Creation-Evolution Headlines
May 2005
photo strip
“Still, some critics claim that science by definition can’t accept design, while others argue that science should keep looking for another explanation in case one is out there.  But we can’t settle questions about reality with definitions, nor does it seem useful to search relentlessly for a non-design explanation of Mount Rushmore.”
Michael Behe, in the New York Times Feb 7.
AstronomyBotanyBirdsCell BiologyCosmologyDating MethodsDinosaursEarly ManEducationEvolutionFossilsGenetics and DNAGeologyHealthHuman BodyIntelligent DesignMammalsMarine LifeMarsMediaOrigin of LifePhysicsPolitics and EthicsSETISolar SystemTheologyZoology     Awards:  AmazingDumb
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Search Creation-Evolution Headlines
Readership has doubled over the last year!  Thanks for helping spread the word about

Stars: Born of Violence, or Doing Violence to Theories?   05/31/2005
Two stunning images from the giant orbiting telescopes are breeding tales of violence, but the reader can decide if the trauma is building stars and planets, or pummeling theories. tells about the new Spitzer infrared photo of Eta Carina, announcing, “As they destroy the huge cloud that is their home, wildly energetic stars may be triggering the birth of the next generation.”  The idea is that material blasted away by the central star’s ultrasonic winds and ultraviolet radiation clumps in eddies where new stars can form.  Yet Nathan Smith explained that current theory does not explain the apparent synchronized star formation in the Carina Nebula.  Dust and gas will not collapse into stars without becoming concentrated.  Smith invoked a snowplow metaphor to explain how the material might have piled up, then “eventually formed knots where new stars could form.”
    Science1 described observations of the Orion Nebula made by the Chandra X-ray telescope, where X-ray flares emanating from the Trapezium – thousands of times more energetic than anything our sun generates – are making some astronomers imagine birth through violence.  They speculate whether such conditions keep newly-forming planets from spiraling into their host stars, and might also explain the formation of chondrules, melted meteoritic material that has been difficult to explain in our solar system.  Confident claims such as “The results turn back the clock to the infancy of our own sun” are contrasted with mysteries, such as:

  • No one knows the impacts of such giant magnetic short-circuits.
  • stretches current theory, [Eric] Feigelson readily admits.
  • This was a whole category of energy release and physics that we just couldn’t study before.
  • Feigelson thinks this “planetary protection” picture, in a phrase coined by NASA, needs a better theoretical anchor before anyone hops aboard that boat.  “The story is not necessarily persuasive because of the complexities of planet formation, but it’s very tempting,” he says.  “COUP [Chandra Orion Ultradeep Project] gives us much more confidence that our young sun was very magnetically active.  I am not as confident about the other steps in the argument.”
  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)  The article ends noting that, while the data set is rich, the theory is still a work in progress.
    Another surprise was announced by Australian astronomers working at the Keck Observatory: the stellar disk of Andromeda spiral galaxy M31 is apparently three times larger than earlier assumed.  ABC News Australia has the story.  One astronomer said of previous theories of galaxy accretion, “This giant disk discovery will be very hard to reconcile with computer simulations of forming galaxies.”
1Robert Irion, “Turbulent Orion Nebula Shows a Flare for the Dramatic,” Science, Vol 308, Issue 5726, 1249-1250, 27 May 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5726.1249].
The pictures are beautiful.  The stories are entertaining.  No human lifetime could watch the whole sequence, so the interpretations are very much model-driven and riddled with difficulties.  Certain ones claim this or that feature supports their pet theory (see Finagle’s Second Law).  Others claim it turns the pet against its owner.
    Evolutionists seem drawn to violence as a creative process.  Though biological evolution is many orders of magnitude more implausible than stellar evolution, it still seems that theories of star and planet formation, though dealing in the hard-science realms of physics and chemistry, still require many ad hoc elements to work.  Note Feigelson’s remark about the “complexities of planet formation” – they are many, and serious.
    Telescopes bring us light from these objects that, though it left long ago, is received in our present.  The light gives us information about color, temperature, wavelengths, magnetic fields, velocities and a few other things that were going on when the photons left the object.  It is “tempting” to “hop aboard the boat” of this or that speculation, but boats without firm planks tend to leak.  A “firm theoretical anchor” makes a leaky boat leak even faster.  Moral: keep the data distinct from the stories.  Collect watertight planks before setting out to sea.  The next publication could well reveal today’s Spanish Armada of blustering hype sinking under the violent onslaught of new observations.
Next headline on:  Astronomy
SETI Researcher Joins NG Imagination Fest    05/31/2005
Space.Com writer Tariq Malik reviewed the National Geographic TV series Extraterrestrial that envisions flying whales, giraffe-like predators and flesh-eating tadpoles on a mythical world undergoing its own evolution.  “Using computer models and armed with basic evolutionary theory, the scientists imagined not only what conditions might exist on their theoretical planets,” writes Malik, “but also how life may interact with the environment to form a thriving ecosystem.” (emphasis added).  SETI researcher Seth Shostak told he joined the project because “Here was a plan to make aliens that make sense.”
What the Darwinists lack in data, they make up for in imagination.  That makes sense, all right – financially.  It explains why the Darwinists argue that teaching evolution is good for the economy (see 04/29/2005 entry).  It provides jobs for animators and other imagineers.  Malik wins the Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: “Eyes, for example, have evolved several times on Earth and are likely to pop up on other light-filled worlds, researchers said.”  Apparently, this crowd believes in Popeye as well as Tinkerbell (see 03/11/2005 commentary).
    The sad result of decades of evolutionary indoctrination by movie animators is revealed by Malik’s last line: “A National Geographic-commissioned telephone survey of 1,000 Americans found that 60 percent believe life exists on other worlds.  About 90 percent of those who believe in extraterrestrial life thought the Earth should respond to any communications emanating from an alien planet.”  Yet these true believers usually refuse to listen to or respond to the only Being who is communicating, and has communicated since the beginning (see Hebrews 1).  Only the technology of deception has changed since 700 BC.  Read it and weep: Isaiah 30, especially verse 10.
Next headline on:  SETIMediaEvolutionDumb Stories
Health Beliefs Re-examined    05/30/2005
Scientists continue to find new things that undermine commonly-held beliefs about health and the environment.  For example,
One finding did match common-sense expectations.  An article in Science1 found that youths who watch gun violence are more apt to engage in violent behavior (see also EurekAlert report).
1Bingenheimer et al., “Firearm Violence Exposure and Serious Violent Behavior,” Science, Vol 308, Issue 5726, 1323-1326, 27 May 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1110096].
The point is not that any of these reports are the last word on those subjects, but if scientists cannot get things right about everyday issues regarding our daily habits, how can they presume to tell us about things millions of years ago?
Next headline on:  Health
Darwinists Excuse Prejudice as a Hard-wired, Common-Sense Evolutionary Adaptation    05/27/2005
This week’s Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week comes from an Arizona State evo-psych press release echoed on and EurekAlert: “Contrary to what most people believe, the tendency to be prejudiced is a form of common sense, hard-wired into the human brain through evolution as an adaptive response to protect our prehistoric ancestors from danger.”
The authors of the study hasten to add that their hypothesis does not mean we can’t change our prejudices:
People sometimes assume that because we say prejudice has evolved roots we are saying that specific prejudices can’t be changed.  That’s simply not the case,” [Steven] Neuberg [ASU professor of social psychology] says.  “What we think and feel and how we behave is typically the result of complex interactions between biological tendencies and learning experiences.  Evolution may have prepared our minds to be prejudiced, but our environment influences the specific targets of those prejudices and how we act on them.”   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Neuberg can’t get off the hook so easily.  If prejudice is an evolved adaptive strategy, then it has no moral implications whatsoever.  Nobody can say that this or that target of our hardwired prejudice is wrong.  Prejudice, if it evolved, is as “good” as eyesight or hearing.  If anything is “wrong” to a consistent Darwinist, it is standing in the path of evolution.  But ironically, their very claim shoots itself in the foot.  If what they were saying was true, then we would have to dismiss their claims as evolutionary adaptive strategies for their own self-protection, and therefore inapplicable to our own interests.
    The press release avoids words with moral connotations, like right or wrong, good or bad: instead, it sidesteps moral implications with words like inappropriate – “One important practical implication of this research is that we may need to create different interventions to reduce inappropriate prejudices against different groups.”  Well, for crying out loud, who decides what is appropriate?  It doesn’t seem very appropriate in a Darwinian world, where might makes right, to deny a bigot his adaptive self-protective strategies.  Isn’t that like trying to stop rams from banging their heads together?  What gives these ivory-tower intellectuals the power to tell their fellow academics that “we may need to create different interventions”?  What does need mean in an amoral world where selfishness rules?  Whatever happens is what evolution does.  If race riots happen, just observe and take notes.  Only those with a foundation for morals can dare to say we should intervene.
    You’ll notice that the news media never question this stuff; they just regurgitate the barf and say, “Well, I’ll be, isn’t evolution interesting.”  No other human enterprise seems so immune from criticism as Darwinian propaganda, even when it is as politically charged as this.  What gives any fallible human, including scientists, the right to claim that human evils are amoral artifacts of evolutionary adaptive strategies?  Is it their superior wisdom?  Is it their empirical evidence?  Is it their philosophical neutrality?  Don’t be conned.  If you get angry at the Darwin Party’s rationalization of everything evil as an evolutionary adaptation, including rape and child abuse, then join the anti-Darwin revolution and help put this foolishness into the dustbin of discredited ideas, where it can take its place beside Bad Marx and Sickman Fraud.
Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryDumb Stories
Can the Courts Define Science?    05/27/2005
Last December, the
ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania against the Dover Area School District that was considering adding intelligent design material to the curriculum.  The lawsuit attempts to define intelligent design as “inherently religious” and therefore unacceptable in science classrooms.  The move appears aimed at censoring books from the Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE) which publishes student materials on intelligent design and critiques of evolution.  If these tangible assets at the center of the controversy over the teaching of evolution are ruled inherently religious – even though they teach no religious doctrines but only scientific criticisms of evolutionary theory and design detection methods – then science students would only have pro-naturalistic textbooks available to them.
    The Alliance Defense Fund has filed a motion to intervene on behalf of FTE.  ADF-allied attorney Jeff Mateer remarked, “The ACLU and their allies are using the courts to further the preposterous notion that no other theories [than evolution] on the origins of life are scientific.”
To the liberal left, free speech is the highest ideal, and censorship is arguably the worst crime in the world.  So who are the censors here?  Who are the book-burners here?  Who are the ones for indoctrination, against the open marketplace of ideas, and for stifling debate here?  The very groups that want to defend homosexual advocacy and Islamic religion in public schools, believing that even grade schoolers and kindergartners should be exposed to it, exhibit rank hypocrisy when it comes to anything not on their leftist agenda.
    This is another egregious case of far-left liberals running to the courts to do an end-run around the voice of the people and their elected representatives.  It’s not just critics of Darwinism that should be outraged.  If the courts can define what science is, then Big Science itself should tremble.
    If the ACLU succeeds, we suggest they be consistent.  No more computer science in public schools, because it is a science based on intelligent design.  No more mention of SETI.  No archaeology.  No information theory.  No cryptography.  No forensics.  No mention of molecular machines or cellular networks (see 03/14/2005)  No teaching on DNA as a genetic “code” or “language”.  Since these sciences use design words, which might imply intelligent design, they are inherently religious.  While they’re at it, maybe they should exclude all mention of Kepler, Newton, Herschel, Faraday, Maxwell and any other scientist who was a Christian or creationist (see online book).
    If intelligent design is religious, then so is Darwinian evolution and the philosophical naturalism that underlies it.  The ACLU is not trying to keep science classrooms free of religion.  They just want it free of everyone else’s but theirs.  They want to keep biology classrooms safe for the Cult of Tinkerbell (03/11/2005 commentary), so that Pope Charlie (02/13/2004) won’t get a stomach ache (11/29/2004) when clever students discover problems with his fairy tales.
Next headline on:  PoliticsIntelligent DesignEducation
All You Wanted to Know About Spider Webs, Except Their Evolution   05/25/2005
Each issue of Current Biology contains a Primer on some interesting subject.  The May 24 issue had one about spider webs.1  Fritz Vollrath shared some amazing details about this unique product of the lowly spider, but gave a strange explanation for how the capability to spin strong-as-steel nets evolved.  First, the factoids:
  • Structure...the... common garden spider... has evolved to take out-of-plane loads at optimized deflections.  To be able to do so, this web needs to incorporate into one structure the mechanical properties of very different types of silk: the fairly stiff, radius silk threads and the extremely soft, extensible and sticky capture silk threads, which are fixed on the radii by stringy silk cement.  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
  • HeritageMost of the hundred or so spider families have web-building members.  Their webs range from two-dimensional sheets to three-dimensional tangles, with members of ten families building the familiar orb web.
  • SignalingThe spider’s web is primarily a trap, mostly for insects; it retains the contacting insect and informs the waiting spider about the location and status of the prey.  Whether it is a static filter or a dynamic net swaying in the wind, the web always relays vibratory signals of considerable complexity.
  • Geometry:  The great ecological diversity of the potential prey is reflected in the great diversity of web designs.  Of these, the orbicular web has attracted special attention because of its ubiquity, pleasing geometry, obvious functionality and, not least, its apparent structural simplicity.
  • TechniqueThe typical spider web ... is the spider’s inherited ‘signature’, which – although unlearned – is modified predictably by the environment.  The web is many times the spider’s size; accordingly, the decision rules guiding the animal’s locomotory and manipulative movements can best be described (and analysed) as orientation behaviour.  Vollrath says that model spider robots can generate digitized spider webs, and show that a “small number of very simple behaviour patterns are sufficient to generate accurately the characteristics of a real spiderweb.”
  • TechnologyThe common garden spider Araneus diadematus, like other orb weavers of the ecribellate families, employs in each bead of its capture threads a microscopic ‘windlass’ mechanism that allows supreme extendibility while absorbing the high kinetic energy of the prey without breaking. Another species “combs out its capture silk to form a loosely twisted, dry rope with a mechanical coil-and-spring that sticks to prey using electrostatic forces.”
  • Materials scienceSpider silk is not a single-protein biopolymer.  In addition to the spidroins, its main protein constituents, the typical spider dragline silk contains many different organic and inorganic components, such as neurotransmitter peptides, glyco-proteins, lipids, sugars, phosphates, calcium, potassium and sulphur....
    Functionally, silks can be viewed as a ‘filled rubber’, in which crystallites provide the strength and a matrix provides the elasticity: in combination, these two components give the silk its toughness.
  • ManufactureAt present we do not know the precise mechanisms by which different silk proteins fold and assemble in the ‘spinning ducts’ of the various and diverse spider glands.  Some initial insights have been gained, however, into the silk pathway of one typical spider silk: the dragline silk produced by the major ampullate glands of the golden silk spider ... Here, as in all other spider silks, the liquid crystalline silk feedstock is prepared by specialist cells in the gland wall and stored in the lumen.  As with most other silks, this precursor silk is then converted into the solid fibre by extrusion through the tubular taper of a duct, where the enormously long ... silk molecules first unfold and are then cross-linked.
        In Nephila, the fibre-forming zone has the shape and function of a hyperbolic extrusion die.  Here a small drop in the pH combined with the elongational flow of the molecules effects the transformation from liquid to solid silk.... the elongational flow helps to define the molecular orientations throughout the duct, and that a combination of solvent (water) extrusion and subsequent acidification helps the process of alignment and folding.  The cuticle of the gland’s duct facilitates the rapid removal of water and provides the proton pump for the acid bath.  In this way the spider uses a liquid crystalline spinning process which, in terms of human engineering, is highly advanced.
In the middle of the primer, Vollrath tackled the specific question, “How are webs thought to have evolved?”
Spider web structures and silks began their co-evolution about 400 million years ago, at first probably as a protein cover to protect the animal’s eggs and young.  Webs then evolved different functions, including acting as a kind of wall-paper for the animal’s burrow and modifying the hole into a simple trap by radiating lines that inform the lurking spider about things beetling around outside.  Even such simple lines expand the animal’s anatomical phenotype many fold by incorporating the body into an extensive silken net.  The aerial webs of the ‘modern’ spiders began to evolve perhaps 200 million years ago and are superb examples of ‘extended anatomy’.  These webs also nicely illustrate the close interaction of material and behaviour which clearly are two separately encoded yet functionally inter-linked character traits.
This seems to say that they evolved because they evolved. 
1Fritz Vollrath, “Spider’s webs,”
Current Biology, Vol 15, R364-R365, 24 May 2005.
This is a prime example of the leaps of faith rampant among Darwinians, who can discuss with apparent wonder the technologies of the animal kingdom – capabilities that dwarf human efforts based on intelligent engineering – then say they just evolved, with utter, implicit, and complete faith in the inspired Word of Charlie, who alone does wonders.  Then they have the audacity to accuse non-Darwinians of relying on faith instead of science.
    Vollrath apparently was not at all aware of nor troubled by the fact that he dodged the question about evolution.  How did the spider web evolve?  It evolved, he said.  Any skill or technology needed was available to the spider with the snap of the evolutionary fingers.  Example: certain spiders “have evolved to produce web fibres that have an aqueous coating, supplied and maintained by hygroscopic compounds to attract the required water molecules from the atmosphere.”  How did the spider find these hygroscopic compounds and incorporate them into the production line?  It evolved.
    That explanation is all-sufficient.  The precise acidity control?  It evolved.  The hyperbolic extrusion die?  It evolved.  The exact recipe of proteins, sugars, phosphates, calcium, sulfur, neurotransmitter peptides and other organic and inorganic ingredients that yielded a substance humans cannot emulate?  It evolved.  The ability to control the solidification and folding at exactly the right time and place?  It evolved.  The ability to sort out tough silks and soft, flexible sticky silks into a radial pattern?  It evolved.  The skill to snare insects, detect their presence, and get to them without getting stuck itself?  It evolved.
    It evolved because it evolved: that is apparently enough intellectual content to satisfy a brainwashed Darwinist.  Some humans build webs, too; the tangled kind, spun by self-deception.  Watch from a safe distance.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyAmazing StoriesEvolution
Battlefield Dispatches    05/24/2005
Reports from the evolution wars continue to come in.  Here are more recent stories about the conflicts over the teaching of evolution and intelligent design:
  • The race card:  Fiona Morgan on trashes those who try to link Darwin to racism.  The cartoon shows Darwin with a dunce cap sitting in the corner, but Morgan says he is one of the good guys.
  • Anti-modern heartland hicks:  That’s the description Andrew Gumbel gave of anti-evolutionists in L.A. City Beat.
  • Revenge of the Sith:  Atheists organize to fight back, reports Greg Sandoval in the Bakersfield Californian.  A worship service included booing and hissing at a picture of Pat Robertson.
  • Revenge of the Six DaysMSNBC News highlighted the Creation Museum that is taking shape in Kentucky, which will “fire people up” about the Biblical view of origins.  Darwinists are appalled, but admit director Ken Ham is a better communicator than most mainstream scientists.  Jerry Falwell predicts it will become Cincinnati’s #1 tourist attraction.
  • Culture warYahoo News reported that the Kansas school battle is likely to spill over into all 50 states.  Both sides are calling the other side pseudoscience.
  • Sticker shockMSNBC News reported that workers in Cobb County, Georgia, under court order, are removing 34,452 stickers from textbooks that stated evolution was only a theory, not a fact, and should be studied with an open mind.  The ruling is being appealed (see 04/09/2004, 11/23/2004, and 11/08/2004 entries).
  • Soap box:  Stephen Meyer printed his letter that Nature wouldn’t (see 05/19/2005 entry) on the Discovery Institute website.
  • Brazilian infestation:  Alan Leshner, CEO of the AAAS, wrote in the Kansas City Star that the plague of creationism is infecting Brazil.  Denyse O'Leary on Access Research Network quotes a Brazilian who says it isn’t so; the only anti-Darwinists are a small group of second-class citizens with no influence on society.  O'Leary quips, “Leshner is using Brazil’s second class citizens as a bug-a-boo to frighten his fellow science boffins.”
  • Rationale and rationality:  Departing NAS president Bruce Alberts spoke his mind in Science,1 commenting on various topics, including the debate over teaching evolution: “It says we’ve failed as scientists and science educators to convey the nature of science and its values to the American public, despite our world leadership in science and technology... We all fear that this movement toward a biblical interpretation of scientific facts will eventually make us look like some of the countries in the Middle East.  If we’re going to remain a world leader, we’re going to need all the scientific rationality that we can muster.”  (See also 04/27/2005 entry on Alberts.)
  • Declination:  Robert McHenry on Tech Central Station ridiculed ID as “intelligent decline.”  Jonathan Witt on ID the Future responded that the article organizes all the bad arguments against ID in a single, convenient place.  Next day, Mustafa Akyol submitted a rebuttal on Tech Central.
  • Scoping Scopes:  Chuck Colson on Breakpoint tried to clear up misconceptions about a historical event often compared with the Kansas debate: the Scopes Trial of 1925.
  • World leaderWorld Magazine led off with a cover story about the Kansas debate.  Detailing the histrionics in the board room, Timothy Lamer comments, “Lost in the propaganda and facial expressions is just how modest the proposed revisions are.  For all the comparisons to the Scopes trial, the roles in that trial have been reversed 80 years later.  Today, it’s the critics of Darwinism who want to introduce what they see as important scientific evidence into science classrooms and it’s the Darwinists who are fighting to keep out what they see as heresy.”

1Jeffrey Mervis, “Bruce Alberts Interview: Attention, Class: A Departing NAS President Speaks His Mind,” Science, Vol 308, Issue 5725, 1108, 20 May 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5725.1108].
Alberts should be ashamed of himself for insinuating that anti-evolution efforts will make America look like a Middle Eastern country.  He put three types of baloney in that sausage.  First, intelligent design is not “a biblical interpretation of scientific facts.”  ID does not rely on any theological position but rather on design detection using established scientific reasoning.  Second, the only Middle Eastern country with a Biblical view is Israel, which has a strong pro-science record and a modernized civilization with political freedom for all.  Why didn’t Alberts point his attack where it belongs, at those unsavory, tyrannical countries with a Koranical interpretation of scientific facts?  Third, evolution has absolutely nothing to do with making a country a scientific world leader.  Darwin, whose only degree was in theology, was an imposter (see 05/02/2003 commentary) who snuck naturalistic philosophy into a scientific tradition that was built on belief in design (see online book).  Of all people, Bruce Alberts, co-editor of The Molecular Biology of the Cell, and one who stated that the biology of the future is the study of molecular machines (see 01/27/2003 and 01/09/2002 entries), should realize that naturalism is hopelessly inadequate to explain the complexities of life.
    The taproot of the culture war is the debate over origins.  What carves the deep divide in our country and the world are the big questions of who we are, where we came from, and what we are here for.  The Darwinists have had free rein for over a century to tell everyone that “science” says we are the end result of a mindless, natural chain of unpredictable events, and therefore have no ultimate purpose.  They claim that the unfathomable designs in the living world and the universe are illusions, mere artifacts of stochastic combinations of chance and natural law.  They claim that our minds, our wisest and most sublime thoughts, our love, and our character are reducible to molecules in motion, and ultimately to particles that emerged out of nothing.  If you think these assumptions should be challenged, join in the biggest and most momentous battle of the century, where the arms are not swords or bullets, but facts – and the ability to wield them with knowledge, wisdom and skill.  Let Creation-Evolution Headlines be part of your armory.
Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryIntelligent Design.  • Education
Stem Cell Headlines    05/23/2005
Research on embryonic stem cells is proceeding apace without an ethical anchor, and no clue where it will lead.  News coverage of the debate accelerated with an announcement from South Korea.
  • Match point:  The BBC News and many other news sources published South Korea’s announcement that stem cells matched to the individual have been tailored for the first time.
  • First clone:  The BBC News also announced that the UK had made its first human cloned embryo for harvesting stem cells.  The article quotes a ProLife alliance representative appalled over this; “No matter how it is created,” Josephine Quintavalle said, “a human embryo’s destiny should be to live and not to be turned into human stem cells.”  She also protested the “unsafe and inefficient” practice, and how it might subject women to dangerous fertility drugs in order to collect sufficient eggs.  Proponents agree that embryonic stem cell therapies only exist in theory; one professor said, “We are talking about several years before we are talking about a cell-based therapy that can go back into the patient.”
  • Contradictory resultsScience last week1 tried to clarify contradictory lab results by explaining “red herrings in stem cell research.”  They identified eight factors influencing stem cell plasticity, especially injury to the cells during lab procedure.
  • Korea and Ethics:  Gretchen Vogel in Science2 elaborated on South Korea’s widely-reported advance in the efficiency of deriving stem cells from cloned human embryos.  They got the success rate down from one in 200 to one in 20.  The improved skills of the Korean group nevertheless raise difficult ethical questions,” she says, referring to a Stanford bioethics statement in the same issue that warns, “research proceeds internationally, these issues must be adequately addressed for public confidence to be maintained.”3  Ethic problems include demand among scientists for fresh oocytes from young women, medical complications, long term complications, and chances that renegade doctors will attempt reproductive cloning.
  • Presidential angst:  President Bush said he was “very concerned” about Korea’s rapid advances in stem cell research, and said he would veto any bill loosening restrictions on federal funding for it.  See report on MSNBC News.  Although the research is not “banned” in the United States, federal funding is restricted.  Bush said he worries about a “world in which cloning becomes accepted,” and does not believe taxpayer money should “promote science which destroys life in order to save life.”
  • Political battleMSNBC also reported that a heated debate is brewing between Congress and the President over a bill proposed by a Republican from Delaware and a Democrat from Colorado to ease restrictions on federal funding of stem cell research.  Advocates are emphasizing promised cures “with emotional appeals from celebrity supporters as well as parents who ‘adopted’ their children as embryos,”  the article begins.  Supporters and opponents are deeply divided over whether the embryos are human beings.
  • International tensions:  Nigel Williams in Current Biology4 surveys the international scene, particularly in Europe where the EU has member states that stand “poles apart” on the issue.  He contrasts Switzerland’s liberal policy with Italy’s stern opposition due largely to the Catholic church.
  • International standards:  In Nature May 26,4 Erika Check suggested that nations need to pull together to decide what’s right.  Quoting Arthur Caplan, bioethicist at U. of Pennsylvania, “An international effort to coordinate stem-cell research would lend transparency to the field and ensure it proceeds in an ethical way.” 
  • Insufficient guidelines:  Nathaniel Nelson and Bert Thompson on Apologetics Press examined the NAS guidelines for embryonic stem cell research and found them “largely insufficient in dealing with the ethical stipulations” raised by the technology.

1Quesenberry et al., “Ignoratio Elenchi: Red Herrings in Stem Cell Research,” Science, Vol 308, Issue 5725, 1121-1122, 20 May 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1104432].
2Gretchen Vogel, “Korean Team Speeds Up Creation Of Cloned Human Stem Cells,” Science, Vol 308, Issue 5725, 1096-1097, 20 May 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5725.1096].
3Magnus and Cho, “Issues in Oocyte Donation for Stem Cell Research,” Science, published online 19 May 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1114454].
4Erika Check, “Korea's accelerating stem-cell work prompts calls for global ethical rules,” Nature 435, 393 (26 May 2005) | doi: 10.1038/435393a.
Our 02/08/2005 commentary still stands, and now we are in the thick of the ethical morass we knew was coming.  Bioethical voices seem powerless over the lure of money and prestige.  Erika Check quoted Caplan describing ethicists as standing on the sidelines and pouting, “you can’t do this.”  But would international controls help?  The U.N. with its Oil-for-Food scandal showed that international agencies are no guarantors of ethics: they can become the problem, not the solution.  Nor has the U.N. been willing or able to stop human rights violations in rogue nations like North Korea or Sudan.  It is doubtful an international science community would have any power over rogue nations and individuals now that stem cell research is hot.  We have seen that there are researchers within the civilized world with no qualms about trying anything that is possible, even putting human cells into rat brains (see 03/10/2005 entry).  In today’s amoral, selfish research culture, it seems as if the tables have turned: rat cells have invaded the human brain.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsCell Biology
Large Individual Differences Seen in Human Genome    05/20/2005
What makes each individual unique?  Nature1 reported a surprising thing about “the” human genome that is becoming apparent as more individuals’ genes are examined.  The first part is not surprising; the last part is:
When the finished sequence of the human genome was unveiled last year, biologists said that it told a story of harmony for the human family.  Every one of us, it turns out, shares 99% of our DNA with all the other people on Earth. But it’s our differences that really fascinate us.  And at last week’s annual genome meeting in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, scientists revealed a wealth of data indicating a surprising conclusion about human diversity – much of it might be explained by large structural differences between individual genomes, not by tiny differences in individual genes.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Some of us have more copies of a gene than others do.  That’s just the beginning, Erika Check reports from the meeting: “we also have varying numbers of deletions, insertions and other major rearrangements in our genomes.”
    Check claims that some of these differences are being acted on by natural selection.  Europeans, for instance, have an inversion not seen in Africans or Asians that is correlated with having more children, “a classic sign that the inversion confers an evolutionary advantage”.  Others at the meeting were also confident that “structural differences are important in human evolution,” and that among sections where there were differing numbers of copies of stretches of DNA, “natural selection is actively working on these genes.”
What’s more, he [Duc-Quang Nguyen, U of Oxford] found that many of these genes belong to groups that seem to help us interact with our environment.  For instance, many work in the immune system, and affect how we fight off disease.  These are exactly the sort of genes that could explain our diversity – why some of us get asthma when exposed to air pollution, or why some of us can eat plenty of cheeseburgers without gaining weight.
    “We knew these variations existed, but this year we’re asking, do they matter?” says Ewan Birney, head of bioinformatics for the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, based in Cambridge, UK.  “The answer seems to be yes.”
    We’re still one human family, of course; but our DNA landscapes are a lot more varied than we had thought.

1Erika Check, “Large genomic differences explain our little quirks,”
Nature 435, 252-253 (19 May 2005) | doi: 10.1038/435252b.
DNA keeps surprising us.  The old picture of a relatively static library occasionally mutating to provide grist for natural selection is out.  Now, we see that even among our own species – all of us being interfertile – there are remarkable differences not in just a DNA letter here or there, but in whole stretches of DNA sometimes 100 base pairs long or more.  What this all means is not clear.  It may be that most of our genomes cannot tolerate much divergence (see 11/26/2004 entry), but a certain fraction can vary quickly to provide robustness against changing environments and diets as people groups migrate into new areas.  If so, thank God for this variability.  Consider the differences in habitat between the frozen tundra, rain forest, the Sahara, grasslands, Asian steppes, forests and coastlands.  The food available, air pressure, climate, insolation and biota can vary considerably.  But even that explanation is simplistic; Americans go on vacation to Iceland, China and the Serengeti, don’t they?  And international marriages usually produce offspring possessing “fitness,” whatever that is (see 10/29/2002 entry, “Fitness for Dummies: Is it Running in Circles?”).
    Darwinists cannot claim they understand this variability any more than anyone else; that is why Check calls this a “surprising conclusion.”  Thankfully, it is still politically correct for her to say, “We’re still one human family, of course.”  But this knowledge through a Darwin filter could feed a new eugenics (compare 04/22/2004 and 10/12/2001 entries).  When Darwinists claim that certain genes are being acted on by natural selection, some individuals are going to appear more fit than others.  Certain gene patterns may be deemed unfit to reproduce.  Don’t think we’ve learned our lesson and are beyond that.  One only has to visualize North Korea (02/11/2005 commentary) to consider how such information could be quickly twisted for evil.  “Diversity” is the politically-correct word now, but “Unity” is potentially just as potent a rallying cry for demagogues.
    Associating a DNA inversion to more fecundity is unwarranted.  There are many more factors than one stretch of DNA entering the picture of reproduction rates.  If that were true, why are Europeans having so few kids, and worrying about their countries being overrun with foreigners?  Africans and Asians seem to be overcrowding their parts of the world just fine without the inversion.  The claim overlooks the many social, moral, religious, pragmatic and economic factors that go into the equation.  Darwinists bluff about selection pressure and genes undergoing active selection when the picture is far too complex to draw such conclusions (see, for instance, 03/28/2005 and 01/17/2005 entries).  They can’t even get one mutation in one gene to correlate well with fitness (see 02/04/2005 and 09/07/2004 entries), let alone large structural variations.  Besides, the genome itself appears to be a pawn in the hands of numerous, complex epigenetic regulatory factors (see 06/03/2004 and 10/27/2004 entries).  The new data about human genomic variability should remain fair game for all honest scientists, especially those outside wearing designer lab coats instead of Darwin-brand straitjackets.
Next headline on:  GeneticsHuman BodyDarwinism and Evolutionary Theory
Neanderthals and Modern Humans May Have Interbred    05/19/2005
They lived together, they morphed into one another, so were members of Homo neanderthalensis really a separate species from Homo sapiens?  Findings announced in Nature1 show a mixture of Neanderthal-like characteristics in modern human skeletons from Romania that led
Science Now to state, “Oldest Europeans were swingers.”  Because new radiocarbon dates of these skeletons put them in the transition period when modern humans were displacing Neanderthals, it is “possible that modern humans have a Neandertal ancestry or that humans and Neandertals may have interbred.”
    The carbon dating is critical to the story.  In the Nature paper, the scientists pretreated several samples with acid and yet worried about contamination.  Results varied from 26,330 years before the present (bp) to 31,500 years bp in six tests.  One tooth yielded ages of 27,370 and 31,500 years, even though it was found in an “excellent state of preservation in general and was therefore selected for dating as well.”  They assumed the younger date was due to contamination.  The team admitted that all the ages determined from the samples lie within “a time period for which a generally agreed calibration curve for the transformation of uncalibrated 14C ages [greater than] 20 kyr bp into calendar time ranges is not yet available.  According to the existing, albeit divergent, 14C records for this period determined in different archives, a shift of the ‘true ages’ by several thousand years towards higher ages might be possible.”
1Wild et al., “Direct dating of Early Upper Palaeolithic human remains from Mladec,” Nature 435, 332-335 (19 May 2005) | doi: 10.1038/nature03585.
These bones reveal population variability among true humans.  If they were capable of interbreeding, they fit the “biological species concept” of a single species.  Neanderthals have long been used for evolutionary propaganda.  The propaganda continues today, in spite of findings like this.  For instance, a TV program on The Science Channel showed brutish Neanderthals happening upon the camp of more modern humans, unable to figure out who the strangers were and what made them so smart.  The story is made up in the imagination of evolutionists committed to a form of evolutionary racism, calling modern humans “us” and Neanderthals “them.”  It is no more legitimate than lumping Watusis and Eskimos into different species.
    The original paper revealed uncertainties in the dating methods not reported by the popular press.  Without Creation-Evolution Headlines, you might not have known that dates on the same tooth differed by 4,130 years, or that there is no calibration curve for the period assumed (for a discussion of problems with radiometric dating, see this article by Carl Wieland).  The dating is driven more by The Tale of Human Evolution than by science.  Since carbon dating loses accuracy rapidly after just a few thousand years, nothing in this story disproves that these were fully human individuals living relatively recently.
Next headline on:  Early ManDating Methods
Christian Woman to Rebuild Iraqi Science   05/19/2005
According to the Christian apologetics ministry
Answers in Action, a woman – a Christian woman – will help rebuild Iraqi science from the ruins of Saddam Hussein’s evil empire:
Ibrahim Jaafari, the prime minister of Iraq, has appointed Bassima Yousef Boutros, a 44 year old biochemist at Salah Eldin University in Erbil, Iraq as the country’s new science & technology minister.  Boutros is a member of the Chaldo Assyrians, a sect of Christians living in Iraq who suffered severe persecution under the previous Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein.
    The Chaldo Assyrian Christians were forbidden to vote, hold public office, were often arrested and imprisoned, & often became the victims of random homicide & other violence from Baathists under the authority of Saddam Hussein.  An estimated 800,000 live in Iraq, & more than 40,000 fled the country under the previous regime.  Since the American military covered Iraq, the Chaldo Assyrian Christians & other minority religious groups in Iraq suffered from terrorist attacks at random, including the bombing of many Chaldo Assyrian churches, which killed scores of men, women, & children.
The story in says, “Boutros has been at the centre of the freedom movement of the ChaldoAssyrians, a sect of Christians living in Iraq who were often persecuted under the country’s previous Baathist regime.  She stood in the Iraqi election as a representative of the ChaldoAssyrian people.”
    This news item was noted by the May 20 Science Magazine feature “Random Samples” – “Boutros told a Christian Web site, Answers in Action, that she would do her best ‘to use science and technology as the basis to build a civilized Iraq.’”
Having women in science is century-old news (they outnumber men in some circles), but a Christian woman, communicating with a Christian website that supports intelligent design?  How can this be?  We all know from the media that ID people don’t understand science and are the enemies of science.  Maybe the Darwin Party should lobby for a return to the good old days in Iraq.  What could be worse for Darwinism than a Christian in science leadership who believes in creation and who (gulp) knows biochemistry?
Next headline on:  Politics
Nature Prints Anti-ID Letters    05/19/2005
The May 19 issue of Nature1 printed seven letters responding to its editorial about the intelligent design movement (see
04/27/2005 entry).  They were all critical of ID.  Not one even tolerated Nature’s suggestion that scientists try to help students integrate their faith with science.  Apparently, last month’s editorial was not sufficiently vicious against ID, says Rob Crowther on Evolution News.  Crowther knows that at least one letter favorable to ID was not printed: the one by Stephen Meyer, interviewed in the April 27 article, who wrote in to correct some misconceptions (see it at Discovery Institute).
1Correspondence, Nature 435, 275 (19 May 2005) | doi: 10.1038/435275a.
OK, since some readers are intimidated when Big Science raises its collective voice against anything, let’s examine this correspondence.  First, we don’t know how many readers wrote responses, and of those, how many were pro vs. con.  Since Nature was born as a pro-Darwin mouthpiece (see 03/04/2004 commentary), it is not surprising the editors would continue the propaganda campaign of associating Charlie with science and anything else with foolishness.  Second, scientists are fallible.  The majority has been wrong before, often strenuously, sometimes for long periods of time.  Third, scientists can be woefully ignorant of issues outside their specialties; in fact, one of the writers (Roy, below) admits it.  This means that a molecular biologist or geneticist may know a lot about a particular molecule or gene but very little about intelligent design theory and the history and philosophy of science except what his liberal Democrat ivory-tower colleagues in academia tell him or her (see 12/02/2004 entry).  They may be oblivious to the fact that their work rests on the shoulders of centuries of creationists and believers in design (see online book).
    What onlookers must do is get past the hot air, bluffing and bandwagon tactics of these selectively-printed letters and evaluate the strength of the arguments.  See if you are impressed with what any of these self-styled Darwin champions have to say:
  • Jerry Coyne (U of Chicago) uses the word science or scientist 17 times in 3 paragraphs, but really means materialism.  Substituting in the correct word makes his whole point fall apart, i.e., “scientists” have no duty to help “religious” people come to terms with “science” – recast as: materialists have no duty to help non-materialists come to terms with materialism.  By perpetuating the either-or fallacy of science vs. religion, Coyne contributes nothing to the discussion.  Remember how Coyne flip-flopped in the 07/05/2002 entry?
  • David Leaf (Western Washington U): this letter is all about politics and strategy for fighting ID.  He thinks high schoolers are too dumb to understand the controversy, because they are “just learning the basics of science” (read: materialism).  He recommends waiting to allow students to think until they have been thoroughly indoctrinated by their junior or senior year of college.  (In the film Icons of Evolution, a high school student takes offense at the suggestion they can’t handle the controversy.  He points out that evolution is taught to kindergartners.  “If we can’t handle it, we shouldn’t be in high school,” he quips.)
  • Chris Miller (Brandeis U): no merit in this letter, either; he just perpetuates the dysteleology argument with a presumably witty remark about Tinkerbell in the kitchen, “Evolution is a short-order cook, not a watchmaker.”  Read the 05/18/2005 entry again, and the 03/11/2005 commentary.
  • Douglas Yu (East Anglia U): perpetuates the non-overlapping magisteria science vs. religion stereotype, making the odd claim that “ID actively undermines the basis of Christianity.”  Presumably Darwinistic materialism does not.  He defines all of Christianity in terms of the advice to doubting Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  Talk about a quote out of context (see half truth).  Jesus often urged his disciples to follow the evidence, not engage in blind faith (and especially not human tradition).  Thomas should have followed all the overwhelming prior evidence he had rather than demanding more physical proof.  Jesus meant that future disciples would not have the benefit of his bodily presence.  It does not follow that they had no evidence or should have believed out of ignorance.
  • Rustum Roy (Penn State) equates ID with the ignorance of different cultures or belief systems, and advocates a relax and stay-the-course strategy.  “Ham-fisted efforts will simply alienate much larger numbers of people from the rest of science,” he says, so just treat ID like you would those who are ignorant or illiterate.  Even for scientists, “amazing ignorance” of things outside their specialties does little harm, he argues.  Maybe if they ignore ID it will go away.  What if it doesn’t?  Again, no effort to understand or answer the case for ID was offered.
  • Michael Lynch (Indiana U) pounds the nail about ID being equivalent to intellectual laziness: i.e., just giving up and saying “the Designer made it that way.”  That didn’t seem to be an obstacle for James Joule (see Joule’s own words) and many other great scientists (see also von Braun’s own words); on the contrary, their fascination with God’s design was their motivation to do good science.  Lynch also tries to distance evolution from dependence only on natural selection – interesting admission that Charlie’s famous mechanism is not omnipotent, but then what naturalistic mechanism can produce a wing or an eye? (see 05/15/2005 attempt).  Lastly, he repeats the faulty analogy that evolution is not just a theory, but a fact like respiration or digestion.  Surprisingly, Lynch touts evolution as the most quantitative field in biology, and suggests that teaching evolution will help students gain the mathematical skills necessary to compete in our technical world.  Is this a record for non-sequitur density per paragraph?
  • Dan Graur (U of Houston) embarrassed himself with a senseless rant, equating ID with “flat-Earthers, tea-leaf readers, astrologers, geocentrists and phlogiston theorists” who, like ID (he thinks), “cannot publish their studies in respectable journals.”  This guy is clueless; the egg is on Nature’s face for printing it, unless their intention was to make ID look good by contrast.  Jonathan Wells on Discovery Institute shouldn’t have had to give it the dignity of a response.
So thank you, Nature, for giving us a sample of your best and brightest Darwin defenders taking on intelligent design.  If this collection of ridicule, straw man arguments, loaded words, false dichotomies, big lies, equivocation and pure ignorance of the issues is the best the Darwin Party can offer, then all ID must do is stand back and watch evolutionism implode.  Just don’t let them try to delay the inevitable by letting their illogic and ignorance go unchallenged.
Suggested reading: The Design Revolution by William Dembski.  This 2-PhD mathematician/philosopher answers typical objections to intelligent design, including all those of the above challengers.
Next headline on:  DarwinismIntelligent Design
Time for Titan to Shine    05/18/2005
Fans of
Titan, the large moon of Saturn, are swimming gleefully in scientific reports from Cassini, and it’s only just the beginning: there are at least 39 more orbits planned of this strangest moon in the solar system.  There are too many recent reports to condense into one entry – take your pick:
  • ESA published a full mosaic of all the Huygens Probe descent images
  • The Planetary Society, Universe Today and Astronomy Picture of the Day also described the mosaic.
  • Science News April 30 contributed the fullest account yet of the Huygens Probe findings.
  • EurekAlert compares Titan’s atmosphere with that of Earth.
  • Universe Today does the same.
  • Cassini Imaging released a movie of Titan’s outer atmosphere changing over time, and discussed its complex “anti-greenhouse.”
  • Icarus researchers model Titan’s interior.
  • Artemieva and Lunine, also in Icarus, consider the impact of meteor impacts on the surface.
  • National Geographic highlights the bizarre landscape of Titan.
  • Physics Web talks about the atmosphere and the interaction of atoms and molecules with the magnetic field.
  • Astrobiology Magazine considers the intriguing images of runoff channels from the Huygens cameras.
  • Science printed a special issue on Titan on May 13, with nine articles about the first two flybys:
    • Brooks Hanson provided an overview of science results.
    • Paul Mahaffy summarized the papers in the issue:
    • Radar mapping results.
    • Winds and atmosphere interdisciplinary results.  One quote: “The lifetime of CH4 [methane] in Titan’s atmosphere is only 4 x 107 years, and it requires a surface or interior source if the current inventory is typical of Titan’s long-term history.”
    • Ultraviolet probes of the atmosphere.
    • Mass spectrometer samples of the upper atmosphere.
    • Radio and plasma wave measurements of the cold ionosphere.
    • Magnetosphere measurements on energetic neutral atoms.
    • Magnetic field sensing: no evidence of an internal field detected.
These papers, however, do not even get to the latest findings from the more recent flybys, to say nothing of the Jan. 14 landing of the Huygens probe (see 01/15/2005 and 01/21/2005 entries); first official scientific papers from the landing should appear within the next month or so.  Every scientist agrees that the surface of Titan is young.  Cryovolcanism – eruptions of ice – may be occurring on Titan today, and so may rainstorms of liquid methane.
    Titan is not the only big recent science story at Saturn.  Cassini scientists published 3 papers in Nature May 12 (1, 2, 3) about Phoebe, the outer moon observed at close range on July 11, 2004.  They concluded it was a captured object from the outer solar system with a composition like Pluto.
    The radio science team recently made perfect high-resolution occultation measurements of Saturn and the rings.  Cassini now enters prime ringside observations.  Orbits 6-14 over the next few months make Saturn’s rings the prime targets for all the instruments.  What are they made of?  How small are the particles?  How hard or fluffy are they?  Do individual ring particles rotate?  Will ring spokes be seen again?  It should be bonanza time for ring scientists.  For a preview of coming attractions, the imaging team released a stunning movie of a newly discovered moonlet in the Keeler gap that sets up waves in the rings like a giant rock skipping the surface of a pond.  As for pretty pictures of the Saturn system – well, what can words add to stunners like this?
These are great days for the Cassini team.  Everything has worked so well it is almost scary.  Why are the media giving these discoveries so little press?  This is one of the greatest achievements in history for solar system exploration, but few are hearing about it.  We make these links available for those who have better things to do than listen to daily decadence from the Michael Jackson trial.  Come, sail to the new world.
Next headline on:  Solar System.
Mt. St. Helens: Comeback Kid    05/18/2005
Scientists are amazed at the speed of recovery of Mt. St. Helens, says
National Geographic News and MSNBC News.  Twenty-five years ago this month, the explosion and pyroclastic flow left a scene of gray devastation.  Now, a young forest is already in place.  Spirit Lake, made poisonous by the hot flow, surprised researchers by recovering in six years instead of decades.  Simple models of ecological succession were overturned; the recovery was diverse and complex.  Within months of the blast, some lupines were flowering among the volcanic ash.  “The fact that anything could do that was just phenomenal,” one researcher said.
    Even small, lowly animals turned out to be quite the homesteaders.  NG says, “Not long after the blast, frog, toad, salamander, and newt species traveled several miles of inhospitable ground and moved into the affected habitats.”  The Washington volcano has proved a valuable research laboratory for ecologists.  One said, “I’ve seen it come back to life.  It’s just amazing what Mother Nature can do.”
Mother Nature had nothing to do with it, but that’s beside the point.  Every engineer knows that designing robustness into a system subject to perturbations is a mark of intelligence (see 03/14/2005 entry).
    Mt. St. Helens has also overturned many uniformitarian geological notions.  For a long list, search the word Helens on the ICR website and read this sample by Dr. Steven Austin.
Next headline on:  GeologyPlants and BotanyTerrestrial Zoology
Intelligent Design and the Nature of Science    05/18/2005
John Hanna’s
Associated Press article, “Kansas debate focuses on defining science,” has fingered a basic issue: what is science?  The Darwinists argue that ID by its very nature cannot be scientific.  Rob Crowther on Evolution News counters that Kansas is the only state that does not have a traditional definition of science, such as Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory-building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.  Instead, it embeds philosophical naturalism into the definition, by defining science as first and foremost the practice of “seeking natural explanations” for phenomena.
Darwinists, are you interested in maintaining your philosophy, or in finding the truth?  Re-read the quote of the month at the top right of this page.
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignEducation
Exercise May Reduce Colon Cancer Risk    05/18/2005
Risk of incidence and recurrence of colon cancer appears to be reduced with exercise, according to a report by the American Society of Clinical Oncology reported in
EurekAlert.  Data now supports what was once just a good idea.
Make exercise a part of your routine.  Your body needs it in more ways than one.  This is the best time of year for outdoor strolls, where you can improve both mental and physical health.
Next headline on:  Health
Astrobiology Design Paper  05/18/2005: Guillermo Gonzalez (co-author of The Privileged Planet), has a paper in an upcoming issue of Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, entitled, “Habitable Zones in the Universe.”  The paper is available online.
Next headline on:  CosmologyOrigin of Life

Design Language Gushes Out of Article Describing Cell Quality Control    05/18/2005
Here are the design words found in a press release from
Michigan State describing the editing mechanisms of the cell DNA-to-RNA transcription process: high fidelity, quality control, inner workings, genetic coding, exquisite nanotechnology in living systems, genetic control, blueprint for life, industrial assembly line, conveyor belt, preloading, criteria, backs up to correct the error, sensed and corrected, acceptable level of error required for the speed at which cells must reproduce, elegance of cell creation, fidelity mechanism, tried and true design, and enduring design.  Here are the words in the press release describing the evolution of this system: [null].
    The aspect of transcription that so impressed the researchers was the ability of RNA polymerase (the main transcription machine) to preload bases before need: “Preloading of NTPs [nucleoside triphosphates, the “letters” of RNA code] hints at a previously unknown quality control station to maintain accuracy of RNA synthesis,” the article states (emphasis added in all quotes).  “We’re able to show how an error will be sensed and corrected,” said Team member Zachary Burton.  “The quality control system checks NTP loading several ways.  If it doesn’t match the criteria, it gets booted out.”  Details of the research were published in Molecular Cell.1  Another statement by Burton encapsulated the tone of their study: “RNA polymerase is one of nature’s great designs.

1Gong et al., “Dynamic Error Correction and Regulation of Downstream Bubble Opening by Human RNA Polymerase II,” Molecular Cell, Volume 18, Issue 4, 13 May 2005, Pages 461-470, doi:10.1016/j.molcel.2005.04.011
This is how science should be done.  No useless Darwinspeak, just careful analysis of design when design is evident.  Neither the formal paper nor the press release contained any mention of evolution.  Instead, the language of design was shown to be both useful and appropriate in a purely scientific discussion.
    By the way, the research focused on human RNA polymerase.  The press release was titled, “High fidelity keeps human DNA assembly line humming.”  All that quality control is on your assembly line, keeping you humming.  Need a tune to hum?  Try this.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHuman BodyIntelligent Design
Mars Radiation Dosage Makes Life Improbable, Even with Global Flooding    05/18/2005
An upcoming (June) paper in Icarus1 states, “ The biologically damaging solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation (quantified by the DNA-weighted dose) reaches the martian surface in extremely high levels.”  Earth has an ozone layer and global magnetic field to shield out the damaging rays, but Mars has no known atmospheric filter.  “Therefore, the existence of life on Mars, at least at the surface, cannot be considered as probable.”
    The European authors compare the situation with Earth:
All known life forms on Earth share a common feature: their genetic information is coded in a DNA or RNA chain of nucleotides.  When exposed to sufficiently high levels of UV radiation these chains are damaged.  Therefore, organisms must either have UV protection mechanisms or efficient repair processes.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
(For a recent study on these repair processes, see this
05/18/2005 story.)  The researchers argue that the only likely place to look for putative Martian life forms would be a meter under the polar ice.  Even there, however, the radiation is only reduced to terrestrial levels, not eliminated.  Error correction would therefore be a prerequisite for Martian life.
    Another paper in the same issue of Icarus2 describes what effect large meteor impacts could have had on underground aquifers.  “Based on the liquefaction limit proposed for Mars (Fig. 2A), we suggest that impacts producing craters with diameters of 100 km or greater may have caused global occurrence of liquefaction and streamflow,” they say.  They estimate there may have been around 1500 such impacts.  Each one could have produced “violent eruption of groundwater” producing catastrophic floods and erosion of outflow channels, assuming “a saturated aquifer of global extent may have been present beneath a few km of frozen ground.”  Impacts could have produced these effects “at great distances from the impact site.”  If a mile-thick aquifer existed under the surface, they estimate that tens of thousands of cubic miles of water could be released from a single large impact.
1Cordoba-Jabonero et al., “Radiative habitable zones in martian polar environments,” Icarus, Volume 175, Issue 2, June 2005, Pages 360-371, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2004.12.009.
2Wang et al., “Floods on Mars released from groundwater by impact,” Icarus, Volume 175, Issue 2, June 2005, Pages 551-555, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2004.12.003.
Short-lived water flowing on Mars is not going to help get life going.  In the first place, the mineralogy shows that Mars water was poisonous (see 01/05/2005 entry).  In the second place, if the probability of getting one useful protein by chance is astronomically small (see online book), the chance of getting error-correction mechanisms to emerge in time for life to survive the radiation bath is absurdly, ridiculously out of the question.  We saw that amino acids have a half-life of eight hours in a Martian environment (see 01/28/2005 story).  Do the logic: if error-correcting life is ever found on Mars, it did not arise by chance.
    “Violent eruptions of groundwater” – Hmmmm... did Mars have “fountains of the great deep”?
Next headline on:  MarsPhysicsOrigin of Life
Stegosaur Plates Were for Decoration    05/18/2005
Berkeley scientists are disputing the notion that the rows of plates on the backs of stegosaurs served as heat exchangers.  Instead, they were for show. 
EurekAlert and Science Daily explain that this was probably true of other dinosaur decorations: “The team’s analysis of stegosaur plates lends support to a growing consensus among paleontologists that the weird adornments of many dinosaurs – the horns of triceratops, the helmet-like domes of the pachycephalosaurs, and the crests of the duck-billed hadrosaurs – likely served no function other than to differentiate species, akin to birds’ colorful feather ornamentation.”  If they evolved as decorations, maybe heat exchange was an “exaptation” – i.e., an incidental benefit.  (Some stegosaur-like species have little or no plates.)
    Sexual selection is not a likely explanation, though.  Kevin Padian said, “we don’t see a clear distinction between male and female stegosaurs.  Without sexual dimorphism [physical distinctions between male and female], you have no evidence for sexual selection, so you can’t invoke sexual display as an explanation.”  Neither does defense make sense.  The structures were too flimsy to provide protection; the munch from an allosaur would be “like biting through a sandwich.”  Padian argued for the only explanation left: that the structures were for “elaborate displays for social group recognition,” like bird calls, underscoring the “importance of behavior to evolution.”
The structures would have to be pretty large and elaborate to function for social group recognition.  How many lucky mutations did that take?  A mole or nub on one stegosaur’s back would probably not be enough to get the ball rolling, to make all the others think that it was so attractive, he or she would be the only one getting a mate.  Maybe some things in nature are just for looks and contribute little or nothing to survival of the fittest.  Structures might be amplified by microevolution into extreme forms, but Darwinian theory would have a hard time explaining how they got there in the first place.
Next headline on:  DinosaursEvolution
Rotary Clock Discovered in Bacteria   05/17/2005
What could be more mechanical than a mechanical clock?  A biochemist has discovered one in the simplest of organisms, one-celled cyanobacteria.  Examining the three complex protein components of its circadian clock, he thinks he has hit on a model that explains its structure and function: it rotates to keep time.  Though it keeps good time, this clock is only about 10 billionths of a meter tall.
    Scientists have known the parts of the cyanobacterial clock.  They are named KaiA, KaiB, and KaiC.  Jimin Wang of the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale, publishing in Structure,1 has found an elegant solution to how the parts interact.  He was inspired by the similarity of these parts to those in ATP synthase (see
04/30/2005 entry), a universal enzyme known as a rotary motor.  Though structurally different, the Kai proteins appear to operate as another rotary motor – this time, a clock.
    We learned last time (see 09/15/2004 entry) that the parts interact in some way in sync with the diurnal cycle, but the mechanism was still a “black box.”  Wang found that the KaiC part, a six-sided hexagonal cylinder, has a central cavity where the KaiA part can fit when it undergoes an “activation” that changes its shape, somewhat like unfolding scissors.  Like a key, it fits into the central shaft and turns.  The KaiB part, like a wing nut, fastens on KaiB at the bottom of the KaiC carousel.  For every 120° turn of the spindle, phosphate groups attach to the outside of the carousel, till KaiC is fully saturated, or phosphorylated.  This apparently happens to multiple Kai complexes during the night.
    How does this keep time?  When unphosphorylated, KaiC affects the expression of genes.  During the night, when complexed with the other two parts, it is repressed from acting, effectively shutting down the cell for the night.  Apparently many of these complexes form and dissociate each cycle.  As the complexes break up in the morning, expression resumes, and the cell wakes up.  When KaiC separates from the other parts, it is destroyed, stopping its repression of genes and stimulating the creation of more KaiC.  “In summary,” he says, “the Kai complexes are a rotary clock for phosphorylation, which sets the destruction pace of the night-dominant Kai complexes and timely releases KaiA.”  The system sets up a day-night oscillation feedback loop that allows the bacterium keep in sync with the time of day.
    Wang shares the surprise that a bacterium could have a clock that persists longer than the cell-division cycle.  This means that the act of cell division does not break the clock:
The discovery of a bacterial clock unexpectedly breaks the paradigm of biological clocks, because rapid cell division and chromosome duplication in bacteria occur within one circadian period (Kondo et al., 1994 and Kondo et al., 1997).  In fact, these cyanobacterial oscillators in individual cells have a strong temporal stability with a correlation time of several months  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Wang’s article has elegant diagrams of the parts and how they precisely fit together.  In his model, the KaiC carousel resembles the hexagonal F1 motor of ATP synthase, and the KaiA “key” that fits into the central shaft resembles the camshaft.  KaiB, in turn, acts like the inhibitor in ATP synthase.  “The close relationship between the two systems may well extend beyond their structural similarity,” he suggests in conclusion, “because the rhythmic photosynthesis-dependent ATP generation is an important process under the Kai circadian regulation.”
1Jimin Wang, “Recent Cyanobacterial Kai Protein Structures Suggest a Rotary Clock,” Structure, Volume 13, Issue 5, May 2005, Pages 735-741, doi:10.1016/j.str.2005.02.011.
Need we tell readers what we are about to say?  “There is no mention of evolution in this paper.”  The inverse law of Darwinese stands: the more detailed the discussion of cellular complexity, the less the tendency to mention evolution.
    This is wonderful stuff.  The cell is alive with wheels, gears, motors, monorails, winches, ratchets and clocks.  Paley would be pleased.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyIntelligent DesignAmazing Stories
New Rodent Discovered in Southeast Asia    05/16/2005
“To find something so distinct in this day and age is just extraordinary,” says Dr. Robert Timmons of a stubby-legged, hairy rodent discovered in Thailand.  “For all we know, this could be the last remaining mammal family left to be discovered.”  It’s not exactly like a squirrel, rat, chinchilla or guinea pig: it belongs in a whole new family.  See story on
EurekAlert and Science Daily.
    The BBC News is celebrating another famous mammal specimen that bamboozled the experts 200 years ago when it was first brought to England: the platypus.  Some thought it was a joke when they first saw a mammal with a duck’s bill and webbed feet.
Update 05/19/2005: a new species of monkey was discovered in Tanzania, reports National Geographic News.  It was all the more surprising to find this 3-foot tall mammal, considering that Tanzania is one of the biologically well-known countries in Africa.  The new primate is called the highland mangabey and lives in the mountains at elevations up to 8,000 ft.
See also the unexpected discovery of a lungless salamander in Korea (see 05/10/2005 entry).  Who knows what other strange animals remain to be discovered in remote parts of the world.  Keep your eyes open for that duck-billed mastodon that might be lurking in an alley in San Francisco.  Maybe Tom Weller’s menagerie of skunkosaurs, wooly turtles and saber-tooth ducks will some day be seen as prophetic, and the Darwinists will marvel at more cases of convergent evolution.
Next headline on:  Mammals
Can Gene Duplication Promote Evolution?   05/15/2005
Imagine you had no mouth but needed to eat.  A hamburger comes flying at you.  When it hits your body, your skin folds around it and pinches off, sealing it inside.  Dozens of 3-armed parts form a geodesic dome around it and carry it to the stomach.  Once delivered, all the parts are recycled for the incoming freedom fries.
    If this sounds bizarre, it’s kind of what really happens in your cells.  Except for specialized channels that accept particular molecules, like water (
12/20/2001 and salt (01/17/2002), a cell has no mouth; it is surrounded by a continuous membrane.  When large nutrients need to get in, the membrane has acceptors on the outside that signal a cascade of events.  The membrane dents inward and envelops the particle.  On the inside, proteins called clathrins form a geodesic structure around the incoming vesicle as the membrane pinches off and seals the contents inside.  Other proteins and enzymes stand at the ready to deliver the nutrient where needed.  This process goes on continually and is called endocytosis.  A press release from the University of Queensland says the cell eats its entire skin every 30 minutes.
    Progress continues to be made understanding clathrin-mediated endocytosis since our 10/07/2003 entry, but the evolutionary origin of this elegant system seems illusory.  UC and Stanford biochemists writing in PNAS1 noted that two forms of clathrin are so different, being coded by different genes, they must have had separate evolutionary histories.  They propose this happened during gene duplication events up to 600 million years ago.
    Andreas Wagner, however, publishing in Molecular Biology and Evolution,2 casts doubt on that method of evolutionary change:
I here estimate the energy cost of changes in gene expression for several thousand genes in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiaeA doubling of gene expression, as it occurs in a gene duplication event, is significantly selected against for all genes for which expression data is available.  It carries a median selective disadvantage of s > 10–5, several times greater than the selection coefficient s = 1.47 x 10–7 below which genetic drift dominates a mutant’s fate.  When considered separately, increases in messenger RNA expression or protein expression by more than a factor 2 also have significant energy costs for most genes.  This means that the evolution of transcription and translation rates is not an evolutionarily neutral process.  They are under active selection opposing them.  My estimates are based on genome-scale information of gene expression in the yeast S. cerevisiae as well as information on the energy cost of biosynthesizing amino acids and nucleotides.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Whatever the origin of clathrin, its reputation as a versatile molecule is growing.  In the April 28 issue of Nature,3 three Cambridge biologists wondered what it does when endocytosis is halted during cell division.  They discovered that clathrin has another essential job:
Clathrin has an established function in the generation of vesicles that transfer membrane and proteins around the cell.  The formation of clathrin-coated vesicles occurs continuously in non-dividing cells, but is shut down during mitosis, when clathrin concentrates at the spindle apparatus.  Here, we show that clathrin stabilizes fibres of the mitotic spindle to aid congression of chromosomes.  Clathrin bound to the spindle directly by the amino-terminal domain of clathrin heavy chain.  Depletion of clathrin heavy chain using RNA interference prolonged mitosis; kinetochore fibres were destabilized, leading to defective congression of chromosomes to the metaphase plate and persistent activation of the spindle checkpoint.  Normal mitosis was rescued by clathrin triskelia [complete 3-part clathrin proteins] but not the N-terminal domain of clathrin heavy chain, indicating that stabilization of kinetochore fibres was dependent on the unique structure of clathrin.
This is not just an incidental task for clathrin to do till cell division is over.  “The importance of clathrin for normal mitosis,” they say, “may be relevant to understanding human cancers that involve gene fusions of clathrin heavy chain.”
1Wakeham et al., “Clathrin heavy and light chain isoforms originated by independent mechanisms of gene duplication during chordate evolution,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0502058102, published online before print May 9, 2005.
2Andreas Wagner, “Energy Constraints on the Evolution of Gene Expression,” Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2005 22(6):1365-1374; doi:10.1093/molbev/msi126.
3Royle et al., “Clathrin is required for the function of the mitotic spindle,” Nature 434, 1152-1157 (28 April 2005) | doi: 10.1038/nature03502.
Gene duplication is one of the mechanisms Darwinists invoke when Natural Selection seems inadequate for a job, and they want to make it seem like there are other tricks in the toolkit of Charlie the Magician.  The abstract of Wagner’s paper seems to make it clear that duplication is not going to help.  If two tools are fighting each other, like front and rear tires spinning in opposite directions, the vehicle is not going anywhere.  Now go back and reread the 10/07/2003 entry about endocytosis and see if you think the Darwin Party has a prayer for explaining it.  Be sure to watch Allison Bruce’s cool video of clathrin making geodesic domes.  How many of you would vote for chance and natural selection producing this geometrical marvel?  Someone other than a Darwinist, who not only has a prayer but a Recipient, should get a hearing.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyEvolutionary Theory
Heat and Light Emitted in Collisions of Darwin vs ID    05/13/2005
Rhetoric over evolution is increasing in the media largely because of the school board debates in Kansas (see
04/29/2005 entry and previous Education links).  The largely pro-Darwin press seems to be giving a little more coverage to the ID side; the anti-Darwin alternative media are getting more bold about asserting their views.
  • MSNBC News says the Kansas hearings ended on a bitter note.  It gave approximately equal press to both sides, including attacks and counterattacks.
  • CNN host Lou Dobbs led a lively interchange between Michael Ruse, John Morris of ICR and Jonathan Wells and printed the entire transcript
  • NBC Nightline hosted a debate between Michael Ruse and William Dembski.
  • Bryan Leonard, PhD candidate, made a case for teaching the controversy in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Rob Crowther on calls it “one of the most compelling presentations of the entire Kansas Board of Education hearings on teaching evolution.”
  • Dr. Philip S. Skell, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, wrote an open letter to the Kansas school board encouraging them to teach the controversy on evolution.  The letter is posted on Discovery Institute News.
  • The Discovery Institute lambasted evolutionary scientists for failing to appear and answer criticisms.
  • John Gibson’s Big Story on Fox News May 6 included Eugenie Scott facing off with Stephen Meyer.  Gibson seemed to lean in the direction of Meyer’s intelligent design position, based on the harder questions he posed to Scott, who tried to justify the evolutionists’ decision to boycott the Kansas hearings.
  • World Magazine published a pro-ID report of the Kansas debate.
  • Agape press writer Jim Brown claims Darwinists are getting desperate to defend a faulty theory.
  • MSNBC News also posted a lengthy and lively interchange between creationist David Bump and cosmic evolutionist Neil deGrasse Tyson, after the latter compared Darwin with Einstein in an interview with science editor Alan Boyle (see MSNBC April 19).  Boyle received a hard-hitting critique from David Bump and printed it in its entirety, along with Tyson’s point-by-point responses.
Part of the reason Darwinism may be getting a harder run for its money, compared to the days of the Scopes Trial, is the internet: blogs and rapid dissemination of news and reader responses.
Tyson is a Darwin demagogue who cannot be trusted.  Look at the propaganda piece he pulled in the TV series Origins (see 09/29/2004 review), a Saganesque phantasmagoria of evolutionary imagery two-thirds animation and one-third irrelevant data.  There, as here in this interchange, he shows himself a bluffing ignoramus about history and biology, more interested in snappy sound bites than truth.  He repeats debunked ideas about Copernicus and Galileo, even when confronted about it.  Remarkably, he preaches Lamarckian ideas, even when confronted about that, too: he said, “Frequent use of organs or appendages, where that use contributes to one’s survival until reproductive years, will reinforce the existence and utility of that feature, as continuous variations of that feature get further tuned for survival.”  Can you trust someone that ignorant about evolutionary theory making TV specials about it?  Frequent use or disuse has nothing to do with natural selection; that’s basic high school Darwinese.  Unless a random mutation brings about some selective advantage, you can use your parts to the ultimate and none of the increased fitness will make it into the progeny.  Tyson also is a naive positivist, reiterating the canard that, despite a century and a half of evolutionary frauds, science has “built-in error correction” that eventually leads to progress.  OK, what will he think when science corrects the errors of Darwinism?  He also lies about Darwin’s theory of inheritance: “You are mistaken if you believe that Darwin’s ideas of inheritance were wrong,” he chides Bump.  What?  Pangenesis was out of style as soon as Darwin published it.
    Alan Boyle, pathetically, doesn’t seem to have enough baloney detecting skill to discern who’s right.  He just seems to be leaning on Tyson’s reputation as a prize-fighter for Darwin.  Bump landed some pretty solid blows, which Tyson tried to dodge with misdirection, hot air, audience baiting and arm-waving.  The Darwinists had better send this champ back to the corner and give him some remedial education before he embarrasses them further.
    All the articles listed above are worth reading.  It is a good sign when journalists stop printing outworn stereotypes from only one side, realizing they will get called on the carpet by readers.  It’s a good sign when the journals can no longer give ID a one-sided brush-off (compare 08/21/2003 with 04/27/2005).  The persistence of anti-Darwinists – some eminently qualified scientists and some informed laymen – no longer cowed into silence, is keeping editors on their toes.  Perhaps a few journalists are beginning to notice themselves the weakness of the ruling Darwin Party’s responses.  The most vocal Darwin advocates themselves are becoming cautious in their rhetoric (see 05/06/2005 entry).
    When ID reaches critical mass, the demise of Darwinism could be quick and relatively painless.  It might even start celebrations, like the fall of the Berlin wall.  It will become chic to ridicule Charlie and uncool to wear the Darwin Fish logo.  Editors will remark, “I never really did believe that stuff, anyway.”  The hard-core Darwinists will be forced to support their ideas with real empirical work (see 08/20/2003) instead of bluffing from a position of usurped authority and pilfered prestige (see 05/02/2003 commentary).  Like welfare queens put on a work-for-food program, accountability will be their undoing (see 12/22/2003 commentary).  The culture need not worry at the collapse of such a large institutionalized paradigm.  Good science with all its desirable fruits will prosper – yea, flourish – within the new Reformation (see 08/19/2003 commentary).
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignDarwinismEducation
Stanford Student Debate: Is Intelligent Design Science?    05/13/2005
Michael Behe, author of Darwin’s Black Box, spoke recently at Stanford.  This led two students to publish reviews, one pro and the other con, about intelligent design in the
Stanford Review.  Tristan Abbey asked, “Are Darwinists Chickens?” for their reluctance to allow critical scrutiny of their theory.  Paul Laddis tried to debunk irreducible complexity in his rebuttal, “The Dogmatists’ New Clothes.”
It’s good to see students engage the controversy when so many Darwinists don’t even want to debate this issue (see 04/29/2005 and 04/27/2005 entries).  Paul Laddis, despite his valiant attempt at overcoming irreducible complexity with the co-option argument, fails to mention that there is irreducible complexity everywhere, not just with the bacterial flagellum.  Like Scott Minnich emphasizes in the film Unlocking the Mystery of Life, Darwinists need to address not only the parts that are similar between different structures, but the assembly instructions, which are even more complex.  You cannot invoke co-option endlessly; Minnich says, “You can only carry that argument so far” until you wind up borrowing parts from nothing.  Laddis starts with a complex protein: stop right there!  Tell us how the complex protein arose, when getting a precise sequence of left-handed amino acids to perform a function is astronomically improbable (see online book).  Don’t grant a Darwinist any unwarranted boundary conditions (see “Get your own dirt” on the Humor page).
    Darwinists have a besetting sin that might be dubbed the Cartoon Method of Science.  They don’t need data.  If they can just imagine an evolutionary sequence and draw cartoons of it, they feel they have done their job.  Using a common Darwinist trick, Laddis tells an imaginary tale of sequences (notice his phrase “to visualize how this works...”) and expects us to believe it is plausible just because he says so.  Then he has the gall to turn around and tell the intelligent design empiricists that they don’t understand science (see 01/15/2004 commentary).  It’s time to call the Darwin Party’s bluff and point the accusation where it belongs.
    Laddis thinks he can co-opt the Emperor’s New Clothes metaphor (see 01/31/2003 entry) and call his opposition the dogmatists.  Maybe the rituals in the Temple of Charlie (see 01/12/2004 and 04/21/2005 commentaries) require taking the Hypocritic Oath.
Next headline on:  DarwinismIntelligent Design
Weird Jellyfish Eyes: Are They Missing Links?    05/13/2005
“Missing Link?” asks the cover of Nature May 12, next to what looks like an alien head with a giant eye staring out.  The article by Nilsson et al.1 suggests that the box jellyfish has optical sensors that could represent primitive eyes that evolved before the more advanced eyes of vertebrates.  Most of us don’t think of jellyfish with eyes; “In the light of the current interest in early eye evolution,” they say, “the uniquely evolved eyes of box jellyfish have been neglected.”  But just how primitive are these strange eyes? 
Cubozoans, or box jellyfish, differ from all other cnidarians by an active fish-like behaviour and an elaborate sensory apparatus.  Each of the four sides of the animal carries a conspicuous sensory club (the rhopalium), which has evolved into a bizarre cluster of different eyes.  Two of the eyes on each rhopalium have long been known to resemble eyes of higher animals, but the function and performance of these eyes have remained unknown.  Here we show that box-jellyfish lenses contain a finely tuned refractive index gradient producing nearly aberration-free imaging.  This demonstrates that even simple animals have been able to evolve the sophisticated visual optics previously known only from a few advanced bilaterian phyla.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Yet these sophisticated eyes do not focus sharply on a retina, they say:
However, the position of the retina does not coincide with the sharp image, leading to very wide and complex receptive fields in individual photoreceptors.  We argue that this may be useful in eyes serving a single visual task.  The findings indicate that tailoring of complex receptive fields might have been one of the original driving forces in the evolution of animal lenses.
The paper claims that these jellyfish figured this out on their own: “From the unique crystallin proteins we know that at least the lenses have evolved independently in box jellyfish,” they say, noting that “Making good lenses seems to be a demanding task, because only few animal phyla have accomplished it.”  Also, they contain a number of eye-like parts: “All major components of a typical camera-type eye are present: a cornea, a lens, a retina, a pigment layer and an iris.”  The tiny lenses, about a tenth of a millimeter across, are spherically symmetric; yet by means of a variable index of refraction, they are able to form “good images.”  The packing density of the specialized crystallin proteins provides the refractive index gradient.  The researchers measured some pretty remarkable optical qualities, but also some aberration:
Tracing rays through the refractive-index gradient of the upper eye reveal nearly perfect focusing for all ray positions (Fig. 2).  For such a minute eye it is surprising to find well-corrected, aberration-free imaging, otherwise known only from the much larger eyes of vertebrates and cephalopods.  The gradient in the upper-eye lenses comes very close to the ideal solution.  The lenses of the lower eye have a less ideal gradient and consequently display some spherical aberration (Fig. 2e, f).  It is the homogeneous lens core and steep peripheral gradient that results in positive spherical aberration in the lower eye.
Surprisingly, both kinds of eyes are severely under-focused.  Is this due to clumsy eye geometry, or could there be a reason for under-focused eyes for a jellyfish?
Another, more likely, interpretation is that the eyes are ‘purposely’ under-focused to remove high spatial frequencies (fine image details) from the retinal image, much as occurs in insect dorsal ocelli.  If the arrangement is indeed a spatial low-pass filter, it would help the animals to detect the large and stationary structures of their visual environment, but would leave unseen the plankton and small particles floating with the current.  Assuming that the lens eyes have evolved to allow the jellyfish to remain in nearshore habitats and to avoid swimming into obstacles, a low-pass filtering of image structure would make sense.
It is not known how the visual information is processed.  The authors suggest that the data is filtered early in the jellyfish eye, not requiring a complex brain:
In box jellyfish we find these large complex receptive fields at the level of photoreceptors, indicating that the eyes might be specialized for a specific task only and that this allows complex filtering of information much earlier than in more general visual systems.  The fact that box jellyfish have four different types of eye gives support to the idea that each eye type is highly specialized.
So how do box jellyfish fit into the story of eye evolution?
The early evolution of animal visual systems is likely to have started out with eyes that were involved only in single visual tasks.  In this perspective it is interesting to note that high visual acuity is not necessarily desirable.  The lens eyes of box jellyfish indicate that there might be visual tasks best served by a blurred image.  Evolution of sophisticated eyes might therefore be a process with discrete stages representing the sequential addition of visual tasks.  Our results also indicate that advanced lenses with graded-index optics might have evolved for tailoring complex receptive fields and not just for improving sensitivity or acuity.
Not many science reporters seem to have given this story a glance.  Michael Hopkin in
News@Nature avoided speculating that these were missing links, titling his review “Box jellyfish show a keen eye.”  Yet New Scientist made evolution its centerpiece: “Multi-eyed jellyfish helps with Darwin’s puzzle,” the title states, claiming it represents a “possible path from simple to complicated” eyes.  Given the blurry imaging system of the box jellyfish, the article concludes, “From here it would be an easy step to evolve an image-forming eye.”  Susan Milius, on the other hand, writing for Science News,2 warned against such speculation.  “Biologists need to be careful in working out the evolutionary implications of the new study,” she says, quoting Alan Collins of NOAA.  “The eyes of box jellyfish, cephalopods such as the octopus, and vertebrates seem to have arisen independently.  So, unraveling the evolution of box-jellyfish eyes may not reveal the particular path of eye evolution for other lineages.”  Her article contains a stunning color picture of the box jellyfish, eyes and all.    
1Nilsson et al., “Advanced optics in a jellyfish eye,” Nature 435, 201-205 (12 May 2005) | doi: 10.1038/nature03484.
2Susan Milius, “Built for Blurs: Jellyfish have great eyes that can’t focus,” Science News, Week of May 14, 2005; Vol. 167, No. 20, p. 307.
Oh, how the Darwinists would love to find a sequence of complexity in eyes, to ease Chairman Charlie’s stomach pains when contemplating the wonderful designs in nature.  But this story can’t help.  The jellyfish eyes appear over-designed for their task (see 06/19/2002 entry).  These remarkable optically-near-perfect structures are well adapted to the needs of the organism.  Perfect focus would be a drawback for the jellyfish.  It would create an image crowded with irrelevant details.  Instead, it has a “low-pass filter” to help it see what it needs to see: large, stationary objects so that it can avoid obstacles and find prey in its habitat.  If an animal has a structure that meets its needs and is well designed, is it not a non-sequitur to say it is evolving?  Did the Darwinists find a gradual sequence of intermediates leading from primitive eyes to complex eyes?  No.  Brittlestars (see 08/23/2001), trilobites (09/18/2003) and even sponges (08/20/2003) exhibit optical perfection, yet none of these are on a phylogenetic line – evolutionists claim all these things evolved independently (and suddenly, too, considering they burst onto the seen during the Cambrian, without ancestors).  So instead of helping Charlie sleep better, this story gives him more indigestion: his tale now needs multiplied miracles of chance and natural selection to keep from falling apart.
    We need to get rid of the useless Darwinspeak in biological research, and focus instead on the functional information and adaptive excellence of each species.  Arranging the tools in your garage into a hypothetical evolutionary sequence does nothing to help you use them better.
Next headline on:  Marine LifeDarwinism and Evolutionary Theory
How Privileged Is Our Planet?    05/13/2005
Several recent news stories touch on the uniqueness of Earth.
  • Eccentric neighbors:  A story in Science Daily draws attention to the highly eccentric orbits of most extrasolar planets found so far.  The press release from Northwestern University begins, “Except for the fact that we call it home, for centuries astronomers didn’t have any particular reason to believe that our solar system was anything special in the universe.  But, beginning with the discovery 10 years ago of the first planet outside our solar system, evidence suggests that, as far as planetary systems go, the solar system might be special indeed.”  The point is that, because gravitational interactions between planets often slingshot them into extremely elliptical orbits or even eject the smaller ones away, having a solar system with planets mostly in circular orbits is a rare thing.  One scientist in the article stated, “This is what makes the system so peculiar.  Ordinarily, the gravitational coupling between two elliptic orbits would never make one go back to a nearly perfect circle.  A circle is very special.”  The long-term stability of our system is also “rather peculiar,” he said.  A similar story is found on  A related article on reviews what is known about extrasolar planets after ten years of cataloging them.
  • Ionic Breeze:  A press release from Purdue University proposes that our atmosphere may be more effective at removing pollutants than previously thought.  Some naturally-occurring chemicals can react with sunlight to produce ions like OH radicals that can scrub the atmosphere of smog.  Unlike Titan, the Earth may possess a self-cleaning atmosphere.
  • Heaven or Hell?  Two articles seem to contradict each other about the early Earth.  Bjorn Carey on MSNBC News suggests that the “Early earth [was] not so hellish” as previously thought.  But then Robert Roy Britt on surmises that “The Sun might have had an incredibly violent youth in which tremendous X-ray flares battered the Earth into being, a new survey suggests” – yet somehow these favored the formation of rocky planets.  A short piece on Science Daily agrees that super-flares from the early sun might have helped form our rocky planet.  Based on Chandra X-ray Observatory data, scientists propose that “The bigger flares would prevent Earth-like planets from plummeting into the star, while such a planet would likely be drawn into a star with smaller flares and disintegrated.”
For comparison, we can now look at Titan.  This week in Science,1 the first detailed research papers from Cassini relate findings that, compared to our planet, look both familiar and bizarre.  No life has been found there, of course.
1Brooks Hanson, “First of Many Returns,” (introduction to seven research papers on Titan), Science, Vol 308, Issue 5724, 968 , 13 May 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5724.968].
Nothing in any of the observations suggest life is common on other planets around other stars, but rather the opposite.  In the Q&A of the film The Privileged Planet, Guillermo Gonzalez asked how his hypothesis could be tested.  If the observations continue to support the connection between habitability and discoverability, he said, it would gain strength, and if not, it would lose credibility.  So far it’s looking pretty good.
Next headline on:  Solar System
Honeybee Dance Wins Ovation    05/13/2005
In the 1960s, Karl von Frisch announced the surprising discovery that scout honeybees announce detailed information to their hivemates about food sources with a “waggle dance”.  This information, conveyed via the dance’s vigor and angle, tells recruit bees what angle to fly relative to the sun, how far to go, and how good the food is.  By labeling the bees in the hive that watched the dance and monitoring which recruits showed up at test feeding stations, he made a convincing case for the dance being the mechanism of information transfer.  Some, however, were not convinced that the dance conveyed information; they argued that the recruit bees could have just picked up the scent or followed it back.  They disputed the dance-information theory because the observers seemed to take longer getting to the food source than expected.  Although “this Nobel Prize-winning discovery revealed the most sophisticated example of non-primate communication that we know of” and won von Frisch a Nobel prize, the waggle-dance theory has been a little controversial all these years because of the lack of a “quantitative description of how effectively recruits translate the code in the dance into flight to their destinations.”
    Now, European researchers publishing in Nature say,1 “Using harmonic radar to record the actual flight paths of recruited bees, we now provide that description” that confirms von Frisch’s theory.  They attached miniature radar transponders to the recruit bees and were able to monitor their flights with harmonic radar.  Sure enough, the recruits made a bee-line to the food source.  Delays were caused near the food source as the bees made a series of search flights near the destination; i.e., once in the vicinity, they switched to reliance on visual cues and scent to pinpoint the target.  Another experiment released recruits 250m away from the hive where they had watched the dance.  Scientists observed the bees fly, not to the food source, but exactly in the direction predicted by the waggle dance.  “This result adds weight to von Frisch’s original theory,” concludes a press release from the UK’s
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, “and allows alternative hypotheses about bee behaviour to be firmly discounted.”
    See also the 02/15/2005 entry, “Honeybees fly with mental maps” and the 05/31/2001 entry, “Honeybees measure the scenery, not the mileage.”  The BBC News also reported on this story.
1Riley et al., “The flight paths of honeybees recruited by the waggle dance,” Nature 435, 205-207 (12 May 2005) | doi: 10.1038/nature03526.
This confirmation will add satisfaction to your viewing of the Moody Science film that demonstrates von Frisch’s experiments, a classic named City of the Bees.  The segment is also included in the anthology Wonders of God’s Creation.  The “language of the bees” via the dance is a great story, all the more wonderful because it is true: 2-good 2-bee 4-gotten.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyAmazing Stories
Your Eyes Do Layered Image Processing   05/12/2005
Computer users familiar with Photoshop and other image processing programs know that an image can be divided into “layers” for making color corrections, evening out contrast and enhancing details.  Your eyes do that, too, says Alan Gilchrist in Current Biology.1  He shows a stunning optical illusion to make the point: transparent chess pieces against differing cloudy backgrounds appear darker in one than the other, even though they are identical (see image and source paper by Anderson and Winawer in Nature.2)  Clearly, the brain is interpreting the pieces in relation to their context.
    The rods and cones in your eye are not just light collectors that pass on signals direct to the brain.  Image processing is done before the brain gets the data (see
05/22/2003 entry).  Scientists are narrowing down theories for how this works.  Apparently, the rods and cones are not just sharing data with neighboring receptors, nor are they arranged into frameworks like states on a map.  The leading theory is that the eye decomposes the image into layers, and uses complex mathematical algorithms to “decompose” the combined image into its parts, including contrast, brightness, hue, illumination and saturation:
For example, a red book on the dashboard of your car casts a red reflection in the windshield.  Through the reflection you perceive distant objects, including green grass, in their normal colors.  Light from the green grass and the red reflection physically mix to produce yellow.  The yellow is observed when seen through a small hole punched in a piece of cardboard held up so it blocks out the surrounding context.  Without the cardboard, however, no yellow is seen, only the red and green layers.  The brain is thought to split the yellow light into the red and green layers using rules that invert the usual rules of color mixing.  This is called scission.
    Or consider the image of a white house reflected in the shiny surface of a black car.  Neither the house nor the car appears gray where their images overlap.  Rather the light at that location is perceptually split into a white and a black layer.
    Strictly speaking, the illumination that falls on surfaces is not a separate layer.  But the same scission algorithms that work for transparent layers can be effectively applied to the illumination.  Mathematically a shadow and a sunglass lens have the same effect on the image.
    When the processes of image formation are inverted in this way, surface reflectance is not merely computed, it is recovered.
Does the fact that optical illusions can fool us (and fool everybody, systematically) mean that the “visual software employed by the brain” has bugs?  Not necessarily; “In principle, the errors could be accounted for by partial failures in the scission process,” Gilchrist says; ”But such efforts to model the errors have not proven very effective.”  Instead, the brain may combine the layer algorithm with a framework algorithm that is even more complicated.  Proponents of both theories are still trying to figure all this out.  “Both sides are open to an integration of the two approaches,” he says.  “Stay tuned.”
1Alan L. Gilchrist, “Lightness Perception: Seeing One Color through Another,” Current Biology, Vol 15, R330-R332, 10 May 2005.
2Anderson and Winawer, “Image segmentation and lightness perception,” Nature 34, 79-83 (3 March 2005) | doi: 10.1038/nature03271.
Stay tuned: that implies we have limited ability to fathom such design.  Speaking of staying tuned, our ears do a similar kind of processing.  Students of advanced mathematics know that through Fourier Analysis and other techniques, one can separate out the individual contributors to a complex waveform.  For instance, your ear hears a hugely complex single waveform when listening to a symphony orchestra, but you are able to discern the individual sounds of the oboe, violin, trumpet, horn, timpani and all the rest.
    It should be noted that our confusion with optical illusions should not cause us to infer errors in the code.  For one thing, our eyes were designed to operate in our natural habitat, not in the pages of books of optical illusions.  Second, the ability of humans to trick the software with illusions shows that humans have creative ability to alter a designed system and understand how it was tricked.  The algorithms of our image processing organs work for the environment for which they were designed.  They pull together the best responses to a vast array of possible inputs.  This is constrained optimization, the art of achieving the ideal compromise between competing inputs and priorities.
    Gilchrist credits Johannes Kepler, one of the champion creation scientists in our online book, with discovering “that an image of whatever we look at is projected onto the rear inner surface of the eye,” just like in a camera obscura.  Ever since then, he says, “it has been natural to assume that the rods and cones function much as modern day photocells, reporting the point-by-point intensity of light in the image.”  Now we are realizing that the truth is far more amazing.  If Kepler’s discovery was marvelous to him, how much more should these recent discoveries make us stand in awe of the supreme optician of the universe?  (See also 05/09/2002 entry.)
Next headline on:  Human BodyAmazing Stories
David Attenborough Finds Living Fossil Tree Romantic, Not Devastating   05/12/2005
England’s famous Kew Royal Botanical Gardens is getting a Wollemi Pine, and David Attenborough, naturalist and evolution popularist, is proud of it.  This “living fossil” was thought extinct for 200 million years, but was found alive and well a few years ago in Australia (see
12/15/2000 entry).
    Grinning like a kid at Christmas, Attenborough said, “How marvellous and exciting that we should have discovered this rare survivor from such an ancient past.  It is romantic, I think, that something has survived 200 million years unchanged.”  See the story at the BBC News.  Some day soon you may be able to buy your own Wollemi Pine at the local nursery.
Here is a tree that showed no evolution whatsoever for supposedly 200 million years, while continents broke apart and most of the mammals evolved from small rodents to elephants, whales, giraffes and people, and Attenborough isn’t worried that this does some damage to his world view?  Bizarre.  Logically, he should be questioning whether 200 million years was just a figment of Lyellian imagination.  The BBC should be announcing: Wollemi lives; evolution extinct.
Next headline on:  BotanyFossilsEvolution
Self-Replicating Robot: Is It Alive?   05/11/2005
The news media are all excited about a cube-shaped robot that, when stacked in threes, can make a copy of itself.  The device, invented by Hod Lipson of Cornell, was illustrated in Nature.1  For a video demonstration, see
MSNBC News.  The BBC News quotes Lipson claiming that this achievement “shows the ability to reproduce is not unique to biology.”  The machine doesn’t perform any other function than reproducing stacks of cubes, provided additional parts are provided in specific “feeding locations.”
National Geographic News says this impinges on the capabilities of living organisms:
The prevailing view holds that self-replication is an ability that organisms or objects either have in full or lack entirely.  But Lipson’s team theorizes that self-replication isn’t a yes-or-no proposition, but exists at varying degrees.
    The researchers present their new robot as an example of this theory.
    The team says the extent to which something is self-replicating depends on many factors.  For example, mineral crystals build exact replicas of themselves, but only in a solution.  By contrast, rabbits reproduce themselves less accurately than crystals do but are less dependent on a specific environment.
    Through understanding the principles of self-replication in nature, the team aims to make robots that are more robust and adaptive.

1Zykov, Lipson et al., “Robotics: self-reproducing machines,” Nature 435, 163-164 (12 May 2005), doi: 10.1038/435163a.
The gizmo is cute, but is as far from life as a toy from a boy.  Its value is a demonstration of intelligent design.  Without the cube being built to specifications with an appropriate energy source provided, nothing would happen.  Without the lab assistant carefully placing the next cubes in the exact position where the robot could make electrical contacts with them, no replication would take place.  If useful nanotechnology comes from these efforts, that’s good.  If any speculator wants to imagine we are on the way to creating life, he or she has been watching too much Star Trek.
    Not to underestimate the team’s interesting achievement, let’s see the cubes invent themselves without help.  Let’s watch them find useful parts and reject harmful ones, and build something that actually performs a useful task other than stacking blocks.  Let’s see it encapsulate all its information in a genetic code and build its own translation and fabrication system with error-checking.  Let’s see it propel itself with an outboard motor and manufacture its own energy currency from protons harvested from sunlight.  The simplest cell runs circles around this toy, without help from Cornell graduate students.  Make the logical inference.
Footnote: a reader sent in this link to a chart of essential biochemical pathways on  He said this and chart 2 represent only the known essential cellular processes – about 2% of what goes on in the cell.
Next headline on:  Origin of Life
Flower Sets Catapult Speed Record   05/11/2005
An American team of two biologists and a physicist found that a common mountain flowering plant holds the plant acceleration record.  Reporting in Nature,1 they calculated that the bunchberry dogwood flower propels its pollen at speeds approaching 14 mph when the catapult-like petals explode open, accelerating at 24,000 meters per second squared within 0.3 second.  The pollen is thus launched, against air resistance, to 10 times the height of the flower.
    Medieval kings waging war could have learned something from these little flowers:
Bunchberry stamens are designed like miniature medieval trebuchets – specialized catapults that maximize throwing distance by having the payload (pollen in the anther) attached to the throwing arm (filament) by a hinge or flexible strap (thin vascular strand connecting the anther to the filament tip).  This floral trebuchet enables stamens to propel pollen upwards faster than would a simple catapult.  After the petals open, the bent filaments unfold, releasing elastic energy.  The tip of the filament follows an arc, but the rotation of the anther about the filament tip allows it to accelerate pollen upwards to its maximum vertical speed, and the pollen is released only as it starts to accelerate horizontally.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
The bunchberry is incapable of self-pollination, so it needs insects that rapidly move from flower to flower.  They figure that the mechanism favors heavy pollinators like bumblebees to release the catapult, and favors either large flying insects or wind pollinators instead of slow-moving insects like ants.
    This speed record exceeds the snap of the Venus flytrap, the strike of the mantis shrimp, and even the leap of the froghopper (see
08/01/2003 story).
1Edwards et al., “Botany: A record-breaking pollen catapult,” Nature 435, 164 (12 May 2005) | doi: 10.1038/435164a.
The authors make no mention of how this mechanism evolved, but do use the word design.  Presumably, they believe the design preceded the medieval crusades.  For organisms rooted to one spot, plants sure have some amazing ways of getting around.
Next headline on:  PlantsAmazing Stories
Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week    05/10/2005
Jeff Barbour wrote the following in
Universe Today in an article entitled, “Did Life Arrive Before the Solar System Even Formed?”
The theory of panspermia proposes that life really gets around, jumping fron [sic] planet to planet – or even from star to star.  Life might be everywhere!  Assuming this is true, how do single-celled bacteria make the journey through the vacuum of space?  Easy, they use chunks of rock as space ships, in a process called lithopanspermia.  And now, researchers from Princeton and the University of Michigan think that life carrying rocks might have been right there at the beginning of our solar system, keeping their tiny astronauts safe and sound, frozen in statis until the planets formed and the right conditions let them thaw out, stretch their proteins, and begin a process leading from microbe to mankind.   (Emphasis added.)
No comment necessary.  He made a fool of himself without our help (see April Fool’s Day entry).
Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheorySolar SystemOrigin of LifeDumb Stories
The Monarch Butterflies in the Flight Simulator, II   05/09/2005
How much software can fit in a butterfly brain?  Scientists are again amazed at the navigating ability of Monarch butterflies.  In the
07/09/2002 entry, we reported about how Canadian researchers used a clever flight simulator to test Monarch butterfly navigation with reference to sun angle.  Now, using an enhanced version of the earlier “butterfly flight simulator,” with controls for wavelength and polarization of light, an international team reporting in Neuron1 found that the ultraviolet component of sunlight is critical for their navigation (see summary on EurekAlert).  The small amount of UV light that makes it through Earth’s shielding atmosphere was also found to connect the butterfly’s circadian clock to its ability to orient itself.  This provides the Monarch with a “time-compensated sun compass.”  With this high-tech navigation gear, a Monarch butterfly can stay on course throughout the day, as the sun angle continuously changes.  Another brain network detected by the team might regulate the insect’s hormonal system, “to induce the longevity that enables the butterfly to extend its survival in its overwintering grounds in Mexico.”  That’s quite a bit of fancy software for a bug brain.
1Sauman et al., ”Connecting the Navigational Clock to Sun Compass Input in Monarch Butterfly Brain,” Neuron, Vol 46, 457-467, 5 May 2005,
Most software has bugs, but who would have thought that bugs have software?  The authors did a short phylogenetic analysis of light-sensing genes among butterflies, but otherwise never mentioned evolution.  They made no attempt to explain how a time-compensated sun compass, circadian clock, hormonal system and flight navigation hardware and software arose by a Darwinian process.  Intelligent human designers of guidance and control systems should stand meekly and humbly before the Monarch butterfly, and – much more than they did as kids – wonder.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyAmazing Stories
Darwinians May Be Their Own Worst Enemy, Says Darwinist    05/06/2005
Evolutionists have only themselves to blame for the rise of anti-Darwinian sentiment, says Michael Ruse in a new book, The Evolution-Creation Struggle (Harvard, 2005).  Peter Dizikes reviewed this premise in
The Boston Globe.  By portraying evolution in overtly atheist terms with religious fervor, certain individuals like Richard Dawkins are creating a backlash, says Ruse.  “This is not just a fight about dinosaurs or gaps in the fossil record,” he said.  “This is a fight about different worldviews.”  In his book, Ruse traces the anti-religious polemics of various Darwinists since 1859, who claimed evolution has replaced religion and now answers all the great questions.
    Ruse said he expects a backlash from his fellow evolutionists over this book.  Some will feel he is giving creationists a platform for claiming evolution is a religion.  Eugenie Scott, whose full-time job is keeping creationism and intelligent design out of the public schools, feels things have to be worded very carefully these days.  She said, “I’m a hell of a lot more careful than Michael.  I personally prefer not to provide ammunition for the opposition.”  When creationists latch onto his statements, he responds, “What am I supposed to do?  I’m an academic.  I believe in freedom.  I believe the most important thing you can do is criticize your own ideas.”
If he believes in freedom, he is not a true Darwinist.  Freedom does not derive from material substances; on the contrary, it is an endowment from our Creator: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
    Thank God for a more fair-minded evolutionist like Michael Ruse who is willing to look at the problems on his own side.  Pray for Ruse, and for Scott, too.  They appear desperately trying to defend an indefensible position, an antiquated Victorian dogma that is no longer up to explaining the complexities of biology.  They must realize this in their heart of hearts.  When intelligent design finally dismantles the Darwinian regime, it will be a day to proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignDarwinismEducation
How Did Salamanders Migrate from North America to Korea?    05/06/2005
Salamanders are not particularly thought of as world travelers.  A new species of lungless salamander of the family Plethodontidae has been found in Korea.  Almost all previous members were found only in North America.  To
EurekAlert, reporting on a paper published in Nature,1 this is comparable to “discovering pandas in California or kangaroos in Argentina.”  See also the San Francisco Chronicle article reproduced on the UC Berkeley website.
The new salamander poses a major mystery: How did the tiny lungless amphibians, less than 2 inches long from snout to tail tip, that live on land and breathe through their moist skin, show up in Asia, where all their distant relatives -- who are unknown on any other continent -- live in the water, mate in the water and breathe with their lungs?   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Researcher David B. Wake, an evolutionary biologist at UC Berkeley, called this “the most exciting and unexpected discovery of my career.”  Since an enigmatic case had shown up in Sardinia, he suspects more will be found in between.  The species was named after discoverer Stephen J. Karsen, who teaches at the Taejon Christian International School in Chungcheongnam.  He found it about two years ago while walking with his class in the wooded uplands of South Korea with his students, inviting them to look under rocks.
    Salamander expert David Wake said that herpetologists didn’t bother looking for such creatures in the far east:
“People have gone on expeditions looking for terrestrial salamanders, in places like Kazakhstan and other Central Asian republics,” said Wake.  “They didn’t bother with northern China or Korea or Japan because we thought we knew everything that was there.  And so here (in Korea) they show up, and in the most surprising way, when some guy who’s a high school teacher from Illinois goes out with his class and says, ‘Let’s look for salamanders, let’s see what we can find when we turn over rocks and logs.’”
Wake calls this the most stunning discovery in his lifetime.  “It’s so utterly unexpected, so completely unexpected.”  See also the story on Science Daily.     A press release at Southern Illinois University tells a little about Stephen Karsen and how he wound up looking for Korean salamanders.  The professor at Southern Illinois U that Karsen notified of the find is glad he is getting credit for the discovery, because “humility is a virtue, so I’m sure Steve’s shrugging off the fame.”
1Min, Wake et al., “Discovery of the first Asian plethodontid salamander,” Nature 435, 87-90 (5 May 2005) | doi: 10.1038/nature03474.
Major discoveries can still be made by laymen, even Christian laymen (perhaps better, especially Christian laymen, who believe God created everything, so everything under the sun is worth investigating).  All that is needed is a willingness to challenge orthodoxy and look where the experts say things cannot be found.  One’s worldview affects where one hunts for data.  If you think, “There are no lungless salamanders in Asia because they evolved in North America,” you aren’t going to waste time looking under rocks in Korea.  Congratulations to Stephen Karsen for illustrating this point.  May he encourage all of us to be observant and to challenge the “gospel” of scientific experts.
    Evolutionists sometimes challenge Biblical creationists that animals could not have migrated around the world after the flood from Ararat.  Here we see that evolutionists have similar problems of their own.  We should also be reminded that some salamanders are living fossils, displaying no evolutionary change over 160 million alleged years: see 03/27/2003 story.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial Zoology
World Press Eyes Kansas Evolution Battle    05/05/2005
The “Un-Scopes” trial of the decade is underway in Kansas, and the world press is watching.  Unlike the 1925 Scopes trial, this time evolution is the leader and intelligent design is the contender: actually, not even that – the leaders of the ID movement are not asking for ID to be taught, but only for criticisms of Darwinism to be permitted in the classroom.  With a majority on the board favoring changes to the science standards that would allow a “teach the controversy” approach, the Darwinians are on edge about a near-certain defeat.  They are boycotting the hearings which resemble a court trial with lawyers for and against.
    Here are some of the stories in the news so far.  Stay tuned for the outcome of this debate that will probably influence the positions of other state school boards.
In addition, more news outlets are reporting related stories about creation vs. evolution, such as:
  • California Agee: Intelligent Design theorist [Behe] challenges Darwinism
  • Agape Press: Parent Sues Evolutionist, Claiming She Defames Him in Anti-Creationist Article.
  • MSNBC: The stirring on the mount (how a creationist is using Mt. St. Helens to support Biblical geology)
  • Kentucky Post: Creationism facility here on a mission (Answers in Genesis creation museum)
All the proposed changes to the science standards, along with other news and related articles, can be found at the Kansas Science 2005 website.
Things are shaping up for a battle of wits, facts and propaganda to engage the national attention.  Best be well armed: get out that Baloney Detector and recharge the batteries.  Notice what is not said as much as what is said.  Try to look long and hard for the Darwinists to answer the claims about fossils and molecular machines – not with bluffing and redefinition of science, but with real, hard evidence.  It looks like they’re not up to it, so they are going to stick to their tactic of scaring citizens with the big lie that anything other than 100% pure Darwinism is bad for the economy (see 04/21/2005 and 04/29/2005 stories).  Don’t believe it.  Families will probably flock to a state that doesn’t cram Darwin down their children’s intelligently designed throats, and will bring their dollars with them.  Industry wants young people with “analytical thinking” skills, they say?  Good: teach them to analyze the controversy over Darwin.  ID arguments are “faith-based” they say?  No faith is as diehard as Charlie worship (see 04/30/2005 commentary).
    It’s noteworthy that more and more news sources that were previously hostile are starting to take a second look at ID and creation science and giving them serious consideration.  Can the monolithic liberal Darwin Party Big Science Empire stand up to all this scrutiny?  No matter how big the Goliath, it had better beware any stripling who knows his weapon, knows his target, and knows how to connect them.  That’s all the majority any intellectual battle needs.
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignDarwinism and Evolutionary TheoryEducation
Toothy Dinosaur Goes Vegan    05/04/2005
The news media all pounced on a dinosaur fossil discovery reported in Nature this week.1  Dinosaur finds are ever popular, and reporters especially like it when an artist’s rendition is available.  Some outlets reporting the discovery of Falcarius utahensis, a previously unknown species “in the process of converting to vegetarianism from a rather more bloodthirsty diet,” included
BBC News, National Geographic, News@Nature, MSNBC, CNN, Science Now and Science Daily.
    The news media echoed the theme that this fossil represented a dinosaur “missing link” that was evolving from carnivory to herbivory.  What did the scientists actually report?  First of all, the new species was found in a fossil graveyard in Utah.  Second, it is the most complete of this class of dinosaurs, heretofore poorly represented with fragmentary characters, and is the first one found in North America (the best other representatives are from China).  Third, according to their dating method and phylogenetic analysis, “this species documents the earliest known stage in the poorly understood transition from carnivory to herbivory within Therizinosauroidea” (emphasis added in all quotes.)  The diet story is based on these findings announced by the discoverers:
Therizinosaurs are here proposed as shifting their dietary habit from predation to herbivory on the basis of the development of a number of features that seem convergent with clades of other herbivorous dinosaurs.  The most significant of these features include small, leaf-shaped teeth, an edentulous beak, posterior displacement of the pubis and lateral expansion of the pelvis associated with greatly increased intestinal volume, and shortening of the tibia relative to the femur and an increased number of weight-supporting pedal digits—the latter two being specific reversals of the cursorial condition.  Falcarius demonstrates the mosaic nature of this evolutionary transition, indicating that the dentition and pelvis were among the first hard-tissue structures to undergo modification.  These changes probably coincided with modifications in food acquisition and digestion during the early stages of therizinosauroid evolution.  Moreover, similarities between the dentition of the basal therizinosaur Falcarius and the basal oviraptorosaur Incisivosaurus, in combination with their proposed sister relationship (Fig. 3), raises the possibility that the common ancestor of these clades had already undertaken the initial steps in this transition.
The fossils of 10 individuals were found in a densely-packed bone bed about one meter thick and 8,000 meters in extent, “with bone densities in some areas exceeding 100 elements per cubic metre.”  Judging from extent of the bed, “perhaps hundreds of disarticulated individuals remain interred,” they say, with 99% of them this one species and traces of an unknown ankylosaur.
    The team used a computerized parsimony analysis to reconstruct the phylogeny of this species, but it left questions about the relationship with the Chinese sister group Eshanosaurs:
Falcarius casts further doubt on the affinities of Eshanosaurus by increasing its stratigraphic and phylogenetic inconsistency.  Given the discovery of North American members of the therizinosauroid clade, together with the poor record of Middle Cretaceous dinosaurs, it seems that the generally accepted hypothesis of an Asian origin and radiation for Therizinosauroidea requires additional testing.

1Kirkland et al., “A primitive therizinosauroid dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Utah,” Nature 435, 84-87 (5 May 2005) | doi: 10.1038/nature03468.
Researchers like details and big words, but the news media like slang and humor.  Researchers speak in tentative and reserved language, but news media like certainty.  The scientists here proposed an interpretation that these species, despite the poor fit within a “generally accepted” hypothesis and uncertain dating, that Falcarius was undergoing a dietary change, even though (1) the number of simultaneous morphological adaptations needed would be considerable, difficult to account for by chance mutations and natural selection, and (2) they had to invoke the multiply-improbable concept of “convergent evolution” to link these changes to those going on in other species.  These problems notwithstanding, perhaps the shape of teeth and pelvis suggested that these dinosaurs were in the midst of a transition from meat-eating to plant-eating.    That’s all the news media needed: a picture and a sound bite: “Fossil-hunters working in the dusty Utah desert have caught a dinosaur in the act of going vegetarian.”  *Sigh*.  Who do they think we are – children, who can’t handle the solid meat of data, and who cannot discern interpretations from evidence?  These dinosaurs were not sitting around experimenting on lettuce for dessert after their usual steak.  Get real; the herd was living within their well-adapted niche, when a flood suddenly came and buried them all.
Next headline on:  FossilsDinosaursMedia
Weeds Hold Promise for Miracle Drugs    05/03/2005
We’d like weeds if we knew them better, says John Roach for
National Geographic News, especially if we realized they may contain wonder drugs.  “It’s often said that plants hidden in the tangle of the Amazonian rain forest may harbor an undiscovered cancer cure,” he writes; “John Richard Stepp thinks the same can be said for the world’s weeds.”  Stepp, an ethnobiologist from U. of Florida, is combing the world’s small herbaceous plants for healthy ingredients.  He also goes “bio-prospecting” among native peoples to see what plants they use for salves, ointments, and medicines.  Usually far from doctors, many rely on natural remedies.
Weeds are full of bioactive compounds.  These are chemicals that weeds have evolved over thousands of years to compete against other plants and to prevent predators, such as insects, from munching their leaves.
    These compounds “are toxic to predators.  But [when] used in the right dose, they have therapeutic benefits for humans,” Stepp said.
  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
There are about 8,000 plants worldwide classified as weeds – small non-woody plants that thrive in disturbed areas.  Stepp says it makes more economic sense to look for health-promoting chemicals at our feet than trying to make them from scratch.
This is an update on a story reported on 06/04/2004.  We hope Stepp is making progress finding that cure for cancer in your lawn.
    John Roach is fogging up the discussion to say that plants “evolved” complex bioactive compounds.  He makes it sound as if weeds had the ability to plan and invent things.  Plants have no brains; they just sit there and run the program.  They only look smart because they have a good Programmer.
Next headline on:  BotanyHealthAmazing Stories
Missing Link Fish Story    05/03/2005
Once upon a time, 450 million years ago, scavenger fish without teeth or bones roamed the shallow icy waters of Africa which was undergoing an Ice Age.  Slowly, over millions of years, they gained teeth and other structures characteristic of more advanced fish.  Then, a few thousand years ago, a lake in the (now continental Africa) dried up, and its cichlid-fish inhabitants underwent an explosive burst of speciation.
    That’s the gist of two stories, one from
BBC News and one from National Geographic.  The fossil fish story in BBC News emphasizes the claim that this is a “missing link” three times.  Professor Richard Aldridge (U. of Leicester) is quoted as saying:
“The fossil record confirms that the evolution of fish was a step-wise event,” explained Professor Aldridge.
    “The various characters that make up a fish, or a vertebrate, didn’t all appear at once – they were added one by one through evolutionary time.
    These [new] fossils help fill in this pattern of how early vertebrate evolution began.”
  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
One problem is noted: “These fossils are important because there is a theory that the origins of fish really took place in the northern continents, and then spread south,” he said.  “This find [from Southern Africa] dispels that theory.”  How fish got to China 80 million years earlier he does not explain.
    The cichlid fish inhabiting east African lakes today are another matter.  In just a few thousand years, according to National Geographic, these freshwater fish “have evolved an astonishing array of forms in Africa.”  The high rates of speciation among these fish is “almost beyond belief,” yielding up to 400 species.  Evolution apparently has a variable speed control.  “The discovery should provide valuable new insights into the march of evolution, which, in the case of cichlids, seems to favor the fast-forward button.”
If evolution had a fast-forward button, it would be an intelligently designed machine.  These two articles illustrate the extreme flexibility of evolutionary logic, where any data point, no matter how anomalous, can be fit into the tall tale somehow.  Contradictions, rather than being disturbing, make the plot thicker and more interesting.  Somehow, in an early world with a plethora of unfilled ecological niches, fish took their time evolving over tens of millions of years.  Then in a relatively small lake habitat on one continent, Tinkerbell hit the fast-forward button and generated hundreds of species of fish in a geological instant.  Evolution marches on.
Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryFish and Marine BiologyFossilsDumb Stories

Scientist of the Month

Click on Apollos, the trusty
Guide to Evolutionary Theory
Write Us!

“I was in the April 28, 2005 issue of Nature [see 04/27/2005 story] regarding the rise of intelligent design in the universities.  It was through your website that I began my journey out of the crisis of faith which was mentioned in that article.  It was an honor to see you all highlighting the article in Nature.  Thank you for all you have done!
(Salvador Cordova, George Mason University)

“I shudder to think of the many ways in which you mislead readers, encouraging them to build a faith based on misunderstanding and ignorance.  Why don’t you allow people to have a faith that is grounded in a fuller understanding of the world?... Your website is a sham.”
(a co-author of the paper reviewed in the 12/03/2003 entry who did not appreciate the unflattering commentary.  This led to a cordial interchange, but he could not divorce his reasoning from the science vs. faith dichotomy, and resulted in an impasse over definitions – but, at least, a more mutually respectful dialogue.  He never did explain how his paper supported Darwinian macroevolution.  He just claimed evolution is a fact.)

“I absolutely love creation-evolution news.  As a Finnish university student very interested in science, I frequent your site to find out about all the new science stuff that’s been happening — you have such a knack for finding all this information!  I have been able to stump evolutionists with knowledge gleaned from your site many times.”
(a student in Finland)

“I love your site and read it almost every day.  I use it for my science class and 5th grade Sunday School class.  I also challenge Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers to get on the site to check out articles against the baloney they are taught in school.”
(a teacher in Los Gatos, CA)

“I have spent quite a few hours at Creation Evolution Headlines in the past week or so going over every article in the archives.  I thank you for such an informative and enjoyable site.  I will be visiting often and will share this link with others.”
[Later] “ I am back to May 2004 in the archives.  I figured I should be farther back, but there is a ton of information to digest.”
(a computer game designer in Colorado)

“The IDEA Center also highly recommends visiting Creation-Evolution Headlines... the most expansive and clearly written origins news website on the internet!”
(endorsement on Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center)

“Hey Friends, Check out this site:  This is a fantastic resource for the whole family.... a fantastic reference library with summaries, commentaries and great links that are added to daily—archives go back five years.”
(a reader who found us in Georgia)

“I just wanted to drop you a note telling you that at, I’ve added a link to your excellent Creation-Evolution news site.”
(a radio announcer)

“I cannot understand why anyone would invest so much time and effort to a website of sophistry and casuistry.  Why twist Christian apology into an illogic pretzel to placate your intellect?  Isn’t it easier to admit that your faith has no basis -- hence, ‘faith’.  It would be extricate [sic] yourself from intellectual dishonesty -- and from bearing false witness.”
Sincerely, Rev. [name withheld] (an ex-Catholic, “apostate Christian” Natural/Scientific pantheist)

“Just wanted to let you folks know that we are consistent readers and truly appreciate the job you are doing.  God bless you all this coming New Year.”
(from two prominent creation researchers/writers in Oregon)

“Thanks so much for your site!  It is brain candy!”
(a reader in North Carolina)

“I Love your site – probably a little too much.  I enjoy the commentary and the links to the original articles.”
(a civil engineer in New York)

“I’ve had your Creation/Evolution Headlines site on my favourites list for 18 months now, and I can truthfully say that it’s one of the best on the Internet, and I check in several times a week.  The constant stream of new information on such a variety of science issues should impress anyone, but the rigorous and humourous way that every thought is taken captive is inspiring.  I’m pleased that some Christians, and indeed, some webmasters, are devoting themselves to producing real content that leaves the reader in a better state than when they found him.”
(a community safety manager in England)

“I really appreciate the effort that you are making to provide the public with information about the problems with the General Theory of Evolution.  It gives me ammunition when I discuss evolution in my classroom.  I am tired of the evolutionary dogma.  I wish that more people would stand up against such ridiculous beliefs.”
(a science teacher in Alabama)

“If you choose to hold an opinion that flies in the face of every piece of evidence collected so far, you cannot be suprised [sic] when people dismiss your views.”
(a “former Christian” software distributor, location not disclosed)

“...the Creation Headlines is the best.  Visiting your site... is a standard part of my startup procedures every morning.”
(a retired Air Force Chaplain)

“I LOVE your site and respect the time and work you put into it.  I read the latest just about EVERY night before bed and send selection[s] out to others and tell others about it.  I thank you very much and keep up the good work (and humor).”
(a USF grad in biology)

“Answering your invitation for thoughts on your site is not difficult because of the excellent commentary I find.  Because of the breadth and depth of erudition apparent in the commentaries, I hope I’m not being presumptuous in suspecting the existence of contributions from a ‘Truth Underground’ comprised of dissident college faculty, teachers, scientists, and engineers.  If that’s not the case, then it is surely a potential only waiting to be realized.  Regardless, I remain in awe of the care taken in decomposing the evolutionary cant that bombards us from the specialist as well as popular press.”
(a mathematician/physicist in Arizona)

“I’m from Quebec, Canada.  I have studied in ‘pure sciences’ and after in actuarial mathematics.  I’m visiting this site 3-4 times in a week.  I’m learning a lot and this site gives me the opportunity to realize that this is a good time to be a creationist!”
(a French Canadian reader)

“I LOVE your Creation Safari site, and the Baloney Detector material.  OUTSTANDING JOB!!!!”
(a reader in the Air Force)

“You have a unique position in the Origins community.  Congratulations on the best current affairs news source on the origins net.  You may be able to write fast but your logic is fun to work through.”
(a pediatrician in California)

“Visit your site almost daily and find it very informative, educational and inspiring.”
(a reader in western Canada)

“I wish to thank you for the information you extend every day on your site.  It is truly a blessing!”
(a reader in North Carolina)

“I really appreciate your efforts in posting to this website.  I find it an incredibly useful way to keep up with recent research (I also check science news daily) and also to research particular topics.”
(an IT consultant from Brisbane, Australia)

“I would just like to say very good job with the work done here, very comprehensive.  I check your site every day.  It’s great to see real science directly on the front lines, toe to toe with the pseudoscience that's mindlessly spewed from the ‘prestigious’ science journals.”
(a biology student in Illinois)

“I’ve been checking in for a long time but thought I’d leave you a note, this time.  Your writing on these complex topics is insightful, informative with just the right amount of humor.  I appreciate the hard work that goes into monitoring the research from so many sources and then writing intelligently about them.”
(an investment banker in California)

“Keep up the great work.  You are giving a whole army of Christians plenty of ammunition to come out of the closet (everyone else has).  Most of us are not scientists, but most of the people we talk to are not scientists either, just ordinary people who have been fed baloney for years and years.”
(a reader in Arizona)

“Keep up the outstanding work!  You guys really ARE making a difference!”
(a reader in Texas)

“I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say that ‘science’ is not hostile towards ‘religion’.  It is the dogmatically religious that are unwaveringly hostile towards any kind of science which threatens their dearly-held precepts.  ‘Science’ (real, open-minded science) is not interested in theological navel-gazing.”
Note: Please supply your name and location when writing in.  Anonymous attacks only make one look foolish and cowardly, and will not normally be printed.  This one was shown to display a bad example.

“I appreciate reading your site every day.  It is a great way to keep up on not just the new research being done, but to also keep abreast of the evolving debate about evolution (Pun intended).... I find it an incredibly useful way to keep up with recent research (I also check science news daily) and also to research particular topics.”
(an IT consultant in Brisbane, Australia)

“I love your website.”
(a student at a state university who used CEH when writing for the campus newsletter)

“....when you claim great uncertainty for issues that are fairly well resolved you damage your already questionable credibility.  I’m sure your audience loves your ranting, but if you know as much about biochemistry, geology, astronomy, and the other fields you skewer, as you do about ornithology, you are spreading heat, not light.”
(a professor of ornithology at a state university, responding to the 09/10/2002 headline)

“I wanted to let you know I appreciate your headline news style of exposing the follies of evolutionism.... Your style gives us constant, up-to-date reminders that over and over again, the Bible creation account is vindicated and the evolutionary fables are refuted.”
(a reader, location unknown)

“You have a knack of extracting the gist of a technical paper, and digesting it into understandable terms.”
(a nuclear physicist from Lawrence Livermore Labs who worked on the Manhattan Project)

“After spending MORE time than I really had available going thru your MANY references I want to let you know how much I appreciate the effort you have put forth.
The information is properly documented, and coming from recognized scientific sources is doubly valuable.  Your explanatory comments and sidebar quotations also add GREATLY to your overall effectiveness as they 1) provide an immediate interpretive starting point and 2) maintaining the reader’s interest.”
(a reader in Michigan)

“I am a huge fan of the site, and check daily for updates.”
(reader location and occupation unknown)

“I just wanted to take a minute to personally thank-you and let you know that you guys are providing an invaluable service!  We check your Web site weekly (if not daily) to make sure we have the latest information in the creation/evolution controversy.  Please know that your diligence and perseverance to teach the Truth have not gone unnoticed.  Keep up the great work!”
(a PhD scientist involved in origins research)

“You've got a very useful and informative Web site going.  The many readers who visit your site regularly realize that it requires considerable effort to maintain the quality level and to keep the reviews current....  I hope you can continue your excellent Web pages.  I have recommended them highly to others.”
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)

“As an apprentice apologist, I can always find an article that will spark a ‘spirited’ debate.  Keep ’em coming!   The Truth will prevail.”
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)

“Thanks for your web page and work.  I try to drop by at least once a week and read what you have.  I’m a Christian that is interested in science (I’m a mechanical engineer) and I find you topics interesting and helpful.  I enjoy your lessons and insights on Baloney Detection.”
(a year later):
“I read your site 2 to 3 times a week; which I’ve probably done for a couple of years.  I enjoy it for the interesting content, the logical arguments, what I can learn about biology/science, and your pointed commentary.”
(a production designer in Kentucky)

“I look up CREV headlines every day.  It is a wonderful source of information and encouragement to me.... Your gift of discerning the fallacies in evolutionists interpretation of scientific evidence is very helpful and educational for me.  Please keep it up.  Your website is the best I know of.”
(a Presbyterian minister in New South Wales, Australia)

“I’ve written to you before, but just wanted to say again how much I appreciate your site and all the work you put into it.  I check it almost every day and often share the contents (and web address) with lists on which I participate.  I don’t know how you do all that you do, but I am grateful for your energy and knowledge.”
(a prominent creationist author)

“I am new to your site, but I love it!  Thanks for updating it with such cool information.”
(a home schooler)

“I love your site.... Visit every day hoping for another of your brilliant demolitions of the foolish just-so stories of those who think themselves wise.”
(a reader from Southern California)

“I love to read your website and am disappointed when there is nothing new to read.  Thanks for all your hard work.”
(a missionary in Japan)

“I visit your site daily for the latest news from science journals and other media, and enjoy your commentary immensely.  I consider your web site to be the most valuable, timely and relevant creation-oriented site on the internet.”
(a reader from Ontario, Canada)

“Keep up the good work!  I thoroughly enjoy your site.”
(a reader in Texas)

“Thanks for keeping this fantastic web site going.  It is very informative and up-to-date with current news including incisive insight.”
(a reader in North Carolina)

“Great site!  For all the Baloney Detector is impressive and a great tool in debunking wishful thinking theories.”
(a reader in the Netherlands)

“Just wanted to let you know, your work is having quite an impact.  For example, major postings on your site are being circulated among the Intelligent Design members....”
(a PhD organic chemist)

“It’s like ‘opening a can of worms’ ... I love to click all the related links and read your comments and the links to other websites, but this usually makes me late for something else.  But it’s ALWAYS well worth it!!”
(a leader of a creation group)

“I am a regular visitor to your website ... I am impressed by the range of scientific disciplines your articles address.  I appreciate your insightful dissection of the often unwarranted conclusions evolutionists infer from the data... Being a medical doctor, I particularly relish the technical detail you frequently include in the discussion living systems and processes.  Your website continually reinforces my conviction that if an unbiased observer seeks a reason for the existence of life then Intelligent Design will be the unavoidable conclusion.”
(a medical doctor)

“A church member asked me what I thought was the best creation web site.  I told him”
(a PhD geologist)

“I love your site... I check it every day for interesting information.  It was hard at first to believe in Genesis fully, but now I feel more confident about the mistakes of humankind and that all their reasoning amounts to nothing in light of a living God.”
(a college grad)

“Thank you so much for the interesting science links and comments on your creation evolution headlines page ... it is very informative.”
(a reader from Scottsdale, AZ)

“I still visit your site almost every day, and really enjoy it.  Great job!!!  (I also recommend it to many, many students.)
(an educational consultant)

“I like what I see–very much.  I really appreciate a decent, calm and scholarly approach to the whole issue... Thanks ... for this fabulous endeavor–it’s superb!”

“It is refreshing to read your comments.  You have a knack to get to the heart of the matter.”
(a reader in the Air Force).

“Love your website.  It has well thought out structure and will help many through these complex issues.  I especially love the Baloney Detector.”
(a scientist).

“I believe this is one of the best sites on the Internet.  I really like your side-bar of ‘truisms.’  Yogi [Berra] is absolutely correct.  If I were a man of wealth, I would support you financially.”
(a registered nurse in Alabama, who found us on

“WOW.  Unbelievable.... My question is, do you sleep? ... I’m utterly impressed by your page which represents untold amounts of time and energy as well as your faith.”
(a mountain man in Alaska).

“Just wanted to say that I recently ran across your web site featuring science headlines and your commentary and find it to be A++++, superb, a 10, a homerun – I run out of superlatives to describe it! ... You can be sure I will visit your site often – daily when possible – to gain the latest information to use in my speaking engagements.  I’ll also do my part to help publicize your site among college students.  Keep up the good work.  Your material is appreciated and used.”
(a college campus minister)

Featured Creation Scientist for May

Richard D. Lumsden

Sure, there have been Christians who did good science, but that was before Darwin.  Right?  Wrong!  This month we present the story of a staunch Darwinian who converted first to creation, then to Christ.

You couldn’t claim Dick Lumsden’s faith come from the culture in which he lived, like you might with someone from the 1500s.  If anything, he was a product of the anti-creationist second half of the twentieth century.  Dr. Richard D. Lumsden was fully grounded in Darwinian philosophy, and had no reason or desire to consider Christianity.  Science was his faith: the facts, and only the facts.  But at the apex of his professional career, he had enough integrity to check out the facts, and made a difficult choice to go where the facts led him, against what he had been taught, and against what he himself taught.  His life took a dramatic turnaround, from Darwinist to creationist, and from atheist to Christian.

Dr. Richard Lumsden was professor of parasitology and cell biology at Tulane University.  He served as dean of the graduate school, and published hundreds of scientific papers.  He trained 30 PhDs.  Thoroughly versed in biological sciences, both in knowledge and lab technique, including electron microscopy, he won the highest world award for parasitology.  All through his career he believed Darwinian evolution was an established principle of science, and he took great glee in ridiculing Christian beliefs.  One day, he heard that Louisiana had passed a law requiring equal time for creation with evolution, and he was flabbergasted– how stupid, he thought, and how evil!  He used the opportunity to launch into a tirade against creationism in class, and to give them his best eloquence in support of Darwinism.  Little did he know he had a formidable opponent in class that day.  No, not a silver-tongued orator to engage him in a battle of wits; that would have been too easy.  This time it was a gentle, polite, young female student.

This student went up to him after class and cheerfully exclaimed, “Great lecture, Doc!  Say, I wonder if I could make an appointment with you; I have some questions about what you said, and just want to get my facts straight.”  Dr. Lumsden, flattered with this student’s positive approach, agreed on a time they could meet in his office.  On the appointed day, the student thanked him for his time, and started in.

She did not argue with anything he had said about evolution in class, but just began asking a series of questions: “How did life arise? . . . Isn’t DNA too complex to form by chance? . . . Why are there gaps in the fossil record between major kinds? . . . .What are the missing links between apes and man?”  She didn’t act judgmental or provocative; she just wanted to know.  Lumsden, unabashed, gave the standard evolutionary answers to the questions.  But something about this interchange began making him very uneasy.  He was prepared for a fight, but not for a gentle, honest set of questions.  As he listened to himself spouting the typical evolutionary responses, he thought to himself, This does not make any sense.  What I know about biology is contrary to what I’m saying.  When the time came to go, the student picked up her books and smiled, “Thanks, Doc!” and left.  On the outside, Dr. Lumsden appeared confident; but on the inside, he was devastated.  He knew that everything he had told this student was wrong.

Dr. Lumsden had the integrity to face his new doubts honestly.  He undertook a personal research project to check out the arguments for evolution, and over time, found them wanting.  Based on the scientific evidence alone, he decided he must reject Darwinism, and he became a creationist.  But as morning follows night, he had to face the next question, Who is the Creator?  Shortly thereafter, by coincidence or not, his sister invited him to church.  It was so out of character for this formerly crusty, self-confident evolutionist to go to church!  Not much earlier, he would have had nothing to do with religion.  But now, he was open to reconsider the identity of the Creator, and whether the claims of the Bible were true.  His atheistic philosophy had also left him helpless to deal with guilt and bad habits in his personal life.  This time he was open, and this time he heard the Good News that God had sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins, and to offer men forgiveness and eternal life.

A tremendous struggle was going on in Dr. Lumsden’s heart as he listened to the sermon.  When the service ended, the pastor gave an invitation to come to the front and decide once and for all, publicly, to receive Christ.  Dr. Lumsden describes the turmoil he was in:  “With flesh protesting every inch of the way, I found myself walking forward, down to the altar.  And there, found God!  Truly, at that moment, I came to know Him, and received the Lord Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.”  There’s room at the cross even for know-it-all science professors, if they are willing to humble themselves and bow before the Creator to whom the scientific evidence points.

Dr. Lumsden rejoiced in his new-found faith, but found out there is a price to pay also.  He was ejected from the science faculty after his dynamic conversion to Christ and creationism.  The Institute for Creation Research invited him to direct their biology department, which he did from 1990 to 1996.  Dr. Henry Morris said of him, “He had a very vibrant testimony of his conversion only a few years ago and of the role that one of his students played in confronting his evolutionism with persistent and penetrating questions.  He became fully convinced of the bankruptcy of his beliefs and realized that the only reasonable alternative was that there must be a Creator.”

Lumsden was also appointed to the science faculty of The Master’s College, and used his intimate knowledge of electron microscopy to help the campus set up an operational instrument for training students.  There was a joy present in his life and manner that made his lectures sparkle, and he loved to demonstrate design in the cell that could not have arisen by Darwinian processes.  In discussions with evolutionists, he knew “just where to get them” (he would say with a smile), having been in their shoes.  His students appreciated the training his depth and breadth of knowledge and experience brought to the class and to the lab.

Richard Lumsden gave his personal testimony on Dr. D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Hour.  In the feature, he re-enacted that day in his office when the student made him rethink his beliefs.  In January 1996, he also spoke to the Bible-Science Association in a response to atheist Richard Dawkins’ book The Blind Watchmaker.  In his talk, called Not So Blind a Watchmaker, he gave several detailed descriptions of organs that could not have formed by Darwinian natural selection.  In the question and answer session, he shared his testimony of how God had saved him from his former life as a bragging evolutionist.  Unfortunately, years of unhealthy habits as an unbeliever, including alcohol and tobacco abuse, took their toll on his body, and he died too soon, at age 59, in 1997.  His students miss him very much.

In September 2001, PBS aired an eight-hour series portraying evolution as fact and as the central theme of biology.  It tried to portray the only opponents to Darwinism as being motivated by religion.  Dr. Richard Lumsden, if he were still with us, might just call up the producers and ask, Say, I wonder if I could make an appointment with you; I have some questions about what you said, and just want to get my facts straight.  It would be an interesting interchange.  Doc would know just where to get them.

Are you enjoying this series?  Please write us with your comments, and tell a friend!

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

A Concise Guide
to Understanding
Evolutionary Theory

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

First Law of Scientific Progress
The advance of science can be measured by the rate at which exceptions to previously held laws accumulate.
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.
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.
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).

Disclaimer: Creation-Evolution Headlines includes links to many external sites, but takes no responsibility for the accuracy or legitimacy of their content.  Inclusion of an external link is strictly for the reader’s convenience, and does not necessarily constitute endorsement of the material or its authors, owners, or sponsors.