a high school science textbook.  She would be much better informed if she read Creation-Evolution Headlines.  Here we go:
Evolution is supported by evidence.a  There are several thousand peer-reviewed scientific journals where the evidence is presented in article after article.b  Natural history museums house large collections of fossils that document the history of life.c  Geologistsd and astronomerse have a massive amount of observational evidence of the long-term change in physical systems: stars, galaxies, planets, interstellar dust, asteroids, etc.  Biologists observe and document the patterns of the evolution of life:f for example, the fossil record,g DNA,h and the observation of evolution in action such as the adaptive evolution of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteriai that now pose a serious threat to human health.  Selective breeding in agriculture generated our crops and domestic animals over thousands of years; agriculture is evolution in action.j
  1. Evidence: what can be observed, tested, repeated, and reproduced by others.  Evolution (in the Darwinian sense of the common ancestry of all organisms from a one-celled form, and ultimately from chemicals and particles) is none of the above.  According to Darwinists, it took a unique path on the Earth, so that even if scientists perform some lab experiment that seems to demonstrate a change, it may not have any relevance to what happened in prehistory.
  2. Journals: We report on journal articles on evolution right here all the time.  The more they talk about evolution, the more they speak in glittering generalities (example) that merely assume evolution rather than prove it (example).  The more they discuss the technical details of life, they less they talk about evolution.  Ask her to show one article that really presents actual scientific evidence that humans had bacteria ancestors rather than merely assumes it in spite of the evidence (example)  Once the assumption of evolution is discarded, the thousands of articles she generalizes about – the ones that explore the complexity of life (example) and discuss deep-seated problems with evolutionary explanations (example) – could more easily be adduced in favor of creation, not evolution.
  3. Museums: Natural history museums show plenty of biodiversity and extinction, but not evolution.  Colin Patterson, former director of the British museum, one of the greatest in the world, once wrote that his museum would be glad to show transitional forms if they had them, but he could not think of a single example that made a watertight argument.  In fact, many old examples, like the horse series, have been modified or discarded as evidence.
  4. Geologists talk about earth history, not life.  The age of the earth is a separate question from biological evolution.  Not all change is evolutionary change.  Mountains erode, seas rise and fall, and glaciers advance and retreat; does it logically follow that bacteria evolve into humans?
  5. Astronomers talk about stars, galaxies and planets; what does that have to do with evolution?  DeVore seems to equate change with evolution, an equivocation that does nothing to make her point.
  6. Biologists observe and document the present, not the past.  Many of the first and greatest biologists, like Leeuwenhoek, John Ray, Pasteur and others were creationists and often theologians.
  7. Fossils: apparently DeVore actually believes the fossil record supports evolution.  Has she not heard of the Cambrian explosion, and the “trade secret” of paleontology, the existence of systematic gaps between major kinds?  Abrupt appearance, stasis and extinction is the pattern.  This is evidence against evolution, not for it.
  8. DNA: for her to use DNA as an evidence for evolution is almost comical.  Codes, languages, translation, error-checking and extreme complexity by chance?  Come on.
  9. Antibiotic resistance: in each case, these involve loss of information or else horizontal change, not an increase in complexity, information or function.  Some bacteria and viruses form “quasi-species” networks that can share and adapt and reconstruct their networks in changing environments; this implies all the information was already present.  Microevolution is not the issue.  Even young-earth creationists accept “horizontal” change.  Unless Darwinists can demonstrate new complex information arising through an undirected, purposeless process, they have no case.  Even antibiotic-resistant bacteria tend to fail outside the hospital, or else they revert to the wild type (see film Icons of Evolution for lab demonstration).
  10. Agriculture: a silly claim that wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week – “agriculture is evolution in action.”  Selective breeding is intelligent design, not evolution.  We need to keep pushing this point till the Darwin Party gets it.  Unlike natural selection, humans direct the changes according to a predetermined goal.  Even a purebred cow is still a cow, not a whale, and possesses a net loss of genetic information from the wild type.  The more removed from the wild type, the less our highly-specialized breeds would be able to survive without our specialized care and feeding, and without the corral fences or homes to keep out the predators.  That’s why it’s cruel to abandon your pet cat or dog in the woods.
Having fun?  Let’s do some more.  DeVore delves into the “nature of science” line of reasoning:
Certainly, there are continuing debates among scientists about the particulars of cosmic, planetary, and biological evolution.  The nature of science requires continual questioning of ideas, evidence and theories.  Theoretical scientists consider what we know, and pose new ideas and models to explain the natural world.  New models and ideas generate new scientific tests of theory: observational experiments at Earth and space-based observatories, high-energy collisions of particle physics, deep-sea dives at the plate boundaries, and lab experiments in molecular biology to cite a few.  Science is based upon observational and experimental evidence.  Concepts that don’t match observations are altered or tossed out.  It’s an iterative cycle.
That would be a great quote, if she believed it.  Questioning is good, so can we question evolution?  Models are good, so if the models fail, can we discard evolution?  Testing is good, so if evolution doesn’t match observational and experimental evidence, can we toss it out?  If the iterative cycle continues to create problems for evolutionary theory, is it time for a paradigm shift?  If you want to see the hypocrisy of the Darwin Party in action, show them all the evidence that falsifies evolution (hundreds of examples in the Darwinism chain links, right here) and see if they are open to consider ousting King Charlie from his throne.  What you will get is a tirade against religion, particularly Christianity.  DeVore is a naive positivist; she thinks science leads to inevitable progress.  Sad.
    Unbelievably, she uses Kepler, Newton and Einstein as examples to support naturalistic science.  None of these were biologists, and the first two were staunch Christians and creationists; even Einstein did not believe God plays dice with the universe.  Both Newton and Kepler (and many other great scientists) believed scientific inquiry enhanced their worship of the God of Scripture (example from Joule), and in no way felt that the observational evidence pointed to an undirected, evolutionary universe; on the contrary: to them, the heavens declared the glory of God (example from von Braun).
    Next, DeVore discusses the nature of theories in science.  Critics of evolution should probably abandon the tack that “evolution is only a theory,” not because it is totally off-base, but because it generates a knee-jerk reaction by the Darwin Party.  It’s like pulling the string on a baby doll, making it say, “Well, gravity is only a theory, too,”  as if gravity and evolution are in the same category (an example of association).  Theories are good things in science; the point is, evolution hardly even qualifies as a hypothesis or hunch, let alone the exalted title of theory (see 06/12/2003 entry).  It was Charlie’s little “path of inquiry” that led to the Great Society for Storytellers (see 12/22/2003 commentary), when it was no longer necessary to prove your case in science, but just come up with a plausible suggestion or hypothesis (see 01/15/2004 commentary), however untestable.
    DeVore does injustice to Kepler to compare his laws of planetary motion, which work impeccably in getting our spacecraft to orbit other planets, with Darwin’s impotent hypothesis, wrongly called the “law” of natural selection (see 02/16/2005 entry), a tautology utterly incapable of creating the complex adaptations found everywhere in biology.
    In short, Edna DeVore has published a pathetic defense of evolution.  Calling all Baloney Detectors: warm up your sharpened wits and teach her a little more about it.  Be nice; the facts don’t require vituperative verbosity.  But all that is required for balderdash to triumph is for clear thinkers to write nothing.
Next headline on:  EvolutionEducationSETIDumb Stories
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Featured Creation Scientist for March


Galileo Galilei
1564 - 1642

A 68-year old scientist, in ill health, hauled off to Rome to stand trial before the Inquisition.  Forced, under threat of torture and imprisonment, to renounce his scientific writings, which are declared to be heretical and against church dogma.  Put under house arrest, he is heard sobbing uncontrollably: “The injustice of the sentence tormented him so that he did not sleep for several nights, but could be heard crying out, babbling and rambling in distraction” (Sobel, p. 298).  Undeniable facts of history, forming an open and shut case for religious intolerance of science, right?

Any history of science must deal with the Galileo affair.  In many circles it is an icon of science vs religion.  Fortunately, in recent years scholars having been taking fresh looks at the circumstances of Galileo’s trial and realizing there are complexities that dramatically change the conventional interpretation.  A recent PBS documentary admitted that the usual slant is quite incorrect.  Astronomer and historian Owen Gingerich, often one to debunk historical inaccuracies, has researched the incident and challenges the science vs religion spin.  And a recent (1999) new historical biography by Dava Sobel, Galileo’s Daughter (an award-winning, captivating, original work we highly recommend) sheds refreshing new light on the life, times, and legacy of this giant of early science, Galileo Galilei.

Our purpose here is not to exonerate the Catholic Church, which is surely culpable for the injustice done to Galileo (for which the Pope formally apologized in 1992).  And as non-Catholics, we condemn all the injustices of the Inquisition, not just this one.  But a quick look at some of the factors involved in the heresy trial will show how the conventional spin is often greatly misinterpreted:

• Galileo was a personal friend of both major popes that ruled during his lifetime.

• Galileo enjoyed a wide popularity and high reputation by many, if not most, within the Catholic Church.  He had many friends in high places that had no problem at all with his views or with those of Copernicus.

• His book that was condemned in the trial, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World, had received the official imprimatur of the church, and had been approved by the official Roman censor, Father Niccolo Riccardi.  Galileo readily made all suggested alterations, which did not alter anything of substance.

• Pope Urban VIII had been a lifelong friend of Galileo and had said of him, “We embrace with paternal love this great man whose fame shines in the heavens and goes on Earth far and wide.”  He praised Galileo for his uprightness and virtue.  Before and after he had become pope, Galileo enjoyed personal, cordial contact with him; in early years prior to becoming pope, he [then Cardinal Barberini] wrote to him, “I pray the Lord God to preserve you, because men of great value like you deserve to live a long time to the benefit of the public.”

• Pope Urban VIII did not reject Copernicanism or Galileo’s arguing for it, he only urged that Galileo treat it as hypothesis and not limit God’s inscrutability.  Also, correcting another popular misconception, the Pope never invoked infallibility in the affair, which was not even a Catholic doctrine at the time.

• Copernicanism at the time of Galileo was fairly new, and did not have the observational support it has today.  It lacked the essential extension by Kepler and Newton.  Many found Copernicanism interesting and useful, but others clung to the traditional Ptolemaic view because it seemed more intuitively obvious, and because it had such a long reputation of utility.

• Pope Urban VIII was in a bad mood at the time of the trial.  The papacy had gone to his head, and he had spent fortunes on self-aggrandizement.  In addition, he was accused of being soft on heretics by not acting stronger against the Reformers.  The Thirty Years War was giving him great stress.  Galileo’s Dialogue came at a very inopportune time.  The pope trusted what others said about it, without reading it himself.  He was led to believe, contrary to the facts, that Galileo had double-crossed him by going against explicit orders.  These factors tended to make him inflexible against his former friend.

• The trial represented a brief portion near the end of Galileo’s long and productive life, during which he gained wide fame for his discoveries and his books across Europe, and within the Catholic church.  Contrary to popular perceptions, most churchmen, including Pope Urban VIII, were delighted with Galileo’s discoveries with the telescope.

• In 1616, there was an anti-Copernican edict under Pope Paul V which came just short of calling Copernicanism heretical and banning the book; Galileo acquiesced by holding to it as opinion or hypothesis and not fact.  Though foolish by today’s standards, the Edict did not seriously hamper his scientific work and writing, until accusations flew again seventeen years later.

• During and after the period of house arrest in Rome, and when he was allowed to return home to Arcetri, Galileo continued to do scientific experiments and publish with relative freedom.

These are just for starters.  Most important, what comes out of the details of the record, is that Galileo was a staunch Catholic Christian his entire life, never wavering on his devout belief in God, creation, and the Bible.  In fact, Galileo was afraid that the Church’s reputation would be damaged if they rejected Copernicanism; he took pains to protect the church from foolish and mistaken interpretations.

Neither Copernicus nor Galileo ever intended their works to be considered criticism of the Bible and the church.  Galileo regretted deeply that his work was twisted and misunderstood as such.  He went to great lengths to explain that his science was in no way incompatible with Scripture.  Early on he explained in a long letter to the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, “I think in the first place that it is very pious to say and prudent to affirm that the Holy Bible can never speak untruth – whenever its true meaning is understood.”  Much later, after his trial, he wrote to a friend, “I have two sources of perpetual comfort, first, that in my writings there cannot be found the faintest shadow of irreverence towards the Holy Church; and second, the testimony of my own conscience, which only I and God in Heaven thoroughly know.  And He knows that in this cause for which I suffer, though many might have spoken with more learning, none, not even the ancient Fathers, have spoken with more piety or with greater zeal for the Church than I.”

So how are we to explain the ugly accusations of the trial?  In a word: vengeance.  Galileo had a knack for making loyal friends and bitter enemies.  His razor-sharp logic and penchant for sarcasm won him admirers and detractors.  Some felt he was ramming Copernicanism down the throat of Christendom.  In Dialogues, he created characters to debate Copernicanism, and portrayed the protagonists as wise scholars and the antagonists as simpletons (he even named one opponent “Simplicio”).  Some of Galileo’s enemies understood him to be mocking them, and this inflamed their passion to get even.  Sadly, some of these dishonorable persons wrapped their vice in the cloak of the Church and used their position to cast the debate as Galileo vs the Bible, or Copernicanism vs the Church: leading to trumped up charges of the dreaded H word, heresy.

Galileo was framed.  He was caught up in a maelstrom of colliding currents: politics, personalities, ambitions, new discoveries, wars both physical and theological, suspicions, superstitions and misunderstandings.  Unfortunately, Galileo found himself at the center of the vortex, a victim of circumstances partly his fault and mostly beyond his control: a church in conflict with Reformers, just past the Council of Trent and trying to assert its authority, suspicious of those who, like Luther, felt they had the right to interpret the Scriptures for themselves.  Galileo knew that his detractors were, out of insecurity, fabricating “a shield for their fallacies out of the mantle of pretended religion and the authority of the Bible” (Sobel, p. 68).  In no way was the Church unanimous in condemning Galileo.  Even during the trial, numerous Catholics supported him, and like the archbishop of Siena, despised “those who have control of the sciences, and they have nothing left but to run back to holy ground” (Sobel, p. 286).

It could be argued that, rather than science vs. religion, the debate was not about the Bible at all, but about experimental science vs Greek philosophy.  Galileo’s opponents were primarily academics and professors, not churchmen.  To complicate matters, the Catholic church itself had compromised Biblical teachings with pagan Greek ideas about nature.  Dava Sobel explains that Thomas Aquinas “grafted the fourth-century-B.C. writings of Aristotle onto thirteenth-century Christian doctrine.  The compelling works of Saint Thomas Aquinas had reverberated through the Church and the nascent universities of Europe for hundreds of years, helping the word of Aristotle gain the authority of holy writ, long before Galileo began his book about the architecture of the heavens” (Sobel, p. 152).

It was Aristotle, not Scripture, that taught the immutability and perfection of the heavenly spheres in contradistinction to the corruption of the earth.  Finding blemishes on the moon and spots on the sun violated Aristotelian teachings, but not a word of Scripture.  Galileo’s “heresy” was against Aristotle, not the Bible!  He wrote, “To prohibit the whole science would be but to censure a hundred passages of Holy Scripture which teach us that the glory and greatness of Almighty God are marvelously discerned in all His works and divinely read in the open book of Heaven.”  Galileo believed that “Holy Scripture and Nature are both emanations from the divine word: the former dictated by the Holy Spirit, the latter the observant executrix of God’s commands” (Sobel, p. 64).  There was no contradiction between the two, in his view, but he distrusted the fallibility of human interpretation: “Holy Scripture cannot err and the decrees therein contained are absolutely true and inviolable.  I should only have added that, though Scripture cannot err, its expounders and interpreters are liable to err in many ways.”

Along this line, although relatively blameless himself, Galileo seems to have started a philosophy of interpretation that, taken too far, would later lead to a form of intellectual schizophrenia: the idea that the Bible is concerned only with spirit, while nature is the exclusive domain of science.  In the modern world, this has gone to extremes.  Some Christian creationists subscribe to a dual-revelation theory, that nature is just as authoritative a revelation from God as Scripture.  This is a half-truth, for the Bible certainly teaches that the works of God declare His glory, but proponents of this view often fail to take into account the fallibility of human interpretation of natural revelation.  They tend to accept whatever secular scientists say as authoritative, and mold the Bible to fit it.

Secularists and atheists, on the other hand, are sometimes patronizingly willing to let religious people have everything they wish in the spiritual realm, as long as scientists retain their hegemony over the study of nature.  Stephen Jay Gould, for instance, proposes a peace accord called “non-overlapping magisteria” (with a play on words from Catholic vocabulary), in which the church gets the art, music and theology, but science gets physics, chemistry and biology.  In both these views, dual-revelation and NOMA, inevitably nature winds up devouring the spirit, and Scripture becomes the servant of secular science.

We can see the seeds, but not the fruit, of this false dichotomy in Galileo.  Quoting Baronio, he believed the Bible was a book about how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.  He warned against literal interpretations of Scripture that would have us, for instance, picturing God with hands and feet and eyes, and human and bodily emotions.  He said, “I believe that the intention of Holy Writ was to persuade men of the truths necessary for salvation, such as neither science nor any other means could render credible, but only the voice of the Holy Spirit.  But I do not think it necessary to believe that the same God who gave us our senses, our speech, our intellect, would have put aside the use of these, to teach us instead such things as with their help we could find out for ourselves, particularly in the case of these sciences of which there is not the smallest mention in the Scriptures; and above all, in astronomy, of which so little notice is taken that the names of none of the planets are mentioned.  Surely if the intention of the sacred scribes had been to teach people astronomy, they would not have passed over the subject so completely.” (Sobel, p. 65).

This statement is sensible as far as it goes, but there appears to be a hidden assumption: that the mind of unregenerate man is capable of discovering truth on its own.  This may be practical with regard to repeatable, observable phenomena like falling bodies and motions of planets, but what about the origin of universe, the origin of the life, and the origin of the soul?  There is no subject under heaven today that modern science does not feel it has authority to explain by natural causes, even prayer and sexual mores.  Reductionist science even goes so far as to explain love as the sum total of neurotransmitter reactions in the physical brain.  Modern science has usurped the spiritual world; it has gone far beyond Galileo’s principle, and so we must watch his statements with awareness of where, in hindsight, an idea can go astray.  Nevertheless, Galileo himself attempted to explain Biblical passages like Joshua’s long day as real events, not allegories.  He accepted the creation account in Genesis as literally true.

Galileo’s scientific achievements are so well known as to require little elaboration here.  First to turn a telescope to the heavens; discoverer of sunspots, lunar craters, stars within the Milky Way, the phases of Venus, and the four large satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean satellites in his honor); staunch proponent of experiment over authority, discoverer of laws of falling bodies (in the process disproving Aristotle’s contention that heavier bodies fall faster), popularizer and publisher, mathematician, his work is of monumental importance in the history of science.  Einstein overstates the case that he was the “father of modern physics–indeed of modern science altogether,” because of his insistence on experiment over logical deductions.  He was a giant, but a giant among giants.  His Protestant contemporaries Johannes Kepler and Francis Bacon similarly espoused the same values of experimental science over authority.  And they were building on giants before them, Christian philosophers who viewed nature as the rational work of a transcendent God, worthy and capable of being explored by men created in His image.

In keeping with our theme, Galileo considered his faith a driving force behind his science.  According to Sobel, “The Dialogue resumed his importuning that truths about Nature be allowed to emerge through science.  Such truths, he still believed, could only glorify the Word and deeds of God.”  He was thankful to God for enabling him to see farther than any man before him.  In the euphoria of discovery during those nights turning the telescope toward the heavens for the first time, he expressed, “I render infinite thanks to God for being so kind as to make me alone the first observer of marvels kept hidden in obscurity for all previous centuries” (Sobel, p. 6).

For a delightful and enlightening read, we recommend Dava Sobel’s excellent book Galileo’s Daughter, (Penguin Books, 1999).  It has the unique amenity of a newly-translated collection of letters from Suor Maria Celeste, his daughter who spent her life in poverty as a nun.  The biography is woven around these sweet letters from his devoted and deeply spiritual child.  Around these intimate, innocent epistles, Sobel masterfully limns the spirit of the times, the superstitions as well as the achievements, the nobility and notoriety of numerous persons that came into contact with Galileo during his long and productive 75 years, which could have continued many more had his body kept up with his tireless mind.  Through many original quotes and sources, Sobel illustrates how the Galileo affair was far different than the simplistic portrait of science vs religion.  The book has a surprise ending that will move you.

Dava Sobel says that “Galileo remained a good Catholic who believed in the power of prayer and endeavored always to conform his duty as a scientist with the destiny of his soul.  ‘Whatever the course of our lives,’ Galileo wrote, ‘we should receive them as the highest gift from the hand of God, in which equally reposed the power to do nothing whatever for us.  Indeed, we should accept misfortune not only in thanks, but in infinite gratitude to Providence, which by such means detaches us from an excessive love for Earthly things and elevates our minds to the celestial and divine.’” (Sobel, p. 12).

In 2002, the Galileo spacecraft) completed its 12-year orbital reconnaissance of Jupiter and its Galilean satellites, the “little solar system” that overturned Greek dogma and opened a heavens far more wondrous than even the wise old bearded scientist himself could have imagined.

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The World’s Greatest Creation Scientists from Y1K to Y2K.
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A Concise Guide
to Understanding
Evolutionary Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Souder’s Law
Repetition does not establish validity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice from Paul

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

I Timothy 6:20-21

Song of the True Scientist

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

from Psalm 104

Maxwell’s Motivation

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

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

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

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